Spanish Rice with Turkey Sausage

Dinner, Quick and easy

Ahhhh cilantro.  The most polarizing herb of them all.   Rarely do you hear someone say “OH MY GOD, I HATE ROSEMARY SO MUCH” In fact I’ve never heard anyone say that because to be honest that would be complete insanity.  Rosemary on roasted potatoes? I defy you to not love that. Come on.   But mention cilantro and you’re probably assaulted with responses ranging from “yummmmm I could eat cilantro on pretty much everything” (me) to “keep it away from me and my children” (Someone who hates cilantro and has kids)

But I love cilantro.  And I use it a lot.  Including in this little weeknight special from a few days ago.  I was trying to get out of my pasta/stir fry/jujubes for dinner every night rut so I branched out a little and went Spanish..? Mexican..? South American..? Or some sort of completely North Americanized version in between.  It may not be authentic (deep thought: what IS authentic anymore? Isn’t everything a beautiful mishmash of five other things? isn’t it wonderful if we’re able to bring together a bunch of different influences in perfect harmony?) but it is delicious and satisfying and bone sticking and also pretty good for you….bonus.

 As with most things I make you can substitute it for whatever your preferred protein is (maybe seared chicken thighs, or even something as crazy as tofu or black beans for the vegetarians in the house) and whatever veggies you choose but the spirit of it remains the same.  One pot.  Magic.

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Ingredients:

2 cups brown rice (I allow about half a cup per person, and then double it because LEFTOVERS!)

4 store bought turkey sausages, casing removed (this is a hilarious process that will make you feel creepy and weird.  it’s ok.  we’re in it together)

1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (if you’re feeling sassy)

1 small white onion, chopped

5-6 roma tomatoes, chopped and seeds removed

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 green onion, minced

1 cup chopped cilantro

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp chilli pepper

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Salt and pepper

1 ½ cups jarred salsa – I used my same old PC Bean and Corn stand by

Juice of ½ lime

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 How to make it:

1) Follow the cooking instructions for the brown rice  – adding 1 tsp of cumin to the cooking water to flavour it

2) Over a medium heat sauce pan, saute onion and turkey until the turkey is cooked through and the onion becomes translucent – about 6 or 7 minutes.  Use your spatula to break up the turkey into bite size pieces as it cooks.

3) Add chopped peppers, jalapeno, tomatoes, garlic, the rest of the cumin, chilli pepper, balsamic and lime juice and stir.

4) Simmer for about 6-7 more minutes, stirring often.

5) Add salsa, stir and cover.

6) Cook for 10 minutes

 7)Remove from heat.  Add rice, feta cheese, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.

8) Top with chopped green onion and a few cilantro leaves and serve.

Enjoy!

 

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Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas

Dinner, Quick and easy

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…CHEESE! I only ever want to eat cheese.  So I’m constantly looking for ways that I can sneak cheese into a meal.  A one-inch thick layer on top of chicken and cheese stuffed tortillas counts as sneaking, right?

I also like to find ways to sneak vegetables into my meals because at the end of the day, who likes vegetables? And I mean REALLY like.  Not tolerate like. I mean would-choose-vegetables-over-cheesy-carbs like.  And anyone who says they’d do that is either a liar or insane.  Either way, no friend of mine.

This is one of those really great meals that can be made with any combination of what you have in your fridge.  Any protein you like.  Any vegetable you “like”.  Any cheese you like.  Which makes it one of those meals that you don’t have to do a grocery shop to prepare for.  And when you’ve got a busy schedule like I do (when your bedtime is 9:15 there’s only so much time to both make and consume dinner in a night) that’s a winning recipe.

This recipe made 4 ginormous enchiladas, but would probably also make about 6-8 l’il guys.  Also, to any readers with Mexican heritage, I KNOW THESE AREN’T ACTUALLY ENCHILADAS! But “tortilla roll ups that go in the oven with cheese on them and some cilantro” didn’t have the same ring to it.

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Ingredients:

2 medium sized chicken breasts, cooked and chopped. Plain or seasoned. Your call

Half a white onion, sliced

1 cup sliced tomatoes (use fresh if you have ’em ripe)

2 cups baby spinach (or baby kale, or both!)

1 tsp cumin

2 cups jarred salsa (I use PC White Corn and Bean Salsa)

2 tbsp tomato paste

1/4 cup water

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

4 large size whole wheat tortillas (note: white tastes better but it’s not as “good for you”…blah)

Lime wedges and Tabasco sauce for garnish

How to make it:

1) Preheat oven to 375

2) In a frying pan over medium high heat, sauté onions, tomato, cumin and 1/4 cup of the salsa until tomatoes soften and onions get translucent.

3) Add in your chopped chicken and greens and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until greens have started to wilt.

4) Meanwhile, combine the rest of the salsa with the tomato paste, water and most of the cilantro, stirring until everything is blended.  Set aside.

5) One tortilla at a time, fill with about 1/4 cup of filling, 1/4 cup of cheese and roll, placing open side down in an oven proof dish.

6) When all tortillas are full and lined up, top with the salsa mixture and the rest of the cheese.

7) Place, uncovered, in the oven for about 15 minutes until the edges of the tortillas start to crisp up and the cheese bubbles. Mmmmmm bubbling cheese.

8) Top with the rest of the cilantro.  Serve hot with a lime wedge and Tabasco (if you’re a wild and crazy guy like me.)

Puff Pastry Pizza

Dinner, Quick and easy

Pastry and cheese. And cured meats. And cheese. And shrimps and cheese. These are a few of my favourite things.

 As part of this new blog endeavor of mine, I needed quite a bit of help.  I’m not so good with the inter-webs, nor am I artistically inclined at all.  So I solicited the help of a friend of mine who is both internetally savvy and a beautiful designer.  In return for his help, I provided a thank-you in the only way that feels right to me –food (and wine.)

So listen, I’m all about eating right – fueling your body with the nutrition it needs to stay healthy and active and blah blah.  But I refuse to deprive myself (as will become abundantly clear if you continue to follow this blog) and I always reward myself for a hard day’s work with food (and wine.)

This is the first time I’ve replaced the standard pizza dough or flat bread with puff pastry and let me tell you….it won’t be the last.  It was such a delicious and surprising treat.  I was worried it wouldn’t feel as substantial as a cheesy piece of pizza but I was wrong.  It was light, and fluffy, but still had the chew and the gooeyness of a piece-a-pie.  Choose whatever toppings make you happy and off you go.  Here’s how I made mine. Oh, and one quick thing: I’m not usually a recipe follower.  Or a recipe maker.  So bear with me. This is foreign to me. 

 

Ingredients:
1 package of store bought puff pastry sheets (unless you are a kitchen magician and make your own puff pastry in which case you are on the wrong blog)

1 tbsp olive oil

½ cup of buffalo mozzarella – sliced

7-8 big fat basil leaves – roughly chopped

About 1 cup of an assortment of your favourite Italian antipasti from the deli counter.  I used artichokes, roasted red peppers and sundried tomatoes

9 large cooked shrimps – halved.  (you can substitute for roasted chicken if you’re not insane about shrimp like I am)

 

How to do it:

1)      Preheat oven to 375

2)      Roll out your puff pastry so it’s about the size of a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3)      Bake for about 25 minutes in the nude.  As in, the pastry just on its own.  If you’d like to do it in the nude too, I say go for it.  Anyways,you want to give that pastry a chance to fluff up before you put the good stuff on it, otherwise it will be a big dried out mess.  Tasty. But dry.

4)      Once it’s starting to brown on the corners, take it out of the oven.  Don’t let it cool too much. Like maybe wait 30 seconds (a couple sips of wine)

5)       Take your shrimps and your antipasti and scatter in whatever way feels right to you.  Try to get to all the corners.  It’s going to look really pretty.  Just wait.

6)      Toss it back in the oven.  Just kidding- place it carefully back in the oven.

7)      Wait another 20 minutes. A few more glasses sips of wine.

8)      Remove from the oven and place the sliced cheese and chopped basil on top.

9)      Toss it back in the oven.

10)   Give it another 5 minutes until the cheese is melty (but not too melty – or it will get that stringy plasticky texture. Barf)

11)   Remove from the oven and let it cool for about five minutes before you slice it.   FUN LITTLE TIP: Use scissors instead of a knife.  It’s way easier.  This applies to regular pizza too.

12)   EAT!

 

I also did a version with goat’s cheese, thinly sliced pear and prosciutto.  The sweet and the savoury is something that really speaks to me.   Do it exactly the way you would the first, but leave the cheese in for closer to 10 minutes because it gets this toasty brown thing going on that gives it a delightful little crust that’s quite special.  Enjoy!