A little extra work goes a long way: Pesto-Stuffed Chicken Sandwiches

Pesto stuffed chicken sandwich on a six inch whole wheat sub bun

Every now and then, I crave a good sandwich. But since I’ve pretty much sworn off of most deli meats due to the high sodium levels, I’ve not had many sandwiches as of late. We had some chicken in the fridge a couple of weeks ago, so I looked in the cupboards to see what I could do. I could just make a sliced chicken sandwich, a grilled cheese with chicken on it or even a chicken salad sandwich, but I’m not a huge fan of that last one, either. But all of these had me thinking, “Ho, hum, boring.”

Even a Chicken Club sandwich wasn’t giving me much excitement.

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Mom’s “Hamburger Hash (stew)”, made my way

hamburger-hash-stew

This one’s an old family favourite for me. It’s one that we had very frequently as kids and I always looked forward to it. It wasn’t until recently that I said my mom, “Remember when you used to make hamburger hash for us? I used to love that and haven’t had it in years!” My mom told me she had, ironically, just made it a few days prior. So I asked her, “How do you make it??” I said, “Do you first brown the meat–?” She cut me off and said, “Oh, god no! That’s too much work!” or something very similar. She told me how she did it all those years ago and now I’m going to share with you how I made it recently for my hubby and myself.

Oh, but wait. What is hamburger hash, you ask? Oh! It’s not like a breakfast hash made with potatoes. It’s more like a ground beef stew that’s poured over mashed potatoes. When I was a kid, it was made with onion and ground beef and was in a really thick gravy. I imagine it was a favoured dish because it was relatively cheap and easy to make — which of course made it really easy to feed a family of four on a budget and without having to spend hours in the kitchen. Here’s what I did…

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The comfort burger: a Meatloaf Burger

Meatloaf Burger on a whole wheat bun with some Monterrey Jack cheese and lettuce

Sometimes, you just want a burger. Last week, I was craving burgers so much that I almost caved and went to McDonald’s. *shudders* No. No. I’ve sworn off of that place, honest! I think in the last year, I’ve been there only once. Maybe twice. I’m trying to divorce myself from certain places that I know are just  bad news for me.

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A daunting task: attempting a Gordon Ramsey recipe – Sausage Rice

Honey garlic sausage rice

I’ve enjoyed watching Gordon Ramsey’s Ultimately Cookery Course when I’ve managed to catch it. Watching these episodes makes his cooking seem a little more accessible. I was particularly intrigued by his spicy sausage rice recipe. It seemed simple and potentially delicious! The only issue I had was that it featured a spicy sausage, which I am not a fan of (I can’t handle hot spicy foods). But I thought, why can’t I do this with any other sausage?

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Jamie Oliver-inspired cooking: slow-cooked beef stew

Jamie Oliver-inspired Slow Cooked Beef Stew in a bowlI have always made stew the same way: saute onions in some oil, then brown some flour-covered beef in batches, deglaze, add the rest of the veggies and liquid and bake for an hour or two, then try to thicken it up on the stove-top with a flour-slurry, because it just  never seemed to thicken in the oven.

I’ve never been happy with this so I’ve been poking around, looking for a better technique.

Then I stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Jools’s favourite beef stew. In it, he talks about how it’s really not necessary to brown the meat in batches, as so many chefs would have you do and that he actually prefers the taste and texture of  the stew when he doesn’t pre-brown. He simply sautes his onions, then throws in the floured, seasoned meat, the liquids, vegetables and then brings it to a boil on the stove before throwing a lid on it and forgetting about it in the oven for 3-4 hours. Let me tell you, when I followed these instructions, I preferred the outcome. The taste and texture was indeed better than any stew  I’ve made in the past and the meat was perfectly tender (it’s been tough in the past).

So here’s what I did this time around for my best ever slow-cooked beef stew…

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Something old into something new: leftover butter chicken pizza!

Butter chicken pizza on naan bread on a cutting board

I’m not a fan of really hot, spicy foods, but I do like the flavour of curry. Hubby and I like to order butter chicken and rice from a nearby Indian restaurant because they make it on the milder side. We always order lots and there’s always leftover. But sometimes after the first few days, it’s easy to get bored with it, like anything else. Sometimes, you just need to find a new presentation to make even the most favourite of take-out more interesting a few days later — especially when the naan bread really isn’t too fresh by the third day and needs a little life put back into it.

So, today for lunch, I got a brainstorm. Pizza only needs a base, a sauce and toppings, right? So naan is similar to pizza crust, butter chicken sauce is like tomato sauce, the chicken is like any meat topping — all that’s needed is some veggie component (my preference) and some cheese. Here’s what I did…

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A hearty breakfast favourite, done a little differently: Curried Potato & Turkey Bacon Breakfast Hash

curried-breakfast-hash

I know I’ve posted a lot of dishes today. I’m trying to make up for some lost time, in truth. I’m off work this week and so Family Day seemed to be a good day to just get a little caught up. All of the posts put up today are dishes I’ve made since the beginning of the new year. I’m sorry if you’ve all been disappointed by the lack of activity as of late! Also, none of these have any nutritional data right now. I might be able to add them later. Keep checking back.

Some of these are better for you than others. Many are comfort foods. Keep in mind that my cooking is usually a balance between comfort and healthy — sometimes a recipe is more comfort-food than anything and sometimes, it’s made with healthy-eating in mind. But due to a seven-week illness, I haven’t been focusing upon low fat, low-carb, low calories or anything of the kind.

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