Kate's Cuisine

Jul 22 2015

Kale Caesar Salad

Kale Caesar Salad

I love Caesar salad so much that I have a few different versions of it here on the site, including a lighter version that I borrowed from Jamie Oliver. But if you’re just looking to get a better nutritional punch from your Caesar, and aren’t necessarily worried about carbs or fat, just swap out Romaine for kale. Not only is it healthier, but kale also stands up to the dressing – even when you put the leftovers in the fridge for the next day. Even in this healthier version, I kept the bacon and croutons in because I figured I deserved it when eating kale for lunch.

As much as I love Caesar salad, it’s nothing compared to how much Maddie loves it. And while I still found all the charm of a traditional Caesar in this salad, both my girls liked it for the first two bites before getting tired of kale.

1 bunch of kale, tough stems removed and chopped $2.99
4 slices bacon $1.20
1 cup croutons $0.83
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil $0.23
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese $1.49
Zest and juice of 1 lemon $0.35
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard $0.12
2 anchovy fillets $0.74
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce $0.08
Parmesan curls, for garnish $0.55

Total cost $8.58
Cost per serving $2.15

1.) Chop bacon into lardons and toss into a pan set over medium heat. Fry until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy, stirring often. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towel and set aside.

2.) Combine the grated Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice, Dijon mustard, anchovy fillets, and Worcestershire sauce. Blend entire mix together and then start slowly drizzling olive oil through the feed tube until everything comes together and the dressing is at the consistency you want. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary, and blend once more to combine all ingredients.

3.) Place kale and croutons in a large bowl and pour dressing over. Toss to coat everything entirely with the Caesar dressing and then add the bacon bits. Toss again to mix everything together and top with Parmesan curls.

4.) Serve and enjoy!

Jul 20 2015

Stir Fry Chicken with Garlic Sauce

Chicken Stir Fry

I’ve always tackled my stir fry the same way. Stir fry the meat, add a large mixture of vegetables then your sauce, and serve over rice or noodles. I’m not sure what inspiration I was feeling last time I made chicken stir fry, but I suddenly wanted to try something different, beyond just the sauce and side. Instead of adding a bunch of vegetables, I stuck to a simple spinach mix; and instead of stir-frying it all together, I used separate pans and brought everything together at the end of cooking time. I also marinated the chicken (something I hardly ever do) and I have to say, this might just be my favourite way to stir fry.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed $12.80
2 cloves garlic, minced $0.02
1/4 cup soy sauce $0.40
1/4 cup water Free!
1/4 cup honey $0.41
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided $0.28
1 tablespoon cornstarch $0.27
1/4 teaspoon black pepper $0.01
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes $0.12
2 bunches baby spinach $3.98
1 cup mushrooms, chopped $0.99
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $19.30
Cost per serving $4.82

1.) In a large bowl combined the garlic, soy sauce, water, honey, cornstarch, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Mix thoroughly, add the chicken, and turn to completely coat the chicken in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for two hours.

2.) Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When hot add the chicken and stir fry for 8 – 10 minutes. Reserve the remaining marinade.

3.) While chicken is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a separate skillet set over medium heat. When hot add the chopped mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes, until they just start to brown. Then add spinach, salt, and pepper, and cook just until the spinach has wilted, turning occasionally.

4.) When chicken is done stir-frying, add the reserved marinade and cook for another 5 minutes, until the marinade has turned into a glaze and coats the chicken.

5.) To plate, add cooked spinach mixture over top of rice or noodles, and pile chicken on top of spinach.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Jul 15 2015

Pork Scaloppine Over Egg Noodles

Pork Scallopini

Pork tenderloin is one of those cuts that I always buy, but I rarely do the same thing to it twice. This dish is simple, elegant, and takes almost no time to cook. If you want to save yourself even more time, pound out the meat the day before or even better, buy them already cut and pounded in the grocery store. There they’re usually called “pork cutlets” or “pork scaloppine“.

If you decide to pound them yourself, remember to place the meat between sheets of plastic – it will help reduce the mess and will keep your mallet from sticking to the meat. When pounding out these small portions, also remember to never use the jagged side of the mallet. These small cuts don’t need tenderizing, you’re really only trying to get them to even thickness. Lastly, start from the middle and pound out. This way you should never have to pound the same area twice, and you’ll do a better job of keeping the meat intact.

2 cups egg noodles $0.66
1 pork tenderloin, sliced 3/4″ thick and pounded to 1/4″ thick $5.89
1/4 cup flour $0.04
2 tablespoons olive oil $0.06
2/3 cup white wine $2.00
2 tablespoons butter $0.12
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped $0.06
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $8.85
Cost per serving $2.21

1.) Cook the noodles according to the package directions.

2.) Season the pork with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. One by one, dredge the pork slices in the flour, shaking off the excess.

3.) Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. In batches, brown the pork 1 to 2 minutes per side, transferring to a plate when the pork is finished.

4.) Keeping the skillet over medium-high heat, add the wine and butter and cook for 1 minute.

5.) Add the pork back to the skillet and sprinkle with the parsley. Let cook for another minute or so, just to warm everything through.

6.) Place the egg noodles on a plate and layer the pork slices over top. Drizzle the sauce over top of everything.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

Jul 11 2015

How to BBQ a Whole Chicken

BBQ Whole Chicken

Throwing an entire chicken on the grill and barbecuing it can seem like a daunting task. But if you forget about the fire and gas and just focus on cooking the chicken, you’ll find it’s not much different than roasted chicken that comes out of the oven. Of course, with that comes the fact that when barbecuing chicken, you may still have some of the problems that you do when roasting it, namely overcooking and drying out the white meat. Learn how to BBQ a whole chicken while avoiding those problems, and this dish makes a pretty impressive centrepiece.

  • Prepping the chicken. I used to think that spatchcocking a chicken simply helped it fit nicely onto the barbecue. The truth is though, spatchcocking in this case removes the biggest obstacle you’ll face – drying out the breasts before the legs and thighs are cooked. When you spatchcock a chicken, you untuck the dark meat from where it usually sits – underneath the breasts and under layers and layers of fat. This is why they typically take so long to cook. But take them out from under the bird and they’ll cook in just about the same amount of time as the white meat.
  • Season, season, season. Even though you’re using a barbecue instead of an oven, you’re still dealing with chicken, which can be kind of bland on its own. Whether you’re just using salt and pepper or your favourite barbecue rub, sprinkle it generously over both the top and underside of the chicken before you even think about placing it on the grill. If you’re going to be using barbecue sauce, save this until the very end, just as you would when roasting in the oven.
  • High and dry. When roasting chicken, high and dry is the way to go, meaning high heat and no water or moisture added to the pan. Roasting chicken this way is how you get that crispy, crackly skin that’s always the best part of the chicken. When barbecuing chicken, the high and dry concept still holds true – but you need to be careful with the heat. If you just fire up the grill and throw the whole thing on over full heat, you’ll end up with chicken that’s burnt on the outside, under-cooked on the inside, and lots of flareups along the way. Instead, use indirect heat by lighting only one side of the grill. Clean the racks and light one side of the grill to its highest temperature. Close the lid, and wait for the grill to preheat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. When hot, open the lid and oil the racks. Turn the direct heat side down to medium-low. This will heat the entire interior of the grill, without having to worry about your bird charring and burning along the way.
  • Positioning the chicken. How you place the chicken onto the grill also makes a huge difference in the way it will cook. Make sure the legs and thighs are pointed towards the hottest part of the grill. On my gas grill, this meant laying the chicken sideways, with the legs and thighs closest the heat, while the entire chicken was still over the indirect heat side of the grill. This will help them cook faster than the white meat, which will be the furthest away from the heat, making sure the entire bird is cooked evenly through without being over-done or under-done.
  • Start skin-side up. Often when roasting chicken, we start at a high heat to sear and crisp the skin before letting the chicken through at a slightly lower temperature. But when you put a chicken on the barbecue, you need to do it the other way around, otherwise your crispy skin will quickly turn into a soggy, rubbery mess. So, for the entire time the chicken is cooking over indirect heat, keep it skin-side up. Doing it this way will allow the skin to protect the meat and lock in all that juiciness.
  • Knowing when it’s done. Using a meat thermometer is the easiest way to test the doneness of the chicken, but you can also use the thigh test you use when roasting a chicken or turkey. Just gently separate the thigh from the rest of the bird and check to see if the juices run clear. You can also use the finger poke test to test the firmness, and therefore the doneness, of the meat, just like you would with steak.
  • Finishing it off. Once the chicken has completely cooked over indirect heat, it’s time to finish it off by placing it skin-side down over direct heat. If you’re using barbecue sauce, now is the time to slather it on. And don’t worry, the chicken should only be directly over the flame for a few minutes, so it won’t burn. Remember that once the skin is crispy and the chicken is entirely cooked through, only flip the bird over to move it off the heat and onto a platter. Flipping it while it’s still over direct heat will only release all of the juices that you’ve collected throughout the cooking time.
  • Serve, and enjoy! After the grill has been turned off and the chicken has been fully cooked, whether or not you cut it at the table or beforehand is entirely up to you. I will tell you though that placing the whole chicken in the middle of the table will echo your own “oohs” and “aahs” that were muttered during cooking time. Whatever you do, let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes after removing it from the heat, as always.

Jul 03 2015

Pulled Pork Enchiladas

Pulled Pork Enchiladas

I’ve said before that enchiladas are a great way to use up leftovers,and this dish proves that to be true. Coming home from work one night, I needed a quick supper. Rummaging through my cupboards and fridge brought up some tomato sauce, tortillas, and pulled porkEnchiladas just seems like the natural choice with these ingredients, doesn’t it? If you’re making the enchilada sauce from scratch it takes an additional 10 minutes, but when you’re in a rush you can buy canned sauce and make this a 30-minute meal.

For the enchiladas:

3 cups pulled pork $3.92
1 tablespoon olive oil $0.03
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed $0.89
2 ears of corn, with the kernels cut off $1.33
2 cups marble cheese (you can use any melting cheese you want, this is what I happened to have on hand)
8 tortillas $2.50
3 green onions, sliced on a diagonal, for garnish $0.21

For the sauce:

1/4 cup vegetable oil $0.28
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour $0.02
2 tablespoons chili powder $0.96
1 can tomato sauce $1.19
1 1/2 cups chicken stock $0.75
1 teaspoon ground cumin $0.25
1 teaspoon garlic powder $0.10
1 teaspoon onion powder $0.08
1 teaspoon salt $0.01

Total cost $12.52
Cost per serving $3.13

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Start by making the sauce. Heat the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and the chili powder. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to whisk until the mixture is lightly browned. Gradually whisk in tomato sauce, chicken broth, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Stir until smooth and taste to see if the seasonings need adjusting. Continue simmering the sauce for about ten minutes, or until it’s slightly thickened.

3.) Start making the enchiladas. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan set over high heat. Add the pulled pork, corn kernels, and black beans. Stir and heat just for a few minutes, until the entire mixture is hot.

4.) Transfer the pulled pork mixture into a bowl and add 1/2 cup of the cheese, as well as 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce. Mix well.

5.) One by one, lay out the tortillas and add some of the pulled pork mixture down the centre of each. Try to divide the mixture up evenly so that all the enchiladas have an equal portion of the pulled pork mixture. Each should have just a little over 1/2 cup of the mixture.

6.) Spread some of the enchilada sauce over the bottom of a casserole dish. Roll up the tortillas by pulling one half over the tortilla over the pulled pork mixture, tucking it under slightly, and then rolling it the rest of the way. Don’t worry about rolling the ends – these are enchiladas, not burritos. Once each enchilada is rolled, place it on top of the sauce in the casserole dish.

7.) Once all the enchiladas are in the casserole dish, pour over the rest of the sauce (about 2 cups), and sprinkle with the cheese.

8.) Place the enchiladas in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 – 25 minutes, just until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.

9.) When the enchiladas are finished cooking, remove them from the oven and sprinkle with the green onions. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving. This will help keep them from falling apart when you remove them from the baking dish.

10.) Serve and enjoy!

Jul 02 2015

Cinnamon Basil Muffins

Cinnamon Basil Muffins

During my mom’s last visit, she burst through the door with all kinds of planted herbs spilling out of her arms. I saw the standard parsley and basil, but there was another plant – cinnamon basil - that I had never seen before. My mom had never seen it before and my grandma, who was with her when she bought it, had also never seen it before. Now, that was interesting. My grandma’s been a farmer her entire life and has grown just about everything you can. If she’s never seen cinnamon basil, how was I supposed to know what to do with it? Luckily, I have something on my side that my grandma just has never gotten into - Google. I found some fantastic info about this delicate plant, which led to me creating a muffin recipe that my kids are still waiting for me to make again.

First, the info on cinnamon basil that we should all have tucked into our pocket. It’s really a terrific plant!

  • Just like regular basilcinnamon basil is a summer crop that does best in mild climates. It can grow up to three feet tall and three feet wide!
  • Also just like regular basil, the cinnamon basil plant has delicate green leaves. Unlike its more traditional counterpart, it doesn’t have a waxy feel to it, is even more delicate, and grows violet flowers instead of white.
  • Cinnamon basil is also known as Mexican basil, which makes sense given that cinnamon makes an appearance in so many Mexican dishes.
  • The reason cinnamon basil is called such is because it has the compound cinnamite in it, which is what gives cinnamon its unique flavour. And yes, cinnamon basil does have a hint of cinnamon flavour in it, although it’s quite subtle. It’s this combination of spice and herb that makes cinnamon basil a terrific addition to either baked goods or savoury dishes.
  • Cinnamon basil carries small portions of Vitamin A and C, as well as iron and folate. However, if you’re eating it for nutritional value, it’s mostly Vitamin K that you’ll be benefiting from. Cinnamon basil is also good when used as a natural remedy for stomach upset, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, and coughs.
  • Being a part of the mint family, bugs and critters can’t stand the stuff. It’s for this reason that cinnamon basil is sometimes planted in gardens as a secondary crop simply to ward off pests.

And now, the recipe:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour $0.14
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder $0.03
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt $0.01
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon $0.07
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour $0.17
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped $0.55
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cinnamon basil, finely chopped $0.18
  • 1 cup milk $0.28
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil $0.28
  • 1 egg $0.20
  • 3/4 cup frozen peaches, thawed, drained and mashed $0.66
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar $0.06

Total cost $2.63
Cost per muffin $0.21

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a muffin tin with muffin cups.

2.) Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.

3.) Into the flour mixture, stir whole wheat flour, brown sugar and nuts. Mix well. Make a well in the centre and set the mixture aside.

4.) In a medium bowl, mix mashed peaches, milk, oil, and egg and whisk until fully blended. Add this mixture to the dry mixture, pouring it into the well in the centre. Stir just until the mixture is moistened. Fold in cinnamon basil.

5.) Fill each muffin cup about halfway to 3/4 full. Place in the oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until a toothpick in the centre comes out clean.

6.) Let muffins rest in their tins for about 10 minutes before removing.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

Jun 29 2015

How to Make Perfect French Toast

French Toast

French toast is something that seems pretty easy, doesn’t it? I mean, you take some bread, let it go for a swim in milk and eggs, and then fry it up in a boatload of butter. But, if you want to get French toast that you’ll be thinking about for the rest of the day, there are a few things you can do to make this breakfast basic truly fantastic.

  • Use the right bread. That thinly sliced Wonder bread might be fresh, soft and delicious, but it’s not the stuff you want to use for French toast. If you do, it will fall flat – if it doesn’t fall apart first. What you want to use is a thick bread that has a very dense crumb. Think cake, but in bread form. Oh yeah, it’s already gettin’ good! Thick-sliced country bread, Challah, and brioche are all great choices that will stand up to the soaking you’re about to put it through.
  • The drier the bread, the better. Bread is already pretty moist. Add more moisture to that and well, you can guess what’s going to happen. By using dry bread, the custard have plenty to soak into so either lay your bread out the night before or put it in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes before making your French toast.
  • Strain your custard. This is a must. Even if you’ve whipped up your custard using a mixer, there’s a chance that you’ll still have stringy bits of egg in there – and that does not a good custard make. Instead, strain it before you place your bread in and you’ll have smooth, rich custard with no stringy bits.
  • Use full fat. You are, after all, having French toast. Now is not the time to skimp. Unless you have some kind of food allergy or special dietary requirements, use full-fat cream or at the very least, full-fat milk. Again, this will help add to the creaminess of the custard and you’ll be happy you did.
  • Really saturate that bread. Just getting the surface of the bread wet will give you a creamy exterior, but you’ll find it also won’t penetrate the bread enough to give you that soft, creamy interior. To make sure that my bread is really saturated, I place my bread on the custard, flip it over, and then push the bread down into the custard, holding it completely submerged for a few seconds. If you’re using the right bread, it still won’t fall apart, but it will give you that creamy, yolky inside you’re looking for.
  • Get that pan hot! And you need to do it before you put any bread in. If you don’t, the egg is going to seep out from underneath it and form a pool for the French toast to cook in. It won’t only be difficult to cook, it will be difficult and unappetizing to eat. By making sure your pan is hot, hot, hot, the eggs will start to cook as soon as they hit it, and you’ll be on your way to perfect French toast.
  • After frying it, bake it. Okay, this isn’t a must for perfect French toast, but it’s a technique I’ve recently found and have fallen in love with. Baking French toast makes it act a bit like quiche in the way that it will puff up and become even more luscious. Just like quiche, it will start to fall quickly after you’ve removed it from the oven but if nothing else, it really fills the house with all those great baking aromas. It makes me happy, happy, and I bet it will for you, too.
  • Use the recipe below. It’s the one I use when I’m cooking French toast for my family, and I haven’t had any complaints yet.

1 1/3 cups full-fat milk or cream $0.50
3 eggs $0.60
1 tablespoon sugar $0.01
1 tablespoon vanilla extract $0.66
1 teaspoon cinnamon $0.15
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg $0.08
Pinch of salt $0.01
6 – 8 slices thick bread $0.09
4 tablespoons butter, for frying $0.24
Powdered sugar and/or maple syrup, for serving $1.00

Total cost $3.34
Cost per serving $0.84

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Whisk the milk or cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Strain the custard into a shallow bowl or casserole dish.

3.) Soak the bread in the custard mixture. You can do this in batches, soaking some slices while frying the others, or if your dish is big enough, you can do it all at once.

4.) Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and is starting to foam, your pan is hot enough to add the bread. If your frying pan is big enough you can do all the slices at once, or fry them in batches and move them to a baking sheet as they’re finished. You want to fry the French toast for a couple of minutes on each side. This is building the crunchy exterior that’s one of the best parts of French toast.

5.) Once all of your French toast has been fried, place it all on the baking sheet and place the entire thing in the oven. Bake the French toast for 8 – 10 minutes until it’s entirely golden and puffed up.

6.) Sprinkle all French toast with powdered sugar and/or drizzle with maple syrup and serve and enjoy!

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