Wednesday, 21 March 2012

No Ordinary Mac 'n Cheese

So yummy, this is no ordinary old mac and cheese out of a box, or frozen entree.
And what's really great, it can be frozen for emergency lunches or a quick dinner option.
I love this one!


6 bacon strips
2 cups elbow macaroni
1/2 each red, yellow pepper chopped
1/4 onion chopped
1/2 cup parsley
1 cup each old cheddar, mozzerella
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tbsp Dijon
1 cup breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste
Pam spray


Preheat oven to 400.
Prepare pasta as per package directions. Drain and return to pot.
Cook bacon until slightly crisp.
Over med-high heat, saute onions for about 3 minutes. Add peppers and continue for another 3-5 minutes - transfer to bowl.
Heat butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add flour; cook, whisking, 1 minute.
Add milk,  salt and pepper; bring to a simmer. Cook, whisking, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cheeses until smooth.
Add Dijon.
Add ingredients to pasta, reserving some parsley for topping. Stir until combined.
Prepare baking dish with Pam - transfer mixture.
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and top with reserved parsley.
Bake for 20 minutes - last few under broiler until crisp and brown.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Sticky Pan-Fried Scallops, Sweet Chili Rice, Dressed Asian-Style Greens and a Quick Brownie

My dinner tonight comes directly from Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes cookbook.
Meals in Minutes is a TV series of Jamie’s that I really enjoyed watching, so for Christmas, Mark found the book with all the step-by-step instructions; check out the recipe to see what I’s a brilliant approach.
I’ve made some of Jamie’s meals - not in the 30 minutes he miraculously manages, but it is a pretty straight forward process.
You can even watch the episode I'm going to recreate, right here:
1 ½ cups basmati rice
A small bunch of scallions (green onions here in Canada!)
3 eggs
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
½ lemon
A small bunch of fresh cilantro
Sweet red chili sauce
4 baby bok choy
7 oz broccolini
1 bunch asparagus
½ lime
1  pound fresh sea scallops
1 lemon
Chinese five-spice
Sesame oil
½ fresh chile
1 clove garlic
2 pats of butter
A small bunch of cilantro
Olive oil
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
8 oz dark chocolate
1 cup + 1 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup superfine sugar
1/3 cup unweetened cocoa powder
A handful of crystallized ginger
4 eggs
A handful of pecans
A handful of sour dried cherries
1 clementine

To start:
Get all your ingredients and equipment ready. Fill and boil the kettle. Turn the oven on to 375 and put a shallow Dutch oven-type pan on a medium heat. Put the standard blade attachment onto the food processor.
Put the rice into the shallow pan with 2 pinches of salt. Cover with 3 cups of boiled water. Pop a lid on and leave to cook for 7 minutes. Fill and reboil the kettle.
Smash the chocolate and chop the butter into large chunks, then put both into the food processor and add 1 cup of superfine sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, scant ½ cup of self-rising flour, a pinch of salt, and the crystallized ginger. Whiz together. While the processor is running, crack in the eggs. Scrunch up a large piece of parchment paper under a tap. Flatten it , lay it on a sheet pan, and drizzle it with olive oil, then rub in. Use a spatula to spoon and spread the brownie mixture evenly onto the pan, about 1 inch thick. Sprinkle over the pecans and sour cherries and press them down. Finely grate over the zest of the Clementine. Put the pan in the oven on the top shelf and cook for 12-14 minutes.
Lay the scallops on a piece of parchment paper. Score crisscrosses on top, only going halfway through. Srizzle over some olive oil, season with salt and pepper, finely grate over some lemon zest and dust with Chinese five-spice. Drizzle with sesame oil and toss together to coat in the flavours.
Trim and thinly slice the scallions and put into a mixing bowl. Crack in eggs, and ad 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce and sesame oil, and a drizzle of olive oil, then whisk. Take the lid off the rice and use a fork to fluff it up. Pour the egg mixture all over. Squeeze in the juice of ½ a lemon and a pinch of pepper. Put the lid back on and turn down to the lowest heat for another 4-5 minutes.

Get a large frying pan on the highest heat.
Half fill a large saucepan with the boiled water and put on a medium heat. Half each bok choy lengthways, trim the broccolini and asparagus, then put it in a colander and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Put over the saucepan of water to steam for a few minutes until tender, then take off heat.
Thinly slice the leaves and stalks of a small bunch of cilantro and sprinkle over the rice. Drizzle a good lug of sweet red chili sauce on top, then put the lid on and take to the table.
Put a good lug of olive oil into the fry pan. Quickly add the scallops, scored side down. Finely chop the fresh chile, you can jiggle the pan but don’t turn the scallops until they’ve had 2-3 minutes, or are golden underneath. Quickly turn them over and cook for 30 seconds, then crush over 1 unpeeled clove of garlic and sprinkle over the chile. Squeeze in the juice of ½ of a lemon and add a tiny drizzle of honey and 2 small pats of butter. Take off the heat, and when melted and sticky, put on a plate and sprinkle over  the leaves from a small bunch of cilantro.
Once tender, tip onto a platter. Drizzle with soy sauce and extra virgin olive oil. Squeeze the juice of ½ of a lime. Taste, adjust if needed.
To serve:
Take the rice, scallops, and greens to the table. Divide everything between bowls and tuck in! Remove the brownies from the oven to cool while you eat. When ready, serve the warm brownies with a wedge of clementine and a dollop of crème fraiche.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

60 Second Sunday Smoothie with Chia Seed

Packed with antioxidants (blueberries) and omega-3's (chia seed), this smoothie is simple, delicious and super nutritious!

All you need for 2 servings:

2 cups frozen blueberries
1 small banana
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp chia seed

Combine in blender, blast until smooth.

I like to add the Chia Seed into the glass after blending
Simply delicious
Try it, it only takes a minute.
I would suggest you have a toothbrush on hand ...the berries and seeds do get stuck in your teeth, making such a beautiful smile!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Dutch Oven Roast Beef in Creamy Mushroom Gravy, Crispy Roasted Veggies and a side of Brussel Sprouts and Bacon...don't forget the Yorkshire Pudding

It's winter for just another little while (clocks spring ahead this weekend), so I'm going to enjoy this comfort food kick one more time!

I've use the Dutch oven for this roast beef recipe and wow, what amazing results - Mark said it was probably the best roast beef he's ever had, and I'd have to agree, pretty darn delicious.
My roasted veggies and a side of brussel sprouts and bacon were a treat of a choice - uber crispy and so moorishly good.
We're thinking to do this dinner for wouldn't believe just how easy this meal is to pull off, a perfect hassle-free, but surprisingly gourmet dinner!

You HAVE to do it to believe it.

Dutch Oven Roasted Beef

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
ground black pepper to taste
3 1/2 pounds chuck roast
1/4 cup butter
1/2 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup dry vermouth


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and black pepper to taste. Dredge the rump roast in the flour and cover evenly. Shake off excess.
In a large pot over medium/high heat, melt the butter and brown the roast on all sides. Place in a 4 quart casserole dish with lid.
In a small bowl, combine the soup mix, mushroom soup, and vermouth or white wine; pour over roast.
Cover and bake in preheated oven for 3 hours or until desired doneness.
Blend sauce with handheld for a smoother consistancy.

Roasted Veggies with Rosemary and Thyme

1 lb baby potatoes
4 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 med onion
4- 6 garlic cloves
2 sprigs Rosemary
bunch of Thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400. Boil potatoes for 5-7 minutes. Drain, let cool.
 Chop vegetables, place in roasting pan. Add potatoes. Sprinkle with Rosemary, Thyme, salt and pepper.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Roast for 45 minutes or until desired softness.

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

10 brussel sprouts
4 strips of bacon


Boil sprouts for 7-10 minutes.

Cook bacon until nearly crispy. Remove from skillet, chop into bits. Return to skillet with drained sprouts. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

Yorkshire Pudding

3 eggs
1 cup milk
 1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter


Preheat oven to 375.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs with milk. Stir in flour. Set aside.
Divide butter evenly into the twelve cups of a muffin tin, about 1/2 teaspoon per cup. Place tin in oven to melt butter, 2 to 5 minutes. Remove tin from oven, and distribute batter evenly among buttery cups.
Bake in preheated oven 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 350, and bake 25 minutes more or until puffed and golden.