food amongst family and friends

How to make your kids eat salad: Put it in a jar June 20, 2012

Not to mention how to make your husband eat beans. I saw this recipe in (surprise, surprise) my new Gourmet Weekday cookbook and immediately wanted to make it, but then hemmed and hawed because, while I new I would love it, I wasn’t sure my family would. But this week is a bit of a madhouse around here and I have been needing dinners that I can make in the afternoon and then eat immediately upon our return from bike camp, so this layered salad was perfect. Soooo glad I did. I never would have dreamed that every member of my family would gobble this up and rave about how good it was (and I’m going to pretend it has nothing to do with feeding them 2 hours later than usual after a long afternoon of bike camp). It’s greek salad with black eyed peas and orzo and it’s amazing. The lemon zest and fresh oregano make this what it is (not to mention the feta and olives, but you new that already), so don’t skimp on those. This is supposed to be a picnic idea, hence the jars, but the kids thought it was awesome to eat out of a jar, even at the table, especially since they got to shake it up before they ate. I think next time I might try some little shell noodles instead of the orzo, just to switch it up (plus my youngest chokes on orzo a bit, who knew), but this will definitely be made again this summer as a make ahead, come home to a fresh homemade dinner sort of meal.

Notes: this took me about 30-40 minutes to put together, inclusive of all the chopping and finding jars and everything. It would make 4 adult portions, or in our case, 2 adult portions and 2 kid portions, plus a next day lunch portion for me. We ate ours with pita chips and hummus.

3/4 cup orzo (or other tiny pasta) ($1.00)

1 19 oz can black eyed peas, rinsed and drained ($1.00)

1 large tomato, diced (I think halved cherry or grape tomatoes would be good here) ($0.47)

1 Tbsp each, balsamic and white balsamic vinegars (or 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar) ($0.15)

2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.10)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

3 mini english cucumbers, halved and chopped ($1.50 – can be reduced slightly by using a big cucumber)

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved (you can chop them finer if you wish, but not everyone in my family likes olives, so this way they can pick them out) ($1.73)

1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion ($0.27)

1 heaping tsp lemon zest ($0.50, inclusive of the lemon juice)

juice from 1/2 lemon

1 heaping Tbsp chopped, fresh oregano ($1.00)

1 coarsely chopped heart of romaine ($0.66)

1 cup crumbled feta ($2.33)

1. Cook orzo. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.

2. Meanwhile, toss tomato and black eyed peas with vinegars, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 of each the salt and pepper. Allow this to marinate while you prepare the rest, stirring occasionally.

3. Toss together orzo, cucumber, olives, onion, lemon zest, lemon juice, remaining Tbsp of olive oil and remaining salt and pepper.

4. Prep your jars (or make in a large clear bowl for a pretty presentation). Divide tomato/black eyed peas mixture (with juices) amongst your jars, then the orzo mixture, followed by romaine and finally, the feta. You can serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Best served at room temperature.



Total cost of the meal: $10.71

Cost per serving (assuming 4 portions): $2.68



Easy, cheesy, creamy Chicken Mushroom Lasagna June 18, 2012

Filed under: Chicken,Mains,Pasta — blisteringlydrunk @ 12:23 pm
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I bought a new cookbook. It’s not something I do very often, but when I do it’s sooooooo exciting. This one is Gourmet Weekday from the now defunct Gourmet magazine and it is full of lovely, easy, tasty dinners that don’t take half your day to prepare. That said, this being from Gourmet, they aren’t necessarily 5 ingredient, 30 minute dinners either, but somewhere in between. This was the first one I tried and it was lovely. I subbed in fresh whole wheat pasta sheets for the oven ready ones and used Grada Padano instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano, because that’s what I had. I would recommend adding in some rehydrated dried wild mushrooms if you’ve got them, incorporating the liquid into the sauce, for a flavour boost if you like mushrooms. This was creamy and flavourful and everything you want from a treaty meal, without being too rich, especially when accompanied by a nice green salad. I increased the proportions to accommodate my 3 quart casserole dish instead of an 8×8 square, so this is my recipe for the slightly bigger dish. Hope your family likes it as much as mine – this finally convinced my 6 year old she likes mushrooms!

10 oz cremini (brown) mushrooms, thinly sliced

a handful of dried, wild mushrooms, rehydrated, liquid reserved (optional)

3 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil

6 Tbsp butter

1/3 cup dry white wine

3 cups shredded chicken meat, from a deli roast chicken (approx. 1/2 a chicken)

3 1/2 cups whole milk (I used 2% and a little cream)

1/3 cup flour

4 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 cup grated Grada Padano

6 fresh whole wheat pasta sheets (my dish uses 1 1/2 sheets per layer, you may want to measure yours to ensure you have enough sheets)

2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere

1. Preheat oven to 425 and find a 3 quart casserole dish (a deep 9×9 would probably work as well)

2. Cook mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper in oil and 1 Tbsp of butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are softened, then add the wine, wild mushrooms and liquid, if using, and boil for 2 minutes. Stir in chicken and set aside.

3. Warm milk either in a small saucepan or the microwave, so that you are not adding cold milk to the sauce. Melt remaining butter in a 4 quart saucepan over medium low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly until all is incorporated. Add thyme and 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook for another 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. Remove from heat and scoop out 1 cup of sauce, set aside.

4. Stir parmesan into the sauce in the pan, then add the chicken mixture. This is the filling.

5. Spread 1/2 of the reserved sauce on the bottom of the pan to coat it. Add the first of layer of pasta sheets, and 1/3 of the filling, then sprinkle 1/4 of the Gruyere on top. Repeat 2 more times, then top with remaining pasta sheets, the remainder of the reserved sauce and the remaining Gruyere.

6. Cover with foil, making sure the foil does not touch the top of the lasagna, then bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden on top. Let lasagna stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.





Fanny Bay oysters with bacon-cayenne butter June 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — blisteringlydrunk @ 7:00 pm

James and I are on Vancouver Island this week, which means daily seafood and ocean views. Yay for us! We’re staying in Fanny Bay, which is famous for its oysters, so we’re eating lots of them. We begin each evening by throwing back a few raw – delightful!

This, however, is a recipe for barbequed oysters. I borrowed it from Bon Appetit and had to take a more rustic approach, given that I was using a knife rather than a food processor. I loved it. It’s treaty enough to make for your favourite company and easy enough to make for LOTS of company. Enjoy!


serves 2

1/4 t cayenne

pinch salt and pepper

1/2 cup butter

2 slices bacon, cooked and finely chopped

handful fresh herbs (parsley and cilantro are nice), finely chopped

juice and zest from half a lemon

3 cloves garlic, minced

splash apple cider vinegar

Combine all with wooden spoon and really whip it until smoothish…or use a food processor. Roll into a log, wrap in plastic and store in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

12 oysters, shucked and on the half shell (don’t dump the juice!)

Top each oyster with a slice of butter, then cook on a smokin hot barbeque (on an old cookie sheet or right on the grill) for about 4 minutes. Serve immediately.


Cocoa(nut) banana bread June 7, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Loaves — blisteringlydrunk @ 3:12 pm
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I’ve been making this banana bread like a fiend for a couple of months now; it’s my go to recipe for when I open the freezer and brown bananas start falling out (seriously, I keep them on the door and when it gets over loaded its like an avalanche whenever I open the freezer). And every time I share it with someone, they ask for the recipe, which I have been slacking on . . . until now. So here it is, the chocolatiest, coconutiest banana bread around.

3/4 cup sugar (you could probably get a way with 1/2 cup, especially if using flavoured yogurt)

1/2 cup coconut oil (which is solid, like butter, which by the way works perfectly here if you don’t have coconut oil; I’ve used both. But try the coconut oil; it’s better for you and gives it a nice crisp crust)

3 ripe (or overripe) bananas, mashed

1 Tbsp coconut rum (or regular rum or vanilla, depending on what you’ve got)

1 3/4 cup spelt flour (you could also do half and half whole wheat and all purpose)

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp each, salt and baking soda

1/3 cup yogurt (coconut flavoured if you have it, plain if you don’t)

1/2 cup each, chocolate chips (or chunks) and shredded unsweetened coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease and flour your loaf pan. I often double the recipe and use 2 loaf pans and one mini loaf pan, so keep in mind this is a big loaf.

2. Using a stand or electric mixer cream together sugar and coconut oil. Add in bananas and blend well.

3. In a separate bowl, combine flour through baking soda, giving it a good whisk to blend. Add half the flour mixture to the banana mixture, then the yogurt, then the remaining flour mixture, stirring just to combine each time. Fold in chocolate chips and coconut.

4. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 55 – 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then flip out onto rack and cool completely.






Summer Staple – Turkey Burgers for every occassion June 5, 2012

Filed under: Mains,Make Ahead,Quick and easy,Sandwiches,Turkey — blisteringlydrunk @ 8:26 am
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This is a post in honor of my niece and nephew who just had their first baby (a boy named William). They came to visit about a month ago (pre-baby) and made us these amazing burgers, which I have since made several times. They freeze really well, but they also only take two minutes to throw together, so making a bunch in advance isn’t necessarily worth the effort. Aside from the ease of assembly, these burgers have many attributes; they are moist and stay together beautifully – I have yet to have one fall apart on the grill; the flavour is lovely, yet neutral, so you can top them any way you want to (above, we used goat cheese and sundried tomato pesto; heaven); the kids LOVE them (this is the only way my daughter eats zucchini) and they are way healthier than your standard beef burger. All in all, exactly the kind of recipe you need in your repertoire for the coming summer. Try these, you won’t regret it. Thanks for the recipe Sam and Steve, and congratulations, we can’t wait to meet William!

1 lb ground turkey (or chicken, though it’s a little harder to work with)

1 medium zucchini, grated (I use my food processor)

1 tsp each, garlic and onion powder (fresh onion and garlic could be substituted, my kids are sometimes just texture sensitive, so this adds flavour without any weird chunks)

1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika (sub hot paprika or cayenne if you like things spicier)

salt and pepper to taste

Fresh herbs – I haven’t tried this yet, but plan to once my herb garden comes into its own. The neutral flavour of the turkey and zucchini would lend itself well to whatever fresh herbs you have kicking around; sage, basil, oregano, rosemary. You could chop it and throw it right in the burger or use it as a topping.

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mixing with your hands until just combined. Divide into 4-6 balls (depending on how big you want them) and shape into patties. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Preheat the grill to high. Cook 5 minutes a side; burgers should be white and staying together, but still moist, and since they are not fatty, they won’t shrink in size much.

Topping suggestions:

Fresh basil, tomato and thick sliced bococcini

Goat cheese and sundried tomato pesto

Goat cheese and fresh salsa (think Katie’s nectarine or avacado salsa’s)

Goat cheese and tapenade (are you sensing my love of goat cheese yet?)

Gruyere, grilled apple slices and fresh sage