One of my “tricks” for creating quick and healthy dinners is that I often shove an extra item or two into the oven while making dinner. For example, when I make roast chicken, I cook two at one time. That way I have left-over chicken for another night that can be used in a variety of dishes, including the recipe I shared with you yesterday. Or, I will bake some salmon in the oven for the following night while I’m cooking dinner on the stove top for that night. On occasion I have been known to cut up squash and/or sweet potatoes, toss them with some olive oil and sea salt, and put them into the oven (at 425 Fahrenheit for approximately 20 minutes) just before I go pick up the kids from the bus stop. These can then be used either as a side vegetable, in a soup, or in a casserole-type dish later that night, or another night!

The recipe I am sharing with you today uses that baked salmon and roasted squash I mentioned above and yields a quick and tasty pasta dish that I would even consider to be kid-friendly – though I recognize not everyone would agree with me!

Ingredients:

whole wheat linguine noodles (I prepare an entire box, and then use any leftovers for lunch the next day in my Quick and Easy Noodle Frittata)

broccoli (approximately 2 cups)

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp flour

1 cup vegetable broth (or water)

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp lemon rind

1 Tbsp dill (I buy a large bunch of fresh dill and then chop it all up and freeze it in jars for when I need it – tastes so much better than the dried version)

salt & pepper to taste

baked salmon, broken into chunks (approximately 2 cups)

roasted squash (approximately 1 and 1/2 cups)

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to directions. If possible, steam broccoli on top of noodles. Otherwise, cook in a small amount of water in another pot.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add flour. Combine using a whisk.

3. Add a small amount of vegetable broth (or water) and whisk until water is completely absorbed. Repeat this step until all or most of the liquid (including milk) has been used and desired consistency is reached.

4. Add Dijon mustard, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, lemon rind, and salt & pepper. Whisk until well combined.

5. Add salmon and squash. Add cooked (and drained) pasta and broccoli. Toss gently. Serve.

I grew up eating home cooked meals that were lovingly prepared by my amazing mother. Mama grew up in southern Germany, and so she cooks mainly German dishes. One of my favourites growing up was “Hühnerfrikassee” – essentially the German version of “Chicken Pot Pie”. The main difference is the German version uses rice or potatoes in lieu of a pie crust, and so it resembles more a stew. I recently made this family favourite and thought it was time to share it with you. It’s a great way to use up left-over roast chicken, and is relatively quick and easy to prepare – especially if you also have left-over vegetables on hand. And of course, this tastes just as good with left-over turkey!

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp white flour

approximately 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock (usually I use home-made chicken stock that I store in the freezer – or I recommend using PC Blue Menu)

1/4 cup white wine (optional)

2 Tbsp whipping cream or milk

1 tsp Dijon mustard

salt & pepper to taste

cooked carrots, corn and broccoli

cooked peeled potatoes, quartered or cubed

left-over roast chicken, cut into bite-size pieces

Directions:

1. Melt butter. Whisk in flour. Slowly add chicken stock and whisk well after each addition. Continue until desired consistency is reached.

2. Add wine (if using) and cream (or milk). Add mustard and salt & pepper.

3. Add cooked vegetables, potatoes, and chicken. Stir gently with wooden spoon. Serve.

Sensational Baked Tilapia

October 17, 2012

Life has been CRAZY busy here the last little while, and that means I’ve been relying on recipes that yield quick yet healthy dinners. One of my favourites is this Sensational Baked Tilapia, which is ready within 20 minutes. And if you cook some quinoa and frozen vegetables at the same time, you have an entire meal ready! (I generally enjoy a generous serving of greens drizzled with Honey Mustard Salad Dressing in place of the frozen vegetables!) Tilapia has a very mild taste, making it kid-friendly – my children call it “chicken”! Even people who do not generally like seafood are likely find it enjoyable. And when you season it with mayonnaise and parmesan cheese – it truly becomes sensational!

What’s your favourite way to enjoy tilapia? What’s your favourite fish?

Ingredients:
6 tilapia filets (fresh or thawed)
5 Tbsp mayonnaise (preferably made with olive oil)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp paprika (preferably Hungarian)
1 tsp italian seasoning (or oregano or fresh basil)
3 Tbsp parmesan cheese (preferably freshly grated)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 lemon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Lightly spray baking sheet or in a glass casserole dish with olive oil; they place tilapia on sheet or in dish.

3. In a small mixing bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Spread evenly over each tilapia. Drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

4. Bake tilapia for 10 minutes. Then, turn on your broiler (low/medium, not high) for another 5 – 10 minutes until fish is baked through and top is lightly browned.

Almost Guilt-Free Brownies

September 6, 2012

Although this blog is dedicated to healthy eating, a few evenings ago I decided to treat myself to some brownies and I just have to share the recipe with you! It comes from a cookbook titled, “Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health” and is my go-to recipe for brownies as they are relatively guilt-free and taste A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Pair a piece (or two!) with some French vanilla ice cream and I think you’ll agree – it’s a little taste of heaven!

What’s your favourite “healthy” recipe using cocoa?!

Ingredients:
1/3 cup (75 mL) canola oil (I used grape seed oil)
2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (155 mL) natural cocoa powder (I used quality Dutch cocoa from Costco)
1/2 cup (125 mL) whole wheat flour (yes, whole wheat flour! – I even used spelt!)
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Line an 8-inch metal pan with parchment paper. Make sure to use enough parchment paper so that it hangs over the edges of your pan.
2. Beat together the oil and eggs. Add the sugar and beat until slightly thickened.
3. Add the vanilla and cocoa powder. Slowly beat in.
4. Stir in the whole wheat flour and baking powder (which you should pre-mix in a separate small bowl). The batter will be quite thick.


5. Spoon batter into the prepared pan and gently spread (again, it will be quite thick!).
6. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Pick up the parchment paper at the sides and lift the brownie out. Finish cooling on a wire rack. Then flip the brownie over and gently peel off the parchment paper.
7. Cut into 16 equal pieces. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Since the beginning of June I have been receiving a box of farm fresh fruits and vegetables from Coopers Farm every Thursday. Two weeks ago a wrote about Why I (Sometimes) Choose Organic and included a photo of what was included in that week’s delivery. So what was in yesterday’s box? As pictured below, there was: 1 broccoli, some strawberries, 1 cantaloupe, a bunch of basil, 1 medium white onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 large cucumber, a bunch of yellow beans, 3 sweet banana peppers, a bunch of jalapeno peppers, and several tomatoes (which I forgot to include in the photo)! Sadly, there was no corn - hopefully there will be some again next week, because last week’s corn was truly some of the best tasting corn in the world! Still, even without the corn, this week’s delivery is pretty great.

I’ve already used the strawberries to make a Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp using the recipe I posted yesterday for Blueberry Crisp. I just can’t get enough of that crumble topping!

For lunch I made some Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers and also used some of the stuffing in zucchini halves left over from last week’s box, similar to the Zucchini “Boats” With Home Fries I posted last month. I sprinkled a generous amount of chopped basil over top the stuffed peppers and zucchini. It was so yummy!

I will probably use the yellow beans as a side vegetable for a meatball dinner, similar to the picture below. I made this last month but haven’t gotten around to posting the recipes for the meatballs, coleslaw, and German potato salad, so stay tuned for those coming very soon.

I cooked the broccoli this evening and will use it in tomorrow’s lunch: Noodles and Cheese – definitely one of my children’s favourites.

The cucumber, garlic and onion will either be used in a Refreshing Cucumber Soup or in a Mixed Bean Salad for which I would also use some of the tomatoes and basil. Here is a photo of the Mixed Bean Salad (just pretend you see some mixed beans in there!). Recipes for these to follow soon. If you can’t wait, you can make this Cucumber Salad With Kefir Dressing recipe I posted in the spring. You can subsitute greek yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk for the kefir.

My kids have already been eyeing the cantaloupe, so that will probably be one of their snacks tomorrow!

So that leaves only the peppers. Honestly, I have no idea what I will use them in but I promise to tell you if it turns out to be blog-worthy!

How would you use the contents of this week’s box?!

Blueberry Crisp

August 9, 2012

Last week my mother brought me a large basket of blueberries she had picked with a friend, and I shared with you a delicious recipe for Blueberry Scottish Oatmeal Pancakes (just be sure not to forget to add the oil and blueberries, like I did this past long weekend when I made some for our friends at their cottage; they did not taste anything like they should have – sorry J & C, but next time I’ll get it right!).

Well, seeing as I had forgotten the blueberries in the fridge at home, once I returned from our friends’ cottage I got to work using up the antioxidant-rich berries. I made two dozen Bananaberry Oatmeal Muffins and a 9 X 13 inch glass casserole dish of Blueberry Crisp. Today I will share with you the recipe for the crisp. My sister-in-law shared an apple crisp recipe with me many years ago and it has by far my favourite oatmeal crumb topping, although I have made some healthy substitutions and modifications to the original recipe. Some of my favourite fruit combinations are apple/pear, strawberry/rhubarb, and blueberry/peach. You can try out any fruit or fruit combination you like, but trust me – the topping from this recipe is a winner.

Filling

6 cups fresh blueberries*

1/4 cup agave nectar (or 1/3 cup granulated sugar)

2 tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp grated lemon zest**

2 tbsp lemon juice**

Topping

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup ground flax seed

1/2 cup margarine (I prefer to use Becel’s unsalted margarine)

1/2 cup to 1 cup nut meats (my favourites are pecans or walnuts) – optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all filling ingredients in a 9 X 13 inch glass baking dish.

In a separate bowl, stir together first four ingredients. Add some cinnamon, if you like. Add margarine and work the flour mixture into the margarine until a crumbly consistency is attained. (I use my KitchenAid paddle attachment to accomplish this quite effortlessly, however you can also use your fingers to rub the flour into the margarine.)

Spread the oatmeal crumble over fruit. Sprinkle with nut meats (if using) and bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Tastes great with greek yogurt (or vanilla ice cream when you’re looking for more of a treat!) Keeps well in the refrigerator and can be reheated in the microwave.

*Note – if using a firmer fruit, such as apples, you will need to cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake an addition 10 – 15 minutes.

**Orange zest and juice instead of lemon also taste great with the blueberries.

What’s your favourite fruit in a crisp? What’s your favourite crisp topping recipe?

Here is a quick, easy and healthy lunch or dinner that’s great for using up leftover noodles/pasta. I made this for lunch last week and my family devoured it, begging me to “make this again!” (oh, how I love to hear those words, especially from the children!). The best part is you can use whatever noodles and vegetables you have on hand. My preference, of course, is to use whole wheat or grain noodles (such as kamut or spelt, available at the Bulk Barn); however, my favourite for frittatas is whole wheat linguine. Sometimes I add cheese (cheddar, gouda, or feta all taste great) and/or ham to the egg mixture. Or, you can sprinkle some cheese overtop the frittata once plated, but still hot. Chopped ham or fresh basil would also be a great addition. Serve with a side garden salad, using my Honey Mustard Salad Dressing.

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped vegetables (I used red pepper, zucchini, purple green onions)

leftover pasta (at least 1 – 2 cups)

6 eggs, beaten

salt, pepper & paprika to taste

Directions:

1. Saute vegetables over medium-high heat in frying pan sprayed with olive oil or grape seed oil, until softened.

2. Add noodles and gently stir.

3. Once noodles are warm, pour beaten eggs over top. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Reduce temperature to medium.

4. Once eggs have set (approximately 5 minutes), gently slide frittata onto a large plate. Then flip frittata back into frying pan so the other side gets cooked (approximately 5 more minutes). Slide back onto large plate. Cut using a pizza cutter and serve!

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