Baked Olive Chicken

A few years ago, I came across a recipe for Olive Chicken in Donna Hay’s, The Instant Cook cookbook.  I was in a real Donna Hay phase then and had managed to scoop up a few of her cookbooks at a recent bookstore sale.  I liked her and her cookbooks because the recipes were simple and the styling and photography were just lovely to look at.

When I first started making this dish, I didn’t use olives.  What?  How do you make olive chicken without olives?  Well, I used muffuletta instead.  Muffuletta?  Is that a muffin in an omelette?  No…  Muffuletta is an Italian olive salad that includes celery, carrots, onions, cauliflower and a few other tasty ingredients.  My sister had given me a jar of muffuletta and I was hooked.  I simply put a few scoops into the food processor and made it into a tapenade.

I still make this dish and it is a family favourite.  I don’t always have muffuletta on hand, so I use green olives stuffed with pimentos and garlic for added flavour.

Here is Donna Hay’s recipe and photo from her cookbook:

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As you can see from the picture above, Donna didn’t just use green olives, it looks more like a mix to me.  I made it with just green olives the other night and it looked like this:

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Either way it is quite delicious and an easy weeknight meal.  Enjoy!

linking up with The Jenny EvolutionSuburbs Mama

Lazy Casserole Not Ideal For The Lazy

 

About a year ago I joined Pinterest, that time-sucking website (no, not Facebook, that’s the OTHER time-sucking website). After instruction from my sister (an expert pinner) I started a board called Recipes…Maybe I”ll Make Them.

One of the first pins I ever pinned to said board was called Lazy Sunday Casserole. It looked delicious and though it hadn’t yet fed my family it did feed my dreams of being one of those moms that cooks a warm, comfort food-type dinner on Sunday nights.

This recipe is one of the most re-pinned items from my boards. Several times each month some other pinner (possibly someone with the same cooking goals and aspirations as mine) re-pins this recipe and each time I see that I think to myself that I should really try that one someday.

Fast forward a year later since the first pinning. Tonight to be exact. A cold, blustery day sounds perfect for a Lazy Sunday Casserole. Let me first say this whole day was anything but lazy. Three loads of laundry, a power walk with my friends and a three-kid movie date doesn’t qualify as lazy in my books.

Anywhoooo…I stopped by the store and grabbed the ingredients (fresh sausage from the deli, not pre-packaged I may add).

I won’t bore you with the prep details but suffice it to say that I was almost two hours from first slice of the peeler to first complaint from my kids that they didn’t like it. Didn’t like it?

Peeling, chopping, arranging, mixing, pouring, baking, browning, adding, basting, testing and serving. Whew. Two hours. I never have claimed to be a whiz in the kitchen but this recipe was not for the lazy in me. The recipe author must be way more experienced in the kitchen than I am. Or, perhaps her usual culinary feats take entire days so two hours FEELS lazy to her. Anyways, I admire her and her accompanying photo looked edible itself.

The actual dish was pretty good, to me and future hub anyways. The balsamic vinegar was an awesome addition! The girls liked the sausages but not much of the veggies. I have also never claimed that they like to try new dishes.

So, a year’s worth of build up and I’ve finally tried it. If I were my sister I could pin this to the Pinned and Tried board but I’m not so I won’t. I will file it away in my mind under Too Lazy for Lazy Sunday Casserole. To the other pinners who will re-pin this pin…and I know they will…enjoy!

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No Resolution Required

If I were a New Year’s Resolution kind of person, which I’m not, I would have both failed and succeeded all via our dinner this evening.

As a working single mom, I have relied on take out and convenience foods way more than I’m proud of over the past 3+ years. No time to plan, shop for and execute the healthy, nutritious meals I so wish I had been serving my girls. I also was guilty of sometimes doing things for my girls that they should have been doing for themselves because I deemed it quicker and less of a hassle if I did it myself.

This past weekend when one of them asked me for a glass of water I paused and said “2014! The Year Of Doing Things For Ourselves!”

I got raised eyebrows and a bit of a grumble and then she went and got herself a glass of water. Winner! So this afternoon on what was to be Taco Tuesday, my eldest (the one with the raised eyebrows) pulls out a library book she got today by some kid named Jack Witherspoon. Not just any book, a cookbook. And not written by just any kid, an amazing kid who survived leukemia and raises money for cancer research.

“Mom, can we make something out of this book tonight?”

There it was. The opportunity to nail both resolutions (if I had them). Home cooked meal and independence in one shot. I paused and glanced at the clock. 4:30 p.m. and it was dark and rainy. I didn’t want to go to the store but this is 2014 and I was going to get us all off on the right foot!

Off to the store we went with a list. By this time I’d realized that home cooked was going to have to do and that healthy was not on eldest daughter’s mind. Tonight’s choice, courtesy of Jack Witherspoon’s book, Fettuccine with cream, mushrooms, chicken and peas. But, hey, if it’s good enough for Jack, it’s good enough for us! And this is not a meal we have ever eaten together at home or anywhere else.

Back home, the girls chip in and are now fighting to help make dinner! One measures, one pours. One stirs, one tosses. Voila! In just 30 minutes we were dining on Jack’s Fettuccine. And it was pretty good. Okay, really good, if not a little higher in cream than I was planning on but…oh well! Mission accomplished. Eldest declares it awesome and stakes her claim on leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.

Now I know there are moms tsk tsking me knowing full well that most kids are more likely to eat different foods when they take part in the preparation. I KNOW that, people! Please see the beginning of my post where I say I had really been too time-crunched to plan that far in advance.

But that is soooo 2013! Tonight my kids did for themselves AND me AND we had a home cooked meal. During dinner we flipped through Jack’s book, aptly called Twist It Up. We twisted it up today, thanks to him. His book was published just two years ago. I hope Jack is still healthy and whipping up more of his fabulous recipes. We’ve already picked tomorrow’s meal, Rockin’ Chili. No resolutions needed.

20140107-201459.jpgPlease know this photo does no justice to the meal. By the time I remembered to take a picture this was all that was left and it had been refrigerated for an hour or so. Presentation is everything.

linking up with:  The Jenny Evolution

Mmmmuffins

Although I don’t have them often, the pumpkin chocolate chip muffin is one of my favourite treats. There is a little bagel shop nearby that makes and serves them fresh everyday. They are moist, delicious, and quite large – almost a meal in themselves!

When on maternity leave, I would aimlessly push my stroller through the neighbourhood desperate for my child to sleep. My walks would usually take me by this bagel shop, and I would always stop in to grab a muffin and coffee.

Fast forward a few years, I realized I could try and make these muffins myself. A little search online lead me to this recipe. They are less than half the size of my bagel shop muffins, but they were moist and delicious. My family loved them.

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Here is the recipe Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins from allrecipes.com:

Ingredients:
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin ** I used the whole can
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.

Mix sugar, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.. Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

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linking up with The Jenny Evolution Flash Friday

Happy Thanksgiving

Here in Canada, today is Thanksgiving and because of the holiday, we get a long weekend!

Here are just a few photos showing how we spent our Thanksgiving weekend:

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A simple dinner of baked ham and roasted veggies.  Sometimes the simplest meals taste the best.

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My new collection of pumpkins.  I have been seeing the white pumpkins all over Pinterest and I am so glad I have some for myself!

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We spent this morning at Kits Beach.  It was such a beautiful day!  The sun was shining and the leaves are all turning a gorgeous shade of yellow and orange.

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This was our view for much of the morning.  We are so lucky to live near the beach.  The kids and dog actually went in the water! A little chilly for me, but they didn’t seem to mind one bit.

Back to routine tomorrow.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend, too!

Fall for Soup

The days are shorter, the weather is cooler and the leaves are falling.

This is definitely the time of year where my cooking style changes.  I lean towards warmer lunches and more comfort food for dinner.   I like to try and make different soups as they are quick, easy and a good way to get extra veggies into my family.  My husband has fond memories of his Oma’s homemade pea soup, and he also loves the pea soup my mom makes.  I have never made it, so thought I would give it a try.  I was surprised how easy it was!

I scoured a few of my cookbooks and a couple online recipe sites I use, and ended up using a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

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I love Jamie Oliver, his cookbooks and what he has done for educating people about the food they eat.  So, I figured his Pea and Mint Soup would be a good one to try.  All except the fact, that I didn’t have mint, but then again I have never had mint in my pea soup, so I figured it would be ok.  I wanted ham in mine, so I chopped some of the pre-cooked hams you can easily buy at the grocery store.

It required just a few ingredients and was so easy to make.  I actually did it in my crock pot on low for about 4 hours instead of on the stove.   All the ingredients were thrown in at the same time, and I blended it towards the end leaving some of the peas whole for more texture.   I don’t think there was any difference in the taste, and it was delicious!  My husband liked it a lot and even my kids thought it was pretty good (in a very small dose).

I would definitely make it again, omitting the mint.  After eating a few bowls of the soup, my husband said to me, “I don’t like peas, but I like pea soup.”  We have been together almost 20 years and I never knew he didn’t like peas.  You learn something new everyday!

Here is Jamie’s recipe:

Pea and Mint Soup
By Jamie Oliver

Serves 6-8
Prep and cook time: 30 minutes

  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 ¾ quarts chicken or vegetable broth, preferably organic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 ½ cups frozen peas
  • Fresh mint

Peel and roughly slice the carrots. Slice the celery. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel and slice the garlic.

Put broth in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Put a large saucepan on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add all your chopped and sliced ingredients to the pan and mix together with a wooden spoon. Cook for around 10 minutes with the lid askew, until the carrots have softened up, but are still holding their shape, and the onion is lightly golden.

Add the boiling broth to the vegetables. Add your peas. Give the soup a good stir and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Pick your mint leaves off the stems. (I used about 10, but Jamie doesn’t give an amount.)

When the peas have softened, remove the pan from the heat. Season with salt and pepper and add the mint leaves. Using an immersion blender pulse the soup until smooth.

Enjoy!

linking up with: The Jenny Evolution

Little slice…er, Chip of Heaven

 

Stumbled upon these at Trader Joe’s the other day and so happy I did.
Yum to the max!
Great seasoning, not too spicy. I make some in the oven but these are way better.
I will say that the dollar I paid each kid to try them was wasted. They scrunched up their noses, made gagging sounds and quickly washed them down with water.
More for me, I guess!

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linking up with The Jenny Evolution

Sunday Breakfast

I never used to enjoy breakfast when growing up.  Not sure why, but cold cereal just wasn’t my thing.  It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I rediscovered eggs, and from then on I was hooked on breakfast.

Before we had kids, my husband would make crepes for us on the weekend mornings.  We would fill them with yogurt and jam and devour them.  Years later we tried to get the kids to eat them, but they were lukewarm to the idea.

Enter:  pancakes!  I first used a mix (didn’t everybody?)  But one day when I didn’t have any mix, I decided to look up a recipe.  I didn’t realize it was so easy to make them from scratch.

Hello, Martha Stewart!

Since that fateful morning, I have always used Martha Stewart’s Basic Pancakes recipe.  It is simple and easy and everyone loves them.

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Here it is, direct from Martha’s website – enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Assorted toppings, such as butter, maple syrup, confectioners’ sugar, honey, jams, preserves, sweetened whipped cream, or chocolate syrup

DIRECTIONS

STEP 1

Preheat oven to 200 degrees; have a baking sheet or heatproof platter ready to keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside

STEP 2

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter (or oil), and egg. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture; whisk until just moistened (do not overmix; a few small lumps are fine).

STEP 3

Heat a large skillet (nonstick or cast-iron) or griddle over medium. Fold a sheet of paper towel in half, and moisten with oil; carefully rub skillet with oiled paper towel.

STEP 4

For each pancake, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter onto skillet, using the back of the spoon to spread batter into a round (you should be able to fit 2 to 3 in a large skillet).

STEP 5

Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter; cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in oven. Continue with more oil and remaining batter. (You’ll have 12 to 15 pancakes.) Serve warm, with desired toppings.

SOURCE: recipe and picture from Martha Stewart, Everyday Food, September, 2006 

Yum

I love food.

Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and plan out all my meals for the day. Not just for meal planning, but for the sheer enjoyment of food. I can often be found thinking about what my next snack or meal will be while I am still enjoying my current meal!

I’m a SAHM, so I do most of the cooking in our home, but occasionally my husband jumps in to help. He doesn’t have a lot of meals in his repetoire, but the food he does cook is pretty darn good.

Today’s Monday Listicles is all about our 10 favourite meals. Here is my list (in no particular order):

  • butter chicken – a family favourite whether it is homemade or from an Indian restaurant
  • crackers and hummus – yes, this can be a meal
  • my morning latte and toast with eggs
  • my husband’s homemade schnitzel with spaetzle – he grew up with this dish and now makes it for us
  • mussels and fries from our favourite French bistro, Les Faux Bourgeois (yum, yum, yum)
  • burgers at home with blue cheese and an icy cold lager – another of my husband’s specialties
  • pizza with olives, feta and salami – usually made at home
  • fish tacos – mainly a summer time meal, but oh so good!
  • pasta, pasta, pasta with a great wine
  • antipasto platter, again served with a great wine

Yum. I wonder what we are going to have for dinner tonight….