Zucchini Noodle Pesto for Two

My spouse bought three medium sized zucchini at the grocery store with which I made this wonderful pesto dish. Meatless! Unlike most pesto dishes, this one I made with no pesto sauce, as you will see below. It was all his idea and turned out perfectly!

Zucchini Noodle ‘Pesto” for Two

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchinis (ends trimmed) unpeeled
  • 2 cups fresh packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 T. cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese+
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Use a spiralizer to make strands of zucchini noodles(zoodles). I chose the thinner setting.
  2. Shred the basil leaves by rolling them together like a cigar and slicing across the roll. This is called chiffonading.
  3. Toast the pine nuts in a small pan until slightly brown and remove from heat.
  4. Sauté the zucchini noodles in 1 tablespoon of cooking olive oil in a wok or deep frying pan for two minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the fresh basil leaves to the noodles and stir to mix well.
  6. Add pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. Salt and pepper to preference.
  7. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the noodles and serve.
  8. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese. Garnish with more basil leaves.

Eggplant and Garbanzos

Happy New Year, wherever in the world you might be this day! Start the year off with this wonderful vegan dish of eggplant and garbanzos (sometimes known as chick peas). I am not a fan of ratatouille, so this came as a surprise from Greece! It seems like a lot of ingredients,but many of them are flavourful spices which really enhance the taste of the dish. Hope you will enjoy it!

Eggplant and Garbanzos Greek Style

1.5 lb eggplant, cut into cubes

Kosher salt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, diced

1 carrot, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, minced

2 dry bay leaves

1 to 1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika OR smoked paprika

1 tsp organic ground coriander

1 tsp dry oregano

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp organic ground turmeric

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 28-oz can chopped tomato

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, reserve the canning liquid

Fresh herbs such as parsley and mint for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place eggplant cubes in a colander over a large bowl or directly over your sink, and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes or so to allow eggplant to “sweat out” any bitterness. Rinse with water and pat dry.

3. In a large braiser, heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, peppers, and chopped carrot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, then add garlic, bay leaf, spices, and a dash of salt. Cook another minute, stirring until fragrant.

4. Now add eggplant, chopped tomato, chickpeas, and reserved chickpea liquid. Stir to combine.

5. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes or so. Stir often. Remove from stove top, cover and transfer to oven.

6. Cook in oven for 45 minutes until eggplant is fully cooked through to very tender. (While eggplant is braising, be sure to check once or twice to see if more liquid is needed. If so, remove from oven briefly and stir in about 1/2 cup of water at a time.)

7. When eggplant is ready, remove from oven and add a generous drizzle of EVOO, garnish with fresh herbs (parsley or mint). Serve hot or at room temperature with a side of Greek yogurt or even Tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

Pork Chops with Caper Sauce

By now you know me well; I am always searching Pinterest for new recipes to try. In this case, it was to do with pork chops which I had already thawed. This one caught my eye as we both love capers. And no, they are NOT fish! They are berries from a bush. It turned out great or else I would not share it with you. I quickly steamed some cauliflower to accompany the chops. The flavour was really good. You could omit the capers but it really adds to the flavour.

Pork Chops with Caper Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 1-inch thick center-cup, bone-in pork loin chops (allow chops to sit at room temp for 30 mins)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup capers, drained
  • 2 tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 200°F.

Pat chops dry with a paper towel, and then generously sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

Add the chops and sear on one side for about 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown on the bottoms.  Flip the chops over and sear the other sides for another 4 to 5 minutes. (The chops should be firm to the touch, but still have a little give).

Transfer the chops to the oven to keep warm while preparing the sauce.

Pour all but about 1 teaspoon of oil from pan and reduce the heat to medium.

Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the capers and cook for 30 seconds

Add the vinegar and cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.

Add the stock, mustard, a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 – 3 minutes.

Stir in the cream.

Smoked Salmon Carbonara

Some days I just want to be able to throw something together for dinner quickly. Pasta is usually the answer! In this case, I just happened to buy some smoked salmon at Costco to use in salad and I still had some left.

Voila ! Smoked Salmon Carbonara. Bonus – no creams, just fresh eggs and Parmesan for the sauce. Read the recipe carefully, as you don’t want to overcook the eggs and Parmesan. The pasta MUST be a little cool to avoid scrambling the eggs!!! It looked and tasted great. You can skip the capers if it’s not something you like.

NOTE – Capers are immature flower buds from the Capparis spinosa (aka the “caper bush”), which grow all over the Mediterranean, just like olives do. Caper buds are picked before they can bloom into flowers. They are not a fish as some people mistakenly assume, but can be a little salty. Great on pizza, too.

Smoked Salmon Carbonara

Ingredients

  • 14.1 oz (400g) linguine pasta, or similar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 5.2 oz (150g) smoked salmon, sliced thinly
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. of capers (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the linguine or long pasta shape of your choice. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, cut the smoked salmon into thin strips and finely chop some fresh parsley (this is optional).

3. Next, add the eggs to a bowl and whisk together, add the grated parmesan and a good pinch of salt and pepper, stir to combine.

4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back into the pot you cooked it in. Sprinkle over the strips of salmon then add the whisked eggs and parmesan mixture, immediately stir the pasta to coat it evenly in egg and to distribute the salmon throughout the pasta evenly.

5. Tip: wait exactly 1 minute before pouring over the egg mixture. If the pasta is too hot the eggs will scramble but if it’s too cool the eggs will remain raw.

6. The pasta should be creamy and evenly coated in sauce. Divide the smoked salmon pasta between bowls and top with a scattering of chopped parsley and an extra grinding of pepper, serve.

Add capers.

Notes

I’ve seen and made many pasta carbonara recipes in my time and I find that using 1 egg less as many servings works best. Does that make sense? For four servings I use 400g/14oz of pasta (100g per portion) and 3 eggs.

Skillet Chicken and Mushroom Wine Sauce

Really enjoyed this recipe even though it looks kinda blah in my photo. Ran out of thyme for garnish…LOL.

Skillet Chicken and Mushroom Wine Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut diagonally into cutlets
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and thick sliced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large shallots, sliced thin
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth, low sodium
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 large springs of fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water or broth

1. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Cut each breast in half diagonally into 2 thinner cutlets. Alternately, place the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness.

2. In a shallow bowl combine the flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Set aside.

3. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet. Heat over medium until the butter is melted. Dredge 3 chicken cutlets in the flour mixture, coating both sides, shaking off the excess flour. Add the coated chicken to the skillet and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook another 3-5 minutes. Remove the cooked chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat until all chicken is browned.

4. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the pan and heat until melted. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook, undisturbed, until the mushrooms are well browned on one side. Stir and turn the mushrooms and continue cooking until the moisture is released and evaporated, and the mushrooms are all well browned.

5. Add the sliced shallots to the pan and cook until softened. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Pour the wine into the pan and scrape the bottom to deglaze.

Add the thyme sprigs, chicken broth, mustard and cream. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch. Bring the sauce back to a light simmer and add the chicken. Heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and the chicken warmed through. Remove the thyme sprigs, and season the dish with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Garnish with parsley or additional thyme and serve with rice, potatoes or noodles

Salmon Pasta with Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce

Quite often when I purchase a salmon filet there are little pieces which I cut off and freeze separately to use to make salmon poke, etc. Searching Pinterest for more ideas, I came across this great pasta dish!

Salmon Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-pound salmon fillets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 5 oz spinach fresh
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz penne

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.

2. Season salmon fillets with salt.

3. When the oil is hot, add salmon fillets flesh side down (skin side up). Sear for about 4 minutes on medium-high heat.

4. Reduce heat to medium.

5. Flip the salmon fillets to the other side (skin side down). Sear for another 4 or 5 minutes on medium heat until salmon is flaky.

6. Remove salmon from the skillet.

Pasta Sauce

1. To the same, now empty, skillet, add chopped sun-dried tomatoes and minced garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

2. Add fresh spinach, and continue cooking and stirring until the spinach wilts, for a couple of minutes.

3. To the skillet with sautéed vegetables, add 1 cup of heavy cream, paprika, red pepper flakes. Bring to simmer. Simmer for about 1 minute, stirring. Season with salt. Add more paprika, if you like.

Pasta

1. Cook penne according to package instructions. Drain.

1. Add cooked and drained pasta to the skillet with the cream sauce. Stir in.

2. Remove skin from the salmon by sliding the fork between the salmon fillet and the skin.

3. Slice salmon into large chunks.

4. Add salmon chunks to the creamy pasta. Stir to combine. Simmer for a minute or more, until the salmon is warmed up and cooked through. The salmon should be flaky.

5. Season with salt, if needed.

Sheet Pan Maple Dijon Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash

Who expects to find butternut squash in summer, let alone summer in MEXICO? Walking into our favourite grocery store in Merida, Yucatan, there were TWO just waiting for us…at the door! No others in sight…was I dreaming? Nope, snatched ’emup fast.20200801_181203

You northerners can watch for them later. This recipe was a keeper. How can you say no to maple syrup and Dijon mustard?

Sheet Pan Maple Dijon Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 lb butternut squash, uncooked, peeled and cubed into 1- or 2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Prepare a large rimmed baking sheet (line it with aluminum foil, as it can be runny)
  2. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk maple syrup and Dijon mustard. 
  4. Dip each chicken thigh on both sides into maple-Dijon mixture and place on a prepared baking sheet, skin side up, leaving space between all chicken thighs.
  5. Add cubed butternut squash into the same bowl with the remaining maple-Dijon mixture, mix to coat, and add butternut squash on the baking sheet around the chicken, in one layer. If you run out of maple-Dijon mixture, whisk a little bit more.
  6. Roast for 30 or 40 minutes at 450 F, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through.

The original recipe called for adding Brussel sprouts, but I had some leftover fresh asparagus. They didn’t turn out as I had hoped….

Egg Roll in a Bowl #1

I made this version of Egg Roll in a Bowl last year and have been using it ever since while we were on the Keto Diet. It is great, but I have recently come across this one which uses a Mr. Lucky Mini Flakes of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. It’s far easier than chopping up all that cabbage…LOL.

The original recipe from Tasha Metcalf with the cabbage is below.

Keto Egg Roll in a Bowl   Tasha Metcalf

Prep Time 5 minutes     Cook Time 15 minutes    Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1-pound ground pork OR chicken
  • 1 head cabbage thinly sliced
  • ½ onion medium, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ¼ cup soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 stalks of green onion

Instructions

Brown ground pork in a large pan or wok over medium heat.

Ensure cabbage and onion is thinly sliced into long strands. Use a spiralizer to cut the vegetables for quickest results.

Add sesame oil and onion to pan with browned ground pork. Mix together and continue cooking over medium heat.

Mix soy sauce, garlic, and ground ginger together in a small bowl. Once onions have browned, add the sauce mixture to the pan.

Immediately add the cabbage mixture to the pan and toss to coat the vegetable and evenly distribute ingredients. Add chicken broth to the pan and mix. Continue cooking over medium heat for three minutes, stirring frequently.

Garnish with salt, pepper, and green onion.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories 268
  • % Daily Value*
  • Total Fat 18g 28%
  • Total Carbohydrates 10g 3%
  • Protein 15g 30%
  • * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

10 Minute Canned Salmon Salad

Just in time for summer, maybe…LOL. This is not your traditional salmon salad. I prefer sockeye when I can get it, but you could use whatever you can find. It will last two days in the refrigerator. I am not a canned tuna fan but you could try it…

20200528_180418

10 Minute Canned Salmon Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 package (10 oz) carrot matchsticks* (I used two whole carrots julienned)
  • 3 large bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 3 oz jar capers, drained**
  • 2 cans (8 oz each) wild salmon
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • 2 large avocados, diced

Instructions

In a large mixing bowl, add carrots, bell peppers and capers. Mash salmon a bit with a fork inside the can and add to the salad.

Add parsley, salt, pepper, mayo, Greek yogurt and gently toss to coat. Add avocado and give a few more stirs. Serve cold.

Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Notes

*A few cups of coarsely shredded carrots would work. **Use any pickled goodies like asparagus, beans, olives etc.

Cauliflower Jalapeno Mac n Cheese

Who doesn’t like macaroni and cheese, whether it be Canada’s KD (Kraft Dinner) or any number of restaurant style macaroni and cheese dishes? One of our fav restaurants in Merida, Yucatan – Merci, does a wonderful macaroni and cheese with jumbo shrimp! What’s not to love about that? Of course, when you do KETO, you avoid pasta, But, since we are now only KC (Keto conscious) we have a little leeway. Don’t tell your family it is KETO. They do not need to know. This is undoubtedly a new fav recipe, with a touch of jalapeno (optional).

20200327_184353

KETO Cauliflower Jalapeno Mac n Cheese with Bacon

Ingredients (Vegans, omit bacon)

  • 1 large head cauliflower cut into small bites
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese I use a cheddar blend
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 5 strips of uncured bacon cooked and crumbled (bacon grease reserved)*
  • 3 teaspoons bacon grease melted
  • 2 jalapeño peppers minced (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons hot water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: fresh cilantro for garnish

Instructions

  1. Add the cauliflower florets to a microwave safe bowl with a plate (or paper plate) on top Microwave for 7-8 minutes or until slightly tender (or your desired texture). You can steam it instead, if you don’t have or want to use a microwave, but I wouldn’t boil it, it might be too watery.
  2. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a saucepan over medium. Add in the butter and bacon grease, then sauté the jalapeño peppers until tender, should take just about 2-3 minutes. Add in the cream cheese and stir until melted. Add the remaining ingredients and still until well combined and all the cheese has melted.
  3. Add in 1-2 tablespoons of hot water if needed, to reach your desired consistency.
  4. Once the cauliflower is cooked through, you don’t need to drain it or pat it dry. The small amount of moisture will be perfect with this sauce, which as I mentioned, is on the thicker side. Pour cauliflower in the skillet and mix well to coat each piece, then serve.
  5. Optional: Garnish with fresh cilantro and/or crumbled bacon.
  6. Store leftovers in the fridge for a few days. It reheats beautifully in the microwave or stovetop.

Notes

The amount of jalapeño pepper that you use is entirely up to you, and will depend personal preference. I would recommend using 2 jalapeño peppers for a mild to medium level of heat and flavor. If you’re like me and love a spicy kick and a stronger jalapeño flavor, you’ll want to use a bit more.