Friday, March 30, 2012

Giant Double Chocolate Cookies



It's been a while since I've given you all a dessert.  Sadly, the reason is because most of my baking adventures lately have ended in major failure.  I've baked a few other things, but they've all been tried and true recipes - like these banana muffins - so that I don't get too depressed to bake!  However, I have returned to baking because yesterday was "Budget Day."  It is the day the Government releases the budget for the new fiscal year, and it means that I stayed at work much later than usual.  So, I made cookies as a pick-me-up for the long day at work!

These cookies are seriously chocolate-y and seriously huge.  One cookie is probably the equivalent of three normal size cookies. They are also quite dense, so don't be surprised by the step below that says to knead the cookie dough.  I'm so glad that these cookies turned out well!  Maybe I will return to baking after all :)

Giant Double Chocolate Cookies

1 cup cold, unsalted butter, cubed
1¼ cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup dark cocoa powder (I used regular)
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Mix in the cocoa powder until well blended.  Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated.  Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.  Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead briefly by hand to be sure the ingredients are well combined.

Divide the dough into 4 ounce portions (or divide into 12 equal pieces).  Roll each portion of dough into a ball and flatten just slightly into a disc.  Place on the prepared baking sheets, a few inches apart.  Bake 16-20 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Annie's Eats, originally from Parsley, Sage, Desserts, and Line Drives (inspired by Levain Bakery).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kale, Avocado, and Grapefruit Salad

kale grapefruit and avocado salad recipe

A couple of years ago I went to a random fast-food, but super healthy restaurant in Phoenix.  I don't remember the name or where it was, but I do remember a delicious salad that I had there.  It was a simple salad of spinach, chicken, avocado and grapefruit.  I'm heading to Phoenix again in a little over a week, for some much needed sunshine and family time, and thinking about my trip reminded me of the salad.  I decided to create my own version, and the result was a tasty and certainly healthy salad.  The night before making this, I had made chicken pie with kale, but I only used half of the chicken and half of the kale.  So I took the leftovers and added grapefruit, feta, and avocado.  I used the avocado as "dressing" by massaging it into the kale with some lemon juice.  I learned this method from my sister, she is a kale salad master.  And yes, we "massage" the kale.  It needs a little massage to make it tender enough to eat raw in a salad.  So, have you hopped on the kale bandwagon yet?

Kale, Avocado, and Grapefruit Salad
Serves 2

3 cups kale, chopped
1/2 avocado
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1 ruby red or pink grapefruit, cut into supremes*
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios

Clean the kale well and chop it into half inch pieces.  Take the avocado, cut it into small pieces and then massage the avocado into the kale.  As you massage, the avocado will break down and coat the kale.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the kale, season with salt and pepper, and then massage again.  Let the kale sit for about 10-20 minutes (if you don't have pre-cooked chicken, use this time to cook your chicken).

Cut the grapefruit into supremes (see a tutorial from the Kitchn).  Mix the chicken and crumbled feta cheese into the kale.  Divide the kale and chicken onto two plates. Top each plate with half the grapefruit and pistachios, and serve.

*Taste test your grapefruit before adding it to your salad.  Mine was sweet enough to use as it was, but if it is too bitter, sprinkle a little sugar or honey on the grapefruit before adding it to the salad.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Secret Recipe Club: Corn and Black Bean Pasta Salad



It's Secret Recipe Club time again!  And I found another amazing recipe, this time from Amy, the Fearless Homemaker!  Amy's blog is super cute with tons of great recipes, entertaining ideas, and crafts, plus cool stories, like how Amy and her husband pulled off a beautiful surprise wedding!  Again, I had a hard time narrowing it down to just one recipe, but in the end, I chose to make this delicious Corn and Black Bean Pasta Salad.  The pasta salad was a great choice. Every bite was bursting with flavor.  Both N and I went back for seconds, and I practically shoveled this pasta salad into my mouth.  Despite my longstanding hatred of anything cilantro, I didn't mind the cilantro oil dressing on the salad.  As Amy mentioned in her post, the cilantro is very subtle in this salad.  So even if you don't like cilantro, have no fear and give this salad a try!  This recipe will definitely be on my menu this summer, it would be great to take to a BBQ, and using fresh summer corn and tomatoes will put this over the top!  Thanks to Amy for sharing the recipe!

Secret Recipe Club

Corn and Black Bean Pasta Salad
From the Fearless Homemaker (originally adapted from Bran Appetit)

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
3/4 lb. pasta (I used Fusilli)
Kernels from 3 ears of corn (or 1 small can of summer corn)
2 jalapenos, seeds removed and pepper diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 large tomatoes, diced
Juice from 1 lime
1/3 cup Feta cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a small bowl, stir the minced cilantro into the 1/2 cup olive oil + let this sit until ready to serve.

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add diced jalapenos and cook 3-4 minutes until softened. Toss the corn kernels into the pan with the peppers + cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn starts to brown. Add the black beans and heat a few minutes longer, until heated through.

In a large bowl, toss the pasta, corn, jalapenos, black beans and cilantro oil together. Add in the diced tomatoes, lime juice, and feta cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm, chilled, or at room temperature, depending on your preference.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Hunger Games: Apple and Goat Cheese Tart

apple and goat cheese tart recipe


The Hunger Games movie is finally here!  To be honest, I didn't have to wait long.  I only finished the first book on Sunday, but let me tell you, I'm fully on the Hunger Games bandwagon!!  To celebrate the book and the movie, I made some delicious apple and goat cheese tarts.  If you've read the book, you may remember the part of the book where Peeta mentions to Katniss that his family's bakery makes apple and goat cheese tarts, but that he's never actually had one.  Peeta and Katniss come from one of the poorest districts in Panem, so even though the bakery is in the "nice" part of the district, I made these tarts a little bit "rough," with a whole wheat crust and formed freely instead of in pretty tart pans.  The tarts are not overly sweet - more of a cross between sweet and savory.  I intended to make the lamb and dried plum stew that Katniss describes as her favorite thing about the Capitol, but it was almost 80 degrees in Ottawa this week, and eating stew, let alone cooking it for a few hours was not my idea of fun.  So I made the tarts because they reminded me of one of my favorite parts of the book, and these tarts are quite a treat.

So tell me, are you going to see the movie this weekend? (Or maybe you went to one of the early showings?)  Will you wait til the crowds die down? Or have you not read the books?  I highly recommend the books (well at least the first one since that's all I've read).  Even though they are written for teens, the themes are universal and the dark tone makes the books a bit more "adult."  I couldn't put the first book down and I will definitely be seeing the movie (which apparently is quite true to the book, given the heavy involvement of author Suzanne Collins).

Apple and Goat Cheese Tarts
Makes 4 (4-5") tarts
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Crust
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup whole oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water

Whisk together the dry ingredients until well combined.  Add the oil and stir.  Gradually add the water and mix until the dough just starts to form.  Form the dough into two balls and refrigerate for an hour.

Filling
2 Honeycrisp apples (mine were huge! so you may need 2 to 3 apples)
5 ounces soft goat cheese (140 grams)
Zest of half a lemon
Juice from half a lemon
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Stir together goat cheese, lemon zest, and thyme.  Set aside.

Peel the apple and cut it into thin slices, and put it in a bowl.  Pour the lemon juice, honey, and cinnamon over the apples and stir to coat the slices.

When you are ready to make the tarts, divide the dough into 4 balls.  Roll each ball out to 1/4 inch thickness.  Transfer the dough circles to a rimmed baking sheet.  Spread each circle with the goat cheese mixture, leaving an inch and a half around the edge of the cheese.  Arrange apple slices on the cheese, then fold the edges of the dough over, pleating it as you move around the circle.  Bake the tarts for 20-23 minutes at 425°F.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

White Bean, Spicy Italian Sausage, and Kale Soup


Those of you in the east may not be looking for a soup recipe because of the unseasonably warm temperatures you are experiencing; but the weather continues to be blustery in the Pacific Northwest and we needed a nice warm soup.  Once again, I am working my way through the Whitewater Cooks with Friends cookbook by Shelley Adams.  This White Bean, Spicy Italian, and Kale recipe caught my eye as we had a similar soup at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, CA.  This recipe was a delightful blend of spices and warmth from the spiciness!

White Bean, Spicy Italian Sausage and Kale Soup

1 lb. dry white navy beans
4 oz. chunk of bacon, diced
4 spicy Italian sausages, uncooked
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups onions, dice
2 cups carrots, grated
2 cups celery, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp of thyme, chopped
1 tsp of rosemary, chopped
½ tsp of chili flakes
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
12 cups of low sodium chicken stock
5 cups of kale, de-stemmed and chopped
¾ cup Parmigianino Reggianno, grated

Rinse beans in a colander.  Transfer beans to a heatproof bowl and cover with 8 cups of boiling water.  Let soak for one hour.

Sauté bacon over medium high for 5 minutes.  Squeeze sausage meat out of the casing directly into the same pan; break up meat with a fork and sauté until cooked.  Place in colander and let the fat drain.

Heat olive oil to medium in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot and sauté onions, carrots, and celery until softened.  Add garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.

Drain and rinse the beans in a colander and add to the stockpot.  Add the cooked sausage and bacon, thyme, rosemary, red chili flakes, salt, pepper and the stock.

Turn up the heat to medium high and bring soup to a simmer.  Cover pot with a lid and cook for 30 minutes or until beans are just tender.  Add kale and cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes. 

Serve and garnish with Parmigiana Reggianno.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spinach Stuffed Shells

stuffed shells recipe


I've loved stuffed shells since I was a little kid.  My mom would pick some fresh stuffed shells up from the Italians' pasta shop for dinner when we had a babysitter.  I would say they are a very sneaky way to get kids to eat vegetables.  I hadn't had fresh shells in a long time, so when I started craving them yesterday, I decided to make some myself.  Not the pasta, just the filling of course, but the filling is the important part anyways.  These shells are stuffed with a ricotta-spinach-mozzarella mixture, simple and delicious.  You could also go a little bit wild and add other vegetables - mushrooms would be a good option.  The best part about these shells is they aren't terrible for you. They are stuffed with light versions of the cheeses and lots of spinach.  Instead of extra mozzarella, I've just sprinkled a bit of Parmesan on top and that was just the right amount of cheese.

Spinach Stuffed Shells

1/2 pound jumbo pasta shells
8 ounces baby spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups light ricotta
1 cup skim mozzarella
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
10 basil leaves, shredded
Salt and pepper
2-1/2 cups marinara sauce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta in salted water until just under al dente.  The pasta will continue to cook in the oven. Drain the pasta and let it cool so you can handle it. 

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet with a lid.  Add all of the spinach to the skillet, season it with a bit of salt and pepper, and cover it with a lid.  Cook it until it is wilted.  Remove the lid and allow some of the water to evaporate.  

While the spinach cooks stir together the ricotta, mozzarella, oregano, and basil.  Stir in the cooked spinach.  

Pour half of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch glass baking dish.  Fill the shells with 2 tablespoons of the spinach-ricotta mixture and line them in the dish.  Cover the shells with the remaining sauce and then cover the dish with aluminum foil.  Bake covered for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and cook an additional 15 minutes.  In the last minute, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Friday, March 16, 2012

5 Meals under $50: Sweet Potato Hash

sweet potato hash with turkey sausage recipe
Here is our final recipe in the 5 meals under $50 series!  This Sweet Potato Hash is a great meal for Friday night, because the leftovers make a delicious lazy Saturday brunch, plus it puts to use the rest of the zucchini, red pepper, and turkey sausage.

Even if you don't try out this particular challenge, I hope that the 5 meals under $50 has inspired you to try out a meal plan and to try setting a grocery budget.  This activity can be great for anyone who is: 1) pressed for time during the week, 2) on a budget, 3) on a diet (no extra trips to the store means fewer chances to buy snacks!), or 4) ready to try new recipes!  I had a lot of fun coming up with the menu and prepping each one of these recipes.  So much fun that K&K Test Kitchen will bring you another 5 meals series in April (maybe we will make it a real challenge and say 5 under $30!).

Have an awesome weekend (and Happy St. Patrick's Day), and check out the Facebook page for a special 5 meals under $50 photo album, complete with recipes!

Sweet Potato Hash
Adapted from LCBO Food & Drink Magazine (Winter 2012) as seen on Once Upon A Cutting Board
Serves: 2
Time: 30 minutes (or more if you are slow like me)

2 small sweet potatoes (or 1 medium-large)
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
3 links (225 g) turkey sausage
1/2 zucchini, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder

Add diced sweet potato to a large pot and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While the sweet potato cooks, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Cook the sausage until the pink starts to disappear, about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped onion, garlic, zucchini, and red pepper. Cook 5-10 minutes until starting to brown, stirring often.

Transfer the sausage and vegetables to a bowl, wipe out the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the sweet potatoes to the pan and spread out in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper.  Let cook without stirring for about 5 minutes, or until browned on one side. Flip and cook another 3-5 minutes. Repeat a couple more times until all sides are lightly browned.

Add the vegetables back to the pan and toss with the sweet potatoes. Season with chili powder, and more salt and pepper to taste. Toss everything together, and serve.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

5 Meals under $50: Pasta with Turkey Sausage, Spinach, and Sun-dried Tomatoes



This was the second time that I made this pasta dish in two weeks.  It was so delicious the first time that I decided to add it to my 5 meals under $50 week.  It fit well with the other ingredients that I was planning to use and I knew it would be good.  The first time, I made it with kale, based on recipes from Cooking Light  and Serious Eats, that I saw basically within a day of each other.  However, when I did my shopping for the 5 meals, my goal was to do all of my shopping at one store.  The only reason behind that was to have my final receipt show as many of the ingredients as possible and be close to my total expenditure.  So, my initial goal was to use kale again.  Unfortunately, my grocery store is small and has a limited number of items.  By the time I got there on Monday after work, the kale was gone.  So I decided to use spinach instead and the spinach was still delicious.  But, the next time I make the recipe, and believe me I will again, I will switch back to kale.  Sorry for all the babbling... go make this pasta!

PS I used regular pasta because my store was also out of whole wheat pasta the day that I went.  The whole wheat pasta would have been $1-$1.50 more, and it is a much better choice. 

Pasta with Turkey Sausage, Spinach, and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Adapted from Serious Eats and Cooking Light
Serves: 2-4
Time: 30 minutes

1/2 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons oil (reserved from from the sun-dried tomatoes)
3 links of turkey sausage, crumbled*
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup spinach (or more, depending on what is left of your spinach)
Salt and pepper

Cook your pasta until al dente.  Drain and set aside. 

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in a large skillet (you want it big because you are going to add the pasta to toss everything together at the end).  Cook the sausage for about 5 minutes, until the pink starts to disappear.  Add the onions and sun-dried tomatoes and cook an additional five minutes.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds.  Pour the chicken broth into the skillet and let the mixture simmer for about five minutes.  Add the spinach and cook just until it wilts (if you use kale, add it when you add the broth), and then add the pasta and toss everything together.  Season with salt and pepper as needed.

*The turkey sausage that I bought came in a 450 gram package.  There were 6 links in the package, so I used half of the package.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

5 Meals under $50: Roasted Vegetable Salad with Chicken

roasted vegetable salad with chicken recipe


For some reason, I rarely make myself main course salads for dinner even though I really like them.  Growing up we ate a lot of salads for dinner - Chopped Salad, Caesar with Grilled Chicken, etc.  This salad, with delicious roasted vegetables and a tangy dressing, reminded me just how much I like this type of dinner.  For the week of 5 meals under $50, the salad was a great change of pace and a nice refreshing mid-week meal.  The dressing uses some of the staples that I like to keep on hand in my pantry or refrigerator.  Cooking the chicken the night before made this salad so easy to throw together.  I even got all of the dishes done while I waited for the vegetables to roast!

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Chicken
Serves: 2
Time: 30 minutes (if you cook the chicken ahead)

2 cups baby spinach
1 cooked chicken breast*
2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes (drained from the oil)

Roasted Vegetables
1/2 medium zucchini, cut into strips
1/2 red bell pepper. cut into rounds
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Dijon-Balsamic Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
1 teaspoon honey (or more depending on your preference)
Salt and Pepper

For the vegetables, preheat the oven to 425°F.  Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in a glass baking dish for 25-30 minutes.

While the vegetables roast, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients and let the flavors mingle together.

Towards the end of the cook time for the vegetables, I placed the whole chicken breast into the dish in the oven to reheat the chicken (see note below).

Assemble the salad with spinach, half of the cut up chicken breast, roasted vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, and drizzle with the vinaigrette.  If you save some of the salad for lunch, don't dress all of the salad.

*I baked the two chicken breasts on night 2 (pizza night) and saved the second chicken breast for night 3 (salad night). Preheat the oven to 375°F. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a glass baking dish. Bake the chicken for 35 minutes, flipping it over halfway through the cook time.  You could also pan fry the chicken while the vegetables cook.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

5 Meals under $50: Chicken Pizza on Cauliflower Crust

pizza on cauliflower crust recipe

If you are following along with the "5 Meals Under $50" project, you'll know that we should have some left over cauliflower from meal #1: Cauliflower Puttanesca.  This pizza puts that cauliflower to use in the crust.  I've seen cauliflower crusts pop up all over the blogosphere and have wanted to give it a try.  What I discovered though is that I'm not a huge fan of the cauliflower crust.  It just doesn't quite do it for me.  It's not bad though and it is a great gluten-free or low-carb option.  It is just that I'm a carb lover and a pizza lover, so I can't quite give up my regular pizza crust.  If you are like me, you may want to make this pizza on a regular crust.  You could potentially use the rest of the cauliflower in the roasted veggie salad for tomorrow's recipe.  The toppings on this pizza though are delicious and actually work fairly well with the cauliflower crust.  Let me know if you give this one a try!

Chicken Pizza on Cauliflower Crust

Crust*
2/3 head of cauliflower (about 3 cups of florets)
1 egg
1 cup skim mozzerella cheese, grated
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper

Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 of a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, pureed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt

Toppings
1 chicken breast, cooked and sliced**
1/2 cup sauce
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 cup skim mozzerella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes (packed in oil)
2 tablespoons Kalamata olives

Using a food processor, pulse the cauliflower until it looks similar to rice.  Be careful not to puree it.  If you don't have a food processor, grate the cauliflower using a box grater.

Place one and a half cups of grated cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes.  Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave.  Mix the cauliflower with the cheese, beaten egg, and spices.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup cauliflower, egg and mozzarella. Add oregano, crushed garlic and garlic salt, stir. Transfer to the cookie sheet, and using your hands, pat out into a 9" round.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven.

While the pizza crust cooks, make the sauce.  Sauté garlic in olive oil in a small saucepan for about 30 seconds.  Pour the pureed tomatoes into the saucepan.  Season with oregano and salt.  Simmer the sauce for the 15 minutes that the crust is cooking.

Add the sauce, toppings and cheese.  Place under a broiler at high heat just until cheese is melted (approximately 3-4 minutes).

*Crust recipe adapted from Eat.Drink.Smile who got the recipe from Your Lighter Side

**I baked the two chicken breasts on night 2 (pizza night) and saved the second chicken breast for night 3 (salad night).  Preheat the oven to 375F.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a glass baking dish.  Bake the chicken for 35 minutes, flipping it over halfway through the cook time.

pizza on cauliflower crust with chicken recipe


Monday, March 12, 2012

5 meals under $50: Cauliflower Puttanesca



Let's kick off the "5 Meals under $50" week with a spicy start!  Since it is Monday, I'm also bringing you a meatless meal.  This Cauliflower Puttanesca will definitely find its way onto my menu again.  It is spicy and delicious.  I may also just skip the pasta for a delicious cauliflower side dish.  When I first planned my menu for the 5 under $50 week, I was a bit nervous.  I watched anxiously as the cashier rang up my groceries, totally expecting to go over budget.  Then I came in way under budget!  Then I started to make the pasta and was totally skeptical.  But... then I ate the pasta and was blown away by how delicious it was!  It was such a relief!  The rest of the week, as you will soon see, was also delicious.  My mom asked whether I felt like I was eating the same thing all week, and the answer is "no."  Everything was different and so good too!  So, print out the shopping list and double check your pantry.  Then stay tuned for the rest of the recipes.

Note:  If you feel like you need some protein, add some white kidney beans (or Canellini beans) to the recipe at the same time that you add the tomatoes.  I think I might try that the next time I make this!

Cauliflower Puttanesca
Adapted from Serious Eats
Serves: 2*
Time: 25 minutes

1/2 pound penne or other short pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 of a head cauliflower, broken into small florets
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 of a 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, crushed
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your preference)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and well-caramelized, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper, cook for an additional minute until the garlic is fragrant.

Add the crushed tomatoes with their juices and the olives. Continue cooking until the cauliflower is soft, but not mushy, about 5 minutes more. Taste and season with salt and pepper (you probably won't need much salt).

Add the cooked pasta to the cauliflower mixture and toss to combine.

*This recipe actually made enough for 3 servings for me, though if you are a guy, it will probably be closer to 2 servings.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

5 meals under $50: Shopping List

I'm so excited to launch a new series here at K&K Test Kitchen.  I have to admit that this idea came from a fabulous new website, The Everygirl.  Lara, from Simply Irresistible, put together 5 recipes (2 servings each) for a week's worth of dinners for under $50.  I've been trying to get inspired to do three things:  1) plan my meals for each week, 2) start doing a better job budgeting for my meals, and 3) cook for just one person.  So, the feature on The Everygirl inspired me to create my own weekly menu and to try to keep it under $50.  [Please note, this really isn't about being frugal.  It is about setting a food budget and trying to stay under it.  And while the series is called "5 under $50," I actually spent way less than $50.  I left it at $50 in recognition that some grocery stores are more or less expensive than the one that I go to.  I am sure that it is possible to spend a lot less at the grocery store for the week, but the point here wasn't to try to spend the least amount possible, it was to have 5 completely different meals.]

So, how did I come up with this menu?  First, I looked at the types of ingredients that Lara used - veggies, pasta, 2 types of meat - because to be honest, I'm not very good at determining how much food costs.  Second, I thought about ingredients that could be used for more than one recipe - things that would do double duty, especially since each recipe would only serve 2 people (or in my case, be a dinner and a lunch).  Third, I thought about the types of food that I like to eat :)

Meal 1:  Cauliflower Puttanesca
Meal 2:  Chicken Pizza on a Cauliflower Crust
Meal 3:  Spinach Salad with Chicken and Roasted Vegetables
Meal 4:  Pasta with Turkey Sausage, Spinach, and Sundried Tomatoes
Meal 5:  Sweet Potato Hash with Turkey Sausage

Shopping List:
1 Large head of Cauliflower (meal 1, 2)
1 Red Pepper (meal 3, 5)
1 Medium Zucchini (meal 3, 5)
1 Yellow Onion (meal 4, 5)
1 Bulb of Garlic (all 5)
1 (450 gram) Package Turkey Sausage (meal 4, 5)
2 Chicken Breasts (meal 2, 3)
1 Box of Penne Pasta (meal 1, 4)
1- 28 oz. can of Diced Tomatoes (meal 1, 2)
1 Small Jar of Sundried Tomatoes in Oil (meal 2, 4, 5)
Kalamata Olives (meal 1, 2)
1 box Low-Sodium Chicken Broth (meal 4)
1 (300 gram) block of Mozzarella Cheese (meal 2)
1 bag baby spinach (meal 2, 3, 5)
2 medium sweet potatoes (meal 3,5)

My grocery store total was $33.  This included butter, because it was 50% off ($2.50).  However, the total did not include the chicken, which I had previously bought at Costco.  I estimate the cost of the chicken to be $6.  Though, in Canada if you buy it at the grocery store, it would more likely run you from $8-10.  Additionally, I already had a jar of olives.  I double checked the price on the olives, and they are $3.  So, my grand total was probably closer to $40 for the week.  Even if you have a more expensive grocery store, your grocery bill should still be under $50 for the week!!

The Everygirl, and I, also recommend some basic pantry staples.  For the recipes listed above you will also need:

Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Honey
Dijon Mustard
Dried Oregano
Chili powder
Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Pepper
Paprika
Eggs



Friday, March 9, 2012

Mini-Blueberry Pies


Just a quick little post for you today with Mini-Blueberry Pies.  I'm going to send you on over to Freutcake to check out the recipe (originally from Martha Stewart).  Leah has a seriously rad blog (yes, "rad"), and this recipe popped up just as I was looking for something to make for my Oscar party.  These cute little pies are seriously easy to make, and oh, so delicious!  Fortunately for me, I filled my Oscar party guests with lots of other snacks (Antipasto, Caprese bites, veggies and dip, Rosemary-Parmesan Popcorn, Caramel Peanut Popcorn, movie theatre candy, etc.), so I had a lot of mini-pies available to eat for breakfast during the week.  Yes, I am encouraging you to eat mini-pies for breakfast.  I told you, only sinful recipes this week!  Happy Friday! xo

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Caramel Peanut Popcorn

caramel peanut popcorn recipe

So, I can't claim to have a ton of recipes to post for you this week.  And the ones that I do have (except for the Brussels Sprouts) are not healthy... but they are certainly delicious.  As I mentioned before, I'm cooking for just one and while I did cook a new recipe last week, I've decided to include it in a special round-up of recipes that is coming your way next week.  So please bear with me, I promise lots of good, healthy, real food recipes next week and two slightly sinful recipes this week.  Here we have Caramel Peanut Popcorn.  It is addictive.  I made it to eat while we watched the Oscars, and I honestly thought the popcorn wouldn't even make it to the red carpet.  As I cleaned my house and got organized for the evening's festivities, I ate a handful of this popcorn every time I passed by the kitchen.  And I then I started taking detours to the kitchen just because it is so delicious.  Luckily, the recipe makes a lot!

Caramel Peanut Popcorn
From Foodnetwork.com

3 tablespoons canola oil (for popping on the stove)*
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
1 1/4 cups Demerra brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250°F. Generously butter heavy large baking pan.

If popping on the stove: Pour the oil and popcorn kernels into a large heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid.  Turn the heat to medium.  Stir until the kernels are coated with oil.  Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, shaking the pan often.  Once the popping starts, shake the pan constantly, cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes or until popping has almost stopped.  Let the pan stand for one minute.

Mix warm popcorn and peanuts in prepared pan. Place in oven while preparing syrup.

Combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Attach clip-on candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat to high and boil without stirring until thermometer registers 255°F, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush, about 4 minutes.  Don't be alarmed if the caramel starts to look like it is burning or if it smells funny.  Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract, salt and baking soda (mixture will bubble). Gradually pour syrup over popcorn and nuts completely.

Bake until caramel feels dry, stirring frequently, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Using metal spatula, scrape mixture from bottom of pan to loosen. Cool completely in pan. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

*You can also air-pop the popcorn, just pop as you normally would then skip to the step where you mix the popcorn with the peanuts!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Favorite Side: Sweet and Spicy Brussels Sprouts

sweet and spicy brussels sprouts recipe

A super simple post for you all today.  I debated putting up one of the sweet treats I made for the Oscar's last week, but in the end I decided I wanted to share my favorite, easy side dish.  These roasted Brussels sprouts are the best!  The honey cuts the bitterness of the sprouts and there is a spicy kick from the pepper flakes.  I'm a big believer in sides that can be thrown together quickly, as I tend to focus most of my energy on the main dish.  These Brussels sprouts definitely fit the bill, and they are so delicious too.

Hope you all have a happy Monday!  I'm still a little bit exhausted from my weekend travels to Toronto to see N.  It was a great weekend, but 10 hours in the car is less than ideal.

Sweet and Spicy Brussels Sprouts

1 pound brussels sprouts
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Large pinch of red pepper flakes
1 to 2 tablespoons honey (depending on how sweet you want them to be)

Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.  Clean the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half.  Throw the Brussels sprouts in a medium sized mixing bowl, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pour olive oil on the Brussels sprouts and mix well so that everything is lightly covered in oil.  Spread the sprouts on a baking sheet so that the cut half is on the sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  The sprouts will be done when they are toasty brown on the cut side (the ones in my picture could have been cooked a bit longer).  Remove the sprouts from the oven and return them to the mixing bowl.  Squeeze the honey over the sprouts and mix well again.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Follow K&K Test Kitchen

Hello to our lovely readers!  I wasn't paying attention and assumed that what I had been hearing about the end of Google Friend Connect only applied to non-Blogspot blogs.  It seems that it may eventually apply across the board.  While it isn't going away immediately, we don't want you to miss out on any K&K Test Kitchen posts.  If you follow K&K Test Kitchen via Google Friend Connect, we would love for you to continue following us.  To ensure that you continue to receive updates from us, please either click the RSS feed button (the one with the three curved lines) on the top right hand side of the blog or join us over on our Facebook page.   You can also receive our posts to your email, by clicking the icon with the envelope on the top right (we do not have access to your email addresses and the program does not share your address with anyone).  Thank you so much for your continued support!!  We will continue to provide you with lots of tasty, easy, and even some healthy recipes!! Hope you are having a lovely weekend! XO Kelsey

Friday, March 2, 2012

Five Spice Roasted Chicken and Orchid Lime Salad

Hi, this is a posting from Kim today!  Kelsey has asked me to take a larger part in the contribution to the blog as she is only cooking for one again.  So, I decided that I needed a new cookbook to inspire me with this challenge.  A friend suggested I try the Whitewater Cooks cookbook series by Shelley Adams as Shelley is out of Nelson, BC and is fairly local to me.  She has three cookbooks and I got the most recent one, Whitewater Cooks with Friends, as it had a lot of recipes that I could see myself making in the future.  I chose two recipes to make for dinner that Shelley suggested as pairing well.  I made the Chinese Five Spice and Garlic Chicken and the Orchid Lime Salad (not sure why it is called that) and both dishes were delicious.  The chicken was extra moist and tender with a spicy kick to it and I really enjoyed the dressing on the rice noodle salad.  If these dishes are any indication of how good the cookbook is, I say I chose a great one to add to my cookbook collection.

five spice roasted chicken recipe


Roasted Chinese Five Spice and Garlic Chicken

Ingredients:
1 whole organic chicken, about 3 lbs.
8 garlic cloves, crushed (I only used 4)
2 tbsp salt (I used only 1 tbsp)
4 tbsp sesame oil
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
4 tbsp rice vinegar
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 limes, quartered for garnish

Directions:

Place the chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board so the back is facing you.  Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut through the ribs on one side or the backbone.  Lay chicken open and cut ribs on the other side of the backbone and remove and discard backbone.  (I had the butcher butterfly the chicken for me.)

Flip chicken over crack breastbone by pressing down on the flat side of a knife laid across breast, until chicken lays flat.

Combine garlic, salt, sesame oil, vegetable oil, Chinese five spice, rice vinegar, cilantro and red chili flakes in a large bowl.  Place the chicken in the marinade and flip several times to coat.  Cover with plastic film and marinate in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350.  Remove chicken from marinade and place in a roasting pan and roast in oven for about 1 to 1 ½ hours or until juices run clear when a skewer is poked in the thigh joint.  (I actually poured the remaining marinade over the chicken after I put it in the roasting pan.)

Cut chicken into pieces, place on serving platter and garnish with lime wedges. 

Asian lime noodle salad recipe

Orchid Lime Salad

Ingredients:
Dressing
½ cup peanut butter, smooth
1 lime, juice and zest of
2 tsp sesame oil
4 tbsp sweet chili sauce
4 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
½ bunch cilantro, chopped  (I used only ½ cup)
¼ cup vegetable oil

Salad
One 16 oz package pad thai rice noodles
1 kettle full of boiling water
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 carrots, julienned
½ long English cucumber, seeded and julienned
1 red pepper, julienned
2 cups bean sprouts
3 green onions, sliced diagonally
2 tbsp butter
1 cup slivered almond
3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted  (I would use half the amount next time)
¼ tsp Chinese five spice
1 tsp salt (I used half the amount)
1 tsp sugar

Directions:

Blend all the dressing ingredients except cilantro and oil with a hand mixing wand or a food processor until just mixed.

Add oil in a steady stream while mixing until incorporated.  Stir in ½ the cilantro.

Place rice noodles in a large bowl, cover with boiling water and soak ten minutes until just tender.  

Drain into colander, rinse with cold water, place in bowl and toss with the sesame oil.

Add julienned carrots, cucumbers, red pepper, bean sprouts and green onions to noodles and set aside.

Heat butter in heavy bottomed pan, add almonds, sesame seeds, Chinese five spice and salt and toss until golden brown about 3 or 4 minutes.

Add sugar and toss for another 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and allow to cool thoroughly.

Add dressing to noodles and mix gently together with two wooden spoons.  Garnish with remaining cilantro and the toasted almonds and sesame seeds.

**Tip from cookbook – if you are not going to eat all the salad at one time , you can only put dressing on the portion that you need and save the rest for when you will be eating the rest.




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