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Monday, 29 December 2014

Bacon Wrapped Pork with Mustard Cream Sauce

I'm always looking for new and interesting ways of cooking the everyday ordinary pork chop.  Having some leftover uncooked bacon from Christmas morning inspired me to create this gem tonight for dinner.  Along with some amazing sauce encouraged by my daughter to invent, this was a nice hardy cold winter supper.

As a side, adding some nice herb roasted potatoes to accompany pork chops is always a hit, so I've included that easy recipe as well. Enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops with Mustard Cream Sauce

  • 4 thick cut boneless pork chops
  • 8 pieces uncooked bacon
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp reserved bacon/pork fat
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup white wine or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp flour
Cooking Directions
  1. Sprinkle salt & pepper on both sides of pork chops.
  2. Wrap each chop in 2 pieces of bacon.
  3. Heat olive oil in heavy skillet.
  4. Cook chops (all 4 sides) for about 10 minutes until browned, and bacon almost cooked.
  5. Place in baking pan and continue cooking for another 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  6. Reserve 2 tbsp of fat cooked from pork and bacon.
  7. Combine flour, chicken stock, garlic, honey, and mustard, and cook in the same pan as pork was originally cooking in.
  8. As some of the liquid starts to reduce and thicken, add cream and heat through.
  9. Add white wine and continue cooking until a nice sauce forms.
  10. Plate cooked chops, and pour some of the sauce on chops. Keeping any extra for "gravy" or if more sauce is required.

Herbed Roasted Potatoes

  • 4 white potatoes cubed
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Leaving skin on the potatoes, cut into bite sized cubes and put in baking dish.
  3. Pour olive oil over potatoes and mix until well-coated.
  4. Add all herbs & spices, and mix until well-coated.
  5. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes until edges start to brown and crisp.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

How to Host a Christmas Master-Chef-Chopped Party - Part One

I love the TV shows Masterchef and have recently started enjoying Chopped.  I have done previous cooking challenges with my friends similar to the challenges on the show Masterchef.   There's been one mystery box with normal ingredients, and an hour to cook a surprise main entree for my friends.  

I love doing these challenges because it gives me an opportunity to experiment.  My girlfriends, however, have recently decided I needed a bigger challenge. They suggested that I try to cook a 3 course meal with some "weird" ingredients like the professional chefs do on Chopped.  I am not a professional chef, but nevertheless - I accepted this challenge.

Since they brought me 3 different "mystery boxes" - one for an app, one for a main, and one for dessert.  I had 30 minutes to create and serve the app.  For the main, I had 60 minutes, and for dessert only 30 minutes again.  There was also an additional challenge - each of the boxes contained at least one "festive" item since it's the Christmas season. I could use anything else found in my personal kitchen pantry.

I'm going to blog on this in three different posts - so stay tuned.

Challenge #1 - The appetizer.
Ingredients I was given:

  • Sesame Rice Crisps crackers
  • Chicken cutlets - thinly sliced chicken breasts
  • Fresh cranberries *FESTIVE ITEM
  • After Eight chocolate mints *FESTIVE ITEM
Ingredients I used from my pantry:
  • Goat cheese
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • Honey
  • Orange juice
  • Olive Oil
  • Freshly grated Parmasean cheese
  • Egg slightly beaten
This is what I did:
- in a food processor crushed the crackers and added parm. cheese, salt & pepper
- placed crumbs in a large plastic bag
- coated chicken in egg, then placed in plastic bag to coat with cracker mix
- took small piece of goat cheese, and placed in centre of chicken pieces.

- rolled up chicken over goat cheese
- heated oil in iron skillet, then placed rolled chicken in skillet and cooked, turning now & then until golden brown and cooked right through - about 20 minutes.
- while chicken was cooking, I put cranberries, honey, orange juice and about 8 After Eight chocolates in a medium sauce pan and heated until cranberries were soft and cooked
- placed cranberry sauce on plate, and placed cooked chicken on top. 

*RESULTS: This was a tasty appetizer.  I thought the chocolate might ruin the taste of the cranberries, but it enhanced them.  You could only barely taste the chocolate and mint, but it made the cranberry sauce have a richer flavour.  This challenge was a success. 

Served with a dry white wine - Peller Estates Dry White

Coming next....the main. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Whipped Shortbread

Nothing invokes the onset of Christmas more than shortbread in our family.   I got this recipe from a work colleague when I was 18, and I've been baking shaped shortbread cookies every Christmas since then.

There are very few ingredients, but it creates and light creamy shortbread that soon becomes a favourite.

This year I decided to cut out half the calories and fat - by making the cookies mini size instead of full size cookies.

They can be easily frozen and kept that way until an hour before serving.

The ones I made this year are plain, but I've often sprinkled Christmas coloured sprinkles or coloured sugar.  Another twist is to place half of a maraschino cherry on top prior to baking.

Whipped Shortbread

Recipe by Fluudbloggler
  • 1 pound butter (salted)
  • 2 tbsp shortening
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 4 cups white flour
  • 1 pinch salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Cream butter and shortening together with an electric mixer.

  2. Add a quarter of the flour, a quarter of the icing sugar, and salt, then continue whipping until well incorporated.

  3. Continue alternating the flour, and sugar, whipping until completely mixed.
  4. The dough will be very thick and hard to mix.
  5. Place dough on waxed paper, and mix with hands until very smooth.
  6. Roll the dough into 4 ball.  Roll out the dough between two pieces of waxed paper, to about about 1/2" thick.
  7. Use cookie cutters and cut shapes and place on ungreased baking sheet. 
  8. Bake at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Cookies will be still very pale in colour.

  10. (If you prefer a crisper, golden cookie, bake at 350 for 15 minutes.)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Warm Chicken Stew (Slow Cooker)

Baby it's cold outside!  Today seemed like a perfect day to make a stew.  I didn't have any stewing beef on hand, so decided to make a chicken stew instead.  By adding a few apple pieces, apple cider, and curry, it becomes a little like Mulligatawny soup.  If you don't like the apple or curry go ahead and leave these out and you still have a great cold day meal.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew (Mulligatawny Style)

Recipe by Fluudbloggler
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas*
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn*
  • 3/4 cup uncooked or frozen carrots*
  • 3 tsp Chicken instant stock mix
  • 1/2 cup white flour or cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 apple (optional)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider (optional)
  • 1 tsp curry (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. Cut potatoes and chicken into bite sides cubes and set aside. 

  2. Turn the slow cooker to low, then add water, chicken stock mix (can be substituted for 3 cups chicken stock) and flour.
  3. Whisk until well-blended.
  4. Heat olive oil in a pan/frying pan.
  5. Add onions and garlic, and pan fry until softened.
  6. Put onion mix in slower cooker.
  7. In the same pan, pan fry chicken pieces, until golden, but not fully cooked. About 2 minutes.
  8. Place chicken in slow cooker.
  9. Add remaining ingredients.
  10. Stir until well mixed.
  11. Cook on low at least 4 hours.
  12. *If you have a package of mixed vegetables, you can substitute this for the individual veggies. You can also add additional vegetables that you like such as green beans or edamame.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Lower Fat Coconut Cream Pie

As you may have guessed already, I love dessert.  My family specifically loves pie.  One of our favourites is coconut cream.  However, as the name implies, the CREAM part is loaded with fat and calories.  Every recipe I've ever seen calls for half and half cream or at the very least full fat milk.  I thought I'd try making it at one point with 1% milk.  Guess what? There's not much difference.  It's still a creamy yummy pie.  Don't get me wrong, it's still a desesert that has quite a few calories and fat, but replacing the half and half cream with 1% milk, helps a lot, and you can feel a lot less guilty.

I still opt for the real whipping cream as the topping option, however there are lower fat/caloric options out there, so if you are making this pie, you can use that to top it.

It's a pretty easy recipe, and can be made with either regular pie crust or a graham cracker crust.

Lower Fat Coconut Cream Pie

Recipe by Fluudbloggler
  • 3 cups 1% milk (or reduced fat cream)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour*
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (pure)
  • 1 9 inch pie shell (or graham cracker shell)
  • 1 cup whipped cream or low-fat whipped topping
Cooking Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, eggs sugar, flour (corn starch) and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with whisk. Once it has boiled, continue stirring for another 2 minutes.  It should be nice and thick, and will thicken more on cooling.  
  3. Remove from heat and add 3/4 cup coconut and vanilla.
  4. Pour into cooled pie shell and cool in the fridge at least 2 hours.
  5. Top with whipped topping and and sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup coconut.

  6. To toast coconut: spread it in an ungreased pan and bake at 350 oven for about 10 minutes or until golden, stir now and then.
*if you are looking for a gluten free option, you can use corn starch as the thickening agent, and you can buy gluten free graham crackers for your crust.

For graham cracker crust:

2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

Combine all ingredients, press into pie plate, bake for 20 minutes at 350.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Hand Made Irish Cream

I like a little splash of Irish Cream in my coffee, hot milk, hot chocolate, or vanilla ice cream.  I don`t like how expensive it can be though.  I have tried some of the "wine-based" creams, and while they are fine in a pinch, they still don't have the full-bodied taste of a true Irish Cream.  I recently found a recipe on line that was so easy, I thought I'd try it.  I've seen other "home-made Irish Cream" recipes before, but some of them were complicated, and some of the ingredients difficult to find.  This one is easy, and tastes very rich and creamy.  Don't drink too much, it's strong, it's FULL of calories.  It also can't stay on the shelf without being refrigerated.  Cheers!

Hand-Made Irish Cream

  • 1 2/3 cups whisky any brand (technically you are supposed to use Irish Whisky, but I used Canadian Club)
  • 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp Nesquick (or other chocolate syrup)
  • 2 tbsp strong coffee
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients together in a jug or bowl you can pour easily from.
  2. Blend with immersion blender.
  3. Pour into pretty bottles, or mason jars.
  4. Label (optional).
  5. Refrigerate.
  6. Keeps refrigerated up to two months.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Chicken Curry Caserole

Sorry I have not been posting for a week or so.  I've been on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, seeking out new recipes to try myself.  Alas, I was too busy enjoying them to take any pictures.

And although this recipe here, would never be found on a cruise, it's a great easy comfort food recipe - simple for coming down off vacation mode.


1) I buy chicken breasts in bulk usually.  However, when I get them home, before I put them in the freezer, I wrap each breast individually, then put all of them in a large Ziploc bag.  That way, when I need some chicken, I can thaw out just what I need, and the breasts don't stick together.

2) When cutting up chicken or any meat for a caserolle or stew, I try to cut them before they are completely thawed.  Chicken especially, isn't as "slimy" and it's just a lot easier to cut.

Mild Curry Chicken Casserole

Recipe by Fluudbloggler
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 90 minutes
Total time: 110 minutes
Yield: 4 servings.
  • 3 - 4 skinless chicken breasts (uncooked)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh broccoli (can also use frozen)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp chicken bouillon powder (I use Knorr pictured below)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 tbsp butter (Optional)
  • handful saltine crackers (Optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  2. Cut broccoli into small florets, set aside.
  3. In a medium pan put milk, water, flour, curry, bouillon, and butter.
  4. Whisk until smooth.
  5. Cook over medium heat until slightly thickened.
  6. Put rice in a large bowl.
  7. Pour milk mixture over rice and stir until combined.
  8. Add chicken and broccoli, and stir until well combined.
  9. Pour into casserole dish.
  10. Optional: If you want to have a crispy topping - Fill small Ziploc bag with saltine crackers and crush into fine crumbs using a rolling pin or bottle or if necessary just your hands.
  11. Melt 1 tbsp butter.
  12. Combine crackers and butter, and mix with a fork until crumbly.
  13. Sprinkle over top of casserole.
  14. Cover tightly with tin foil.*
  15. Bake at 350 for 60 minutes, remove tin foil, and continue cooking for another 30 minutes.**
  16. When ready to serve, sprinkle a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese if you wish.
*This is an important step.  I tried making this without covering with tinfoil, and cooking for only 60 minutes.  However, the rice did not cook evenly, and the broccoli ended up being a bit mushy, and the whole dish was a bit dry. The tin foil and additional cooking time, made all the difference. 

**Also important - this is not a make ahead dish.  When mixed together, it's important that you put in the oven right away.  If you don't the rice will absorb too much of the liquid before cooking, and will make your dish dry. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Green Beans with Spicy Cheese Sauce

I've never been much of a fan of vegetables.  My preference is corn.  It's the only vegetable I would say I actually fully liked.  However, I can't live my life - or dare to call myself a "foodie" - just eating corn, so I will experiment with other vegetables.

Sometimes, those vegetables need a little jazzing up.  So while making dinner one night I thought I would make a simple cheese rue. After making it, all I could think of was "been there, done that", so I decided that the simple sauce needed some spicing up.  So I did just that - added spices, and gave it just the kick it needed.

This is a little on the "mild" side, so if you prefer spicy, go ahead and add more.

Spicy Cheese Sauce for Vegetables

Recipe by Fluudbloggler
  • 1 cup Half & Half cream or whole milk
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp goat cheese (yes I said goat cheese, my favourite of the cheeses)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • pinch salt
Cooking Directions
  1. In a small pan mix the flour and cream until smooth.
  2. Cook over medium/low heat until warm, add butter until melted.
  3. Continue cooking until sauce boils and thickens.
  4. Add all spices.
  5. Add both cheeses and whisk until fully melted and creamy.
  6. Pour over any cooked vegetables such as fresh green beans, broccoli, cauliflower.
  7. Keep warm until ready to serve, however, if left on its own it may form a coating on top.  If this happens just use the whisk until creamy again. 
  8. This recipe is enough for at least 4 servings because a little goes a long way.  Any left-over that you can't use right away, can be refrigerated and added to mashed potatoes the next day!
In this particular instance, I used fresh green beans as my vegetable.  I prefer my green beans a little on the crunchy side.  So I usually just pan fry them for about 10 minutes in a little bit of olive oil, with salt & pepper.

Served with Lemon Baked Tilapia and Coconut Rice.