Monday, December 3, 2007

Another pork recipe...

With so much pork defrosting in the fridge, I was glad to come across this recipe in my archives...

Honey-Soy Glazed Pork Chops
(from Good Housekeeping)


4 boneless pork loin chops
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon cornstarch
1 garlic clove, minced
2 green onions, sliced for garnish


Sprinkle 1 side of each pork chop with black pepper

Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot spray with cooking spray. Add pork chops, pepper side down and cook about 4 minutes or until browned. Reduce heat and continue to cook chops until they just lose their pink colour. Transfer chops to platter, cover with foil to keep warm.

In a cup, mix honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and cornstarch until smooth.

Add garlic to skillet, cook for 30 seconds. Stir honey mixture into skillet (mixture will boil) and cook for 1 minute (stirring constantly). Spoon sauce over pork chops and sprinkle with green onions for garnish.

Serve with wilted spinach and baked sweet potato or fluffy rice.

An old favorite...

In the process of baby proofing and decluttering our apartment, I came across some of my old (college) recipe cutouts... Now I remember why I had kept these recipes this long. It was perfect timing too because I had a large package of boneless pork loin defrosting in the fridge with no idea what to do with them.

Pork and Broccoli Stir-Fry
(adapted from the Milk Calendar: Millenium Edition)


2 tbsp cornstarch, divided
3 tbsp soy sauce, divided
1 tbsp sherry
1 lb lean boneless pork, cut in thin strips
1 cup milk
½ tsp hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
1 tsp of dark sesame oil
1 bunch broccoli
2 tbsp Mazola oil
1 cup baby carrots, halved or sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp minced gingerroot (or 2 tsp ground ginger)
2 tbsp oyster sauce


In bowl, stir together 1 tbsp of cornstarch, 1 tbsp soy sauce and sherry. Add pork and stir to coat well.

In separate bowl, stir milk with remaining cornstarch, soy sauce, hot pepper sauce and sesame oil; set aside.

Separate broccoli into florets.

In wok, heat oil over high heat. Add pork mixture, carrots and onion. Stir-fry for 4 minutes or until meat is lightly browned. Stir in garlic, ginger and broccoli; stir-fry for 2 minutes.

Stir in milk mixture; cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes or until sauce is thickened and broccoli is tender-crisp. Add oyster sauce and heat through.


Chocolate fondue...yummy!

After a long week of many assignments and college open houses, we wanted to treat my little sister to a fun evening.... So chocolate, cake and strawberries was on the menu (actually it was the only thing on the menu...oops). Not the healthiest but oh so yummy!

Having never used my fondue pot, I was a little worried but this couldn't have been any easier.

Toblerone Chocolate Fondue


300 grams of Toblerone chocolate
½ cup of heavy (whipping) cream, room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons of Blue Curacao (orange flavoured) liqueur


1. Over a double boiler melt Toblerone chocolate.
2. Slowly stir in heavy cream and the liqueur.
3. Add to fondue pot (over low heat) and serve with pound cake and strawberries.

Wonton Soup

This is always a very quick soup to make and great for those cool and brisk November days...

Shrimp & Pork Wonton Soup


2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups of reduced-sodium chicken stock
4 cups of water
1 package (300g) Leek & Pork Wontons
½ cooked chicken breast (leftovers), chopped
2 teaspoons fish sauce
¼ cup chopped green onions


Heat the oil in a pot. Saute the onions until transparent, 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
Pour in the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil. Add the wontons. Stir them slowly (in case they stick to the pot).

Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes. After they float to top, add the chicken and shrimp. Simmer until the shrimp turns pink, another 1-2 minutes.

Season with fish sauce and garnish with green onions.

Back to blogging my favorites...

Okay so the month of November has been very busy for me as I get myself ready to return to work after having spent a wonderful year watching my little baby grow. What a blessing it has been!

But that doesn't mean I didn't cook in November it was more about the eating our favorite and easy dishes than of trying new recipes.

Here's a favorite of our home: Filipino Beef Steak (Bistek). It's very similar to a Portuguese dish my mom used to cook for us on special Sundays.

Bistek: Filipino Beef Steak


1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup dark soy sauce1 pound of beef sirloin, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon salt


In a bowl, mix lime juice and soy sauce. Add beef, garlic and ground pepper. Mix well and let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until soft. Add mushrooms and sauté until onions are slightly browned. Set aside.

Pan fry the beef slices in batches in the same frying pan, removing them as they brown (1-2 minutes on each side). Pour the marinade into the skillet, add salt and boil for 1 minute.

Return the beef slices, reserved onion rings and mushrooms to the pan and simmer for 1-2 minutes.

Serve at once.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Adobo Chicken

This dish took a long time to develop, after many hit and misses, although hubby never seemed to complain, I think I've finally perfected Chicken Adobo. This dish is a regular for us now especially served over hot steamed rice.

Chicken Adobo


8 boneless chicken thighs or any cut of chicken, quartered
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1 medium to large chopped onion
1 tsp of black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup vinegar
3 tbsp soya sauce
½ cup of water


In large sautee pan (aluminum pots may react with the vinegar), heat pan with about 2-3 tablespoons of cooking oil (veggie or canola will do)

Brown the chicken then place in a plate.

Saute chopped garlic and onions in the pot - cook until translucent.

Add chicken to the pot and add vinegar, bay leaf, soya sauce, water and pepper.

Bring to a boil, stir and then let simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. This ensures almost all the liquid is gone, and then it naturally fries itself in the oils left in the pan.

Serve over hot steamed rice.


Pasta, cheese.... mmm... Lasagna

I took this dish over to our friend's home as we tried to get all of our friends together for a night of good food, lots of laughter and tons of babies... :) It's easy and when served with garlic bread and ceasar salad, its a quick and complete meal. The night was topped off with Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake that just hit seemed to hit the right spot.

Helena’s Meat Lasagna


1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon hot pimento paste
700 ml of Ragu or tomato sauce
1 can of tomato paste
1 can of water
1 package of whole mushrooms, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
1 package oven-ready lasagna noodles


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Brown beef in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, adding chopped onion and pimento paste to meat as it cooks. When meat has browned, drain off fat and place in a large pan.

Then add tomato sauce, tomato paste and water. Use your hand blender to mince meat. Then add chopped mushrooms and bell peppers. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Lay a small amount of the tomato sauce mixture. Then sprinkle eggs over the mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and then lay noodles lengthwise across bottom of casserole dish. Add a layer of meat mixture, eggs, then cover with mozzarella cheese and repeat for a total of 3 layers. Finish with a layer of cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbling.

Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.


Cake... and its better than sex??? Well almost :)

I tried this cake for a baby shower we went to and everyone really seemed to like it... Nothing was left behind... Gotta like those days :)

Almost Better Than Sex Cake


1 marble cake mix
1 cup semisweet butterscotch chips
¾ cup to 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
Caramel topping
12 ounces Cool Whip
1 bag of toffee candy bits, crushed


Heat oven to 350 F.

Grease and flour 9 x 13 inch pan. Prepare cake mix as directed on package; pour into prepared pan. After 10 minutes of baking, sprinkle with chips. Continue baking until cake is done.

Do not remove cake from pan. While cake is still hot, poke holes in it with handle of wooden spoon. (I made slits in the cake - careful not to go all the way through or else it becomes to difficult to serve) In a separate saucepan over low heat (or microwave), heat the caramel sauce with the sweetened condensed milk. Pour over the cake so it runs into the slits/holes. Let cool.

Frost the cake with the whipped topping and sprinkle with candy bits to decorate the top.

Serves 16


Helena’s Famous Beer Chicken

At my last visit to Portugal, I had watched my aunt make a very quick and easy chicken dish and since then I've made some changes to the original recipe but continue to keep it in my cooking repertoire. It is one of my hubby's favorite meals.

Helena’s Famous Beer Chicken


4 skinless chicken thighs with bone
½ package of Knorr onion soup
¼ cup of (low-sodium) vegetable broth
1 bottle of beer
1 tablespoon of pimento paste
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tbsp of water


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Spray a rectangular baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Wash the chicken and place in baking dish.
3. Sprinkle with onion soup. Pour in broth and beer. Stir in pimento paste and vinegar.
4. Bake for 1 hour or until chicken is done.
5. Take the chicken juices and place in a pan. Reduce. Add cornstarch to thicken.
6. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Giada's Pork Chops

Today's dinner was a twist on Giada's Pork Chops with Sweet Onion Marmellata. It was absolutely yummy, especially when served with couscous and a side salad or green beans and steamed baby carrots.

Pork Chops with Sweet Onion Marmellata

Onion Marmellata:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 large onions, thinly sliced (about 3 pounds)
1/4 cup quince marmalade
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or ½ tsp of dried thyme)
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon hot pimento paste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

Pork Chops:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons of hot pimento pepper
2 tablespoons of water
4 to 6 boneless pork loin chops

For the onion marmellata, place a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and the onions. Stir to combine and cook until starting to sizzle, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and cook over low heat for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes to scrape up any brown bits. The onions should be a soft, jam-like consistency and a deep mahogany color.

Meanwhile, for the pork chops, combine the garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Using your fingers, work all the ingredients together until well combined. Rub the mixture over the pork chops. Cover with plastic wrap and reserve in the refrigerator.

About 20 minutes before the onions are finished, remove the pork chops from the refrigerator. Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Grill the pork chops to medium, about 7 minutes a side depending on thickness. To serve, spoon the onion marmellata over the pork chops. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Serve immediately.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chicken Leftovers...

After last night's chicken we had lots of chicken leftovers and a favorite of my hubby's is Chicken Squares... It'll become one of your faves too.

Chicken Squares


3 ounces cream cheese softened
1 tablespoon butter melted,
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
2 tablespoons of pesto
1 tablespoon of sundried tomatoes (or roasted red peppers)
1/2 teaspoon hot pimento paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces refrigerated crescent rolls


Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and butter. Add the rest of the ingredients; mix well.

Divide crescent rolls and form into 4 rectangles, pressing edges together to seal. Divide chicken mixture among the rectangles. Fold dough over mixture and press edges with a fork to seal. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Serves: 4


Monday, October 15, 2007

Mexican Birthday Party (cont'd)

As for drinks we had the following specialty drinks on our menu:

Strawberry Daiquiri Jell-O Shot

3 packages of strawberry jello
3 cups of hot water
2 cups of rum, chilled

Mix the jello with the hot water until sugar dissolves. Then add the chilled rum and place in small cups. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Margarita Jell-O Shot

3 packages of lime jello
3 cups of hot water
2 cups of tequila, chilled

Mix the jello with the hot water until sugar dissolves. Then add the chilled tequila and place in small cups. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Notes: Next time I would add one more cup of water as we found these shots very strong :)

Margarita Punch

1 can frozen limeade, thawed
1 can water
1 can of ice
1 can of a good tequila
1 bottle of Corona beer
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced

Mix all of the above ingredients together and serve in a pitcher.

Thank you to my fellow nesties for all of their great suggestions!

Mexican Birthday Party (cont'd)

Our main dishes included a Taco Bar & Chili con carne.... We did serve the chili with sweet corn muffins but the recipe needs some tweaking so I'd rather not post it...

Our Taco Bar included the following:

Soft Tacos
Hard Tacos
Ground beef
shredded chicken
bell peppers
sour cream
cheddar cheese

Chili Con Carne


1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 lb ground beef
12 ¾ oz can of crushed tomatoes (400g)
1 cup beef stock
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsps of sugar
2 tbsp tomato paste
12 ¾ oz can of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (400g)


Heat the oil in a large pan and add onion. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft and golden. Add the garlic, chilli and cumin, and cook for 1 minute.

Add the meat and cook for 5 minutes, or until browned, breaking up any lumps with a fork as it cooks.

Stir in the tomato, stock, oregano and sugar. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the tomato paste and beans and season. Cook for 5 minutes to heat the beans, then serve with cornbread to mop up the juices.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add onion. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft and golden. Add the garlic, chilli and cumin, and cook for 1 minute.

Add the meat and cook for 5 minutes, or until browned, breaking up any lumps with a fork as it cooks.

Stir in the tomato, stock, oregano and sugar. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the tomato paste and beans and season. Cook for 5 minutes to heat the beans, then serve with cornbread to mop up the juices.

Mexican Birthday Party...

Hubby’s Mexican birthday party was a success and here are some of the dessert recipes that made it a hit...

Mini white chocolate and raspberry tarts


1 ½ boxes of frozen tart shells
1 package cream cheese, softened
½ cup sweetened Condensed Milk
1 large egg
¼ cup white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can raspberry pie filling


Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Place tart shells on a cookie sheet with one teaspoon of pie filling in each tart. BAKE for approximately 10 minutes or until shell is golden.

Remove from oven and lower heat to 350° F

In bowl of electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth; gradually add condensed milk. Add egg, beating well. Blend in vanilla. In a heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water, melt chocolate. Slowly stir into cream cheese mixture.

Spoon about 1 tbsp (15 mL) cream cheese mixture over each filled tart shell.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until puffed and set. Do not overcook or else your cheesecake will crack (like mine did above). Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Top with pie filling. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Makes: 18 tart shells

Mini Pecan Pies

Serves: 8


1 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup pecan halves
3 eggs beaten
2 tablespoons butter melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 box of frozen tart shells


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Combine corn syrup, sugar, pecans, beaten eggs, melted butter, vanilla and salt in a large bowl; mix well. Pour into frozen tart shells and bake for 5-10 minutes.

Lower oven temperature to 350°F and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the center of pie. Cool on wire rack and top with a tsp of Cool Whip before serving.

Makes: 12 tart shells

Mini Leche Flans


1 cup granulated sugar
1 big can Evaporated Milk
6 large egg yolks
2 eggs
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tsp of grated lime rind


Preheat oven to 350° F.

Heat sugar in small, heavy-duty saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes or until dissolved and caramel colored. Quickly pour onto bottom of small muffin/custard containers; swirl around bottom and sides to coat. Set aside.

Combine remaining ingredients. Strain. Pour into prepared containers. Place containers in large roasting pan; fill roasting pan with warm water to about 1-inch depth.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Remove flan from water. Cool on wire rack. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

To Serve: run small spatula around edge of container. Invert serving plate over container. Turn over; shake gently to release. Caramelized sugar forms sauce.

Serves: 16

Some mini desserts...

Ever have frozen tarts in the back of the fridge and not sure what to do with them? Here are some great tart recipes that can be made as pies but since we're portion conscious, we find the mini tarts really help us to stick to our meal plan.

Butterscotch Cheesecake Nibbles


6 frozen tart shells
1/2 cup Butterscotch morsels
1/2 pkg (4 oz.) cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 375° F.

Place tart shells on a cookie sheet with 5-6 morsels in each tart. Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until shell is golden.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and flour in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add egg and vanilla extract; beat well. Spoon heaping tablespoon of cream cheese mixture into each tart shell.

Remove from oven and lower heat to 350° F

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until just set and not browned. Remove from oven to wire rack. While still warm, top cheesecakes with remaining morsels. Morsels will soften but will retain shape. Cool completely. Refrigerate.

Fresh Fruit Tarts


6 frozen tart shells

1/2 pkg (4 oz.) cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Strawberries or fruit in season

¼ cup water
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup sugar
¾ tbsp cornstarch
Dash of salt


Preheat oven to 375° F.

Place tart shells on a cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes or until shell is golden. Cool.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl until creamy. Spread over tart shells and place strawberries on cream cheese mixture.

Combine glaze ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook until bubbly and glaze thickens. Spoon over filled tarts. Garnish tarts with a tsp of Cool Whip when serving.


Cantonese Fried Rice

Cantonese Fried Rice


For the rice:
1 cup rice (we only had basmati rice)
2 cups of cold water
½ cup frozen peas

For the pork:
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 pound pork tenderloin

For the rest of the recipe:
¼ cup of Corn oil
½ red bell pepper, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup mushrooms, chopped
½ pound of small cooked and peeled shrimp
2 tbsp light soya sauce


Place water and rice in a heavy large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer over very low heat and cook about 18 minutes or till rice has absorbed all the liquid. Once done, remove from heat and add the frozen peas and cover.

Pork: In medium bowl, add soy and oyster sauce, ginger and garlic, and sesame oil. Add pork and let marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Heat a wok over high heat, add half the corn oil. Add the marinated pork until no longer pink. Add bell pepper, green onion and stirfry for 1 minute. Remove. Pour in beaten eggs and tilt pan to spread thinly. Cook till firm underneath. Break up egg with a spatula, add the mushrooms and remove from pan. Wipe out pan.

Heat remaining corn oil over high heat and add rice, tossing and cooking for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, onions, eggs and mushrooms. Add cooked shrimp and soya sauce. Cook and toss over high heat until heated through.


Monday's Family Night

Thought I'd greet hubby this evening with a special meal.... It's pretty corny I know but Mondays is our family night. All 3 of us sit in front of the tv watching The Bachelor and just relax preparing ourselves for the week. But what's family day without a good meal, so today was Portuguese Barbecued Chicken with couscous and sauteed vegetables. I also made some Cantonese Fried Rice just as an extra dish. We topped dinner with either a Butterscotch Cheesecake Nibble or a Fresh Fruit Tart.

Portuguese Barbecued Chicken


2 1/2 lb chicken
1/4 cup olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp of hot pimento paste
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt


Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place chicken in heavy plastic bag.

In skillet, heat olive oil over low heat. Cook garlic for 3-5 minutes. Let stand until cool.

Combine oil and garlic with paprika, pimento paste and lemon juice. Pour over chicken; turn to coat and close bag. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight, turning several times.

Remove chicken from marinade and sprinkle chicken with salt. Reserve marinade. Truss the bird to ensure securely tied. Insert the rotisserie rod through the chicken and place in George Foreman's Rotisserie Grill. Cook for 90 minutes, brushing chicken often with reserved marinade.
Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hubby's Upcoming Surprise Birthday Party

Hubby's 31st birthday is coming up and with everyone having a busy September, seeing our family has been pretty rare. With that in mind, I decided to throw him a surprise birthday party. Knowing he's a pretty smart cat, all the planning and grocery shopping had to be on the sly.

On hubby's birthday party menu is a Mexican Fiesta for 25 featuring the following:

Jalapeno Poppers (Costco ready-made) with ranch dressing
Nachos with salsa, sour cream and cheddar cheese

Main Dishes
Taco Bar (both soft & hard tacos)
Chili con carne with sweet corn muffins
Mexican Rice

mini pecan pies
mini brownies
mini white chocolate and raspberry cheesecakes
mini flans

Margarita & Strawberry Daiquiri Jell-O Shots
Margarita punch
Corona with limes
Pop: Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite

Stay tuned for the recipes...

Another Successful Giada Recipe

It was girl's night and I had volunteered to bring dinner with me. With all the varying tastes, I wasn't sure what to bring but once again Giada came through. Our main dish included: Giada's Garlic & Citrus Chicken and our side dish was a take on Giada's Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables.

Garlic and Citrus Chicken

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Yield: 6 servings


1 (3-5 pound) whole roasting chicken, neck and giblets discarded
1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 orange, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
1 head garlic, halved crosswise, plus 3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
Kitchen string or butcher twine


Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Clean the chicken with water and the juice of a lemon. Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with the orange, lemon, and garlic halves. Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen string to help hold its shape. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.

Place a rack in a large roasting pan. Place the chicken, breast side up, on the rack in the pan and place in the oven with half of the chicken broth. Lower the oven to 375 degrees F. Roast the chicken for 1 hour, basting occasionally. Whisk the orange juice, lemon juice, oil, oregano, and chopped garlic in a medium bowl to blend. Brush some of the juice mixture over the chicken, after it has baked for 1 hour. Lower the oven to 350 degrees F and continue roasting and basting the chicken with the juice mixture about 30-45 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Tent with foil while making the sauce (do not clean the pan).

Place the same roasting pan over medium-low heat. Whisk in any remaining broth and simmer until the sauce is reduced to 1 cup, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Strain into a 2-cup glass measuring cup and discard the solids. Spoon the fat from the top of the sauce. Serve the chicken with the pan sauce.

Baked Ziti with Roasted Vegetables

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings


1 red pepper, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
10-12 mushrooms, halved
1 red onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix
340g whole wheat ziti pasta
2 cups marinara sauce
1 ½ cup grated mozzarella
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander.

In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheese and peas. Gently mix, until all the pasta is coated and the ingredients are combined.

Lower the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pasta into a 9 by 13-inch pan. Top with Parmesan and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 30-40 minutes.


Day After Thanksgiving

My cousin has recently gave birth to twins and after having celebrated Thanksgiving with 2 turkeys she was at a loss as to what to do with all the leftovers. So during a recent visit, I thought I'd help out by using those leftovers and leaving behind a quick meal. So I made the following:

Thanksgiving Soup

Serves: 6-8


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small bag of baby carrots, roughly chopped (340g)
2 stalks celery trimmed and chopped
1 medium onion peeled and chopped
900 ml (reduced sodium) chicken broth
2 cups roasted turkey diced
2 tbsps of hot pimento paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon juiced


In a heavy saucepan heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and add carrots, celery and onion; cook until soft and golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add chicken broth, turkey, and pimento paste; bring to a boil. Simmer soup uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Before serving squeeze in the juice of a lemon.

You can also add leftover rice, corn or any fresh vegetables you have on hand to this basic soup recipe.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Gelato...a great way to end the summer

Inspired by a recent tasting of Cherry Gelato at Moozoo, a local gelataria in the Old Port in Montreal, we couldn't wait to come home and try our hands at making Gelato. Not having made it before I wasn't really sure what to expect but this recipe was easy to make and oh so mouth watering...

Chocolate Gelato

Serves 4


1 ¾ cups skim milk (375 ml)
¼ cup whipping cream (35% MF)
150 grams of caster (superfine) sugar*
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp instant coffee granules
100 grams of grated Lindt dark chocolate (85% cocoa)


Put the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the milk is just about to boil. (Steam will begin to rise from the saucepan). Remove from the heat and stir in the coffee and chocolate. Continue to stir until the chocolate has melted. The mixture will become smooth, have a consistent colour but will be slightly runny. Cool slightly at room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.

Transfer to an ice cream machine for approximately 20 minutes and freeze for at least 5 hours. Soften in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

*I didn’t have superfine sugar so I placed 150g of granulated sugar into my food processor and ground the sugar for 15 seconds to create the superfine sugar.

Helena Tip I tend to keep the small 125 ml plastic containers that the baby food comes in and find them especially handy especially for treats like this gelato. Before freezing, I place the gelato into the individual containers. Once I'm ready to enjoy my dessert, I remove one container to soften. This ensures that I limit myself to one serving and I'm not so tempted to finish the entire bucket :)


Pasta and Vodka...yum!!!

Desperate to cook something without having to go to the grocery store to pick up anything, I had all of the ingredients at home to make the following dish...

Fettucine alla Vodka

Serves 4


2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon hot pimento paste
200 grams frozen cooked shrimp
2 cups of diced tomatoes (with ¼ cup of liquid)
Garlic salt
1/3 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
340 grams whole wheat fettucine (1 package)
Salt to season
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese


Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are light golden around edges, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp (or ½ cup of diced sausage)
Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove pan from heat and add vodka. Return pan to medium-high heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Stir in cream and cook until hot, approximately 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and fettucine. Cook for 9 minutes (al dente), then drain pasta (reserve ¼ cup of pasta water). Add sauce to pasta and toss over medium heat until pasta absorbs some of sauce, 1 to 2 minutes, adding reserved cooking water if sauce is too thick.

Divide among pasta bowls. Sprinkle with basil and parmesan cheese.

Serve with a Caesar salad and garlic bread.


This was a really good recipe. Next time I’d like to try this recipe with 1 cup of diced chouriço instead of the shrimp…hmmm... now I'm looking forward to another chilly weekend :)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Comfort Food on a chilly Saturday

The chill is settling in the air ever so slightly and as a result, today I'm all about the comfort food. I'll start with a Portuguese Caldo Verde - a potato and vegetable puree. Very traditional and you've probably tasted it as the first course at a typical Portuguese wedding.

Caldo Verde (Creamy Portuguese Potato & Greens Soup)

Makes 6-8 servings


2 tsp olive oil
2 large onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
250 grams spicy chouriço (or spanish sausage)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved (750 grams)
8 cups chicken stock
1 tsp of salt
2 cups of finely shredded collard greens
4 cups water


In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add all the ingredients except the water and collard greens. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 45-50 minutes.

In a separate pot, combine water, 1 tsp of salt and collard greens. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Drain greens and place in a pot.

When the potato mixture is cool enough to handle, remove chouriço, slice it thinly and set aside. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and purée. Return to the pot. Add the greens and combine well. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with crusty bread.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A New Twist on a Hawaiian Pizza

I just recently had a baby and I don’t think anyone told me how difficult it would be to lose all of the baby weight. It’s been 8 months. I guess I had this fantasy that it would just melt away… boy was I wrong…

So hubby and I decided to change our ways and lead a more healthy lifestyle. If not for ourselves but for our child, who will look to us as she grows. As I was sitting at our local bookstore looking for some inspiration, I came across Jorge Cruise’s 3-hour diet cookbook. The recipes all looked so easy to make… An added bonus when you have a little one at your side. Bought the book, came home and tried his recipes… Wow is all I can say … This is the first time I’ve found a cookbook with balanced meals that closely mirrors the Canada Food Guide and that taste Great!!

Here’s my take on the Pineapple Ricotta Pizza recipe from Jorge’s book (page 122).

Helena’s Hawaiian Pizza


2 Greek-style thin pitas
¾ cup skim-milk ricotta cheese
3 pineapple rings (drained if canned)
2 slices of prosciutto (Italian cured ham)
1 roasted pepper
½ cup of shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 cups of mixed salad greens
2 tbsp fat-free raspberry salad dressing


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place the pitas on the baking sheet and top with the ricotta, pineapple, prosciutto, roasted pepper and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the top with some Italian seasoning.

Bake until the cheese melts and the pitas are crisp. (approximately 15 minutes)

Meanwhile, toss the salad greens with the dressing in a large bowl and divide among the two plates.

Serve each person one pizza and one salad.


Monday, September 3, 2007

A Filipino Classic

Every so often, I like to treat hubby to a traditional filipino meal (just like he would have at home). This is my version of Caldereta, a rich beef stew. I like to serve it over some hot steamed rice and a side of corn, although you could add potatoes to it (for the last 20 minutes of cooking) and omit the rice and corn altogether for a heartier meal. It's also a great meal for those cold autumn evenings that will soon arrive.

Caldereta (Filipino Beef Stew)


¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1 chopped onion
2 lbs beef sirloin, cubed
3 cups of beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp cornstarch (dissolved in water)
1 ½ cup baby carrots
2 cups chopped mushrooms


Heat oil in a saucepan then sauté onions over medium heat. Add garlic and tomato paste. Then add cubed beef until beef browns. (Approximately 5 minutes). Add beef stock and allow all the ingredients to simmer for about an hour. *

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then add baby carrots, chopped mushrooms and dissolved cornstarch in water. Bring to a boil, then allow to simmer for 20 minutes (or until carrots are tender). Serve with hot steamed rice.

*For a make ahead dish, you could stop the cooking process here, allow the stew to cool and put in the fridge. Once ready to serve, place in a saucepan and continue with the rest of the recipe.


A Short Road Trip...

Yesterday, Hubby and I went for a short road trip to visit the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in New York. It was absolutely breathtaking...

But no road trip is complete without taking along some sandwiches and salads to munch on. So I decided to make some ham & swiss cheese sandwiches (made with a french stick) and 2 side salads: coleslaw and chickpea salad. Sorry no pictures today but here's the recipe:

Prosciutto and Chickpea Salad


1 can chickpeas
4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto (or Portuguese salami)
1 medium red onion, cut in half and sliced
½ red pepper, sliced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tbsp Red wine vinegar
Romaine lettuce

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Cut prosciutto into thin strips. Combine ham, red onion, red pepper, and the chickpeas and mix.

Whisk together mustard, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the vinaigrette with the chickpea mixture and serve on a bed of romaine lettuce, washed and cut in thin strips.

Makes 4 servings.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

What's in our freezer?

Hubby and I are trying to use up all the food we currently have in the freezer so I found a beef roast and decided to cook it up for last night’s meal. I found this recipe on and what a great one it was. I served it alongside sautéed spinach and steamed baby carrots.

Beef Tenderloin with Peppercorn Sauce


2 lb. beef tenderloin roast (900 g)
1 tsp dry oregano leaves, crushed (5 ml)
1 tsp coarse salt (5 ml)
1 tsp black pepper, crushed (5 ml)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp dry thyme, crushed (5 ml)
1 tsp paprika (5 ml)

Peppercorn Sauce
1 1/2 cup marsala wine (375 ml)
1 cup chicken broth (250 ml)
1 clove garlic, crushed
10 x peppercorns, multicolored, crushed
1 1/2 cup whipping cream (375 ml)
1/2 tsp dijon mustard (5 ml)
Coarse salt and pepper, to taste


Beef Tenderloin
1. Heat oven to 425 F.
2. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Press combined ingredients evenly onto the surface of the beef tenderloin. Place beef on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
3. Place a meat thermometer in the centre of the beef. Do not cover beef or place water at the bottom. Allow roast to cook for 35 to 40 minutes for medium rare.
4. When meat thermometer reads 135 F, remove roast from the oven, cover it with aluminum foil and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. The temperature will rise to 145 F degrees allowing meat to reach a medium rare state. Transfer roast to a carving board and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into ½ inch thick slices.
5. Arrange desired number of slices of beef on a plate. Spoon peppercorn sauce over slices of roast beef.

Peppercorn Sauce
1. Add wine, broth, peppercorns and garlic to the tenderloin roasting pan and cook for 20 minutes or until the liquids are reduced to half. Add cream and mustard and, stirring frequently, cook for 20 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half again. Season to taste and allow to cook for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and spoon sauce over tenderloin.
2. Garnish with a sprig of oregano if desired.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Off to a Beach Party...

What a beautiful and sunny day it is today and we're just heading out the door to our little niece's Beach Birthday Party. But no need to go empty handed so we'll take a Chocolate Rum Cake for the adults, these fun dice for the kids to play and some stale leftover bread for the birds ;)

For our honeymoon, hubby and I took the most beautiful Royal Caribbean cruise where one of our ports included Grand Cayman Island. During our tour we came across one of the island's specialities: rum cake. That day we brought back 10 cakes to share with our family and a bottle of Tortuga rum. Well, I've never been able to duplicate those cakes exactly but this recipe comes very damn close...

Rum Cake

1 cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
1 yellow cake mix package (today I used a Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix)
1 instant vanilla pudding mix package (chocolate pudding mix)
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark rum

1 stick butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark rum

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts on bottom of pan (although I didn't have any today). Combine all cake ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes on high with electric mixer. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool in pan. Invert on serving plate. Prick top with fork.

Glaze: Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. (this is a lot of glaze for this size of cake so you may want to half the glaze recipe)

Drizzle glaze over top of cake. Use brush or spoon to put extra dripping back on cake. The longer this cakes sits, the better the taste.


Going to parties, I always like to arm myself with a kids game, just in case the children become bored or are to shy to introduce themselves to the others. There's something to be said when both children and the adults are kept entertained- I think it just becomes a better party.

Crazy Dice

I took 2 small square boxes - that were holding sample baby formula in my cupboards and covered them in white wrapping paper. On one dice, I wrote a different activity on each side, such as:

Do the Macarena/chicken dance
Do 5 pushups
Do 10 jumping jacks
Jump as high as you can
Walk holding a ball in between your knees
Do a cartwheel

On the On the other die, I had the following:

Say the alphabet
Count how many letters are in your name
Count from 1-20 backwards
Sing the Head & Shoulders game
Spell your name backwards
Say a nursery rhyme

I tailored my dice for the children attending the party whose ages range from 3-8. Each child then rolls the dice and does the two challenges at the same time, like 5 pushups while saying a nursery rhyme. Next time I'll take empty dice and have the children write in the different activities.

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Rainy Saturday...

Thought I'd start the day being very productive and preparing Stuffed Shells for the upcoming busy weeks ahead of us. It's a great freezer dish (thanks to Giada...) and very yummy!

Turkey and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

1 box jumbo pasta shells (approximately 40 shells)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound ground turkey
4 ounces jarred roasted red bell peppers, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon of pimento paste
1 package of mushrooms, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
½ - 2/3 of (454 g) container ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
5 cups tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta on a cookie sheet (to cool down faster).

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat, and spray pan with olive oil as it is heating. Add ground turkey and brown, breaking it up to cook evenly. Drain fat from pan. Bringing turkey back to the pan, add pimento pepper, garlic and onions and cook until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Add roasted peppers and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine. (Optional: Run a hand blender through mixture for thinness to better stuff the shells).

Bring all ingredients to room temperature before stuffing the shells (if you want to freeze it).

To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a baking dish with 1 cup of tomato sauce. Take a shell and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 1 tablespoon. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full. Drizzle the remaining tomato sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen).

Today the shells were served with a spinach salad, thinly sliced red onions, 1/4 cup of mandarin oranges and 1 tbsp of dried cranberries. I like to serve the salad with a light poppyseed dressing on the side so that the dressing can be placed on the salad using the fork prongs.

The rest of the day was rainy and gloomy so hubby and I decided to have "bar food" at home. Made a quick nacho dish (wholegrain Tostitos, diced red peppers, sprinkling of salsa and shredded cheddar cheese - served with some salsa and sour cream on the side). We also had some Buffalo Wings & Buffalo chicken breast strips - a quick seasoning bag that I always have on hand in the cupboard made this a quick dish to prepare.

Introducing Helena...

I was inspired by my fellow nesties and all their blogs that I had to start one of my own. I've titled my blog "At Home with Helena" because I love everything that has to do with a home.

rom the great food, the decorating, the extravagant parties, the romance, to the sound of healthy children running around everywhere....

ere's to a great time ahead!