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Apple Roast Chicken with Maple-Glazed Yams and Green Beans

Roast chickenTHE VERDICT:

This was the first meal we prepared that utilized some of the cool features of our new range, namely the two ovens and the built in meat thermometer. The apples and yams make this a great seasonal meal that will usher in the fall with all of its best flavours.

The combination of apples and cider in the roasting pan make for a moist, flavour-rich chicken that is hard to top. Once again the Best of Chef at Home has delivered a recipe that didn’t disappoint. While many people are intimidated by the idea of roasting a whole chicken, the instructions in this recipe are easy to follow and you will soon find that the task is much easier than you expected. The leftover carcass would be perfect for making your own Chicken Noodle Soup or you could make the simple chicken stock suggested by Michael Smith in the recipe below.

Chicken dinnerThe yams were a simple, but delightful side dish. The subtle sweetness of the yams combined perfectly with the maple syrup glaze. Along with the simple and savoury steamed green beans, this sweeter side dish was a fantastic accompaniment for the sweet-tart apple chicken.

This combination of recipes makes for a nice family meal on a Sunday evening. It is easy to throw together, but does take a while to cook. The good news is that once it’s in the oven, all you have to do is set the time and forget about it. The yams and apples are soft enough for even young children to enjoy and the chicken is moist and easy to chew if cut into small pieces. Everyone can enjoy it with ease.

If you want to try it yourself. . .

THE RECIPES:

Apple Roast Chicken (source: The Best of Chef at Home by Chef Michael Smith)

4 local apples, quartered and cored

2 onions, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 whole head of garlic cloves, peeled

1 or 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

a sprinkle or two of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup of apple cider

one 4lb. roasting chicken

2 green onions, thinly sliced

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Toss the apples, onions, garlic and rosemary together in a roasting pan large enough to hold the chicken.
  • Season chicken well with salt and pepper and rest it on top of the apple mixture. Pour in the cider. Roast chicken until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of one of the thighs reads 180°F, about 20 minutes per pound.
  • As soon as the chicken is cool enough to handle, and without removing it from the pan, slice and pull the meat from the carcass and toss with the apple pan stew. Remove the carcass. Sprinkle with sliced green onion and serve directly out of pan.
  • Freestyle variation: Any choice of apple will work well. For an upscale presentation, you may also slice the chicken and arrange it on a serving platter with the apple pan sauce served on the side. For an easy chicken broth, the chicken carcass can be tossed in a small stock pot with an onion, celery, carrot and bay leaf, covered with water and simmered for 1-2 hours.

Makes 4-6 servings.


Maple-Glazed Yams (source: Epicurious; original recipe)

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Pasta With Fresh Greens

Pasta with Fresh GreensTHE VERDICT:

This recipe blew my mind. So simple and yet so good. The delicious success of this recipe made me realize how consistently good the recipes from Today’s Parent magazine are. I have enjoyed almost every recipe we have made from the magazine and I’d say that my top 3 favourite new recipes have all come from there this year:

1. Fresh Tomato Pasta

2. Parmesan Chicken Cutlets

3. Sneaky Snack Bars

Clearly it’s a great resource for parents looking for healthy recipe ideas to feed their families, but I think any home chef would benefit from checking out the recipes on their website.

To modify this recipe for baby: Tear your greens into bite-sized pieces that are small enough for baby to handle. Choose small noodles or cut noodles into smaller pieces. Zayden’s verdict was a definite thumbs up, but our baby is a big pasta fan, so this was going to be an easy sell no matter what.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Pasta With Fresh Greens (source: Today’s Parent magazine; original recipe)

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Buffalo Chicken with Buttermilk-Feta Sauce and Spicy Escarole

Buffalo Chicken with Buttermilk-Feta SauceTHE VERDICT:

Most of the time, when you try to make a healthier version of a favourite junk food, you end up eating a bland and unfulfilling imitation of your favourite calorie-laden treat. Luckily, that is not the case with this recipe. Okay, it’s not exactly the same as eating hot wings with blue cheese dip, but the dish is flavourful and pleasing and will satisfy your cravings when you can’t make it to the pub. The spicy escarole (or in our case, romaine, because we couldn’t find escarole) was a unique side dish that complemented the main course very well. We will definitely be making this again.

If you want to try it yourself. . .

THE RECIPE:

Buffalo Chicken with Buttermilk Feta Sauce (source: Clean Eating magazine)

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt

2 Tbsp. nonfat buttermilk (substitution: 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice, let stand for 10 minutes)

2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1/3 cup low-fat feta cheese, crumbled

3 green onions, chopped (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 tsp. sea salt

4 Tbsp. hot sauce

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. paprika

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs.), each cut into 2 3-inch pieces)

Olive oil cooking spray

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, buttermilk, vinegar, feta, onions and salt. Cover and refrigerate mixture until ready to serve for up to 2 days.
  • In a small bowl, combine hot sauce, oil and paprika.
  • Place chicken in a large shallow dish. Pour hot sauce mixture over chicken, tossing to coat. Cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes at room-temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 400F. Mist a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Remove chicken from hot sauce marinade, discarding marinade, and place chicken on baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (no need to flip). Top with buttermilk-feta sauce, dividing evenly, or pour sauce into a separate bowl for dipping. Serve with Spicy Escarole (see recipe below).

Spicy Escarole (source: Clean Eating magazine)

2 tsp. olive oil

1 head escarole, cored and coarsely chopped (Note: escarole is a type of endive characterized by wide pale-green leaves)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. hot sauce

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted

  • Heat oil  in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add escarole and saute for 5 minutes or until slightly wilted. Add garlic and hot sauce, stirring occasionally, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until escarole is completely wilted. Sprinkle pepper flakes and sesame seeds over top and serve immediately with Buffalo Chicken.

Makes 6 servings.

Hands on time: 20 minutes. Total time: 1 hour.

Nutrients per serving (4 oz. chicken [about 2 pieces], 2 Tbsp. sauce, 1 cup Spicy Escarole): 274 calories, 10 g fat, 11 g carbs, 34 g protein, 605 mg sodium, 68 mg cholesterol

Nutritional Bonus: 1 Tbsp. of paprika has 71% of your vitamin A requirement.

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Breakfast Pita

Breakfast pitaTHE VERDICT:

A fairly quick breakfast to throw together, but not the most flavourful one. The 2 tsp of Parmesan cheese barely registers on the taste buds, so we were basically eating eggs with a couple slices of tomato. The second day we decided to add some diced green onions to jazz it up a bit without breaking the clean eating mandate of the week. It was a little better with the onions.

It’s not a bad breakfast. The basic idea is good, but it needs a lot of dressing up before we’d put it in our regular breakfast menu rotation, but if we added all the bacon and cheese we’re envisioning, it probably wouldn’t be considered a “clean” breakfast anymore.

If you want to try it yourself. . .

THE RECIPE:

Breakfast Pita (source: Clean Eating magazine)

2 egg whites and 1 whole egg, scrambled

2 tsp. Parmesan

2 slices tomato

Diced green onions, if desired

1 whole wheat pita, folded in half and stuffed with the first 3 ingredients

Makes 1 serving.

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Bison Steaks with Radish Salad

Bison with saladTHE VERDICT:

On the way home from the farmers’ market last week, we stopped off at 3P Natural and Exotic Meats, a butcher recommended to us by Arieanna and Ianiv that we had been meaning to check out. 3P is one of their North Shore sources for well-priced organic meat; it also happens to be their source for bison meat, a low-fat alternative to beef. We picked up a couple of Tri-Tip steaks to throw on the barbecue. We marinated them all afternoon in some beer first, which resulted in a very juicy, almost sweet-tasting steak. The trick with bison is to cook it at a lower temperature as it doesn’t contain as much fat as beef and can get quite dry if you’re not careful.

The radish salad was thrown together with some ingredients we picked up at the farmers market where we found a rainbow of radishes and the biggest green onions I’ve ever seen. We tossed them with a simple dressing and created an easy and yummy salad to accompany our slab of bison. Delish!

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Microbrew Marinade (source: Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine; original recipe)

Note: This recipe obviously makes enough for a restaurant, so you’ll want to cut it down. We made approximately 1/7 the amount.

Radish Salad (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

3 bunches assorted radishes, washed, trimmed and quartered

2-3 green onions, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

olive or grapeseed oil

freshly ground salt and pepper

  • Toss radishes and green onion together in a bowl.
  • Slice lime in half and squeeze juice over top.
  • Drizzle with oil.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Toss until vegetables are coated.

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Ma Po Tofu with Brown Rice and Garlic Sauteed Pea Tips

Ma Po TofuTHE VERDICT:

This is one of our staple Asian dishes.  We’ve experimented with different incarnations throughout the years and seem to make it slightly different every time.   That being said, the key ingredients are the same, so it usually ends up being consistently tasty.  You can make it more or less spicy depending on your preference, as well as substituting any small green vegetable (peas, green onions) as you desire.  The key is to use soft tofu, which melds well with the sauce and provides a contrast to the pork texture.

The pea tips were from the Trout Lake Farmer’s Market, and were cooked as simply as possible, as there’s not much need to add flavour to the already-tasty vegetable–other than garlic, of course.

Because of the consistency of this dish, it is suitable to serve to an older baby who is more proficient with solid food. If you have a younger baby who is just starting solids, like Zayden, set aside some of the pork and garlic after it has been thoroughly cooked. Using a hand blender or mini chopper, you can then puree it with some water and rice cereal until you get a smoother consistency. Zayden’s verdict: edible, but he still doesn’t like the texture of ground meat as much as he likes other food (like steak).

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Ma Po Tofu (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

Splash of Vegetable Oil

Few cloves of garlic, minced

400g lean ground pork

2 packages soft tofu

5 green onions, or a couple of handfuls of peas

1/4 cup chicken broth

2 Tbsp brown bean paste

2 Tbsp dark soy sauce

1 Tbsp ginger

2 Tbsp Corn Starch

Chili Oil to taste

Kosher Salt to taste

White Pepper to taste

  • braise tofu in barely simmering water over low heat.
  • heat oil in Wok over medium-high heat.
  • add garlic and cook until brown.
  • add ground pork and cook through, stirring to break up.
  • meanwhile, mix chicken broth, brown bean paste, dark soy sauce, ginger and corn starch in a small bowl until corn starch is dissolved.
  • once ground pork is cooked, add sauce and cook until sauce thickens, usually a few minutes.
  • add green onions and tofu, mixing well.
  • add chili oil, kosher salt, and white pepper to taste.
  • serve over rice.

Sauteed Pea Tips (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

4 cloves garlic

Pea Tips

  • saute garlic in vegetable oil until brown.
  • add pea tips, mixing constantly until leaves are soft.

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Cheesy Corn Fritters with Thyme Braised Carrots and Improv’d Spinach Salad

Corn Fritters with Carrots and SaladTHE VERDICT:

We have made these corn fritters a few times now and have enjoyed them so much that we have been inspired to try other types of fritters. These fritters in particular are a great use of leftover ingredients from other recipes. Throw together that egg and milk you wanted to use before the expiry date, add that last bit of cheddar cheese and the remaining green onions from the bunch, toss in some frozen corn and the flour and cornmeal you probably have on hand and you’re done. The fritters pair very well with a simple salad.

They don’t, however, pair very well with thyme braised carrots. Don’t get me wrong; these carrots taste AMAZING! They are one of our go-to side dishes and we make them often, but the braising takes time while the fritters cook up rather quickly. Flavour-wise, the fritters make for a great casual meal while the carrots are a better complement to a roast or other meat dish.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Cheesy Corn Fritters (source: Today’s Parent magazine; original recipe)

Thyme Braised Carrots (source: Food and Wine, original recipe by Daniel Boulud)

Improv’d Spinach Salad (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

5 cups baby spinach

2 tomatoes, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 handful of soy nuts

1/2 cup of feta cheese cubes

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

  • Assemble first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Toss.
  • Drizzle with oil and vinegar

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Spicy Orange Salad

Spicy Orange SaladTHE VERDICT:

We are totally in love with this salad. We tried the recipe for the first time a few weeks ago and have made it twice since then. It is a great summer salad and would be the perfect addition to a barbecue or brunch. It pairs especially well with spicy food as it has a little heat itself, but the juicy and refreshing citrus will keep your mouth from overheating.

The second time we tried it, we combined 2 grapefruit with 2 naval oranges and it still tasted great. We love it as a side dish with Yogurt and Tamarind Grilled Chicken.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Spicy Orange Salad (source: www.epicurious.com; original recipe)

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