Week of December 15, 2014

JW and I are going home for the holidays next week. I am really looking forward to all the good food I’ll be eating (my mom is hosting a World Tapas potluck, and of course we’ll be eating lots of turkey!). I’m likely to be having my share of not-so-good food as well… JW has been talking for weeks about Ashton’s Poutine — it’s been his tradition for years that the first thing he does upon arriving to Quebec City is get an Ashton poutine (literally, the. first. thing.). I guess I’ll be getting back to the gym in January!

I’m in that period where I’m trying to use up as much as possible of what’s in our fridge before we leave. I managed to track down a couple of recipes that should help me get through what’s left of my veggie basket etc.

Also, this is going to be my last post until we return on January 4th, so Happy Holidays!


Monday – Deconstructed stuffed cabbage

Photo cred: Skinny Taste
Photo cred: Skinny Taste

I have three heads of cabbage a I need to use ASAP — they keep showing up in my weekly baskets, and I never knew what to do with them until I found this recipe over at Skinny Taste. I’m excited about this one because I actually love stuffed cabbage rolls, but they’re so time-consuming to make that I seldom try. Can’t wait to see how this recipe turns out!

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 heads green cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) petite dice tomatoes with juice
  • 1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 cups low-fat mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a large glass casserole dish with non-stick spray. Heat a large frying pan on medium heat; add ground beef and cook until it’s browned and cooked through, breaking it apart as it cooks. Remove ground beef and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add 1 tsp olive oil, chopped onion and cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, dried thyme, and paprika and cook about 2 minutes more. Then add the diced tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, and ground beef. Add water to the pan. Simmer until it’s hot and slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. While it simmers, cut cabbage in half, cut out the core, and remove any wilted outer leaves; chop the cabbage coarsely into 1 inch pieces. Heat remaining olive oil in a large frying pan or dutch oven; add the cabbage and cook over medium-high heat until the cabbage is wilted and about half cooked, turning it over several times so it all wilts and cooks. Season with salt and fresh-ground black pepper.
  4. When the meat and tomato sauce mixture has cooked and thickened a bit, stir in the 2 cups of cooked rice and gently combine.
  5. In the dish, layer half the cabbage, half the meat mixture, remaining cabbage, and remaining meat mixture. Cover tightly with foil and bake 40 minutes, or until the mixture is just starting to bubble on the edges.
  6. Remove foil and sprinkle on cheese (if using). Bake uncovered an additional 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starting to slightly brown. Serve hot.

Tuesday – Hmong chicken stir-fry

I kind of made up this recipe. It’s inspired by one I’ve made before, which I found over at Blue Kitchen, however I didn’t want to use beef so I integrated a few ideas from a similar chicken-based recipe over at Organic Valley.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped, loosely packed cilantro
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 medium cabbage, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tsps fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Wash the chicken breast and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut the chicken into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil to medium hot. Add the garlic and chicken and stir-fry until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, oyster sauce and fish sauce and stir-fry for 2 or 3 more minutes, until the flavors are combined.
  3. Add cabbage, cilantro, tomatoes and green onions and stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes more. Serve hot over rice.

Wednesday – Vegetarian curry

Photo cred: Pinch of Yum

This, I love: a straightforward, no-fuss recipe for something tasty that I’m bound to love, using only 5 ingredients and can be prepared in 15 minutes. Thank you, Pinch of Yum!

Ingredients

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tbsps red curry paste
  • 2 small heads broccoli (and/or other veggies of choice)
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsps cold water

Instructions

  1. Saute broccoli (and onion/garlic if you wish) in a tablespoon of oil. After a few minutes, add the coconut milk and let simmer for 5-8 minutes. The broccoli should soften but still be tender-crisp.
  2. Add the curry paste to the pan and whisk it until it combines with the coconut milk. Add the chickpeas.
  3. Bring to a slight boil and add the cornstarch. Boil for about a minute, then reduce heat and let cool slightly. Sauce will thicken as the mixture cools. Enjoy hot over rice.

Thursday – Leftovers pizza

I have a frozen ball of dough in the fridge, so I am planning to throw together a pizza with any leftover cabbage, meat or cheese from Monday; chicken stir-fry from Tuesday; and broccoli from Wednesday. I think I also have some sun-dried tomatoes in the fridge I should use… This is going to be one weird pizza!

Ingredients

  • 1 pizza dough (bought or home-made)
  • Leftovers from the week

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 500°F.
  2. Roll out pizza dough and brush with olive oil. Top with ingredients and bake for 15 minutes, or until toppings become golden.

Friday – Christmas dinner with colleagues

We have our last holiday get-together with people from work on Friday, so I won’t be cooking. I will, however, be bringing a box of cookies to the party — my last issue of Châtelaine had a series of fancy shortbread cookie recipes, and I must confess that I was so excited, and the recipes were so easy, that I made almost all of them. So now I have 20 dozen cookies (I’m not even exaggerating) that I need to give away — in the spirit of Christmas! 😉

Week of December 08, 2014

My sister just spent the weekend visiting! We spent Friday and Saturday thrift-store shopping, Christmas-cookie baking, listening to holiday music and putting up the Christmas tree. I’m already looking forward to seeing her again over the holidays. ♥

This week, I realized ’tis the season for holiday parties all around! Monday is our holiday dinner at York, and Wednesday is JW’s department party, so I’m only planning for Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week.


 Monday – York holiday dinner


Tuesday – Hong Kong chicken curry

Photo cred: Châtelaine

I found this bright and flavorful-looking recipe on the Châtelaine website while browsing for Christmas cookie recipes. I can’t wait to try it.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 398-mL can coconut milk
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into coins
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Heat a large wide frying pan over medium-high. Add oil, then onion and curry powder. Cook until onion starts to soften, 3 min. Sprinkle chicken with salt, then add to pan. Stir until coated.
  2. Add coconut milk, carrots and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Gently boil, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 15 min. Remove lid and continue boiling until liquid is slightly thickened, about 5 more min. Stir in peas and cilantro and cook for 1 more min. Serve with rice.

Wednesday – Econ department holiday party


Thursday – Fish cakes

Photo cred: BBC

JW surprised me this weekend with a beautiful new cookbook, Toronto Cooks by Amy Rosen. He is so thoughtful! I immediately picked out (and slightly adapted) this recipe for fish cakes, which I think I’ll serve with a kale salad.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs fresh fish of your choice, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely minced
  • 2 tbsps capers, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsps chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tbsps chopped fresh chives
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté fish pieces in salt and lemon juice. Cook 15 minutes, until fish is firm. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cook enough to handle.
  2. In a skillet over low heat, melt butter and sauté onion and celery until soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cooled fish, onion/celery mixture, capers, tarragon, mustard, dill, chives, breadcrumbs and mayonnaise. Mix well.
  4. Form the fish mixture into 8 small patties. In the same skillet used to sauté the onions, cook the patties until browned on both sides. Serve warm.

Friday – Cantonese chow mein

Photo cred: Phenu

JW specifically requested this recipe, which I have made several times before and it’s always a hit. It’s extremely easy to adapt to your liking and tastes as good as most restaurants make it, in my opinion. We like to cook the noodles until they get really, really crispy!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tbsps chicken bouillon
  • 1 1/2 tsps sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsps oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • Cooked meat of your choice (shrimp, BBQ pork, chicken) in desired quantities
  • Vegetables of your choice (bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, baby corn…) in desired quantities
  • 3 tbsps minced garlic
  • 2 (250 g) packages fresh egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 5 tbsps oil

Instructions

  1. Immerse egg noodles into boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove and set aside.
  2. Heat your wok at high heat, keep it dry. Add 5 tbsp oil and coat the wok evenly with oil. Fry the noodles for about 2 minutes, and keep shaking it back and forth, until the noodles turn golden brown. Flip and repeat. The outer noodles should be golden, inner ones are soft. Remove noodles and arrange in center of a plate.
  3. Blanch the vegetables in boiling water (30 seconds). In a wok, fry minced garlic then add the blanched vegetables and stir fry. Add the meat ingredients, 1 tbsp water, cover the wok and steam for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the chicken bouillon, sugar, oyester sauce and sesame oil. Add to the wok with the water and corn starch, and fry gently. Add a bit more water if you want more sauce. Pour the veggies and meat over the noodles and serve hot.

Week of December 01, 2014

I feel like every week(end) has been a whirlwind of busy lately, I haven’t even been keeping up on my regular meal planning. Last night I just threw together a pizza made of leftovers in our fridge (see below) because I didn’t plan things out on Sunday like I normally do. Here’s me trying to get back on track…


Monday – Leftovers pizza

As the name implies, I made up this pizza recipe with whatever leftovers I found in our fridge when I got home (ravenous) after a long day.

Ingredients

  • pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • generous pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Roll out the dough. Brush with a bit of olive oil and tomato puree.
  3. Mix ricotta and Parmesan cheese to form a paste. Spoon over tomato puree. Top with red pepper flakes, mushrooms, zucchini slices, spinach and mozzerella.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the cheese is golden.

Tuesday – Fish stew with fennel and baby potatoes

Photo cred: Bon appétit

I found this super-tasty recipe in a recent issue of Bon Appétit! I’ve modified it slightly to make it a bit healthier and less rich.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 oz. small waxy potatoes (such as baby Yukon Gold), scrubbed and sliced
  • 1/2 medium fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 pound cod loins, cut into 2” pieces
  • 2 tbsps chopped fresh dill
  • Lemon wedges (for serving)

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook potatoes, tossing occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add fennel and garlic; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is soft, about 2 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add 2 cups water to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, 10–12 minutes. Stir in milk. Add fish, cover pot, and reduce heat. Simmer until fish is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir dill into stew; season with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges and crackers or crusty bread.

Wednesday – Baked pork chops with parmesan-sage crust

Photo cred: Bon appétit

Another (modified) recipe from Bon Appétit, which will make tasty use of the pork chops I found on special at the grocery store this week.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp dried rubbed sage
  • 1 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 pork chops

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Mix breadcrumbs, cheese, sage and lemon peel in a shallow dish. Whisk eggs in medium bowl to blend. Place flour on plate; season generously with salt and pepper. Coat pork chops on both sides with flour; shake off excess. Dip chops into eggs, then coat on both sides with breadcrumb mixture.
  3. Heat a bit of oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer skillet with pork to oven (or transfer pork to an oven-safe dish first, if necessary).
  4. Bake until pork chops are crisp on the outside and fully cooked on the inside, about 20 minutes. Transfer to plates. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

Thursday – Asian pork chops

Photo cred: Southern Living

I realize that two pork chop recipes back-to-back is a little much, but I just don’t know what to do with all these chops… I’ve already defrosted the whole package, and I don’t feel like grocery shopping again for anything else. And besides, this recipe looks really yummy!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 tbsps cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Asian sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 pork chops
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Stir together hoisin sauce and next 3 ingredients in a large shallow dish or zip-top plastic freezer bag; remove and reserve 1/4 cup marinade. Add chops to remaining marinade in dish. Cover or seal, and chill 2 to 4 hours. Remove chops from marinade, discarding marinade. Sprinkle chops evenly with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat; cook chops 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until done. Brush with reserved 1/4 cup marinade. Serve with noodles or sautéed bok-choy.

Friday – Fondue

Photo cred: Châtelaine

Fondue always reminds me of my friends back in Quebec City. For four years, the six of us would get together and prepare a fondue, potluck-style, which we would eat while venting about grad school. Afterwards we would leave feeling better and so grateful to have each other! The last time I had fondue, as a matter of fact, was with them, last Christmas. I found this recipe in a recent issue of Chatelaine, and I got all nostalgic. My sister will be arriving on Friday, and I just know she will enjoy a hot fondue after we’ve finished putting up the Christmas tree.

Ingredients

Broth fondue (adapted from Ricardo)

  • 3 heads garlic
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • Salt and pepper

Cheese fondue (from Châtelaine)

  • 250 g 1-year-old white cheddar, finely grated
  • 225 g gruyère, finely grated
  • 5 tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups IPA beer, room temperature
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

Broth fondue:

  1. With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 200 °C (400 °F).Slice the top of each garlic head. Place them individually on aluminum foil sheets and drizzle with 1 tbsp of oil. Close the foil. Bake for 50 minutes or until the garlic is tender and caramelized. Press the cooked head of garlic to bring out the garlic purée. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in saucepan, brown the onion in the remaining oil. Deglaze with the wine and reduce by half. Add the broth and garlic purée. Bring to a boil and simmer about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with assorted fondue meats.

Cheese fondue

  1. Combine cheeses in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp flour and dry mustard. Toss until well coated.
  2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Sprinkle in remaining 3 tbsp flour. Boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until mixture is lightly browned, 2 to 3 min. Gradually pour in beer and Worcestershire sauce, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to come to a boil and is thick, 3 to 4 min.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Gradually add cheese, a handful at a time, stirring constantly until cheese melts completely after each addition. Mixture should be thick and very smooth. Scrape into a fondue pot. Serve with bread, apples, potatoes and sausages.