Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crispy Yam fries from the oven with chili lime salt

I really love yam fries, well actually I really love regular fries as well, sad to say I think I would choose that to be the last thing I every eat. But I do not own a deep frier and I am trying to avoid eating deep fried food anyway, so I was looking for a way to make yam fries in the oven that were crispy.

So I hunted the internet and experimented a little and this is what I came up with.

One Sweet potato cut in to french fry shape
1 tablespoon of corn starch
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Chili lime salt
1 tablespoon of course salt, I used Malden
Grated rind of one lime
1 teaspoon of chili flakes.

Place corn starch into a ziploc bag and toss the yam fries in the corn starch until they are coated.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Crockpot South West chicken soup

This is another of my low calorie but tasty meals that I can make ahead for lunch at work or dinner at home.  I got this idea from  this recipe for slow cooker chicken tortilla soup.  But I did not have any corn tortilla's to fry and as always I changed it little to match what I had on hand.

This made enough for 4.
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 15oz can sweet whole corn kernels, drained
  • 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained or I used my home canned tomato puree
  • 5 cups of chicken stock
  • one medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of regular chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of one lime
  • Handfull of cilantro chopped
  • Shredded cheese for serving.

To your slow cooker add first 10 ingredients.

Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Remove chicken breasts.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tray baked chicken with orange and olives

Friday night I was going to a party planning dinner, we are planning a reunion for the group that went to Ecuador with us in the fall.  We were getting to together to plan the menu and games etc for the party, but dinner had to be provided as it was straight after work.  I offered to bring the ingredients for the main course, as I am trying to keep my diet low fat and as healthy as possible, so I chose boneless skinless chicken breasts as my protein.  This is not my favourite cut of chicken as they can be dry and do not have as much flavour as the dark meat, especially with the skin on, but definitely lean.

Rather blurry picture of finished dish
I was going to fall back on my old standby lemon roast chicken but I really wanted to try something new. So I went down to Granville Island and picked up the chicken breasts and some beautiful sun dried Moroccan olives and threw this together.

Feeds 6
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or skin on chicken pieces would be wonderful)
Grated rind of 2 oranges
Juice of one orange
1 red onion chopped
1/2 cup of pitted olives any kind would do, but these Moroccan olives were wonderful
Cut up potatoes I used about 18 fingerling potatoes cut in pieces but any small potato would do
Handful of fresh tarragon chopped
3 tablespoons of olive oil.

Cut the chicken breasts in to pieces.  I cut each one into about 4 large chunks. Then throw everything into a large shallow roasting tin.

Season with salt and pepper then toss everything with your hands and spread evenly over the dish.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Israeli cous cous salad

To go along with the chicken tagine that I made up in Whistler I made some Israeli cous cous salad.  I have seen this on the cooking shows on TV a lot but I had never actually had any.  So this was a great opportunity to give it a try. It is like regular cous cous a pasta, but the balls are much larger than regurlar cous cous resembeling tapioca if you remember that from your child hood.

This fed 4 with really no left overs

1 cup israeli couscous (you could of course use regular cous cous as well)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup parsley, Italian flat leaf, chopped
Small bunch of mint leaves, slivered
1 bunch of green onion chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 cup snap peas cut up

Cut cherry tomatoes in half and place cut side up on a foil lined roasting pan,  along with unpeeled cloves of garlic.

Roast in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until you see bits of brown around the tomatoes. No need to turn. Hint - you are roasting with the cut side up to allow more liquid to evaporate from the tomatoes.

Meanwhile, cook Israeli couscous according to package directions. Another grain could be substituted, such as bulgar or barley. You should have about 3 cups cooked. Allow to cool slightly before combining. This is the package of cous cous we used, as you can see they called it Mediterranean cous cous for some reason, when it is normally called Israeli cous cous,  even though it was actually made in Israel

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chicken lemon fennel tagine

Tagine is the name not only of a dish from Morocco it also the name of the cooking vessel that it is cooked in.  But you do not have to own a tagine to make a tagine.  I do actually have one, but I was cooking up in Whistler and surprisingly did not bring mine with me, so a cast iron pot worked just fine. My good friend Nancy had made and brought with her preserved lemons and ras el hanout. both essential ingredients for Moroccan food, obviously she came with a vision to be fulfilled.

You can buy ras el hanout, which is a mixture of spices.  I think that there are as many recipes for this spice mix as there are for garam masala.  I am not sure exactly what was in Nancy's mix but I found this recipe at and it contains all the spices that were in hers.

2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cardamon
2 teaspoons ground mace
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Or of course you could buy one pre made which would work just as well.

  • 1 whole chicken cut up or equivalent in pieces
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 preserved lemon, chopped or you could also use a fresh one.
  • 1 cup of black and green olives, stoned
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups of chicken stock

Put your chicken pieces into a large bowl, massage them with the spice rub, cover and put into the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours or, even better, overnight.

When you're ready to cook, heat the olive oil in a tagine or casserole-type pan and fry the chicken pieces over a medium to high heat, skin side down first, for about 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown.

Spaghetti squash with ground turkey sauce

It is that time of year, the after Christmas, after Birthday time to lose a few lbs before summer takes hold.  This year the goal is 10lbs by the end of April and my trip to Croatia.  Sadly this is an annual thing for me, but if I didn't do it I would be the size of a house so back on the wagon again.

Though I want to lower the calories in my food, I do not want to eat "diet" food or artificially lightened foods like low fat cheese or pre made low cal dinners.  The challenge is come up with tasty healthy food, but at the end of the day portion control is really the biggest thing for me.

My husband loves pasta, and as I do not really care for it that much, it always seems like a waste of calories.  But I saw this small spaghetti squash the other day and decided that in fact this was answer to all my problems, (well a couple anyway)  I could cook pasta for my husband and then I would have the spaghetti squash which he does not really care for, and everyone is happy.

I cut the squash in half, scooped out the seeds, placed it in a microwaveable dish and filled the cavity with water.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

English pea, bacon and cheese salad

We regularly go for a Sunday night pot luck and poker game at a friends house.  Each week is a different food theme, and recently it was British.  Well the challenge for me was to come up with something green to go with the heavy meat centric dishes that were being served.  I came up with this, which is a salad I can remember having in cafes and restaurants in England, if never having actually made it myself.

Actually it was very tasty and a good salad for a pot luck as it keeps well and cab be made in the middle of winter when perhaps fresh salad ingredients are not so readily available.

1/2 package of bacon
1 medium bag of frozen peas
1/2 lb of cheese preferably English cheese I used Double Gloucester
1 bunch of green onions chopped

Dressing ingredients
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of milk
2 tablespoons of fresh mint chopped.

Chop up the bacon and cook until it is crispy place on paper towel to drain.

Goulash style beef

I am spending the weekend in Whistler with a group of friends who are all skiing, I on the other hand am enjoying the winter scenery and quiet relaxation, and of course providing dinner for the happy skiers.

I am calling this goulash style as I have cobbled together ideas from several sources and I do not want to offend any one with a Hungarian heritage, as I am sure that this is not authentic, but never the less it was tasty.

This is the view I get to enjoy while cooking.

This fed 8

1 large onion chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 red peppers
1 tablespoon of ground caraway
4 tablespoons of Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1 large pot roast cut in to chunks or equivalent.
1 can of crushed tomatoes (or home canned tomato puree )
3 carrots chopped.

In a large oven proof pot, cook the onion in the olive oil until soft, then add the red pepper and cook until that is too starting to soften.

Then add the spices and stir in and cook for about a minute until fragrant.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Calgary in winter

over 30 years ago I emigrated to Calgary Canada from London England, I was 21 years old and had no clue about where I was moving to.  A few weeks ago my 21 year old son moved to Calgary from Vancouver.  The distance was much less as was the culture shock, but never the less he had broken the apron strings and embarked on his own life separate from the rest of the family.  I decided as a friend of mine was visiting her daughter also living there, I would visit the town that welcomed me to Canada all those years ago after a 25 year absence, and see where he is living.

We had brunch of eggs Benedict and champagne and orange juice before heading out for a walk through downtown. The iconic Calgary tower is still there, though mostly dwarfed by the many new tall glass towers that have grown up around it.  Only from the south of downtown, do you really get to see it.  I was only in Calgary for two days, but for both of those days the sun shone and temperature stayed pleasantly above freezing during the day.

We walked through the downtown passed the apartment building where I had lived for the first year that I was in Calgary. It too is now dwarfed by the many buildings around it, and I expect the incumbent of my old apartment on the 27 floor does not have the views that I used to enjoy.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Slow cooker Asian beef

I recently bought a freezer back of beef from Hopcott's, so my freezer is full of beef looking to be used.  Much of it is the less tender cuts that need to be cooked slow and long, which really I prefer as they have so much flavour.  Also I have replaced my slow cooker which died last fall and so I was looking to make a dish that I could throw in to cook when I leave for work and have waiting ready to eat when I came home.


1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup of hoi sin sauce
1 garlic clove chopped
1" piece of fresh ginger chopped
1 tablespoon of Sriracha sauce (optional)

The night before combine all the ingredients ready for the morning.  Of course you could do this in the morning, but I never have that much time.

Next morning pour over the beef in a slow cooker, I used two braising steaks.

Set the slow cooker to low and leave for work, or cook for 7 hours.