Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Healthy Southwest Chicken and Rice Bake

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What's in your freezer?



Pinit 

So, it's just The Hubby and me in our house, but in looking at our freezer you would think differently.  Here is what I saw when I reluctantly did a freezer clean recently:
  • 8 chicken breasts, 1 beef tenderloin log, 1 whole chicken, 2 packs bacon, 2 steaks, 2 bags prawns, 6 salmon fillets
  • 7 or more partially used bags of peas or corn or pea/corn combo
  • 3 tubs partially-consumed vanilla ice cream with an inch of icy freezer crust on top
  • 8 bags of sliced bread with only two pieces of crust remaining per bag (never to be eaten)
  • 1,000,000 black bananas
  • other, other, other x 100
My inventory of our pantry yielded similar (non-frozen) results.  8 cans of black beans, 7 boxes of pasta, 2,000,000 granola bars, too much uneaten food.  So I threw out the old ice cream, downsized my banana collection, and told The Hubby that we had to try to go a month without buying any new food except dairy products and fresh fruit and vegetables.  We're on about Day 14 now, our freezer is halfway emptied, and our pantry is slowly depleting in stock.  It takes a bit of planning and creativity, and so far almost every meal has included frozen peas or canned black beans, but it's been kind of a fun challenge at the same time.  For instance, I came home from work last night and The Hubby had prepared a chicken, pea, and pasta casserole...and after a long day at work it was exactly what I wanted to eat for dinner, and all that I could think was that I had married some kind of Top Chef or something. That is, until we flicked to Top Chef on tv while we ate dinner!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Amy's Lentil Soup Copycat Recipe

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Lentil Soup.  It's not not ugly...


But guys, remember Beauty and the Beast?  Looks aren't everything!!!  Behind that plain-looking mask is all of this deliciousness...

Side Note:  The Hubby refers to an Onion, Celery, and Carrot mixture as 'The Trifecta,' which stems from confusion over the cooking term, 'The Holy Trinity,' (which is Onion, Celery, and Bell Pepper), and this makes me laugh every single time.  Because he says it every single time.  It's funny.    

This soup is one of my new favourites, and here is why...

I'm so predictable with my lunches at work.  Four days out of five I will bring soup, whether it's homemade or out of a can.  It's so predictable and so boring, but it works for me.  My co-worker / friend Tyler says "Classic Megan" every single day when he sees me and my soup.  And if I'm eating a canned soup, nine times out of ten it will be Amy's Organic Lentil Soup.  The problem here is that Amy's Soups are expensive when you purchase them one by one, usually about $4 per can.  Now friends, at Costco you can get an 8-pack for about $12.25, which reduces it to about $1.50 each.  And what's even better is that one time (my other co-worker / friend Ashley will totally be rolling her eyes at this story because she's heard it about five times), I even picked up the 8-pack on sale for $8 (quick math = $1 per can!).  Ever since then I have been chasing the dragon, but the deal has never reappeared.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Traditional Italian Sausage Lasagna

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While I'm on the Italian Sausage bandwagon...



This blog's tagline is The Kitchen Confessional of Megan McLeod...well, here's one for you.  All of the mozzarella cheese that went into this lasagna fell off the counter and onto the floor before I assembled the lasagna.  All of this precariously placed cheese, onto the non-swept floor...

Five second rule!
...and then into a lasagna.  Don't tell The Hubby!!

Second kitchen confessional is that I wear these onion goggles every single time that I cut onions.  They totally prevent my eyes from stinging and crying.  Plus they are obviously super stylish!

Hi 

So, our garage was broken into a couple of weeks ago.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kendra's Italian Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

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It's amazing how many times you can forget not to touch your eyes after handling jalapeños.  For me, like 12 times probably.


Pinit 

Which is enough to make me wonder for a moment whether I have short term memory loss or whether maybe I am just a really slow learner.  Kendra's public service announcement is that you may want to use disposable gloves for this recipe (especially if you wear contact lenses) to protect your eyes and skin from the spicy jalapeños.  Or like me, you can just...not...

Who is Kendra, creator of Jalapeno Poppers, you ask?  Well, Kendra and I have been friends for ten years now, she was one of my bridesmaids, and she's one of my besties.

Kenji and me.

We met while working together at Milestone's Restaurant back in the early 2000's, most likely while commiserating over waiting for 'campers' (restaurant guests who linger even after the restaurant is closed, for no apparent reason, and don't take a hint to leave even after the ugly lights have come on and two waitresses are staring them down awkwardly from the other side of the restaurant) to finally go home so that we could do the same (or - let's be honest since we were 20 years old and worked in a restaurant - go to the bar).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Healthy 'Everything' Cookies

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Coconut, seeds, fruit, nuts, dark chocolate, the works!



Pinit

I'm back, and baking again.  I know!  I know!

Last year, as part of a Christmas gift from my cousin Samantha, she gave me a mason jar filled with all of the dry ingredients for these cookies, as well as the recipe to make them.

Beautiful!
I am always amazed by how good at beautiful, creative, crafty things some people can be.  And this person in particular is actually a member of my family!  The creative gene must have skipped me, along with the thick hair and blue eyes genes.  Sigh.

My cousin Samantha (left), my brother Braeden (top middle), me (right), and my cousin Darryl (bottom middle).
Clearly I am not in on the joke.  I hope it's not about my pyjamas.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Flourless Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake

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"This is the best cake I have ever eaten in my life." - The Hubby
"That is a quote that I will be using in the blog post about this cake." - Me


Pinit 


You may have concluded from the lack of desserts, cookies, cakes, pies, squares, brownies, and other sugary indulgences on this blog that I don't have much of a sweet tooth, and you're correct.  Except for ice cream.  OMG ice cream.  The best.  Ice cream is the best.

But, every once in awhile the mood strikes for something a little sugary, and that's why I decided to take on this Flour-less Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake.

My brother's girlfriend also has a food blog, The Bookish Cook, and when we were over at their apartment for dinner one night she served this cake for dessert.  I think she is one of those people who can just, like, invent recipes and doesn't have to follow cookbooks (jealous), and this cake was her brainchild.  It's decadent.  The idea of it being flourless and therefore gluten free was also super appealing.  Because of the chilies, it kind of tastes like the Lindor Chili Chocolate Bar that I also crave on rare occasions.  It must have to do with the idea of a savoury thing being combined with a sweet thing.  I just love that sweet and savoury combo.

The Hubby freaking loved this cake though, even more than me.  He raved about it and its warm and super chocolately goodness with a bite of spice.  So I knew that I had to make it again when his parents came over to our place for dinner one night.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Coconut Chronicles / My Dad's Teriyaki Salmon!

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Hi all!

Just writing to let you know about the spotlight on Playing With My Food over at the Coconut Chronicles blog.  Man, I think this is so cool!  

Coconut Chronicles was created in 2003 by the globe-trotting, spontaneous, cat-loving, opinionated (in a good way), and very funny Kristene Perron, as a weekly newsletter to help family and friends keep up with her while she was living with her hubby in the Caribbean.  It has turned into a smartly-written blog about whatever happens to be on Kristene's mind, from observations about human nature and life, to travel, to cats, to writing, and all sorts of interesting gems in between.

Kristene!
Kristene is a family friend and my former next-door neighbor.  In a past life she was a stunt-woman, and is now a published author of her first novel, Warpworld (www.warpworld.ca).  Warpworld is the first instalment in a five-part sci-fi book series, and if you like The Hunger Games you will love this book!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Jill's Fresh Cut Mango Salsa

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Every year The Hubby and I go to our friend Jill's family's cabin for a weekend at the lake, and every year I request that Jill make her mango salsa while we're there.  And every year she does.  And this is it.


Pinit 

And this is her making the salsa.




Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Drunken Vodka Gummy Worms

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Do this.



It's magic how it works.  You take a container of gummy worms, dump a mickey of vodka over top, close the lid and refrigerate for 24 - 48 hours, and - VOILA! - the gummy worms soak up the vodka and you have delicious vodka gummy worms.

I realized that I just used the word 'mickey' to describe how much vodka to use, and should probably define this 'Canadianism' for any non-Canadian readers.  A mickey is a Canadian term used to describe a small 13-ounce (375 mL) bottle of any hard alcohol.  Read all about it at this cool website that I saw that translates some common Canadian terms - America's Guide to Canadianisms.  Do you know what a 'chesterfield' is?  How about a 'toque?'  My mind was just blown when I learned that 'Kraft Dinner' is a Canadian term...they don't call it that anywhere else?!  My friend from San Francisco was razzing me for calling our new garburator just that, a 'garburator.'  Apparently they are called garbage disposals in other parts of the world.  We also don't say 'soda,' we say 'pop,' we don't say 'whole milk,' we say 'homo milk (the short term for homogenized, people!),' and we don't say 'candy bar,' we say 'chocolate bar.'  Also, our new 100-dollar bills smell like maple syrup.  I'm not even joking about that - Google it.  I personally think that they taste like chicken.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Heirloom Tomato Caesar Salad with Parmesan-Bacon Crisps

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Have you noticed that Heirloom Tomatoes are starting to 'crop up' everywhere these days?


Well, not everywhere as in at the gas station or library, but almost every produce store and supermarket seems to carry these beautiful fruits at a reasonable price, whereas in the past they seemed like something you would have to seek out at Whole Foods.  They come in all colours of the stoplight rainbow - bright yellow, striped red, lime green - and look absolutely mouth-wateringly beautiful in a salad.  The coolest thing about them is that all of the various types are so different from one another in terms of acidity, texture, sweetness, crunchiness, and of course, attractiveness, which makes a salad like this one so interesting.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Fresh Mint

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I'm back baby! (said me, not the watermelon salad)



Pinit

I know, I know -  I should have called, I should have written.  But it's rare that we get a summer this outstanding where I live, and so I let myself downward spiral away from this blog and cartwheel (imaginary cartwheel because I never learned how to do a real one) towards BBQs, beer, golf, friends, family, weekend trips, backyard parties, important celebrations, one very productive closet overhaul where I offloaded four garbage bags of old clothes, and one extremely shockingly productive weekend gardening-o-rama where The Hubby, my mom, and I did all of the sprucing up to my house's back and front yard that we have been meaning to do since we moved in four years ago.  Please excuse my run-on sentence, but that was a lot of stuff.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Warm Potato Salad (Earls Restaurant Copycat Recipe)

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You know the Warm Potato Salad from Earls Restaurant?  The one that I sometimes dream about?


Pinit 
I think this is it.

To figure out how to make the Warm Potato Salad, I had to go to Earls Restaurant (twice, or maybe three times) to do a little 'research.'  While doing the recon (more than once, just to be sure), I got to hang out with friends and drink wine and eat delicious potato salad.  It was a very labour intensive education process, as you can imagine.  Here is what I learned:

1)  Huge pieces of bacon are necessary.  You can't just have little bits of bacon in this salad, you need a large mouthful of bacon.  Also, if a little bit of bacon grease happens to accidentally spill into the dressing, that is not a problem and people will like this salad and you more.

2)  Roast that *#@$!  Roasted corn and roasted baby potatoes and roasted garlic are key.  Flavour central.

3) Dill is such a great herb.  Sour cream is such a great dairy product.


  
4) This is really not a salad at all.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cantaloupe Gin Cocktails

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I know what my mom wants for Mother's Day...


Pinit 

I seriously almost can't even concentrate on the cocktail at hand because of the stunning view in the background.  Just a 40-minute ferry ride away from downtown Vancouver is paradise at my friend Cleary's vacation home in Sechelt, BC, where she, my friend Ashley, and I spent last weekend sipping on these Cantaloupe Gin cocktails.  There were dolphins out swimming around (I couldn't see them - I can never easily find cool stuff in nature when people point things out to me - but my friends told me they were there), the temperature was nice and toasty (and it's only Maaaaaaaay!), and we were enjoying some girl time and these Gin Cantaloupe Cocktails in front of a beautiful view of British Columbia (mountains, ocean, trees - oh my!).

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas, Avocado, and Feta Cheese

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Quinoa - we can't get enough of the stuff in this house!



Pinit 

I've also discovered that 'Quinoa Salad' is by far the most common search item typed into Google to direct people to my blog.  But, I've only got two quinoa salad recipes on the website so far (here and here), so the people have spoken and why not give them more of what they want, right?!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

15-Minute Spring Pea and Pesto Soup

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This soup only takes 15 minutes to make - are you kidding me?  I just spent 15 minutes alone picking out a new mascara at the drug store today!



Pinit

I needed for my Souper Sunday soup to only take 15 minutes to make today after being a little bit of a wild party animal last night at a small local pub in my town.  Because I still live in the town that I grew up in, a visit to a place like that is always an interesting version of a high school reunion (sometimes in a good way and sometimes in the exact way that you would expect).  Last night was no exception.  My girlfriend Kendra and I were definitely on the dance floor flopping around to 90's rap music (and one thing that you have to understand about that is that I never dance), and laughing hysterically until the ugly lights came on and we went home.  There's nothing like a great friend to be silly with.  So, today this is why my cloudy head needed a very, very easy soup.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Goat Cheese Pesto Dip

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I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it immediately caught my eye because of the words 'goat' and 'cheese' used in succession.


Pinit 

Goat cheese is one of those foods that if I see it on a restaurant menu, then I have to have it.  It doesn't matter what it is served in or on or with, I'm getting it.  I love it.  I ate goat cheese last night in fact.  So, when I saw this recipe I knew that I had to try it and its delicious, simple, fast combination of goat cheese, cream cheese, and homemade pesto sauce.  You can serve it with bread, crackers, or vegetables, or even with just the old '1, 2, straight to your mouth with a spoon' technique (not that I did that more than like 4 or 7 times).  This would also be really good spread onto a chicken sandwich, or toasted open-faced on bread and served with pasta.

Monday, April 22, 2013

HealthFare Restaurant Review

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Last week I was invited in as a 'food blogger' to do a tour and menu tasting of a new local healthy fast food restaurant, HealthFare.

HealthFare Burnaby
I arrived not knowing what to expect...would they be nice?  What if they noticed that I didn't have a fancy food blogger camera, business cards for my blog, and an extensive knowledge of...well, food?  What if I didn't like the food or the restaurant - would I have to fake it?  Would they be able to tell right away that I've never done this type of thing before?

I needn't have worried, because the mother-son owner team of Jenni and Shaun Saini were completely welcoming, the restaurant was beautiful, my point and shoot camera did the trick, and most importantly...the food was fan-freaking-tastic!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Souper Sunday #17: Low-Fat Chicken Pot Pie Soup

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This soup totally tastes like you are eating the inside of a chicken pot pie, but with a spoon, and with the type of reckless abandon that I normally reserve for things that are not low-fat at all.



Pinit 

Bonus points if you go to the additional effort of making a puff pastry topping to dip into the soup.  That would be amazing.

The Hubby has been asking me to make him chicken stew for a few years or weeks now, and so I finally caved and made it for him today.  Only, chicken stew is so not what my waistline needs right now, so instead I cheated and made this Low-Fat Chicken Pot Pie Soup from the Skinny Taste website. (with a few small tweaks),  He took it to work for lunch, and isn't home yet so I haven't been able to hound him about how he liked it.  But, speaking for myself, "Daaaaaaaaaamn."  You would not even know that this was made with skim milk and without the addition of any butter or oil.  At about 250 calories for a 1 1/2 cup bowl, it's a super filling lunch or dinner that won't totally demolish your calorie allotment for the day.  I especially like that fact today, since I really need to get back on track with eating healthier after eating 'a lot' of the Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Bars last week.  I can't even talk about those bars because it makes me think about those bars which makes me want to go to the store and buy the ingredients for those bars which makes me want to eat almost the entire pan of those bars again.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Bars

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These are sooooo good for breakfast!!!!



Pinit 

I literally told one of my co-workers that I wasn't a sweet-tooth last Friday, and then on Sunday I made these Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Bars.  It's like me saying that I wasn't a sweet tooth was a personal challenge for myself to not give up on the idea of one day choosing a chocolate bar over a bag of chips in the vending machine.  And wow, I was totally like "sorry, salty treats who?' when I started diving into the pan of these things for the first time.  Delicious! 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Souper Sunday #16: Beef Lentil Soup

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There's something about eating lentils that makes me feel like I'm being healthy, no matter what they are mixed together with.



Pinit 

Using this logic, I could add any ingredient to the soup - whipping cream, a bucket of salt, icing sugar - and it would still be healthy.  Lard and potato chip lentil soup?  Sounds nutritious!  French fry and mayo lentil soup?  Nothing wrong there!

Friday, April 12, 2013

White Wine Sangria Jello Jigglers

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Remember Jello Jigglers?  These are the even more fun version.


Why didn't I think of this before?  I love Jell-O Shooters.  I love Wine.  Why not make Wine Jello Shooters, or even better...White Wine Sangria Jello Jigglers?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole with Creamy Curry Sauce

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Does anything beat comfort food?

Or even just...food.  I love food (hence the blog).


I've said it before and I will say it a thousand times mores if you let me...I love the cookbooks by the Best of Bridge.  My grandmothers used them, my mom uses them, and I use them.  If you are also a fan of that series, you may recognize this recipe as the 'New Classy Chicken,' which is a remake of the former 'Classy Chicken' recipe that my grandmother used to make.  The new version lightens up the calorie and fat factors substantially.

This is really really easy, and really really tasty, and you may even already have all of the ingredients in your fridge.  It's also another meal that brings back good memories, because my granny would sometimes make it for my family for Sunday dinners (it works well for The Hubby and me for a weeknight or a Sunday meal too).  We totally fiend for a great curry sauce in our house, and if you are the same way, you will find that this casserole really satisfies that craving.  I love it paired with a jasmine or basmati rice.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Using my granny's old Corningware is only fitting while making one of the recipes that she loved.

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole with Creamy Curry Sauce

Serves: 4 - 6

Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose flour)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup skim or 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup shredded aged cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (I used gluten-free bread crumbs)
  • 2 teaspoons butter, melted
  • Rice (cooked, to serve the casserole on top of)
Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.  Place chicken on a plate and season with salt and pepper.  In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the chicken in the pan for 5 - 7 minutes, or until browned and no longer pink inside.


Lightly grease a shallow 9x9 baking dish or any dish large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer.  Transfer the chicken to the baking dish.



Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook broccoli for 1 minute.



Drain right away and spoon the broccoli over the chicken.


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, curry powder, and broth, making sure there are no lumps.  Stir in the milk, yogurt, and mayonnaise.



Pour the sauce over the chicken mixture.



Sprinkle the chicken mixture with the cheddar cheese.



In a small bowl, toss the bread crumbs with the melted butter, and sprinkle over the chicken mixture.



Bake for 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden brown (letting sit for 5 minutes or so after it comes out of the oven).  Cook rice according to package directions and keep warm until the casserole is ready.



Serve the chicken and broccoli casserole on top of the rice.  Enjoy!

Recipe Source: Best of Bridge

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