Cooking

Easy Chicken Thighs in Peanut Sauce and Cookbook Review

chicken thighs in peanut sauce with green beans

The Ultimate One-Pan Oven Cookbook – Book Review

I recently had Julia Konovalova’s cookbook, The Ultimate One-Pan Oven, sent to me to review from Food Bloggers of Canada. I prepared one dish from the book for my review: Easy Chicken Thighs in Peanut Sauce with Green Beans. It was soooo good. I’ve tried a lot of homemade peanut sauces over the years, with most recipes being duds, but this one was tasty and full of flavour. If you’re interested in family-friendly, easy and delicious recipes, read on.

The Ultimate One-Pan Oven Cookbook was written by blogger Julia Konovalova, creator of Imagelicious. I have to admit, this is my first cookbook review. I have been reading cookbooks since I was a little girl, and somehow thought this would be a fun and easy activity. Well, of course, browsing through any cookbook is fun, but reviewing one is not as easy as I thought.

I realized as I was going through this book, that there is a lot more to a good cookbook than just the recipes. Everything about the book has to make you want to use it: the photos, the names of the recipes, the layout of the book, the style of writing, the categories of recipes and of course, the recipe instructions.

I will break my review down into the categories mentioned above.

The Photos

Every recipe in this book is complimented with an eye-popping, mouth-watering photograph. I love that the photographs are light and bright and really expose the natural look of each dish and are not over edited. The dishes look just the way they would on your kitchen table at suppertime. And that’s nice.

Recipe Names

While browsing through the cookbook, I was drooling over the food adjective-heavy names. She includes recipes such as Cocoa-Rubbed Pork Back Ribs with Chocolate BBQ Sauce, or Roasted Berries with Orange Mascarpone. The names, ingredients, accoutrements – so simple, so delicous-sounding.

Layout

I really like the layout of this book. The book starts out with a short two-page intro of how Julia got interested in cooking, as well as what she likes and doesn’t like. This helps the reader decide quite early on if they’re on the same page as the author. Julia doesn’t like stress in the kitchen. She likes healthy family-friendly recipes with minimal effort and washing up. Also, the abundance of photos really entices the reader to use the book.

Writing Style

Julia’s experience as a food blogger is evident in the personal anecdotes she includes at the beginning of every recipe. She always has a nice paragraph at the beginning of every recipe explaining what she loves about a particular ingredient in the recipe on the page. Her comments and dialogue are very insightful and help us get to know her and learn what is important to her: her family, fresh produce and a no-muss no-fuss style of cooking. This book is so perfect for people that love home cooked meals, but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen preparing and cooking dinner.

Categories

I love the categories in this book. Because this book is primarily savoury dishes, with ten sweet dishes at the end, all baked in a pan in the oven, it could be challenging to divide the recipes into interesting and different groups. But her categories are brilliant: Oven-Made Breakfasts, Complete One-Pan Oven Meals; Hands-Off Main Dishes, Simple Soups, Salads and Sandwiches, Easy Sides, One Pan, Many Nibbles and ending with Delicious and Unique Desserts.

Recipe Instructions

The instructions are clear and precise. I like how she uses metric and imperial measurements, as we Canadians still use a mix of both.

She also has many helpful Notes at the bottom of the recipe.

 

chicken thighs in peanut sauce with green beans

If you’re looking for a cookbook as a gift this Christmas, definitely have a browse through this book. It is full of imagination, creativity and some very delicious meals anyone would be happy to prepare for suppertime.

Here’s a link to her cookbook on Amazon.ca The Ultimate One-Pan Oven Cookbook by Julia Konovalova.

Easy Chicken Thighs in Peanut Sauce with Green Beans

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 30

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup 45g smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp (60 ml) orange juice
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) Sriracha (I used Sambal Olek)
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 lb (340 g) green beans
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (218 C). While the oven is preheating, mix 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the olive oil with the peanut butter, lemon juice, orange juice, soy sauce, and Sriracha in a bowl. (Julia mentions that she likes to use a small glass jug for this. She recommends heating the sauce ingredients, as it's much easier to mix when the peanut butter is warm).

2

Place the chicken thighs in the middle of a 11 X 17 inch or 28 X 43 cm nonstick baking pan. You need room for all the ingredients to spread out. Make sure that the chicken thighs are fully flattened. Pour half the sauce over the thighs, then flip and pour the rest of the sauce, making sure that it fully covers the chicken. Alternately, you could mix the thighs in a bowl with the sauce. However, that would add one extra dish to your washing up.

3

Spread the green beans around the chicken thighs in one layer. Pour the remaining 1 tbsp (30 ml) of olive oil over the green beans, season with salt and pepper to taste and lightly mix with your hands or tongs to cover them with oil and seasoning.

4

Roast for 30 minutes, or until the chicken thighs are cooked to 165 degrees F (74 C) and the sauce is thickened.

5

Serve with rice, if desired, or double the amount of green beans and cook on a separate pan.

Cooking

Totally Awesome Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Vegetables

turkey meatballs with roasted vegetables

I love turkey but it seems that major holidays are the only times that I think of serving it for dinner. And yet there are plenty of ways to cook turkey without having to roast a whole bird.

I really like using ground turkey (ground chicken would also work if you can’t find turkey) as an alternative to ground beef.  Turkey is very versatile and has a delicate flavour complimented by many other flavours,

turkey meatballs with roasted vegetables

This Totally Awesome Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Vegetables is an easy healthy one-pan dish that you will want to make again and again.

All of the ingredients are cooked all together in one pan: potatoes, autumn vegetables and turkey meatballs. I love dishes like this. While everything is baking in the oven, I can set the table and get drinks ready or sit for 30 minutes and read another chapter in one of my on-going reads.

turkey meatballs with roasted vegetables

The vegetables caramelize slightly in the pan while the turkey meatballs bake to a nice golden brown. Halfway through baking, pour over a tin of cherry tomatoes to create a scrumptious thick tomato sauce.

turkey meatballs with roasted vegetables

This dish is also tasty without the tinned cherry tomatoes…just turkey, veg and potatoes!

With or without the tinned tomatoes, this one-pan dish comes together in a flash and is just SOOOO yummy!

You could also make this dish with either chicken, pork or beef or a mixture if you like.

turkey meatballs with roasted vegetables

This dish is best with a glass of your favourite wine, some baguette and jazz music in the background.

Enjoy!

Totally Awesome Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Vegetables

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 450 g ground turkey
  • 75 g dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced thickly on diagonal
  • 3 plum tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped roughly
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
  • olive oil
  • 1 14 ounce can of cherry tomatoes (optional, but we preferred this dish with the extra tomatoes)

Instructions

1

Oil two 9 X 13 inch trays.

2

Mix together meatball ingredients. Form into 12-16 meatballs.

3

Place meatballs on trays.

4

Place prepared vegetables around meatballs.

5

Drizzle everything with olive oil (about 2 Tbsp)

6

Season with salt and pepper.

7

Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes. If you want, pour one 14 ounce can of cherry tomatoes over all of the vegetables and meatballs.

8

Continue to cook for another 20 minutes. Meatballs and vegetables will be golden brown.

Cooking

Quick and Spicy Chicken Wings Recipe

spicy chicken wings

Chicken Wings are one of the easiest and quickest meals anyone can make. You can buy chicken wings all year round from your local supermarket, which is great. Also, they’re inexpensive and quick to prepare and cook: no chopping, marinating or deboning.  And they’re finger foods. Who doesn’t love that!

Normally I bake them slathered in barbeque sauce, but I wanted to try and get crispier chicken wings. This Quick and Spicy Chicken Wings recipe works a charm.

spicy chicken wings

My Quick and Spicy Chicken Wings are super quick to prepare. They are seasoned with a balanced combination of spices and herbs including chili powder, chipotle chili pepper, oregano and a few others. The cayenne pepper is adjustable. I used 1/2 a teaspoon, but if you are making these for wee ones, just leave it out. It’s not super hot, just a nice warm flavour, but too much heat for small ones.

spicy chicken wings

This recipe makes about 1/4 cup of spice mixture. You could also multiply the recipe by 3 or 4 and keep it in a jar and just measure out 1/4 cup every time you make wings. You could also sprinkle a bit of this spicy mixture on chicken breasts to use in wraps or fajitas.

For a fantastic finger food dinner, serve these up with some veggies, pita bread and hummous or one of your favourite dips. Then you could eat the whole dinner with your fingers! Less dishes, more time for fun!

 

 

spicy chicken wings

Enjoy!

Quick'nSpicy Chicken Wings

Print Recipe
Serves: 3-4 Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of chicken wings (rinsed and patted dry)
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 2 tsp chipotle chili pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 T dark brown sugar

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

2

Mix spices together.

3

In a large bowl, sprinkle spices over chicken wings.

4

Coat the wings with the spice mixture with your hands.

5

Place the seasoned chicken wings on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

6

Bake for 45 minutes, turning once after about 20 minutes.

7

Bake until a deep golden colour.

8

Serve hot or room temperature.

Notes

Chicken wings give off a bit of oil when cooking. When you're turning them over, just place them on a clean portion of the parchment paper.

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Jamaican Jerk Pork Sandwiches Recipe

jamaican jerk pork sandwiches

Summery weather is slowly fading, but we’ll still be able to barbecue for awhile. While I love everything about summertime: the warm weather, flowers bursting with colour, camping and barbecuing, I also love autumn.

My husband and I always loved camping, especially in the late summer or early fall, when the lakes had warmed up, the bugs had mostly left and the evenings were warm and still.  And whenever we camped, we always made Jamaican Jerk Pork.

It was fun getting ready for our camping trips. We would make the Jerk marinade the night before our trip, a family tradition, like making fruitcake at Christmastime.

Arriving at the campground too was always exciting. We would set up our tent and make it cozy with our foamies, sleeping bags and pillows. Luke would hang the clothes line and I would get the fire ready for dinner.

Homemade Jamaican Jerk Pork is so perfect for the barbecue, or campfire. Marinated cubes of pork in a spicy, aromatic marinade made with scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, fresh thyme and other ingredients. It is pure heaven. We always served the jerk pork in pita bread or wraps with fresh juicy local-grown tomatoes and crisp iceberg lettuce. The heat of the jerk with the fresh coolness of the vegetables are a perfect match.

ingredients for jamaican jerk pork sandwiches

Jamaican Jerk is really easy to make with white and green onion, thyme, soy sauce, oil and a few pantry spices.

herbs and spices for jamaican jerk pork sandwiches

All the ingredients go into the food processor to get finely chopped and mixed together.

Barbecuing the pork is super easy. You can barbecue the pork cubes either on skewers, or in a perforated pan that’s designed for barbeques. I usually wrap the pita bread in tin foil and heat it gently by the fire.

jamaican jerk pork sandwiches

When the pork cubes are finished cooking, fill some pita bread or a wrap with pork cubes, grilled pineapple, tomato and lettuce.

So perfect!

Jerk Pork

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 12 hours + 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallion
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground jamaican pimento (allspice)
  • 1/ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 hot pepper, finely ground (see Note)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon cidre or white vinegar
  • 3 pounds pork tenderloin
  • tomatoes
  • lettuce
  • pita bread
  • condiments such as BBQ sauce or salsa

Instructions

1

Place all ingredients (except pork) in a food processor and blitz until everything is finely chopped.

2

Cube pork. Mix pork cubes and jerk marinade together. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

3

Next day, thread cubes of pork on skewers and barbecue until meat registers 145 degrees F on a cooking thermometer. Meanwhile, warm pita bread in low oven (about 300 degrees) for about 10 minutes. Or, if you are cooking outdoors, wrap the pita in tin foil and place on top of grate to warm up. Don't get them too hot or they will just toast.

4

Place jerk pork in a bowl and serve with diced tomatoes, chopped lettuce and pita bread cut in half and popped open. Alternatively, you can place ingredients on top of pita and just roll up. Serve with your choice of barbecue sauce or salsa if you like.

Notes

The peppers you choose will depend on how spicy you want the jerk marinade. The most common hot peppers available in supermarkets are: jalapeno (mild to hot), serrano (hot), habanero (very hot), bird's eye chill peppers (very very hot). And remember! when working with fresh peppers, be extra careful and never rub your eyes, nose, or mouth when working with peppers. Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after cutting the peppers up. Another thing that works very well for seasoning this marinade is to add a tablespoon of a good store bought jerk marinade (such as The Shizzle Sauce (VooDoo Hot), Walkerswood, or Pikkapeppa Jerk Sauce, to name a few) and add a tablespoon to your homemade marinade. The store bought sauce won't go bad for months (unlike peppers) and adds extra flavour as well as some heat. You could also freeze tablespoons of sauce or peppers and they will keep for months in the freezer. Thaw them on the counter or microwave on low to soften up to use. You might wonder - well why not just use store bought jerk sauce? Because I still think this homemade sauce is better than any store bought sauce.

Recipe adapted slightly from Jerk, Barbecue from Jamaica by Helen Willinsky.

Cooking

Armenian Red Lentil and Apricot Soup Recipe

vegetables for Armenian Red Lentil and Apricot Soup The days are getting shorter, the nights cooler. Sweaters are coming out of their storage bins, light ones first. The heavy wool ones will come later. The rain jackets are hung in the front closet. Rain boots are placed in the hallway near the door. Autumn is coming.

Cooler weather also means new menus. So, I’m filling my pantry and freezer with new ingredients for these approaching autumn days: pasta for comforting macaroni and cheese and hearty lasagna, beans for chili and soups, and dried fruit, nuts and a multitude of flours for baking – cookies, squares and pies. And I’m filling my downstairs freezer with big containers of soup stock.

Armenian Red Lentil and Apricot Soup
This Armenian Red Lentil and Apricot Soup is a perfect seguay into our autumn menus. The earthy onions, carrots and lentils remind us of the approaching coolness, while the flavour of the sweet apricots tug at the memory of the summer weather that hasn’t completely ended.

Apricots have always been very special in Armenia, as their scientific name, Prunus Armeniaca, or Armenian prunes, shows. They have grown in Armenia for many centuries. A recent dig at an ancient village found apricot cores that were over 3,000 years old!

So, it goes without saying, that Armenians use apricots in many of their dishes.. During apricot season, women make jams, marmalades, even homemade apricot vodka. After the season has ended, apricots are places on balconies and rooftops to dry in the sun to be used whole or made into apricot leather. Armenians want their precious apricots to last until the next season.

This soup is very tasty and also very nutritious. This soup provides an excellent source of iron, protein, folate, B vitamins, Vitamins A and C as well as potassium. Not bad for one bowl of soup.

You can use store bought of homemade vegetable stock. If you want to make your own vegetable stock, you can find my recipe here.

If anyone had any doubts about vegan food – whether it’s tasty, nutritious or filling – one bowl of this soup would settle that argument. I hope you enjoy my Armenian Red Lentil and Apricot Soup.

Enjoy!

Armenian Red Lentil and Apricot Soup

Print Recipe
Serves: 4-6 Cooking Time: 40-60 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots (200 grams), peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup apricots, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 2/3 cup red lentils, washed
  • 1 litre vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • a handful of parsley, chopped

Instructions

1

Saute the onions and carrots. When almost soft, add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2

Add apricots and cumin powder and cook until aromatic.

3

Add tomato puree.

4

Then add the lentils, vegetable broth and thyme.

5

Bring the soup up to a boil, and then simmer for about 20 minutes.

6

Take the soup off the heat. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

7

Either blitz half of the soup in the blender, or use a hand held mixer, and blitz a bit, but make sure it's not entirely pureed.

8

Serve in bowls with parsley sprinkled on top.

 

 

 

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Orange Soy Honey Tofu Marinade for BBQ

cubes of tofu marinating in orange soy honey tofu marinade

 

Like most families, we love to barbecue on the weekends. But sometimes I get tired of eating so much meat. My husband suggested we try marinating and grilling tofu on the barbecue. So, I came up with this Orange Soy Honey Tofu Marinade for the Barbecue. It’s really good – I think you’ll like it. It has sweetness from the orange juice and honey, saltiness from the soy and lots of extra flavour bits like ginger, garlic. Yum!

Tofu, for those of you who are not familiar is made from coagulated soy milk. It has been made for thousands of years beginning in China. The story goes that a cook once accidentally curdled some soy milk and … tofu was born.

Tofu is fantastic for soaking up flavours of sauces and marinades. Which is why this marinade works so well with tofu. All the flavours of orange, soy, honey, ginger, and sesame oil soak right into the porous soy cubes. This marinade also works in stir-fries as a sauce with chicken or tofu if you do not barbecue, or it’s raining or it’s wintertime. Just use with your favourite stir-fry combination. Or keep checking my website, and I’ll try and post a recipe soon!

Tofu is a super healthy meat alternative. In a 100 gram serving (about 1/2 a cup) there are 70 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 8.2 grams of protein and about 350 mg of calcium, which is about 20% of our daily needs. When compared with chicken or steak, it is much lower in calories and much higher in calcium. It is lower in protein than chicken or steak, but one serving is ample enough.

grilled tofu with orange soy honey marinade

The tofu caramelizes to a lovely golden brown on the barbeque. It’s very difficult to cook it this way on the stovetop, which makes barbequing that much more exciting!

Before you begin making this dish, you should press the tofu to remove any extra liquid. When pressed, the tofu is less apt to fall apart on the barbeque. Place the tofu in a shallow bowl and cover by a small plate. Place a weight on top of the plate. You could use a can of tomatoes, a small bag of sugar, anything that weighs about 1 kg. Leave the tofu like that for about 60 minutes. Drain away the liquid, then place the pressed tofu in a container with the Orange Soy Honey Tofu Marinade to soak up all those yummy flavours.

Barbecue on a medium heat until golden brown all over, turning often. Brush on additional marinade as it cooks.

Enjoy!

Orange Soy Honey Tofu Marinade for BBQ

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 15-20

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 450 g container of tofu

Instructions

1

Press tofu to remove extra liquid. Place tofu in a shallow bowl. Place a small plate on top. On top of the plate, place an object that weighs about 1 kg (large can of tomatoes, small bag of sugar etc.). Leave for about 60 minutes.

2

Drain away extra liquid.

3

Chop the garlic and ginger finely.

4

Add all other ingredients into microwavable bowl.

5

Place in microwave for about 30 seconds, until the honey and orange juice concentrate are melted.

6

Stir all ingredients together.

7

Pour over tofu.

8

Place in refrigerator for about 2-3 hours.

9

Grill on medium heat on barbeque. Baste with extra marinade.

10

Turn tofu a few times until each cube is a nice golden brown.

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Lemony Greek Horiatiki Pasta Salad Recipe

greek horiatiki pasta salad in a bowl

This Lemony Greek Horiatiki Pasta Salad fits the bill for a meal anywhere, anytime., especially picnics. If you have been following my blog, you will know that I love picnic food and this salad is perfect for a picnic at the beach, in a park or on a mountain hike. Of course, it is also a treat as a packed lunch during the week. Chock full of veg, crispy red onion, briny black olives, salty feta, tangy tomatoes and vinaigrette infused pasta, this salad is sure to have your family reaching for more!

greek horiatiki pasta salad
This Lemony Greek Horiatiki Pasta Salad is also perfect as it solves the question: pasta? or salad? So, with this easy to pull-together meal, you get both.

My friend, Bonnie, and I visited Greece many years ago during our year long adventure. You can read more about our travels here. I had chosen Greece as the warm place that I wanted to spend my always cold January birthday. I can still recall the briny olives, the creamy, salty feta and the anise scented bread that we ate there at many outdoor cafes.

greek horiatiki pasta salad in a bowl

Feta cheese is a very important component of greek food. And this Lemony Greek Horiatiki Pasta Salad is loaded with feta. While we were in Greece, we worked at an orange orchard picking oranges to make some money so we could continue travelling. We would walk over to the orange orchards in the morning. We worked alongside local greek women. Everyday they would bring homemade greek bread and big hunks of creamy, salty sheep’s milk feta cheese for lunch, as well as bottles of red wine. Heavenly! And so kind!

There are many different types of feta cheese available in Canada and other countries around the world. It’s very difficult to get true greek feta cheese outside of Greece as they just don’t produce enough. Head over here, if you would like to read up on the various types and what makes them different.

I’ve included a really handy tip in this recipe for people like myself who enjoy onions, but just wish they were a little milder. If you soak diced red onions for ten minutes in boiling water, it removes the strong, bitter onion flavour, but maintains the crunch and the sweeter milder flavour of onions. I love this technique. This is a trick I learned from Emiko Davies in her cookbook Florence, by Emik0 Davies. 

This salad really comes together in a snap. While the pasta is cooking, you can slice the tomatoes, cube the cucumbers, crumble the feta and drain the olives. After you have drained the pasta, pour in the lovely veg, drizzle on the vinaigrette and lunch is ready!

You can eat this salad slightly warm or at room temperature.

Kali Orexi!!

Lemony Greek Horiatiki Pasta Salad

Print Recipe
Serves: 4-6 Cooking Time: 15-20

Ingredients

  • 250 grams pasta
  • 200 grams cucumbers, cubed
  • 50 grams black olives, sliced and drained
  • 150 grams cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 200 grams feta cheese
  • 50 grams red onions, chopped fine (soaked in boiled water for 10 minutes)
  • Vinaigrette
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

1

Cook pasta according to package instructions.

2

As pasta is cooking, cube the cucumbers, drain the black olives, slice the cherry tomatoes.

3

Soak the red onion in boiling water for 10 minutes. This maintains the crunch of the red onion, but removes the strong onion flavour. Omit if you prefer a strong onion taste.

4

Mix together vinaigrette.

Notes

This recipe will serve about 4 people. If you have some big eaters or soccer players in your family, or really like having leftovers for lunches, please double this recipe.

 

Cooking

Fragrant Thai Chicken with Chilies and Basil

thai chicken with chilies and basil with rice on a plate

Thai Chicken with Chilies and Basil is the perfect comfort food. Tender pieces of bite-sized chicken nestled in a fragrant spicy sauce with basil added at the end. Served over top of a mound of rice completes this dish.

This dish, Thai Basil Chicken is considered comfort food in Thailand. I read about this dish when I was following the news story about the Thai soccer boys trapped in a cave. One of the boys said that the first dish he wanted his mom to cook for him was ‘Gai Pad Krapow’ (Thai Basil Chicken).

ingredients for thai chicken with chilies and basil

Comfort food is so very personal. We have a few favourites in our house and they always hit the spot when I serve them at dinnertime. Comfort food can be personal or cultural. It can also be sentimental and remind us of dishes our moms cooked when we were little.  I often prepare our family’s favourite comfort dishes after a stressful week, during a blustery cold winter day or even for a celebration. And my family is always happy when I do. Even the aroma of these dishes cheers everyone up.

After following the news story of the thai boys, and learning a bit about Thai people, I was eager to sample comfort food from Thailand. This comfort dish is made from garlic, sambal oelek, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, chicken and basil. And it’s a snap to prepare.  In Thailand, they make this dish with Holy Basil, which is extremely difficult, if not impossible to find outside of Thailand. I used regular basil from the local supermarket and it tasted delicious. In Thailand they also use local chilies, but I like using sambal oelek, as there is no chopping involved and it is very easy to adjust the amount of heat I want to add to the dish.

Thai Chicken with Chilies and Basil is so delicious. One bite combines a hit of chilies, tender chicken pieces, sweet herbal basil, comforting rice and aromatic fish sauce. It may actually become a new comfort food for our family.

thai chicken with chilies and basil and rice

What’s your comfort food? Write back and let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

Fragrant Thai Chicken with Chilies and BAsil

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 6 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-2 Tbsp sambal oelek
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 large handful of fresh basil, chopped

Instructions

1

Prep all your ingredients: cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, peel and crush the garlic, measure out the sambal oelek, stir together the soy sauce, fish sauce and sugars and wash and chop the basil.

2

Pour some oil into a frying pan or wok. Add garlic and sambal oelek. Saute until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds or so.

3

Add the chicken. Saute on medium until the chicken is cooked, about 5-8 minutes.

4

When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, add the soy, fish sauce and sugar mixture. Stir this mixture and continue cooking on medium, until everything is mixed thoroughly.

5

Stir in the basil and then remove from heat.

6

Serve over jasmine rice.

 

 

Cooking

Sweet’n’Spicy Asian Chicken BBQ Marinade with Sake

asian chicken on a barbeque

I’m sure most people will agree with me that there is nothing more summery than cooking outdoors on the barbeque!

Living in Canada with four distinct seasons, means that each season is only about 3 months long, June, July and August are the warmest months of the year, so we like to cram in as much outdoor activities during these months as possible. So, lots of bike rides, swimming, picnics at the beach and farmer market visits. And for mealtimes, it’s all about barbequing out on the patio.

ingredients for asian chicken marinade

This Asian Chicken BBQ Marinade with Sake ticks all the boxes for a lively summery grilled chicken dinner. Nothing says big flavour like this combination of sweet asian pear and honey, aromatic ginger, green onions and sake, salty soy, nutty sesame oil and spicy sambal oelek!

When I was growing up, my Dad mostly barbecued hotdogs and hamburgers. And that’s fun, if you’re in a pinch for time or cooking for four very hungry kids. But my favourite barbeque dinners are with meats that have marinated for hours and then grilled to perfection. In my house we all have our favourites, jerk pork, steaks coated with a sizzling spice mix or my favourite – marinated chicken.

Chicken is the perfect vehicle for a marinade as it is a milder meat than beef or pork. After marinating for a few hours, grilled chicken comes out moist and tender with a crispy exterior brimming with flavour.

grilled chicken breast on plate with meat thermometer

Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees fahrenheit and the juices should run clear.

And my favourite part about barbequing chicken is coming up with new maraindes. Marinades really up the game when barbequing adding lovely sweet, spicy, salty, boozy flavours.

This marinade is so simple and easy to make. All the liquid ingredients are poured directly into the blender. Chop the asian pear, green onion, ginger and garlic and throw them in too. Blitz the marinade on high for 3-4 minutes until it is very smooth and then pour over the chicken to marinate for a couple of hours. Then you’re ready for grilling.

asian chicken on a bed of lettuce

I hope you enjoy this Asian Chicken Marinade.

Quick'n'Easy Asian Chicken BBQ Marinade with Sake

Print Recipe
Serves: 4-8 Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1\4 cup sake
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 1-2 tablespoons sambal oelek
  • 1 asian pear

Instructions

1

Measure all liquid ingredients into blender.

2

Add chopped garlic, green onions, ginger and asian pear into blender.

3

Blitz for about 3-4 minutes until smooth.

4

Place chicken in a plastic container or freezer bag or glass bowl.

5

Pour marinade over chicken. Cover.

6

Place in refrigerator for 3-4 hours.

7

Remove chicken and place on plate.

8

Simmer remaining marinade in a pot for 10 minutes. Use this marinade to brush on chicken while barbequing.

9

Grill the chicken on barbeque until thermometer reads 165 degrees fahrenheit.

10

Serve on a bed of lettuce with a simple oil and vinegar dressing. You can also serve this grilled asian chicken on italian or ciabatta buns with your favourite toppings such as lettuce, tomato and raosted red peppers and barbeque sauce.

adapted slightly from Sauces by Steven Raichlen

 

Cooking

Tuscan Tuna, Bean, Tomato Salad

tuscan bean salad in a bowl

My Tuscan Tuna, Bean, Tomato Salad is as delicious as it is nutrient-dense. This Tuscan Tuna, Bean, Tomato Salad contains beans and tuna for protein, torn naan bread for carbs, tomatoes and herbs for fibre and vitamins and is sprinkled with olive oil and red wine vinegar. The olive oil will keep the salad moist, keep you filled longer and provides numerous health benefits.tuscan tuna, bean, tomato salad in a bowl

I created this recipe last week when the temperature hit an all-time high of 47 degrees celsius in Ottawa. That is the hottest day I have ever experienced, and that includes visiting Hawaii in August!  I was inspired to make a Tuscan salad after leafing through Emiko Davis’s cookbook, Florentine. So many of her Tuscan recipes feature so many of my favourite  ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil, onions, fresh herbs, country bread, and beans.

tuscan tuna, bean, tomato salad in a bowl

I love italian food, but Tuscan recipes are even more special.  Everything is so simple, and yet come together so naturally, like all the ingredients belong together. This simple salad can be prepared in about 10 minutes with a tin of tuna and beans, fresh cherry tomatoes and some other pantry supplies.

This salad is perfect for a light backyard lunch, a picnic at the beach or a packed lunch. Whatever the occasion, this salad’s fresh flavours and contrasting textures will provide you with a delicious nutritious lunch.

This salad would also work with  garbanzo beans (chick peas) or romano beans, if you don’t have pinto beans. I’m just partial to pinto beans. You can make this salad vegan by eliminating the cheese and tuna. Then increase the other ingredients by about one third.

tuscan tuna, bean, tomato salad in a bowl

Tuscan Tuna, Bean, Tomato Salad

Print Recipe
Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 100 grams pinto beans
  • 100 grams tuna, in oil, drained
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters
  • about 12 basil leaves, or a few squeezes of basil paste
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • a drizzle of red wine vinegar
  • a pinch of coarsely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 a naan bread, torn into pieces

Instructions

1

Drain and rinse the pinto beans.

2

Drain the tuna.

3

Add the pinto beans and tuna to a bowl. Add the cut up cherry tomatoes. Add the basil.

4

Tear up some naan bread, and add to the bowl.

5

Drizzle over some olive oil and a bit of red wine vinegar. I usually like a bit more oil than vinegar.

6

Mix everything loosely with your fingers.

7

Sprinkle parmesan cheese over top.

adapted from Florentine by Emiko Davies

Cooking

Sweet Potato Noodles with Beef and Vegetables

Korean Sweet Potato Noodles with Beef and Vegetables

This dish, Sweet Potato Noodles with Beef and Vegetables, is a real family favourite. It has everything an asian stir-fry should have: sweet and salty sauce, crisp stir-fried vegetables and these amazing sweet potato noodles. So good.

I got this recipe from my friend, Kana, who I met years ago when we both lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our family had moved to Halifax for my husband to do his medical internship. Kana and her family had come to Canada for two years to learn English as well as Canadian culture. In a very short time, Kana and I realized we both loved cooking.

We were both eager to learn cooking from each other’s country. We started getting together every Friday for ‘East-West Cooking’ Classes in each other’s kitchens. While our children played together, Kana and I would cook Japanese family favourites in her kitchen: sushi, sukiyaki, rice balls and other fantastic Japanese dishes. On other Fridays, she would come to our house and we would make meatloaf, roast chicken or nachos. Our kids and husbands loved this arrangement. I think our most fun day was when we made gingerbread houses just before Christmas.

Sweet Potato Noodles are fantastic to be know about, because, just like rice noodles, they’re perfect for vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets. The only ingredient for these noodles is sweet potato starch. Personally, I find sweet potato noodles easier to cook than rice noodles. For me, rice noodles always seem just seconds between being not done to overdone. If you have any suggestions on cooking rice noodles, please send them my way!

Sweet Potato Noodles are VERY long. When Kana taught me this dish she just snipped the cooked noodles into shorter pieces with her scissors. I still do it this way as it’s super easy.  You could break the noodles up when you put them in the pot, but I just pull up a bunch of almost cooked noodles with my tongs and snip away until they all look a good length.

This dish is fantastic for a picnic or potluck dinner as it tastes amazing at room temperature. You can eat it hot, but it tastes fine even after it has cooled down.

If you would like to make a vegan/vegetarian version, just replace the beef either with sauteed tofu, or double up on the vegetables. You won’t miss the beef at all.

Korean Sweet Potato Noodles with Beef and Vegetables

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • one package of Korean Sweet Potato Noodles
  • 1 pound stir-fry beef
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 250 grams mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 carrots, thinly cut
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • Sauce: 3 tbsp sugar, 4 tablespoons soy sauce, 2-3 tablespoons stock.

Instructions

1

Put a large pot of water onto boil.

2

When water comes to a boil, add noodles.

3

Cook noodles for about 10 minutes until they taste soft but not soggy.

4

When noodles are done, snip them with scissors, until they are all about 10 inches long.

5

Rinse noodles.

6

While you are cooking the noodles, get a large wok out to cook the beef and vegetables.

7

Saute beef in a wok, until no longer pink, and then place in a bowl while you cook the vegetables.

8

Add onions and saute until soft. Add mushrooms and continue to saute until softened slightly.

9

Add carrots. Put lid on the wok until the carrots have softened.

10

Add broccoli florets. Put the lid back on for a couple of minutes until the broccoli is almost done.

11

Add beef back to the wok.

12

Add noodles to wok.

13

In a small bowl, add sugar, soy sauce and stock.

14

Pour sauce into wok.

15

Toss everything together with tongs. Serve hot or room temperature. Keep leftovers in fridge for up to 3 days.

Notes

You can also use other vegetables such as spinach, green beans, snow peas or red peppers.

Korean Sweet Potato Noodles with Beef and Vegetables

 

 

Cooking/ Preserves

Syrian Muhammara Red Pepper Dip

muhammara dip with vegetables and crackers on a platterI made this Syrian Muhammara Red Pepper Dip recently for my family and everyone loved it.

With spring and summer weather just around the corner, I am building up my repertoire of dips, spreads and salad dressings etc. for summer barbeques, picnics and pool parties.

close up of muhammara dip

This dip has a beautiful red hue as well as contrasting flavours with the crunchy walnuts, smoky, silky smooth roasted red peppers and rich earthy cumin. This recipe is a surefire winner. It’s a vegan dish and is perfect for taking to someone’s house for a potluck. My recipe is not gluten free, as it has breadcrumbs in it. However, I’m sure it would be fine it you left them out. The texture would just be a bit different.

This dip is popular in Syria as well as Turkey. Syria, is bordered by Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. These countries blend the cuisines of western Asia, Eastern Mediterranean, northeast Africa and northwest of the Arabian Peninsula which makes the food from these countries very, very interesting. I don’t really know much about this region, but some of the ingredients from this region that I am familiar with motivate me to learn more.

Muahammara is a common dish that many families in Syria or Turkey eat almost daily.  Many women in that part of the world keep peppers in the freezer to have on hand so they can whip up this dip if someone pops by for a visit.

muhammara dip on a platter with vegetables and crackersSome people make this with garlic, but I decided to leave it out, as I put garlic in so many recipes. I really wanted to taste the other ingredients. But you can add in a chopped clove of garlic if you wish.

Muhammara is seasoned with lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper. You can adjust those flavours as you like them.

I hope you enjoy this dish! Let me know how you like it.

 

muhammara dip with raw vegetables on a plate

Syrian Muhammara Red Pepper Dip

Print Recipe
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 285 ml jar of roasted red peppers, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup of toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt to taste

Instructions

1

Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet until fragrant and slightly golden brown.

2

Place red peppers, walnuts, bread crumbs, molasses, lemon juice, cumin and cayenne pepper in food processor.

3

Pulse until smooth, but still coarse.

4

Pour dip into a serving bowl or tupperware container and place in fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes.

5

This dip tastes best after a few hours or even the next day and is best eaten at room temperature.But is still perfectly fine if eaten immediately.

6

Season with salt, and adjust lemon juice and cayenne pepper to your liking.

7

Serve with raw vegetables, crackers and/or pita bread.