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.

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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.

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!


It has been a very busy summer to date: we celebrated my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary at the end of June and then my son’s 5th birthday on the 13th of July (it was a Friday this year, just like the year he was born!). Last week my two eldest children had one-on-one swimming lessons in a nearby backyard pool every morning at 9am for half an hour, and they both did so well and enjoyed it so much that I have signed them up for one more week (check out some photos from their lessons below!). There have been plenty of playdates with some very amazing friends, including an overnight visit from our friends who live in London, Ontario which means there were four adults and six children under the age of six sleeping in our house! Oh, and then there has been some serious potty training going on with my youngest and I am happy to say that we are well on our way to being completely diaper-free!

So with all that business and the extremely hot summer we have been experiencing, I have not found the time or desire to do much cooking in the last few weeks, which explains why I haven’t posted any new recipes lately. Many evenings I have simply served the children some healthy snacks and/or sandwiches and a big bowl of salad for my husband and myself. Tonight, however, we actually enjoyed what my husband refers to as a “real meal”: Zucchini “Boats” With Home Fries. I’m excited to share the recipes with you because they’re really quick and easy to prepare, super yummy, and reasonably healthy and kid-friendly! I found the recipe for the zucchini several years ago in one of the “Canadian Cheese” magazines (I think!) and it has been a staple ever since, especially in the summer months when zucchini is readily available. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!

Home Fries
Ingredients:
1-2 medium potatoes per person (I generally prefer to use Yukon Gold, but today I used regular white potatoes and they were equally delicious!)
olive oil
salt to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Gently clean potatoes with water if leaving the skin on the potatoes (which I highly recommend, as that is where most of the fibre and vitamins are found!) Or, peel potatoes (which I do when the skin is not very nice looking anymore) and then rinse them under cold running water.
3. Cut potatoes into fries and place in a large bowl. The thinner you cut them, the faster they will bake!

4. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss until all fries are coated with oil.
5. Spread potatoes onto a baking sheet and bake for 30 – 45 minutes, until they are golden and crispy. You should turn the fries occasionally while they are baking.

Zucchini “Boats”
Servings: 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 to 25 minutes

Ingredients:
4 large zucchini, halved and cored
1 pound ground meat (your choice – I used beef)
1 or 2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
2 tbsp fresh basil or oregano, chopped (I used dried oregano, paprika, ground coriander)
3/4 cup Havarti cheese – plain or with jalapeno or tomato and basil (I used Gruyere, but you could use pretty much any cheese)
3/4 cup Feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place zucchini on cookie sheet.

3. Combine remaining ingredients and use to stuff zucchini.
4. Bake 15 to 25 minutes or until meat well-cooked and zucchini are fork-tender.
5. Serve immediately with Home Fries (or brown rice or quinoa or barley!). Oh, and a side garden salad with my Honey Mustard Dressing is highly recommended!

What is your favourite way to enjoy zucchini?!

Below are a few pictures from the children’s swimming lessons:

Erik & Emma practice treading water in the deep end of the pool.


Erik swims in the deep end after jumping in!


Emma swims in the deep water with the aid of a noodle!

There’s just something about a roasted red pepper that takes a meal to the next level. Last night it was just me and the kids for dinner and so I decided to make something vegetarian. Thursdays is when my weekly CSA box arrives so it made sense to use at least one of its (entirely green!) contents – enter broccoli. I had opened a new jar of tomato sauce (my favourite one is from Costco – see picture below) at lunch time for some 10-Minute Pizza and so I decided to boil some whole wheat Fusili and voila – I had a quick and tasty meal for the children. I usually stay away from carbohydrates at dinner time, but I was famished and the children’s dinner smelled soooo good, and who really wants to eat like a rabbit every lunch and dinner!?!? Then I recalled the roasted red pepper in the fridge, left over from a BBQ dinner earlier this week, and together with some of the fresh basil in my CSA box I served myself a big bowl of bliss!

How to Roast a Pepper on the BBQ:
Spray* with olive oil (or rub on some oil using your fingers)
Place on hot BBQ and turn pepper every few minutes (leave BBQ on medium-high)
Remove the pepper once it has softened and blackened (approximately 10 – 15 minutes)
Let pepper cool slightly and then peel the skin off and discard the skin, stem, and seeds

How to Roast a Pepper in the oven:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Spray* with olive oil (or rub on some oil using your fingers)
Place pepper on baking tray or in casserole dish
Remove the pepper once it has softened and blackened (approximately 15 – 20 minutes)
Let pepper cool slightly and then peel the skin off and discard the skin, stem, and seeds

* Several years ago I purchased a refillable oil mister and highly recommend them, as they make it possible to use as little oil as necessary for stir fries, etc. I have seen them at Winners, Kitchen Stuff Plus and Costco.

Summer has arrived! Time to fire up the BBQ and enjoy a delicious meal outside on your deck or patio! One of my absolute favourite meals is Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki Sauce (see below for recipes). It’s very simple to make and is healthy and tastes so good. It’s currently my favourite meal to prepare for guests, and we enjoyed a wonderful evening out on our patio with our condo-dwelling friends last weekend. The weather was fantastic and we were able to have a late dinner (after the children had been put to bed!) out on our patio where we then played a game of Settlers of Catan by candlelight until almost mid-night. I cannot wait to do it again soon!

Because I wanted to be able to eat dinner with our guests after our children had gone to bed, I served Guacamole with some super healthy tasting “Haddad Bakery – High Protein Pita Bread” (which I purchased for the first time at No Frills and will likely purchase again soon) as soon as the children had finished eating their dinner. Then, once the little ones were in bed, we got the BBQ going and my husband grilled the chicken, which had been marinating for six hours. We also added some fresh asparagus (which had been included in that week’s CSA delivery), corn (which had been boiled while I made a quick dinner for the children) and red pepper halves (which had been roasted in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 15 minutes earlier that evening) to the grill. Meanwhile, I prepared the quinoa-filling for the red peppers. I did make some minor changes to the quinoa-filling compared to the recipe I posted earlier this month in order to make it a more “fitting” side for Chicken Souvlaki. Essentially, I omitted the chilli powder, cumin, and salsa and added chopped garlic scapes since these had been included in my weekly CSA delivery and I wanted to incorporate them into the meal. I had made the Tzatziki Sauce while the children ate their dinner. After serving the food, our friend Andrew insisted I take a picture of his plate for my blog and so that is why you are getting the details of our dinner that evening instead of just the recipe for the Chicken Souvlaki and Tzatziki Sauce!

After dinner we savoured a surprisingly not-very-sweet Tiramisu Cake, which I had made for the first time. The recipe is from my Williams Sonoma”Dessert” collection and I have wanted to make it for years, but had never gotten around to making it. Every recipe that I have ever made from that book has turned out AMAZING, so I wasn’t surprised when this cake left us wanting more. We did, however, manage to save some for the next day and I have to say it tasted even better the second day because the coffee and rum “syrup” and marscapone cream had more time to seep through the cake layers while it chilled in the fridge overnight. I will definitely be sharing the recipe in a future post, even though it is not “simple and healthy”, like the other recipes on my blog would indicate. But hey, we all deserve a little indulgence once in a while, right?!

Here is the recipe for the Chicken Souvlaki and Tzatziki Sauce!

Chicken Souvlaki – Ingredients (serves 6)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine

2 tsp grated lemon rind

4 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp thyme

3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (or turkey breast or pork) – I generally use one breast per adult

Chicken Souvlaki – Directions

Combine all ingredients except the meat in a large bowl. Add meat (I prefer to leave the chicken breasts whole, though traditionally souvlaki is prepared by cutting the meat into 1-inch cubes and then skewered). Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (preferably overnight). Grill on BBQ.

Tzatziki Sauce – Ingredients (serves 2 – 6, depending how much tzatziki you like with your souvlaki – I typically double the recipe!)

1 and 1/2 cups Greek yogurt (once again, my favourite one is PC’s 0% Greek Yogurt)

1/4 cucumber, peeled & seeded (I tend to use more)

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp white wine vinegar

salt to taste

Tzatziki Sauce – Directions
Combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

What is your favourite summer BBQ meal?!