Bryan’s Mom’s Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Woops! It’s been a little more than a month since I last posted. How time flies! We’ve been super busy around here. Most of my time has been occupied by studying for a big exam that’s coming up in December. I’m loving being a teaching assistant — I look forward every week to my two hour lecture.  I’m also taking a professionalization course and learning so many things about academia that I was unaware of before. And so much more! (I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I had any free time!)

One of the recent highlights was a potluck with Bryan’s colleagues. I love potlucks because they’re a good time to showcase your best recipes. I also like when to see a large diversity of foods from other cultures. We had just the right recipe to fit the bill: Bryan’s Mom’s Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole! It was perfect because I was able to find fresh Anaheim chile peppers at the grocery store that week, it’s difficult to find Mexican or Southwestern food here, it’s one of our favourite meals, and I was sure it was something that no one else would contribute to the potluck. (We also made Green Chile Pepper and Tomato Soup for ourselves while I was roasting all those chile peppers).

We had a fantastic evening full of good food and fantastic company! I hope we get an invitation to the next potluck despite that Bryan has now graduated.

I’m happy to report that the dish was well-received! We took one enchilada casserole with us to the potluck and kept one at home. Good thing I made extras, because there weren’t any leftovers to bring home.

Bryan’s Mom’s Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Changes from the original recipe:

  • The original recipe calls fora package of frozen “Bueno Hot Autumn Roast green chile.”  These chiles aren’t available here and the closet thing I can get is fresh Anaheim peppers.
  • The original recipe calls for wrapping some cheese and chicken in each of the (large size) tortillas. I could only find the small corn tortillas and opted for the casserole style used in Bryan’s Step-Father’s Red Chile and Enchilada Casserole. Thus, all the cheese went into the sauce instead of reserving some to fill the tortillas.
  • The original recipe calls for a Mexican cheese blend. The blends that I found either have chili or jalapeño peppers in them, which I didn’t want because this dish is spicy enough as is… so I opted to make my own blend using Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
  • I doubled the quantities because we wanted lots of leftovers for lunch!

Green Chile and Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter– approximate cost $0.50
  • 4 (slightly rounded) tablespoons flour– approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt– approximate cost $0.05
  • 4 cups whole milk– approximate cost $3.00
  • 7 cups cheese (a blend of medium Cheddar and Monterrey Jack), shredded – approximate cost $9.00
  • 1 onion, chopping– approximate cost $0.75
  • 2.2 kilograms (4.85 pounds) fresh Anaheim (Green) chile peppers – approximate cost $20.00

Method

  1. Preheat your oven’s broiler.
  2. Roast the Anaheim chile peppers.
    1. Arrange the chiles in a roasting pan.
    2. Roast under the broiler for 5 minutes.
    3. Turn the chiles.
    4. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
    5. Turn the chiles.
    6. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
    7. Turn the chiles.
    8. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
    9. Note: The chiles should be blackened on all sides at this point.
    10. Allow the chiles to cool.
  3. Peel the blackened skin off of the chiles.
  4. De-seed the chiles as necessary (more seeds = more heat).
  5. Chop the chiles into 1/4″ pieces and set aside.
  6. Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat until melted.
  7. Turn down the heat.
  8. Stir flour and sea salt into the butter.
  9. Stir constantly until the flour dissolves.
  10. Add milk.
  11. Stir until hot, but not boiling (the sauce should be quite thick)!
  12. Add cheese blend.
  13. Stir frequently until melted.
  14. Add the roasted chile pieces.
  15. Remove from heat.

Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breasts – approximate cost $24.00
  • 48 small corn tortillas – approximate cost $1.80
  • Green chile and cheese sauce
  • Cooking oil– approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the chicken.
    1. Bake the chicken breasts until cooked through (about 15 minutes)
    2. Allow the chicken to cool until you can handle it.
    3. Chop the chicken into small, approximately 1/4″ pieces.
    4. Set chicken aside.
  3. Prepare the corn tortillas.
    1. Heat 1/4″ oil in a frying pan.
    2. Very lightly fry the corn tortillas.
    3. Place on paper towels as they come our of the frying pan to remove some of the oil.
  4. Assemble the casserole!
    1. Distribute half the fried tortillas into an even layer in the bottom of 2 9×13 baking dishes (it’s ok if they overlap).
    2. Top with half of the chicken.
    3. Smother with 1/2 of the green chile and cheese sauce.
    4. Distribute the second half the fried tortillas into an even layer in the baking dishes.
    5. Top with remaining chicken.
    6. Cover with remaining green chile and cheese sauce.
      1. Note: Once assembled, you can refrigerate the casserole and bake it at another time.
  5. Bake about 30-45 minutes, or until the sauce begins to bubble.
  6. Remove from oven.
  7. Let stand on the counter for a few minutes.
  8. Serve and enjoy! (Optional: Serve with beans, rice, and flour tortillas)

Makes about 24 servings, or 2 9×13 casseroles (approximate cost: $2.51 per serving).

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Nana’s Potato Salad

Over the weekend, we celebrated my dad’s birthday. We tend to spend our family occasions at home and cook a nice meal. On the odd occasion, we order take out Chinese food (which was always my birthday request growing up). I’ve learned to plan the meal ahead. I’ve got better at timing the things I’m cooking. Each time, the meal seems to come out a little bit better.

Dad’s birthday request was for steak. I got to choose the side dishes. So, I picked up some gorgeous sirloin steaks from The Bauer Butcher, fresh Ontario asparagus from Vincenzo’s (asparagus season is coming to an end soon, so I’m eating as much of this delicious vegetable as possible), and some potatoes for a potato salad. To top it all off, Nana made an amazing confetti cake (dad’s favourite).

BBQ Sirloin Steaks

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Now, would you be surprised if I told you that the highlight of the meal is the potato salad?

You see, it’s my nana’s recipe and a family favourite. Nana has made her family-famous potato salad ever since I can remember… and ever since dad can remember. I have fond memories of spending weekends with Nana as a child and there always being an amazing array of delicious home cooked food. And her potato salad is among my favourites (also check out some of her other recipes that I’ve deconstructed and posted, including Macaroni and Cheese Casserole and Asparagus Soup). As a child I flat out refused to eat potato salad. I claimed I didn’t like it. I especially didn’t like the pre-made potato salads from the grocery store and fast food restaurants (I still don’t really like most of them). However, Nana’s potato salad was the exception. Not only did I eat it, I would go back for seconds.

Steamed Asparagus

The “recipe” is another one that I’ve had to watch time after time to document. The vague directions call for potatoes (it doesn’t say how many), the oil and vinegar dressing is the only thing that is really precise. And that’s as long as you know that the recipe is for 5 servings.

This weekend, I made the salad under Nana’s supervision. The salad was very well received by my family! No complaints. No comparisons. No suggestions for next time. It was just like Nana’s. Hooray! Now I need to make it again without supervision to really put my take on the potato salad to the test.

What makes her salad so much better? So one, she serves it warm. I don’t know why, but this makes a difference in the flavour. Her salad is good as leftovers but is definitely best served and consumed fresh. Like, within an hour of making the salad. It has great sweet and sour flavours in the dressing. It’s smooth with delicious crunch pieces of fresh vegetables. It doesn’t take too much time or effort to make. It just tastes better. (And I don’t think it’s nostalgia making me say this!)

Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

Nana’s Potato Salad

Adapted from her sister’s recipe

Ingredients

  • 5 large potatoes (about 2 1/2 cups when cubed) – approximate cost $1.75
  • 2 teaspoons sugar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons salad oil (canola or olive oil works well) – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3/4 cup celery, chopped – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, diced – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons green onion, sliced thinly – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 (slightly heaping) cup mayonnaise – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Boil and drain the potatoes.
  2. Allow them to cool until they can be handled.
  3. Peel the potato skin.
    1. If you like the potato skins, skip this step. For my own salad, I would leave the potato skin on. Nana prefers the potato skins removed.
  4. Cut potato into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Combine sugar and vinegar, stirring constantly until dissolved.
  6. Add salad oil to the vinegar and sugar mix.
  7. Pour oil and vinegar mix over hot potatoes.
  8. Allow the potatoes to cool until lukewarm, about room temperature.
  9. Add celery, green pepper, and green onion pieces.
  10. Mix well.
  11. Add pepper and mayonnaise.
  12. Mix thoroughly.
  13. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 5 servings (approximate cost: $0.80 per serving).

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Slow-Cooked Beef Brisket Sliders

It was starting to look like spring around here. Most of the snow had melted and the weather was warm enough that I put away my heavy winter jacket in favour of a lighter spring jacket. Then, without warning, winter returned… Temperatures dropped back down to -9 degrees Celsius! And it snowed again.

With the return of colder weather, I decided to make some comfort food. So, I picked up some beef brisket and made sliders!

This was more than enough for the two of us. So, the next day, we served the leftovers to some friends that stopped by around dinner time. They reheated nicely in the oven and were just as delicious the next day!

Slow-Cooked Beef Brisket Sliders

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 onions, sliced – approximate cost $0.80
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 pounds of beef brisket – approximate cost $10.00
  • 1 bottle of light beer (we used Bud Light Lime) – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 teaspoon paprika – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder – approximate cost $0.10
  • ½ teaspoon cumin – approximate cost $0.05
  • 3 dashes natural hickory liquid smoke – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 bay leaves – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • ½ cup Carolina-style barbecue sauce – approximate cost $1.30
  • 12 slider hamburger buns – approximate cost $2.50

Method

  1. Preheat a frying pan and the grapeseed oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion slices when the oil is hot.
  3. Cook the onion for about 7 minutes, or until softened.
  4. Add the garlic to the onions and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the cooked onions and garlic and beef brisket to the slow cooker.
  6. Combine the beer, paprika, chili, cumin, liquid smoke, bay leaves, and beef bouillon in a large measuring cup.
  7. Mix well.
  8. Pour the beer and spice mixture over the beef brisket.
  9. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or until beef is cooked through and tender.
  10. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  11. Remove the brisket and onions from the slow cooker.
  12. Shred the brisket into thin pieces.
  13. Place the shredded brisket and onions into a large baking dish.
  14. Cover with Carolina-style barbecue sauce.
  15. Mix well until the meat is thoroughly coated with the sauce.
  16. Bake for about 15 minutes so the sauce is warm and there are a few crusty pieces.
  17. Place the brisket on slider hamburger buns.
  18. Serve and enjoy!

Makes about 12 sliders or 6 large sandwiches (approximate cost $1.42 per slider or $2.84 per sandwich).

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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).



Lobster and Egg Served Over a Potato Pancake

Breakfast is probably our favourite meal of the day.

I’m an early riser. Loki (my kitty) likes to be fed by 7am and wakes me up regardless of whether it is a day I can sleep in. (Loki purrs loudly to wake me up, it’s really cute. If I don’t wake up, she will paw my hair, which is my least favourite way to wake up). Bryan, on the other hand, prefers to stay up late. Loki likes to stay up late with him, snuggled in his lap while he is at the computer working. Luckily for us, these diverse schedules both work for graduate students.

Loki would like some breakfast too, please!

That said, our “breakfast” times do not frequently coincide. So, we enjoy breakfast meals at any time of the day. Actually, not that long ago I learned of the mash-up word “brinner” meaning breakfast foods served for dinner. The word hasn’t made it into our regular vocabulary yet, but I can see if happening sometime soon.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is one that I made for a weekend brunch. It felt like it took quite a while to make… but it was worth the wait!

What is your favourite meal of the day?

Lobster and Egg Served Over a Potato Pancake

Potato Pancake

  • 1 ½ cups shredded potatoes  – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 egg  – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour  – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour  – approximate cost $0.25

Toppings

  • 4 eggs, cooked sunny-side up or over-easy  – approximate cost $1.20
  • ½ cup cooked lobster, shredded  – approximate cost $7.00
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded  – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 green onions, sliced  – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced  – approximate cost $0.60
  • 2 cloves garlic  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil  – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Cook the onion and garlic toppings.
    1. Preheat a frying pan and add a ½ teaspoons of the grapeseed oil.
    2. Add the sweet onion slices and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
    3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
    4. Make the potato pancakes.
      1. Combine the sea salt, black pepper, all-purpose flour, and whole wheat flour in a large mixing bowl.
      2. Add the shredded potato and egg.
      3. Mix until well-combined.
      4. Preheat a frying pan and add the grapeseed oil.
      5. Add ¼ cup of the potato pancake mixture.
      6. Press the mixture down until it is about 1cm thick.
      7. Cook until golden.
      8. Flip.
      9. Cook until golden and cooked through.
      10. Set aside.
      11. Repeat steps e-j until the mixture is used up (makes about 4 pancakes).
      12. Cook the eggs (ours were sunny-side up, but over-easy would be awesome as well).
      13. Place a potato pancake on a serving plate.
      14. Top with lobster, onion and garlic mixture, cheddar cheese, egg, and green onion slices.
      15. Serve warm and enjoy!

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $3.25 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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The Appetizer: Deviled Eggs

For the appetizer, I stuck to something simple: Deviled Eggs! I remember this being one of my favourite snacks at holiday parties but hadn’t made them myself since I was a child. Even then, I don’t recall how much mom allowed me to “help.” I decided to make them based off of what I remembered of mom’s recipe and adding anything that seemed like it might go well.

In retrospect, I should have made a test batch. I really didn’t know what I was doing (despite this being a quick and easy appetizer). I got lucky that the appetizer turned out well. It probably could have been a bit prettier with a bit more practice. But all in all, it turned out well.

Bryan and I loved it. Our guest, as I found out, is not a fan of deviled eggs. I had sent out an email ahead of time asking about allergies, but had forgot to address preferences. Oops! I felt a bit bad that W could not partake in the appetizer, but knew there was plenty of food coming and worked as quickly as possible to get the rest of dinner ready. He was very polite about the situation and we were happy to keep the leftovers as snacks over the next few days.

Have you ever hosted a party where you accidentally make a dish your guests don’t like? How did you handle the situation?

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs – approximate cost $3.00
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 green onions, sliced – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon paprika – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add vinegar.
  3. Add eggs, gently, one at a time.
  4. Boil eggs until cooked through (about 12-15 minutes).
  5. Remove eggs from water and allow to cool.
  6. Crack and peel the egg shells, discard.
  7. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise.
  8. Scoop out the yolk and place in a mixing bowl.
  9. Add dijon mustard, mayonnaise, green onion slices, and sea salt to the mixing bowl.
  10. Use a fork to mix the ingredients until smooth.
  11. Move yolk mixture to a plastic zip-bag.
  12. Cut a small piece from the corner of the bag.
  13. Pipe the yolk mixture into the hallow egg white pieces.
  14. Arrange on a platter.
  15. Sprinkle with paprika.
  16. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 24 servings (approximate cost: $0.17 per serving).

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Caribbean Coconut Crusted Salmon with Caribbean Salsa

Normally, I don’t follow dinner recipes very closely. Usually, once I decide what it is I want to eat, I find out what I have in the fridge and pantry then make something work. Sometimes, I’ll make a quick trip to the grocery store if I’m missing something essential, but usually not.

When I picked up the salmon, I didn’t really have a plan in mind for it. I was feeling uninspired when I got home. I didn’t feel like making our usual lemon, butter and dill salmon. I didn’t have sliced almonds to make dad’s recipe. So, I started searching the Internet for a few ideas. That’s when I came across the Caribbean Coconut Crusted Salmon and the Caribbean Salsa recipes from FoodNetwork.ca. This was just what I was looking for! Something different than the usual, yet interesting, and better yet, quick to prepare. Even more unusual, I liked everything about the recipes and didn’t feel compelled to change it drastically.

This salmon and salsa was an exception to our normal dinners. I bought the salmon, found the recipe, made a shopping list, made another trip to the grocery store, and followed the recipe (for the most part, I left out the salt and pepper in the crusted salmon and left the skin on the salmon). I bought fresh cilantro (when I would normally use dried) and fresh pineapple (instead of canned) as the recipes suggest. The place where I “cheated” was with the limes. I bought lime juice instead of squeezing limes.

Was this meal worth the extra money for fresh ingredients? Definitely! Would I make it again? For sure! However, Bryan and I both agreed to use half of a red onion instead of the whole onion next time.

Our only complaint? You need lots and lots of salsa to go with the fish. The fish is nothing to write home about on its own. But when paired with the salsa it is amazing!

Caribbean Coconut Crusted Salmon with Caribbean Salsa

Both the Caribbean Coconut Crusted Salmon and the Caribbean Salsa recipes are from FoodNetwork.ca (with slight modifications)

Ingredients

Salmon

  • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut – approximate cost $1.00
  • 5 salmon fillets, skin on – approximate cost $15.00

Salsa

  • 2 cups fresh pineapple, cubed – approximate cost $2.50 (purchased at a reduced price, the pineapple was very ripe)
  • 1 red onion, diced – approximate cost $1.10
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, minced – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1/4 cup olive oil – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/4 cup lime juice – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used sriracha) – approximate cost $0.05

Makes 5 servings (approximate cost: $4.58 per serving).

Note: Both the Caribbean Coconut Crusted Salmon and the Caribbean Salsa recipes are from FoodNetwork.ca (with slight modifications). I have listed the ingredients here to show the affordability of the meal. Please visit FoodNetwork.ca for the full recipes.

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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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