Sunday, March 24, 2013

Easy Whole Grain Lasagna


This week has been extremely hectic around our house. 

Marc started a new job that requires him to work 17 (12 hour) days on, 4 days off.  Since I've been busy teaching evening courses the past few months (and also taking a few classes myself) there hasn't been a whole lot of time for cooking in our house.  Because my weekdays are so busy, I think it's really important to take the time on weekends to prepare a nice meal, and if I'm feeling extra ambitious, a few extra meals to get us through the week.

Lasagna is a great choice for a make ahead meal because it's really easy to prepare and freezes extremely well - it also happens to be Marc's favourite food!  I could probably make lasagna every day of the week and he wouldn't complain.  

I used whole grain pasta this time around and since I already had the ingredients on hand, I went with with the lasagna recipe on the back of the box.  To go with the lasagna I made this garlic toast with a caesar salad and even enjoyed a few glasses of red wine!   After dinner, we ended up staying in and renting a new comedy that just came out - the perfect way to end a busy week! 

If you are interested in learning more about whole grains be sure to check out this website, which is full of great information!  


Disclosure: I was compensated for this post, though all opinions are my own. 

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Traditional Irish Shepard's Pie


First and foremost, Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I always love when holiday's fall on a Sunday blog post.  :)  

My husband and I have both been working a ton lately making it difficult to co-ordinate dinners.   I took advantage of my weekend off to make a few make ahead meals for the week.   Shepard's Pie usually makes an appearance on our dinner table at least once a month or so, and seeing as how today is St. Patrick's Day and this dish is Irish, I thought it would be the perfect day to share this recipe!

Ingredients

- 1 lb ground lamb (or ground beef)
- 1/2 onion
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 1/2 cups beef broth, divided
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp worchetsire sauce
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- salt & pepper to taste
- 3 large potatoes
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3/4 cup mozza cheese*, shredded (optional)

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
 
Pre-heat large frying pan and cook meat over medium heat.  While meat is browning, dice onions and carrots - add to cooked meat. 

Pour 1/2 cup cold broth into a small bowl and whisk in flour.  Add to meat mixture and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add worchestire sauce, frozen peas, and salt and pepper.  Evenly distribute mixture into a medium casserole dish or 4 individual ramekins. 

Peel potatoes and boil until soft (about 8-10 minutes).  Add butter and milk to potatoes and whip until as smooth as possible.  Top meat filled ramekins with mashed potatoes and fluff with fork. 

Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown. 

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Strawberry Feta Salad w/ Poppy Seed Dressing



[I was at a recent event where I was served a delicious salad dressed with a lovely homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  A few people amongst our table commented on how they could never figure out how to put together anything but a basic salad, let alone a homemade dressing to go with it. We got to talking about our favourite flavor combinations and the amount of unpronounceable preserving agents in most store bought dressings.  Sure enough, before the meal was over I promised I would try and come up with a flavourful salad and a healthy dressing for them to try making in their own kitchens.

I’ve always really enjoyed the contrast between the natural sweetness of strawberries, the bitterness of spinach, and the creamy, saltiness of feta.  Straight spinach would also make an ideal bed for this recipe, though I really enjoy the variation of flavors that a mixed blend brings to the table (plus to be honest, that’s what I already had in the fridge).

When I first started researching recipes for a homemade dressing, I was surprised at how many recipes called for a ton of sugar and oil (one recipe even went as far as calling for a cup of each!).  I knew there had to be a healthier way so I set out to my kitchen and experimented with a few different ingredients until I came up with what I think is the perfect combination for this salad.   

This recipe makes a great appetizer, though paired with some grilled chicken and a sprinkle of toasted nuts and this salad could easily hold it’s own as a main course.

*To toast nuts, either sauté them in a frying pan over medium heat, or place on a baking sheet in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 7-10 minutes until lightly brown.  Almonds, pecans, or pine nuts would all go really well with this salad.]
  
Ingredients

Salad
- 2-3 cups mixed greens
- 2-3 medium strawberries
- 4-5 thin slices of sweet or purple onion
- 2 tbsp crumbled Feta

Dressing
- 4 tbsp plain yogurt
- 1 ½ tsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp onions, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1 tsp garlic powder (or ½ tsp minced)
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Slice up strawberries and arrange them on top of a bed of greens.  Sprinkle on onion, then crumbled feta.  Pour on dressing, then top with toasted nuts and chicken if applicable.

For dressing

Mix all of the ingredients together.  I like to make and store most of my homemade sauces and dressings in a mason jar – just screw on the lid and give it a good shake.  Will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

- Nutritional Info (entire salad with ¼ recipe dressing) -

Calories - 150   Fat - 9    Carbs – 10     Protein - 7   Fibre – 2
  
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