Month: March 2014

Ginger Chili Chicken

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I have been a bit under the weather lately as you can tell from my last post. With that said, I have been looking for quick meals with a lot of taste. And for some reason I have been craving spicy and tangy food the last two days. So after I finally dragged myself to the kitchen wrapped in a blanket the other evening I was looking for anything I could manage to make in under 30 minutes. This is what was scrounged up, basically my take on chili chicken. While dousing chicken in a chili sauce would have been much easier I made the sauce from scratch and it only took 5 minutes. Within 30 minutes I was back to be being curled up on the couch.

You will need 4 Boneless and Skinless Chicken breasts cubed and seasoned with some paprika.

For the Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Minced Ginger
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • Juice from 1 Lime
  • 1 Minced Garlic Clove
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

For the Garnish:

  • 2 Green Onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 Handful of Fresh Cilantro (finely chopped)
  • Sesame Seeds

How To:

1) Combine the above in a bowl.

2) In a large pan or wok heat up your Olive oil with about a tablespoon of water. Toss in your cubes of chicken and cook until they are no longer pink.

3) Add in the sauce and cook until it is no longer watery. (approx. 5 mins) Let the chicken brown a bit in the sauce then toss in the garnish mix.

Combine it all and serve with your choice of side. I myself did fresh cubes of cucumber.

Ginger, Lemon Tea and other Home Remedies

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Feeling under the weather?

Sometimes during the winter and even early spring months it is not uncommon. With cold and flu season in full swing chances are you will come down with a cold at least once during this time. Spending the majority of my time in an office setting in close proximity to people coughing, sneezing, blowing their noses and refusing to stay home when they are sick I often find myself in fear of catching a cold or whatever is ailing them. Besides the hand sanitizer and box of Lysol wipes I have at my desk to wipe my desk, computers, phone and mice, I have a pretty awesome tea collection going in my drawer as well.

I am not a big fan of the traditional medicine used these days by people who have colds, from pills and syrup to lozenges. I do not even remember the last time I bought a bottle of cough syrup for that matter. While my husband at first was skeptical of my natural alternatives and all gung-ho for his Dayquil and Halls slowly he has come around and I find himself making himself Ginger tea and taking a few drops of Oregano Oil when he feels a cold coming on.

I am not going to discount the traditional medicines out there, to each his own. I have used them myself but if and when I can, I try to stick to something more natural rather than pumping my body that is trying to fight off a bug with chemicals and things I can’t pronounce. Here are my favorite home remedies and natural alternatives to some common problems we find ourselves faced with during cold and flu season. Remember, these are my opinion only and since I am not a doctor do not take this as a cure all and always talk to your doctor before trying something new if you are unsure of how you may react. Wow I totally sounded like a commercial for a new drug haha. Anyways without further adieu…

For the overall “I think I am coming down with something” feeling:

I always take a Vitamin C followed by 2-3 drops of Oregano Oil under my tongue and wash it down with some juice. (Do not put the oil ON your tongue, you will not like your experience)

I usually replace my store bought tea with a natural one when I feel under the weather and below is the recipe:

Ginger, Lemon & Honey Tea (pictured above)

  • 3-4 Slices of Fresh Ginger
  • Juice from 1/4 Lemon
  • 1 Tsp Honey (I tend to use Organic)
  • Hot Water

Combine all the above in your favorite mug and let it brew for a few minutes then drink. (PJ’s and a cozy blanket are highly recommended as well)

For the “I have a cactus stuck in my throat” sore throat feeling:

Salt Water Gargle

  • 1 Tbsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup Warm water

Combine the above in a cup and let the salt dissolve. Let the water cool a bit then gargle a few times. Do NOT swallow the water. Do this at least 2 times a day.

For the “I may need a vacuum to unplug my nose” feeling:

When I was young I would get chronic sinus infections. Dealing with facial pain is very debilitating and pair it with a stuffed nose and you will definitely not be a happy camper. When I was younger I absolute hated doing these steam inhalations but now both myself and my hubby do them to help ease a stuffed nose and facial pain.

ย Steam Inhalation

  • Fresh Mint (or a mint tea bag if no fresh mint is available)
  • Pot of Boiling Water

Bring a medium sized pot half way filled with water to a boil and throw in the mint. Take it off the stove and place it on your table. Sit in front of it and place your face over it then cover your head with a towel. Take deep breathes in to inhale the steam.

*Do not put your face too low so you do not burn yourself with the steam and always have a box of tissues handy.

And finally for the “I should not have eaten that” upset tummy feeling:

Pepper Vodka Shot

Now, this one always gets a good tease from my husband followed by “wow you are so Polish” lol

It may sound funny but if something is upsetting your tummy and you are feeling queezy… try a shot of straight vodka with fresh ground pepper. It will either cause you to throw up whatever is making you queezy or settle your stomach.

Hope some of these help ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Mediterranean Quinoa Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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This quick and easy meal doesn’t require sides because they are stuffed into the chicken! There are endless ways and recipes for stuffed chicken breasts and they are always a great change from having just plain old chicken again. This particular recipe was inspired by my sister-in-law who a few years ago made an amazing Mediterranean Salad.

For the Quinoa:

  • 1 Cup Quinoa
  • 1 1/2 Chicken broth
  • 1/4 Tsp Oregano
  • 1/4 Tsp Cayenne
  • 1/2 Can of Artichokes (chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp Green Olives (chopped)
  • 2 Roasted Red Peppers (chopped)
  • 3 Tbsp Sundried Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Basil (chopped)
  • 1/4 Cup Crumbled Feta
  • 1 Garlic Clove (minced)

How To:

1) Combine your quinoa with the broth, oregano and cayenne. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to simmer until it is cooked.

2) Add in the peppers, olives, artichokes, tomatoes, garlic, basil and feta and combine together.

3) Set aside to cool.

Chicken Glaze:

  • 3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Baking:

Combine the above together.

1) Clean your chicken breasts and cut them open through the middle like a pouch.

2) Stuff the breasts with the quinoa mixture holding it together with a toothpick if necessary.

3) Brush on your glaze over the breasts making sure they are coated.

4) Heat your oven to 420F. Place the stuffed breasts on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 mins or until chicken is cook throughout.

 

Baked Lobster Tails with Garlic Butter

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I have officially made my husband a Lobster lover!

Some may think it is unheard of not to like such a rich and more often than not expensive crustacean. I myself have also not been the biggest fan. Lobster needs to be cooked just right and paired with the right flavors to properly bring out it’s amazing taste. Let me give you a bit of a background as to why my husband and myself for that matter have not really been the biggest fans up until now.

My first experience cooking these guys turned into a bit of a fiasco. By fiasco I mean me balled up in the kitchen crying, while my husband (at that point my boyfriend still) held the lid down on the huge pot of boiling water laughing at me while the lobsters made a screeching sound as they met their demise. Graphic yes, but that’s sadly how live lobsters around the world meet their demise every day in restaurant kitchens and homes alike. Wanting to be sure they were cooked through, I obviously over cooked them that day and the romantic Valentines dinner I had planned turned into a sort of bland, over-cooked memorial for the very expensive crustaceans.

Since then I have never been able to bring myself to buy live lobsters and go through that ordeal again. I now buy just the tails all cleaned up and neatly packaged at my local seafood store. Aside from this little experience from years ago, it seems like every time we have gotten lobster at a restaurant it is always missing a little something. It may just be us, but when I pay $50+ for a lobster dinner at a fancy restaurant I am expecting that meal to knock my socks off!

This past weekend, instead of boiling the lobster I decided to broil it instead. I paired it with a wonderfully flavored garlic butter and fresh lemon and let me tell you…it knocked our socks off! ๐Ÿ™‚

What You Need:

2 – 4 Lobster Tails (defrosted if you bought them frozen)

For the Butter:

  • 1/4 Cup Melted Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove (minced)
  • 1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 Tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Pinch Seasoning Salt
  • 1 Pinch White Pepper
  • Fresh Lemon Juice

How To:

1) Heat your broiler to 500F.

2) Combine your melted butter with the spices and garlic.

3) Cut your lobster tails along the back with a sharp knife. BE CAREFUL! the knife can slip easily! Pull the shells apart a little bit.

4) Squeeze some fresh lemon juice onto the meat followed by 1 1/2 Tsp of the melted butter mixture.

5) Place your tails into a glass baking dish and pop them into the broiler.

6) Broil for 8-9 mins.

7) Remove the tails and pour a bit more of the melted butter over the meat if you like.

Serve with fresh lemon wedges and sparkling wine ๐Ÿ™‚

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

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Let me begin with I LOVE Mexican food! The flavors, the spices the variety…any time I am looking for an awesome comfort food, chances are it includes something Mexican inspired. Now I cannot really explain how I came about to make this dish. Basically I asked my husband if he had any cravings for dinner that evening and all I got was “not really, anything is good” helpful isn’t it? Out of that however came the most random thought….Poblano Peppers! I had made them years ago, but since then have not made another attempt after having an awful meal served to us while on a vacation in Mexico. Who would have known…there is a bad way to serve these peppers, burnt to a crisp and filled with cream cheese and corn. Now, I am sure if done right that combination would have worked very nicely, they just did not make it happen. There are endless ways to make the stuffing for these peppers and really if you look throughout the Internet you will come across something you will like. I wanted something healthier than a container of cream cheese for dinner so this is what I whipped up. Since these pepper take on a slightly smoky flavor when broiled, using the freshness of cilantro and lime in the stuffing worked very well. (This dish is now being served next month at my wonderful Mother’s 50th Birthday)

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cooked Chicken Breasts (finely chopped)
  • 6 Medium Poblano Peppers
  • 1 Medium Portabello Mushroom (finely chopped)
  • 1 Tomato (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 Red Pepper (finely chopped)
  • 3 Tbsp White Onion (finely chopped)
  • 5 Baby Corns (finely chopped)
  • 1 Handful of Fresh Cilantro (chopped)
  • Juice from 1 Lime
  • 1 Garlic Clove (minced)
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 4 Tbsp Taco Sauce (I used Mild)
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Monterrey Jack Cheese

How To:

1) Preheat your broiler to 500F. Wash your Poblano Peppers and cut them open from stem to tip. Place them on a lightly greased baking sheet and put them in the oven. Roast your peppers (turning frequently) until they are blackened. (approximately 10 mins)

2) Remove your peppers from the broiler and remove the seeds and skins. Let them cool.

3)In a large pan heat up 2 Tbsp of olive oil and then saute your onions.

4) Toss in your red pepper and mushrooms and continue cooking.

5)ย  Add in the tomato and corn cooking it for about a minute.

6) Add in your chicken, cilantro, lime juice, garlic and spices. Cook for another minute to let the flavors combine.

7)ย  Add in your taco sauce and cheese.

8)ย  Remove for the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.

9)ย  “Stuff” your roasted Poblano peppers with your filling. Don’t be stingy add enough that the filling is visible from the top. You can use toothpicks to hold them together.

10)ย  Place the peppers back on the baking sheet and sprinkle a bit of cheese on top.

11)ย  Place in the broiler for 10 minutes or until your cheese turns golden.

Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚ I served up mine with some tortilla chips and fresh avocado on the side. Yummy!

Basa in a Ginger & Basil Infused Broth

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Last night after watching some Top Chef Canada I was inspired. The contestants were each given a country and they had to cook up a meal with inspiration from each specific country. I was obviously not on this show but I decided to play along. I chose Thailand since I had a lot of the right ingredients sitting in my fridge already along with the defrosted Basa fish. What turned out was this lovely Basa with a ginger and basil infused broth.

This was super easy and quick to make and made for a nice flavorful dinner. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ingredients:

  • 2 Basa Filets (defrosted if frozen)
  • 4 Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Juice from 1/2 a Lime
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Ginger (minced)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
  • 3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tsp Sesame Seed Oil (optional)
  • White Pepper (to taste)
  • Sesame Seeds and Chopped Green Onions for garnish.

How To:

1) Rinse your fish and place into a greased glass baking dish.

2) Combine all the above ingredients besides the garnish into a mortar & pestle. Grind the ingredients together to allow the flavors to combine.

3) Pour the sauce onto your fish and let it sit for about an hour to allow for it to marinate a bit.

4) Heat your oven to 500F. (I drizzled 2 Tsp of sesame seed oil over the fish at this point as well) Place our fish in the center of the oven and let it broil for 10 – 15 mins depending how thick your fish is.

5) Remove and garnish.

I used the broth that turned out as a sauce for our rice and it was lovely.

** Quick note: If you are ever marinating food in a glass baking dish in your fridge make sure you take it out at least 30 minutes before you pop it in the oven. If you do not let the glass come to roof temperature it can shatter in the oven due to the extreme temperature difference**

Yes, I learned this the hard way years ago.

Oh Deer!

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This whole meal started with one of my husband’s friends who invited himself over for dinner. He is an avid hunter and said that he would supply the meat (venison) if I cooked it up. I have never made venison so this was ALL new to me. Looking through the Internet I was not able to find very many recipes for making this sort of roast, and then it dawned on me! My grandma has been cooking up venison for the better part of 40 years since everyone back in the Homeland hunts regularly. So Tuesday night I placed a call to her to get her recipe and any tricks she may have. Her two main tips were as follows:

1) Cut off the clear filmy stuff and any white ligaments or excess fat (this is to get rid of the gamey taste)

2) Cure the meat for at least 2 days in a white sugar and salt mixture.

Curing How To:

Wash your roast and cut off any ligaments, fat and that filmy stuff. Rub the meat with white sugar and salt then place it into the fridge. Let it sit for 2 days.

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 6 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 All Spice
  • 1/4 Cup Beef Broth (i used NO MSG)
  • 1/4 Cup Dry Red Wine
  • 1/4 White Onion (chopped)
  • 5 Strips of Bacon
  • 8 Crimini Mushrooms (chopped)
  • 4 Carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 3 Celery Sticks (chopped)
  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil

How To:

1) Take out your roast about 2 hours before cooking to allow it to get to room temperature.

2) Pat the roast dry leaving the sugar and salt mixture on.

3) Rub the garlic all over the meat.

4) In a cast iron pot heat up your oil. Once it is hot place your roast in and allow it to brown on all sides.

5) Remove the meat. Add in your broth, wine, bay leaves and all spice, bacon and onions. Let it all come to a boil.

6) Reduce the heat to simmer and place your meat back in. Set the timer for 3 Hours.

7) Cook covered and slowly on a low temperature. I frequently turned the roast around to allow it to cook on all sides maneuvering the bacon to be on top of the meat.

8) With about an hour and a half left place your carrots and celery into the pot. Continue cooking.

9) With half an hour left put in your mushrooms.

10) Once the time is up you can take out the veggies and most of the broth. I set it all aside and the veggies were eaten as a side dish. (super flavorful!)

11) Turn your broiler on to 500F. Place the roast with the bacon on top into the oven uncovered. I broiled it for 8 mins to allow the bacon to crisp.

12) Remove from the oven and slice up the roast. I poured some of the wine and broth mix over the slices.

** This meat is super lean and can be on the dry side because of it so serving it with a rich sauce is nice. I mixed up some creamy horseradish sauce with sour cream as a dipping sauce and it paired perfectly! (again thank you granny :))