Saturday, December 15, 2018

Hot Chicken And Vegetable Salad

Is this really a salad though?
I've gone back and forth trying to decide what else I could call this meal. I'm sticking with salad because it has a dressing. It is a very filling meal; full of flavors and textures so your taste buds definitely won't be bored! With the chicken and egg it is also full of protein to keep you full longer. I love this for meal prepping...

A quick pop in the microwave and *boom* you are good to go. Of course, you can also eat it cold if you prefer. As written below, it makes 4 servings but is super easy to double if you have company. 

Hot Chicken And Vegetable Salad

4 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp chopped chives
1/ 2 Tbsp chopped dill
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 Tbsp prepared mustard
1 tsp sugar

4 chicken breasts (boneless & skinless)
1 lb green beans
2 cups diced beets
1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
2 cups cherry tomatoes
4 hard boiled eggs

Prepare dressing - whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, parsley, chives, dill, onion powder, mustard, and sugar until well combined. Chill until ready to use. 
Prepare salad - Preheat oven to 425. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside. 
In a bowl, toss the chicken breasts, green beans, and beets with the olive oil and salt & pepper. 
Spread the green beans and beets on the prepared cookie sheet and roast in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, stir, and then place chicken breasts on to the cookie sheet as well. Place back in oven and continue to cook for another 20 - 30 minutes or so - until vegetables are soft and chicken is cooked. 
Remove from oven and divide among 4 serving dishes, slicing the chicken before placing it on the dish. 
Divide the cherry tomatoes evenly among the dishes and place a boiled egg on each dish as well. Note - If you want your boiled egg hot then cook it after you place the chicken on the cookie sheet in the oven. If you don't mind it cold - then you can cook the eggs earlier and have them in the fridge until ready to use. 
Drizzle with the dressing. 

One of my favorite meals! Other than peeling and dicing the beets, there is very little prep involved. 

The dressing provides a lovely bright flavor without covering up the taste of the vegetables. 
Technically, this also works as a Christmas dish because of the red and green. Just saying. 

Like I said above, I'm not really sure if this should be called a salad or not... but it is full of veggies and other good things AND it does have a dressing so...... that's what we're sticking with. 
Hot salads are totally a thing. Right? 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Crunchy Pickle Rice Balls with Spicy Red Pepper Jelly

This post was sponsored by USA Rice Canada. We were compensated monetarily but all opinions and experiences, as always, are our own!

Sue and I really cannot get enough rice. I mean, seriously, can we talk about the nutritional advantages of rice for a second?
·         Rice is a delicious and versatile, slow burning complex carb that provides long lasting energy
·         It’s naturally sodium, cholesterol, and gluten free AND low allergen
Plus, it’s delicious, it’s incredibly versatile, and so easy to make. You can cook a huge batch on the weekend and refrigerate or freeze for later use (It will hold in the freezer for up to 6 months!). Pop over to for some short how-to videos on how to reheat your rice so it’s just like freshly cooked!
Sue and I are also big fans of the fact that U.S. grown rice is as local as it gets for Canadians, and rice is super affordable so great for feeding a hungry family!  
You can find tons of great recipes and tips over at! Be sure to pop over and have a look.
For this post Sue and I wanted to create a fun and different holiday appetizer that, while perfect for this time of year, would also work all year ‘round. Sue is a bit of a pickle freak while I am a definite sushi lover… Sue said, “Hmmm… what would happen if deep fried pickles and sushi had a baby?”
I know what you’re thinking.
Whaaaaaaat kind of hybrid would that be?
Well, turns out a delicious, crunchy-squishy hybrid.

Crunchy Pickle Rice Balls with Spicy Red Pepper Jelly

1 cup uncooked sushi rice
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup pickle juice
1 egg

2 cups Panko bread crumbs
1 tsp dried dill

4 - 5 small pickles, chopped into chunks

Oil for deep frying (about 1 litre) 

Spicy Red Pepper Jelly

green onion, sliced

Prepare rice - Cook the rice according to the package directions. Once done, let cool for about 15 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Pour into the cooked rice and stir well to combine.

 Set aside to cool completely. When rice is cool, you are ready to make your pickle balls!
Prepare the batter - whisk together flour, baking powder, water, pickle juice, and egg to form a pancake-like batter. Set aside.
Prepare the topping - in a large, shallow bowl, combine panko crumbs and dill. Set aside. 
Before you begin, fill a bowl full of water and have it sitting on your work surface beside you. You will need to keep your hands wet to prevent the rice from sticking to you. 
See photo below - you should have your rice, bowl of water, chopped pickle, batter, and topping all ready to go. 
Place oil for frying in a large pot and start heating while you make the balls. You want the oil to be at 350° degrees. 

Wet your hands and pinch off a ping pong ball sized amount of rice. Flatten in it in the palm of your hand and place a pickle piece in the middle.

Gently squish the rice around the pickle and press into a ball. Continue with the rice and pickles until your are out of rice. We usually get between 18 to 20. 

Using a fork (or your fingers but that is messier), dip a ball in the batter and roll it to coat evenly. Then lift the ball and gently shake off any excess batter. Transfer the ball to the topping and roll to coat all the sides. 

Repeat with all the balls. 

Deep fry 4 - 5 balls at a time in the 350° degree oil until golden brown, about 1 - 2 minutes.

Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and let excess oil drip back into the pot. Place on a wire rack with paper towel underneath OR directly onto paper towel to let any excess oil drip off. 

You can serve now OR you can serve at room temp OR you can even serve cold. Place the balls on a serving platter with the Spicy Red Pepper Jelly. 

You can sprinkle with a little sliced green onion, if desired.

These make a lovely addition to the holiday table with those pops of red and green!

You can cut them in half for presentation - this will also double your servings from 18 to 36. 

Sue's hubby, Rob, loved the squishy texture of the rice with the crunchy pickle and crisp coating. (So did we!) 

They are delicious when first made and are hot BUT, the beauty of this recipe is that they are also amazing at room temp or even the next day, chilled. 

We served the red pepper jelly in a bowl for dipping but you could also place it in a plastic bag, snip the corner off, and drizzle it on top of the balls. The little bit of heat in the red pepper jelly pairs really well with the tang of the dill. 

I found that without any red pepper jelly the crunchy pickle balls had a buttery taste from the batter and crumbs that was delicious on its own as well. Because of the sushi aspect of these, you could also serve them with a little wasabi or sriracha mayo. 
Like things even spicier? Throw a slice of jalapeno in there with your pickle!
Rice makes this fun holiday appetizer affordable and, other than the deep frying, fairly nutrient dense (think B vitamins, phosphorus, and zinc!) 
Be sure to pop over to for more recipes and information on rice.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Old Fashioned Jelly Donuts

"It's a jelly"
If you're Canadian I'm pretty sure it's the law that you know which movie that comes from. Strange Brew (1983). You know, Bob and Doug Mackenzie... hosers.... take off, eh..... 
I'll forgive you if you don't know it. But look it up. Watch it. Seriously. It's a Canadian thing. 
Anyways.... jelly donuts make an appearance in the movie so that's why I brought it up. They should make an appearance in aaaalllll the movies. I mean.... J E L L Y D O N U T S are just ridiculous. 
Let's give them their own star on the walk of fame. 

Old Fashioned Jelly Donuts

2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup sugar
4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 tsp salt
4 - 5 cups flour

1 jar seedless raspberry jelly (or your favorite)

Oil for deep frying (about 1 litre)
sugar to roll the donuts in

Prepare dough - Heat buttermilk over medium heat until just starting to steam. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and let cool for 5 minutes. Pour into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit another 5 minutes - until yeast blooms.
Whisk the butter, eggs, vanilla, and salt into the yeast mixture. Slowly stir in the flour until soft, but not sticky, dough forms. Knead for 5 minutes on a floured work surface. 
Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, and set somewhere warm to rise for an hour. 
After an hour, roll out dough to 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a 2.5 to 3 inch biscuit cutter. Place donuts on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a tea towel, and let rise another 45 minutes or so. 
When the second rise time is almost up, heat your oil in a large pot to 350 degrees. (This takes about 15 minutes so start to heat it up after dough has been rising about half an hour.)
Place a shallow bowl filled with sugar beside where you are going to be placing the donuts after frying.
When oil reaches 350, gently slide 3 or 4 donuts into the oil and fry 1 minute on each side - until evenly browned. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain. 
Roll the donuts in the sugar to coat.
Repeat until all donuts have been cooked. 

Let cool completely. 
When they are cooled off - place the jelly in a piping bag fitted with a long nozzle. Poke a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon into the side of each donut to create a hole. Then press the tip of the piping nozzle into the hole and squeeze in some jelly. 
Repeat until all donuts are filled!. 

These are best eaten the day they are made but can be frozen.

Want to see the inside? 

Look at all that squishiness and gooey jelly!
Personally, I like raspberry jelly the best for jelly donuts but you can use your favorite! You can also dust the donuts with powdered sugar after they have cooled INSTEAD OF the regular sugar.... but I like the regular sugar because that's how we had them growing up. 
NOTE - This recipe is also easy to double! The photos above are of a doubled recipe! I think you get about 1 1/2 - 2 dozen per batch (so about 3 - 4 dozen doubled).

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Easy Dinner Packets

What's that? You're looking for a delicious and hearty dinner idea that will leave you without any dishes? Have we got a deal for you!
These easy dinner packets have everything you need: meat, potatoes, vegetables, gravy, all in one no-muss, no-fuss what-do-you-mean-there's-nothing-to-clean-up dish. 
It's easy to customize with your favorite veggies and you can swap out sweet potatoes for the potatoes if you like. You can use ground beef or pork or turkey. Throw in some cheese or even sprinkle with hot sauce to spice things up. 
Like I said, no-muss, no-fuss. 

Easy Dinner Packets

Meat Patties
1 lb lean ground beef
1 pkg vegetable soup mix

5 medium potatoes, sliced
2 cups carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 large onion, sliced
3 Tbsp oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp garlic granules (or 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced)
salt & pepper

1 can condensed mushroom soup

Preheat oven to 375. 
Prepare meat patties - mix together the ground beef and the soup mix. Separate into 5 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten between the palms of your hands. Set aside.
Prepare vegetables - Place the vegetables, oil, and spices in a large bowl. Toss gently to coat the vegetables. 

Prepare packets - Tear off a large strip of tinfoil and place it on a flat work surface. Scoop up 1/5th of the vegetable mix and place it in the center of the tinfoil. 

Top with a meat patty.

Place 2 Tbsp of the condensed mushroom soup on top of the patty. 

Fold up the long sides of the tinfoil and pinch to seal. Fold over the other sides of the tinfoil and pinch that as well so no steam escapes. Repeat with remaining veggies and meat patties - you should get 5.
You can place the packets directly into the oven on the oven rack OR you can place them on a large cookie sheet. You may have to squish things around to get them to fit if you use a cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Carefully open one packet (steam will come out) and prick the potatoes with a fork - they should be tender. If not, reseal and continue cooking until they are done.

I serve them in the tinfoil packages on top of a plate. You can scoop the contents directly onto a plate if you prefer. 
I put them on a cookie sheet just in case one springs a leak - it saves having to clean up the oven. You don't need to though if you are careful not to tear the tinfoil. I also serve them in the tinfoil because that means your plate won't be dirty either - it just gives them more stability. 
Don't like carrots and Brussels sprouts? Use green beans, turnips, beets, broccoli, cauliflower.... you have a lot of choices here. This is one of my favorite meals to cook when it is a particularly busy day. You can make the packets up ahead of time and refrigerate them until ready to cook. 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Fresh Cherry Cake

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. "Old fashioned" comes to mind. No fancy schmancy ingredients, no expensive equipment needed, just some fresh fruit and a few minutes to whip up. 
This cherry cake is definitely one of those recipes. 
A lovely vanilla cake with fresh cherries that is moist and crumbly and perfect for brunch, or dessert, or with a glass of wine for watching movies! It also freezes very well so you can make it up in advance if need be. Don't have cherries? Sub in blueberries or raspberries or even some chocolate chips and pecans (just leave out the lemon zest). Personally I love the texture of the fresh cherries though.

Fresh Cherry Cake

1 1/2 cups fresh cherries, halved and pitted
2 Tbsp sugar 
1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup butter, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla (or seeds from one vanilla bean)
zest of one lemon
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup milk

icing sugar for dusting

Prepare cherries - Toss together the cherries, sugar, and vanilla. Place in a strainer in the sink and let sit for an hour to drain.
Prepare cake - Preheat oven to 350. Line a 10 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper, spraying sides with cooking spray, set aside. 
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest. 
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, alternating with the milk. Beat until just combined. 
Stir in the cherries.

Spread into the prepared 10 inch pan.

Bake at 350 until top is golden and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean - about 30 - 40 minutes. 

Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing cake from the pan. Let sit on wire rack to cool completely. 

If desired you can sprinkle with a dusting of icing sugar. I don't usually - I find it sweet enough without. 

This cake is sturdy enough to be packed in a lunch kit and, as there isn't any frosting, is a bit easier to keep. Cover and store at room temp or in the fridge. I would try to eat it within 2 to 3 days at the most. You can freeze it if you need it to last longer. 
You can, of course, frost it with a vanilla or lemon frosting or even a glaze but I don't find it needs one. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Pineapple Coconut Cake

Pineapple and coconut may seem a bit out of place in November but I say there is no better time to have them! It's cold, it's rainy, it's a stay under the covers watching movies kind of month BUT if we add a little pineapple and coconut it's like summer is here again.
Okay. Maybe not. But, it doesn't hurt to try. 
Plus... you get to eat delicious cake sooooo pretty much worth your time regardless of if it makes the sun shine again or not. 

Pineapple Coconut Cake

3 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
5 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, room temp
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp coconut extract
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup flaked coconut

Pineapple Filling
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups drained, crushed pineapple (reserve juice)
1/2 cup butter, room temp

4 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp pineapple juice (more if needed)

1 cup toasted coconut

Prepare Cake - Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray 3 - 9 inch pans with cooking spray and line bottom with parchment paper, set aside.
In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy, scraping sides of bowl as needed. beat in eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Beat in vanilla and coconut extracts. 
Alternately beat in the flour and buttermilk until well mixed - scrape the sides of the bowl between each addition. 
Divide the batter between the 3 prepared pans.
Bake at 350 until toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean - about 30 - 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before inverting cakes onto wire racks to cool completely. 

Prepare Pineapple Filling - Add the sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and pineapple to a pan. Whisk well. Add in the butter and bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and, stirring constantly, add in 1/4 cup of the reserved pineapple juice, simmer 5 minutes to thicken, then remove from heat and let cool completely. 
Prepare Frosting - in a mixing bowl, beat together icing sugar, vanilla, and pineapple juice until spreading consistency. Add in more juice if too firm, or more icing sugar, if too runny. 
Assemble Cake - Place one layer of cake on a serving platter. Scoop frosting into a piping bag (or plastic bag) and pipe a ring of icing around the rim of the cake. Spread half of the cooled pineapple filling in the center of the cake, spreading to meet the icing. (See photo below for clarification)

Place a second layer of cake on top and repeat the ring of frosting and the rest of the pineapple filling. Top with the last layer of cake. 
Pipe (or spread) the last of the frosting on top of the cake.

Lastly, top with the toasted coconut.

Unfortunately this cake disappeared so quickly I didn't get a chance to take a photo of it sliced. I like the "naked" look of the cake that comes from not frosting the sides. If you want to frost the sides I would recommend doubling the frosting recipe so you have enough. You could then press toasted coconut on to the sides too, if you wanted to. 
Pineapple and coconut is a classic pairing that is sure to have your guests coming back for more.