Saturday, 31 August 2013

Pasta with Chorizo & Chickpeas

Suspense is up.
My assignment as part of the Cover to Cover Challenge from The Bitten Word is....


And not just your run of the mill spaghetti and meat sauce pasta, but fancier pasta with chorizo and chickpeas.  You could say I won the foodie lottery with this assignment.  
Simple and delicious this dish comes together effortlessly with ingredients that are pretty much pantry staples. Making it perfect for a quiet Saturday night date with the family accompanied by some fresh bread and a glass of wine, or just as easily on a Wednesday night before rushing out to basketball practice.

I only made one adjustment to this dish, the pasta component.  Would you believe in a city of more than 1 million people I couldn't find any orecchiette in any of the markets I visited today, including a specialty Italian market.  Sheesh.  As a result I decided that I may as well try out a new noodle, and better yet opt for the fresh version.  Call me a pasta snob if you will, but fresh pasta is KING, nothing beats it.  So I guess not finding any dried orecchiette actually worked out in my favour.  What else worked out in my favour?  The chorizo.  But you already knew that.  This dish was perfect; spicy, flavourful, and the lemon zest and parmesan were the cherries on top.  #makethispasta #doit
Happy Saturday friends, hopefully yours was as delicious as ours.

Thanks Zach and Clay for allowing me to participate this year.  It was more than enjoyable, and my husband, kids and our respective stomaches thank you for the assignment.  Cheers!

Pasta with Chorizo & Chickpeas

2 small shallots, chopped
3/4 lb. fresh Mexican chorizo or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed
12oz small dried pasta (malloreddus or orecchiette)
kosher salt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
finely grated Parmesan and lemon zest (for serving)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.  Add chorizo; cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through,  5-7 minutes. 
Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to skillet and cook, stirring, until paste darkens, about 1 minute.  Add broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 15-20 minutes.  Add chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente.  Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid.
Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce.  Cook, stirring and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes.
Serve pasta topped with parsley, if using, Parmesan, and lemon zest

Serves 6

recipe courtesy Bon Appetit & Michael Hudman and Andy Ticer

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Cover to Cover Challenge 2013

image courtesy: The Bitten Word

I'm so excited to participate in the Cover to Cover challenge put on by The Bitten Word.  Me and nearly 500 'bittens' bloggers and non-bloggers alike will be taking on the challenge of cooking all 47 recipes from the September issue of Bon App├ętit Magazine

I've been handed my recipe assignment (and teaser, it's one of my favourite cuisines) so stay tuned as I let you know how it goes.


Monday, 26 August 2013

Cappuccino Cheesecake. Heaven on a Fork.

Disclaimer #1:  My Grandma M is the best baker I know.
Disclaimer #2: I didn't have anything to do with this delicious cheesecake, other than the small part I played in eating it of course.  All credit is forwarded to my sweet, sweet GM.  

Last Saturday we gathered the family for a good 'ol fashioned summer BBQ.  Let me start off by saying how much I'm going to miss summer and all of the weekend BBQs that seem to fill up my social calendar for July & August.  I'm so not ready for casseroles and stews, or giving up my cutoff shorts just yet.  
Please stay longer summer.  Please.

Okay, all begging and pleading aside, let's get back to this cheesecake.  In one word.  HEAVENLY.  It was everything a cheesecake should be; creamy and silky smooth, with just a subtle hint of coffee.  It's just too bad I can't substitute this blissful slice for my daily cup of joe.  Could you imagine......

Cappuccino Cheesecake


2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

4 (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
4 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp instant coffee granules
3 Tbsp whipping cream, divided
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325F
Wrap bottom & sides of 9-inch springform pan with heavy duty tinfoil.  Set aside.
In medium bowl stir together cookie crumbs and melted butter.  Press into the bottom and 1-inch up sides of  pan.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Cool.
In large bowl beat cream cheese and sugar on LOW speed until smooth.  Beat in flour.   Add in 2 eggs and beat until just combined, repeat with remaining 2 eggs, add in vanilla and beat until blended.  Reserve 2 cups of batter and set aside in another bowl.
In small bowl dissolve coffee in 2 tablespoons of whipping cream and stir into the reserved batter.  Set aside.
(back to the large bowl) Add remaining tablespoon of cream and 2 tsp of cinnamon into the batter until completely blended.  Pour over crust.
Place springform pan in large shallow pan.  Fill with hot tap water half way up the sides of the springform pan.  Bake for 40 minutes.
Carefully slide out oven rack several inches.  Pour the reserved coffee batter evenly over cheesecake, and slide rack back in.  Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are slightly puffed and top is dry to the touch.  Remove from water and place on rack to cool for 2 hours.  Refrigerate for 6 hours before serving.
Cheesecake can be refrigerated up to 3 days covered, or frozen for up to 3 weeks.

recipe courtesy: cooking pleasure magazine 2004

helpful hints from Grandma M:
the secret to the perfect cheesecake is having your eggs and cream cheese at room temperature and beating together the ingredients on low speed

Friday, 23 August 2013

Healthy "Cupcakes"

At first glance these appear to resemble cupcakes. 

But look closer and you will see artfully cutout pieces of watermelon, topped with strawberry whipped cream cheese and sprinkles.  No actual cake to be had.

Even though the 'cake' may be missing, what isn't, is that this is the perfect summertime dessert.  #Refreshing
And fruit posing as cupcakes makes it all the easier to justify seconds.  #Winning

Watermelon "Cupcakes" w/ Strawberry Whip Cream Cheese Frosting


1 watermelon (seedless or de-seeded)
250g tub strawberry cream cheese, softened
2 cups whipped topping (such as cool whip)


Using circle shaped cookie cutter, cut out watermelon approximately 2 inches thick.
In small bowl, combine softened cream cheese and whipped topping until well mixed.
Top each piece of watermelon with a spoonful of strawberry whip and garnish with sprinkles.

Feeling adventurous and wanting to tackle homemade whipped cream on your own, check out this fun post!  Cheers

Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes

Happy Friday.

I can't think of a better way to usher in the weekend than with a fresh, warm batch, of homemade PANCAKES.  My kids and husband are also on board with this way of thinking.

On the menu this morning....
Lemon Poppyseed.  

I think today is going to be a good day.

Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
1 1/2 Tbsp poppyseeds
1 1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 egg

In large bowl whisk together first 7 ingredients.
In separate small bowl, whisk milk, butter and egg together.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined.
In buttered non-stick skillet over medium heat, drop 1/4 cupfuls of batter and cook until bubbles form on top, approximately 3 minutes.  Flip and cook for an additional minute or two.
Serve warm with syrup and fresh berries

Yields: 8 pancakes

Monday, 19 August 2013

Watermelon Feta Salad

Sundays, summer & salads, also known as three of my favourite "S"s.
We are now in the final stretch of summer vacation (how'd that happen?)  As we gear up to get the kids back to school and prepare to bid adieu to August, this also marks the time of year for another one of my favourite "S"s, you guessed it...SHOPPING.  
Yesterday we did our big back to school fall outfit shop, and yes, my Visa statement will tell you I went a little overboard  on the skinny jeans but I couldn't resist.  I only wish I was going back-to-school, in hopes of getting myself a new wardrobe....

Shopping - check
Sunday - check
Summer - check

The only thing left is salad.  This time I'm leaving vegetables out of it and opting for the ultra refreshing/ultra summer, watermelon.  Sweet, juicy, and perfectly paired with salty feta and fresh mint.  Welcome to your perfect summer salad in only 3 ingredients, it couldn't possibly get any easier.  


Hey Summer, 
Please hang on a for awhile longer, I'm not ready to part ways with you just yet.
Kind Regards,

Watermelon & Feta Salad

6 cups watermelon, cubed (de-seeded or seedless)
1 cup Feta cheese, drained and cubed or crumbled
handful mint leaves, thinly sliced
splash of white balsamic vinegar (optional)

Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl, and serve.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Pesto Caprese Flatbread

The only way to improve upon a caprese salad is to add bread and pesto and make it a pizza.  Who's with me?

Pesto Caprese Flatbread

1/3 cup tomato medley (red & yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved)
1/4 cup mini bocconcini
1 Tbsp pesto (homemade or store bought)
1 naan bread
3-4 basil leaves

Preheat oven to 375F.
Brush pesto onto naan bread.  Top with tomatoes and bocconcini.
Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes.
Top with basil leaves and slice into wedges.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Mango Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is pretty much on top 1/4 of the salad totem pole.  Quite frankly anytime cheese is 50% of any dish, let alone salad, I'm one happy camper.
Today I decided to take a sweet approach to one of my favourites, and swap out tomatoes for MANGOS.  I know, I'm a genius.
Enjoy.  Love JS.

Mango Caprese Salad

1 ripe mango, diced
1/3 cup mini bocconcini
2-3 basil leaves
olive oil
lemon juice

Combine diced mango and bocconcini in a small bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.  Top with basil leaves.  

Monday, 12 August 2013

Cookbook Review: Dining Out At Home Cookbook 2

Have you ever visited a restaurant and no sooner did you finish your meal, you automatically wonder when you can have it again?  It can't be just me right?  More often than not, I come home and immediately put pen to paper and food to pan in an attempt to revisit my fabulous dining experience.  Sometimes with great success others with not-so-much....

So when I was approached to review a cookbook that does just that, I was more than excited to see what it had to offer.  In Dining Out at Home Cookbook 2 by Stephanie Manley, she shares recipes from some of America's most popular restaurants so that you can enjoy the same meals but in the comfort of your own kitchen.  The only downside is you are now also stuck with the dishes....(but it's a small price to pay)
Packed with recipes for all your favourite entrees, appetizers, soups, salads and desserts, you have over 200 recipes to choose from that will no doubt impress all of your dinner guests.  Recipes for PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps, The Cheesecake Factory's Oreo Cheesecake, and Starbuck's Eggnog Latte to name a few.

Oreo Cheesecake aside (for now), my next choice was the Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits.
Would you believe that I've never been to Red Lobster? I'm serious.  Never ever.  But I've talked to enough people that have to know that the cheddar biscuits are "epic," and decided to use this as my opportunity to see what all the hype was about.

I get it now.  I truly get it.  
These warm flaky biscuits topped with a melted-seasoned-garlic-butter solidified what everyone else has been talking about.
You were right people, I will continue to put my foodie trust in you all.  Thank you, you never disappoint.

If these biscuits are any indication, I know that the cheesecake is going to be beyond great.  Now I must go for a run.  Run now, cheesecake later....
Words to live by.

Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits

2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 350F.  
In a bowl, mix together the Bisquick, water, and shredded cheese.  Turn the biscuits onto a floured service and roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thick.  Cut the dough with a biscuit cutter and place the biscuits on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
Meanwhile, melt the butter with the seasonings in a small saucepan over low heat.  Remove the lightly browned biscuits from the oven, brush the tops with the seasoned butter, and serve immediately.

Yields: 8 to 10 biscuits
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