Thursday, June 30, 2011

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

In honour of this week's countdown to my cook off in The Real Women of Philadelphia, I thought I would re-post one of my all time favourite recipes featuring cream cheese.

Try this - I guarantee your family will love it!

***

When I arrived home from work today, I embraced the more comforting and non-technological side of life. First, getting into flannel pyjamas, and then lighting my favourite cinnamon and apple secnted candles as I prepared to make dinner.

More and more I am realizing the importance of simple comforts; like creating an evening meal that invites loved ones to come together at the end of the day to share and connect.

It's also so much fun to find a recipe in a book or another blog that intrigues you.

Last week I spotted a recipe on Diary of a Recipe Addict for Baked Chicken Taquitos and knew I had to try it.



















These deliciously crispy and crunchy taquitos have a warm and flavourful creamy chicken and cheese centre that satisfies the senses with every delicious bite.

Served alongside a salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, and buttermilk dressing, this quick and easy to prepare meal was the perfect thing for a busy Wednesday.

Better still, I'm sure it could be frozen as a make ahead dish for the holidays.

Here's what you do...

For printable recipe click here

Ingredients
  • 1/3 c. (3 oz) Philly Light cream cheese
  • 1/4 c. green salsa (I used the regular salsa I had on hand it was fine)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. sliced green onions
  • 2 c. shredded cooked chicken (I poach mine in water, a garlic clove, and a little salt for this recipe)
  • 1 c. KRAFT Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 8 Flour Tortillas (soft taco size)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil or cooking spray
Heat oven to 425* Lightly coat baking sheet with extra virgin olive oil or cooking spray.

Heat cream cheese in the microwave for 20-30 seconds so it is soft and easy to stir. Add salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic. Stir to combine, then add cilantro and green onions.

Add chicken and cheese and combine well. You can prepare up to this step ahead of time, just store the mixture in the fridge.


















Wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave until warmed and soft enough to easily work with.

Lay all the tortillas out and equally distribute the chicken mixture amongst them on the lower 1/3 of the tortilla, about 1/2 in. from the edge.


















Roll it up tightly. Place seam side down on a baking dish. Lay all the taquitos seam side down and make sure they are not touching each other. I know, mine are - I moved them after I took the picture :-)

Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or brush the lightly with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle some kosher salt on top.

At this point you could probably freeze the recipe too.

To cook:

If frozen, thaw on counter prior to baking

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the edges start to get golden brown.


















We've got the three C's covered!

Crispy, Crunchy, and Creamy.

Perfect for a quiet Wednesday night when the mind is filled with deep thoughts....

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Christine Corley Goes Gangster - Master Chef Season 2

It's been a few episodes since I wrote a Master Chef update - this because nothing particularly blog worthy has occurred up until now.

But thanks to one of my early favourites, Christine Corley, that's all changed.

Not only did she brandish her culinary superhero powers by pulling off a chocolate mousse at the eleventh hour during a dessert challenge this week, she went old school Hells Kitchen before the judges, dropping the f bomb with the ferocity of a white rapper at an Eminem concert.

People, there is just not enough of that in food television.

And all hail the King - Chef Gordon Ramsay - who's team of crack editors have put together an edge of your seat culinary romp that routinely has my entire family laughing until we cry - and then foraging in the fridge for snacks because you can, honestly, almost smell the food.

Not to mention the palpable tension when one of the judges gets a bee in his bonnet.

I love it when Joe Bastianich stares down the contestants rattle snake style or goes Jack Nicholson (You can't HANDLE the truth!) over a food transgression like de-boning a rack of lamb - "Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND?" or worse, serving it raw.

Wherebye the editing team pans the horrified faces of the other contestants and we, the viewing public whimper "Why? Why?" as we vow never to let the juice escape from a steak by stabbing it with a meat thermometer, or - God save our souls - forget to sear a side.

So even though I am quite heart broken that another one of my early favourites, Max Kramer was sent home last night in a close steak cook off with Christine, I will continue watching because, let's face it, where else will you ever hear food commentary like:

"It's like a coffee flavoured blood clot"

or

"The texture is like a skin graft," anywhere else but Fox?

It's just good TV.

And that's the blog.

***

Hungry after all that good Master Chef food?  How about trying a steak challenge of your own with my Pan Seared Steak in Pebre Inspired Sauce?



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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Creamy, Cheesey Baked Shrimp Enchiladas

My son has been home this week from college and as long time readers know, coming home almost always includes some kind of meal featuring enchiladas.

While he was in high school, the trusty enchilada was something I kept in the freezer and was often a late night snack for members of the rugby team who ended up in my kitchen starving after practice.

And because I'm featuring Philadelphia Cream Cheese this week in honour of my upcoming trip to Toronto as an entree finalist in the Real Women of Philadelphia, I began thinking of new ways I could use this incredible product - this time in an enchilada featuring shrimp.

I know!

This is a quick, easy, and delicious weeknight meal. And you could easily substitute chicken for the prawns if that is your preference.

I hope you enjoy!

Creamy, Cheesey Baked Shrimp Enchiladas
For printable recipe click HERE
















Ingredients
  •  1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs medium sized shrimp or prawns, de-veined, tails removed
  • 1/2 diced red pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 large diced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp creole seasoning blend
  • 1 cup Philadelphia Light cream cheese
  • 6 large soft burrito shells
  • 1/2 package KRAFT Mexican blend shredded cheddar cheese
Directions
  1. Saute the onions and peppers until just starting to soften over medium high heat in a large non-stick pan.
  2. Add the shrimp and continue to saute until shrimp is opaque and cooked through.
  3. Stir in the creole spice.
  4. Add the canned tomatoes, stir well
  5. Using a colander, drain the excess liquid from the pain and set aside. 
  6. Return the shrimp and vegetables to the pan and over medium heat add a 1/2 cup of cream cheese and stir well to incorporate. 
  7. Distribute an equal amount of the shrimp mixture into the middle of the six tortilla shells, roll and place seam side down in a casserole that has been sprayed with non stick spray.
  8. Return the drained liquid to the pan and bring to the boil. Let it reduce slightly and then add the additional 1/2 cup cream cheese and stir well to incorporate.
  9. Spoon the cream sauce evenly over the enchiladas in the pan and then cover with the Mexican blend cheese.
  10. Bake uncovered in a 350 oven for 40 minutes.
  11. Let rest 10 minutes before serving
Click the link for yesterday's fabulous cream cheese inspired recipe for Summer Fresh Mac and Cheese.


















***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube
 





    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Summer Fresh Mac and Cheese

    I'm excited to report that my trip to Toronto to compete in the final cook off for The Real Women of Philadelphia happens in less than a week!

    After months of fun and laughter with the women in the community who I have now come to think of as friends, I am thrilled for the opportunity to actually get to meet some of them in person.

    I often say this, but the magic in life is in its surprises.

    Those things around the bend we had no idea were going to happen - new friends come into our lives, new dreams begin, new opportunities emerge...

    These last few months since I began my initial adventure on Recipe to Riches, my decision to become the Determined Dieter, and onward to the cream cheesiest experience anyone could ever ask for, have been some of the most fun and richly rewarding moments I've had in a very long time.

    Because of that, I decided to pay homage to the entire experience by featuring a brand new recipe featuring Philadelphia Cream Cheese every day this week.

    And how better to start than with a recipe for Mac and Cheese - except, this time with a twist?

    Zingy Gruyere cheese, combines with cream cheese, cheddar, sweet cherry tomatoes, and summery fresh basil to make an absolutely delicious weeknight dish.

    I hope you enjoy!

    Summer Fresh Mac and Cheese
    For printable recipe click HERE

















    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 8 minutes
    Serves: 8

    Ingredients
    • 1 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
    • 1/2 cup Philly light cream cheese
    • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
    • 1 cup halved sweet cherry tomatoes
    • 1 Tbsp corn starch
    • 1 Tbsp low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
    • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
    • 4 cups macaroni noodles
    Directions
    1. Cook the macaroni noodles in boiling water until just al dente. Add salt during the last 30 seconds of boiling
    2. Meanwhile, bring the cup of broth to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium high and add the cream cheese. Stir until the cream cheese in incorporated into the sauce. Add the other cheeses and stir until melted. Add the tomatoes and fresh basil.
    3. Stir the cornstarch together with the additional Tbsp of broth and then add to the cheese sauce. Stir until thickened and reduce heat to low. 
    4. When macaroni is cooked, drain it and then add to the cheese sauce. Stir well. Serve with fresh cracked black pepper and additional fresh basil as garnish.


    ***

    Author:

    Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

    Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

    Facebook Twitter YouTube

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Chicken and Thai Basil Noodle Bowls

    I absolutely love Asian flavours and am often experimenting with new ideas for quick, easy, and healthy Asian inspired dinners.

    This week my son has been home from school and I have been busy putting together meals that I knew he would like.

    One of his favourite things is noodle bowls and so I put together my own version.

    The sauce is easy and flavourful and sautees right into the noodles. Perfect for a quick weeknight meal or a casual weekend dinner.

    Asian Noodle Bowl
    For printable recipe click HERE





















    Prep/Marinate time: 2 hours
    Cook Time: 15 minutes
    Serves: 4

    Ingredients
    • 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
    • 1/4 cup ketchup
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
    • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
    • 1/2 tsp hot Asian chili sauce
    • 1 clove mined garlic
    • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts sliced thin
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 carrots sliced on the diagnol
    • 3 medium button mushrooms, sliced
    • 2 cups broccoli florets
    • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
    • Vegetable or canola oil for stir frying
    • 1/2 cup Thai basil
    • 5 squares of  Rooster brand instant noodles (not ramen)
    Directions
    1. Mix together the first seven ingredients and add the chicken. Let marinate for an hour or two.
    2. Stir fry the vegetables in 1 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil a hot wok until tender crisp and the mushrooms have begun to release their water. Remove to a bowl and sprinkle with the Thai basil.
    3. Heat another tbsp of oil and stir fry the chicken, reserving the extra marinade.
    4. Meanwhile, boil the instant noodles app 1-2 minutes until tender and drain. 
    5. When the chicken is cooked through, add the drained noodles, vegetables, and reserved marinade and continue to stir fry, tossing everything together, until everything is incoporated and cooked through. 
    6. Serve in bowls with chop sticks. Garnish each bowl with more Thai basil


    ***

    Author:

    Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

    Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

    Facebook Twitter YouTube



      Wednesday, June 22, 2011

      How to Create a Vintage Picnic Basket

      While it's long been established that I love eating, I have yet to blog about my passion for eating outdoors.



      Not on the open range or in front of a roaring campfire, but at a picnic table with a red and white checkered table cloth, a nice bottle of wine, thinly sliced ham, coleslaw, cornbread, potato salad, watermelon, and a pie.

      Blame it on Yogi,

      When on a picnic there has to be pie.


















      And a really cool retro picnic basket like the kind he was partial to stealing...


      While you can certainly purchase a picnic basket like that...


      It will set you back between $75.00 and $125.00 and isn't really all that unique or original.

      Which, in the grand scheme of things, I continue to work toward being unique, original, and creative.

      Constantly feeding my passion for the Good Life while refusing to believe that living beautifully is connected to having large amounts of money.

      Not that I think having large amounts of money is a bad thing. To the contrary. But not everyone is going to have pots of money at their disposal during their lives and its my belief that we can still have a slice of the pie for much less.

      Living beautifully is about living well with what you have.

      And gratitude is the key that opens most doors.

      So it is with gratitude today that I talk about one of my treasures:

      My picnic basket.



      I got the idea to make one of my own years ago when I saw one of those fancy deals at a high end kitchen store. I love going shopping to places like that, gathering ideas, and then recreating things on my own.

      Armed with the knowledge that I wanted to put something together, I got a picture in mind of the kind of basket I wanted: large, sturdy, and retro - preferably something made in the 1950's.

      And started looking.

      I searched garage sales, thrift stores, and flea markets, even braving the flourescent lighting and accompanying odour of Value Village in search of my plunder. And then one morning at a local flea market, there it was.

      My basket.

      For two dollars and fifty cents, I took it home.

      Originally it had been a sewing basket, but I knew in it's next incarnation I was going to make it very happy. After all, hadn't I just freed it from a life spent in somebody's attic?

      I decided it would be kind of fun and kitschy to fill it with melmac dishes from the 50's and 60's and finally found the set I wanted at one of the best garage sales I've ever been to.

      It was a beautiful day in late July and two brothers had come up from Toronto to settle their mother's estate. I arrived early enough to pay my respects to a set of wonderful pyrex refrigerator dishes and mixing bowls...



      And then found my Melmac dishes.



      I lined the bottom of the basket with a vintage table cloth and then went to the dollar store where I purchased t-towels in complimentary colours to use as napkins, beads that I made into napkin rings, clear plastic cutlery, a red and white checkered table cloth, and funky retro, wine glasses.

      In total, my picnic basket cost $12.00.

      But more than that has been the fun of putting it together which has really been priceless.

      Here's a picture from a picnic in our back yard to give you an idea of what the table setting looks like. I've used beautiful little hydrangeas from my garden tucked into vintage juice glasses for the center piece and mason jars as glassware which is always fun for outdoor eating.



      Enjoy my video for a great Provencal style picnic olive bread! Click here for the printable recipe.



       

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      Saturday, June 18, 2011

      Grilled Lemon Basil Chicken with Creamy Pasta Salad

      With the warm weather finally upon us, it's time to start grilling - and, oh how I love my marinade for grilled lemon basil chicken. It makes for the most moist and flavourful chicken breasts imaginable.

      Better still, it's made with easy pantry ingredients and beautiful fresh basil.

      Serve with a side of my creamy, lemony pasta salad and you are in for a gorgeous summertime treat!

      Grilled Lemon Basil Chicken with Creamy Pasta Salad
      For printable recipe click HERE

      Chicken Marinade

      Ingredients
      • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
      • juice of one whole lemon
      • 1 clove garlic minced
      • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1/2 tsp pepper
      • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
      Grill breasts starting at 400 and then reducing to 350 for 7 to 8 minutes on each side flipping every 2-3 minutes. Serve with creamy pasta salad.
        Creamy Pasta Salad

        Ingredients
        • 1 cup real mayonnaise
        • juice of one whole lemon
        • zest of one whole lemon
        • 1/2 tsp salt
        • 1/2 tsp pepper
        • 1 tbsp sugar
        • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
        • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
        • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
        • 2 stalks diced celery
        • 3 green onions
        • 8-10 cherry tomatoes
        • 4 cups dry rotini or fusili
        Directions
        1. Boil pasta app 5-6 minutes until almost cooked. Drain well and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. The pasta will continue to soften as it absorbs the sauce, that's why you shouldn't cook it for too long.
        2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the cooled pasta and stir well. 
        3. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

          Friday, June 17, 2011

          Lights! Camera! Action! My Philly Inspired Dinner Party

          Hi everyone!

          If you missed my blog the other day about hosting a dinner party Real Women of Philadelphia style, definitely check it out for the recipes and information!

          The dinner party was last night and was a resounding success!

          If you'd like to see my guests reactions or some lovely footage of me in my pink robe, pyjamas, and no make up at the end give it a watch!

          The partyyyyyyy's over.....

          Wednesday, June 15, 2011

          A Real Woman Recipe for an Elegant Dinner Party

          The time is fast approaching for me to head to Toronto for the Real Women of Philadelphia live cook off and I have to tell you, the excitement is mounting!

          Being the long time foodie and internet/television junkie that you know me to be, getting selected as a finalist is the realization of many dreams.

          As such, I am trying to live within a spirit of gratitude and to really live every moment of this experience including the days leading up to it.

          With enough *ahem* years under my belt, I know how easy it is to let the important moments of our life slip through our fingers without really taking the time to immerse ourselves in an experience - so I am immersing. Having fun shopping, and planning, and dreaming, and cooking.

          Tomorrow night my mom is hosting a dinner party for four of her friends that I am going to cater featuring some of my favourite Philly creations.

          We will be starting with:

          Crostini di Polenta with Tomato Basil Cream Sauce




















          Twice Baked Lobster and Truffle Baby Potatoes

















          The entree will feature rice pilaf, baby carrots in butter, and my winning recipe for
          Creamy Pistachio and Mango Chutney Pork Tenderloin

















          And finally, dessert!

          We will be having Crispy, Creamy Apple Turnovers

















          I plan to take lots of pictures and maybe even film a little bit of the dinner.

          And the nice thing about my menu (as is always the case with my dinner parties) is that just about everything can be done in advance.

          The polenta can be made, wrapped and rolled - ready for frying - the day before and the sauce can be made earlier in the day without the cream cheese and re-heated.

          The potatoes can be completely put together in the morning and then just simply popped into the oven a half hour before guests arrive.

          The tenderloin can be stuffed and tied in the morning and then simply seared off and roasted when the potatoes come out of the oven. And the apple turnovers can be assembled ahead of time and popped into the oven while your guests eat dinner.

          All in all, this will be a spectacular meal and a fun way to celebrate and enjoy the moments leading up to my departure for Toronto.

          While I am there I will be taking lots of pictures and filming the experience.

          And set your calendars for the evening of July 6th which is when the live cookoff takes place and when the four finalists are announced. I will be providing links to that prior to the event.

          So happy cooking everyone, and here's to reaching for your dreams. We may not always get there, but the journey toward them is certainly worth the ride!

          Tuesday, June 14, 2011

          It's the Great Pumpkin - Master Chef Season 2, Episodes 3 and 4

          Tonight's installment of Master Chef featured the last of the cooking auditions starting with neuro- engineer Suzie Singh who was not only charming, passionate, and funny, her offering of sea bass en papillote impressed the judges so much Joe Bastianch said "I feel like we're looking at one of the finalists here."

          All three judges loved her.

          They also loved Giuseppe, a transplant from Southern Italy now living and cooking for his family Chicago.

          Watching Giuseppe reminded me again why I think Italians hold the keys to the secrets of life.

          His food and outlook were so filled with love and passion for family, fresh ingredients, and flavour it was no surprise when Chef Ramsay asked him to call his family in and presented Giuseppi's son with an apron signifying his dad would carry on in the competition.

          Ditto for 18 year old Leonardo Dicaprio look alike Max from Manhattan. Max, who's parents divorced when he was 12, developed a passion for cooking while dining in some of the worlds best restaurants in New York City.

          His dish of fried oysters got mixed reviews from the judges with Graham feeling he was a bit too young.

          Graham, however, was trumped by Joe and Chef Ramsay who both want to see what he can bring and if he will be able to compete using less sophisticated ingredients.

          I, for one, am going to be very curious to see what an 18 year can do.

          Moving along.

          Gordon Ramsay was as quick as ever with the one liners this episode:

          "You have a great future in the restaurant world - as a customer."

          "I'd give it 3 out of 10 after three bottles of wine."

          "You go from greasy to dry to bizarre."

          "My biggest problem is the oil slick on the plate."

          "Are you allergic to flavour?"

          How much would you DIE if Gordon Ramsay said that about your food?

          Meanwhile, I've convinced myself Graham read my first blog comparing him to Paula Abdul and has, as such, rebelled by becoming the mean judge rejecting people all over the place.

          (What? He could have read my blog. Don't rain on my narcissism.)

          Thankfully though, all three judges found their hearts for the last two cooks to present their dishes.

          "Joe" a self proclaimed good old boy who learned to cook after his wife was badly injured in a construction accident completely won me over.

          There must something about men who cook alligator, because as soon as he said "I got a lot of ideas in my head ain't afraid to take a risk and try something" I was a fan.

          Ditto for another one of my favourites in the competition, Ben Star, a travel writer and food super hero in disguise as a giant pumpkin.

          His fish tacos had me salivating and wanting to jump into the screen.

          Please God, let them publish his recipe in the next Master Chef cookbook!

          In episode 4, the list of hopefuls was cut down to a final 18 with some of my initial favourites - including my alligator man, not going further.

          I am always heart broken for people when they are told their road has come to an end as I know what that feels like.

          18 year old Max is still hanging in there as is my favourite, Christine Corley who I hope goes very far!

          All in all, we have the makings of an incredible season and I, for one, can't wait to be inspired and learn from all of these brave home cooks!

          Sunday, June 12, 2011

          Lemony, Creamy Rice

          I love lemons.

          Both as a flavour enhancer, and as an affordable decorative element for the kitchen.






















          That was a trick I learned watching Oprah: If you can't afford to always have fresh flowers on hand, use fresh fruit.

          And so I always have green apples, lemons...






















          And limes on display.






















          Interestingly, these flavours often make their way into my food.

          And today's rice side dish is no exception.

          I had some lovely fresh salmon that was so beautiful I didn't want to disguise it with a bunch of other flavours. So I drizzled it with some extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, seasoned it with Old Bay spice, and roasted it in a 425 oven for about 15 minutes.

          In the meantime, I made the rice.

          Because the salmon was so straight forward, I thought something lovely and creamy would be a perfect accompaniment, and because I have Philadelphia Cream Cheese on the brain lately, I decided to see what it would be like in a rice dish.

          It was excellent.

          Creamy and gorgeous and filled with flavour - although I'm quite certain the likes of Gordon Ramsay and his white truffle oil hating cronies would most likely turn up their noses, I am a home cook, and - as such - say verily, this is good!

          If you want to read more about Ramsay, and this season of Master Chef, make sure you tune in tomorrow for my next installment chronicling the show.

          In the meantime, the recipe!

          Lemony, Creamy Rice
          For printable recipe click HERE


















          Ingredients
          • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
          • zest from 1/2 lemon
          • juice from 1/2 lemon
          • 1/4 cup Philadelphia Cream Cheese (light or regular)
          • 1 cup white rice
          • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
          • Fresh cracked black pepper
          Directions
          1. Combine the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cream cheese in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and whisk until the cream cheese is well incorporated.
          2. Add the rice, stir well, turn to low and cover.
          3. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Remove lid and give it a good stir, bringing everything together. The rice should be creamy yet firm with a nice bite.
          4. Add the pepper and fresh basil and enjoy!


          ***

          Author:

          Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

          Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

          Facebook Twitter YouTube

          Friday, June 10, 2011

          Orichietta Pasta in a Lemony Cream Cheese Sauce

          I decided to make a nice piece of grilled salmon for dinner this evening.

          Really simple.

          A little extra virgin olive oil, some Old Bay seasoning, and a creamy side dish featuring orichietta pasta, spinach, and Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

          This lovely side can also be featured as a main on it's own and is also delicious with shredded chicken.

          I hope you enjoy!

          Stay tuned this weekend for reflections on "Plateaus" and some great information regarding blood sugar.

          Orichietta Pasta in a Lemony Cream Sauce
          For printable recipe click HERE




















          Ingredients
          • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
          • 2 cloves minced garlic
          • zest of one lemon
          • juice of half a lemon
          • 3 cups chopped spinach
          • 1 cup frozen peas
          • one cup low sodium chicken stock
          • 1/4 cup Philly Light cream cheese
          • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
          • 1 Tbsp pine nuts
          • 2 1/2 cups orichietta pasta
          • 1-2 Tbsp grated asiago cheese (optional)
          Directions
          1. Put a large pot of boiling salted water on to boil. Boil pasta until al dente (about 7-9 minutes)
          2. Saute the garlic in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat just until the garlic becomes fragrant.
          3. Add the spinach and continue to saute just until it begins to wilt.
          4. Add the chicken stock, lemon juice, lemon zest, and peas. Simmer until the broth has reduced by half.
          5. Add the Philadelphia Cream Cheese and stir until it melts and incorporates into the sauce. 
          6. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the sauce. 
          7. Stir well and add fresh basil, pine nuts, and asiago cheese. 
          Excellent with fish or chicken.



          ***

          Author:

          Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

          Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

          Facebook Twitter YouTube

          Wednesday, June 8, 2011

          Moving on from the Truffle Oil - Season 2 Master Chef Episode 2

          After watching tonight's episode of Master Chef Season 2, I am blown away by the talent and creativity of so many of the cooks.

          And as a person who puts herself out there in these kinds of challenges, I have equal admiration for those who move on - but also for those who fall just short of the mark. To be in the final 100, to my mind, is pretty huge, and a few not going on really left an impression - not the least of whom, Denise, a mom around my age who was there competing with her son Kyle.

          Kyle got the nod to move on for his Chicken Paprikash.















          But Denise, who explained she had spent her life being "someone's something" choked me up when she wasn't invited to go on because I could completely relate to what she was saying.

          At the same time, when Ramsay told the son he would be going on he said "I don't think you're mother is going to be very happy about that."

          But I knew different.

          I knew she would be overjoyed for her boy, and I was right.

          I still felt sad, though, that this wasn't quite her dream - hoping she continues to step out and take chances.










          And then there was mid-western truck driver Tony.

          This IS his dream.

          Right place. Right time.

          Kind hard working man who's had a life of doing what he had to do to put food on the table finally getting an opportunity to do something for himself.

          I related to that too.

          Tony, also known as The Barbecue Guy in his neck of the woods, served flawless pan seared Mahi Mahi and shared that he dreams of opening his own restaurant to introduce the people of his community - "the only fish they experience is fried fish at the legion on Saturday" - to good food

          He received three big yesses from the judges and will be moving on.
















           Another stand out was the Poolboy.

          Not my Poolboy, but a young man named Dustin who won all three judges over with a sausage roll that had and Italian twist - and you know your food is good when Gordon Ramsay devours your entire dish.

          It made me want to experiment with a sausage roll of my own because it really is a brilliant idea.

















          I swear, though, tonight was the night for pulling on my heart strings - not only with Dustin, who's mother, a  woman struggling with breast cancer, surprised him at the audition but also Christine Corley, the wine drinking, gutsy, single mom who wowed Gordon Ramsay with her soft shell crab.

          She was so real and so raw and so unpretentious that I have decided to love her because something like this could change her entire life.

          And we could all use a little of that.
















          But for all the hits, there were also misses.

          For example, the guy who came out speaking French but isn't. Three words:

          Who does that?

          Ditto for the firecracker guy with the bacon and strawberries.

          And my favourite Ramsay line of the night:

          Ramsay: How did you cook the cod?
          Contestant: I baked it.
          Ramsay: For how long, three weeks?

          People, if you are gutsy enough to go on a show like Master Chef, for the love of God, understand the preferred cooking time for the food you plan to serve.

          Moving on.

          Another one of my favourites is Derrick who is in  a death metal band by night and works as a website designer by day. According to the judges who raved about his home made chorizo, this guy is the one to watch.















           Other highlights included  a would be molecular gastronomist named Alvin who whipped up the most perfect looking egg in a home made immersion circulator.

















          Three words for Alvin:

          I'm not worthy.

          And finally, Alejandra, an architect and urban planner who is proof positive that there are gifts in crisis. Struggling through hard financial times brought her to this competition where the judges were blown away by her skill and the taste of her sauteed shrimp - which was, according to the judges, one of the best dishes they have seen so far.
















          But best of all was what Alejandra said: It's never too late.

          And it isn't.

          As long as we are alive we can dare to dream.

          To risk.

          To take chances.

          I can't wait to see what's in store next week and am even more hopeful that they do a cookbook for season 2 because there are already recipes I want to try!

          ***

          Missed the first two blogs? Look no further...

          Gordon Ramsay Ate Sushi Off Me
          Master Chef and the Mystery of the White Truffle Oil 

          ***
          Stay tuned later for a dynamite stir fry recipe featuring pork tenderloin and green beans.