Stuffed Chicken with Cabbage and Sweet Potato Pancakes

Tonight’s Menu: Chicken stuffed with caramelized onion, apple and cream cheese topped with a sour cream jus served with steamed cabbage and potato pancakes.

Stuffed chicken breasts are one of my favorite dishes to prepare. Not only are there so many flavour combinations to choose from, they  also look great on your plate. I have stuffed chicken breasts many different ways so I opted to show you my favorite and a sure-fire way to avoid losing your stuffing during the cooking process. If you’re not so keen on cabbage or have cut potato from your diet this recipe works well with grilled vegetables as well.

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 lg.onion (sliced)
1 lg. apple (grated and drained)
3 tbsp. low-fat cream cheese
2 tbsp. olive oil
S&P

Sauce
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. fat-free sour cream
S&P

2 sweet potatoes (grated and drained)
1 egg
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tbsp. olive oil
S&P

1/2 head of cabbage (sliced)

Place a medium skillet over medium-low heat and add 1 tbsp. olive oil and onions. Leave to cook stirring occasionally for approx. 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the onions into a bowl and set aside the pan to be used for your chicken.

Heat oven to 400º. In a large bowl mix together potato, egg, nutmeg and S&P (about 1 tsp. each). Grease a large skillet with olive oil. Press potato mixture firmly into skillet and set on medium-low heat. When the potato has browned slightly on the bottom insert the skillet into the oven for approx. 20 minutes.

In a small bowl mix together 3/4 of caramelized, cream cheese and apple. season with S&P and set aside.
Prepare chicken by inserting a sharp knife into the large portion of the breast and create a cavity without puncturing the top or bottom of the breast. See the (poorly done) video below for a visual. Be sure not to make your incision too large or the stuffing with escape during the cooking process.

When your chicken is stuffed, heat the skillet used for the onions over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add 1 tbsp. olive oil and your stuffed chicken. Season with S&P and brown on both sides. Transfer the chicken from the skillet into an oven safe pan and set aside your skillet to be used for the sauce. Insert into oven for approx. 15 minutes or until cooked throughly. It is best to use a thermometer when cooking chicken. The internal temperature should reach 170º.  When there is 10 minutes remaining you should start to steam your cabbage.

Place skillet used for the chicken back on to the stove and increase heat to high. Deglaze the pan with the wine then add the stock. Reduce to 1/4 of original volume, season with S&P and add in remaining caramelized onions. Set aside.

When everything has finished cooking set your sauce back onto low heat and stir in the sour cream. Carefully flip the pancake onto a cutting board. Portion into four even wedges and set onto plates. Top with cabbage and chicken (I like to cut the chicken on a bias through the middle to show the stuffing), then top with sauce.

This menu was a little time consuming but well worth it! xO

Pork Scallopini with Grainy Mustard and Mushroom Sauce

Tonight’s Menu: Pork scallopini with grainy mustard and mixed mushroom sauce and grilled vegetables

During a recent visit from my dear friend Shawn (http://itallstartswithbutter.com), I assigned him the task of cooking me a low-fat meal. Shawn is a great cook and an even better judge of other’s cooking. He decided upon scallopini and since the local butcher had just run short on veal we decided to use pork as a backup. Shawn normally would add butter and a small amount of heavy cream to his classic version but decided to cut this out for my sake. I must say this modified version was equally delicious and eye pleasing.
My task was to provide a side that complimented his dish. In an attempt not to over complicate the meal I decided to stick with a selection three vegetables done on the grill.
This meal was packed full of flavor, low in fat and best of all, served with great conversation.

Serves 4
Prep time: 20 mins. | Cook time: 20 mins.

2 pork tenderloin
3 tbsp. grainy mustard
Approx. 2 cups sliced mixed mushrooms (we used shiitake, button and oyster)
1 c. white wine
1 c. beef stock
2 whole cloves of garlic (skins removed and smashed with back of knife)
2 tbsp. olive oil 
4 tbsp. chopped parsley
S&P

1 bulb fennel (sliced large)
2 red peppers (sliced large)
2 zucchini (sliced thin lengthwise)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tsp. fresh or dried oregano
S&P

Portion each tenderloin into 4 even portions. One portion at a time, place between parchment paper or in a clear plastic bag and pound till thin using a mallet or heavy pan. Season with S&P and set aside.

Heat barbeque to medium-low. In a large bowl combine vegetables, oil, oregano and S&P. When barbeque is hot, place fennel on grill and let cook for approx. 7 minutes before flipping. Be sure not to burn. Add peppers  and zucchini to the grill and let cook till tender turning over once at the midpoint.

While your vegetables are grilling heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Measure your oil into a small bowl and set beside your stove. When pan is hot add a small amount of oil from the bowl to your pan and smashed garlic cloves. Add first round of pork and sear for approx. 2 minutes on first side and one on the second side.  Don’t worry if the pork is still slightly pink it will finish cooking in the oven. Remove from the skillet and set aside into oven safe pan. Continue doing this until all your pork is done. Try not to use more oil than is in your bowl. Be sure to not remove garlic during this process, it will flavour your oil. If your pan starts to smoke reduce heat slightly.
Once all the pork is cooked and set aside add your mushrooms to the hot pan. Saute until tender and slightly browned then deglaze the pan with wine. Add the stock and mustard and reduce heat to medium. Let simmer.
Set your oven to 200º and place your pork into the oven. When your sauce has reduced to 1/4 of its original volume, season with S&P to taste and add chopped parsley.

To serve place vegetable on your plate. Fan 2 portions of pork next to your vegetables and top with mushroom sauce.

Scrumptious. Thanks for your help It All Starts With Butter xO

Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Tonight’s Menu: Chicken and roasted vegetable lasagna with brown rice pasta

Lasagna is a favorite for many but when made traditionally it contains a tremendous amount of fat. Having lasagna every once in a while is fine but to enjoy it more frequently try alternating fatty ingredients with healthier options. I chose to add roasted vegetables to my version to add extra flavor and nutrients, you may choose a different selection like eggplant, fennel etc. This is also a great way to use up the veggies in your fridge.
As I have mentioned in the past; I have replaced all pasta in my house with a brown rice version but this was my first time working with BR lasagna. I was pleasantly surprised as even my old italian boss wouldn’t have known the difference.

Serves 6 -7
Prep time: 50 mins. | Cook time: 1 hr.

2 zucchini
1 lg. carrot (peeled)
1 lg. red pepper
1 pkg. mushrooms (approx. 20 sliced)
1 lb. asparagus
1 tbsp. olive oil
S&P

1 lb. ground lean chicken
1 small onion (chopped)
1 lg. clove of garlic (minced)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 jar plain tomato sauce
1 tsp. cinnamon
S&P

1 pkg. brown rice lasagna noodles (oven-ready)
1 carton of light ricotta
1 egg
5 large basil leaves (chiffonade)
2 c. skim-milk mozzarella cheese
1, 2 x 2″ piece of parmesan cheese
S&P

Set oven to 350º. Chop all vegetables and toss with oil and S&P in a large bowl. Spread onto a large baking pan covered with parchment and place in oven. Set timer for 50 mins.

Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil, ground chicken, onions, garlic and S&P. Let saute till cooked throughly (approx. 10 mins) stirring occasionally. When finished mix with tomato sauce and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a medium bowl mix together ricotta, basil, egg and 1/2 c. of mozzarella. Season with S&P. Set aside.

When vegetables are roasted remove from oven and leave temperature set to 350º. Spray or brush a 9 x 13″ baking dish with olive oil. Start by spreading 1/3 of meat mixture in the bottom of the pan. Follow it with a layer on lasagna noodles (do not overlap). Next spread 1/2 of ricotta mixture over noodles and top with 1/2 of vegetables. Repeat layering again starting and ending with meat mixture. Top with remaining 1 1/2 c. mozzarella then sprinkle with grated parmesan. Rip off a piece of tin foil slightly longer than the pan and fold in half lengthwise and then slightly flatten once again. Position over the pan creating somewhat of a tent so the foil is not touching the cheese. Crimp at the sides to tighten. Place in oven and cook for 45 mins. Remove foil and cook for another 15 mins. to brown cheese.

Buon Appetito! xO

Smoked Chicken at Home

Today’s Lesson: Smoking chicken in your own backyard.

Smoking any type of meat, poultry or fish is a low-fat way to infuse flavor. Most people pass on doing this themselves assuming that it is too much work or it cannot be done without an expensive bbq smoker. When working with Chef Steffan Howard years ago I learned an easy makeshift way of smoking food with items most of us have at home. I have modified his original method slightly to include my bbq. This method will work for all types of protein listed above.

Prep time: 45 mins | Cook time: 1 hr

1 large whole chicken (organic of course!)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 orange cut into wedges
1 sprig rosemary (chopped)
S&P

Equipment list
1 large deep heavy roasting pan with lid
1 rack that fits in top of pan
1 bag of smoking chips; flavor of your choice (found at your local Canadian Tire)
Barbque (racks removed)
Oven Mitts

Fill bottom of pan with wood chips, you will probably only need 1/2 to 3/4 of the bag. Cover with tap water and let soak for 30 mins.

When time has passed drain chips, mix with hand and place rack on pan. Stuff chicken with orange wedges and season with oil, rosemary and S&P. Place chicken on the rack and cover with the lid.

Remove the racks from your bbq and set to high heat. Place pan directly on grill bricks.

Reduce bbq heat to medium-high and let cook for approx. 1 hour checking on its progress 2 or 3 times. There should be constant smoke in the pan. Use a meat thermometer to determine when finished, chicken will be done when the breast reaches a temperature of 170°F (77°C).

Safely remove from grill with mitts and serve immediately or keep covered in the refrigerator. Smoked chicken can be eaten as is or in various dishes including pastas, salads, sandwiches etc. Stay tuned for a few of my favorites in the next week.

Smoken hot! xO

Thai Beef Noodle Soup

Today’s Menu: Thai inspired beef and vegetable soup with rice noodles.

After a very gluttonous and yummy Easter weekend at my sister’s house the last thing I wanted was a heavy dinner. Over the past few days I have indulged in everything from glazed ham, scalloped potatoes, home-made hamburgers, lindt chocolate bunnies and the list goes on. It is now time to get back on track!
I am a huge fan of the fresh flavors found in most Thai cooking not to mention the limited amount of fat that is used to prepare it.
This soup eats like a meal, is nutritious, low in fat and won’t weigh you down.

Serves 4
Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 20 mins

1 tbsp. fresh ginger (peeled & chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
3 stalks of lemon grass (chopped)
1 L. beef stock
1 pkg. rice noodles
S&P

12 oz. beef strips
1 tsp. olive oil
1 red pepper (sliced)
2 large carrots (julienned)
4 tbsp. cilantro (chopped)
2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
juice of one lime
S&P

Place a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add stock, lemon grass, garlic and ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 min.

While stock is simmering heat a large skillet to medium-high and add oil and beef. Brown beef and remove from pan, add the peppers and carrots. Saute for approx. 5 mins. Return beef to the pan and deglaze with soy and lime juice. Season with S&P, remove from heat and set aside.

When stock is finished simmering, season with S&P to taste and add rice noodles, stir and remove from heat. When noodles are soft, portion beef mixture into bowls, top with noodles and spoon over stock. Top each portion with cilantro and serve.

Souper-lious! xO

Red Curry & Black Garlic Rubbed Salmon with Green Mango Salad

Tonight’s Menu: Red curry and black garlic rubbed salmon with green mango salad and brown rice.

I was so excited today when I found black garlic at my local grocery. I have never worked with it before so I decided to add it to red curry paste having heard the flavor tends to be sweeter with a molasses-like richness. I can say I was quite impressed as it did not leave a strong after taste you would normally experience with unfermented raw garlic. I have also read that it has nearly twice as many antioxidants as raw garlic. Highly recommended, I can’t wait to use it again!

Serves 4
Prep time: 20 mins  |  Cook time:  10 mins

4, 6 oz salmon filet
2 cloves of black garlic (minced)
2 tbsp. red curry paste
1 tsp. olive oil

2 large unripened mangoes (julienned)
1 small red onion (sliced thin)
1 red pepper (julienned)
5 tbsp. chopped peanuts
4 tbsp. chopped cilantro
4 tsp. fish sauce
3 tsp. honey
1 tsp. olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp. Asian chili sauce or hot pepper sauce
S&P

Prepared brown rice

Set oven to 400º.
Mix curry paste and black garlic in a small bowl. Rub on the top of each salmon portion and set aside.

In a large bowl toss together mango, onion, red pepper, cilantro and peanuts. In a small bowl mix together fish sauce, honey, hot sauce, lime juice and oil until well blended and pour over the mango mixture. Toss well and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. When smoking add oil and salmon; curry side down. Sear until blacken and place skillet into the oven. Cook for 5 to 10 mins. and remove when done to your liking.

xO

Mussels Provencal

Today’s Menu: Mussels Provencal

Mussels, a quick and satisfying lunch or dinner option are very low in fat and so easy to prepare. There are so many ways to prepare them so I decided upon a classic for my first mussel post. Make sure you ask for the newest arrivals and inspect them yourself to make double sure the shells are closed. Keep on ice in the fridge until ready to use.

Mussels are a good source of Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Potassium and Zinc, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin B12, Iron, Phosphorus, Manganese and Selenium. (http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4186/2)

2 pounds mussels
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion (Brunoise or fine diced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 c. white wine
1 (28 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. fresh parsley (chopped)
S&P

Clean mussels and set aside. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the oil, onions and garlic. Saute until tender and increase heat to high. Deglaze with white wine and add the tomatoes, parsley and cinnamon. Simmer for 3 mins, add the mussels and cover until all mussels open up. Divide the mussels into serving bowls with a splotted spoon. Leave liquid over heat until reduced slightly (approx. 3 mins) and spoon evenly over mussels.

Make sure you have a few large bowls ready for serving and sprinkle finished product with coarse sea salt.

GFYG Express! xO

Turkey Burgers with Thick-Cut Sweet Potato Oven Fries

Tonight’s Menu: Gourmet Turkey Burgers with Thick-Cut Sweet Potato Oven Fries and Chili infused Dipping Sauce.

Yesterday was a lazy one, I’m assuming it was all the rain and cold weather or just me not getting off the couch all day.
Lazy for me = hungry for delicious bad-for-you treats. Instead of running out to my local Gourmet Burger for a double with bacon and brie, I decided to make my own Good-for-You version. Yes, this took all my will power but I am quickly learning my homemade GFYG versions  of my favorite foods are better and less expense. Plus what would I write about.
I decided to use lean turkey for the patties, the flavour ended up quite good but please make sure your grill is super hot as they tend to fall through the grill and stick a bit because the lack of fat. I added caramelized onions and hummus to avoid my usual cheese and mayo (which are probably my favorite foods, yes I would eat them together if I knew it wasn’t going to give me a heart attack in 5 years). For the bun I avoided white rolls and bought a flat multi-grain ciabatta and grilled it with a swipe of olive oil. As we all know with the burger must come the fries. Thick cut are the best option for my healthy homemade sweet potato version as SP tends to get mushy when baked (and don’t forget to leave the skin on for added fiber). For the dip, it was as easy as mixing FF sour cream and chili powder, very delicious and won’t stick to your hips (and arteries) like flavoured aioli.

Serves 4
Prep time: 20 mins Cook time: 20 mins

1 pound ground turkey
1 egg
2 tbsp. grainy mustard
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 small onion (chopped and sautéed)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. bbq sauce
5 tbsp. panko flakes
2 tsp. chili powder
S&P

Toppings:
1 medium onion (sliced and caramelized)
Tomato
Lettuce
1 tbsp. hummus per burger (store-bought or homemade)

4 small sweet potatoes (thick cut)
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
S&P

5 tbsp. fat-free sour cream
1 tsp. chili powder

Set your grill to high heat and your oven to 400º. Heat a small skillet over low heat and add sliced onions with a tsp. olive oil and S&P. Leave to caramelize stirring occasionally.
Place sliced sweet potatoes in a large bowl and add olive oil & S&P. When all potatoes are coated transfer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the oven. Set timer for 20 mins and cook until browned turning half way through. Mix together FF sour cream and chili powder and set aside.
Mix together all turkey burger ingredients. I like to use my hands to make sure it is mixed well. Form into patties and place on a plate lined with parchment paper. When your grill is mighty hot, place patties on grill and do not turn until well cooked. When the burgers are well done place portioned bread on the grill until they form grill marks.
Serve burgers open faced topped with veggies and hummus with oven fries and chili dip on the side.

Hope you enjoy. I sure did! xO

Brown Rice Pasta Puttanesca with Chicken

Tonight’s Menu: Brown Rice Pasta Puttanesca with Chicken

After a very long workout, busy weekend and late night catching up with Adam from It All Starts With Butter over wine, I was exhausted tonight. I thought pasta would be a quick and healthy option, plus with a bit of a hangover I was craving carbs and bold flavours. This recipe turned out before than expected and I ate way more than I should have; highly recommended if I do say so myself.

For the past 2 years I have replaced all the pasta in my house with a brown rice version. Previously only available at speciality health stores BRP is now readily available at your local grocery. BRP does not contain gluten and as most of you know brown rice is considered a super food packed full of nutrients namely fibre, selenium, protein, etc. aiding in weight loss, cancer prevention and the list goes on (more info on brown rice).

Serves 4
Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 10 mins

Pasta Puttanesca
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion (sliced thin)
10 white mushrooms (sliced)
1 clove garlic (minced)
8 pitted black olives (quartered)
1 large ripe tomato (cubed)
1 1/2 tbsp. capers
1 c. pulled chicken (or 2 thinly sliced chicken breasts)
1/4 c. red wine
1 jar plain tomato sauce
1 tsp. dried chili flakes
S&P
1 pack of brown rice fettucine or spaghetti

Set a large pot of salted water on high to boil.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, onions and mushrooms. When slightly golden add garlic, olives, capers, tomato and chicken. Sauté for 3 mins stirring occasionally. Deglaze pan with red wine. Add the tomato sauce, chilis and season with S&P. Leave on very low heat to simmer.
Add brown rice pasta to the boiling water and stir immediately. When the pasta is al dente, drain and divide into serving bowls. Top each bowl with a large ladle of sauce. Garnish with fresh grated parmesan and chilis.

Happy eating! xO

 

Grilled Catfish, Black Bean Salad and Swiss Chard

Tonight’s Menu: Grilled Spiced Catfish, Black Bean and Corn Salad and Steamed Swiss Chard.

Swayed by the beautiful weather once again I just needed to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible tonight. On my way home from the gym I stopped by my local fish market and asked what their freshest catch was. Catfish it was and I wasn’t about to pass it up.
Catfish is an excellent source of Selenium which activates an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, which may help protect the body from cancer. It is also a good source of Vitamin B12 and Potassium. As catfish is quite mild I made sure not to add too many strong flavours during the cooking process or I would risk hiding the natural flavour of the fish. I did this by applying a wet rub to only one side of the catfish and grilling it only on the seasoned side.
To compliment the fresh flavour of the fish I prepared a subtle tasting roasted red pepper coulis that was literally just the peppers, a bit of garlic, a splash of white wine and S&P reduced together. This fresh combination was accompanied by my mother’s recipe for black bean salad (slightly modified to avoid excess fat) and steamed swiss chard which is a power house of nutrition all on its own.
When starting the meal the first thing I did was turn my grill on high. By the time I had prepared the salad, prepped the chard and finished the sauce; the grill was smoking hot and really to clean. You must be very careful to clean your grill well before cooking your fish to avoid sticking. Also make sure to wipe the cleaned grill well with oil.

Serves 4
Approx. cooking time 45 mins.

4, 6-8 oz portions of catfish
3 tbsp. of prepared mustard
3 tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
3 tbsp. chili powder
S&P

Sauce
2 roasted red peppers (cleaned and pureed)
1/4 white wine
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tsp. olive oil
S&P

Bean Salad
1 can black beans (drained)
1/2 red pepper (diced)
1 onion (diced and sautéed till golden brown)
3 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 can sweet corn
1 tbsp. honey
5 tbsp. cumin
3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
S&P

large bunch of swiss chard (white or red)

Set grill to high. Mix together mustard, Frank’s, chili powder, S&P and rub on one side of each fish fillet. Spray fish with cooking spray.

Mix together salad ingredients in a large bowl and season with S&P to taste. Set aside.
In a small skillet over high heat add a tsp. of olive oil and add the garlic. Saute until lightly browned, deglaze the pan with wine and add the pureed peppers. Let reduce for a few mins. and set aside.

Place a pot of water with a steaming basket over high heat. Chop swiss chard and let water reach a boil.
Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set beside your grill. Clean your grill well and wipe with oil. Place the fish down on the seasoned side, once grill marks have formed turn fish one quarter turn. When fish is done on the one side remove from the grill and place on the baking sheet. Turn the grill off and place the baking sheet on the grill and close the lid.
Add the chard to the steaming basket and let steam for approx. 10 mins.

When chard is fully steamed remove from the heat and drain. Remove the fish from the grill and reheat the red pepper sauce. Plate and presto. Friday night Good-for-You Gourmet. Enjoy your weekend! xO