Mother’s Day Pesto Chicken

When I was going to ask my wife what she wanted me to cook her on Mother’s Day I knew it was going to be either lasagna, manicotti, or chicken. She picked chicken but the pesto chicken did surprise me. Of all the chicken I have cooked pesto chicken is the one I dislike the most. She knows I don’t like it so she said I could have shrimp. The reason I dislike pesto chicken is because I don’t like pesto, the basil, cheese, and olive oil are fine but the pine nuts are a no for me. I have made it will other nuts but still don’t like it. Find that with most nuts I really like them but totally dislike them ground or in a paste. Peanuts in the shell I eat every summer but I totally hate peanut butter. Freely admit that is a bit weird but have never hidden the fact I can be weird.

My wife really likes pesto chicken and I like cooking it for her. We got to see our family for a short time today with proper social distancing. That was nice for my wife on her day and I got to enjoy it too. Making pesto chicken for her and just for her is a nice end to her Mother’s Day.

Pesto chicken is a really simple thing to make, if you like pesto. You can find plenty of recipes and most are very similar to mine. Mine is what my wife likes and she says it is delicious, and when you cook, delicious means it must be good. This is still a recipe for two because my wife likes the leftover in a wrap for lunch, which for me is another indication it’s good. I used a good quality pesto from the store for this recipe but have made my own other times, either works.

2 flattened chicken breasts

2 tablespoons pesto

slices of tomato

2 tablespoons finely grated asiago cheese

Salt pepper to taste

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts, spread a tablespoon of pesto on each. Cover each with tomato and sprinkle a tablespoon of asiago cheese on top of the tomato. Bake in a preheated 425 oven for 25 minutes.

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Happy Mother’s Day

To all the special ladies this day is your day! Mothers are the most important people in all of our lives. I truly hope every mother has a great day, blessed with a great family. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who read this.

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My Sloppy Joes

For some reason my wife said she wanted sloppy joes for supper tonight, it Mother’s Day weekend so I wasn’t about to say no. Truth be told I actually like them so it was an easy ok. The next thing she said was a bit of a surprise. She wanted me to make them from scratch, no Manwich canned sauce. I know she has been thinking about when our kids were little so I think that’s why she wanted sloppy joes. It was a favourite of our kids, but it was always made with a can of Manwich sauce.

I have made them before from scratch and admit they are much better. It is a lot quicker using the Manwich sauce but as she put it ” what else do you have to do today”. Whether using the can or making them from scratch they are just good and fun to eat. Because they are fun is why most kids think they’re great. Adults say they just make them because the kids like them but that’s a little fib, they like them too.

People, I think, use the Manwich sauce because they think making them from scratch is difficult but it is really a simple thing to make. It was kind of funny, my wife thought the last time I made them was about two years ago, it has been four years at least. She was sure I had put them on my blog but the last time was before I had a blog. I know I will get a look from her when I butter my bun but for my taste a sloppy joe needs a toasted buttered bun. Usually I put cheese on my bun but since I made mac and cheese a couple of days ago I decided no cheese. Cheese is again a personal thing when it comes to a sloppy joe. Even without the cheese it was a great idea my wife had and it was fun thinking about how much our kids liked them. Was a perfect supper for us on Mother’s Day weekend.

1 pound lean ground beef browned and drained

1 medium onion finely diced

1/2 red pepper finely diced ( a green pepper works also )

2 cloves garlic minced

1 tablespoon sharp mustard

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 can tomato puree

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon hotdog relish

1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon butter

2 teaspoons flour

4 toasted kaiser buns

Preheat a frying pan on medium heat with the butter. Saute the onions, garlic, and red pepper for 4 minutes. Add the flour and stir for about 30 seconds. Add everything else to the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. You can serve it with different toppings or just plain, pickles and cheese are a perfect match.

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Mother’s Day Suppers

This is the second year that I am cooking a Mother’s Day supper. Normally we would go out as a family for Mother’s Day Brunch at one of the hotels. It was always a great time and great food that everyone always ate to much of. Supper for my wife and I on Mother’s Day was something simple or leftovers. Last year covid changed that so I cooked something special for my wife. I was hoping this year things would be back to normal. No luck with that as we are experiencing a third wave of the damn thing. Hopefully in a month our level of vaccinations will be high enough that we see the end of the third wave.

I have had a bit of a busy week and haven’t yet asked my wife what she wants me to cook for her on Mother’s Day. Waffles for lunch I had already planned on making but supper is totally her choice. This evening I will ask what she wants and I can guarantee it will be one of three things. It’s going to be either lasagna, manicotti, or chicken. Which ever she picks I will totally enjoy making it for her, she is a great mother to our kids and deserves something special. I hope things get back to normal for next Mother’s Day because I know how much she misses our family all being together. The little things I can do are a poor substitute for the joy our family gives her, but I try to make her day special.

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Crispy Sesame Chicken

I know that I go on about how much I don’t like chicken, there are exceptions. Most of my dislike is for roast chicken and chicken legs and thighs. Even chicken breasts I would rather have something else but I can play with them enough to make them ok. When it comes to chicken used in asian dishes I like using chicken. For me it’s a matter of getting some flavour with the chicken and asian dishes do that very well. In my perfect world asian dishes would be about 4 meals a week. My wife has other ideas and she usually wins and it a stir fry once a week. The crispy sweet and sour pork I made was a hit so today I made another of my favourites.

Sesame chicken is a great dish and one of my favourite things to have in a chinese restaurant. Most restaurants do a good job with it but use way to much sauce. In Winnipeg the best I have had has been in of all places a food court in Polo Park shopping centre. Who every is doing the cooking there does a great job. Everything is seasoned well and it is not over sauced. As good as theirs is it isn’t the best I have had, that honour goes to a little restaurant in Swift Current Saskatchewan. For my taste their’s was absolutely perfect but did have a thing I thought was a little weird until I tasted it. Chopped parsley when I saw it mixed in didn’t seem to be a good idea, I was wrong. The chopped parsley grounded the whole dish and gave it the fresh taste a dish that is sweet needs. Just simple chopped curly parsley makes a giant difference.

My version trys to recreate theirs and I think it is very very close. It may not be perfect but I know it’s better than most restaurants in Winnipeg and as good as the food court one. This is still a very simple dish to make that has a great taste. If you don’t have a deep fryer you can still make it in a pot all you need to do is be careful with the temperature. Key to any dish like this is frying it twice to get a super crispy product. The amount of sauce I used is because I didn’t want it over sauced and soggy. If you like more sauce double the recipe.

2 chicken breasts cut in pieces. I like pieces that are about a third of and inch thick and about an inch and a half long. Don’t try and make them perfect, random size is a great thing.

Set Up A Dredging Station

1/2 cup flour

Put the flour in a small bowl and set aside

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mix together in a bowl and set aside

1 egg

1 tablespoon cold water

Mix together in a small bowl and set aside

Dredge the chicken, in the flour them the egg and then the seasoned flour. Once all the chicken is coated deep fry at 375 until golden brown, remove and drain on paper towel. Return chicken to fryer for 1 minute, remove and drain.

Sauce

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons white sugar

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon ketchup

4 cloves garlic minced

pinch of red pepper flakes

Put everything in a small sauce pan and simmer for 15 minutes

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 green onions finely chopped

Place chicken in a serving dish, pour the sauce over chicken and mix. Sprinkle the sesame seeds, parsley, and green onions over the chicken mix and serve.

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Stuffed Pork Chops

Today was our weekly shopping trip and I found whole pork loins on sale. When ever I find them at a great price they go in the shopping cart. Takes a little butchering but that way I get roasts and chops that are the perfect size for us. The loin cost 17 dollars and I ended up with 7 meal portions out of it, great deal. Usually with loin chops they are cut to thin and the only way to cook them is a fast fry. When I asked my wife in the store if she wanted a roast or stuffed chops for supper her answer was stuffed chops, baked potato and a salad. I knew as soon as I asked she was going to say stuffed chops. One of these days I will learn not to ask, roast would of been less work for me.

Chops if you are going to stuff them need to be an inch thick, the other chops I cut 3/4 of an inch. You can stuff the chops with different things and I have, but my wife always wants mushroom duxelle. I never complain because anything with mushrooms is a good thing. This is a very simple thing to make that has a fancy name, for me it’s just mushroom stuffing. I have used it with a number of things besides the pork chops. It works great with beef tenderloin on the bbq and I have even used it as a stuffing for tilapia. If you have never made mushroom stuffing ( duxelle ) you should because it is super simple. This is enough for 2 chops.

6 crimini mushrooms finely chopped

2 green onions chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon butter

preheat a frying pan on medium high heat with the butter. Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, green onions, and garlic. Cook until all the moisture is gone, remove from heat and stir in the parsley. Cool to room temperature before using.

The chops I just salt and peppered and brushed them with strong mustard and baked in a 350 oven for 50 minutes.

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Ugly Vegetables

These vegetables may not be pretty to look at but does that really matter. They are still great tasting vegetables and that’s what matters when we eat them.

A few years ago I watched a Jamie Oliver cooking show and part of it was about the amount of vegetables that got wasted. The produce buyers for large supermarkets only wanted the vegetables that looked perfect. The farmers ended up with a portion of their crop that ended up rotting in the field. I was shocked at the account of waste there was. In England he was trying to get the supermarkets to sell the ugly vegetables as well as the perfect ones. I considered this to be a great idea, especially for the farmers and consumers. It’s taking a few years but they are becoming available in some of the supermarkets here and when I find them I buy them. Summertime here I go to the market gardens and you get what ever is picked, ugly or perfect. If you have a garden, you don’t throw the ugly vegetables out, you eat them. We all should be buying ugly vegetables any time we see them. The best part of buying ugly vegetables is they not only help the farmers, there cheaper.

Honestly I can’t figure out where the need for perfect vegetables came from. Most vegetables are cut up for cooking and eating so what does it matter what it looks like. I actually find it kind of funny that perfect vegetables have become so important to the supermarkets. Thankfully they are starting to sell all vegetables not just the pretty ones

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Not A Recipe Chicken

My wife is feeling chicken depraved since it has been a few days since we have had chicken. So this morning I took chicken breasts out of the freezer. Since I am not a chicken fan I usually try and think of something different to make with it, if my wife doesn’t request something. Honestly I usually spend a couple of hours a day thinking about different things I can make. We have come to wanting our meals to be interesting rather than boring. We do have recipes I make often but I try to go a little crazy with what I make two or three times a week. Luckily most things turn out but there have been some real stinkers.

Today I thought of something that I think would of been great. It involved bacon and brie cheese, but I don’t have any brie so that I will make another day. There was a time before covid that I would of just went to the store and picked up some brie. Hopefully later this year I will get back to doing that.

The reason I wanted to do something with bacon is because we had bacon and eggs for supper last night. Could of just done the simple bacon wrapped chicken breasts but I would rather play with my food. Had other cheese in the fridge but since I had the brie idea, I would of been disappointed with it. At lunch time I was thinking about making myself a BLT and came up with this. It’s not really a recipe it’s just my putting things together that normally taste good together. Bacon and tomato work together and bacon wrapped chicken is good. So all I did was put them together.

Two flattened chicken breasts, salt, pepper, tomato and bacon. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts, top with tomato, cover with bacon, and pin with toothpicks. Bake in a preheated 350 for 40 minutes. So not really a recipe just my putting things together that taste good, and it worked.

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Pizza Dough With 00 Flour

The 00 flour was a birthday present from our son Ian and his family, think it was a hint I needed to start making my own pasta again. I plan on doing just that when we can all get together again for a family meal. Shows how goofy I am that getting flour for a birthday present is a great thing. There was other things for me to use included plus a gift certificate for a local specialty Italian store, think it was not just a hint but a giant hint. I haven’t made pasta in a few years and it will be fun making it again, and 00 flour is the best flour for it. Guess you could say my family is just about as goofy as I am, giving flour is not a normal thing for a gift. In my case it or any other thing that has to do with cooking is a perfect gift.

The 00 flour isn’t only great for pasta it’s also great for pizza dough. Nice thing is that you can get a crispy thin crust without waiting 2 days. This dough you make and use 4 or 5 hours later. Since I had the flour I decided pizza would be a great thing for supper. The Jets game starts at 6 and the only thing that needed washing was the pizza pan.

There are some little changes that you need to do with my normal recipe. Reason for the little changes is because of the fine grind the flour has. Any flour that is 00 uses a little less water and needs some olive oil added when making pizza dough. Tried it years ago without the changes and wasn’t happy with it. Dough didn’t have the stretch-ability and was to stickey. This makes one extra large or two regular sized pizza.

2 and 1/2 cups 00 flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Place everything in a food processor and pulse 5 times

1 cup warm water minus 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon

1 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons dry active yeast

1 teaspoon olive oil

Mix water and sugar together in a small bowl, add the yeast and mix for 30 seconds. Rest for 10 minutes then add the teaspoon of olive oil. Pour into the food processor and pulse until the dough starts to pull away from the sides. Run the processor for 2 minutes to kneed the dough.

Coat the inside of a large bowl with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Remove the dough from the processor and form into a ball. Roll the dough in the bowl to coat with oil. Cover and rest in a warm place for 4 to 5 hours.

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Simple Chicken

This is one of my wife’s favourite ways to have chicken breasts for supper. As much as I dislike having chicken this at least does taste very good. It pains me to say sometimes chicken isn’t a bad thing to eat. The way I look at cooking chicken is it had better be super simple, this hits the mark for that. Part of the reason for keeping it simple is when I handle chicken I may go overboard with the sanitation. When I make fried chicken I probably wash my hands a dozen times. Even the counter gets scrubbed a few times. There are a couple of other things I make with chicken that are a little complicated and with them I also get freaky with the sanitation. So I prefer keeping it simple with chicken.

A long time ago I learned that with most things you use chicken breasts for it is a good idea to pound it flat. Flattening a chicken breast allows it to cook evenly, you don’t over cook the thin end by the time the thick end is cooked. Since I am a sanitation freak I get to do everything without touching the breasts. I use a fork to get them on the plastic wrap and to get them off. I even salt and pepper them on the plastic wrap so the counter stays clean. I have been told I take sanitation to far when I am dealing with chicken but I would rather do it than get sick.

So this is a really simple recipe that tastes great and looks good enough to serve to company. You can prepare it a couple of hours in advance and keep it in the fridge. You can serve it with all kinds of different things, because it isn’t just a pale chicken breast your putting on a plate.

2 flattened chicken breasts

salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons strong mustard

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

slices of tomato

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts, brush with mustard. Spread the mayonnaise on top, then the mozzarella cheese. Place the sliced tomato on the cheese and secure in place with the toothpicks, salt and pepper the tomatoes. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 40 minutes, place on a plate and remove the toothpicks to serve.

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