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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spider-man Cake!

My nephew Jonah turned 4 this weekend! This year he requested a Spider-Man cake.

Here are a few pictures I took during the making of the cake and the end result:


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dinner for One: Bruschetta Chicken

The hubby was working late tonight so I was on my own for dinner. I usually take this opportunity to order in some take out but I have been eating out a lot lately so I decided instead to whip up something easy for myself. I make this dish often, it is incredibly simple, yet incredibly delicious. It is simply bruschetta, minus the bread, using a breaded chicken cutlet as the base.

Chicken Bruschetta
Serves 1 with leftovers, or 2
  • 1 tsp. plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 4 vine ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • a few basil leaves, torn
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten 
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper
1. In a small saute pan add 1 tsp. of the olive oil and the minced garlic. Place over medium high heat and cook until garlic starts to become golden. Immediately remove from heat and pour over the chopped tomatoes. Stir to combine, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Place the chicken breasts in between 2 pieces of saran wrap. Using a mallet, frying pan or rolling pin, pound the chicken into thin cutlets.
3. Separate the flour, egg and bread crumbs into three separate bowls. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces first in the flour, then the beaten egg, followed by the bread crumbs. Set aside.
4. Heat a large fry pan over medium-heat. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp. of olive oil into the pan and swirl to coat. Pan fry the chicken breasts until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes a side.
4. Place the chicken onto a plate or serving platter and top with the tomato mixture. Top with the torn basil.

Tonight I served the chicken breast on top of some baby arugula and threw some goat cheese on top! Delish!

Kitchen Must Haves

I have been suffering from a cold for the past week so I haven't been in the kitchen very much unless it was to heat up some soup. I apologize for the lack of cooking posts, but am going to take this opportunity to write a post about my favourite kitchen products, and what I think every basic kitchen should have.

Here goes:

A Good Chef''s Knife:
Photo courtesy of
Also known as a French knife, a good quality Chef's knife is the basis for all cooking. I would recommend a knife in an 8 - 10 inch range. There are so many great brands out there so test them out and see which one feels the best in your hand. In order to get the best use out of your knife, it is important to keep it sharp. Get it professionally sharpened every few months and purchase a honing steel to maintain it's edge between sharpening. A good qulaity, sharp knife will guarantee easier prep and believe it or not is actually safer than using a dull knife!

A Large Stainless Steel Frying Pan:
Whether you are searing a beef tenderloin or scrambling some eggs a stainless steel frying pan is perfect for various uses. Look for a pan with an aluminum core to help evenly distribute the heat.

An Enameled Cast Iron French Oven:
Not just pretty, a French oven can withstand high temperatures which makes it perfect for on top of the stove as well as in the oven. French ovens are a necessity when braising and slow cooking. Although they may be on the pricier side, a good quality one will last a lifetime, and can even be passed down from generation to generation.

Plastic and Wooden Cutting Boards:
If you own a glass or stone cutting board put  it aside to use as a display board for cheese and antipasto. These types of boards, ruin your knives, and stone can hold on to bacteria if not properly sealed. The softness of plastic and wood is perfect for maintaining your knives sharpness, as well plastic boards can be placed in the dishwasher to make sure they are perfectly sanitized. I keep my plastic boards for use with raw and smelly foods like meat, fish and garlic and use my wooden boards for vegetable prep. Wash your wooden boards by hand with soap and warm water.

Useful Appliances:

It is very easy to get carried away with appliances. I have found myself with a cupboard full of appliances like an ice cream maker, waffle iron and rice cooker. Although I love them, they have very limited uses. I am fortunate enough to have the cupboard and basement space to store them when I am not using them, but if you are limited on space try to limit your appliances to these three: a hand blender, a food processor and a hand mixer. These appliances have multiple uses and will help speed things up in the kitchen. A hand blender is great for pureeing soups right in the pot and making smoothies, a food processor is the perfect tool to grate cheese or whip up a quick dip and a hand mixer is the ultimate tool for baking.

If you live in the GTA a great place to purchase these, as well as other great products is Nella Cucina. Located on Bathurst just north of Bloor this place is a mecca of restaurant and kitchen supplies (and I'm not just saying that because I work there!)

Nella Cucina
876 Bathurst Street
Toronto, Onto
M5R 3G3

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Quick and Easy Dinner: BBQ Pulled Chicken Quesadillas

After a long day at work I want to be able to whip up something quick, yet satisfying for dinner. My husband loves my BBQ Pulled Chicken, but last night I was in the mood for Mexican. So I mixed the two together and made BBQ Pulled Chicken Quesadillas!!! They were super easy, but super tasty!

BBQ Pulled Chicken Quesadillas
Makes 4 Quesadillas
  • 1 recipe of BBQ Pulled Chicken
  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, or a mix of both
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Salsa, Guacamole and Sour Cream for serving
  1. Prepare the BBQ Pulled Chicken according to the recipe.
  2. Lay the tortillas out on a work surface. On the bottom half of each tortilla top with 1/4 of the chicken mixture, 1/4 cup of cheese, and a sprinkling of green onion. Fold the tortillas in half, making a half moon shape and set aside.
  3. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Place a quesadilla into the skillet and grill until golden and cheese is melted, about 2 minutes a side. Repeat with remaining quesadillas.
  4. Serve with salsa, guacamole and sour cream.
Quick Guacamole: In a large mixing bowl, or a mortar and pestle mash 2 avocados with, 1/4 cup chopped red onion, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 chopped roma tomato, 1 chopped jalapeno (optional), the juice of 1 lime and a pinch of salt OR for an even quicker Guacamole, mash 2 avocados with 1/3 cup of already prepared salsa.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cheesy Chorizo Strata

One of my favorite brunch dishes to make is a strata, which is kind of a savoury french toast casserole. It is the perfect dish to prepare when hosting a brunch because it can be completely made the night before, and then you just pop it in the oven before guests arrive and you are good to go. You can completely customize this recipe by replacing the sausage, cheese and veggies with pretty much anything you wish!

Cheesy Chorizo Strata
Serves 8
  • 1lb. loaf of French bread, sliced
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 lb. smoked chorizo, cut into small cubes (make sure to use the Spanish smoked chorizo, and not the Mexican chorizo, which is raw)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup grated white cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (I used a cheese with hot peppers in it)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Grease a large casserole dish.
  2. Slice the bread into about 32 slices and arrange into the casserole dish.You will probably have about 2 layers of bread.
  3. Top the bread with the chopped chorizo, peppers, onions and shredded cheese.
  4. In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, paparika, salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, pressing down to make sure all the bread is covered. Wrap with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight. (If you don't want to wait that long, you can let it rest for 20 minutes).
  6. When ready, place the strata in a 375 degree oven and bake until set, about 1 hour. 
  7. ENJOY!

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