Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chocolate Toffee Cookie Cake

So it was my friend Julie's birthday last weekend and she is a big lover of baking, especially cakes! She's just starting out and I have promised her a lesson in cake decorating but in the meantime, just knew for her own birthday I had to make her a special cake! I had asked her what her favorite flavors were and the only thing she told me was CHOCOLATE. A girl after my own heart. If there is one thing I love most in the world it's chocolate chip cookies so it only seemed right that I incorporate it with another love of mine, moist chocolate cake! I was afraid the chocolate buttercream might soften the cookie layer overnight, but after biting into a piece of cake the cookies were still crispy and chewy. I figured I mine as well throw toffee in too, since I'd already taken it to that sugar level! Plus I loved the contrast of all the browns and gold, I was pleased how it all came together. I know this is where I'm supposed to tell you the recipe on how to make the cake but unfortunately all these recipes come from the bakery I used to work at, Crave so I can't reveal them to you! One of the best places I've ever worked my old bosses really knew how to treat their staff. Not only extremely nice, also very generous with staff meetings catered with good food and monthly staff gifts, a VIP Cowboys Stampede party, always stocked fridge and freezer with food for us to eat, free massages..I could go on! I have so many good memories from working there. My ol bosses deserve every bit of success they have had and recently were named 2 of the top 40 under 40 entrepreneurs of Calgary! If there are a few things I've learned from Crave, it would be how I would treat my employees, run an insanely successful business and how to ice a cake!

Ready to be assembled!

Rolling out the mini cookies, making sure each one had a chocolate chip (I would feel ripped off if I got a cookie with no chocolate chip in it, wouldn't you?!)

Middle layer of the cake-Chocolate Buttercream, Toffee Bits and Crumbled Chocolate Chip Cookies

After being out of the bakery for sometime now, I was relieved to know I can still ice a cake! I still got itt!

Finished on site

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Warm Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Pumpkin Butter and Cinnamon Scented Whipped Cream

So a couple days before Halloween some friends decided they wanted to do pumpkin carvings. One of them an Art History major and the other three talented artists, I was trying to think what the heck I was going to carve into my pumpkin. Of course the first thing that came to mind was something food related! I thought about it, couldn't think of anything (besides seeing this excellent pumpkin on Butter on the Endives blog that was made into a hamburger with real lettuce, cheese, tomato and a sesame seed bun using the leftover pumpkin seeds) and realized why not let them do their kind of pumpkin art and I will do mine? So I looked up pumpkin recipes and came up with this! The original recipe was a two layer cake with ganache and pastry cream which would have taken too long to make since I wanted something that would be fast and easy to whip up while they were carving, so instead I changed the batter recipe, served the cake warm, dolloped it with pumpkin butter made with the leftover puree and finished it with whipped cream and a final dusting of cinnamon and icing sugar. Using pumpkin made the cake soo moist and cakey and served warm, its the perfect dessert for those chilly fall nights!

Above: My pumpkin art....Below: Their pumpkin art!

Warm Chocolate Pumpkin Cake
(Makes 1 - 8'' cake and 12 cupcakes or 2- 8'' cakes) This can be made into a cake as well-Cool both 8'' cakes, slice off tops of cake to make a flat surface, fill middle with pumpkin butter, invert one cake cut side down onto the filling and cover with whipped cream.

1 3/4 cup flour (plus more to coat pan)
1/3 plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg (optional)
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp butter, softened (plus more to grease pan)
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 8'' pan and dust evenly with flour. Tapping out any excess flour. Line bottom of the pan with baking paper
2. Combine together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl combine pumpkin puree, oil and cream.
3. In a mixer beat butter and sugar until fluffy, add eggs and vanilla.
4. Add in dry ingredients and wet ingredients, alternating, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
5. Divide batter in half, and place in 2-8'' pans or 1/2 in one 8'' pan, the rest into lined cupcake molds.
6. Bake cakes for 30-35 minutes, cupcakes approx 15-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
7. Serve warm with pumpkin butter and whipped cream

Pumpkin Butter (*note this is not a typical pumpkin butter recipe)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1. Combine and chill in fridge

Cinnamon Scented Whipped Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1. Whip cream slowly adding in icing sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Whip to soft peak and chill in fridge.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Italian Dinner Part 2: Primi of Lobster Crab Ravioli & Yam Chestnut Ravioli. Secondi-Veal Saltimbocca w/ Chanterelles

Lobster Crab Ravioli & Yam Chestnut Ravioli w/ Roasted Orange Bell Pepper Sauce, Peppercress, Fresh Ricotta and Tiger, Teardrop and Cherry Tomatoes
While I was at Bosa Foods I picked up some Lobster Crab Ravioli and Chestnut Yam Ravioli. I had just come from the Trout Lake Farmers Market where I picked up a humongo bag of orange bell peppers and knew just what to do with them when I saw the pasta. Make a sauce! The great thing about using vegetables for a sauce is once you puree it, you really only need to add a splash of cream to finish it off.

Trout Lake Farmers Market
$4.00 for a bag of the sweetest bell peppers ever

Veal Saltimbocca w/ fresh Chanterelles in a Garlic, White Wine Cream Sauce
Ack! you can see, little effort went into this plate presentation. At least it tasted good...!


I had contemplated panna cotta and tiramisu but after menu planning the other three courses, time got the best of me! In the end I threw together ricotta cheese, local honey, Bernard Callebaut chocolate chips and topped it with crushed Amaretti Cookies.

Yellow Bell Pepper Sauce
10 orange bell peppers (or yellow or red)
1 small onion, fine diced
6 cloves garlic, fine diced
3 cups chicken broth (approx)
s+p t.t (to taste)
sugar t.t
1/4 cup cream (optional)

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
2. Toss peppers in oil and roast for 1hr or until evenly charred (turn peppers to help char evenly). Place peppers in a bowl and cover with saran wrap for 5 minutes. Discard the skin and seeds and roughly chop
3. In a pot sweat onion and garlic just until translucent. Add peppers and 1/2 of chicken stock. Using a hand blender or food processor puree mixture until smooth. Add enough remaining stock until it reaches consistency of a sauce. Season w/ s+p and sugar if needed. Finish with cream
*Note* Just add more chicken stock to make yellow bell pepper soup

Veal Saltimbocca w/ Fresh Chanterelles
2 pieces veal pounded thin (can ask your butcher or find it already ready in the meat section)
4 pieces prosciutto
4 fresh sage leaves
flour (for coating)
1 tbsp butter

1/2 lb fresh chanterelles
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup cream

1.Wrap 2 pieces of prosciutto around veal. Use a toothpick to secure the sage onto the veal, 2 pieces of sage/piece
2. Season flour with pepper.
3. Preheat pan on med-high with butter and a little olive oil
4. Coat veal in seasoned flour, dusting off any excess. Pan fry veal, sage side down and flip when the prosciutto starts to turn crispy
5. Repeat on other side, until prosciutto is crispy and golden brown. Let rest on a plate. Add a bit more butter or olive oil to pan.
6. Add chanterelles then garlic and saute for 2 minutes
7. Add wine, to deglaze the pan and scrape any bits that may be stuck to the bottom of pan. Let the alcohol evaporate and reduce down. Finish with cream and s+p.
8. Remove toothpicks from veal and serve with the chanterelles

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Italian Dinner Part 1: Antipasti-Bresaola w/ apple, mizzuna, radicchio and shaved grano padano

I have been meaning to check out Bosa Foods for sometime now and finally got a chance last weekend. It may be a good thing that this store is so far away because I would be there every week buying things! This store is great, from their massive meat and deli section to their free samples (after 3 cannoli samples, a couple cookies and numerous cheese and cracker samples I was kinda full!) they have it all. I went on a Saturday afternoon and it was PACKED. I noticed all these cute little Nona's wandering around speaking Italian to their husbands, I just wanted to follow them around to see what they were putting in their carts! Okay, if we're being completely honest here what I really would have liked is if I could have asked one of them to take me home with them so they could show me how to make their secret family recipes! Besides wanting to check out the store I did have another reason for wanting to go, Bresaola! I have been meaning to try it for so long now and I just knew they would have it. Similar to prosciutto, it is dry cured beef instead of pork. This antipasti came together inspired by things I had just bought from my local farmers market, a nice tart granny smith apple, a sweet and crisp gala apple and some local greens, which was a nice balance to the salty bresaola. A good tip at your local deli, if you've never tried something before and are curious about it, it never hurts to ask for a sample. Stay tuned for the rest of this meal!

Bresaola Antipasti
14 slices of bresaola
Mizuna Greens ( Arugula would be nice too)
Radicchio, julienne (optional, just used for more color)
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Apple, julienne (I used Granny Smith and Gala)
Lemon Juice
Grano Padano Cheese, finely grated with a microplane and shaved with a peeler (or Parmigiana-Reggiano)

1. Toss Mizzuna and Radicchio with balsamic, olive oil and s+p
2. Toss apple with lemon juce and finely grated grano padano
3. Lay bresaola on a plate, overlapping. Top with greens, then apple and finish with shaved grano padano

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Apple Ricotta Almond Muffins

I'm still on my ricotta kick and when I came across an Apple Ricotta Almond Muffin at this cafe called the Little Nest which I frequent when I'm in the area, I just had to try it! Still warm from the oven I got it to go but it didn't last very long! You know when you keep it in the paper bag and think ohhh I'll just have a little taste and save the rest for later..then u keep eating pieces of it until you realize you have eaten the whole thing and are extremely disappointed that there is nothing left in the bag!? Really though, is there anything better than fresh out of the oven baking! Even better was that this muffin had the BEST muffin top! This weekend I was on my way to the farmers market and was close by the cafe, so I called to ask if they had any Apple Ricotta Muffins, the girl said why yes we have one left...! I asked her if she could put that muffin on hold for me and she laughed and said uhh okay...! Serious addiction here people...! I did realize if I keep eating these I too, will have a muffin top!! So I decided to make my own rendition of them at home. Incorporating apples fresh from the farmers market (it's apple season and the variety of apples at the farmers market is ridiculous!), whole wheat flour, unrefined sugar and buttermilk made these muffins moist, sweet and taste just like the ones from the cafe! My only regret is not filling them if you make these, forget the rule to fill the batter 3/4 full, and go ahead and mound the batter into the muffin tin, this makes the best muffins in the world because it creates that crispy muffin top which we all know is the best part!
A dollop of ricotta in the middle of the batter makes these muffins soo good
I learned my lesson from the first batch, so on my second batch I filled the batter to the top to get a crispy muffin top
Apple Ricotta Almond Muffins (Makes approx 12 muffins)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cup white flour
1/2 cup unrefined sugar (rapadura sugar)
1/2 cup white sugar (or 1 cup white sugar if u don't have unrefined sugar)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 egg whites
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup milk
1 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
2 apples, small dice (I used Ambrosia and Gala)
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup almonds (sliced)
Icing sugar
1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a bowl or mixer combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. In another bowl mix together eggs, egg whites, buttermilk, milk, 1/3 cup ricotta cheese, oil and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients just till incorporated. Stir in apples.
2. Fill muffin pan with liners and grease the top of the pan. Fill each cup 1/2 way with batter, add a dollop of ricotta cheese and fill to the top with more batter. Combine the topping of cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle on top. Follow with almonds. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. When cooled down, dust with icing sugar.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Carrot and Chickpea Soup w/ Crispy Pancetta and Truffled Honey Popcorn

Okay here goes, I’m about to tell you how my brain works when I come up with new ideas! It’s definitely soup season here and I’ve been meaning to make a carrot soup, of course not just any ol carrot soup! Actually the more I think about it I know exactly how this particular dish evolved…it started this afternoon when I was eating roasted vegetable hummus and thought chickpeas, that would be good with carrots! I thought it would add some body to the soup as well as a bit of creaminess without having to add cream. Later I was at the gym doing my cardio while watching the food network (It’s extremely tragic that I don’t have cable at the moment, so this is the only chance I get to watch my food tv!) and was watching caramel popcorn being made when I thought popcorn…that could definitely work as a garnish! It would add some crunch to the creamy soup, as well visual appeal. Thinking about popcorn reminded me of this time I had popcorn drizzled with truffle oil. (This is where the wheels really started turning) and I remembered I had some truffled honey that I brought back from Italy and both truffles and honey would work nicely with carrots. I needed something to hold the popcorn garnish so it wouldn't get all soggy and melt into the soup, when I thought of pancetta, which would add a nice saltiness and crispy texture to the smooth soup as well. Visualizing how I would serve it, I realized it needed a bit more color then the orange soup, red pancetta and white popcorn which made me think of dill, which goes great with carrots and would add a nice touch of green. Soo that is my thought process! Sometimes I think it's a great concern how much I think about food...! Above is a pic of the delicious truffled honey which I drizzled on the popcorn. I could eat this stuff by the spoonfuls!
Carrot and Chickpea Soup w/ Crispy Pancetta and Truffled Honey Popcorn
8 local carrots, small diced
1 white onion, small diced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk of celery, small diced
2 cups cooked chickpeas (if using canned, drain and rinse)
8 cups chicken stock (I used organic veg stock this time)
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped, reserve some for garnish
honey to taste (regular honey, optional depending on how sweet your carrots are)
pancetta, pan fried (or baked) till crispy
truffled honey (or regular honey)
fresh dill
*another option is to finish the soup with truffle oil or fresh truffles if you can get your hands on them*

1. Heat oil in a big pot and sweat off onions, then carrot and celery, then garlic and ginger until soft. Add in chickpeas
2. Add stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Use a hand blender, regular blender or food processor, puree until smooth.
3. Season to taste and finish with dill.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Grilled Flatbread w/ Fresh Ricotta, Artichokes, Anchovies and Wine Soaked Olives

Fresh ricotta...! I really think it's underrated. Cool and creamy with a slight hint of sweetness, I think it adds a nice balance to other strong flavors, in this case olives and anchovies. I can't seem to get enough of these kalamata olives, marinated in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, vinegar and herbs, if you can find them, buy 10 jars! They are THAT good! Rewinding a bit I had originally picked up this ricotta from my local Italian store for this breakfast panini I wanted to make. Ricotta in a breakfast panini? Hear me out! Also stuffed with medjool dates, hazelnut butter and mashed banana the warmth of the panini press makes the hazelnut butter, banana and ricotta get a bit gooey and melty. It's almost like a sweet version of a grilled cheese! Okay that sounds so wrong but I swear its soo good! Another favorite of mine is fresh ricotta drizzled with local honey, a sprinkle of chocolate chunks and crushed up amaretti cookies. Sweet, creamy and crunchy. Back to the savory usage of ricotta, I really wasn't in the mood for a cheesy pizza but something lighter, so flatbread seemed like the way to go. Moral of the story? Go get some ricotta and put it on everything....sweet or savory!

Grilled Flatbread w/ Fresh Ricotta, Artichokes, Anchovies and Wine Soaked Olives (Makes 1 flatbread)
1 tsp yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
1 1/2 cups bread flour or all purpose flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 white flour)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus 1 tsp to grease the bowl you proof it in
1. Combine yeast, warm water and sugar, let sit 5-10 min till the yeast puffs up
2. Place yeast mixture in mixer, add olive oil and mix. (Start with paddle attachment), or if by hand, start with a spoon and then use your hands to incorporate the rest.
3. Slowly add ½ the flour, add salt and add in the rest of the flour. Change to dough hook
4. Mix for 1 minute until dough comes together, might have to add a bit more flour, should be soft but not to sticky. Knead by hand for 20 seconds
5. Place in a bowl coated with the remaining oil, make sure to coat dough in oil as well, place saran wrap over top and let proof (rise) for about 1 hr to 1½ hrs.

Toppings (all optional):
Light base of San Marzano tomato sauce
Fresh Ricotta Cheese
Kalamata Olives
Roasted Red Bell Peppers
Fresh basil
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

1.Preheat bbq on high
2.Roll out dough until thin, can be odd shaped, coat both sides of dough with olive oil and cornmeal. Place on baking sheet
3.Place dough on grill and cover lid for 1-1 1/2 min, bottom side should have grill marks but not be completely burnt, flip dough over and cook the other side with bbq lid down. Dough is done when you can knock on it and it sounds hollow.
4. Place toppings on flatbread and warm through. (I usually do this in the oven). Finish with shaved parm and fresh torn basil.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pear, Brie, Walnut and Prosciutto Baguettes with 15 yr Old Balsamic

Who doesn't love anything packed between a good piece of bread? Sandwiches just might be one of the best things ever invented! Some of my best food memories have to do with them. In Spain on a culinary tour, we had just arrived and were absolutely famished so my friends and I wandered down the street and picked up a baguette, some local serrano ham and manchego cheese and brought it back to the hotel, where we tore the baguette open with our hands, leaving crumbs all over the bed and stuffed it with the meat and cheese. So simple, soo good! In Italy my fam and I came across a local bakery that had the most gorgeous flatbreads that had zucchini and tomatoes baked right in, across the street we picked up some salami and pecorino cheese and made open faced sandwiches which we brought back to our hotel and ate in the picturesque backyard garden. I will never forget that lunch! I first had this pear, brie, walnut and prosciutto creation at a little place called Finch's in Van. Cutest place ever, the menu is written on chalk boards and they have the most gorgeous antique stove which can only bake 6 chocolate chip cookies at a time! (Some of the best cookies in the city I might add). Finch's uses a blue brie cheese so if you can get your hands on that, even better! From time to time I like to re-create this sandwich at home and I really think this might be the best combo ever, from the sweetness of the pear to the saltiness of the prosciutto to the creaminess of the brie, crunch of the toasted walnuts and tang of the balsamic vinegar, it's got it all! Fruit, cheese, bread and meat...all bases covered!

Pear, Brie, Walnut, Prosciutto Baguette
(Really this recipe is self-explanatory but here are the ingredients anyway!)
Crusty Baguette
Brie Cheese (Or Blue brie cheese if you can find it or any soft cheese)
Walnuts (Toasted)
Balsamic Vinegar (I used 15 yr old balsamic)
Olive oil

1.Tear open baguette, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Spread cheese over baguette, stuff with prosciutto and fan pears inside and sprinkle in toasted walnuts.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Creamy Penne Pumpkin Alfredo with Swiss Chard and Garlic Chicken Sausage

Pumpkin Alfredo you ask?! l told you I was on a pumpkin kick and somehow pasta made it into the mix! I love alfredo sauce, how can you not like creamy garlicky goodness? But every time I see it on a menu I tend to stay away from it just because I know one dish of the stuff is probably enough for 2 days of my caloric intake as well it often leaves you with that oh so lovely stick to your ribs, can't breathe, need to put my sweatpants on immediately, I can't move from the couch feeling. Well I am telling you now I think I have found a worthy alternative! Pureed pumpkin and cottage cheese are the base for this creamy sauce and I know those two ingredients are probably at the bottom of everybody's food list (they used to be on mine) but it really works!! It's garlicky, cheesey, creamy and as an added bonus, loaded with antioxidants (beta carotene), Vit C, iron, fiber and much more! This sauce would also be great with chicken wrapped prosciutto, cannelloni, cauliflower and broccoli...tons of possibilities! Thanksgiving is coming up and I started thinking about how I could turn this into a Thanksgiving pasta....Pumpkin Penne Alfredo with Turkey Sausage, baked with a Sage Bread Crumb Topping (aka the "stuffing" component). This just may be what I will be eating seeing as I won't be with my fam this year for turkey dinner! Snff snff anyone in need of a extra guest at their table this year in Van? I know this great pasta dish I could bring...

Penne Pumpkin Alfredo with Garlic Chicken Sausage (Serves 4)
Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce:
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup pumpkin puree (butternut squash would work well too)
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp agave syrup (or sugar)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 onion, fine diced
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped

Garlic chicken sausage, roasted or pan fried (or any kind you like, chorizo would be good too)
Swiss Chard (lightly sauteed)
5 cups cooked whole wheat or brown rice penne
Fresh grated Parmigiano Regganio

1. In a food processor puree milk, cottage cheese, pumpkin puree and tomato paste.
2. In a pot sweat onion and garlic just till translucent. Add in pumpkin sauce and add sage, cayenne, agave and s+p to your taste. Heat just until warmed through (be careful as the sauce can break when it gets too hot due to the cottage cheese). If too thick add a bit of pasta water.
3. Toss together pasta, sauce, swiss chard and chicken and serve immediately

Monday, September 8, 2008

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

Sick! Pumpkin bread? Before you click off this blog (I might have done the same) hear me out! Usually I wouldn't even take a second glance at a recipe containing pumpkin, I only really like pumpkin pie because I associate it with Thanksgiving and turkey dinner and only then if it's slathered in homemade whipped cream! I was visiting a friend yesterday and she had just made a loaf that was still warm from the oven. Anything that is fresh baked and warm from the oven, even pumpkin containing, I will not turn down! I was blown away, it was nice and moist, due to the pumpkin puree and all the spices made me think of a warm chai latte. This definitely reminds me of fall and although I hate to see summer go, I'm stoked for everything fall brings, leaves changing color, cozy sweaters, warm scarves, crisp apples and now anything pumpkin! The ideas are churning..pumpkin cardamom creme brulee? Pumpkin souffles with mascarpone whipped cream...getting ahead of myself here. Of course I tweaked the recipe, cut back on the sugar and used more whole wheat flour than white. With that said, we happened to have some cream cheese icing leftover from a carrot cake so I slathered it on a few pieces, sooo goood!
Spiced Pumpkin Bread (Makes 1 loaf or 3 mini loaves)
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup agave (if u dont have, use 1 cup sugar)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/4 buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg (I used fresh grated)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup white flour
1/3 cup flax seeds (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.Combine eggs, sugar, agave, pumpkin puree, oil, buttermilk and vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl combine baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, whole wheat flour, white flour and flax seeds.
4. Combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients, just until incorporated.
5. Place in greased loaf pans and bake for 30-35 minutes for mini loaves or approx 1 hour for regular loaf. When toothpick comes out clean with no batter, it is done.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Coconut Macadamia Nut Crusted Salmon with Fruit Salsa and Banana Creme Fraiche

I've had this idea churning for awhile now and finally had a chance to try it out! So very summer and tropical, I think I'm trying to hold on to the last days of summer that seem to be slipping away! It first started out as a panko coconut crust which led me to add macadamia nuts into the mix. Thinking of something to make the crust stick to the salmon I came up with a wet rub of yellow curry paste, dijon and agave syrup. I also wanted a cool contrast to the salmon so I threw together a minted cilantro fruit salsa and if that wasn't enough, a banana "creme fraiche" which was really Greek yogurt with mashed banana. I swear I think this banana creme fraiche is a revelation..I just want to put it on everything (pancakes, peanut butter & honey quesadillas and South African curry come to mind) or just eat it by the spoonful! It sounds like alot of flavours for one dish but they really do work well together! As seen below is the complete meal which I served with a salad and of course bread, as a meal in my fam is not complete without it!

Coconut Macadamia Nut Crusted Salmon
1 fresh salmon fillet, pinbones removed, skin removed
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
3/4 cup shredded coconut (can use sweetened or unsweetened)
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
2 tbsp melted butter (optional)
1/4 cup yellow curry paste
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp agave syrup

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay salmon on baking sheet. Combine panko, coconut, melted butter and macadamia nuts in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine curry paste, dijon and agave. Spread over top of fish and season with salt and pepper. Evenly coat fish with coconut breadcrumb mixture and roast for 15-20 min (for medium doneness)

Fruit Salsa
You can really use whatever is fresh and available to you, this is what I had available:
1/2 cup cantaloupe, diced
1/2 cup mango, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 lime, juiced
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh mint, chopped
1. Combine all ingredients and chill in fridge.

Banana Creme Fraiche
1 ripe banana, mashed
2 cups Greek yogurt (or plain yogurt that has been strained)
1 tsp agave syrup
1 tsp lime juice
1. Combine all ingredients and chill in fridge.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Coconut Peach Clafoutis

I've been meaning to post this for awhile now! I've been a bit busy since I flew home, cooking up a storm in my kitchen that I miss so much, but I will get to that later! Along with last weeks Ratatouille I figured we needed to have a French dessert and have been wanting to make clafoutis for some time now. Still in love with my mini tart pans instead of making it in one big dish I decided to make individual clafoutis! I tweaked the recipe and replaced cream with coconut milk and to enhance the flavor I also added toasted coconut. A clafouti really just reminds me of a more refined smooth bread pudding (oh yeaa another one of my favorite comfort foods!). Super easy to make, if you can make pancake batter you can definitely make this! I was kicking myself as I finished pouring the last of the batter into a tart mold because I had meant to also make a cherry clafouti (the most traditional) and had even bought cherries at the farmers market! Oh well next time, plus I think almond would pair better with cherries than coconut. (A splash of amaretto perhaps? Oh yes I can see it now). You can see in the pic below a couple were made with blackberries since that was one of my friends fave fruit. Good way to utilize my blackberries since I didn't trample through the UBC farm's blackberry bushes at 9 on a sunday morn for nothin! (Took a bit longer than I thought only due to the fact that this is how picking went: One for me, one for the bucket...I felt a bit ill after...) These were topped with coconut ice cream but any cream topping will work! Whipped cream, creme fraiche, Greek yogurt, ice cream, its alll goood.
Above: Batter being poured into the tart pans
Below: Cooling just a tad before serving
Coconut Peach Clafoutis
Butter and sugar (to coat pan if using a baking dish)
Peaches, sliced (or any fruit you like)
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla (or coconut extract)
1 cup coconut milk (or cream or milk)
3 eggs
1 tbsp melted butter
toasted shredded coconut

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place flour and sugar in a bowl and mix. Add in coconut milk and vanilla and eggs. Whisk until smooth but do not over mix.
3.In a baking dish or individual tart molds place peaches and toasted coconut. Pour batter over top.
3. Bake for 35-40 min or until puffed and golden

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ratatouille: Layered and Baked with Goat Cheese and Bread Crumbs

Ahh I am reveling in the fact that I am DONE school! My brain and body have been so exhausted but what was one of the first things I wanted to do to celebrate? Cook of course! I was supposed to go out out downtown to celebrate but cancelled in favor of staying in to cook with good friends, good food and a bottle of wine! Here I go with the local again: local bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, onions, garlic, basil, goat cheese and a rustic country loaf from the Trout Farmers Market, as well some delish sausage from Oyama Sausage company on Granville Island. In the more non-traditional way we layered the veggies, made a chunky tomato bell pepper sauce and topped it with a feta, goat cheese bread crumb topping. Also don't forget that good crusty bread is KEY for mopping up all the saucy goodness. Such good comfort food I tell you! Oh and yea yea, make fun if you will but of course we watched Ratatouille while we cooked!
I flew back to Calgary today to visit the fam and loved this meal so much I had to make it again. Anybody that knows me knows I do not travel light...(this is where my pops reads this and shakes his head because he has sworn never to travel to Europe with my mom and I ever again! Possibly a contributing factor was the extra suitcase we had to buy in Italy for my aged balsamic, truffled honey, foie gras and olive oils?!) I swear I try, I really do mean to pack light...but this time I neeeded to bring this stuff home...! Yes, that meant I lugged home canned San Marzano tomatoes, wine from a local berry farm, fantastic rustic country bread and a baguette, heirloom tomatoes, purple carrots, zucchini, peaches, cherries, roasted hazelnuts, 49th parallel coffee and Oyama sausages. If you could have only seen me with my bags at the airport this morning and of course the damn siren went off because my suitcase was overweight! The Air Canada girl looked up at me, saw my alarmed face, took pity on me and let the bag keep on goin....Thank youuu Air Canada girl! You think I was going to a land with no food but seriously, B.C is where its at!
Above: zucchini layer of the Ratatouille

Below: round 2 of Ratatouille w/Oyama Sausage (lamb and date, lamb and feta and Italian pork and one of the reasons why my luggage was overweight including the ice packs I had to pack it with...)

2 bell peppers (I used red and yellow)
1/2 onion
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
sugar (to taste)
1/2 tsp chili flakes
s+p (to taste)
2 zucchini, sliced
1 eggplant, sliced
1 small pkg goat cheese
1/2 cup feta
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2.In a pot saute onions until soft and translucent, add in bell peppers, cook till soft then add garlic. Add tomatoes and reduce down until it becomes thick. Add in basil and rosemary, season with s+p, chili flakes and sugar to your liking.
3. Layer starting with tomato bell pepper mixture,then eggplant, then zucchini then more sauce, repeat ending in sauce.
4. Sprinkle with feta and goat cheese then mix together parmesan and breadcrumbs and sprinkle on very top. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, approx 30-40 minutes. Serve hot, room temp or cold.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Salad of Mixed Greens, Bing Cherries, Feta, Hazelnuts and Grilled Chicken

Oh woww so I can tell you just where to go when you have those serious boredom munchies and need to stop yourself from scrummaging through the fridge, freezer and cupboard every 5 minutes to snack on somethin…the University library!! I swear I won’t talk about studying anymore because even I’m getting sick of hearing that damn word! After this Friday you and I both won’t have to hear it since that’s when I write my Nutrition final! I needed a change of scenery so I headed to the UBC campus library to get some real work done. I have never been in a place SO dead quiet. I definitely have to re-think my snack options for tomorrow when I go back, because have you ever tried to stick your hand in a bag of chips and eat it as quietly as possible? Okay I wasn’t eating a chip, I was eating crackers, but I think I may have severely annoyed the guy behind me. So off topic here…the whole point was that I was absolutely starrrving by the time I got home so I threw together a salad that turned out quite well! The picture above is a re-creation of dinner because I was so hungry I threw it on my plastic plate and ate it within 5 minutes (yes everyday I use the same plastic plate because I hate doing dishes and for some reason it seems so much easier to wash and dry this particularly fine piece of kitchen ware). Anywhoo…mixed field greens from the local UBC Farmers Market, local cherries and toasted hazelnuts that I picked up from the Kitsilano Farmers Market, local chicken breast from the local butcher shop and feta from the local Greek shop down the street. See a theme here? Local is where its at! Mixed together a simple balsamic vinaigrette with dijon and agave syrup and it was a perfect accompaniment for my 11:00 dinner. Oh and what am I going to do with this extra salad? I think this may be a better option for tomorrows library snack…

I’m not going to show you a picture of my plastic plate (that’s just embarrassing) but here is the pic of the salad packed up and ready to go for tomorrow!

Mixed Field Greens
Fresh Cherries (pitted and quartered)
Feta (crumbled) (Goat Cheese would be nice too)
Grilled Chicken
Hazelnuts (toasted and roughly chopped)
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Agave Syrup
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
(Combined to your preferred taste, I like less olive oil than the typical vinaigrette)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fully Loaded P.B Chocolate Chip Cookies

I couldn't bare to name these "everything but the kitchen sink"cookies. Who wants to eat a cookie like that? That could contain everything and anything! These little gems contain everything that I think goes well with peanut butter, including toasted coconut, rolled oats for a chewy texture, chocolate chips (of course!) and a hint of cinnamon. I've been looking for a cookie that makes me feel satisfied, so I don't have to eat 5 of them to kick my craving (oh wow I sound like an addict...okay I admit, I am a cookie addict!). So I came up with this recipe and I think these just may do the trick! I used sprouted spelt flour, unrefined sugar, agave syrup, unsweetened coconut (which when toasted brings out its natural sugars) and natural peanut butter. Oh and if you noticed in the background I have my books spread out on the kitchen table, I'm studying right?

Fully Loaded Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(This recipe makes approx 20 cookies, double recipe if you want more!)
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup unrefined sugar (or brown sugar)
1 tbsp agave syrup (can skip this if you don't have it and add a bit more sugar or use honey)
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (warm in microwave slightly)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup sprouted spelt flour (or regular spelt flour or whole wheat)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (toasted)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixer cream butter, sugar, peanut butter, agave and vanilla. Add egg and mix.
2. In a separate bowl combine rolled oats, sprouted spelt flour, toasted coconut, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix into wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips
3. If using an ice cream scoop, slightly pat down dough. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until edges and the top turn slightly golden brown.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Blueberry Peach Galette

Galette, Crostata...whatev but Galette sounds so much prettier! This may come as a surprise (umm not..) but I was taking a study break flipping through a cookbook, when I came across a recipe for a peach crostata. It's nice that my roommates and I are all on the same wave length, as we're all in study mode. All of us sitting at the kitchen table leaning over our books, I popped up and said we need a study break snack! Never the type to argue on that one they completely agreed with me and offered to run down the street for ice cream to go with it. To be honest I haven't really made alot of pie pastry, my mom makes the best pies in the world so why would I need to? This recipe was super easy and the pastry turned out great! It truly is a lazy man's pie or should I say "rustic pie" man I love that word, anytime I mess up on something or it looks a little messy just call it rustic and all of a sudden wham u meant it to look like that! Even better that peaches and blueberries are in season and are already ridiculously sweet. Below is a pic with the ice cream (just for show since obviously that is not nearly enough ice cream for all of us!!). Back to work! Study break officially over!

Blueberry Peach Galette
Pastry Dough:
2 cups flour plus more when rolling out
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp ice water, plus more if needed

4 large ripe peaches, thick slices
1 cup fresh blueberries
splash of lemon juice
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar
2tsp flour

1 egg, beaten with a splash of cold water
2 tbsp coarse sugar (I used raw sugar)
vanilla ice cream

1.For dough, combine flour sugar and salt. Add in butter and crumble until it becomes size of peas. Add in Egg yolk and ice water, mix just until it comes together, if to dry add more water. Form into a disc and fold in plastic wrap, let rest in fridge for at least 30 min.
2. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Roll out dough into a "rustic" circle about 14 inch round and about 1/4 inch thick. Place on baking sheet lined with baking paper. Mix together all filling ingredients in a separate bowl. Pile filling in the middle of the rolled out pie crust leaving about a 2 inch border.
3.Brush uncovered dough with egg wash and fold over the edges towards the middle. Brush the top with more egg wash and sprinkle coarse sugar on top. Bake for 30 min or until golden.
4. Serve warm, room temp or cold.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pizza on the BBQ: Smoky BBQ Chicken & Pineapple and Three Cheese Veggie w/ Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce

Darnit! Here I go again! Why is blogging so much more fun than studying? Okay I know why, because I could talk about food 24/7. No joke, ask any one of my family or friends! People have dreams to fly, be invisible or go back in time, my dream would be to be able to eat everything and anything I possibly ever wanted and never gain a pound! Seriously.
Pizza on the barbecue!! Probably one of my most favorite things to make and eat ever, I feel like I say that about everything but I really mean it about this! So easy to make, once the dough is made and your sauce and toppings are prepped, you slap the dough on the grill and you'll be eating in less than 10 minutes. Quicker than delivery and so much tastier too. Toppings and sauce are key but I think its all about a good crust, none of that doughy bready crust, I like a nice chewy but crispy more thin crust. This version has all of that and also a touch of smokiness that comes from the bbq. I should mention this is the point when mid typing, I had to go to the kitchen and grab another slice of pizza from the fridge, just typing about it made me want some more! What's a girl to do with all this pizza? Well the reason I made extra was so I can eat this for the rest of the week and not have to worry about cooking when I should be studying ( oh wow that sounded like a poor excuse even as I wrote that! That has never stopped me from cooking before!). Actually I'm not so big on leftovers but this? I could eat every single day, it tastes great cold and freezes even better. Go heat up your grill now...I swear you won't want any other pizza after you taste this.

After the crust has been cooked on one side, flip it over, add sauce and toppings and close the lid to let the bottom cook and the cheese melt.

Pizza Dough (makes 2 large pizzas)
2 tsp yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoon warm water
3 cups bread flour or all purpose flour (I used 1/2 spelt, 1/2 white flour)
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tsp to grease the bowl you proof it in

1. Combine yeast, warm water and sugar, let sit 5-10 min till the yeast puffs up
2. Place yeast mixture in mixer, add olive oil and mix. (Start with paddle attachment), or if by hand, start with a spoon and then use
your hands to incorporate the rest.
3. Slowly add ½ the flour, add salt and add in the rest of the flour. Change to dough hook
4. Mix for 1 minute until dough comes together, might have to add a bit more flour, should be soft but not to sticky. Knead by hand for 20 seconds
5. Place in a bowl coated with the remaining oil, make sure to coat dough in oil as well, place saran wrap overtop and let proof (rise) for about 1 hr to 1½ hrs.

Pizza Dough recipe
Olive oil
Sweet smoky bbq saucePineapple
Sliced Chicken, cooked (toss in BBQ sauce as well)
Thin Sliced Red Onion (optional)
Cilantro (optional garnish)
Aged Cheddar, gruyere (or any cheese you want)
Zucchini (optional)

1.Preheat bbq on high
2.Roll out dough until thin, can be odd shaped, coat both sides of dough with olive oil and cornmeal. Place on baking sheet
3.Place dough on grill and cover lid for 1-1 1/2 min, bottom side should have grill marks but not be completely burnt, flip dough over and cook the other side with bbq lid down. Dough is done when you can knock on it and it sounds hollow
4. If you're quick, add sauce and toppings and close the grill while the other side cooks OR take off the grill, place on foil lined cookie sheet, assemble pizza, place back on grill or hot oven until cheese is melted. Garnish with cilantro

3 Cheese Veggie w/ Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce
Aged Cheddar

Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce
1 14.5oz can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
olive oil
3 cloves garlic
fresh basil, chiffonade
1. Saute garlic in olive oil, add tomatoes, let reduce down for 5 m in
2.Add in fresh basil
3.Proceed with same process as other pizza

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Baked Yam Fries with Balsamic Glaze

Love love love these, I think I even like them better than regular fries! There is a key to making sure they come out crispy: When you spread them out on the baking sheet, they need to be evenly spread out, barely touching and not piled on top of each other. If that happens the yams will start to create moisture and steam instead of dry out and you will end up with soggy fries! Baked not fried, these crispy yam fries are packed with beta carotene and vitamin C and are one of the best side dishes to any burger, bbq turkey burgers in this case! Drizzled with balsamic vinegar that I reduced and a sprinkle of fleur de sel, who needs ketchup or aioli?!

Baked Yam Fries (4 servings)
3 large yams-cut into sticks
fleur de sel or coarse salt

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss yams in oil just enough to coat. Season with s+p
2. On a baking sheet lined with baking paper spread out yam fries evenly and bake for 40 min or until golden and crispy, checking halfway through to turn fries over for even color.
3. Before serving, drizzle with balsamic glaze and fleur de sel or coarse salt.

Balsamic Glaze
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar

1. In saucepan add vinegar and on medium-high heat reduce vinegar slowly until it becomes thick and coats the back of a spoon.
*If for some reason you over reduce it, you can just add a splash of balsamic vinegar to bring it back to the consistency you like.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Blueberry Crumble Squares

I wasn't supposed to make these...I should have been studying for my nutrition final, but in my defense I was on my study break when I came across a recipe for blueberry crumb squares! It really only took 15 minutes from start to finish, including clean up so I'd say that's a pretty good break. If I find a recipe I want to try and I know I have all the ingredients, guaranteed you will find me in the kitchen 2 minutes later pulling everything I need out of the fridge and cupboard, hence the 5 minute buttermilk chocolate cake recipe! Once again I switched it up, instead of white flour I used whole wheat and spelt flour, instead of white sugar I used unrefined sugar and for texture and health benefits some ground flax seeds. Yes, it does still contain butter but we all know butter makes things taste better! So my thinking is change what you can when you can but never try and change something to the point that it won't taste good! I use alternative flours in specific recipes not only because they are better for you but also because I love the nutty flavour they can add to baking. Also knowing when to incorporate these alternative flours helps too. I would never try and make croissants using spelt flour because you need the white flour for the light delicate texture of croissant dough, where as with these bars I know it is a more dense heavy bar so it will work well. Sometimes it's all about trial and error! After having a bite (see picture below, I couldn't resist) I could have sworn it tasted like ground almonds in the square but really it was the whole wheat/spelt flour and flax that made it taste so good. I used blueberries since they are in season but most other fruits will work too!

Blueberry Crumble Squares (makes 16)
1/2 cup unrefined sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole grain spelt flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter (cold)
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 pan
2. In bowl add the 1/2 cup of sugar, both flours, baking powder and salt.
3. Cut butter into dry mixture until it is the size of peas. Add egg and stir till combined, mixture should be crumbly.
4. Pat half the mixture into prepared pan
5. In another bowl combine the 1/4 sugar with blueberries and cornstarch. Sprinkle in pan and crumble remaining dough over the berries.
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden.
7. Let cool before cutting, can be stored in fridge.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Applewood Smoked Cheddar & Dill Buttermilk Biscuits

I love biscuits. I would even go as far and say these might just be one of my top comfort foods. Nothing better then a warm biscuit pulled straight out of the oven with the buttery and flaky layers and the steam coming out when pulled apart, oh yumm. I usually make a good ol aged cheddar biscuit but this time I thought I would do something different. Still using cheddar, but instead Applewood smoked cheddar and some fresh chopped baby dill this new and improved version may just be my favorite yet! Served sandwiched between some barely cooked scrambled eggs or along side a roasted tomato bisque on a rainy day, that's total comfort to me.

Applewood Smoked Cheddar & Dill Buttermilk Biscuits
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cold and cubed
1 cup Applewood smoked cheddar
1/4 cup fresh baby dill
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. In a large bowl add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or your hands cut the butter into the mixture until the butter is the size of peas.
2. Add cheddar and dill. Add buttermilk all at once and incorporate just until most of it comes together. (Should still have some crumbs)
3. On a lightly floured service place dough and crumbs and knead gently 2-3 times just until it comes together into a soft dough.
4. Gently roll out until 3/4 inch thick and cut out with cookie cutter.
5. Can use the remaining dough to make more biscuits.
6. Brush tops of biscuits with egg and bake for 12-15 min or until golden.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chocolate Cherry Tart

It's cherry season and living in B.C for the first time I am definitely trying to take advantage of all the amazing fruit! I bought these individual tart molds and have been so excited to use them. Thinking of what I already had at home and with the fresh cherries I bought at the farmers market, I came up with this recipe. Using the leftover cinnamon cream cheese filling from the turnovers, I mixed in thickened plain yogurt to make a nice light filling. I was really pleased with the results, the cream cheese wasn't too rich and the touch of tartness from the yogurt was a nice compliment to the sweet cherries and chocolate crust. I usually find these individual tarts have decadent rich fillings like lemon curd, chocolate and pastry cream (oh and don't you worry, that will be coming soon to this blog...!) but today it was a nice change to do a lighter healthier version.

Chocolate Cherry Tarts (makes 4 tarts using 4" tart pans)
*Note if you don't have tart pans this can be made in a 8" pan)

Tart Shells
1 3/4 cup oreo baking crumbs
4 tbsp rapadura unrefined sugar (or white sugar)
4 tbsp butter, melted

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all ingredients and press firmly into tart shells or pan. Bake for 10 min. Let cool.

1/2 cup low fat cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp agave nectar (or honey)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup plain yogurt that has been strained (or Greek yogurt)
*see note below*
24 cherries, halved and pitted (or whatever fruit is in season)

1.Combine cream cheese, agave, vanilla and cinnamon. Fold in yogurt and set in fridge.
2.To assemble pop tarts out of their molds (or not, if using a pan) spread filling into the molds and top with cherries.

*To strain yogurt I start with plain yogurt with at least 2%MF. Place a bowl under a strainer and line the strainer with a coffee filter or paper towel. Place yogurt in strainer and let sit in fridge for at least 30min.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pear, Goat Cheese, Hazelnut Crusted Chicken over Farmers Market Fresh Greens

I was at the farmers market this morning trying to get an idea of what to make for dinner, thinking I haven't made a proper meal in a long time. All I seem to be eating lately are salads and what do I end up making? A salad! Granted, a bit more effort put in than usual. Instead of my usual seasoned chicken breast I opted for a chicken breast which I spread with pear jam (from France it is naturally sweetened with grape juice and soo good but any jam would be great), goat cheese and hazelnuts. Super simple, just shove it in the oven for 15 min at 350 and it's ready! Served over mixed greens (this time kale, beet greens, swiss chard etc) local zucchini, shredded carrot and green beans and you have a fab dinner worthy salad.

Pear, Goat Cheese, Hazelnut Crusted Chicken
1 chicken breast
1 tbsp pear jam (any jam will work, as goat cheese pairs nicely with all
2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
3 tbsp roasted hazelnuts, chopped (or any nut you like, pistachio, almond
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a heavy pot or the flat side of a meat tenderizer, pound chicken until it is even thickness. (Can also butterfly chicken)
2. Spread jam on one side of chicken, sprinkle on goat cheese and top with nuts pressing down so it sticks.
3. Bake for 15 min or until done.
*Serve over your favorite mixed greens, veggies and dressing

Not shown, is the dressing I put on after, my healthier rendition of a creamy dressing:

Creamy Raspberry Dill Buttermilk Dressing
1 cup plain yogurt that has been strained to thicken (or Greek yogurt)
2 tbsp buttermilk
2 tbsp raspberry vinegar
1 tbsp agave nectar (or honey)
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1. Combine all together and chill in fridge.