Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Layered Tortilla, Chickpea, Tomato and Cheese Lasagna

It's Tuesday again and here's another Two for Tuesday's real food recipe. Want to know what Two for Tuesday's is? Click on over to any one of the 4 sponsoring blogs - you can see them all HERE where you'll also find all the details about how to play and how this really cool idea of blog hopping gives you 4X the exposure.

I also seem to be having this love affair with Rose Reisman's cookbook that you've likely seen me post about in the past few posts. This one is intriguing because the calorie count is a fraction of regular lasagna, it's vegetarian, it's beautiful and the best is that it's delicious.

1 cup canned corn, drained
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cups tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup light ricotta (5%)
1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded light cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp low-fat milk
pinch of salt and pepper
2 Tsp grated Paremsan cheese

5 large flour tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
2. Lightly coat a nonstick saucepan with vegetable oil and set over medium heat. dd the corn and saute, stirring often, for about 8 minutes or until slightly charred. Set aside.
3. Add 2 tsp oil to the saucepan and keep over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the red and green peppers. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato sauce, charred corn, basil, chili powder and cumin. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.
4. Place the chickpeas in a bowl and mash them roughly with a fork. Add to the vegetable mixture and stir to combine.
5 In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses (but reserve 1/4 cup of the cheddar for garnish). Add the milk, salt and pepper and stir until well combined.
6. Place a flour tortilla in the prepared springform pan. Spread with one-quarter of the vegetable-chickpea mixture. Sprinkle with one-quarter of the cheese mixture. Repeat the layers 3 times. Top with the final tortilla and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Cover the pan tightly with foil.
7. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, then uncovered for an additional 10 minutes or until it is completely heated through and the cheese has melted. Cut into 8 wedges with a sharp knife.

Calories per serving: 280 (hard to believe isn't it)

Note: The next time I make this and I'm sure it'll be soon, I'll cut the tortillas to exactly fit the springform. It just looks alot neater and makes a wonderful main that, served with a salad is a totally satisfying meal and you don't even miss the calories. StumbleUpon

Friday, June 25, 2010

Small Shell Pasta Beefaroni

Toronto is just a hub of activity these days. High fences for the G20, protestors yelling "no fences", police presence, more protestors trying to get their messages heard, a tornado just west of Toronto and a 5.0 earthquake that moved the earth. On the overall, things seem rather peaceful and those wanting to visit our city need not be worried ... it's all good. Even more than good, it's history in the making.

Today is one of those days that just doesn't need to be too complicated. The kids are done school and words of "I'm bored" are already thronging households. Rose Reisman's book "Family Favorites" has a semi permanent home on my living room table.

I have this feeling that my niece and nephew would be just fine with a home made beefaroni and won't event notice the reduction of fat and sodium.

I'm also submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights - now am I too late for #169 or too early for #170. I'll let Ruth from Presto Pasta Nights decide. I did say uncomplicated didn't I?

8 oz. small-shell pasta

Meat Sauce
1 tsp vegetable oil
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
8 oz lean ground beef (or chicken)***
1 cup tomato sauce

Cheese Sauce
1 1/4 cups canned evaporated milk (2%)
3/4 cup beef (or chicken) stock
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded aged cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Lightly coat a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender but still firm. Drain and place in the casserole dish.
3. To make the meat sauce, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 4 minutes or until softened. Add the ground beef and cook stirring to break up the meat, for 4 minutes or until no longer pink. Stir in the tomato sauce, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
4. To make the cheese sauce, combine the milk, stock and mustard in a saucepan. Slowly whisk in the flour. Place over medium heat and stir until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in the cheddar cheese and half the Parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat and add to the meat sauce.
5. Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until completely heated through. Garnish with parsley.

6 servings - 320 calories

*** I used ground chicken in this recipe although I thought the beef would have given it a more robust flavour. StumbleUpon

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Heirloom Tomato Salad - Two for Tuesdays


Two for Tuesdays
is the brainchild of Alex from A Moderate Life and joined by Heather of Girlichef
Alex began this event on her site as a day to link up one (or two) of your blog posts that featured REAL FOOD. Recipes, anecdotes, stories, photos, reviews...anything your blogged about featuring REAL food. What is REAL food, you ask? Think: slow food, traditional food, hand-prepared food, nourishing food...food that is NOT processed....food that doesn't come from a package...food that your great-grandmother would have made &/or eaten. REAL food is homemade. REAL food is from scratch. REAL food has recognizable ingredients. REAL food is made from traditional ingredients. REAL food is food you make with your own hands...from food grown, milled, raised by you or by people (not machines). Think family farmer. Think farmer's market. Think garden. Think local grain mill. Think REAL.

This event gets a big thumbs up. How people think and eat is going through a change, a movement of sorts. People are becoming more conscious about where food comes from and what they injest and feed to their families. For me, speaking about real food makes me think local, fresh, in season and reading Michael Pollan.

This week I couldn't resist the heirloom tomatoes. I'm so hooked on this salad and I'm sure it's been made before but I just put together things I had in my fridge

3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced thick
handful of snap peas
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
1/4 cup crumbled feta
drizzle with fruity olive oil ***
top with a little ground pepper
fresh basil over the top (my first patio harvest)

*** You may remember me introducing the new PC EVOO that I received in a promotional package from President's Choice.

Made in Chile, this olive oil is such a wonderful marriage with tomatoes, feta and olives. StumbleUpon

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wedding Shower

The circle of life is an interesting journey don't you think. After graduation, whether it be high school or any post secondary school many of your friends start to get married. At that point it's showers, maybe you're standing up for a friend at their wedding (think movie 28 Dresses) or even getting married yourself. It's all a whirlwind of activity, gifts and parties.

The following phase is usually the baby phase. Some may opt out of this phase. Then it's showers, gifts and a whirlwind of activity. Fast forward to the first day of school, the crying, the parents worrying about whether their child will ever adjust. We run around signing up for tee ball, gymnastics, swimming lessons, hockey to make sure our children have the best possible exposure to a variety of things. I call this phase the taxi phase and you're the taxi.

Graduations, sweet 16's, rights of passage, gifts and parties and proms and new drivers all scare the heck out of you. This phase is the car rental phase. You own the car but don't get to charge for the rental. You just get to pay unusually high insurance fees for your inexperienced driver. We won't even talk about the dings, scratches and accidents.

Now I'm in the recurring cycle of showers, weddings, gifts and parties. Unless it's your event, it's pretty stress free and I admit, it's fun watching these toddlers grow up are now getting married. This past weekend was one of the shower events. I must admit, I was pretty quiet and deep in thought about the journey of the beautiful young bride to be - beaming, really grown up and totally beautiful.

The Bride to Be

Her Chair

The Alcohol (my first stop after realizing how old I am)

The Food (logical next place to visit)

Spicy Shrimp

Roast Beef Appetizer

Mini Wraps

Skewers of Chicken with Mango, Caprese Combo

Crab Cakes

Cheese Cups

The Gifts

Everyone brought one of their favourite recipes to create a starter cookbook for Janis. Some even made the recipe and brought it for her to sample to make sure she likes it.

The Cake

Don't you love it when someone's taking a picture of you taking a picture of them

And... on the way out, lovely gifts for the partiers.

The moral of the story - no matter what stage you're at - ENJOY THE JOURNEY!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Old Fashioned Split Pea and Barley Soup

It's a rather cool and rainy day today. Even the dogs don't want to be outside. I was reviewing Rose Reisman's book again and happened upon her low fat recipe for pea soup - 167 calories per serving. I knew my mother would appreciate this soup so during commercials of the England/US soccer game I managed this 6 serving recipe, had some, and the game is still on. Quick, easy, tasty - what more can I say.

1/4 cup pearl barley
2 cups water (or vegetable or chicken stock)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped carrots
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
4 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
1 cup peeled and chopped potato
3/4 cup green split peas
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Combine the barley and the 2 cups of water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes or until the barley is just tender. Drain any excess liquid. Set aside.
2. Lightly coat a large, nonstick pot with cooking spray, add the oil and set over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes or until just softened. Add the carrots and garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes or until the carrots are slightly softened.
3. Stir in the 4 cups of stock and the potato, split peas, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for 35 minutes or until the split peas are tender.
4. Puree 2 cups of the soup in a blender or food processor. Return the pureed soup to the saucepan and stir in the barley. Heat through and serve.

Happy First Anniversary to Psychgrad and "R" - Can you believe it's been a whole year? StumbleUpon

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Chicken Stuffed with Asparagus, Roasted Red Pepper and Brie

I was recently gifted a copy of Rose Reisman Family Favorites . Rose has long been a leader of healthy meals in our area and I was delighted to receive this book. Several of the recipes in the book caught my eye. The Chicken Breast stuffed with Asparagus, Roasted red pepper and Brie jumped off the page and with only 222 calories per serving, it had WOW all over it.

This recipe also fit perfectly with Nuria of Spanish Recipes event called Eating Good Feeling Good

Nuria's bimonhly event is not about diet food but more about consciously focusing on eating healthy, fresh, seasonal and varied food. Do make a point of reading more about this important event here . We'll post about a different food each month while creating greater awareness of how these foods fit into your healthy diet.

1 1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken breasts (4-6)
1 egg
1 Tbsp low-fat milk (or water)
2/3 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs or panko crumbs
2 tsp. olive oil (the actual recipe called for vegetable oil but I substituted)

12 small (or 4 large) asparagus spears (about 1/4 lb trimmed)
1/4 cup died brie
1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper (about 1/2 small roasted red pepper)
1/2 tsp dried basil
3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly coat a 9x13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
2. Working with one at a time, place a chicken breast between 2 sheets of waxed paper and pound to an even 1/2 inch thickness. Set aside.

3. For the stuffing, boil or steam the asparagus until just tender (about 2 minutes) Drain and rinse with cold water. Dice and place in a bowl. Add the brie, red pepper and dried basil.

4. Lay the chicken breasts flat and divide the stuffing equally among them.

Roll up and secure with a toothpick.

Whisk together the egg and milk (or water) and place in a shallow bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl or plate.
5. Lightly coat a large, nonstick skillet with cooking spray, add the oil and set over medium-high heat. Dip the rolled chicken into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Saute the rolled chicken just until browned on all sides (about 5 minutes)

6. Place in the prepared casserole dish and bake another 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink (or reaches an internal temperature of 165 F) Slice in half or into medallions to serve. Garnish with fresh basil.

Notes: You can use your cheese of preference for this dish (I used a light Havarti). If you're looking for a stronger flavour, use a sharp cheese such as Swiss, Asiago or even blue cheese.

You can make this ahead up to a day in advance. Prep to the filled roll stage and then saute and bake just before serving. StumbleUpon

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Dates

A really quick post for a really quick appetizer. A friend gave me this recipe saying if you like sweet and salty together and people are arriving in 1/2 hour, this one is a go to. The combination seemed "different" to me but I had to give it a try.

8 oz. pitted dates
1/4 pkg bacon cut in half

Line a cookie pan with tin foil

Roll up each date with 1/2 slice of bacon

Place in a preheated 375 degree oven until crispy - 20-30 minutes depending on how quick your oven is. Keep checking after 20 minutes.

Really an interesting combination that I would do again.

Note: If you have a fast oven - set it to 350 rather than 375. I set mine to 375 and thought afterwards that 350 would have sufficed. StumbleUpon

Monday, June 7, 2010

Matrimonial Cake

The weather has, for the most part, settled in to one beautiful day after the other. I don't really feel like spending alot of time indoors or being on the computer for long lengths of time other than to be blogging and feeding my addiction to Farmville. Ya, I know, I'm one of the ones who loads up my facebook profile with posts from F/V. It won't be long until Psychgrad and R get an intervention going.

This time of year I also miss being in a house with a garden and live vicariously through Psychgrad's garden. My little balcony can only accomodate a few pots of herbs and a tomato or two.

But, as I've mentioned before, being a condo dweller means you can't have the bbq at your place. Yesterday was one of those days and I was only too happy to contribute a dessert and help with the prep of hosting a BBQ.

In years gone by, there was one cake that always made it's way to the table in Western Canada. In fact, some might say it's distinctly Canadian although one of the first recipes on record came from Ohio.

Do you remember this type of graphic from the old cookbooks? If you don't then you're alot younger than I am. Come to think of it, most people are a lot younger than I am. This picture sat on top of a recipe for Matrimonial Cake. I'm just not sure if it's a cake, a square or a bar. No matter what you call it, it's easy, delicious and still popular with the crowd

2 cups oatmeal
2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter

Date Filling:
1/2 pound dates, pitted
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar **
1 teaspoon lemon juice


In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly.
Spread 3/4 of the crumbs in a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.

Date Filling:
Mix dates, water and sugar together in a saucepan. Cook until thick, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat and add lemon juice.
Allow to cool before using.
Spread over the crumbs in the pan. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs over top of the filling.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes.

** The dates are naturally sweet - the sugar really isn't critical to the mix. StumbleUpon

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Gardening Update

I'm working on my spider phobia. Gardening is a great exposure technique. I'm now at the point that I can be near a spider and touch the area around a spider if I have gardening gloves on. I still need to work on not freaking out and flailing around like a maniac when a spider pops into my peripheral vision.

Let me update you on my gardening efforts. You can read my first post about gardening here.

As you may recall, here is what my garden looked like:

With the help of my dad and stepmom, we spent the long weekend digging up grass, spreading out 3 yards of soil, building up a garden, creating fencing, etc...

We have a lot of rabbits and squirrels in the neighbourhood, so fencing of some sort was a must. It was just a bit tricky setting up the fencing beside the hedge. R finally decided to go into the hedge (hence the red blur inside the hedge in the photo below).

To avoid flipping out in front of my parents, R took some alone time after his hedge adventures.

Here's the product (so far)!

We also planted some vegetables and herbs in planters. This first planter contains Greek oregano, basil and curled parsley.

These planters contain plum and baby tomatoes

The weekend after, we bought a couple of heirloom tomato plants from the Kanata Horticultural Society. Apparently there are still some plants left if anyone is interested. We got one indeterminate and one determinate.

The indeterminate is already starting to produce fruit (I'll post updated pictures in a future post).

Here's the determinate:

I'll leave you with some pictures of flowers. Here's a flower from my clematis.

Here's one of my peonies flowering. The pedals have since made a huge mess -- I'm going to move them out of the garden area once the season is over.

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