Finger Foods For Touchy Twos

When I found out that my nephew Kyle was coming for a sleepover on Friday, I thought what better time to make chicken fingers and yam fries than this.  When I put this meal together, I wanted the kids to be able to eat with their hands because this meal was all about touch and texture. The chicken fingers were soft and tender while the fries were crunchy and sweet. They absolutely loved it!


Cooking Notes:

  • To cut down time, prepare salad in advance and chill it.
  • You can also pre cut the yams and chicken.

Chicken Fingers with Yam Fries and Edamame Salad

Serves 4
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Meal type Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot
Occasion Birthday Party, Casual Party
Region American
Adapted From A Communal Table

Ingredients

  • 2lb Boneless & skinless chicken breasts (sliced into strips)
  • 1 cup All-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons Paprika
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup Pamasan based bread crumbs
  • 1 Large Yam (sliced into fries)
  • 1 cup Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 cups Edamame (shells removed)
  • 1/2 Red onion (diced)
  • 1/2 cup Carrots (shredded)
  • 1 pint Cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro (chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons Soy sauce
  • 1/2 Orange (juiced)
  • 1 tablespoon Rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 2 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 " Ginger (minced)
  • 1/4 cup Canola oil

Directions

Step 1
Preheat the oven at 400 degrees
Step 2
Peel and slice the yam into fries. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a ziplock bag, combine cornstarch, 1 tbsp of paprika and salt. Put a small batch of fries into the bag and start shaking to coat them. Pull them out and lay them on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all the fries are finished. Drizzle them with some olive oil. Set aside.
Step 3
Wash and slice the chicken into strips. Prepare another baking sheet with parchment paper.
Step 4
In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, garlic powder, paprika and salt. Set aside.
Step 5
In a small mixing bowl prepare the egg wash by whisking the egg with a fork and add 2 tbsp of water.
Step 6
In a another mixing bowl place the bread crumbs.
Step 7
Coat each chicken strip with the flour mixture, dip it into the egg wash and roll it with the bread crumbs. Place the breaded chicken on the baking sheet and repeat for all the strips. Drizzle them with olive oil.
Step 8
Place both baking sheets of Yam and Chicken into the oven and set for 12-15 minutes or until browned.
Step 9
Meanwhile prepare the salad. Peel and shred carrots, dice onion, cut the tomatoes in halves, thaw the edamame and chop the cilantro. Just put all the vegetables in a large mixing bowl.
Step 10
In a blender combine soy sauce, orange juice, vinegar, sesame oil, honey, garlic and ginger. Blend until the ginger and garlic are finely minced. Slowly drizzle in the Canola oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning and toss salad.
Step 11
To serve, divide the chicken fingers and fries onto each plate and add a few spoonful of salad. Enjoy!

What’s That Smell?

When it comes to fish, everyone usually thinks it is either smelly, tasteless or boring. I thought we could use this opportunity to make a fish dish that will taste good not just to the adults, but kids too. Therefore this meal is all about the sense of smell! The butter keeps the salmon moist while the herbs give it flavour.

I wasn’t sure if Glee was going to eat it, so I made the wild rice with her favourite sugar snap peas for the sides. When the fish came out of the oven, she smelled it and she was willing to giving it a try and she loved it!

Cooking Notes:

  • You can use any herbs you want as long as the butter base stays the same. It will taste just as good.

Butter Herb Salmon

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Allergy Fish
Meal type Main Dish, Side Dish
Misc Gourmet, Serve Hot
Occasion Formal Party
Region Oceanian
Adapted From Allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 4 6-8oz Salmon steaks
  • 12oz Wild rice mix
  • 1 cup Sugar snap peas
  • 2 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1/2 Lemon (juiced)
  • 1/4 cup Chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Dill (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons Parsley (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
Cook rice according to package instructions
Step 2
Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.
Step 3
Place 1 clove of minced garlic and olive oil in a small microwave safe bowl and cook on High for 1 1/2 minutes. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, and stir in the garlic mixture. Remove from heat; stir in the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, chicken broth, black pepper, garlic powder, and chopped parsley.
Step 4
Preheat the oven's broiler and set the oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source. Line a pan with aluminum foil.
Step 5
Wash and trim the ends off of the sugar snap peas.
Step 6
Place the salmon on the prepared pan. Spoon about 1/3 of the butter sauce over the fillets, and sprinkle evenly with the fresh dill.
Step 7
Broil in the preheated oven for 3 minutes. Turn salmon so that the side faces up, and baste it with about 1/3 of the butter sauce; broil for 3 minutes. Turn the fish to place the opposite side facing up; spoon on the remaining butter sauce; broil until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 3 additional minutes.
Step 8
Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a saute pan on high heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute until golden. Add peas and continue to saute for another 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water and once the steam finished evaporating, add salt to taste. Turn off heat.
Step 9
To serve, divide rice and peas evenly onto plates and top it with a salmon steak! Enjoy!

Fun is What I am Feeling!

Glee is picking up everything we do now. She once saw Huan twirling his spaghetti with a fork before eating it; from then on, she always tries to twirl anything spaghetti like. So I took this opportunity to give her her own plate of spaghetti for twirling. Boy! Was she ever happy?!


I focused on fun for this meal. We sat at the dinner table twirling spaghetti together. She would start saying, “twirl, twirl, twirl!” as she was twirling. Once she had it on her fork, she would say “I did it!” and we all cheered for her. Then we would say, “yum….yum, yum, yum!” and she would repeat and start eating the spaghetti. She was so happy and absolutely adorable!

Cooking Notes:

  • This meal is extra easy to prepare because you already have your Meat Sauce done from the lasagna meal.
  • If you want it to be healthier, you can replace the spaghetti with whole wheat spaghetti.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 20 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Occasion Birthday Party, Casual Party
Region Italian

Ingredients

  • 12oz Spaghetti
  • 2 cups Meat Sauce (please see recipes from Meaty Lasagna)
  • 1 Large Zucchini (chopped)
  • 1 Red pepper (chopped)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
In a large pot cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain pasta and divide them evenly onto plates.
Step 2
Meanwhile heat up the meat sauce in a small sauce pan on medium-low heat. Stir occasionally.
Step 3
Wash and chop vegetables.
Step 4
Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Saute vegetables until soft, 5 minutes. Add salt to taste and set aside.
Step 5
To serve, top the spaghetti with the saute vegetables and spoon sauce over the pasta. Enjoy!

Take A Bite!

This meal is focused on tastes and textures. While the juicy pork tenderloin gives it a salty taste, the apple toppings balanced it with a sweet and sour taste. I even added the corn to the mashed potatoes to give it texture and that extra little surprise element when Glee takes a bite. I know Glee loves corn, so that also gives reassurance that it will be a successful meal for the family.

Cooking Notes:

  • When I serve the apple toppings on Glee’s plate, I took the time to pick out only apples for her. The tarragon and shallots might be too strong for her, so I just left it for the adults. She ended up eating the apples anyway.

Pork Tenderloin with Apples & Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Meal type Main Dish, Salad
Misc Gourmet, Serve Hot
Occasion Casual Party, Formal Party
Region American
Inspired By Michael Symon

Ingredients

  • 4 6-8oz Pork tenderloin
  • 1 cup Frozen corn
  • 4 Russet potatoes
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard
  • 1 Granny smith apple
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1 tablespoon Tarragon
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Grain mustard
  • 8 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
Wash, peel and cut the potatoes into chunks.
Step 2
Add potatoes to a pot with hot water. Add the bay leaf and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer and allow to cook until very tender, approximately 20-30 minutes.
Step 3
Meanwhile, season pork with salt and pepper on both sides.
Step 4
Thinly slice the shallot, apple and put them in a mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt, sherry vinegar, 4 tbsp of olive oil, mustard and torn tarragon. Toss to combine and season with more salt if necessary.
Step 5
Wash and chop swiss chard.
Step 6
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Add pork and pan roast for about 2 minutes per side. Remove pork from pan.
Step 7
Place swiss chard in the skillet and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes and flip. Cook until greens have wilted.
Step 8
The potatoes should be tender by now, drain the water and discard the bay leaves. Put the potatoes into mixing bowl. Add butter and corn and start mashing. Adjust taste with salt.
Step 9
To Serve: Divide mashed potatoes evenly on plates. Top it with swiss chard and add a piece of pork. Top the pork with some of the apple tarragon salad and a drizzle of the vinaigrette from the bowl.

I Can Sing A Rainbow

One of Glee’s favourite songs is:

I Can Sing A Rainbow
Red and yellow and pink and green
Purple and orange and blue
I can sing a rainbow,
sing a rainbow,
sing a rainbow too.

Listen with your eyes,
Listen with your eyes,
and sing everything you see,
Now you can sing a rainbow,
sing a rainbow,
sing along with me.

The focus of this meal was colours. The main course of lasagna carried out the bold red which caught Glee’s attention. I paired it with the Greek Salad to incorporate the rest of the rainbow colours. The results were just amazing; not only Glee got to review her colours, but loved eating the meal too. She was super happy to have her auntie Gwei Mui as company and it was great that the adults enjoyed the meal too!

Cooking Notes:

  • Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of ingredients in this recipe. They are not hard to prepare or super special in any way. You may notice that there are 10 servings for the meat sauce, because the meat sauce is also used for the Spaghetti with Meat Sauce later in the week.
  • You can prepare the meat sauce in advance and freeze them in individual portions and they are good for several weeks.
  • You can use the slow cooker for the simmering process. Just set it on low for 4-6 hours.
  • Salad can also be prepared the night before to chill until ready to be eaten.

Meaty Lasagna

Serves 10
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Meal type Bread, Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Occasion Birthday Party, Casual Party, Christmas, Halloween
Region Italian
Adapted From All Recipes

Ingredients

Salad

  • 2 Tomatoes (chopped into chunks)
  • 1/2 English cucumber (chopped into chunks)
  • 1/2 Green pepper (chopped)
  • 1/2 Red pepper (chopped)
  • 1 Small Red onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Black olives (drained)
  • 1 1/2 cup Feta cheese (coarsely crumbled)

Dressing

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Dry oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dry basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup Red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

Meat Sauce

  • 1lb Ground beef
  • 1lb Italian sausages (mild)
  • 1 Large Onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves Garlic (diced)
  • 1 can Crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 2 cans Tomato paste (total: 12 ounces)
  • 2 cans Tomato sauce (total: 13 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons Fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 12 sheets Lasagna noodles (whole wheat or plain)
  • 3/4lb Mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • 8 Slices Garlic bread (ready to bake)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Step 1
Slit sausages and remove outer layer.
Step 2
In a large pot, saute onions and garlic on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add ground beef and sausages until well browned. Remove from heat and strain the fat with a strainer. Return to pot.
Step 3
Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and 1/2 cup of water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Step 4
Meanwhile make the salad. Prepare all the ingredients: wash and cut vegetables.
Step 5
Make salad dressing; in a bowl combine 1/2 tsp oregano, garlic powder, dried basil, onion powder, mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and 3 tbsp olive oil. Mix well.
Step 6
In a large mixing bowl, toss bell peppers, red onion, cucumber, tomato chunks and 1/2 cup of feta cheese with the dressing. Chill until ready to eat.
Step 7
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water.
Step 8
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Step 9
To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 4x6 baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce, cover the layer of noodles with another layer of meat sauce and repeat. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese. Cover with slit foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
Step 10
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Step 11
Meanwhile, bake your garlic bread as per package instruction.
Step 12
To serve cut lasagna and serve it with a side of salad and garlic bread.

Cuddling up with Curry

Curry reminds me of India and the time when Huan and I first dated.  Back then he worked for a bank and he had to travel for work a couple times a year.  Most of his trips were a week here and there to New York or somewhere close.

One time he was sent to India for three weeks.  It might sound like nothing now, but for a new couple who just got together it felt like an eternity.  We were together for less than three months at the time.  We would spend most of our nights together in my little apartment cooking and watching DVDs while cuddling up in a warm blanket. While he was gone, nights became really lonely especially when I lived on my own.  Thank god for emails and internet, we were able to communicate quite effectively even when he was half way around the world.

There is a saying “Distance makes the hearts grow fonder!”  I can truly say that I’ve experienced it!  I would spend my nights under the same blanket writing him so that he would have something to read when he was done work.  I would then wake up to a love email from him.  It was one of the most romantic things I’ve ever done in my life.  Up until today, I still have a copy of those love emails and from time to time we would make curry and cuddle up to read them together to bring back the fond memories and remind each other of what we have together.

Food Facts:

  • Curry powder contains curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and has an anti-inflammatory agent that helps to reduce inflammation of the joints.  It is known to be helpful for people suffering from arthritis, especially ones who are allergic to synthetic drugs. The best aspect of the spice is that it is a side-effect free solution to your pain.
  • Curcumin is also believed to deactivate genes responsible for triggering breast cancer. It is also effective against slowing down prostate and colorectal cancers. Regular consumption of curry powder helps to stabilize pancreatic cancer.
  • Curry powder is rich in turmeric, a medicinally potent spice; it helps to fight against skin cancer.
  • Consuming curry on an everyday basis is known to boost memory.
  • Curry powder helps to treat several sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea and chlamydia.
  • Because of its anti-ageing properties, it is used extensively to fight skin ageing. It is also extensively used to treat skin burns and cuts.
  • Curry is believed to fight Alzheimer’s disease. One of the major causes of Alzheimers is a plaque that debilitates the victims. Curcumin effectively blocks Alzheimer causing plaque, subsequently protecting the brain.
Cooking Notes:
  • This is a very flexible recipe.  You can replace the chicken with firm tofu and turn it into a vegetarian meal.  It will also go well with beef as well.
  • The vegetables can be easily substituted with your family’s favourites.

Curry Chicken

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 25 minutes
Allergy Peanuts, Tree Nuts
Meal type Main Dish, Soup
Misc Child Friendly, Gourmet, Serve Hot
Occasion Formal Party
Region Thai
Adapted From Recipris Leaf it to Pri

Ingredients

  • 1lb Boneless & skinless chicken breasts (cubed)
  • 1 1/2 cup White rice
  • 1/2 bunch Asparagus (chopped)
  • 1 Red pepper (chopped)
  • 1 Green pepper (chopped)
  • 1 cup White mushrooms (chopped)
  • 2 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 " Ginger (grated)
  • 1 Small Lime (juiced)
  • 2 cups Coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons Brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons Curry powder
  • 1 bunch Red basil leaves (chopped)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt (to taste)

Optional

  • 3 tablespoons Roasted peanuts (or cashew nuts)

Directions

Step 1
Cook white rice as per package instructions.
Step 2
Prepare all the ingredients before starting.
Step 3
In a medium pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat.
Step 4
Once hot, add ginger and garlic and let cook until light brown.
Step 5
Add chicken cubes and cook for 5 minutes or until all sides start to brown. Stir in curry powder.
Step 6
Add coconut milk, brown sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice and turn heat up to medium-high to bring it to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 7
Add vegetables and basil leaves and let simmer for 5 minutes until vegetables are soft.
Step 8
Serve with crushed peanuts with a side of white rice.

Rooting a Rutabaga

This is my first time using rutabaga.  I always saw it in supermarkets and didn’t know what it was.  Until I got this beef stew recipe, I was really anxious to try it.  I found out that rutabaga is a root vegetable.  when I was a kid I was always wondering how people discovered root vegetables in the first place.  I mean they are not obvious as the root is underneath the soil.

I remembered asking my parents this exact question many years ago.  They told me a story about the hardship they went through during Khmer Rouge.  It was a horrible genocidal event that happened in Cambodia between 1976-1979.  Over 2 million people were killed and they were lucky to have survived such a near death event.  They were striped of freedom and forced to work in the rice fields for the government.  Food was only given to them if there were any leftovers from the harvest.  In other words, they were always hungry and had to look everywhere for edible things.  My father told me that he ate tree bark and plenty of roots just to survive.  He said I am sure that was how people discovered root vegetables!

After hearing the story, I felt really sad and scared at the same time.  The reason was because I thought events like this were ancient history.  I couldn’t believe how recent it was and my parents still came out this positive.  I couldn’t believe a simple root vegetable question has helped me dig up so much family history. This just goes to show that you really can’t judge a book by its cover.  Just like the root vegetables, you can never tell what you are going to get underneath.

Food Facts: 

  • Regular consumption of rutabaga increases milk production capacity, stamina and digestion.
  • Being an excellent source of vitamin C, rutabaga helps in reducing wheezing in asthma patients. Lack of vitamin C results in scurvy, which causes easy bruising. Consuming rutabaga considerably reduces the incidence of bruising.
  • Rutabagas are also known to reduce the risk of cataract formation and support the structure of capillaries.
  • An excellent source of potassium, rutabaga helps in decreasing stroke mortality. Potassium is also known to lower high blood pressure.
  • They are also recommended for people with problems of constipation.
Cooking Notes:
  • You can just use any type of root vegetables.  To save time, just chop them in advance.
  • This stew is also great for freezing, don’t forget to freeze it individually.

Irish Beef Stew

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Dietary Diabetic
Meal type Bread, Main Dish, Salad
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Occasion Casual Party, Christmas
Region Irish
Adapted From Taste Food

Ingredients

  • 2lb Beef chuck (cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 1 Small loaf Baguette
  • 12oz Spring mix greens
  • 2 Large Carrots (chopped into chunks)
  • 1 Large Rutabaga (chopped into chunks)
  • 1/2lb Potatoes (chopped into chunks)
  • 4 cloves Garlic (diced)
  • 1 Large Onion (chopped into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1/2 Lemon (juice)
  • 1/3 cup Tomato paste
  • 3 cups Beef stock
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
Cut the beef into chunks, season them with salt and pepper and set aside.
Step 2
Prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Step 3
In a large pot, heat up 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add beef in batches to pot in one layer, without overcrowding. Brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining beef. Return beef to pot and add the garlic. Saute 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook stirring, one minute. Add stock, beer, thyme, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. The meat should be just covered with liquid. If not, add additional stock or beer to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until meat is tender, 1/2 hour.
Step 4
While the meat is cooking heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep skillet or large pot over medium heat. Add vegetables and lightly sprinkle with salt. Saute the vegetables until they brighten in color and begin to take on a golden hue, 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 5
Skim fat on the surface of the beef liquid with a spoon. Add vegetables to the beef, stirring to combine. Let simmer for another 20 minutes or until the sauce is slightly reduced, the vegetables are tender and the meat is fork-tender. Remove and taste for seasoning.
Step 6
Meanwhile combine dijon mustard, honey, EVOO, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make salad dressing. Mix well.
Step 7
Toss salad and slice baguette.
Step 8
To serve, ladle stew in a medium bowl with a slice of bread and a side salad. Enjoy!

Adventurous with Avocado

When Glee started solid food, avocados were one of the first few foods I gave her.  I chose avocado because it is packed with nutrients, so for a growing baby it was perfect.  It was soft enough for Glee to chew with her gums and you don’t need a lot of it to get the same nutrients as other foods.

The fact that Glee could practice her motor skills trying to grab a slippery slice was just a bonus.  She would try to poke it with a fork, then her fingers and make a mess as you can see from the above photo.  Actually this picture served as one of the inspiration pieces for Gleeful Gourmets’ logo.  I loved how happy she looked with food!  Can you see any elements taken from this photo in GG’s logo?

This creamy avocado pasta with chicken breast became Glee’s absolute favourite meal. Especially when I use spaghetti because she can never get enough noodles!

Food Facts: 

  • Avocado paste, if applied to rashes and rough skin, makes the skin smoother.
  • Being rich in magnesium, an avocado helps produce energy and is good for muscle contraction and relaxation.
  • Avocados have been found to be helpful in lowering cholesterol levels, mainly because of the presence of beta-sitosterol.
  • Consumption of avocados is good for those suffering from psoriasis and bad breath.
  • Being rich in vitamin C and vitamin E, both of them having antioxidant properties, avocados help in slowing down the aging process.
  • Cutting and rubbing the flesh of a ripe avocado on sun-burnt skin helps in soothing it.
  • Glutathione, present in avocados, acts as an antioxidant and helps neutralize free radicals that can cause cell damage and lead to diseases.
  • Since an avocado is rich in monounsaturated fats, it helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and boost HDL (good) cholesterol.
  • Avocado is good for people suffering from digestive and circulatory problems.
  • The potassium in avocados helps keep the body’s electrolytes in balance.
  • The presence of folate in avocados promotes healthy cell and tissue development.
  • Avocados have been found to offer protection against heart disease as well as various forms of cancer.
  • The presence of Lutein in an avocado makes it act as a protection against muscular degeneration and eye diseases like cataract.

Cooking Notes:

  • If you like sundried tomatoes, you can replace the cherry tomatoes and save yourself the baking time.

Creamy Avocado Pasta with Chicken Breast

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Gourmet, Serve Hot
Occasion Birthday Party
Region Canadian
Adapted From Flourishing Foodie

Ingredients

  • 2 Large Boneless & skinless chicken breasts (filleted)
  • 12oz Pasta (spaghetti or fettuccine)
  • 1 cup Cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 2 Ripe avocados (pit and skin removed)
  • 2 cloves Garlic (peeled)
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
Preheat oven to 300 ºF.
Step 2
Wash and cut the tomatoes in half. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle just enough olive oil to make the tomatoes glisten. Bake for 40 minutes in the oven.
Step 3
Fillet chicken breasts into 4 pieces. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil and set aside.
Step 4
Cut avocados in halves and remove pits. Peel garlic.
Step 5
In a food processor, pulse avocados, garlic, 2 tbsp of olive oil, lemon juice and salt until the ingredients are smooth and creamy.
Step 6
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a sprinkle of salt. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
Step 7
Strain the pasta, and combine with the creamy avocados blend in a large bowl, until all the pasta has been covered.
Step 8
In a medium saute pan, sear the chicken breast on high heat. Cook 5 minutes on each side until it starts to brown.
Step 9
Add the roasted tomatoes to pasta and divide them evenly on each plate and top it with a piece of seared chicken breast. Enjoy!

Spinning Spinach

Over the last weekend, I attended a wedding dinner party and one of the conversationa was about a salad spinner. The debate was whether it was a useful tool?!  I know most Asians don’t find it useful because they simply don’t eat a lot of fresh salad.

I remembered having a conversation with my uncle when I lived in Cambodia a few years back.  I made him a steak dinner with a fresh salad.  He wasn’t used to eating uncooked vegetables because of his mental block from the past.  He told me that back then it was hard to find safe drinking water, so they had to cook everything before putting it in their mouth including water.  In the modern days, in most parts of the world drinking water is so accessible that we sometimes take it for granted.  We need to constantly remind ourselves to look around, appreciate and be grateful of all the things we have, especially when we are having a bad day!

This explained why I only remembered having cooked spinach as a child.  In this meal, I incorporated both cooked and fresh spinach because spinach has a lot of health benefits as listed below.  The fresh spinach was mixed into the arugula and you definitely need to use the salad spinner to spin the spinach after washing it.  Otherwise water will cling to the leaves and your dressing will be watery.  Spin your salad and you will notice the world of difference!

Food Facts: 

  • Spinach is very rich in Vitamin A, which makes it beneficial for weak eyes. Any kind of strain on the eyes is reduced to a great extent and the eye muscles are made stronger.
  • The thickening and hardening of arteries is prevented due to substances like choline and inositol, which are present in significant amounts to make sure the blood arteries remain healthy.
  • Diabetics can particularly benefit from spinach since it is known that eating spinach regularly can stabilize blood sugar and prevent it from fluctuating often.
  • A particular substance known as flavonoid is present in spinach which is a powerful anti-oxidant and also has anti-cancer agents like carotenoid, preventing the formation of tumors.
  • Spinach is known to be an anti-aging vegetable and reverses age related breakdowns, making you look youthful and fresh. It also has a good amount of Vitamin K which helps in the clotting of blood in case of injury.

Italian Layered Chicken

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Allergy Egg
Dietary Diabetic
Meal type Bread, Main Dish, Salad
Misc Child Friendly, Gourmet, Serve Hot
Occasion Casual Party
Region Italian
Adapted From Longo Experience Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 Large Boneless chicken breasts (cut into 2 fillets)
  • 1 Loaf Small baguette
  • 1 cup Mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 cup Spinach (chopped)
  • 12oz Arugula mix
  • 1 clove Garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 Lemon (for 1 tbsp of juice)
  • 1/2 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • 1 Egg (beaten)
  • 5 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard
  • 1 cup Tomato (or pasta sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
Preheat oven to 375 Degrees
Step 2
Pull out butter to let it warm up to room temperature.
Step 3
Season chicken with salt and pepper, garlic and drizzle olive oil and let stand for 5 minutes.
Step 4
In a medium bowl, beat egg and mix in ricotta cheese and set aside.
Step 5
Slice mushrooms and chop spinach.
Step 6
In a Saute pan, heat 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat and saute mushrooms until soft. Add spinach, cover and cook until spinach is wilted about 2 minutes.
Step 7
Add saute mushrooms and spinach to ricotta cheese mix. Mix well.
Step 8
Return pan to stove and add 1 tbsp of butter. Sear chicken until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and set aside.
Step 9
In a baking pan, spread 1/2 of tomato sauce and top it with 1 piece of chicken, layer it with the ricotta mixture. Repeat layers and finish with mozzarella cheese.
Step 10
Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes or until chicken has reached a minimum internal temperature of 170 degrees.
Step 11
Meanwhile, slice your bread without going all the way through. Mix the remaining butter with garlic salt and Italian seasoning, smear the flavoured butter in between the slices and wrap it up in foil and stick it into the oven with your chicken.
Step 12
In a small bowl, mix together mustard, lemon juice, pinch of salt and pepper and EVOO and whisk lightly to make a dressing. Toss the arugula mix.
Step 13
To serve, cut the chicken and serve with a side of salad and garlic bread.

Go Wild With Wild Rice!

The first time I encountered wild rice was through my husbands second cousin, Toan.  At that time, he just moved into town as a dance student.  To thank us for helping him find a place and settle in, he offered to cook us dinner.  He made a baked fish with wild rice and shrimp tempura as appetizer.  I was so intrigued by the wild rice that I don’t remember the fish.  All I remembered was that the meal was not only healthy but very impressive.  He even went to the extent in making his own multi-grain bread.

From that day on, wild rice was one of my favourite grains.  It is beautiful in colour with great texture, and best of all it is better for you than almost any other rice.  I know it can be expensive compared to other types of rice; that’s why I usually mix it with brown and red rice.  So go wild with wild rice as the possibilities are endless!

Toan has ventured out to China a few years back.  I can’t wait to see him again and I hope that I will be luck enough to get to taste one of his yummy meals in the near future.

Food Facts:  

  • Wild rice is high in protein, the amino acid lysine and dietary fiber, and low in fat.
  • Like true rice, it does not contain gluten.
  • It is also a good source of certain minerals and B vitamins.
  • One cup of cooked wild rice provides 5% or more of the daily value of thiamin, riboflavin, iron, and potassium; 10% or more of the daily value of niacin, b6, folate, magnesium, phosphorus; 15% of zinc; and over 20% of manganese.

Cooking Notes:

  • You can prepare the fish by wrapping them in foil and keep in the refrigerator the night before and when it comes to dinner time, just pop them in the oven.

Poached Fish with Wild Rice

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 20 minutes
Allergy Fish
Meal type Main Dish, Side Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Occasion Casual Party
Region Canadian
Adapted From Just A Pinch Recipes

Ingredients

  • 4 6-8oz Fish fIllets
  • 1 cup Wild rice mix
  • 1 Green pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 2 Green onions (chopped into same length as peppers)
  • 1 Large Tomato (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon Dry basil
  • 1 Lemon
  • White pepper (to taste)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
Cook rice according to package instructions
Step 2
Prepare the vegetables.
Step 3
Cut tin foil into 12X16 inch rectangle.
Step 4
Place green pepper, tomato and green onion on lower half of foil sheet.
Step 5
Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon basil, salt and pepper.
Step 6
Place fish on vegetables.
Step 7
Sprinkle with remaining basil, salt and pepper.
Step 8
Top with lemon slices.
Step 9
Fold upper half of foil over fish and vegetables.
Step 10
Double fold edges of foil to make a tight 1/2 inch seal.
Step 11
Place foil envelope on baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or until envelope puffs.
Step 12
To serve, divide the rice evenly into each plate and cut an "X" in top of envelope and fold foil back. Transfer fish and vegetables onto each plate of rice. Enjoy!