Phyllo Pie a.k.a. Spanikopita

There is a giant recall on beef products in Canada right now. This is a good thing because it will be easier for us to lower our intake on red meat once the recall is over with. It’s not difficult to substitute beef for chicken or pork, but we don’t always need to have meat in our recipes at all; Phyllo Pie, otherwise known as, Spanikopita is a good meatless meal!

Phyllo Pie a.k.a. Spanikopita

 

Yields: 6 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Skill level: Moderate

 

What you’ll need:

9” pie pan

Large skillet

Sharp knife

Cutting board

 

Ingredients:

6 sheets Phyllo pastry

1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed

3 C mushrooms, diced

1 C onion, diced

2 T garlic, minced

2 t dried basil

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/3 C fresh dill, chopped fine

1 egg

Olive oil

4oz goat cheese

4oz shredded low fat mozzarella cheese

2 T breadcrumbs

Optional: 1/3 C each – black olives, sliced & green onion, diced

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°

Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and sauté 5 minutes, until they begin to brown. Then add mushrooms and garlic, sauté 6 minutes, until mushrooms lose their juices. Add spinach, basil, salt and pepper and sauté 3 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add egg, breadcrumbs, fresh dill, olives, green onion, goat cheese and mozzarella, mix together until well combined. Set aside.

Lightly grease pie pan with oil. Place 2 sheets Phyllo pastry on the bottom, allowing the sides to hang over. Place 2 sheets at a time over top and lightly brush every 2nd sheet with oil until you’ve used the 6 sheets. Fill pastry with the filling and fold the overhanging pasty into the middle. Lightly brush the top with oil. Bake 25 minutes until pastry is golden brown and filling is heated through.

Enjoy!

*Tips*

*This would make an excellent h’orderve if you made individual bite size portions. Just roll the Phyllo pastry out and cut into circles. Brush with oil, add filling, fold, brush outside with oil and bake 15-20 minutes*

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Chicken Broccoli Casserole

One thing I really enjoy doing is adapting classic comfort food recipes into healthier versions, and one thing I was craving yesterday was Chicken Casserole. Normally it’s made with canned cream of chicken and/or cream of mushroom soup, which adds a lot of calories and sodium. So, I decided to make my own creamy filling and it turned out to be really delicious AND only 244 calories per serving, not too bad for comfort food, especially if you pair it with some other steamed veggies or a simple spinach salad on the side. YUM!

Chicken Broccoli Casserole:

Yields: 6 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Skill level: Easy

 

What you’ll need:

Knife

Cutting board

Large skillet

Large pot

Small sauce pot

9×12 baking dish

 

Ingredients:

8 oz egg noodles

Vegetable oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

12oz broccoli, finely chopped

1 ½ C frozen peas

1 1/2 T butter (or margarine…)

1 medium shallot, minced

3 T all purpose flour (or whole wheat)

1 ¾ C low sodium chicken broth

1 C 1% milk

12oz cooked, shredded chicken breast

4oz shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

3 T parmesan

4 T bread crumbs

 

Method:

Cook noodles according to package instructions. Cook 2 minutes under the directed time, you want them to be slightly undercooked. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat oil in skillet, add garlic and cook until golden brown. Add broccoli and peas and sauté until broccoli is tender-crisp. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

In large pot, heat butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, add shallot and cook until softened. Ad the flour and some salt and pepper, stir well.

Slowly whisk in chicken broth and stir until well combined. Add milk and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat and stir occasionally until mixture has thickened (approximately 6-7 minutes). Remove from heat. Mix in cheddar cheese and 1 T parmesan.

Once cheese has melted, add cooked egg noodles, broccoli and peas mixture and mix until everything is well coated. Transfer to baking dish.

In small sauce pot, combine bread crumbs, butter and remaining 2 T parmesan. Toast until bread crumbs are slightly golden and butter has melted. Sprinkle over casserole, bake 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and ENJOY!

*Tips*

*I use parmigiano reggiano, which is the most delicious parmesan. It’s crazy expensive, but a little goes a long way. You can absolutely use any type of parmesan you have on hand, but I suggest getting a small block of parm-regg and trying it!*

 

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Beef and broccoli is one of my favorite take-out dishes. I do not order Chinese food very often since it usually leaves me feeling like crap for at least a day and a half afterward. I had been trying to find a perfect recipe for beef and broccoli that I could make at home, and I found it! It’s healthy and perfectly flavored, you can add other vegetables if you like, one of my favorite stir fry veggies is water chestnuts!

Beef and Broccoli:

Yields: 6-8 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Skill level: Moderate

 

What you’ll need:

Large rimmed skillet or Wok

Wooden spoon

Shark knife

Cutting board

Measuring cup/spoons

 

Ingreadients:

1lb flank steak, cut into 1” strips

3 T dark soy sauce

2 T low sodium chicken broth

5 T oyster sauce

1 T light brown sugar

1 t sesame oil

1 t cornstarch (I usually add an extra ½ – 1 t for a thicker consistency)

5 cloves garlic, minced

1” piece ginger root, minced

2 ½ T vegetable oil

2 bunches broccoli

1/3 C water

1 red pepper, diced

2 scallions, sliced thin

 

Method:

Combine beef and soy sauce in Ziploc bag. Make sure beef is coated with sauce and refrigerate up to 60 minutes, but at least 10 – I keep it sealed in the fridge while I prep the rest of the ingredients.

Whisk chicken broth, oyster sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a bowl. Combine garlic and ginger in separate bowl.

Drain beef and discard liquid. Heat 1 T oil in the wok over high heat. Add beef and break into 1 layer, let stand 1 minute without stirring, then toss for another 30 seconds until edges are browned. Cook in 2 batches if necessary, you do not want to crowd the pan. Transfer to a plate.

Add 1 T oil to the wok, add broccoli, sauté 30 seconds. Add water and cover, lower heat to medium and steam until broccoli is tender-crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Add red pepper and continue sautéing until peppers begin to spot. Clear center of wok, add minced garlic and ginger. Mix to combine flavors. Add sauce and stir constantly until sauce has thickened. Return beef to wok and toss to combine. Mix until sauce is evenly distributed. Serve over steamed brown rice or chow mein noodles, garnish with scallions and enjoy!

 

*Tips*

*When you first cook your beef, do not overcook it! It will continue to cook through while it sits, if you overcook it, the beef will be tough*

*Replace water with low sodium chicken broth when you cook your rice to add a hint of flavor to it*

 

Oatless Apple-Peach Crumble

It is still blackberry season right now and over Labor Day weekend, I took some time to pick some from the bushes around my house. Has anyone else noticed that all the best blackberries are always JUST out of reach? It took a lot of work for me to get enough blackberries so I could make a delicious, summery blackberry crumble. That idea didn’t last too long because I fell down a hill and lost all but 4 of the blackberries I picked :(. Thankfully, I had 3 Granny Smith apples and 1 white peach, so I was able to improvise and make an equally delicious crumble with apples, a peach and 4 of my perfect blackberries. You must try this recipe!

Oatless Apple-Peach Crumble:

Yields: 6-8 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 45 minutes

Skill level: Moderate

 

What you’ll need:

Sharp paring knife

Cutting board

Mixing bowl

Measuring spoon

Measuring cups

Whisk

8×8” baking pan – glass is the best

 

Ingredients (based on what I had on hand):

3 Granny Smith apples

1 white peach

4 blackberries

¾ C all purpose flour

1 t cinnamon

1 t nutmeg

½ C water

½ C butter, softened

½ T cornstarch

½ C white sugar

½ C brown sugar

1 C pecans, chopped finely

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Peel, core and slice apples into small chunks. Core and slice peach into small chunks. Place fruit into the bottom of your baking pan.

In a separate bowl, measure ½ C cold water. Add cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk together and pour over fruit layer.

In separate bowl, combine flour, white sugar, brown sugar, a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, butter and chopped pecans. Mix until butter is evenly distributed and your topping has formed a “crumbly” texture.

Pour onto fruit layer. Bake for 45 minutes, let stand at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream (DO NOT add sugar to your whipping cream, but do add a t of vanilla), or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. ENJOY!

*Tips*

*Substitute all purpose flour for whole wheat for a healthier version*

*Fruit crumbles are not as unhealthy as one may suspect. It makes an excellent breakfast, in small portions, and it is a lot less fattening than other fruit desserts like pies*

*Try adding sliced pears to your crumble, too!*

Farmer’s Market Goddess Bowl

It was my Mom’s birthday yesterday! We spent the day together, starting with our regular Sunday morning swimming routine. We also went out for breakfast. Then, something extraordinary happened in her tiny kitchen later last night. Gabriel and I made her an amazing birthday dinner – from scratch, of course.

I love to watch the Food Network. One of my favorite shows on the network is Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with host Guy Fieri. I love finding inspiration from this show and others like it and during one particular episode, I saw a recipe I HAD to replicate. The Pit Stop is a restaurant located in Merrick, Long Island, NY. One of their signature dishes is “Spaghetti Squash Primavera”, and it looked amazing. I immediately called Gabriel and told him we should make this for Mom’s birthday dinner.

This recipe has a total of 12 different types of veggies, Bolognese sauce, fresh herbs and fresh mozzarella – how could you go wrong with ingredients like those? My mother referred to it as “a meal of abundance” and we changed the title from “Spaghetti Squash Primavera” to something much more superior: Farmer’s Market Goddess Bowl. While it is rather time consuming, if you prepare the Bolognese sauce ahead of time, it will cut about an hour off of your cook time, but it is an inexpensive meal to prepare and it is so delicious, you just have to try it!!!

Farmer’s Market Goddess Bowl:

Yields: 8-10 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: Approximately 55 minutes

Skill level: It is time consuming but it’s easier to make than you think!

 

What you’ll need:

Large stock pot

Large skillet or dutch oven

Cutting board

Sharp knife

Baking sheet

 

Ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise

1 medium zucchini – shredded or cut into small cubes

1 medium yellow zucchini – shredded or cut into small cubes

3-4 shallots – finely diced

3 cloves garlic – crushed

3 ribs celery – diced

3 carrots, diced

1 red pepper – diced

1 small head broccoli – chopped

4 spears asparagus – chopped

1 green pepper – diced

1 recipe Bolognese sauce – you can find the recipe here: https://foodwithatwiss.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/spaghetti-bolognese/

Fresh mozzarella

Fresh tarragon

Salt and pepper

EEVOO for sautéing

 

Method:

Wash and prep all your veggies for this ahead of time. Make sure to keep your cuts to small, even sizes as this will allow for even cooking times.

Heat your Bolognese sauce in large skillet/dutch oven and allow it to simmer, or make it from scratch before you start the spaghetti squash filling.

Fill your large stock pot with water and bring to a full rolling boil. Place your spaghetti squash halves in the water. Boil for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet to medium-high heat and sauté garlic, shallots, red and green pepper. Saute 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add zucchini and yellow zucchini, carrot and celery. “Sweat” for 3-6 minutes, you want some of the liquid to evaporate. Add broccoli and asparagus, sauté an additional 5 minutes until veggies are tender-crisp. Add a ladleful of Bolognese.

Remove spaghetti squash and discard seeds. Shred squash filling, DO NOT discard the shell.

Add squash filling to your veggies and mix well. Add a few more ladlefuls of your Bolognese sauce and mix well. Add salt and pepper.

Fill your spaghetti squash halves with veggie-Bolognese filling, let stand 15-20 minutes to cool.

Preheat oven to 350°. Top cooled squash with the remaining Bolognese, a few sprigs of fresh chopped Tarragon and then top with fresh mozzarella. Bake 20 minutes. Let stand for a few minutes to cool, top with 1 or 2 more sprigs of tarragon, ENJOY!

*Tips*

*You can absolutely eliminate the meat in this recipe by using Marinara sauce instead of Bolognese*

*For a vegan friendly option, eliminate the mozzarella, or substitute with a vegan-friendly cheese*

*This is super healthy and low in fat, just one recipe has 12 servings of veggies!*

How To Grill The Perfect Steak: A Tutorial

Grilling the Perfect Steak: A Tutorial

 

A lot of people love steak. I happen to be one of those people who love it. I’ll be honest, though, it took me quite a while to figure out the importance of cut, quality and grilling techniques to get perfect results every time. Here are some tips on what to look for and how to grill your steak perfectly every time.

Cuts:

Cuts of steak can be broken down into 3 sections: Rib, Short Loin and Sirloin. The rib contains cuts such as the Rib Roast, the Rib Eye, and Back Ribs. This is the least tender of the three sections. The Short Loin produces cuts like T-bone, Top Loin, Tenderloin and the Porterhouse. While the Sirloin gives cuts such as the Sirloin and Top Sirloin (pictured above). Other steak cuts like chuck, round and flank steaks come from these respective areas as well and tend to be tougher and are ideal for marinating. Strip steaks such as New York Steak is cut from the T-bone portion.

Marbling is a much more important factor to steak selection than the cut, or even the grade of beef. To identify the marbling of a steak, look at the texture of the meat. If it is free of fat (the white part) it will be free of all fat. While this makes a steak leaner and more tender it will absolutely lack flavor. Always look at the marbling when choosing your steak. Thin streaks of fat are what you want to see. Thicker strands of marbling will include connective tissues and will be much tougher. The meat should be bright red, with the fat being a creamy white and evenly distributed throughout the cut.

Knowing the cuts of beef will help when choosing your selection so you will be able to balance the tenderness with the flavor you want. Always ask your butcher for suggestions.

Seasoning steaks:

When it comes to seasoning your steak, you want to do this right before or directly after cooking. If you leave seasoning on the meat for too long it will extract all the lovely juices. Steaks can be perfectly seasoned with just salt and black pepper, however, spice rubs, pan sauces and compound butters can enhance steaks and are an easy way to impress house guests.

For a SUPER easy, flavorful compound butter, try this: ¼ C softened butter, 2 T fresh chives (finely chopped), 2 cloves crushed garlic. Mix butter with chives and garlic. Roll evenly between a sheet of plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. When ready to use, slice into medallions and place on top of a freshly cooked steak. *Tip* The longer you let the butter sit the better the flavor will be. I promise you, if you top a steak with garlic chive butter, your friends will love you even more!

Grilling steaks:

For perfect grill marks, cook your steak for half the recommended time and turn at a 45 degree angle. Then flip to finish cooking.

Cook steak to 145°F for medium rare and 160°F for medium, or about 5 minutes per side, per 1” thickness. Steaks need to rest before consuming so all the juice and flavor can be retracted back into the steak. Tent with foil but do not cover it tightly or it will continue to cook

 

The #1 most important tip for grilling steak is NEVER cut into your steak to test its doneness. You will release all the juices and lose all the flavor, not to mention a steak with a large gash in it does not look appetizing. To test for doneness, press the steak: the tighter it feels, the more well done it will be. Look to my guide below:

Rare: steak feels soft to the touch

Medium rare: steak has some resistance but yields to the touch

Medium: steak feels firm, but has some softness in the center

Well done: steak will feel very firm

 

There you have it folks, grilling steaks is easier than you think once you have the knowledge behind you. Everyone has their preference for cut, grade and doneness. Have fun with cooking and experiment!

Classic Buttermilk Pancakes

Who says you can’t have breakfast for dinner? When I was young, my mother would declare Tuesdays as “Pancake Tuesday”. Granted, this didn’t happen every Tuesday, but it was such a treat when those days came around. Pancakes are really easy to make, you can dress them in savory or sweet toppings and you can add spices and other fixings to suit your fancy. Today happens to be Tuesday, so here is a recipe for Classic Buttermilk Pancakes.

 

Classic Buttermilk Pancakes:

 

Yields: 6 pancakes

Prep time: 5-15 minutes

Cook time: 6-10 minutes

Skill level: Easy

 

What you’ll need:

Heavy bottom skillet or electric griddle

Mixing bowl

Spatula or whisk

½ C measuring cup (to pour batter)

 

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1 ½ C flour

1 t baking soda

¾ t salt

1 T sugar

1 2/3 C buttermilk

3 T butter, melted

 

Method:

Separate eggs into yolks and whites. Set whites aside and beat yolks.

Sift dry ingredients and add to beaten egg yolks, alternate with buttermilk. (Start with ½ C intervals of dry mix and ½ C buttermilk until incorporated).

Beat egg whites and fold into pancake batter. Cover mixing bowl with saran wrap and let stand 10 minutes (optional).

Preheat griddle to 400°, or preheat skillet to medium-high heat. Pour batter onto griddle using a ½ C measuring cup. Once bubbles rise in the pancakes, they are ready to flip (approximately 3-5 minutes). Flip and cook additional 3 or 4 minutes, until pancakes are golden brown. Serve hot. ENJOY!

*Tips*

*Substitute flour for whole wheat if you want a healthier pancake*

*Add fresh berries or chocolate chips to pancakes before flipping*

*For a simple and healthy fruit sauce, try this: ¾ C frozen or fresh berries, 1 T chia seeds. In a microwavable dish, heat berries on high in 1 minute intervals until hot and bubbling. Mash fruit into puree and add chia seeds. Let stand 5 minutes until sauce thickens, add to pancakes, yogurt or eat it with a spoon*