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Friday, 30 September 2011

Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, Feta, and Mint

There are at least six different types of cheese in my fridge at all times. Extra old cheddar, cambozola or basic blue, mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, goats cheese (likely infused with something fruity or herby), and feta. If I let myself, I would eat cheese on everything.

This dish brings Greek influences with it’s feta, olives, and cherry tomatoes. Having not married a Greek myself, although some of my friends are so lucky, I’ve had to figure out and get words of wisdom from books, online sources, and bug my Greek friends for guarded family recipes.

This one was taken from a great cookbook, “America’s Test Kitchen: Light & Healthy 2010”.

Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, Feta, and Mint
Makes for 4.  If desired, basil can be substituted for mint. Whole lot of amazing.
Prep time - approximately 30 minutes. 

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
4 tsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped (fresh ones from the deli section are best)
2 TBSP water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ounce crumbled feta cheese (about 1/4 cup)
¼ cup fresh shredded mint (can be substituted for basil)

For chicken:

Spread the flour in a shallow dish. Pat chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  
Lightly dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any extra.  
Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  
Carefully lay the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook well browned on the first side, about 6-8 minutes.  
Flip the chicken and reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until the chicken is not pink in the middle and white and juicy.  
Transfer chicken to a platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest while making the relish.  

For the relish:

Add the garlic to the oil (you may need to add a little extra oil) and return to medium heat, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  
Stir in tomatoes, olives, and water, and cook scraping up any browned bits until the tomatoes are just softened, about 2 minutes.  
Stir in any accumulated chicken juice and season with salt and pepper to taste - but remember that feta cheese is salty so not too much salt! 
Plate the chicken and pour the relish over the chicken breasts, sprinkle with feta and mint to serve. 

It must, if at all possible, be drank with a glass of wine while you pretend you are sitting on an island in Greece. Opa!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Ice Cream-Cookiewiches

I love autumn.  But who said it was OK for summer to be over? Gone are the days of eating a fresh waffle cone and ice cream while you walk down the boardwalk.  But I want ice cream now! What could I do to make a perfect blend of summer and fall?

You guessed it. Ice Cream-Cookiwiches. I’ve got to give the credit for this idea. You see them in the freezer section at the gas station – but I wanted something homemade of course.

There’s no way I’m patient enough (remember from the Apple Crisp?) to bake my own cookies and let them fully cool to put ice cream on them. No. I'd have one melted mess on my hands. 

I decided to trot to the grocery store bakery and buy the chewy-chunkiest chocolate chip cookies they had. If you have more self-control, please feel free to bake your own cookies!

You can choose whatever flavor you want of ice cream – although cookiedough is a personal favorite I opted for classic vanilla since I was already making a cookie ice cream sandwich. 

Ice Cream-Cookiewiches

Makes ½ as many of your total sum of cookies. 12 cookies means 6 ice cream-cookiewiches.


Chocolate chip or chunk cookies
Softened ice cream – leave out of the freezer for 5 minutes so it's easier to work with
Option: ¾ cup toasted coconut (or use chocolate chips, Skor bits, smarties, etc.)


Take ice cream and dollop ¼ cup on bottom side of cookie.
Take another cookie and palce on top and smooth edges with spoon.
Roll sides in coconut (or if you want to get fancy try the other toppings).
Store in freezer in a tupperware container.

Apple Cinnamon & Raisin Porridge

Why is this early morning favorite like a warm hug? Because it’s what my dad has made me many a breakfast since I was little enough to stay clung to the tops of his feet while he worked in the kitchen. 

Aside from my obvious sentimental value and memories, it really is great tasting and a filling breakfast or lunchtime meal.  It’s easy and quick enough that you can make it mid-week before you head off to work – or save it for a lazy Saturday. 

Apple Cinnamon & Raisin Porridge 

Makes approximately six bowls. 
4 cups of water
2 cups of quick oats
1 TBSP butter
2 medium sized apples, peeled and grated
3 TBSP brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup golden raisins

1. In a large pot, bring 4 cups of water and quick oats to a boil - and reduce to medium/low heat.
2. Stir in TBSP of butter and grated apples.
3. Add 3 TBSP of brown sugar and stir in cinnamon and salt.
4.  Stir in raisins - should be a fairly thick consistency at this point. Taste.  If not quite enough “umph” add a little extra salt.  
5. Serve with milk and topped with a little brown sugar.

This is also great for leftovers. Simply boil the kettle and pour a little water in the bowl - just enough to get the "stiffness" out of it while stirring it with a spoon. Place in the microwave for about a minute. Remove and then add milk/sugar as necessary. This helps it taste fresh and help avoid it from getting too sticky and clumpy like bad porridge! Serve with a cup of Tetley Tea and you're ready to take on the day.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Apple Crisp

What is better than warm cinnamon-sugar covered apples coated with butter and oats?

APPLE CRISP makes more than one debut from my oven every fall. It’s so quick and easy to throw together – and so perfect to curl up with, wrapped in your fleece blanket, letting your eyes rise above your bowl just enough to see the changing autumn colours from your window.  Well, at least that’s how I eat it for the optimal  experience.

As easy as it is to make, it’s even easier to “miggle” or devour quickly away! It’s no surprise that my house smells like apple much through September and October.

I challenge you to try and only make this once this season… I have yet to do it.

After trying several recipes, I found what I believe to be the most delicious and hunger-sized friendly apple crisp.  It’s from

Apple Crisp

Makes for 9 x 12 inch pan. 
7 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Toss to combine.
2.  Layer sliced apples in a 9 x 12 (or approximately same size) baking dish.
3.  Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and oatmeal in a bowl.  Cut in the butter. Sprinkle sugar mixture over apples.
4. Bake 45 minutes or until topping looks crunch and apples are tender.  

Please try and let it cool even for a few minutes. From years of impatience I have developed a resistance to the boiling apples fresh out of the oven. Take your time – and please remember to let your nose fall close to your bowl – and take a big sniff in of that aroma! 

Apple Butter

Apple picking at the orchard last week.

It's that time of year again when shorts go on sale, the kids are back to school, and redheads are in style and on the cover of every fall issue.  If you’re not careful you may, like many people, overlook the fact that beside your favorite variety of apples showing up at the grocery store, there are thousands of fresh apples hanging and just waiting to be picked at the orchard down the road. 

It’s been a yearly tradition to head to the farm with bags tucked under the arm and hands extended practicing the perfect twist-picking technique.  A smiling gapped-tooth farmer reminded us to go for the bright ones at the top – but not too near to the top as they’re the ones that get a little scorched.

With sage advice and enthusiasm we took to the fields and picked our 20 pounds of apples in no time.  

But what do you do with TWENTY pounds of apples?

You use them for cooking, baking, preserving, feeding the deer, and for a personal snack.  I’ve been adding to my apple recipes every year and  hope to make several new items this fall.  And if you’re wondering if more apple recipes will show up - the answer is of course!

What’s on the recipe list today?

I’ve decided to make a batch of APPLE BUTTER.  As a new venture into solo preserving (I’d always had the help of much wiser family members!) I thought I should tread lightly into a simple slow cooker recipe to get the hang of bottling and not do too many things at once.  

I did some extensive research on the internet for making apple butter and found a recipe from that I adapted. You will need a few kitchen tools to make this process a smooth one.

Tools you will need:
Slow cooker
Slap-chop like device
Apple peeler
Apple corer
Bottles (I chose to use mostly 250 ml simply to use as gifts later) enough to hold approximately 3.5 L.
Preserving tool kit – see photo!

What kind of apples to use?

I used Gala apples. You want something with a little sweetness to add a rich flavor to the batch. With this is mind – I didn’t want something sickly sweet so I cut my sugar in half of what the original recipe called for.  I’ve changed the amounts to what I found to be successful (and delicious!) below. Also, as a bonus, your house will smell of apples and cinnamon!

Apple Butter Recipe

Prep Time: Approximately 11 hours (don’t worry only about an hour of that is you getting things ready!)

5 ½  pounds apples - peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼  tsp ground cloves
¼  tsp salt
¼ tsp allspice

Peel, core, and finely chop apples (this is the most laborious part I promise!)
Place the apples in a slow cooker.
In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and salt.
Pour the mixture over the apples in the slow cooker and mix well.
Cover and cook on high 1 hour.
Reduce heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally (I stirred it every hour or two) until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
Uncover and continue cooking on low 1 hour. Stir with a whisk, if desired, to increase smoothness. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers.

If you’ve never preserved anything before – it’s a little bit to get used to. Here’s what I did to prepare the bottles.

Bottle Preparation:
Wash and rinse the bottles in warm sudsy water.
Remove lids and rims and place to one side.
Dry jars and place on a cookie sheet.
Preheat oven to 300.
Place jars in oven for 10 minutes to sterilize.
Carefully remove jars and have them ready and hot for hot apple butter that will be placed in the jars. Don’t put hot butter into cold jars!
On a burner, in a medium saucepan with water just covering the snap lids, simmer (do not boil!).

There is a nice insulated gripper in that tool kit to grab the jars so you don’t burn yourself. Use with care!

Use the funnel to pour apple butter to about a ¼ inch from the top. Use the measuring stick from the preserving tool kit. Then place the other end directly in the middle of the butter to remove any air bubbles.

Make sure there’s no sticky jam around the top – if so wipe off. Then place the snap lid onto the jar with the magnetic stick from the tool kit (to avoid burning your hands).

Screw the top on just lightly – don’t cram it tight as it may ruin the seal.

Once all apple butter has been placed in jars and sealed you leave them out sitting rightside up until you hear them “pop” that they are sealed. You’ll be able to press on the top of the lid later to see if they all sealed properly. I had one that didn’t seal for some reason so I just put that one in the fridge to eat right away.

Then comes the part of how you want to individualize your jam label! You can get all kinds of stickers to place on the top of the bottle and place your jam/preserving item name and date on top – and if room anything else you want!

The apple butter turned out great and I’ve had it several times on toast! I hope that I can save a few bottles for Christmas gifts! I will definitely be preserving more in the future!

Apple Butter

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


This is what I love to do. I love to bake, cook, preserve, and write and photograph my adventures in the kitchen to motivate people to understand that life is good when food is good! 

I’m a girl who likes bright coloured aprons, wooden spoons, tea pots, cups and saucers, taking trips to orchards, and making tins of cookies and jars of jam as gifts. 

I’ve realized that it’s time that I try to incorporate what I love to do into a blog. One reason is to allow my current friends the option not to see my incessant Facebook posts of food.  The other, and more important one, is to widen the scope of who I share my food creation experiences with. 

I hope that you can enjoy my blog and take these things back to your own kitchen!