Improv Challenge: Peas and Carrots (Shepherd’s Pie)

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are peas and carrots. So far, I’ve shared:

For this month’s Improv Challenge, I made Shepherd’s Pie! When I heard the challenge ingredients were peas and carrots, I knew exactly what I would be making (It happens to be one of Bryan’s favourite meals). I changed up the recipe a bit from the usual… I added some crimini mushrooms and cut the amount of mashed potatoes in half. The mushrooms were a great addition. I missed the extra potatoes (Bryan seemed to enjoy it more this way)! If you love mashed potatoes… DOUBLE the amount called for in this recipe.

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.05
  • 4 onions, sliced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 bunch (9 small) carrots, sliced – approximate cost $2.00
  • 250 grams crimini mushrooms, sliced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 pounds learn ground beef – approximate cost $9.00
  • 2 284 milliliter cans of beef broth (+ 2 cans of water) – approximate cost $2.40
  • 500 grams green peas – approximate cost $3.00
  • 3 pounds potatoes, diced – approximate cost $3.00
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons paprika – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 cup milk – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 cup butter – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Prepare the meat and vegetable mixture.
    1. Preheat the grapeseed oil in a large pot over medium heat.
    2. Add the onion slices.
    3. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft.
    4. Add the minced garlic.
    5. Cook until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes).
    6. Remove the onion and garlic mixture and set aside in a mixing bowl.
    7. Add the ground beef to the cooking pot.
    8. Brown the ground beef.
    9. Use a wooden spoon to break the ground beef into small pieces.
    10. Return the onion and garlic mixture to the pot.
    11. Add the carrot, mushrooms, and green peas.
    12. Mix well.
    13. Add the beef broth and water.
    14. Bring the pot to a boil.
    15. Cook for about 5 minutes.
    16. Add the paprika, rosemary, and black pepper.
    17. Mix the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup cold water.
    18. Stir the cornstarch into the broth slowly.
    19. Stir frequently until thickened.
  2. Prepare the mashed potatoes.
    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
    2. Optional: Peel the potatoes. (We dice them right away, leaving the skin on)
    3. Dice the potatoes.
    4. Boil the potatoes until tender (about 10-15 minutes).
    5. Drain the potatoes.
    6. Add the milk and butter to the potatoes.
    7. Use a potatoes masher to mash the potatoes.
  3. Put it all together!
    1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Divide the meat and vegetable mixture evenly between two 9×13 baking dishes.
    3. Top with an even layer of mashed potatoes.
    4. Bake the Shepherd’s Pie for about an hour and a half.
  4. Remove the shepherd’s pie from the oven.
  5. Let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes.
  6. Serve and enjoy! (Makes fantastic leftovers)

Makes 16 servings (approximate cost: $1.58 per serving).



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Venison Stew

Over the last month, there have been many new additions to my little kitchen that I’ve been waiting to share with you.

We got a few new plates for Christmas! We broke a few dinner plates over the last year. We had three plates left around October. I began to worry how we were going to have friends over for meals if we didn’t even own enough plates to eat said dinner on. I love having a full set again, even if they aren’t an exact match.

I also got a lovely, pre-seasoned, cast iron dutch oven as a Christmas gift. Actually, it’s what I used to cook this lovely stew. I love it as well! I’ve read through the instruction manual and am fairly confident I will be able to take care of it. Any tips for maintaining cast iron cookware?

Finally, I splurged after the holiday… but it’s totally worth it! A department store in the area is going out of business (actually, I think the final day was over the weekend). I went in looking for a potato masher. And once I found this small appliance, I completely forgot about the potato masher and contemplated a bigger purchase… a KitchenAid Stand Mixer! The pros: It was half price and worked. The cons: No package or instruction manual and there’s a missing screw, so the KitchenAid decal does not fasten to the front of the mixer. I’m pretty excited about this purchase and have already used it to make breakfast (potato pancakes) and am planning some banana bread for later this week.

Venison Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil, divided – approximate cost $0.10
  • 220 grams (about 1/2 pound) bacon, chopped – approximate cost $3.00
  • 575 grams (about 1 1/4 pounds) venison stewing meat (chopped into approximately 1/2 inch cubes) – approximate cost $12.00
  • 5 small carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 large sweet onions, roughly chopped – approximate cost $0.75
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 220 grams (about 1/2 pound) crimini mushrooms, quartered – approximate cost $2.50
  • 2 cups red wine (I used Catastrophe Red, made by Cattail Creek Winery) – approximate cost $6.00
  • 4 cups beef broth – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 156ml can of tomato paste – approximate cost $0.60
  • 8 small potatoes, quartered (I used Klondike Gold Dust potatoes) – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Preheat a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the bacon and cook until crispy.
  3. Remove and set aside.
  4. Brown the venison meat
  5. Remove and set aside.
  6. Heat 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil in a large pot.
  7. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften and brown (about 5-7 minutes).
  8. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  9. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned (about 5 minutes).
  10. Add the bacon and venison back into the pot.
  11. Mix well.
  12. Add the carrots and mix in.
  13. Add the red wine, beef broth, rosemary, and thyme.
  14. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  15. Cover and cook for at least 2 hours.
  16. Prepare the potatoes about half way through cooking the stew.
    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Place the potato pieces in baking dish.
    3. Toss potatoes with 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil and salt.
    4. Roast for about 40 minutes (or until potatoes are browned and tender).
  17. Stir the tomato paste into the stew, stirring constantly until it is mixed in.
  18. Add the potatoes and mix well.
  19. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $5.24 per serving).

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AcroYoga Workshop and Pasta with Bacon and Greens

Over the weekend, I attended an AcroYoga workshop hosted by Queen Street Yoga. 3 hours of intense work-shopping. The workshop started with some of the less scary exercises to get us warmed up. Check out this super awesome people-stacking (plank pose)!

Photo credit to Leena and Emma from Queen Street Yoga

At one point, I tried to be the third person in the stack. Turns out it’s not so easy for a person of average height…

Chair pose – it was surprisingly hard to get to this pose, but fairly easy (at least for me) to maintain once there.

Photo credit to Leena and Emma from Queen Street Yoga

Transitioning from one pose to another was probably the most difficult part. It took a lot of strength (and trust) for both the “base” and the “flyer.”

Photo credit to Leena and Emma from Queen Street Yoga

Throne pose was probably my favourite one to learn at this workshop. It was stable. As the “flyer,” there was a lot of stretching and core work.

Photo credit to Leena and Emma from Queen Street Yoga

The class was so much fun! I got to catch up with a few of my yogi-friends before and after class. Learned some new yoga poses. Got a good workout. And most of all, had a lot of fun while learning! If you ever have an opportunity to try an Acro-Yoga class, give it a try! It’s very different from a more traditional class, but tons of fun.

Understandably, at the end of three hours I was exhausted… so I went to Dad’s for dinner (and had a long walk with the dogs). Thanks dad! I probably would not have made a nutritious dinner on my own that night, I very much appreciated having someone else cook for me. 🙂

What does this have to do with the dish I’m sharing today? Absolutely nothing. Except that, after this class, I was craving a meal that was both healthy and filling, which reminded me of this pasta that I made a few weeks back and am just getting a chance to share with you today.

Pasta with Bacon and Greens

Ingredients

  • 500 grams whole grain spaghettini – approximate cost $1.50
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.40
  • 6 slices of bacon, diced – approximate cost $3.00
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.15
  • 3 fresh eggs – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese – approximate cost $1.00
  • 4 tablespoons sea salt – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 cup Cookin’ Greens Athlete’s Mix – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 zucchini, sliced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 onion, diced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 300 grams crimini mushrooms, sliced – approximate cost $1.25

Method

  1. Cook the bacon pieces in a wok over medium-high heat.
  2. Remove the bacon pieces to a plate when crispy.
  3. Bring a pot of very salty water (about 4 tablespoons of sea salt) to a boil.
  4. Cook spaghettini according to package.
  5. Add diced onion to the wok, cook until softened (about 5 minutes).
  6. Add minced garlic to the wok, cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  7. Add slices of crimini mushrooms, cook until softened (about 4 minutes).
  8. Add slices of zucchini and Cookin’ Greens Athlete’s Mix, cook until softened (about 3 minutes).
  9. Return bacon to the wok and mix well with the vegetables.
  10. Remove from heat.
  11. Combine fresh eggs, Parmesan, and olive oil in a mixing bowl, whisk until completely combined.
  12. Place the cooked spaghettini in a large mixing bowl.
  13. Drizzle with the egg mixture, stirring constantly so the noodles are covered in the sauce and the egg cooks (pasta should still be hot).
  14. Add the vegetable and bacon mixture and mix thoroughly into the pasta.
  15. Serve and enjoy!

Makes about 3 servings (approximate cost: $3.57 per serving).

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Spicy, Slow-Cooked Beef Chili

Things have been crazy busy since I returned to school. Between readings, projects, group meetings, scholarship applications, and whatnot, I feel like I’ve barely had time to cook. To address this, I make big meals on Sunday evening and pack it up into portions that we enjoy throughout the week for lunch and dinner.

One of my go-to favourites is chili. I love chili because it’s hearty, because it’s so versatile, and because I can put it in the slow cooker and come home to a delicious warm meal. I can add just about everything in my pantry and it will still be a yummy chili. Last winter, I made what Bryan calls Texas-style chili. To me, it’s just chili. For the Improv Challenge in August, I made a soup with tomatoes and Anaheim chile peppers, this is more along the lines of what Bryan thinks of as chile. Despite our differing definitions, we both very much enjoy chili (despite that I always slip some chickpeas into the mix, one of Bryan’s least favourite foods, he never complains, what a great guy.).

I went a bit overboard when making chili the other week. I had forgotten just how many servings it makes and added wayyy more herbs and spices than usual. I wanted something different from my usual chili. Unfortunately, our freezer is very full, so there was no rooms to save the leftovers for later. So we ate chili, at least once per day, for nearly a week. Next time, I’ll cut this recipe in half. Or make sure I have plenty of freezer space to save some for another time.

What’s your favourite meal to make in the slow-cooker during the fall months?

Spicy, Slow-Cooked Beef Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 1/2 inch cubes – approximate cost $8.00
  • 2 cups beef stock – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 12 ounce can of tomato paste – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes, diced and liquid reserved – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 cup dried red kidney beans – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 cup dried white kidney beans – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas beans – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 large Spanish onion, diced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 400 grams crimini mushrooms, chopped – approximate cost $2.00
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.40
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 tablespoon cumin – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon paprika – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (less if you want to tone down the spiciness) – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon dried cilantro – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (about 1/4 cup to top each serving) – approximate cost $1.50
  • Baguette (for serving) – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Soak the dried beans.
    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
    2. Add dried beans.
    3. Let cook for 5 minutes.
    4. Turn the stove off.
    5. Put a lid on the pot.
    6. Remove pot from the burner.
    7. Allow the beans soak for at least 1 hour.
  2. Prepare the beef, garlic, and onion.
    1. Heat the grapeseed oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
    2. Sautee the minced garlic for 1 minute.
    3. Add the onion to the frying pan and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. or until the onion softens.
    4. Add the stewing beef and cook until browned.
  3. Putting it all together in the slow cooker.
    1. Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes (and liquid), chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, Italian Seasoning, cilantro, sea salt, black pepper to the slow cooker first.
    2. Stir well so the flavours mix well with the liquid.
    3. Add the browned stewing beef mixture, soaked beans, crimini mushrooms.
    4. Mix again.
    5. There should be enough liquid to cover the chili. If not, add more beef stock.
    6. Cook at low temperature for about 6 hours (or high temperature for about 4 hours).
  4. Serve topped with shredded cheese and baguette on the side.

Makes about 12 servings (approximate cost: $1.83 per serving).

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Roasted Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Peppers with Thyme

Sunday, Dad decided to come home from the lake early, so I decided to go home for a family dinner (despite that there were already plans for all of us to get together the next day for Nana’s birthday). Because the plans were a bit last minute, dinner consisted of leftover shepherd’s pie that I had made earlier in the week, a few roasted vegetables, and pumpkin pie that dad picked up on his way home.

As usual, I made too much food. I find it hard to plan dinner for six. However, leftovers are always welcome, they get packed into lunches for the next day. And we usually sneak a treat or two to the dogs (they got a taste of Shepherd’s pie – Rascal loved it, Rebel picked out the carrots).

Roasted Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Peppers with Thyme

Ingredients

  • 1 large spanish onion, diced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.20
  • 800 grams button mushrooms, sliced – approximate cost $3.50
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 green pepper, sliced – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 red peppers, sliced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 orange pepper, sliced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.15

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the onion pieces and cook until softened.
  4. Add garlic and continue to cook until garlic is fragrant.
  5. Remove from heat and transfer to a large baking pan.
  6. Combine onion mixture, mushrooms, zucchini slices, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme in the baking pan.
  7. Mix well.
  8. Bake vegetables for 7 minutes (or until  they begin to soften).
  9. Remove from oven and add the peppers and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme.
  10. Mix well.
  11. Turn the oven temperature to broil.
  12. Return the vegetables to the oven.
  13. Cook for another 5-7 minutes (or until the vegetables begin to brown).
  14. Remove from oven.
  15. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 8 servings (approximate cost: $1.52 per serving).

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Mushrooms Stuffed with Tomatoes and Onion

A few weeks ago, we spent a lovely day with our friend, W, and his girlfriend, S, who we were meeting for the first time. We had a lovely afternoon swimming and relaxing at the beach at a local conservation area. Afterwards, we cooked dinner on the barbecue. There was so much food: stuffed mushrooms, garlic loaf, chicken drumsticks, corn on the cob, mixed vegetables, and homemade cinnamon buns for dessert.

I have a bit of a control issue in the kitchen (not sure if this is surprising to other food bloggers). I’m used to doing everything by myself. I don’t often like having help and tend to be a bit bossy if you somehow convince me you should help. I’m working on getting over this, because I’d love to have Bryan, or friends for that matter, be in the kitchen with me more often and teach me a bit about their food preferences and cooking styles. I tried very hard at W’s home to not be my usual bossy self. Everyone had a part in preparing dinner.

We rarely have barbecued dinners. We have a small camping-sized grill, which is barely large enough to cook dinner for two. So, an entire dinner cooked on the barbecue was very much a treat for Bryan and I. I think the highlight of the meal, for me, was the stuffed mushrooms. I had a strong dislike for mushrooms growing up, and love when I enjoy them as an adult. They were delicious.

Also, the conversation about the mushrooms was hilarious. W isn’t a huge fan of onions and had complained earlier that there were a few too many onions in the mushroom stuffing for his liking (which I totally understand, onions were the other food I disliked as a child). I think S took a few out. Over dinner, everyone was complimenting S on the delicious stuffed mushroom (and they were much deserved compliments). However, Bryan wanted to tease W about his earlier comment by remarking that there were too many onions in his mushrooms… however, he must have remembered my usual dislike for mushrooms at the last second and instead commented on how there was too much mushroom in his mushrooms! Much laughter ensued.

After dinner, we learned to play a game called “Dice,” which was very fun and taught S how to play Euchre. Everything was amazing, company and food. We can’t wait to have another chance to hang out with W and S!

Recently, we tried to replicate the stuffed mushrooms… but we had mostly forgotten what was in them. So, instead of doing the logical thing, which would be to email S and ask, I decided to come up with a similar recipe. (The original recipe includes pizza sauce, I’ve used tomato pieces instead).

What’s your favourite recipe for stuffed mushrooms?

Mushrooms Stuffed with Tomatoes and Onion

Inspired by dinner with W and S

Ingredients

  • 6 large button mushrooms, washed and scrubbed – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1 vine-ripened tomato, chopped – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped finely – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.10
  • 6 slices (100 grams or so) old cheddar cheese – approximate cost $1.50

Method

  1. Preheat the broiler in your oven.
  2. Remove the mushroom stems so there is a hollow center in each of the mushroom.
  3. Discard the stems.
    1. Note: S chopped up the stems and included them in the stuffing mixture. I discarded them because there was too much stuffing already (and so I could tease Bryan about how I made sure there was less mushroom in his mushrooms this time).
  4. Combine the tomato and onion pieces, minced garlic, sea salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  5. Mix well.
  6. Stuff each mushroom with some of the tomato mixture.
  7. Top each mushroom with a slice of cheese.
  8. Place under the broiler for 5-7 minutes (or until the cheese is melted and the mushroom begins to soften).
  9. Allow mushrooms to stand for a few minutes.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $0.99 per serving).

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Rabbit Braised in White Wine

My parents tell me that rabbit was one of my favourite foods as a child. Yet, I don’t remember eating it, ever (nor do I remember seeing it for sale at the grocery store). I have trouble believing I was so adventuresome with my food choices at the time.

So, when rabbit was available at work, I quickly text messaged Bryan, asking him if we should give it a try. It was a bit more expensive than what we would usually buy for dinner, so I wanted to consult with him about whether I was being a bit too spontaneous with my food purchases.

I hummed and hawed over the purchase. Bryan was more than willing to give it a try. He was more confident than I was about my ability to turn it into something edible for dinner.

Was I going to like it? Would it be too much over our usual budget? Have I progressed enough as a cook to take on something like this? It still kind of looked like a rabbit… could I bring myself to cook it?

At the end of the day… it was still there, so I wrapped it up and decided to buy it. Worst case scenario I botch it and we order pizza instead.

Well, I cooked it, ate it, and enjoyed it very much. Bryan seemed to enjoy it a lot as well. We had leftovers for a few days and I found it was best reheated in the oven as opposed to the microwave.

Have you ever been nervous about cooking dinner? If so, what is it that you were nervous about cooking? What made you nervous?

Rabbit Braised in White Wine

Adapted from Rabbit with White Wine from Canadian Living

Ingredients

  • 1 rabbit, cut into bite-sized pieces – approximate cost $15.00
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoons black pepper – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon butter – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced – approximate cost $1.00
  • 4 carrots, sliced – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1 package (about 500 grams) crimini mushrooms – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1 cup white wine (I used Silver Point Sauvignon Blanc 2010, New Zealand) – approximate cost $1.75
  • 1 cup chicken broth – approximate cost $1.50
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (I used fresh rosemary from my garden, but 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves would work as well) – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 baguette (for serving) – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag.
  2. Add rabbit pieces (in batches).
  3. Shake the flour mixture to coat the rabbit pieces.
  4. Repeat until all pieces are coated in flour.
  5. In large pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat.
  6. Brown rabbit pieces (in small batches).
  7. Transfer browned rabbit pieces to a large baking dish.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Reduce heat to medium.
  10. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in the pot.
  11. Add onion pieces, carrots, and a few tablespoons of the remaining flour mixture.
  12. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion pieces soften.
  13. Add crimini mushrooms and garlic.
  14. Cook for about 1 minute (garlic will become fragrant).
  15. Add white wine and chicken stock.
  16. Bring to a boil (mixture should begin to thicken).
  17. Remove from heat and pour over rabbit pieces.
  18. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, and lemon juice.
  19. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes (or until the rabbit pieces are cooked through).
  20. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving with a piece of baguette as a side (and a glass of leftover wine).

Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $4.93 per serving).

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Red, White, and Blue Chicken Enchiladas

It’s Wednesday and I’m still reminiscing about last weekend. What made last weekend so special? I had a visit with my childhood best friend. The visit was much too short, but I’m still so glad we got to see each other. We hadn’t seen each other for two years. However, we frequently keep in contact through Facebook and blogging (check out Rhi’s blog, she has a super funky post about how to create vibrant and colourful hair). I love how even after so much time apart, conversation comes naturally. We catch up on every day things as if we’ve never been apart. We realize coincidences that, despite being so far apart, we have come to have so many similarities in our lives (from music to pastimes and more). I feel very fortunate that, even after all these years, we remain close friends.

Rhi and Me at her wedding (back in 2007)

The dish I’m featuring today reminds me of Rhi. Not because of any childhood memories, but because of the theme (red-white-and-blue). I made this dish to Celebrate the 4th of July with Bryan. Rhi is living in the United States.

So, what are the red-white-and blue ingredients?

  • Red: Tomatoes, Red enchilada sauce, red peppers
  • White: Chicken, tortillas, mushrooms, cheese
  • Blue: Blue corn tortilla chips

Did you make red-white-and-blue themed treats to celebrate the 4th of July? Please link me to your recipes, I need ideas for next year!

Red, White, and Blue Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 8 white tortillas – approximate cost $2.00
  • 3 small boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (about 700 grams) – approximate cost $7.00
  • 1 can diced tomatoes – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 can tomato sauce – approximate cost $1.25
  • 2 red peppers, diced – approximate cost $2.00
  • 500 grams crimini mushrooms, diced – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 vidalia onion, diced – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Spices – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro – approximate cost $0.10
  • 300 grams Monterey Jack cheese, shredded – approximate cost $4.00
  • 300 grams Old Cheddar cheese, shredded – approximate cost $4.00
  • 100 grams (about 1 1/2 cups) blue corn tortilla chips, crushed – approximate cost $1.50

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  2. Bake the chicken until cooked through.
  3. Shred the chicken.
  4. In a large pot, sautée the onion in olive oil until softened.
  5. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, crimini mushrooms to the pot and bring to a simmer.
  7. Simmer for 15 minutes (the liquid should reduce and the sauce should become sort of thick).
  8. Add the red peppers, Italian spice, dried cilantro and chili powder.
  9. Remove sauce from heat.
  10. Fill each tortilla with a portion of the chicken and sauce (you want to have some sauce left over).
  11. Roll the tortillas and place seam side down in a 9×13 baking pan.
  12. Sprinkle with the shredded cheeses.
  13. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas.
  14. Bake for 15-20 minutes (the cheese should be melted).
  15. Remove from over and sprinkle with blue corn tortilla pieces.
  16. Let stand for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Makes about 8 servings (approximate cost: $3.36 per serving).

Spicy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Enchiladas are a staple in our home. I find this a bit weird, because I didn’t eat enchiladas growing up. My community had a large German influence, so the only Mexican food I had eaten (until I was about 18) was ground beef tacos. Even now there are very few Mexican restaurants in the area.

With Bryan having grown up in the Southwest US, and my love for the food he introduced me to there, I’ve taken it upon myself to learn to cook a few of the traditional dishes from that region. This isn’t always easy, mostly because finding the ingredients can be difficult.

In particular, New Mexico green chiles (our favourite), are especially hard to find. Chile is a staple in New Mexico. In fact, I tried to order a pizza in New Mexico once with my favourite topping: green olives. They don’t carry green olives and offered me green chiles as a substitute. That same trip, I stopped for a sub on my way to the airport and was surprised to find green chiles as a topping. For now, I make substitutions. It’s never quite the same, but always very tasty.

Usually I will make an enchilada casserole (that is a nice way of saying I cut everything into bite-sized pieces and mix it all together before baking it). Recently, I decided to make the rolled enchiladas. I added a few ingredients to my usual recipe as well (mushrooms and onion). I should do this more often. There is a better ratio of tortillas to filling. And the tortillas come out a bit crispy-er.

Spicy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 6 tortillas – approximate cost $1.50
  • 2 medium-sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts – approximate cost $6.50
  • 2 jars of Salsa Verde (green salsa) – approximate cost $4.50
  • 2 cups Mexican-cheese blend (Cheddar, Colby, and Monterey Jack cheeses), shredded – approximate cost $2.00
  • 4 portabella mushrooms – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 Videlia onion – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Bake the chicken breasts until cooked through (about 20-30 minutes).
  3. Allow the chicken to cook until you can handle it easily (or refrigerate and save until you’re ready to make the enchiladas).
  4. Grate 2 cups of the various cheeses (or buy already shredded cheese).
  5. Chop the chicken, mushrooms, and onion into small pieces (about 1/4-1/2 inch cubes)
  6. Arrange some of the chicken, onion, mushroom, and cheese in the center of each tortilla (reserving about 1 cup of cheese).
  7. Spread the vegetable oil over the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
  8. Roll each of the filled tortillas and place seam down in the baking dish.
  9. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the rolled tortillas.
  10. Pour the Salsa Verde over the tortillas.
  11. Bake the enchiladas at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes (cheese should be completely melted and tortillas should be starting to get slightly crispy at the edges).
  12. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings (approximate cost: $2.10 per serving).

Egg Bake with Potatoes and Mushrooms

Lately, I’ve really enjoyed having a full breakfast. I’m not one to have the same thing for breakfast every day. For a while I was having smoothies. Then I switched to eggs over easy with toast. Then cereal. Recently, I’ve been making egg bakes. I like how I can make a 9×13 pan of eggs and enjoy it for breakfast most of the week. The initial egg bake takes a bit longer than usual to make, but it reheats well in very little time, so it’s a quick and filling breakfast the rest of the week.

The other thing I really like about egg bakes is that you can thrown in almost anything you have on hand. I’ve yet to make a trip to the grocery store for a “missing” ingredient. This recipe is mostly a guideline to help you make your own egg bake. Make any omissions or substitutions you’d like to fit your tastes.

Egg Bake with Potatoes and Mushrooms

Egg bake with potatoes and mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 4-5 medium sized potatoes, diced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 8 eggs – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 cup old cheddar cheese, shredded – approximate cost $1.50
  • 3 portabella mushrooms – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 videlia onion, chopped – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 green pepper, chopped – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 clove garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons butter – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon dried Herbes de Provence – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05

single serving of egg bake with potatoes and mushrooms

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Boil the potatoes for 5-10 minutes, or until tender and drain.
  3. In a frying pan, melt the butter.
  4. Add the onions to the hot butter and cook until onions become translucent.
  5. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  6. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for about 5 minute (mushrooms begin to soften).
  7. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and salt until well combined.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  9. Arrange the ingredients in a 9×13 baking dish.
    1. Add the potatoes to the bottom layer of the dish.
    2. Top potatoes with the mushroom and onion mixture.
    3. Add the uncooked green pepper pieces.
    4. Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients.
    5. Top with cheese.
  10. Bake for 30-45 minutes (eggs will set).
  11. Remove from over and sprinkle with Herbes de Provence.
  12. Allow the bake to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings (approximate cost: $1.06 per serving)

egg bake with mushrooms and potatoes

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