Roasted Potato Bacon Salad

Well, BBQ time is supposedly upon us.  We’ve had a couple of nice days in June, but it’s been pretty rainy so far.  Nevertheless, we have been out in the rain, BBQing away!

Potato salad is a classic summer food.  Although it’s delicious, your typical potato salad can get a bit boring.  This recipe is fresh and tastes lighter than the original.  The texture is unique and overall the salad has a delicious flavour!

Now, this salad has chopped up pickles, which my husband hates (I know, how can anyone hate pickles?).  He picked some of them out of the salad, but he did eat a few of them.  You could use a spoonful of dill pickle relish instead of the chopped up potatoes, which would probably be harder to detect.  I had no red wine vinegar, which the recipe called for, so I used white wine vinegar instead. 

Oh, and by the way, my herb garden is planted, and I was able to use my own fresh parsley for this!!!  What a treat!!

Roasted Potato Bacon Salad
Recipe from The Best of Chef at Home by Chef Michael Smit

4-5 slices of bacon
20 or so baby potatoes
salt and freshly ground pepper
a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
a few pickles, finely diced
1 Tbsp grainy mustard
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
a splash of red wine vinegar

Slice the bacon into thin pieces.  Brown in a saute pan until crispy.  Reserve the fat. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.  Cut the baby potatoes in half.  Toss them with the reserved bacon fat and some salt and pepper.  Roast them until they are golden brown, about 40 minutes, and then cool to room temperature.  Toss the potatoes with the bacon pieces, parsley, pickles, mustard, mayo and vinegar.  Serve right away, or refrigerate till later.  This is a great dish to make the night before you’re having people over!

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Spaghetti with Shrimp and Arugula

The weather is supposedly turning warmer, the sun is supposed to be coming out…. but… it’s not!  Apparently we’re now paying for our beautiful Winter Olympic weather in January and February with a rainy, chilly June. 

But, the days are definitely longer and I am feeling ready for summery, light food! 

I was perusing my cookbooks, looking for a quick, light pasta dish, and I stumbled upon this recipe in Jamie’s Italy.  It’s quick, simple and it tastes delicious!  I had some for lunch the next day, and it was pretty good (of course, a light pasta dish with shrimp is truly best right after it’s made).

Arugula is a delicious, slightly bitter green.  It’s native to the eastern Mediterranean region (I looked it up on Wikipedia!).  I first had arugula in Florence, Italy this summer.  It was on this beautiful light tortellini dish covered with good quality olive oil, cherry tomatoes, arugula and shaved Parmesan cheese.  It was one of the best dishes I have ever had, and since then, the sight of arugula transports me right back!

My amazing Florentine dinner!

In Italy, people eat dinner late.  Most restaurants don’t even open until 8:00pm, when it’s cooler outside.  These restaurants are typically tiny, and so they set out tables and chairs right on the sidewalk or on the street!  Talk about sidewalk dining!  It’s a fantastic experience!  One day, I hope to recreate the amazing meal I had in Florence, but, tonight is not the night!

In my grocery store, they sell baby arugula prepackaged in a plastic container.  I have only seen it this way in my town, never in bulk.  In the original recipe, it says to roughly chop the arugula.  I didn’t, because mine was already quite small.

If you have leftover arugula after making this dish, it’s fantastic in a salad with a slightly sweet poppy seed dressing, fresh sliced strawberries, sweet-spiced pecans and some goat cheese.  I think I feel another blog post coming with that recipe!  Yum!

By the way, I find that most recipes have very large portion sizes.  The original recipe calls for 1 lb of dried spaghetti for 4 servings of pasta.  This makes way too much for my husband and I.  I used 1/2 lb. of dried spaghetti and I had leftovers for lunch the next day.  I did serve the pasta with garlic bread on the side.

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Arugula
spaghetti con gamberetti e rucola
Recipe adapted from Jamie’s Italy
Serves 2 – 3

1/2 lb dried spaghetti
salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/4- 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red chili flakes
1/2 lb. peeled raw large shrimp
1/2 small wineglass of white wine
2 Tbsp. sun-dried tomato puree (I whizzed a few spoonfuls of sun-dried tomatoes in my mini food processor)
1 handful of baby arugula

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions.  In a large pan, heat 1-2 Tbsp of  olive oil.  Add the garlic and chili.  As the garlic begins to color, add in the shrimp and saute them for a minute.  Add the white wine and the sun-dried tomato puree and simmer for a couple of minutes.  When the pasta is ready, drain, reserving a bit of the cooking water.  Toss the spaghetti with the sauce and add some of the arugula to it.  Taste, add some of the reserved water if necessary to loosen the sauce and correct the seasonings, if needed.  Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with the remaining arugula.

Arrivederci!
The Hungry Teacher

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I’m Back! And I Made Carrot Cake!

After a long hiatus, I’m back!!  I feel like I owe you an explanation, because it has been approximately one month since my last blog post.  I moved.  Just across my town.  But into a brand-new, beautiful house!  It’s been a big journey, but as we are mostly unpacked, finally getting our yard underway (houses don’t come with yards here.  Who knew?), and I’m feeling settled.  It took until Saturday (which was a month!) to get internet.  It was a debacle, which I don’t care to get into.  It shouldn’t have been that difficult.  But, lo and behold, I’m back online and ready to jump into blogging again.  I promise, I will post some pictures of my beautiful house and wonderful kitchen soon!

Since moving, I’ve been feeling pretty inspired to try new dishes.  We got a barbeque again (they weren’t allowed at our apartment), and I’ve been grilling like crazy!  I was never really a fan before, but it’s pretty fun!  I’ve roasted red peppers, made beer can chicken (which I plan to make a blog post about) and cooked a lot of random meat items.  I really want to work on grilling veggies, and try pizzas on the grill again!  It’s pretty exciting. 

But that all has nothing to do with Carrot Cake.  My husband loves carrot cake.  He doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth (neither do I…), but for carrot cake, he makes the exception. 

I have my grandma’s recipe for Orange Carrot Cake and it is soooooo good!  It is one of the easiest cakes you’ll ever make.  The thing that makes this cake unique is that it has a can of mandarin oranges in it.  But, you can’t taste them or even see them in the cake!  They must melt or something, but they make the cake deliciously moist!  The recipe for cream cheese icing is also pretty divine!  The whole cake is a winner.  My mom has frozen it before, fully made, and defrosted it, and it turns out great!  Oh, because of the cream cheese icing, make sure you store this beauty in the fridge!

Orange Carrot Cake
Recipe from my Grandma T., taken from our Family Cookbook.

3 cups unbleached flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup coconut (I used unsweetened, shredded coconut)
2-1/2 tsp. baking soda
2-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 cups shredded carrots (which was 2 medium – large carrots)
1-1/4 cups cooking oil
2 tsp vanilla
1- 11oz can mandarin oranges (undrained; put the juice and all into the batter!– I used a 296mL can and it was fine!)
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9×13″ pan.  In a large bowl, blend all cake ingredients; beat 2 minutes at highest speed.  Pour into greased pan.  Bake 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool.

Cream Cheese Icing

1- 8oz pkg cream cheese (softened)
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups icing sugar

In a medium bowl, blend icing ingredients until smooth.  Spread over cake.

XOXO,
The Hungry Teacher

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Greek Pita Pizzas

So, we’re moving in two days to a house!  Yes, we bought our very first house– and it’s brand-new!   So, we’re pretty excited!   It’s so much work, and I’ve been trying to clean out my cupboards so I don’t have to pack so much.

I made these little pizzas on Saturday night for dinner and they were simple, delicious and inspiring!  A pita bread is the perfect canvas for a multitude of little pizzas, and it’s quick and easy!  I think they would be good with typical pizza toppings or anything that you can imagine.

Greek Pita Pizzas
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com
Serves 2

2 whole pita breads
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup torn spinach
1/3 crumbled feta cheese
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Brush pitas with 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Place on a baking sheet and broil 4 inches from the heat for 2 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine remaining oil, olives, vinegar, spices, salt and pepper.  Spread over pita.  Top with spinach, feta cheese, tomatoes and parmesan.  Broil 3 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.

XOXO,
The Hungry Teacher

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Fritatta– Pefect for Earth Day

Earth Day is coming up on Thursday, April 22.

There are lots of little things that we can do to help our earth.  One big thing that we can do is to eat locally.  Eating locally is a bit of a craze these days, but it’s a great thing to do!  The book, “The 100 Mile Diet” by Alisa Smith and James (JB) MacKinnon illustrates this concept really well, and it’s a great read.

Eating locally allows you to support the farmers and other members of your community.  Produce especially tastes much better when it is eaten in season.  Farm fresh eggs have beautiful golden yolks that are unlike anything you can get at the grocery store (on my last dozen of farm eggs, I had 2 double yolkers!)

Another thing you can do is to reduce the amount of meat you eat.  I pretty much have to sneak meatless recipes into my house, because of my meat-loving husband, but he’s a good sport and will humour me once in a while.

Now, onto the recipe.  The beautiful thing about a fritatta is that it can be made with anything you have on hand.  It’s perfect for those veggies and pieces of cheese that are leftover in your fridge.  It can also be made in about ten minutes from start to finish!  My frittata had ham (although, this is definitely optional!), cheese, sundried tomatoes and some Italian seasoning in it.  If you are going to use “hard” vegetables (onions, potatoes) sautee them in a bit of olive oil before making the fritatta.  A fritatta is a perfect canvas to play around with, as the options are really limitless!  Some ideas are onions and potatoes, 4 cheese, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil… the list goes on and on! Let me know if you have any amazing combinations to try!  The leftovers taste great the next day–  heated up in the microwave or eaten cold!

Fritatta
Recipe adapted from David Rocco’s Dolce Vita
Serves 4

Beat 6-8 eggs in a bowl with a fork.  Add in whatever chopped veggies and cheese you would like to add.  Add in some salt and pepper and maybe some herbs (I added some Italian seasoning to mine).  Take a large frying pan and heat it over medium heat with about 1 Tbsp of olive oil.  Add in the egg mixture and heat for a couple of minutes.  Once the bottom begins to set, turn down the heat and place a lid over the top.  Cook for a few more minutes, or until the fritatta is set all the way through!  Cut into wedges and enjoy with a green salad!

Enjoy!
XOXO
The Hungry Teacher

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Daring Cooks Challenge: Brunswick Stew

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

So, it’s time for another Daring Cooks challenge.  I have to admit, I wasn’t very excited about this challenge.  I realize that in many parts of North America it’s still wintery, but here, it’s getting pretty springy!  I am ready for light, healthy meals.  But, in the spirit of being challenged, I made this stew for dinner on Sunday night.

Now, as I’ve never been to the South and never heard of Brunswick Stew, I had no idea what it was supposed to taste like!  Apparently, the original recipe calls for rabbit (or even squirrel).  I have never seen rabbit in the supermarket or butcher shop here!  But, we were allowed to substitute other types of meat.  There were two recipes to use… one was long and involved, the other was short and sweet.  I decided to go with the short and sweet variety!

The stew turned out pretty good!  It has so many different kinds of meat in it that there were a lot of different flavours… which I guess is the point!  Basically, I’m not sure that I’d make this again, but it was good to try something new!  By the way, I used all of the ingredients called for, but did not include carrots and substituted frozen green beans for the lima beans.  I also used ground turkey and browned it first, because I had some in the freezer!

Brunswick Stew
Serves 8-10

2 ½ lb TOTAL diced stewed chicken, turkey, and ham, with broth – yes, all three meats
3 medium diced potatoes
2 medium ripe crushed tomatoes
2 medium diced onions
3 cups/ 689.76 grams / 24.228oz frozen corn
1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz frozen lima beans
4-5 strips crumbled bacon
½ stick / 4 tablespoons / ¼ cup / 56.94 grams / 2oz of butter
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz sugar
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz ‘Poultry Seasoning’
Dash of red pepper
2 diced carrots (optional)
Tomato juice

In large stock pot or Dutch Oven, mix all ingredients, heat until bubbly and hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato juice as desired. Cook until all vegetables are tender. Serve hot.

So, if you want to try some Southern food, give it a try!

XOXO,
The Hungry Teacher

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Crispy Garlic Chicken and Sweet Spiced Pecans

Dinner tonight was simple, but so delicious!  We were supposed to have softball, but our game got rained out.

Now, before I get onto dinner,  I simply must share this recipe for granola bars with you.  I have been raving about for a few weeks.  Everyone keeps telling me to blog about it, but Smitten Kitchen did such a good job that there is nothing I would change about it!  These granola bars are far better than store bought and can be made with whatever ingredients you have/want in them!  They are truly delicious, and I can make them peanut free so I can bring them to school.  So, if you want to make AMAZING granola bars, check out this recipe for Thick, Chewy Granola Bars.

So, for dinner, I decided to try this recipe for Crunchy Garlic Chicken from Jamie’s Food Revolution.  There were two main reasons it appealed to me.  1.  Garlic.  2.  It looked quick.  I was not even going to blog about this recipe, but after tasting it, I decided I must!  The breading on this chicken has so much flavour it is incredible!  We had chicken and  a green salad and it was a great, simple week night meal.  I can definitely see this meal becoming a stand-by!  I baked the chicken, but it could also be fried in olive oil in a skillet, 4-5 minutes on each side.

Now, the Sweet Spiced Pecans are from Grazing, by Julie Van Rosendaal.  Oh, my, goodness!  These pecans are to die for!  You must try them.  They add so much to a simple green salad that it is incredible!  They are also amazing as a snack!  I make the full recipe and store the rest in a ziploc baggie in the freezer.  They stay good for as long  as they last (which won’t be very long!), and are amazing sprinkled on a salad.  The recipe calls for fresh rosemary, and I have substituted dry before.  But, I was all out tonight, and the pecans are still really good without it!

Crunchy Garlic Chicken
Serves 2
Recipe adapted from Jamie’s Kitchen

1 clove garlic, peeled
1 lemon, zested
6 crackers (I used Stoned Wheat Thins)
2 Tbsp butter
4 springs of fresh parsley (I didn’t have any, but I used some dried parsley)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heaped Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.  Put the garlic, lemon zest, butter, parsley and some salt and pepper into a food processor.  Whiz until the mixture is very fine and pour onto a plate.  Sprinkle the flour on a second plate.  Crack the egg into a bowl and beat with a fork.  If you want to, you can pound the chicken breasts with a heavy pan, plate or pounder in between some plastic wrap to flatten it.  This helps it to cook more evenly.  Dip the chicken into the flour so both sides are completely coated, then dip into the egg and into the crumbs.  Press the crumbs onto the chicken to make sure it is completely coated.  Place the chicken onto a sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes, until cooked through, golden and crisp.  Serve with a lemon wedge on the side!

Sweet Spiced Pecans
Makes 2 cups
Recipe from Grazing

2 cups pecan halves
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 drops hot sauce
1 Tbsp chopped rosemary
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 300ºF.  Combine everything but the pecans in a medium bowl.  Add the pecans and stir until they are well coated.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until golden.  Let cool, and enjoy!

 Enjoy this quick, healthy meal!
The Hungry Teacher

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