Monthly Archives: February 2010

7-Layer Dip

This was meant to be posted on Friday night.  But, I decided to bake cookies instead and didn’t get around to posting it.  Then, after spending all weekend in Vancouver at the Olympics, I needed a night of rest.  Hence, this post is a few days late.  But maybe you can have this dip for your Friday night meal, like I had it for mine last weekend!

After last week, I know why I plan my meals each week! 

1.  I like knowing what I’m having each night for dinner.
2.  Going to the grocery store after work each night isn’t fun.
3.  Spending time after school looking for recipes isn’t exactly the best use of my time
4. I like knowing what’s for dinner each night (wait, did I say that already?)

I am a routine oriented person.  I love my routines, which is probably why I love teaching grade 3 and 4.  I get to make the routines and keep them! 

So, when I wasn’t teaching today, I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  After school I decided to look on one of my favourite recipe blogs, www.simplyrecipes.com, which is a fantastic blog, by the way!  I clicked on “Quick Meals” and the first thing to come up was 7-Layer Dip.  Probably because the list was alphabetical, and numbers came before the actual alphabet.

I’m not sure if I’ve said this already in another post, but I love appetizers, and especially dip.  So, when a dip came up under quick meals, I thought…. why not make dip for dinner?  It’s really ingenious, if you think about it!!  It’s actually not THAT unhealthy.  It’s got beans (protein), sour cream and cheese (dairy), avocado, tomato and jalapenos (veggies) plus chips (grains).  So, basically, I have a meal that encompasses every food group (at least all the ones that matter; tomatoes are actually a fruit, you know!).

So, I did it.  Dip and only dip for dinner.  I feel like I’m breaking a cardinal rule and my mom would disapprove.  But, I called her while I was making dinner, and she helped me justify it.  Thanks, Mom!  I made some adjustments to the dip, and it was so good! 

The recipe calls for bacon or bacon fat.  This is the first time in my life I have actually seen a recipe that calls for bacon fat.  My grandma used to keep a coffee can of bacon fat on the stove, and I always wondered why.  I’m still not sure I would keep bacon fat, but at least now I have a recipe that calls for it.  If you omit this, the recipe is vegetarian!

7-Layer Bean Dip
Recipe adapted from http://simplyrecipes.com/
Makes 8 servings (or more like 2-3 for dinner.  I was hungry!)

1 strip of bacon, minced (or 1 tsp bacon fat), optional
1-14 oz can refried beans (I used a can of refried black beans– low-fat…)
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cumin
Salt
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (you could also use Monterey Jack)
1 Tbsp of chopped pickled jalapenos (more to taste)
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, cut in half horizontally, seeds and juice squeezed out and discarded, flesh chopped
1/3 cup of sour cream
1 small can of sliced olives

Cook the bacon in a medium pan until crisp.  Add in the refried beans.  Stir in enough water to get a good dipping consistency.  I added about 2 Tbsp, the original recipe called for about 1/4 cup.  Mix in the chipotle chili powder and cumin to taste.  I also misread the recipe and mixed in my chopped jalapenos here.  And I added more to the top.  It was spicy and oh-so-delicious!  Make it a bit spicier than you think you will like it, because the avocados and sour cream will cool it down.  Stir in some salt to taste. 

When the beans are hot and bubbly, spread them on a warm serving dish (I used a dinner plate).  Immediately add the Cheddar cheese so it melts a bit.  Layer on the chopped jalapenos, avocado and tomato.  Spoon the sour cream on over top and sprinkle over the olives. 

Serve immediately with tortilla chips.  I highly recommend having a few people over when you have this, unless you want to eat it all.  You won’t be able to stop.  My husband and I ate almost the whole thing for dinner.  And yes, it was totally worth having dip for dinner. 

Enjoy this!!!
XOXO,
The Hungry Teacher

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Tuna Casserole

Today, we woke up at 4:30 and went with the grades 4-7 from school to the Olympics!  We watched Women’s Round Robin Curling.  It was a great day!  The Canadian women’s team won over the team from Japan.  It was a close game, and it came down to the last end (an “end” is a round in curling, in case you didn’t know.  I didn’t, until today).  The kids had a great time, and so did we!

Tuna casserole is one of THE comfort foods of all comfort foods, in my opinion.  It’s creamy, cheesy and oh so delicious!  I have loved tuna casserole for as long as I can remember.  It’s one of the first meals I made as a kid!  On a day when you wake up at 4:30, comfort food is what you want for dinner.

This recipe is so easy and so delicious.  It’s not very healthy, but some days, comfort is the most important thing!

Some tips to make this recipe even more successful for you are:
–  Cook the macaroni less than you normally would.  It will cook more in the oven!
–  I think you can probably cut down the butter.  I used approximately 2-3 Tbsp. of butter and it was great.
–  Low fat milk is fine to use.
–  Be careful not to add too much salt, as the mushroom soup, the cheese and possibly the butter are all salty. 

Tuna Casserole
Recipe from The Tolmie Family Cookbook

2 cups uncooked macaroni
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can tuna, drained
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated, divided

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Get a large pot of salted water on the stove and boil.  When it is boiling, add the macaroni.  Cook the macaroni until it still has a firm bite.  Drain the macaroni.

In a 1-1/2 qt casserole dish (or an 8×8″ pan), combine the macaroni, mushroom soup, tuna, milk and butter.  Stir in half of the cheddar cheese, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese on top.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted, and the casserole is bubbly.  Enjoy!

The leftovers are great heated up the next day for lunch.

The Hungry Teacher

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Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Crispy Ham

I have the best husband!  We stayed home for Valentine’s Day and made roasted chicken.  Yum!!  It’s one of his most favourite dishes in the world, which made it worth staying home!  I still want to go out for a date though, so we’re going to find another day to go out!  It was also totally worth staying home to watch the Olympics!  We got to witness Canada get it’s first gold medal on home soil!!!!  Yay Alexandre Bilodeau!!  It’s been pretty incredible to watch the Olympics soooo close to home!  We’re going to watch women’s preliminary curling tomorrow with school!  We’re both pretty incredibly excited!

Anyways, back to my amazing husband.  I worked a long day yesterday and finally got home at 6:00pm, exhausted.  The husband had the potatoes all cut up, the water boiling, and he helped me make dinner.  It was great!  He even plated up the meal for me AND took the picture!  Wow!  I appreciate him so much, especially on those days when I’m just tired!

So, back to this meal.  It is a super easy dinner from Jamie’s Food Revolution, which is a fantastic cookbook, by the way!  Jamie’s recipes turn out every time and they’re easy with lots of pictures and great directions!

This was a bit of an expensive meal, as it has chicken wrapped in prosciutto.  Jamie says that you can substitute Parma ham, or bacon.  I would recommend the prosciutto, simply because it lends a unique flavour and texture to the meal.  Plus, it reminds me of Italy.

One kitchen gadget that I absolutely cannot live without is my Microplane zester.  This is an incredibly sharp grater that is perfect for Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, chocolate or nuts.  Please, please, please buy fresh Parmesan cheese and grate it.  It keeps for a long time in the fridge, and with a Microplane, it is incredibly easy to grate a bit for your meal.

We served this meal with mashed potatoes and green salad.  The potatoes took twice as long to boil as the chicken took to prepare and cook!  Start your potatoes early, because this chicken is really quick!

Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Crispy Posh Ham
Recipe from Jamie’s Food Revolution
Serves 2

2 sprigs fresh thyme (I have dried thyme from my herb garden last summer, which is a good substitute)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon
Parmesan cheese
6 slices prosciutto

Strip the thyme leaves off the stalks.  Carefully score the bottom of the chicken breast (the ugly side) in a criss cross fashion.  Season with some pepper (you don’t need salt, because the prosciutto is salty).  Sprinkle over most of the thyme.  Grate some lemon zest over them, and sprinkle with grated Parmesan (I always grate it directly over top).  Lay 3 prosciutto slices on each chicken breast, overlapping them slightly.  Drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle the rest of the thyme leaves on stop.  Put some plastic wrap over the chicken breast and pound them with the bottom of a heavy pan (or use a meat pounder) until they are about 1/4″ thick. 

Place a frying pan over medium meat.  Remove the plastic wrap and carefully put the chicken in the pan, prosciutto side down.  Drizzle some olive oil on top.  Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, turning halfway through.  Cook the prosciutto side a little longer, to let it crisp up.  Serve the chicken with a lemon wedge on the side to squeeze over.  Jamie Oliver says to drizzle them with some more olive oil, and who am I to argue with him?!?

XOXO,
The Hungry Teacher

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I Love Cornbread

Cornbread is one of my favourite foods.  I should say that I have about twenty-five favourite foods!  But, I love cornbread.  I’m not sure what it is… maybe the golden yellow colour, the crumbly, amazing texture, the feel of cornmeal, the taste of butter melted on top… it could be any one of those things!!  It’s so delicious!

This recipe comes from a parent at my school.  The grade 7’s made hot lunch for the entire school, and their cornbread was delicious!  So, I asked for the recipe.  It may just be the  oddest place I have ever acquired a recipe, but a good recipe is a good recipe!!!!

Now, before I get to the recipe, I just have to say how proud I am to be a Canadian!  The Olympics are practically in my backyard, and all day today my husband and I have been glued to the TV, cheering on our country!  We’ve watched speed skating, women’s moguls and women’s hockey!  The Opening Ceremonies last night was incredible!  I am a Canadian!!!!!!  Next week, we are going to watch women’s preliminary curling (Canada vs. Japan) and also men’s hockey preliminary (Canada vs. US!)!!!!!!!!  GO, CANADA, GO!

Cornbread
Recipe from a parent at my school
Recipe serves 8 to 10.
I doubled the recipe and made it in a 9×13 pan, and cut it into 32 pieces.

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2-3 Tbsp sugar (I used 3)
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp butter
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil or melted butter (I used butter)

Preheat oven to 400°F. 

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Add 1 Tbsp butter to a 10-inch cast iron skillet, a 9-inch round pan or a 8×8 pan.  Place in hot oven for about 3 minutes, or until butter melts.  Remove pan from oven, swirl butter to coat the bottom and sides of pan.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine eggs, milk, and oil.  Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened.  Pour batter into hot pan.  Bake for 15-2o minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  If you doubled the recipe, you may need to bake the cornbread for longer.  Serve warm!  

Enjoy this delicious treat!
The Hungry Teacher

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British Beef and Onion Pie

When we were in Britain this summer, the husband had a steak and ale pie that he really enjoyed.  I saw a recipe for British Beef and Onion Pie in Jamie’s Food Revolution.  I decided I had to try it!  I had picked out the recipe a few weeks ago, and I finally made it this week.

Now, I plan my meals each week.  That may seem crazy, but I hate not knowing what I’m going to have for dinner.  Ask my mom- I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember!!!  I had planned to make the Beef Pie for dinner on Monday.  I made my pie crusts on Sunday, while the husband was watching football.  Well, I sat down to eat breakfast on Monday morning, and I decided to read through the recipe.  Good thing I did!  The filling for the pie had to simmer for an hour, and then cool down and then once the pie was ready to go, it had to bake for 40 minutes!  There is no way I have two hours for dinner on a week night!  So, I made something different for dinner that night. 

While my dinner on Monday (Aussie Chicken, yum!  One day I’ll post the recipe) was cooking, I made the filling for the Pie and let it simmer for an hour.  After that, I let it cool down, and then I put it in the fridge.  So, tonight, when I made dinner, I just took out the filling and my pie crusts, assembled it, and cooked the pie for about 55 minutes.  It was great!  The filling has awesome flavour.  The pie is really rich and delicious.  We ate it with a green salad for dinner. 

Now, obviously, this dinner was not a quick meal.  But if you have some time on the weekend or another weeknight to prepare the filling, it  only takes about 45 minutes to cook!  The pie is really comfort food at its finest. 

Jamie’s recipe called for only a pie crust on the top, but I made mine with a double pie crust.  I had enough filling to make two pies (I froze half of the filling for next time).  The original recipe also called for Marmite.  I added some extra Worcestershire sauce to the filling, and it was fine!  Next time, I think I’m going to make these in ramekins as individual pot pies!  They would be so cute!  Or, what about making them in muffin tins, with a double pie crust for appetizers?  It could be a lot of fun!

Jamie’s British Beef and Onion Pie
adapted from Jamie’s Food Revolution
serves 4

3 medium onions
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 pound ground beef
1 tsp. English mustard (I used Dijon as a substitute)
1 tsp. Marmite (I added extra Worcestershire sauce)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp flour, plus extra for dusting
4 cups beef broth
2 x 9″ pie crusts
1 large egg or a splash of milk

Peel and finely chop onions, carrots and celery.  Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the vegetables, rosemary and the bay leaves.  Stir about once a minute for ten minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and lightly coloured.  Stir in the ground beef, breaking up large chunks.  Stir in the mustard, Marmite, Worcestershire sauce and 2 tsp of flour.  Add the beef broth and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and let simmer, covered with the lid slightly askew for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Take out your pastry shell and fill with the filling.   Dust a clean work surface with flour.  Roll out your top pie crust until it is big enough to cover the top of your pie plate.  Carefully fold the crust in half and place on your pie.  Trim the excess crust off the edge of the pie with a sharp knife.  Push the edges of the pie together and seal with your fingers.  Cut some slits in the top crust of the pie to let out steam.  Brush the top of the pie with either beaten egg or milk.  Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden. 

Serve with a green salad or other vegetable!  Simply scrumptious!

Enjoy!
The Hungry Teacher

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Cuban Black Beans and Rice

In May, we went to Cuba for my brother-in-law’s wedding.  The wedding was in Varadero (where we went for our honeymoon).  While we were there, we had the opportunity to go into Havana for a couple of days.  Havana is an interesting, incredible city, full of unique sights and sounds that are uniquely Cuban.  While we were there, we went for a dinner in someone’s house (it was kind of a restaurant in a house).   We had a feast there!  One of the dishes that was my favourite was Black Beans and Rice. 

These are pictures of some of the sights and sounds of Havana.

I have been looking for a recipe to try since we got back.  Well, when reading blogs, I came across this recipe on Peanut Butter & Jargon.  I decided I had to give it a try! 

This dish is delicious!  While it is not authentic, like the beans and rice we tried in Cuba, it was so good!  It’s hard to convince my carnivorous husband that a meatless meal is okay occasionally.  I managed to convince him to try it.  He enjoyed it as much as I did!  Beans and rice together form a complete protein, so it’s a complete meal in a bowl!  Yum!

This meal is so quick to make!  The original recipe calls for cilantro, but for some reason, I don’t like cilantro, so I omitted it.  If you like it, you can add some chopped cilantro to the top for garnish and flavour.  If I had some, I would have used parsley as a substitute. 

Cuban Black Beans and Rice
adapted from Peanut Butter & Jargon
Serves 3-4

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp chili powder
1-1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
2-14 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed (for some reason, 14 oz cans of black beans are not sold here, so I used 2 19 oz cans of beans.  It worked out just fine!)
1/3 cup water
hot sauce, to taste (I added quite a bit of Tabasco)
1 bay leaf
cooked rice

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, red pepper and garlic, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chili powder, cumin and oregano.  Cook and stir for 30 seconds.  Add the diced tomatoes, black beans, water, hot sauce and bay leaf.  Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until thickened.  Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over the rice.  I put some grated Cheddar cheese on top of ours.  Delicious!!

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Smoked Salmon Dip

Wow!  What a busy week!  We had Science Fair in the evening at school, which meant a late, exhausting day.  But, it’s all done now, and this teacher couldn’t be happier!  Doing Science Fair with grade 3 and 4 students is hard work! 

By the way, on Tuesday night, I broke my favourite kitchen tool — my garlic press.  What a sad day.  I now have to peel and mince my garlic 😦  until I buy a new press.  Then, when I was making my smoked salmon dip, my pepper mill (which was just a plastic one from Costco) broke and delivered a bunch of whole and half cracked peppercorns into the dip.  I managed to scoop them out, but it’s been a sad week in my kitchen.

Last night, we had our staff social with work.  We did a progressive dinner, doing appetizers at two places (including mine) and dessert at one house.  It was a lot of fun!

I had to make appetizers that could be served with minimal preparation.  I had plans the night before, which meant I had about an hour to clean my apartment from head to toe and prepare appetizers!   Plus, I had to work all day, so I didn’t have time to clean the house before people came over. 

So, I decided to make bruschetta and smoked salmon dip.  I first had smoked salmon dip at my father-in-law’s place.  It is so good!  (Actually, I wasn’t sure how much I liked it then, but when I made it for some friends, and they quickly devoured it I realized what a good dip I had!!!)

The dip is quick and easy, and perfect to make ahead.  As with most dips, it tastes better after it sits overnight.  I served it with crackers (Whole grain crackers and mini-baguette crackers), but I think bread or vegetables would also be good.  We have canned smoked salmon from when the Husband went fishing. I’m not sure how you buy smoked salmon in the store– living by the Fraser River and with the Husband’s yearly fishing trips, I’ve never bought salmon!  Canned salmon would also work in this dish.

Smoked Salmon Dip
recipe adapted from Brian Wierks

1 tub (250 g) herb-and-garlic spreadable cream cheese
1 can smoked salmon
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients together well.  Using an electric hand mixer is easy, but doing it with a spoon is satisfying.  Let chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Serve with crackers, bread and/or vegetables!

Enjoy!
The Hungry Teacher

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