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.