When You Just Can’t Do Another Chicken Noodle Soup

As many of you who read me know, I’ve been sick since Wednesday night and since then whining, whinging, sharing my woes with you.  You have all been remarkably kind and patient and your get-well wishes have been more than well-received.  I promise I’m on the upswing and will no longer bore you with my sickies!

I have missed my last two days of work at the club because of it. Yay! I mean, I’m so sad…  Yes, I am very sad about it. I believe the worst is over but I took no chances and decided to NOT go to a comedy show I had tickets for tonight and that way ensure I not share my germs with anyone else.  Besides, even if I were to sit isolated in a corner, every time I would laugh, it would be guaranteed to be followed up with a coughing fit and no one wants to be THAT person! So here I am.

I am completely chicken-souped out.  Seriously. Don’t show me another bowl. First I made (coz, yanno, I’m the mom so no one makes it for me, right?) the chicken broth, most of which was frozen but some kept to make Chicken with ginger and rice.  It was pretty darn good, I kid you not – enough for one of my kids to sneak a bowl or two…

Then yesterday, that first batch finally done, I remembered seeing a Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup box in my cupboard! YES!!! THAT’s exactly what I wanted. I was gonna make a batch, and stracciatella it by adding a beaten egg or two. Woot!  Open the cupboard. Damn. Gone. Sigh.

So, I made my own, of course.  I had the broth, I had the noodles. I had the eggs.  But of course, I decided to add a few itty-bitty veggies to it, coz, I just can’t help myself.

Now that is all fine and good. And between the lemon-honey-ginger teas and chicken-variation-soups, I needed me something else tonight. Plus my throat could take something with more texture by now.  I could have heated some leftover pork tenderloin but meh.

I’m still on an empty-the-fridge mission.  However, on Thursday, despite my feeling like crap, I had a hair appointment I did not want to miss so on my way home, I did a mini-get-only-the-necessities purchase spree.   This has given me a few more options.

I was in the mood for my take on Pol Martin’s “New York Style Croque-Monsieur”, which, to be honest, is a grilled cheese plus extras.

It should start off with decent bread, ok, I had some multi-grain sliced bread that was gonna be just fine. It needs cheese, preferably a gruyère or Swiss – I had Jarlesberg, black forest ham, bell peppers (both purchased with this sandwich in mind) and fresh cracked black pepper.

So, the first step is, one must cook the bell peppers in butter (I prefer the yellow, orange or red as they are sweeter) till they are soft but not mushy.

You then build the sandwich very specifically:  bread, cheese, ham, peppers. lots of cracked pepper, cheese bread. Don’t forget to butter the outside of each bread slice!

You then fry up this delicious sammy like you would any grilled cheese.

Once perfectly toasted, cut in half and try not to eat too fast…

Why the black pepper, you ask? Adds spice to the sweet of the peppers and ham. The cheese needs to have some personality to come in and give a slightly tangy bit to hang with both the sweet and spicy.  All I can tell you is the flavours play with your tastebuds in a most delicious manner!

Enjoy!

 

What’s In My Tin? Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins

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This NaBloPoMo thing has me all buggered up for my usual series!  The days slip by and I find myself wondering where to slip in a post not related to the Prompts!  I then end up doing two posts in one day and I worry that I exaggerate!

Soooo… as mentioned in the last edition of What’s in My Tin? I have left the apples behind and now give you healthy Banana chocolate chip muffins.  I’ve even added some nuts for texture.  Why not? They can be switched in or out, the chocolate chips increased or just nuts, up to you and what your family likes.  I like to put half and half as nuts are healthier than chocolate chips and I get no complaints from the Peanut Gallery.

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What’s not to love in that glorious mix of bananas, chocolate chips and nuts?  Even if it is the healthier version, my kids don’t even notice (or is it because Mom is always trying to give the healthier version and they’ve just gotten used to it?)

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You can get the full recipe here.  Enjoy!

A visit to Dalectables Is In Order

Hello my friends!

For those of you not in the know, I have another blog solely related to food, food, food!  The preparation, the recipes, the video tutorials (OK, still partly under re-design) but still accessible.

Please go and check it out!

Simple Marinara Sauce

While there, you could subscribe and see the site as it transforms, bit by bit!

Thanks and have a most excellent day!

A Stroll Down Recipe Memory Lane

Sometime during our breaks in yesterday’s tapings – we did have to wait for items to cook – I showed Laurie-Ève (my camerawoman for the day) my recipe book & magazine collection and explained to her that my love for cooking and entertaining really started when I was 18-19 years old.   Just to give you an idea…. here are most of them!

(Ummm…. Hello, my name is Dale and I am a Cookbook-a-holic….)

Recipe books
Where was I?  Oh yeah.  My boyfriend at the time had introduced me to the magazine called “Sel & Poivre” (Salt & Pepper) and I used to buy it religiously. I don’t think it exists any more.  I pulled out a random issue, dated Jan/Feb 1989 (L-E wasn’t even born yet!!!) – one that had survived  “the purge” – to show her that it was a great magazine for a neophyte cook such as I was at the time, as the recipes were pretty simple to follow.

As flipped through the pages, I landed on a recipe I hadn’t done since forever.  Oh yes!  I knew then and there that I was going to be making this particular recipe in the near future….

The future was tonight!  Can you imagine?  Shrimps flambéed in brandy on a Wednesday night!  Why not?
 

Shrimps Flambéed in Brandy
 
Dang…. if you squint, you can see a little of the flames on the upper right quadrant of the frying pan! Let’s just say it is a tad difficult to be the chef AND photographer at times! And I had to hurry up before the flames went out. Ah well… you get the idea!

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Added a little brown basmati rice and some steamed broccoli and voilà! Dinner in 20 minutes (and that’s ‘coz the rice is longer to cook!)

For those who may be interested, here is the recipe:

Shrimp flambéed in Brandy

1 leek, white parts only, sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 lb of shrimp (they say not to peel them but I hate having to peel my shrimp in my plate – so I peeled them!)
Salt & pepper
1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 Tbsp dry white Vermouth (I only had dark so I used it)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Pinch of tarragon
4 Tbsp Brandy, warmed
Fresh parsley for decoration (oops! totally forgot to add it!)

I peeled my shrimp and sprinkled them with salt & pepper and tossed them
I did not have any regular olive oil so I just used the extra virgin

Heat olive oil in frying pan and sautée leeks for 2-3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Heat extra virgin olive oil with the butter on pretty high heat. Add shrimp and toss to cook quickly until they are pink.
Add garlic and reserved leeks (and if you didn’t toss the shrimp with salt & pepper, add it now)
Lower heat and add vermouth to deglaze (scraping the bottom of the pan to get any delicious stuck bits) with a wooden spoon. Add thyme and tarragon and allow to reduce for a few seconds.
Sprinkle warmed brandy over the shrip and, using a long match, flambée.
Garnish with the parsley and serve with rice and veggie of choice, if you so choose to do so.

It’s Soup Time!

I am a soup-lover. I could eat one every day but, it seems to me you need to have a little bit of a chill in the air to really enjoy them – especially the hearty kind.  But then, maybe that’s just me.

I went out for a walk with the pooch Tuesday morning and you could actually hear the falling leaves landing on the frozen ground!  Alrighty then… we have just gotten a reality check! We are “Falling Back” with the clocks this coming Sunday which is a definite sign that winter is just around the corner.

Morning chill

Morning chill

That means it’s soup time!  That heart-warming, feel-good meal that I love so much. I set to work.

I was in the mood for a lentil soup so I went through a couple of my standard cookbooks, compared recipes and then finally made my own!

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
2-3 stalks celery, diced, keep leaves for garnish
2-3 garlic cloves, slice or chopped
2 cups of lentils, rinsed and picked over (I use Dupuy as they keep their shape well)
Salt & pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock, or water)
3 cups water
1 can whole Italian tomatoes, hand-squeezed
Large bunch of kale, stem removed, and chopped

Heat olive oil in stockpot and gently sautée 1st four ingredients until soften but not browned, about 5-6 minutes. Add lentils and mix around to warm up, about 5 minutes. This allows the lentils to get coated in the mixture of oil & veggies. Sprinkle in seasoning.

Add stock and water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and gently cook, partially covered, for 20 minutes or so – the lentils must be softened but still al dente and not mushy!

Add hand-crushed tomatoes, chopped kale and leftover celery tops (if using). Bring heat up to a low boil to cook kale, verify seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a touch of wine vinegar.

Guaranteed to warm up your tummy!

Inspired by Lidia

Yesterday morning was my annual physical so I could not eat breakfast at my usual time.  By the time I returned home from being poked and prodded, I was starving. Didn’t even want to take the time to toast a piece of bread so I poured a bowl of cereal and turned on the boob tube.  I ended up on TLN and Lidia’s Family Table was on.

It was a pasta special.  Hubby was sitting with me while I was watching, turned to me and said:  “You gonna make pasta for lunch?”  I answered that it was silly.  I make pasta for supper, not lunch!  He returned with “You can’t make me watch a special on pasta and not make me some! That’s just being mean!” Please note that if it were up to him, he would have pasta every day…

Soooooo…. what the heck?  I went through my cupboards and fridge and realised that I had pasta but not the corkscrew kind; I had beans but not the cannellini kind, I had cheese but not the Grana Padano kind.  Hmmmm, what to do?  What I always do – improvise!

So I made Lidia’s “Cavatappi with Sundried Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans” but MY way!

Adding the cheese & parsley

Adding the cheese & parsley

Bow Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Red Kidney Beans

Bow Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Red Kidney Beans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It turned out quite tasty (despite my using whole wheat pasta again!!) and I will be trying the official recipe in the near future.  For now, here’s my version:

Bow Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Red Kidney Beans

1 375g box of whole wheat Bow pasta
5-6 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, sliced + some of the oil
1/4 to 1 tsp chili flakes, to taste
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
2-3 ladles of pasta water
1 cup grated parmiggiano reggiano cheese
1/2 to 1 cup chopped parsley

Add pasta to boiling salted water (must taste like the sea!) and cook until just shy of al dente (the pasta will finish cooking in the sauce)

In a large skillet (I used a chicken fryer), heat the olive oil and add garlic, cook until soft but not browned, add sun-dried tomatoes, a bit (1-2 tbsp) of the oil from the jar and the chili flakes, salt and pepper, stir to heat through. Add beans and stir until all is heated through. Add 2-3 ladles of the pasta water until desired thickness is achieved. Bring to a boil and the reduce to a simmer.

Using a spider ladle

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Remove pasta directly from pasta water (shake some of the excess water off) into the sauce.

Mix well and just before serving, add cheese and parsley. Mix once more and serve.

Should serve 4, if you’re reasonable!

Cheap and Delicious

It is possible to eat a good meal on a small budget. Sure this recipe can be done with filet mignon or some other beef cut but let’s face it, we don’t always have the cash to splurge and frankly, when hamburger is on special, I stock up on it and try to find other ways to use it except spaghetti sauce meatloaf or burgers! Here’s my attempt to make it more interesting.

I always go for the extra lean meat and, much to my family’s chagrin, I usually use whole-wheat pasta as well. My son was not shy in stating that this meal would have worked so much better with white pasta! Whatever. My job is to try and feed this bunch in the most healthy manner I can. For that reason, I also replaced the usual sour cream with Greek yogurt and hoped to heck it would work! It did!

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

1 package of no-yolk, whole-wheat wide noodles (you can use the regular egg noodles)
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1.5 lbs lean hamburger
Salt & pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
4 Tbsp whole-wheat flour
2 cups beef broth
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup Greek yogurt (you can use sour cream, if you choose!)
Parsley for garnish

Bring water to a boil, salt it and add noodles to cook until al dente.

While noodles are cooking, heat large skillet on medium-high, add olive oil and brown meat, stirring regularly to ensure even browning. Add onions and mushrooms and cook for a good 5 minutes, until onions and ‘shrooms are soft. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Sprinkle flour over the meat and mix to blend in. Add broth, Dijon and tomato paste and mix well. Bring to a boil then lower to simmer, allowing mixture to thicken for about 5-10 minutes or so. If necessary, add some pasta water to the mixture. Add yogurt and blend well.

Serve sauce over noodles and sprinkle with a little parsley (if you’re feeling fancy!)

Hope you enjoy!

Another Apple Story…

I returned to my friend’s gorgeous apple orchard Le Verger des Dix-Terres to help him pick the last batch of apples. He had about a dozen or so trees to liberate. What a glorious day to do so! Just the right amount of heat, the sun kept peaking in and out of the clouds, and, even though the clouds decided to “share” their bounty, in reality, it barely misted us.

Most of the orchard had been cleared out: Flemish Beauty pears, Cortland, Redcort and Spartan apples. What was left were the Liberty apples and a few trees holding onto the most delicious, juicy, crunchy and sweet Honey Crisp Apples!

Verger des Dix-Terres

Verger des Dix-Terres

We worked for a good couple of hours before being treated to David’s most excellent burgers. Energy replenished, we went back to work for another three hours or so.

Iain working hard

Iain working hard

I must agree with hubby – one must have utmost respect for farmers of all kinds. They work their butts off! Those baskets we used to pick become quite heavy – especially when you are on your tenth one! I knew I would be feeling it the next day in my shoulders and upper back. I even ended up with small bruises on my thighs from resting on the ladder as I reached ever deeper into the branches.

In payment, we were given oodles and oodles of apples! Here comes more jelly!!!

My Bestest Sandwich

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This is my most favouritest, bestest, end-of-summer sandwich EVER!

I can’t wait for this time of year. Finally! The tomatoes are ready! Nothing tastes better than a tomato, warm from the sun’s rays, picked and sliced, a splash of olive oil a sprinkle of Fleur de Sel….

And, should you decide to “kick it up a notch” and add some substance to the fruit, you can create the perfect sandwich – well to me anyway…

Toasted whole wheat bread, a light coat of mayo, whole basil leaves, sliced tomato, both freshly picked from the garden, perfectly ripe avocado, sliced, not too thinly, and a broke yolk fried egg topping it all. A grind of fresh pepper a sprinkle of salt….

Oh yeah I am soooo happy right now! The mix of flavours just works for me!

Idle hands…not here!

What a jam-packed two days!! I feel like I’ve barely had a moment to just sit down and do nothing – or write until now, that is!

On Friday, I got a hot pepper delivery to heat up my apple jelly recipes… rubs hands with glee… from my buddy David, owner of Verger des Dix-Terres, He’d asked me to make some chili-enhanced versions of my jelly and was more than happy to supply me with the heat (my son’s peppers are not doing so “hot”!)

I had washed, halved, and cooked the crabapples (could not believe I had 14 pounds in my bag!) and set them up to drip before David arrived so I got to show him the results so far… He was pretty impressed at the quantity of juice that had already dripped.

Had lunch, cleaned up the mess that was the kitchen and it was already time to shower and leave to meet a friend for dinner. What a nice time we had! We met at 5:00 pm and ended up chatting until 10:00 pm!! We hadn’t seen each other in about a year and had a lot of catching up to do. We parted ways, vowing to not let so much time go before seeing each other again.

Saturday morning, our alarm went off at 7:00 am and by 7:30 we were off on our bikes, hubby equipped with a backpack as I needed strawberries to make my 21-year old niece’s birthday cake. We did a good 30 km all, did a very mini grocery and were back home by 8:30.

Started on my strawberry swirl cheesecake right away. While it was cooking in it’s water bath, I decided to make one batch of crabapple chili jelly.

I used about 1/4 of a 7-pot (ridiculously hot pepper). I let it float around in the juice for about 5 minutes, removed it and tasted it… I thought it had a good zing. So I then had my “expert”: my hot pepper-loving son taste it and no, according to him, it was too wimpy. Hmph! Alrighty then! Threw the same piece back in just as the mixture began to boil and let it hang out for another 2 minutes, give or take. NOW, it passes muster! This pepper goes right for the back of the throat. But in a jelly, you start off with a sweet taste and then you feel a little “what is that?” and then zing! right to the throat’s g-spot!

Next up was to skim the shmeg off the top and pour into 2 jars. Problem is I didn’t get it all (the shmeg) and ended up mixing it in and then couldn’t get rid of it. Ugh. No worries, it was the trial run. Not the prettiest of jellies but will do!

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By now the cheesecake should be ready and I can bake the marbled “will-be-longboard” cake that needs to be ready for Sunday morning. Nope, damn cheesecake is not ready so I give it almost an extra 1/2 hour, let it cool, pop it in the fridge and pray. Make the marble cake for tomorrow.

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Mom and the Aunts finally arrive around 1:30 pm or so for lunch so I take a small break. Oh, and I get them to taste the jelly and they love it and want some! Woot! Hubby makes his wicked burgers and we kick them out at 3:00 (we are all expected at my sister’s for 4:00 pm so the timing’s great).

I figure I have time to prepare my icing for Sunday’s cake, take a shower and…yeah. No way in hell will we make it in time! Give Sis a call to warn her we’ll be late and then get to work. Neighbour happens to stop by with a couple of brewskies so we don’t want to be rude… I can be sociable whilst I work! Make my icing, tint it in the desired colours and off to take my shower!

We join the party and enjoy yummy souvlaki and corn on the cob and – cheesecake – that did not completely take in the middle at the bottom! Sonofa… Crap! Crap! Crap! I was not happy. And on top of that I didn’t even like the flavour all that much (and unfortunately, neither did the birthday girl). Everyone else said they enjoyed it but, for me, failure. Let’s just say that particular recipe will not be staying in my “keepers” file.

This morning, I woke up before my alarm. It wasn’t even 7:00 and it’s Sunday! Egad! Well, I’ve got work to do so let’s go. Get that coffee pot on, check my emails, see what’s happening of FB and before I get totally lost, log off and start work my longboard creation.

It was to be picked up around 11-ish so I had no time to waste. I knew I’d have to go shopping for something to use for the wheels and I had some kind of dipped cookie in mind but the grocery store had none that tickled my fancy. The did however have “rainbow rice crispies treats so they’d have to do! I like the effect it had…

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So yes, I feel that NOW I can relax! But it’s time to make supper….

Have an excellent day/evening, dear readers!