Home Page

Thursday, November 22, 2007


The night before last, we decided to have chili for dinner. Lately, I've been serving the kids chili on top of toasted buns (sort of like Chili Sloppy Joe's), but this time I decided to try them out with some cornbread. I have always loved cornbread, and I figured they would too. I've made it for them before, in the form of Pogo Stick Muffins, and they ate that.... so....

I found this recipe for cornbread on The Pioneer Woman Cooks website. I decided to try her recipe because I thought, given she lives on a ranch and all, that she'd make some good authentic cornbread. She did not steer me wrong (she never has and I've made lots of her recipes).

Normally, I would have used butter in cornbread, but I went ahead and made it almost exactly as she suggested, so I used shortening. It was very good.

Marco didn't eat it. He tried it, and said that he didn't like cornbread. I usually don't argue too much when Marco says he doesn't like something. He usually eats ALMOST everything, and he always tries stuff. So I figure, at 4 years old, he's allowed to have a few things he won't eat.

Claire loved the cornbread. So I gave her some in her lunch the next day with some cold cuts and sliced cheese and carrot sticks alongside. She decided to try to saw the cornbread in half with the side of her hand so she could make a little cornbread sandwich. It all fell apart, and then she wouldn't eat it. When I picked her up she ACCUSED ME of giving her crumbled cornbread... Sigh, poor Claire what did she ever do to deserve a wicked cornbread crumbling Mom like me??


1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp shortenning
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 400F and place 8x8 inch dish in oven to heat.

2. Mix flour, cornmeal and salt.

3. In another bowl, mix buttermilk (you can make a cup of buttermilk by adding a tbsp of lemon juice to the milk and letting it sit for 5 minutes) with regular milk and egg. Stir in baking powder and baking soda.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until combined. Melt 1/4 cup of shortenning in the microwave and stir into batter.

5. Remove pan from oven and put 2 tbsp of shortening in the pan, spread around until melted. Pour batter into pan. Return to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Saffron Couscous

My kids hate couscous, but I love it and I'm selfish, so it really doesn't stop me from preparing it whenever I want. Plus, I figure they are never going to learn to like it unless they are exposed to it a bit.

This time they were complaining, "why is it all yellow?" I explained that the saffron made it yellow and they turned their noses up at that. So I decided that next time I make couscous, I am going to put a few drops of food colouring in it. Maybe I'll make it blue or purple. But knowing my kids, and how illogical they are they'll gobble it up, if it's purple.

Saffron Couscous

1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup couscous
1 clove garlic
1 green onion
2 tbps cilantro
1/8 tsp crush saffron threads

1. Finely chop the garlic, green onion and cilantro. Add to saucepan with chicken broth and saffron.

2. Bring to a boil. As soon as the broth is boiling, add the couscous and remove from heat.

3. Let sit 5 minutes and serve. I always use a 1/2 cup measure as a mold when I am serving it up (and a 1/4 cup measure for the kids).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Relish

I have a couple of favorite recipe sources (a few blogs, a book, and my Mom). You know how you have a couple of great successes with recipes from your sources, so you keep going back to the same place, over and over again? Well my sources are great that way - they have never let me down.

I wish I didn't have to reveal my sources, so you'd all think I was a GENIUS recipe comer-upper-wither. But, I guess in the interests of not STEALING other peoples ideas, I do have to site the source for this one. I got it from my all-time favorite cookbook, The New Dieters Cookbook, from Better Homes and Gardens.

I picked this recipe for a couple of reasons. First, I had just picked up one of those cast iron grills that fits over two elements on my gas stove and I was excited to try it out. Second, I love the combination of meat and fruit.

I did screw this recipe up, just slightly. I read it wrong. No, actually that's not true... I didn't read it at all. I've done this before, I look at the ingredient list then just assume that since I am such a great cook, I don't need further instruction... WRONG!

I made the pineapple relish ahead of time and let it sit, because I thought it looked like the sort of thing that would get better with some time for the flavours to ameldinate (I made that word up). The recipe called for 2 tsp of olive oil, so I went ahead and added it to the relish.

Then later, when I was cooking the chicken, I realized that the oil was SUPPOSED to be brushed on the chicken, so it wouldn't stick to my new fan-dangled grill!! Oops! So I added 2 MORE teaspoons of oil to the chicken. I know this totally throws off the calorie and fat content of the meal, but it was so good, my advice to you is.... throw caution to the wind and use 4 TEASPOONS of oil in this recipe!

Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Relish

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 tsp cordamom
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped fresh pineapple
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 jalapeno (seeded and diced)
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1/2 a lime

1. Make pineapple relish: mix together the pineapple, red pepper, green onion, jalapeno (I used bottled jalapenos) and cilantro. Mix in lime juice (and 2 tsp olive oil if you didn't read the recipe right).

2. Mix cordamom, salt and pepper together. Brush chicken with 2 tsp of olive oil and sprinkle with cordamom mixture.

3. Grill chicken until cooked through. Serve with pineapple relish.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Almond Caramel Clusters

Yesterday was one of those lazy Sundays, and I was in a compulsive, "I have to bake something fattening, so I can torture myself by not eating any" sort of moods. I remembered seeing Giada make these a few weeks back on her show and they really appealed to me.

So, I whipped up a batch of Caramel Almond Clusters and they were easy to make. I think I will make more as part of my Christmas baking this year. I scaled the recipe slightly because I had enough mini-muffin tins to make 36 of them. I had a little extra chocolate left, so to use it up (without eating it all with a spoon) I just threw some almonds and dried cranberries into it, spread it on a plate and chilled it. Then I broke it into pieces and gave it to the kids.

Mario tried one of these Almond Caramel Clusters and he said they were delicious. Normally, when I make something "bad" like this, I bring it to work, but one of these days, I'm going to get fired for trying to sabotage everyone's health. So, I think I will bring them to my Dodgeball game tonight, and get my team-mates fat instead.

Almond Caramel Clusters
makes 36 caramels

1 cup toasted slivered almonds
36 Kraft caramels
10 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup whipping cream

1. Spray mini-muffin tins with cooking spray.

2. Divide almonds between the muffin tins (about a tsp each).

3. Using a pair of sharp, clean scissors, snip each caramel square into four little squares (for easier melting). Place 4 little squares (1 caramel) in each muffin tin on top of the almonds.

4. Bake at 350F for 8 minutes until the caramel starts to melt.

5. Place in fridge to cool for several minutes. Remove caramels from muffin tins. You might have to use the edge of a knife to help pop them out.

6. In a double boiler over simmering water, melt chocolate. Whisk in the cream.

7. Dip each caramel into chocolate until coated. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and chill until set (about 30 minutes). Store in airtight containter.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Parmesan Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

There are just so many unique and interesting ways to prepare potatoes. So why is it then, that I alway fall into a rut. A potato rut. Mashed potatoes, potato wedges. That seems to be my potato repetoire these days. I do have a few favorite potato recipes. My Smashed Potato recipe is to die for, but it just seems like a bit too much effort for a regular weeknight dinner. Same with my Mashed Potato Puffs, I love those but they call for cottage cheese which I don't normally stock.

So last night for dinner, I knew I needed to make something "postable" because my archive backlog is drying up. The main event was pan fried snapper filets with a store bought coating, so I can't post that. So I made some Parmesan Roasted Fingerling Potatoes. They were quite good, I will make them again.

Parmesan Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

1 bag (2lb) fingerling potatoes
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Cut the fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise. Wash and dry the potatoes.

2. In a plastic bag mix flour, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper. Drop in potatoes and shake to coat.

3. Spread olive oil on a non stick baking sheet (or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper). Arrange potatoes cut side down.

4. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes. Flip potatoes and bake another 15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tuna and Cheese Strata

Here is a great little weekend lunch that I make sometimes for Mario and the kids. Claire and Marco just love this, and then there is usually one piece leftover for Mario to take to work for lunch.

This recipe started out as a brunch recipe with Ham and Cheese, but one time I decided to use tuna and make it for lunch. It was even more popular, like a crunchy tuna melt. I think this is a pretty healthy lunch for the kids. I use skim milk and light cheddar cheese. In order to make sure they had some vegetables, I sliced some cucumber and carrot sticks to go alongside. They used the vegetables to make faces on their sandwiches and then discarded them. But hey, I did my job!

Tuna and Cheese Strata

8 slices of bread
1 can tuna
1/4 cup miracle whip
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 tsp worchestershire sauce
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup crushed cornflakes

1. Spray an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with cooking spray and arrange 4 slices of bread on the bottom.

2. Drain tuna and mix with miracle whip. Spread evenly on top of bread. Top tuna with grated cheddar.

3. Cover with remaining 4 slices of bread.

4. Mix together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, dry mustard, worchestershire sauce and onion. Pour over bread. Let sit for and hour or so (I usually put this together right after breakfast on the weekend and then let it sit until 11:30 or so, and pop it in the oven).

5. Melt butter and stir into crushed cornflakes. Right before putting in the oven, spread cornflakes over top of bread. Bake at 350F for 1 hour. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Savoury Chicken Tart

I made this chicken tart the other night for dinner. Let me explain what I did. I took a recipe that I found on Deborah's Blog... Taste and Tell... and I wrecked it. Well that might be a little harsh, what I did was make is LESS good. So if you want to make this the correct, yummy way - go see her blog. If you'd like to stay here and let me lead you astray.... read on.

This recipe just looked so yummy delicious to me, I couldn't help but want to try it. I decided to use diced chicken breast instead of sausages and skim milk instead of cream to lighten it up. That was silly, you can't lighten anything up when it's stuffed inside puffed pastry! It's sort of like putting a dollop of fat free cool whip on a huge slab of Pecan Pie... you might as well just pile on the REAL whip cream and enjoy it by that point!

The recipe also called for fresh tomatoes and fresh basil. I didn't have any, so I used canned tomatoes and dried basil (gasp).

OK so now I was done destroying a perfectly good recipe, I went on to make it. Well the recipe said to roll the puff pastry out into at 13" circle. The puff pastry I had in the freezer was already a 10" square, so I had a lot of fun trying to get into a circle. I folded in the corners and ended up with a 13" stop sign.

Then I was too lazy to blind bake the crust with my pie beads. So I just poked some holes in the crust and threw it in the oven as is. Well after 10 minutes I had a huge stop sign shaped pillow. I scratched my head for a few minutes trying to figure out where the heck I would put my filling. I ended up just mashing down the middle of the tart, I am using the word "tart" very loosely. Then I piled my filing in the centre.

When I was all done, I decided it was all still too fattening anyway, so while Mario and kids ate it, I had a plain chicken breast and a spinach salad. Despite my best attempts to destroy this dinner, Mario and the kids loved it!

Savoury Chicken Tart

1 package (8oz) refrigerated puff pastry
1 lb diced cooked chicken breast
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried basil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, grated
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Roll puff pastry on a floured surface into a circle that is 13" in diametre. Press dough into tart pan and fill with dried beans or pie beads. Bake 8-10 minutes at 425F.

2. Meanwhile, mix together the chicken, tomatoes, garlic, basil, cheeses, eggs, and milk. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Pour into baked "tart" shell and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350F and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes until egg mixture is set.

4. Cool 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Fruit Loop Muffins

I went to plug in my camera this morning to download the lovely pictures of the delicious savoury chicken tart that I made for dinner the other night, and my batteries were "depleted". So instead, I was forced to go searching through the archives on my laptop looking for a recipe I had made but never posted about. I stumbled across this one.

I never posted this because, personally, I wasn't a huge fan. Although if you warm them up and slather them with butter, they aren't half bad! Claire and Marco, on the other hand LOVED these muffins and have been asking me to make them again ever since.

If I do make them again, I think I will try to find way to redeem them somewhat by making them a bit more nutritionally sound.... maybe I'll grate up some carrot and zucchini and throw it in (they'd never notice with all that colour going on). And I could use whole wheat flour and cut down the fat and sugar.

Fruit Loop Muffins

1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups Fruit Loops cereal, left whole
1/2 cup Fruit Loops cereal, crushed
1 tbsp melted butter

1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add melted butter, egg, milk and 1 1/2 cups fruit loops. Stir to combine.

2. Mix 1/4 cup crushed fruit loops with 1 tbsp melted butter.

3. Spoon muffin batter into greased or paper-lined muffin tins. Sprinkle tops with fruit loop crumb mixture.

4. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Individual Mexican Meat Cups

I think I've written before about the difficulty I have sometimes with naming recipes that I've created myself. You can either give something a meaningless name like, "Beef a la Janet" or you can try to capture what it is you've made in the title of the recipe. Hence, "Individual Mexican Meat Cups".... although, that name does make me think of a Made in Mexico Jock Strap... oh well, lets try not to dwell on that image, and concentrate on the recipe... shall we?

I got the idea for using flour tortillas as cups from another blog, the Culinary Chase, but I created my own filling.

This recipe was VERY popular. Mario and the kids LOVED it. I ate a stupid frozen Lean Cuisine meal while they ate it. That is because this blog is making me FAT. Yes that's right, I entirely blame the BLOG, not all the artery clogging fattening food I shovel in... don't ask, I have issues.

Individual Mexican Meat Cups

1 lb ground beef
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 can rice and black beans
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tsp taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
6 flour tortillas
cooking spray

1. In a non stick skillet, brown the beef and onions in a small amount of oil. Drain any fat and add the rice and black beans, tomatoes and taco seasoning. Add 1/2 cup water, and simmer on low for about 10 minutes.

2. Fit tortillas inside 6 large muffin tins. Spray lightly with cooking spray and bake at 400F for 10 minutes.

3. Fill tortilla shells with meat filling and top with cheddar cheese. Bake another 10 minutes at 400F or until cheese is all melted. (hint: the filling was still hot when I put this in the oven, if you make it ahead and the filling has cooled, it might need a bit more cooking time).

4. Serve with sour cream.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cream of Pumpkin Soup

Cream of Pumpkin Soup has been a fall favorite of mine since Mario's Mom first made it for me (way back when). I'll pretty much take ANY kind of cream soup over a broth based soup, but this one is particularly good.

As an added bonus, both Claire and Marco gobbled it up, apparently without any awareness of the pure volume of vegetables per spoonful. You can make this by using 2 cups of milk instead of 1 cup cream plus 1 cup milk. Obviously the soup is much thicker and richer when you use cream, but it is still good with all milk. I won't tell you how I made mine, because you should do as I say, not as I do (or vice versa?). I'm confused. Whatever, it's your pick... just don't come complaining to me if you gain 10 pounds because I did PROVIDE you with a healthy option...

Cream of Pumpkin Soup

4 cups cubed pumpkin
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
3 tbsp butter
1 cup potato, peeled and chopped
3 cups chicken broth, homemade is best
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds for garnish

1. Saute pumpkin, onion and celery in butter for 10 minutes.

2. Add chicken broth and potato. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Let cook slightly and puree in a food processor or blender. When ready to serve, add milk/cream and reheat. Season to taste.

4. Garnish with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Around this time of year, you start seeing a lot of recipes around the internet for roasted pumpkin seeds. So you might be asking, what does Janet know about roasting pumpkin seeds, that we don't already know? WELL.... I have a secret! This is something that I rarely see anyone else suggest, and you are all missing out! BIG TIME.

You have to trust me on this one... have I ever steered you wrong before? (OK, don't answer that). Here is my big pumpkin seed secret.....

DO NOT wash the seeds! Most other recipes always say to wash the seeds, but if you do, you are just washing away all the good pumpkiny goodness. See the lovely brown crispy bits on my seeds? That is pumpkin pulp and it is delicious. It makes the seeds so good and flavourful. All I do is pick out the largest chunks of pulp by hand and leave the rest on the seeds.

I buy extra pumpkins right after halloween every year, when you can get them dirt cheap. Mostly for the seeds, but I also save a lot of the pumpkin flesh for pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup and pumpkin muffins. I'll be posting some of those recipes over the next week or so.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp margarine
1 1/2 tsp salt

1. Remove largest chunks of pulp from the pumpkin seeds but do not wash.

2. Toss the seeds with margarine and salt.

3. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 250F for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Stir two or three times through out the roasting. Store at room temperature in a sealed container.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


There was a Halloween Potluck at work yesterday and all my co-workers dressed up. I dressed up like a pregnant woman to freak my boss out, but I don't think he was fooled. Oh well, no year off work for me...

At our last work potluck lunch on Canada Day, I brought my Layered Party Sandwich. Since I never like to do the same thing twice, I had to come up with an original idea for Halloween. I like to do a main dish because there always seems to be an over-abundance of crackers and cheese and veggies and dip. So this time I made a Stomboli (which is actually just the same thing as the Layered Party Sandwich put together a slightly different way - but shhhh).

This is very easy to make. I have made this before with homemade bread dough (which makes it better, and less fattening), but I just didn't want to wake up at 4am to get started (because the dough needs to rise). Using Pillsbury Crescent rolls is a nice foolproof alternative.

And again, as with the Layered Party Sandwich, there wasn't any leftover to bring home to Mario, and I even made two loaves. But I will make it again sometime for home.

And, just so you know, it wouldn't normally be quite so flat, but I brought in my tray and put in the fridge at work, and some other people came along and put their stuff on top of it (grrrr). So my Stomboli got squished!

makes 1 loaf

1 can Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1 lb assorted Italian Style Cold Cuts (e.g. capicolla, proscuitto, genoa salami)
8 slices provolone cheese
4 whole roasted red peppers
1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup basil pesto
1 egg

1. Lay out crescent dough and pinch all the seams together. Roll out until you have a rectangle about 16" by 12" (roughly).

2. Spread basil pesto generously all over dough. Leave a 1" border around the edge.

3. Across the bottom of the long edge lay a row of one type of cold cut (don't be skimpy). Then above that, but overlapping a little, a row of cheese (about 4 slices). Then the next type of cold cut, another row of cheese, and the last row of cold cuts.

4. On top of the first row of coldcuts, arrange the roasted red peppers and the sliced onions.

5. Starting with the long edge, roll the entire thing up like a jelly roll. Fold the ends under to seal.

6. Beat the egg slightly, and brush over the top of the loaf.

7. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 375F.