Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Couscous Pancake with Topping Options

  • 1 C cooked couscous, cooled
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp beaten egg
  • 3 Tbsp dried grated Parmesan cheese (Kraft)
  • olive oil
1.  Mix together couscous, egg, and cheese.
2.  Heat about 1 Tbsp oil in small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Spoon one-fourth of couscous mixture into oil in skillet and flatten into a pancake.  Cook, uncovered, 3-4 minutes or until underside is golden.  Turn with large spatula and cook other side.  Repeat with remaining couscous mixture until four pancakes have been cooked.

Robyn's notes: I ate one of these pancakes alone, sprinkled with a bit of extra Parmesan, and liked it but definitely felt it would be a good base for something more.  Since the couscous I used was Parmesan flavour, I thought chicken with marinara sauce and a bit more Parmesan would go well, but have made so many things with marinara sauce recently that I wanted to branch out a bit.  Two pancakes I topped with about 1.5 oz each diced cooked chicken breast, then about a Tbsp each of marinara sauce, and sprinkled fresh Parmesan over the top.  Quite good!  The other two pancakes I topped with again about 1.5oz each diced cooked chicken breast, then about a Tbsp each of chunky applesauce, and sprinkled just a bare amount of grated Cheddar over top.  Also good, and the sweet from the applesauce was a good addition, though in this case I think I preferred the first toppings.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often 

One of my xmas gifts was a waffle-maker, which I had wanted for years, and I swore I was going to "waffle everything".  So I used this recipe to make a couscous waffle, which I have done several times.  It's good, though the pancake is a bit better. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Slow-Cooker Tomato Chicken Bake

This recipe has gone through some adjusting, but I was determined to find an easy way to use up some leftover pasta sauce that was in the fridge. 
  • 1 C rigatoni (no substitutions)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz total)
  • 1/4 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 C marinara sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
1.  Spray the inside of a 1.5 quart slow-cooker with cooking spray.  Pour pasta into crock, spreading to cover bottom.  Place chicken on top of pasta and top with cheese.  Pour marinara sauce over chicken and pasta, add water to crock.  Cook on LOW for 5 hours.

Robyn's notes: the pasta will not be al dente, because of the long cook time, but part of the point was that I wanted a recipe that I could just toss together and not worry about until dinnertime.  A medium sized, good thick pasta is necessary to hold up without becoming mush, which is why the rigatoni.  I used Barilla brand because it's the best quality my market sells and therefore the most heavy-duty.  Even penne is not as thick as rigatoni, despite being a similar shape.  The end result is not hugely exciting, but it's hearty, filling, and tasty, and requires so little work that it's worth making.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cream Cheese Mints

  • 4oz room temperature cream cheese (not light or 1/3 less fat)
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint or spearmint extract
  • 3 C powdered sugar
1.  Using a mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth (to get air into it), adding the extract at the same time. 
2.  Add powdered sugar 1/2 C to 1 C at a time and mix until well combined.
3.  As the dough is exposed to the air it will become less sticky.  Scoop up small amounts from the sections that aren't too sticky and roll into 1/2 inch balls, placing them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Quickly press each ball flat with a fork, lifting fork fast before it can stick.  Refrigerate several hours or overnight.  Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Robyn's notes: the first Christmas that I made these, I batched the dough into 3 bowls, adding red food colouring to one, green to another, and leaving the third white.  I then combined half balls of multiple colours to get the effect shown above.  The following year I gently swirled red and green food colouring into the white dough, so each mint ended up lightly marbled with all three colours.  This was easier and I liked the look better.  Leaving the mints white is totally fine, too.

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Monday, November 30, 2015

Cheesy Chicken Couscous Pie

This time of year it seems most people are looking to use up Thanksgiving leftovers.  While this recipe is a great use for stuff left in the fridge, it has no connection to turkey day.  Truth is, it's very cold outside (-12°F when I got up this morning), and I will basically do whatever is necessary to avoid a grocery store trip until it's a bit warmer. 
  • 1 C Parmesan couscous, cooked and chilled
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp beaten egg
  • 2 slices prosciutto, torn into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 C cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 4 oz chicken, cubed, cooked, and chilled
1.  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Mix together couscous and egg, then divide evenly between two mini pie pans, pressing into base and up sides.  Bake these shells for 15 minutes, then allow to cool for 3-5 minutes.
2.  Meanwhile, in a small skillet, saute prosciutto in butter until crispy, drain on a paper towel. 
3.  Combine cream cheese and milk, stir in all but 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese.   Fold in chicken and all but about 1 Tbsp of cooked prosciutto. 
4.  Divide chicken mixture evenly, pouring into cooked couscous shells.  Sprinkle remaining Parmesan and prosciutto over tops of each, and bake at 375°F for 15-17 minutes.

Robyn's notes: I had leftover prosciutto, couscous, chicken, and a mix of cream cheese and Parmesan in my fridge, which is how this recipe came into being.  But it can obviously be made from scratch if those items aren't hanging around.  While I try not to write recipes that call for specialty equipment, this one does require mini pie pans.  Without them, mini tart pans might work, but otherwise I can't advise for adjustments.  Bacon could be used in place of the prosciutto, in which case it might be wise to add a bit of salt, prosciutto is very salty so doesn't need it.  If cooking the chicken for this recipe, a bit of garlic salt might be a nice addition.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Creamy Tomato Couscous

This should look very familiar, as it's a variation on a recipe I posted not long ago.  I have this jar of marinara sauce needing to be used up, and the bulk couscous I have in the cupboard is tomato, so I thought "why not?!". 
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp butter (if desired)
  • 1/2 C uncooked couscous
  • 2 Tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 2 heaping Tbsp marinara sauce
1.   Bring water, salt, and butter if using to a boil in a small saucepan.  Quickly stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat.  Let stand 4-5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
2.  Combine cheeses, stir mixture into couscous. When incorporated, stir in marinara sauce.

Robyn's notes: I really quite enjoyed this, the tomato sauce gave it a little extra oomph that I liked.  I tested the recipe alone, not as the side to a meal, so I can't say what it would work best alongside.  

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

English Muffin Pizzas

Change of plan for dinner tonight, because I've misplaced my notes for the meal I was going to make, and after wasting a lot of time looking (and some time watching the snow), I gave up and decided to just make something quick. 
  • 2 English muffins, split
  • 4 Tbsp marinara sauce
  • 4 Tbsp mozzarella cheese
  • various preferred pizza toppings
1.  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Spread 1 Tbsp sauce over each muffin half, top with cheese and toppings of choice.  Bake at 375°F for 9-11 minutes or until cheese is melted and just browning at the edges. 

Robyn's notes: be careful not to oversauce, pizza really requires far less sauce than many people think.  This is a good option when needing something quick and easy, or to use ingredients left by previous meals, especially marinara sauce.  Speaking of which, for this occasion I cracked open the last jar of store-bought sauce in my cupboard--the rest are all homemade and therefore half-pints--so the clock is ticking on using it before it needs to be tossed.  Recipes utilizing it are forthcoming, and there are several listed in Using Up Ingredients.  Vegetarian if no meat is used as a topping.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Monday, November 23, 2015

Grilled Chicken with Chipotle-Orange Glaze

This is the recipe I bought the chipotles in adobo sauce for in the first place! 
  • 1 Tbsp orange juice concentrate, thawed (see notes, below)
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 oz total)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
1.  Preheat grill or broiler to high, lightly oil the rack.
2.  Whisk orange juice concentrate, chipotles, vinegar, molasses, and mustard in a small bowl.
3.  Sprinkle chicken with salt.  Grill or broil chicken for 2 minutes.  Turn the chicken, brush with glaze, and cook, brushing occasionally with more glaze, 4 minutes more.  Turn the chicken again, brush with the glaze, and cook until no longer pink in the middle, 2 to 5 minutes more.

Robyn's notes: the day is not coming when I will either thaw an entire package of orange juice concentrate in order to use 1 Tablespoon or try to shave off the right amount still frozen to just thaw a bit.  So what I did was juice an orange into a thin glass early in the day, and let it sit.  The juice will separate, with much of the water rising to the top and leaving a concentrated juice at the bottom.  I poured off the watery top and used just the remaining thick juice for this recipe.  Because of my sensitivity to spice, I didn't chop up the chipotle.  I left the whole pepper in the bowl when I whisked the glaze together, so it would provide some kick but not too much.  It's a good thing, too, because this was quite spicy for me, though quite good.  After slicing the chicken for the plate I drizzled on a little extra glaze.  I broiled this, but it would be oven-free if grilled.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Friday, November 20, 2015

Chipotle-Mornay Muffin Melts

I seem to be on a bit of a chipotle kick recently.  Since so much of the can is left over after each recipe, I was brainstorming and came up with a bunch of ideas that I thought would be good to try.  Then I got pretty busy elsewhere in life and had a few days in a row where I needed quick, easy dinners.  So instead of spacing those recipes out as I usually would, I had chipotle-based dishes a couple nights straight.
  • 2 English muffins, split
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced into coins
  • 1/4 tsp salt, divided
  • pinch pepper
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 3/4 C shredded Gruyere
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1.  Toast English muffins, top with a single layer of egg coins, and season with about 1/8 tsp of salt and the pepper.
2.  In a small saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour, remaining 1/8 tsp salt, and pepper.  Stir in milk all at once.  Cook and stir over medium heat till thickened and bubbly.  Stir in Gruyere until melted; add chipotle pepper and let adobo sauce incorporate completely.  Pour sauce over egg-topped muffins.

Robyn's notes: a Mornay sauce is Bechemel (white sauce) with Gruyere and egg yolks added.  In this case the egg is not in the sauce, but under it!  I thought this worked out pretty well, I was pretty stingy with the pepper and adobo sauce, so it just added a little kick and some depth of flavour.  My only real complaint is aesthetic, I wish the final dish wasn't so pale!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Slow-Cooked Baked Potato with Chipotle Cream Sauce

Sure, a potato can be baked in the oven, in the microwave, on a grill, even tossed into a campfire.  But sometimes on a busy or stressful day it's nice to know that your potato is ready and waiting for you, without your needing to do anything else to it.
  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 C mayonnaise
  • 1/4 C sour cream
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1.  Poke potatoes in several places with a fork, rub with oil and sprinkle with salt.  Wrap in aluminum foil, place in 1 1/2 quart slow-cooker, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
2.  In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, and chipotle with sauce.  Refrigerate, covered, for at least one hour to allow flavours to blend.
3.  Split potatoes, spoon sauce over top, and serve.

Robyn's notes: use as much or as little of the adobo sauce with the pepper as fits your preference for spice.  I'm very sensitive to it, so I use just the littlest bit.  The remaining sauce and peppers in the can will last a few days covered in the fridge, or can be frozen.  If freezing, pour into a zip-loc bag and seal, flattening the bag so that the peppers are in a single layer when the bag is laid on its side.  Freeze in that position.  Next time you need a pepper, you can break or cut off just the one with some sauce and allow it to thaw, without having to thaw the entire bag.  See Using Up Ingredients for other uses.  I find it really difficult to get small or medium russet potatoes anymore, unless I buy a 5-10lb bag.  If Jumbos are all that's available, one will serve two people.  It's been awhile since I had a baked potato come out as perfectly cooked as this: cooked through perfectly but not dry inside.  The sauce was a nice topping for it, though about halfway through the potato I had to start adding shredded cheese to cut down the spice.  But as I say, I'm very sensitive to heat.  I had some mashed potatoes in the fridge that I brought home from a potluck, so I saved a bit of this sauce to stir into them when re-heating.  That was ok, gave them a bit of a kick, but didn't provide much in the way of flavour, just spice.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Three-Cheese Mac with Crispy Prosciutto

This recipe comes from the cookbook "One Pan, Two Plates", which has some absolutely amazing-looking recipes.  However, from the moment I received it I simply couldn't believe the dishes inside were truthfully 2 servings.  As soon as I started this one, I had a sinking feeling about how many days this was going to have to be eaten (2 Cups of elbow mac is way more than 2 servings, according to the box of pasta it's just over 4 servings).  But I had purchased all the ingredients, looked forward to it for ages, and can't review a book without cooking from it, so I went ahead.  This is ridiculously oversized.  The only way this serves two is if one of them is a horse. 
  • salt
  • 2 C elbow macaroni
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto, cut crosswise into strips
  • 1/2 C panko bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 C warm milk
  • 1/3 C crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/3 C grated Parmesan
  • 1/3 C shredded Gruyere
  • pinch grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground pepper
1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Position rack in center.
2.  Fill 12-inch ovenproof skillet with water up to about 1 inch from the top.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add 2 tsp salt and toss in macaroni.  Stir once or twice to keep pasta from sticking.
3.  Reduce heat to medium-high.  Cook at gentle boil until almost cooked through, chewy but not tough (about 2 minutes less time than the package calls for).  Drain and run cold water over pasta to stop cooking and avoid clumping.
4.  Add 2 Tbsp butter to pan and melt over medium-high heat.  Add prosciutto and toss in pan until crispy, about 2 minutes.  Transfer prosciutto to plate.  Put panko in a small bowl, pour hot butter from pan over panko and toss to coat.
5.  Return pan to medium-high heat and add remaining 2 Tbsp butter.  When butter is melted, sprinkle in flour and 1/4 tsp salt.  Cook, stirring, until flour becomes foamy, about 1 minute.  Whisk in warm milk, and stir until mixture is thickened, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and all all three cheeses, nutmeg, and pepper, stirring until cheeses are melted.  Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.  Stir in macaroni and prosciutto until pasta is coated and prosciutto is evenly distributed.  Smooth top and sprinkle panko over top.
6.  Transfer to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until juices are bubbly and top is lightly browned. 

Robyn's notes: so many problems with this.  I don't give a lot of 1-star ratings, so clearly I had some issues.  We'll start with the two things that were entirely my own fault: a 12-inch cast-iron skillet full of food or water is beyond my ability to easily lift.  I'm disabled, and I get that this is not a problem for many cooks, but trying to move a heavy skillet full of boiling water from the stove to the sink so I can drain it was dangerous.  Secondly, my oven is not full-size.  It's not tiny, but it is slightly smaller than a normal oven, which means I don't have a burner large enough to accommodate a 12-inch skillet.  Ok, those are the only things that were my own issues.  I was very careful about the heat level, especially since my burner is small, but when I added the first butter in step 4, it smoked up fast and sudden and started to burn immediately.  I did the best I could with it, but that meant the prosciutto was given a slight burnt taste, as was the panko.  The sauce looked luscious and thick and creamy and cheesy when I stirred in the mac and prosciutto, but when the pan came out of the oven there was no sauce left.  The noodles were just dry, and basically have no flavour.  Any bite without a bit of prosciutto in it is bland bland bland.  Since this is, as I said above, way more than two servings, and the cheeses and prosciutto were not cheap, I will be eating this terribly bland meal at least once a day for the next couple days.  I am not happy.  

* 1 Star: Not Too Good. Neither of us liked this enough for me to bother making it again without complete overhaul

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pear Rose Cardamom Oatmeal

This recipe comes from Vegan Slow Cooking for Two or Just for You, which I've had for over a year and had not yet cooked from.
  • 1/2 C steel-cut oats
  • 2 C unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 small pear, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp rosewater, food grade
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • sweetener to taste (sugar, stevia, etc)
1.  Spray 1 1/2 qt crockpot with cooking spray.  Add all ingredients except sweetener.  Cook on low overnight (7-9 hours).
2.  Stir oatmeal well and add sweetener.

Robyn's notes: this tasted good, but I found the texture extremely unpleasant.  It was just a mush, and fairly slimy.  I sweetened with brown sugar and found myself adding quite a lot of it just to break up the unpleasant feel in my mouth.  

** 2 Stars: Acceptable. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, if I make changes

Monday, November 16, 2015

Curried-Pear Chicken

I love the smell of curry powder, but don't get the opportunity to use it as often as I'd like.
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 4 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 C dry white wine (see notes, below)
  • 1/4 C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh mint
1.  Season chicken on both sides with 1/8 tsp salt and pinch of pepper.  Heat 2 tsp oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook until well-browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
2.  Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 2 tsp oil to the pan.  Add pear, shallot, and curry.  Cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add wine and broth; bring to a simmer.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
3.  Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan.  Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to 2 plates.  Add coconut milk, cilantro, and mint to the pan and stir to combine.  Season with the remaining salt and pepper and spoon over the chicken.

Robyn's notes: I can't afford wine for cooking, so I simply used all chicken broth (or 1/2 C total) instead.  Another option is to replace the wine with apple juice.  I thought I had the fresh herbs in the house but turned out to have misremembered, so I just left them out.  I found the chicken really quite good, but it all went best when each bite had a bit of chicken with sauce, a bit of pear, and some of the Ginger Pear Rice that I made as a side.  

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Gingered Pear Rice

I was looking for a way to make a side of rice more interesting, and the entree used pear, so decided to jazz up the rice with that flavour profile.
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp pear, diced small
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 C white rice (not instant)
  • 1 1/3 C chicken broth or water
1.  In small saucepan, cook garlic in oil over medium heat until fragrant. Add pear, lemon juice, ginger, and pepper, and cook until pear is slightly softened, stirring constantly.
2.  Add rice and water, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes or until water is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork.
3.  Sprinkle with diced green onions just before serving, if desired.

Robyn's notes: this worked out well, but it wasn't a very strong flavour.  Served with Curried-Pear Chicken

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Honey-Vanilla Ice Cream

Without an ice cream maker. 

This recipe from Against All Grain was quite straightforward and worked well for me.  My only issue was that I had no blackberries on hand, and really just wanted vanilla anyway, so I decided not to bother making the blackberry syrup.  Without it, the honey flavour was far too strong for my taste.  The recipe made exactly 32oz of ice cream (I stored it in an empty Greek yogurt tub) and hadn't even eaten half of it after 6 weeks.  After taking the above picture, however, I topped the bowl with a few fresh raspberries, and that turned out to be perfect, cutting right through the overly-sweet honey.  So whether using blackberries or another berry, I'd call this a worthwhile recipe to try, but it needs that tart fresh aspect the recipe creator included.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Chocolate-Raspberry Surprise Muffins

I love raspberries, and used to just keep them on hand pretty much all the time.  But Yoplait has stopped selling the yogurt that is a necessary ingredient for my favourite dip for them, and the seeds do bother my tummy, so I have had a few times in the last couple years that a package goes bad without me finishing it.  This is another way to use just a few when some are in the fridge.
  • 1 egg white 
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar 
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted 
  • 1 Tbsp seedless raspberry jam 
  • 2 Tbsp flour 
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa 
  • 1/4 heaping tsp baking powder 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 1 Tbsp milk 
  • 2 Tbsp chocolate chips 
  • 6-8 fresh raspberries
  • 2 tsp additional cocoa
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 2 liners.
2. In medium bowl, add egg white and sugar and beat until combined. Add jam and melted butter and stir until mixed. Add flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and stir until smooth. Stir in milk, then chocolate chips. Pour 1/4th of batter into each muffin liner.  Toss four raspberries with 2 tsp cocoa and place two in each liner gently on top of batter.  Top with remaining batter, covering completely.
3. Bake at 350°F for 16-18min, or until cake is set. Top each muffin with 1-2 raspberries, barely pressing them into place.  Let cool completely.

Robyn's notes: tossing the inner raspberries in cocoa is done to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the liner during baking, without having a clump of white flour in the middle of a lovely brown chocolate muffin.  These are good, and since they went from idea to reality in less than 6 hours, I'm pretty pleased with them.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Friday, November 13, 2015

Raspberry-Glazed Chicken

For several years I found myself regularly running across recipes that called for "seedless raspberry jam", but couldn't find the stuff in any of my local stores.  I've made raspberry jam, but straining out the seeds was a pain, and due to my health problems I should avoid seeds as much as possible, so just substituting regular jam didn't seem the best idea.  I did eventually find the product, and of course bought it immediately...then couldn't find any of those recipes again.  This one doesn't necessarily require seedless, but I find it better and now that I have the jar I might as well enjoy it!
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 3 Tbsp raspberry jam
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 C raspberries (frozen and thawed is ok)
1.  In 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Cook chicken in oil 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until juice of chicken is clear when cut.
2.  In small bowl, mix jam and mustard.  Spoon jam mixture over chicken; top with raspberries.

Robyn's notes: I was pleasantly surprised at how good this was, as I expected it to just be acceptable.  The sweet from the jam combined with the sharp bite of the mustard worked great together.  I served this with Creamy Couscous, which I think was a good choice for the dish. GF: check your mustard, some brands are free of cross-contamination, others may not be. 

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Creamy Couscous

I love couscous, and am happy to eat it in pretty much any form.  But sometimes I want a little something extra without having to go to a lot of work in the preparation of a side dish. 
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp butter (if desired)
  • 1/2 C uncooked couscous
  • 2 Tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1.   Bring water, salt, and butter if using to a boil in a small saucepan.  Quickly stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat.  Let stand 4-5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
2.  Combine cheeses, stir mixture into couscous.

Robyn's notes: I used tomato couscous because it was what I had in the house, but plain would work equally well.  This could easily do with more of both cheeses, depending on what it's being served with.  I wanted a side that would stand up to the sauce of Raspberry-Glazed Chicken, but with another entree it might be better with a consistency closer to risotto.  I've made this several times and have really enjoyed it each time.  My favourite is Parmesan couscous as prepared above, but I've also been successful using plain couscous with flavored cream cheese.  I generally have a few triangles of Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss Garlic and Herb spreadable cheese wedges in the fridge, and have enjoyed that quite a bit.  

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Open-Face Breakfast Sandwiches

This is another quick dish I had regularly growing up. I don't buy bread products at the store very often, because they tend to start growing before I finish the package. So this is a good way to use up English muffins without feeling like I'm eating the same thing day after day.

  • 2 English muffins, split
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced into coins
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 3-4 oz Cheddar cheese, sliced
  • 2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled or diced
1.  Toast English muffins.
2.  Top each English muffin half with single layer of egg coins, season with salt and pepper.  Top with slices of cheese and sprinkle bacon on center of cheese.
3.  Microwave on high 20-45 seconds, until edges of cheese are starting to melt, but slices retain their shape.

Robyn's notes: as soon as these come out of the microwave they should be moved to a different section of the plate, or the condensation beneath them will make the English muffins wet and gummy.   Can be made without the bacon, if that's too much trouble or it's not on hand.

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tomato Soup Cake

I had never even heard of this type of cake until I got a Daughters of the Nile charity cookbook and saw the full-size recipe in it.  My immediate thoughts were a) weird; and b) if that works as a reduced recipe, it would be a great way to use up half a can of condensed tomato soup.
  • 1 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 beaten egg
  • 1/2 C condensed tomato soup (half of a 10.75oz can)
  • 3/4 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Raisins (optional)
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a mini cake pan or mini loaf pan.
2.  Cream together butter and sugar; add egg and tomato soup.  Mix well.
3.  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Fold flour mixture into batter, being careful not to overmix.  Add raisins if desired.
4.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake at 350°F for 33-36 minutes (loaf pan may require longer baking) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove to rack to finish cooling.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Robyn's notes: see "Using Up Ingredients" at top of page for uses for the other half of the can of soup.  I wasn't sure how far the batter would go, so prepared a few pans.  Probably a mini loaf pan would be just the right size, my mini angel food cake pan was over-full but still worked as the tube in the center helped the cake bake quickly.  This came out basically as a spice cake, really quite good and smelled fantastic, especially good during the holidays.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


I am well aware that there are a lot of people who think that S.O.S. is disgusting.  It does, after all, stand for "Shit On a Shingle", and it's not even the prettiest dish.  My stepdad and my sweetheart both refuse to eat it, but the cooks in my dad's branch of the service must have done a better job, because he had no problem with it, and therefore I grew up eating it from time to time.  And I like it. 
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • pinch salt
  • dash pepper
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 15 slices dried beef (from 5oz can)
1.  In a small saucepan melt butter.  Stir in flour, salt, and pepper.  Stir in milk all at once.  Cook and stir over medium heat till thickened and bubbly.  Stir in W-sauce.  Pull apart and tear dried beef into  chunks and strips, adding to sauce.  Simmer until beef is heated through, and serve over any starch.

Robyn's notes: I always have this over toasted English muffins, but it can be served over toasted bread, baked potato, pasta, whatever the preference is.  Go really easy on the salt, as the beef has a lot of sodium and it will overwhelm the dish.  Unopened, a jar of dried beef is shelf-stable for a very long time.  This only gets three stars because he won't eat it and because it's not the most exciting dish, it's just good and filling and I have nostalgia for it from childhood.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Monday, July 13, 2015

Chunky Applesauce

My mom has been making this applesauce for a good 45 years or so.  Back when she started, my great-grandfather gave her a crate of apples every year that he'd grown, and they had to be dealt with before they turned, so applesauce was a great project.  She doesn't use a recipe, so she sent me basic instructions for her method, which I have used repeatedly and turned into this recipe.  Read all notes before beginning.
  • 3 lbs apples (about 8 medium)
  • 1 1/2 C apple juice
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1.  Core, quarter, and peel apples, cut them into 1 inch chunks.
2.  In large saucepan, combine apple juice and cut-up apples.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
3.  Using sugar and cinnamon, sweeten to taste.  Be careful!  These apples and the liquid they're sitting in can burn your tongue.  Be aware that the apples will taste sweeter when hot, so for a very sweet applesauce it may be necessary to over-sweeten them at this stage.
4.  Return to a boil for about 1 minute, remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Smash with potato masher to desired consistency.  (For creamy applesauce, press through a ricer or food mill instead)

Applesauce is ready to eat at this point, or it can be preserved in a boiling water canner as follows.

5.  Carefully ladle hot applesauce into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove all bubbles; wipe rims and adjust lids.  Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner at sea level, increasing processing time by 1 minute for each 1,000 feet of additional altitude.

Yield: 5 half-pints

Robyn's notes: I've used several different varieties of apples, but have to say that my favourite batches have been made with two varieties together.  Because of what's available at my market this has generally been Fuji and Golden Delicious.  I have been told that the best varieties for applesauce are those as well as Braeburn, Cortland, Crispin, McIntosh, Liberty, and Rome.  Use a saucepan large enough that the liquid and apple chunks combined in it fill no more than 30-50% of the interior.  While simmering, the apples will splatter and bubble up the sides, so they need a lot of room in the pan.  The juice should be enough to cover the bottom of your pan by 1/2 inch.  A larger saucepan may need more than I use.  Water can be used in place of apple juice, but the flavor will not be as deep and more sugar will need to be used.  I always use 100% not-from-concentrate apple juice.  While I'm a fan of the assembly-line method of doing practically anything, I don't use it for prepping the apples.  As soon as they are exposed to the air they will start to oxidize, but this will be slowed when they're in the juice.  So I do each apple as quickly as possible without risking my fingers and move on to the next.  I have never measured the cinnamon, instead just dashing it in.  I quite like the taste of cinnamon in my applesauce, so if I use a bit too much I'm ok with it, it just makes for darker applesauce. 

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Homemade Magic Shell

"Magic Shell" is, of course, a brand name, but it's the term most people are familiar with. This is the chocolate sauce for ice cream that is liquid when it's poured on, then goes immediately solid.
  • 1/4 C semi-sweet chocolate morsels 
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil 
1. In double boiler, melt both ingredients, stirring to combine.
2. Remove from heat and allow to cool for two minutes.
3. Pour over ice cream, wait for shell to harden, and enjoy!  

Robyn's notes: if the sauce is not used right away, it should be refrigerated, as there are no preservatives like the bottled store-bought version has. The sauce will of course harden in the fridge, it can be microwaved to return to liquid form before using, or the container it's in can be placed in a hot water bath.

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Monday, June 8, 2015


There has obviously been a very long hiatus here. I'm not going to get too deeply into the reasons, but they're all health-related. My existing health problems have continued to worsen, and in ways that have had a serious impact on my diet. Originally, the site was temporarily closed because I was put on intravenous feeding only--nothing by mouth--for 12 weeks. If I'm not eating, I'm not cooking or developing recipes. 
When those 12 weeks were over, the IV feeding continued for another year, supplemented by eating in the usual manner. I was so ill, however, that I was not physically capable of cooking. So I did a lot of convenience foods and snacks like crackers (I fell in love with 34° Natural crispbreads). There have been a lot of other severe issues with my health, which all continue to the present day, but I am able to do some real cooking and baking here and there. When I'm having a good day, I tend to do some make-ahead dishes for the freezer, to make things easier on bad days. This past Xmas, my sweetie gave me a beautiful KitchenAid stand mixer, which I adore, and we have a garden now, so some canning and preserving is planned.
While I can't say that updates will be particularly regular (and most of what I made in the past couple years I took no pictures), I'm re-opening the site. Here's hoping for good days in the kitchen for a long time to come!