Creamed Spinach, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pizza

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I am so excited to finally write out this recipe. I think it  is quite possibly one of my favourite pizzas ever and will possibly become yours too. It is inspired by a Cooking Light Magazine recipe that I found at least 5 years ago. I used to love that magazine and still have stacks of issues that I just can’t part with. Of course I added all of the fats back into every recipe. Some may argue that defeated the purpose others will recognize that’s just good sense.

This recipe is not low fat by any means but I would say that compared to other pizzas it is a far cry from the heavy weight contenders you could have. Using a creamy garlic sauce reduces the need for lots of cheese and the toppings add so much flavour that a little goes a long way. I also have butter and olive oil hanging out together. The butter adds flavour while the olive oil lightens it up a bit and adds some healthier fats too.

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The original recipe called for the spinach to be cooked in a small amount of bacon fat and then spread over the pizza. The problem with this is spinach’s miraculous ability to shrink into almost next to nothing. It made spreading it at all almost impossible and it was pretty skimp. Instead I have taken the bacon fat right out and added the spinach into the cream sauce. I have used both frozen and fresh and it works great either way. This makes a pizza base that reminds me of creamed spinach, hence the name…

It also means that I felt totally justified adding in two more strips of bacon then the original :0

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Using Balsamic vinegar helps to sweeten and caramelize the onions quickly. I don’t have time most nights to patiently wait for my onions to slowly cook down so I find this speeds up the process and adds a little extra flavour too.

If you are a vegetarian please don’t ignore or overlook this recipe! I made it for a veggie friend and without the bacon it was still amazing. I had considered making the coconut vegetarian version I have seen on Pinterest but got tired and decided it was just fine without it.

This recipe makes two pizzas.

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I use Bobby Flay’s Pizza Dough Recipe

Preheat your oven to 425

Caramelized Onions

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp Olive oil
2 medium onions thinly sliced
2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
tsp of sugar
1/4 cup stock (chicken or veggie)
Salt to taste

In a sauté pan over medium heat melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onions, sugar and the balsamic vinegar and allow the onions to soften. Pour in the stock and continue cooking until the stock has reduced and the onions are soft and caramelized. Season with salt to taste.

Spinach Cream Sauce

1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Tbsps flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 finely chopped clove of garlic
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 bag frozen spinach, thawed and drained or One 5 oz package of fresh spinach
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a saucepan over medium low heat melt the butter with the olive oil. Whisk in the flour and continue stirring until a thick paste is formed. Warm the milk in the microwave for about 1 min. Slowly pour the warmed milk over the flour and butter constantly whisking. Continue until all of the milk has been added and the mixture is smooth. Thicken the sauce until it is able to coat the back of a spoon.

Stir in the nutmeg, spinach and garlic. Cook about another minute and then remove the sauce from heat.

Add in the parmesan cheese, stir and season sparingly with salt to taste.

Bacon

6 slices of Bacon

Slice the bacon into small pieces. In a pan over medium heat crisp the bacon. Once crisped remove the bacon from the pan and allow to drain on paper towel.

2 cups grated extra old white cheddar cheese

For each Pizza spread one half of the creamy spinach over the crust. Top with half of the caramelized onions and half of the bacon. Sprinkle one cup of the grated cheese over the top.

If you’re like me and don’t have a pizza stone or a wood burning pizza oven, preheat your pizza pan in the oven while the oven heats. When it’s hot sprinkle on just a little cornmeal and then lay out your pizza crust. I find this helps crisp up the crust and prevents a soggy bottom, (very undesirable).

Bake in 425 oven for about 15-17 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbling

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I’d love to know what you thought, leave me a comment or just say hi.

If you’d nightly ideas for supper check out my Facebook page www.facebook.com/myweeklydish. I share meal inspiration, recipes and tips and for feeding your family and friends

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You are How You Eat

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Taking care of myself and my family has become more and more important.

I feel the years creeping up and I want to be an active part of my kids lives for as long as I am able. Now I am no where near ‘old’ but I have no delusions that anyone else is responsible and if I want to be healthy it’s up to me.

I also know that my kids health habits will be based in what we teach them and that is another responsibility I don’t want to screw up.

Being active, enjoying the outdoors and connecting to our natural environment all rank high on how we already make this happen.

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We also eat in a way that I believe is healthy meaning, real delicious food.

Overall we avoid heavily processed foods, make veggies the focus of most meals and I try to make what I can from scratch. This isn’t always realistic so when I am buying pre-made foods, like bread or pasta, the focus is on the highest quality with the fewest number of ingredients.

I also immediately back away from anything that has light, diet, low- fat or any other glowing sign that it is packed with sugar, filler or other things that just aren’t food in my eyes.

When the rest of my life is in balance what I’ve talked about is more then enough for me to generally feel great and maintain a healthy weight. But with returning to work, two kids, stress and financial worries my balance has kinda tanked and my overall health isn’t where I’d like.20140111-213034.jpg

Some of those things are just beyond control but there a few changes I can make and that I think will make a big difference in getting back to the way I want to feel.

And since it is the New Year what better time. Now we are not talking huge changes because honestly I am mostly happy with the way we eat. But I think it’s time for a refresh and a few updates. Call it version 2.0.

And while I want to lose a few pounds and then maintain a healthy body weight this is not just about the shape I am in. My focus is on overall well being not on having a skinny bod, in fact I like having an ass and plan on keeping it. 

So here are the changes I have in the works for the New Year. Some I’ve already been experimenting with and some will be a slower shift but all are goals I think are realistic and will become another part of the way I define health.

1)  Drink Mostly Water or Herbal Teas

Growing up when I went to my mom for something to eat she would always say drink some water first. I thought she was just trying to save money or being momish but she was right.We often mistake thirst for hunger, and although food is a source of moisture it’s really no match to a tall drink of water.  We need 6-8 glasses a day and I can definitely say I fall short. 

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Like a lot of people I forget my water bottle, drink caffeine to stay awake and sometimes partake in a tasty glass of wine. But I’m missing out on probably one of the easiest health changes I can make. Water helps us digest our food, eliminate waste, and lubricates our insides. Our blood depends on us staying hydrated to flow nicely and all of our organs use it in some way.

Being dehydrated can also make us groggy and sleepy, which my children are already doing, so really a little effort around this one will be well worth it.

2) No Seconds at Supper Time

I am brutal for going back for seconds. We eat well and the food I make tastes good so I want to eat it. I also for some reason think that because my husband was born with a hyperactive metabolism and is physically active, I somehow can eat the same amount or should be allowed to. Truth is I can, but  it has the unfortunate side effect of me eating twice what I probably need and my bum being a little more ample then I like. I don’t know if it’s jealousy or what but it’s slightly ridiculous so I am cutting back to one plate and then having a glass of water until my body can check in if it’s full or not.

Licking

3) Tune in to when I am full

Recently I became aware of the actual sensations of feeling full. I’ve been working on tuning in to my body so while i’ve been eating I have tried to really listen and pay attention to what is going on.

What I realized is I associate a certain level of fullness with a comforting, happy feeling. It’s like this lovely warmth that radiates out from my tummy. What I have also realized is that this sensation is often followed by eating more then I needed and then the “oh god what was I thinking” feeling of discomfort and over fullness.

Wow, my mind was kind of blown, I was so disconnected that my body had a built in message to tell me when I’d had enough and here I was only just noticing it. So this week I tried an experiment of enjoying the warmth in my belly and the happy feeling but then stopping once it was there. It was amazing, I stuck to my one plate plan and left the table feeling happy and satiated.

4) Eat at least 3 Vegetarian meals a week

What!!! Actually I have already been doing this and it was a lot easier then I thought. Even my hubby who would never make this change on his own has been okay with it. I have a few reasons for this one.

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First, we’re broke and I save a lot of money by not buying meat. Generally I would spend 7-15 dollars a meal on meat alone. This means I save at least 20 bucks a week or close to 100 a month. That’s almost a whole week of groceries again.

Second, it’s healthier. When you eat a plant based meal it’s generally lower in fat (see next point), higher in nutrients, fibre and healthy fats.

Finally, it’s more environmentally responsible. We all have to do what we feel is right and for me animal farming is just not sustainable on the level we currently consume meat. The amount of land, feed, processing and waste created by our meat consumption is astounding. I was doing some mental math one night and realized that in a city of one million 20 000 chickens were potentially killed and processed every night. That’s not counting pork, beef or any other meat sources. Can you even fathom that?

Actually that’s not the final reason. Finally, finally is that we have decided to only purchase meat that is locally raised and butchered and this costs more. To counter the big nasty factory farms that treat animals in deplorable ways we have decided to support our local farmers that treat their animals with respect, feed them properly and we end up with a finished product that I don’t have to worry was dipped in bleach. I’m not trying to get preachy but we as a society need to be more responsible for the choices we make in what we purchase. Our dollars impact how the billions of animals we  chose to eat are treated.

5) Eat a Little Less Cheese

Switching to more vegetarian meals was pretty easy but for some reason it meant that I added cheese instead. Well actually I know why. No meat, no problem, just put cheese on something and everyone will be happy. It’s true and it probably was a great transition food for us. Now that we’re all a little more used to not eating meat with every meal reducing the dairy goodness is doable.

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I’m even a little excited to branch out more and may even try one or two vegan meals. Let me be clear, cheese is not evil. I buy locally made white cheddar and it is tasty and an important part of my meal plans but covering mac and cheese in more cheese becomes a little heavy handed and unnecessary.

5) Move my body

This isn’t exactly food related but since I returned from my maternity leave I spend a lot more time parked on my butt. I sit a lot, like all day, and it’s killing me. I recently found out I have a pretty bad back (deteriorating disks) and I have always known my posture was crap. Sitting is just making it worse. I have found some exercises I can do in my office to work on both my back and posture and I am taking a quick break every hour or so to do them. I also plan on trying to walk at least once during the day. How I work with clients is pretty flexible so I am going to encourage some walking and talking:)

I also plan on creating an exercise routine that can be done at home. I don’t have a lot of time but I do have an elliptical trainer, resistance bands, a yoga mat, and a Wii. Really there are a lot of options and my body needs me to make it a priority. I’ll keep ya’ll posted.

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7) Cutting back on white, refined sugar

I am switching whenever possible to sugar cane, maple syrup, agave or other options. These have less impact on our blood sugar, reducing the up and down spikes that white sugar creates and our body is better suited to dealing with these types of sweeteners. Also there is a lot of processing involved in making white sugar and since my goal has been to move away from processing it only makes sense to move to more natural sources.

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So that’s it, nothing crazy…well to me. I’m not making it so I have to take out another mortgage to buy groceries and I think my meal plans and recipes will still be accessible to everyone.

If you are ready to make some of your own changes in your diets and lifestyle I suggest finding small changes that don’t require a whole life overhaul, (unless that’s what you want, then go for it!!!).

Small changes can have big impacts. Consider them gateway changes, opening the door for more shifts in a healthier direction. I started years ago making small shifts and now like to think that my family and I eat in a way that is healthy, sustainable and budget friendly.

For inspiration I recommend In Defence of Food, by Michael Pollan and The Undiet, by Meghan Telpner. Both are great reads if you are sick of dieting or trying to follow food trends that just can’t be sustained over time. These books promote looking at food in a whole new way and at it’s core is the super simple idea that real food is best. 

Let me know what you all think and if you have any plans on making changes this year:)

If you are looking for inspiration I share what we had for supper each night on my Facebook page too www.facebook.com/myweeklydish

Tuna Noodle Casserole

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Do you ever do a little cleaning of your kitchen cupboards and find something in the back you totally forgot you had and really aren’t sure what to do with?

I do it all the time and I hate wasting food so I need to be pretty creative. A while ago I found a bag of goldfish crackers. My kids love them but this bag was a little salty so I put it in the cupboard and well that’s where it stayed. Until I needed a topping for my tuna casserole recipe.

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I’ll be honest this is not a recipe I ever thought I would be working on. I had a traumatizing incident with tuna and noodles as a child (sorry dad) and until last year I had never actually tried it again. But being budget concious and having a hubby who grew up with comfort food like this, made me want to give it a try again.

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Lets call it an exercise in moving forward and letting go of the past:)

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I used a white sauce with lots of veggies to make a tasty and canned soup free casserole that comes together pretty quick. The goldfish crackers make a great crust but if you are short on time you could skip the baking step and it would still be great.

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Tuna Noodle Casserole

1 package of broad noodles

1 Tbsp canola or olive oil
1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
1 cup of diced carrots (about 1 large carrot)
1 cup of diced celery (about 2 stalks celery)
1 cup of frozen peas
2 cloves of crushed garlic
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp mustard powder (grainy mustard would work too)
1 bayleaf
2 cups of milk
2 cans of chunk tuna

preheat the oven to 350

Prepare the noodles to the package instructions.

In a large saucepan heat the canola to medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery to the pan and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking for about 30 seconds. Melt in the butter and stir in the flour. Add the mustard powder and the bay leaf.

Heat the milk until  luke warm (I use my microwave and it’s about 45-60 seconds), slowly add it to the veggies and flour, stirring constantly.

Once it’s all mixed together add the peas and simmer the sauce until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon then remove the bay leaf

In a large casserole dish spread out the noodles and pour over the sauce. Fold in the tuna and top with the goldfish crust

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Goldfish crust

1 1/2 cups crushed gold fish crackers
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 Tbsps melted butter
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Bake the casserole for about 45 minutes

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My sister decorated this plate almost thirty years ago. It was one of those ones you colour and than bake. I think it’s one of my most treasured dishes.

Well there’s my version of a meal I’m sure most of us have eaten at some point. I just happen to think mine’s awesome. Hope it makes your family and friends as happy as mine. Let me know what you think

I also post nightly meals on my Facebook page if you’re looking for inspiration www.facebook.com/myweeklydish

Balance might be futile…

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I used to think that being a working mom meant finding the perfect balance.

Homoeostasis if you will, where there is harmony and equilibrium. That place where my attention is equitably divided between family, work and a little social too. Houses are mostly clean, files are up to date and my children happily play while I follow my passions and hubby builds something…

I think I invisioned the place where June Cleaver and Gloria Steinem meet.

But the truth and reality is no where near that.

I have had to accept messes and I sometimes have to resort to using TV as a distraction to get supper on the table. My toilets are so gross that I have quarantined one bathroom to minimize the damage. I can’t even imagine where I would send someone to pee if they came over.

My sons books create Mandalas on his bedroom floor and there is the semi permanent pile of laundry on our couch that I tuck my feet under while I watch TV, officially dubbed Laundry Mountain.

Although all attempts are made at being super, working mom I forget keys to my office, photocopy the wrong thing twenty times, have a laughable pile of ‘to dos’ and have a coworker that I am sure must wonder how I remember to put on pants.

I was obviously deluding myself about what it would look like. I have realized that a ‘balanced’ life is futile and that the type of women I imagined was barely possible on paper.

My day starts in chaos and ends in exhaustion. It is no where near that glorious, balanced place I imagined. But somehow I feel like a better mom and a better wife, probably not a better friend but definitely a better me.

When I was home with the kids all day I would feel just outright drained. I would run out of things to do, ways to entertain them and I could tend towards getting a little yelly (thank you ohdeerestme for the apt description). Bed time was the only relief I could see and I was so tapped I hurried through the moments that I now savour.

Now, I can lie with my son forever, squished snuggly in his little bed. Surrounded by furry things and staring at a starry ceiling we discuss our days. He tells me about spiderman and playing pirates and I tell him about going into a school or working on my computer. We snuggle and he tells me he loves me and that I’m the best mommy in the world and I believe him.

My daughters special time is in the morning. I used to dread the early wakeups and now I listen for her little peeps to bring her in to our bed. We look at books, touch our noses and toes and cuddle while she has her morning bubba.

My time with them has become more valuable and precious. I know I have less of it in the day and I refuse to waste a single second of it. Laundry Mountain be damned if my kids want a story read to them. And if at the end of the day I’m too tired to make the house all sparkly and perfect for the next day, screw it, I need to write or pin until I fall into a well deserved sleep.

My work is also important. It is a part of my identity and who I am. It is a seperateness from my family and space where I am the professional that I spent all those hours and dollars to become. It doesn’t define me but it is a part of me and even with children that part of me still needs to be nourished, encouraged and explored. I am good at what I do and I love it.

In a way I suppose that is a type of balance. I have the love of my children and the support of my husband. I’m in a profession that provides challenge and growth. I have a home that feels lived in and safe to be who we are and every night I create a meal that nourishes my family.

“Roots of Love in a Beautiful Storm” is our family motto and I think that sums it all up pretty well.

Speaking of roots…This weeks plan shows my new goal of half vegetarian meals. In another attempt at finding balance I am trying to meet my wants for lighter non meat meals and hubbies needs for calorie dense and meaty meals. I think so far it’s working pretty well and you’ll probably see this in my meal plans from now on. I’ve also started branching out and trying some fellow bloggers recipes so I don’t always have to be a creative genius.

Lasagna

Lasagna

Sunday

Lasagna
My sauce starts with celery, carrots and onions then Italian sausage and ground beef. I add diced tomatoes, garlic, dried oregano and basil and a cup of stock. I let this cook down as much as possible and season with salt towards the end so that it doesn’t end up overly salty. I layer this with noodles and a mixture of a large container of cottage cheese, two eggs, pesto, spinach and parmesan. This turns into a creamy layer that’s less expensive then using ricotta. Top the whole gorgeous thing with mozzerella and bake for an hour. The biggest thing I have learnt about lasagna is to let it sit at least 20 minutes before serving. If it’s served too soon you end up with soupy glop instead of the lovely slices you see on Pinterest

Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza

Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza

Meatless Monday

Butternut Squash, Kale and Sage Pizza
I love the combination of kale and squash it’s a little sweet and a little savoury and combined with sage it’s just plain delicious. I used a creamy garlic white sauce as the base and then layered on the kale and squash then finished it all with a combination of parmesan and old white cheddar. A good friend made a dairy free version that sounds delic!

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas

Tuesday

Chicken Fajitas
I oven roasted 3 chicken breasts and then thinly sliced a large zucchini, a large onion and two red peppers. The veg was sauteed with 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tsbp olive oil. Once it had cooked down I seasoned the veggies with salt and a sprinkle of cumin and finished with some chopped cilantro. Toppings were diced tomatoes and grated cheese plus some plain yogurt and hot sauce…of course

Sweet Potato Nachos

Sweet Potato Nachos

Wednesday

Sweet Potato Nachos
One of the few times I made an easy supper for the kids so I could have dinner with hubby when he got home. I used a recipe from Pinterest as inspiration. I thinly sliced two large peeled sweet potatoes and tossed them in a combination of olive oil, cumin and chili powder then roasted them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once they were cooked and a little crispy I topped the whole thing with grated cheese, diced green onions, cilantro, and diced tomatoes and then baked it for another 10 minutes until the cheese was lovely and bubbly. Served with tomatillo salsa and plain yogurt I will definitely be making these again. 

Asian Salmon Meatball Subs

Asian Salmon Meatball Subs

Thursday

Asian Salmon Meatball Subs
I used this recipe to create the meatballs but using canned salmon instead and adding an egg to hold it together. For bread I used a multigrain baguette cut the old school Subway style and a mayo with added siracha, grated garlic, ginger and a splash of sesame oil. I layered in cucumbers, and grated carrots. It was different but really tasty. I can see myself making it again for sure although I’d love to try the meatballs with fresh salmon. I imagine they’d be even better.

Falafel

Falafel

Friday

Falafels
I used a box mix of falafels called Casbah. It came together really quickly and dinner was ready in 20 minutes. While the mixture was resting I sliced cucumbers and tomatoes and set out some sprouts then made a sauce of cumin, chili powder, plain yogurt, feta and parsley. I used Roti instead of pita because pita always fall apart and piss me off.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Saturday

BBQ Chicken Pizza
This is one of the earliest recipes I posted on my blog. I still make it regularly and I think it’s a family favourite. I love the combination of the slightly spicy BBQ sauce with sweet pineapple and my favourite cilantro.

Butternut Squash and Sage Mac and Cheese

Butternut Squash and Sage Mac and Cheese

Sunday

Butternut Squash and Thyme Macaroni and Cheese
I think this will be my new favourite mac and cheese. I followed the recipe almost exactly (strong almost). I used sage instead of the rosemary in the recipe and added a clove of garlic to the cream sauce. Other then that no changes needed and I have a feeling this will be become super popular in your home too.

Well that’s another week of meals and a little more about my family. If you want to see what we eat everynight you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I hope I’ve provided some meal inspiration and made feeding your family and friends a little easier. I always love to hear thoughts and comments so please leave me a message:)

Kale and Butternut Squash Pizza

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We meditate in our staff meetings.

Our coordinator leads the visualization and it’s about 5-10 minutes. Usually it takes me the first two to remember to breathe and relax then I’m good. I can use the time to truly become present which is a great way to start a meeting.

It’s great in practice and normally I love the chance to gather my chaotic brain but today I couldn’t focus for even a second.

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Today I only had one train of thought ricocheting around in this little noggin and that was….

Would I put garlic and sage in the sauce or should I put the sage in with the squash???

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Seriously, I spent the entire time I was supposed to be grounding myself and connecting with my breathe on wondering which herbs would go where and if I should use more or less cheese.

I have come to realize that food is more than a hobby for me and if I ever have an opportunity to make this a career let me tell ya I will jump at the chance. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I work with families in a way that I feel brings real hope and we can make a huge impact but all I want to do is feed them and cook with them while we talk.20131113-212750.jpg

Maybe that’s what my goal should be. I could be the cooking counsellor. I would invite people to my kitchen and we would cook together while discussing their concerns and planning what to do. Then we would eat a lovely meal build our relationship and everyone would be the happier and wiser.

There may be some insurance concerns though… Some people just shouldn’t be given pointy things and even I burn myself on an almost daily basis.
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Oh well the idea was fun

Until then here’s the recipe that I worked out while I should have been meditating.

It’s a perfect fall pizza with ingredients that are in season and usually available locally. Kale and sweet squash seem to pair wonderfully and mingling with a little sage and parmesan makes this pizza something I could eat way too much of. I also went with the theory that if you’re feeding non-vegetarians a veggie based meal, cheese usually makes them happy.20131113-212731.jpg

Actually I’m really not using that much cheese compared to an average pizza. The bechamel base adds a creaminess that helped ease the cheese. If you wanted to cut back on the butter too I have made white sauces with olive oil quite successfully.

This pizza was also the first time I have used a home made crust. Usually we just don’t have time but hubby was off and loves baking so he prepped the crust earlier today. We used this Recipe

Kale and Butternut Squash Pizza

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 cups diced Butternut squash (about half a medium sized squash)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 bunch of kale chopped 
salt and pepper

Garlic Parmesan Sauce

1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 clove of garlic finely diced
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
pinch of both chili flakes and nutmeg

1 cup of old white cheddar or mozzerella
Parmesan 

Makes 2 pizzas

Preheat oven to 425F

In a medium saucepan over medium heat warm 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the squash, season with salt and pepper sautéing for 5 minutes then add the fresh sage. Continue cooking for up to another 5 minutes until the squash is fork tender then set aside.

In a seperate pan heat the 2nd Tbsp of oil and wilt the kale, cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper

In a small sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes regularly whisking. Warm the milk (I used the microwave) and slowly stir into the flour and butter. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to thicken then stir in the parmesan, garlic, chili flake and nutmeg. Once the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon remove from heat and set aside.

I used a metal pizza pan sprinkled with cornmeal. I find this helps it not stick and get crisp on the bottom.

Spread the crusts with the garlic cream sauce then layer on the kale and squash. Top with the grated cheese and sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan.

Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes or until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbly

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Please leave me a comment letting me know how your family or friends enjoyed it or really anything you have to share:)

I have a Facebook page too if you want to come on over and check it out. I post nightly meals, ideas, and share about how I feed my family healthy and tasty meals.

Roasted Broccoli and Chicken Alfredo

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I think that I have a relationship with chicken and broccoli casseroles that no one will ever fully understand. I love them and when I make them at home I expect hubby to declare it the best thing EVER. But he just shrugs and says “it’s okay”, terribly confused I wonder, “isn’t this the best chicken and broccolli casserole ever, haven’t I made this better than any other chicken and broccoli casserole on the planet”.

The truth is that even if I made the most divine version of this dish and perfected it completely it is still only a chicken and broccoli casserole and it’s star may just never burn as bright as say a steak.20131026-204500.jpg

My love of chicken and broccoli had humble beginnings as Chicken Divan, a combination of chicken thighs, broccoli and cream soups, plus some cheese and either noodles and rice. It was creamy and pretty tasty and I’m sure a saviour for a lot of moms. It is inexpensive and includes green vegetables in a way that most kids still ate them. My mom made it occasionally and we all loved it.

But I remember a fateful birthday where it took on a new meaning for me. My parents were struggling and still trying to make sure that everything was as normal as possible. My sister and I knew and in our awkward ways attempted to make things a little easier. Then came my birthday, in January of course when things were already at their tightest and my mom asked what I wanted for my birthday dinner. I remember thinking of all the things I could ask for and knowing that they would make it happen but I just couldn’t do it. So I asked for humble chicken divan.20131026-204511.jpg

My mom just stared at me wondering and asked if I was sure, and I was. It had become my absolute favourite thing to eat in that moment and it was what I wanted.

And since then I have happily included it in my cooking repetoire, updating it occasionally and trying to bring new life to a dish that is so special to me. I’ve done a good job I think but I have to say this pasta may be a new pinnacle. From lowly roots I think I have created something really delicious and I will probably ask for it on my birthday.

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One of the things I always hated about broccoli in a casserole is how mushy it gets. My new version roasts the broccoli and by doing this the broccoli stays crisp and is super flavourful. Roasted food just tastes better.

In the recipe I’ve written it as cooked chicken for ease of preparation. For my dish I quickly broiled some chicken tenders but a rotisserie chicken or leftovers would make this a really easy meal. You could even replace the chicken with ham or leave the meat out entirely and increase the amount of broccoli for a really tasty vegetarian version.

Plus a home made Alfredo is just AMAZING. If you have never tried a real Alfredo prepare to be let down for ever more by the cream cheese or flour and milk versions. Don’t get me wrong, I like to watch what I eat so I use the cream cheese trick to still have creamy pasta but nothing compares to the real thing.

A proper Alfredo sauce calls for a 1:1:1 ratio of 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), to 1 pint cream (2 cups), to 1 cup parmesan. I didn’t need this much so I went with a reduced version but now if you ever need an amazing Alfredo you know what to do.

And since this recipe goes all in with butter, whipping cream and parmesan cheese go with the good stuff. I buy a block of parmesan and grate my own and I think it’s well worth it. It’s not low fat or particularly healthy but really neither was the original so just go for a walk after you eat…

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Roasted Broccoli and Chicken Alfredo

2-3 heads of broccoli cut into florets (about 5-6 cups)
1-2 Tbsps olive oil 
Salt and Pepper
2 cups cooked chicken
1 500g package of penne
About a tsp of lemon zest

Preheat oven to 400F

Lay the broccoli on a parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for about 15-20 minutes looking for the tops to brown slightly

Once this is in the oven I would get the water ready for the pasta and cook it to package instructions for al dente

Alfredo sauce

1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
2 cloves crushed garlic

In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and allow to it to cook for about a minute taking care not to let it brown. Pour in the whipping cream and stir with a whisk. Once bubbles begin to form add the parmesan and continue regularly stirring. Allow the sauce to bubble but not boil reducing the heat to medium low if needed. Continue cooking until the sauce has thickened and is able to coat the back of your spoon.

Season with pepper. I personally find parmesan salty enough but season to your taste

Once the sauce is ready, the broccoli is out of the oven and the pasta is cooked its just a matter of combining all this goodness

Layer the pasta into a large serving dish. Top with the chicken and broccoli than pour over the Alfredo sauce. Toss together and finish with the lemon zest and a touch more parmesan

Serve immediately

I hope your family and friends enjoy this dish as much as I do. I may have a soft spot for the original casserole but I think everyone can share in my love of this one,

If you’d like to see how my family eats every night and join some of the conversations check out my Facebook page @ www.facebook.com/myweeklydish

Beet and Pear Tart with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

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Our wonderful sweet daughter is such a horrible sleeper that it’s a constant challenge for me and hubby. She did just have five teeth come in so I have some sympathy for the little beast but man am I one sleepy momma.

We were alternating nights getting up with her but hubby just started a new job that has the potential for serious injury if he’s not awake. Being the wonderful wife I am I’ve taken over so that he can eek out that little bit more sleep and hopefully come home with all of his fingers and toes.

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20131017-223103.jpg Continue Reading »

Weekly Meal Plan – Community Garden

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When you live in a town house there are pros and cons. I don’t have to mow my lawn, worry about maintenance and it’s nice to know we’re surrounded by people that are quick to lend a hand. Especially the weeks when I’m on my own. The biggest drawbacks are the horribly small kitchen that I complain about daily and the teeny tiny yard. With two kids and a large dog it makes for a limited space to play.

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Happy gardener

So having a community garden as a yard extension has been my life saver. Continue Reading »

Weekly Meal Plan – Change is good

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My sister and I were talking tonight about the challenges of adapting to life with kids, especially if life doesn’t fit into a 9-5 package. It got me thinking of the difficult shift we had to make when Hubbers started working away. It required some serious adaptability and planning to keep on top of things and at times it has felt pretty overwhelming. Thankfully, we are pretty adaptable and I pray that organization is a skill that can be learned at any age.

We were also discussing how easy it is to start eating like crap if you aren’t prepared. Continue Reading »

Sliders with Caramelized Bourbon Onions

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I realize this doesn’t sound like typical food served at a three year olds birthday party. Instead of  this being a toddler event, we had decided to throw a BBQ for all the people that are a part of my little guy’s life. We’re super fortunate to have a great group of people surrounding us that all adore my son and help out any time I’ve needed it, especially with Huberoo out of town. This was as chance to celebrate one of the best things in my life, my darling son and a celebration of the amazing group we have in our lives. And with any gathering in my home this meant I had to feed these lovely folks some damn good food. Continue Reading »