How To: Quickie Meal – Oven Baked Sweet Chili Chicken with Eggplant & Zucchini

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Erin and I have been having a moment with sweet chilli sauce.

We’ve been putting that red and sweet sauce on pretty much everything. Have you tried it? It’s addictive. I had never thought to make my own before. I mean, why would I when the store bought variety is so darn delicious. But then I came across this recipe and it just looked too good and too easy to pass up.

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Now, you are probably asking the same thing I did – why make it myself? When you make this sauce from scratch you can control the sweetness. So you don’t have to use a boat load of sugar – here we use a mere half cup of honey to add that familiar sweet flavour. Now don’t misunderstand me – honey and sugar – the same thing. Your body processes all sugar in the exact same way. Sugar is sugar people! My point is that you can control how much of the sweet stuff you add, just like you can also control the heat in this recipe. So if you like things super spicy, throw in a little extra red pepper flakes. If it’s too much, dial it back. That’s the benefit of the “make your own” category – you know exactly what’s going in it and you get to have full reign over the finished product. The type A dietitian in me likes this very much!

So now that you’ve made a quick and delicious homemade sweet chilli sauce, we’re going to pour it all over some diced chicken breasts, zucchini, and eggplant. Now chicken breasts can be tricky – they have a tendency to dry out pretty darn fast. So that’s why we are baking them at high heat for a very short period of time and turning the broiler on for the last little bit so you still get that crispy texture and brown colour without ending up with rubbery and flavourless chicken. Because that is no fun.

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I love Japanese eggplant and zucchini in my traditional stir fry, but you can use other quick cooking veggies like green beans or peppers. Make sure to cook up a batch of quinoa or rice to go with this chicken. You need something to soak up all that delicious sauce you just put your blood, sweat, and tears into, right?

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Did I tell you this was a one pan wonder? My other new obsession. Two thumbs up for less clean up.

Dara

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Oven Baked Sweet Chili Chicken with Eggplant & Zucchini

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Sallys Baking Addiction

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into cubes)
  • 2 zucchini (sliced)
  • 2 Japanese eggplant (sliced)

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 Tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tsp sriracha
  • 1/2 Tsp salt

Note

You can prepare the sauce a day or two in advance if you would like. Red peppers or onions would work well in place of the zucchini and eggplant. If you don't want it too spicy, reduce the red pepper flakes to 1 tsp.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Sauce
2. In a small sauce pan whisk together all sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer and continue to whisk, for about 3 minutes, or until thickened. Set aside.
3. Place chicken, zucchini, and eggplant in the prepared baking dish. Spoon sauce over top until all the chicken and vegetables are evenly coated.
4. Bake for 25 minutes, until vegetables are soft and chicken is mostly cooked through. Switch oven to broil and cook for another couple minutes, until chicken and vegetables begin to brown.
5. Remove from oven and serve chicken and vegetables with sauce over your grain of choice to soak up all that delicious sauce.

 

How to: Make your own – Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

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This is an adapted recipe and I’ll be honest with you,  I only chose to make it in the first place because 1. I was really craving chocolate cake batter. 2. I had a wilty zucchini that needed using up.

The end game, a chocolate cake, was pure bonus.

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A really super surprisingly delicious bonus.

Not that I’m surprised a chocolate cake was delicious.  Just surprised that I adapted the original recipe quite significantly and it still turned out.  I don’t have a ton of faith in my baking adaptations just yet. Getting there, though!

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I repeated my adapted recipe juuust to make sure my changes worked and to accurately measure ingredients and bam, it was perfecto again.

I wouldn’t classify this as a recipe makeover per se. It stills calls for refined flour, sugar and a good amount of fat.  BUT it’s not so bad either in that there isn’t loads of sugar or fat,  the cake gets some of it’s moisture from zucchini, there is some added protein (walnuts/egg/yogurt) and even a dash of omega 3s (if using omega 3 eggs & walnuts).

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Semi sweet or really dark chocolate would both work well in this recipe. Both my husband and I loved it because the end result isn’t too sweet.  It’s chocolatey without feeling insanely decadent.

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The batter will be extra thick and sticky when you transfer it to the pan.  Not to worry, you’re on the right track.  Don’t forget the zucchini still needs to release all of its juices whilst baking.  Mmmm zucchini juice.

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I’m already looking forward to my next meeting with a wilty zucchini in need of some love.

Erin

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Website Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 Large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup greek yogurt
  • 1 ½ cup grated zucchini (approximately 1 large)
  • ½ cup chopped semi sweet chocolate chunks (or chocolate chips)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Butter and flour an 8"x4" loaf pan.
2. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, butter and oil until well blended. Add egg, vanilla and yogurt. Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until just combined after each addition.
4. Stir in zucchini, chocolate chunks and walnuts and transfer mixture to loaf pan.
5. Bake until toothpick tester comes out clean, about 60-65 minutes.

 

 

 

How To: Seasonal Cooking – Savoury Zucchini and Ricotta Pie

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I’ve had this recipe for a savoury zucchini pie bookmarked for quite sometime. The torn magazine page has been sitting in a pile of “recipes to be tried soon” for so long that this pile should now be called “recipes to be tried in a very long time.” The thing is I’ve been afraid, very afraid. What in a recipe from one of my favourite cooking magazines could cause me to feel such fear?

Homemade pie crust.

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Homemade bread? No problem. Homemade pizza dough? Easy. But there is something about homemade pie crust that has me shaking in my boots. Until now that is.

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This pie crust came together in literally 5 minutes. After I had finished I kind of looked around and thought, that’s it?! Yup, that is it! I must admit it was a bit crumbly, so instead of rolling it out I simply pressed it into my pie pan. Worked like a charm. It also uses olive oil in place of the traditional butter so it’s heart healthy to boot!

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This pie is so unique and impressive looking, it is perfect for summer entertaining. But in reality, it is the definition of a “quicky meal.” It is light tasting and filling at the same time – exactly what I look for in a summer dish.

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All it needs is a simple salad and dinner is served. Say goodbye to your pie nightmares and say hello to savoury pie dreams.

Dara

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Savoury Zucchini and Ricotta Pie

Serves 6
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Pre-preparable
From magazine Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 Cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 Cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Small zucchini (cut crosswise into thin circles)
  • 3/4 cups low fat ricotta
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 Tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 Tsp grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 Lemon juiced
  • 1 egg
  • handful fresh basil (to garnish)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Note

You can prepare the pie dough ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you are ready to bake your pie. If you can find summer squash, use it to replace half the zucchini.

Directions

1. In a food processor dump the flour, salt, and baking powder and pulse two times. Combine 1/3 cup oil and water in a small bowl and with food processor running, pour in slowly. Process until dough is crumbly.
2. Place dough on a floured surface and knead a couple times. Form into a small disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl combine zucchini and remaining olive oil. In a separate bowl, mix together ricotta, parmesan, thyme, lemon zest and juice, and the egg. Season with salt and pepper.
4. When you are ready to bake your pie, remove the dough from the fridge and press into a 8 or 9 inch pie plate. Spread ricotta filling evenly along the bottom and lay zucchini slices, slightly overlapping, in a circle on top.
5. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool and garnish with torn fresh basil leaves.

How To: Quickie Meal – Spicy Tilapia Linguine

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Yesterday I ran the Goodlife Fitness Toronto half marathon.

I really had no big aspirations for this race. It was my first post-baby race and I really was just happy to be able to run it. Running down Yonge St. I felt amazing (although today my quads feel not so amazing). And I think I owe this amazing run to this amazing pasta.

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While this pasta is the perfect pre-race meal, it also makes a perfect post-work meal too. While the pasta is boiling and the tilapia is marinating, you have enough time to prep the vegetables and cook your sauce. I used a fresh whole wheat linguine, but feel free to use the pasta of your choice.

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IMG_3103The tilapia cooks directly in the sauce, which adds a really nice flavour to the entire dish. The addition of salty capers and bright parsley and basil at the end also give it a fresh touch.

IMG_3105 As evident by the picture above, we may have made a wee bit too much pasta for two – so I can tell you first hand that this dish reheats perfectly for lunch or dinner the next day.

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You don’t need to run a half marathon to enjoy good pasta. And your welcome for solving your Monday night dinner dilemma.

Dara

Spicy Tilapia Linguine

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from The Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Pound whole wheat linguine
  • 1/2 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 red pepper (chopped)
  • 2 zucchini (chopped)
  • 3 celery stalks (chopped)
  • 3 Cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 Tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 Large tilapia fillets
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup basil (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp capers (chopped)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Note

This spicy tilapia tomato sauce would be great on your favourite pasta shape. If you like things extra spicy, increase the red pepper flakes to 3/4-1 tsp.

Directions

1. In a small bowl mix together 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, and 1 clove of minced garlic. Cut tilapia into chunks and add to bowl, mixing to coat. Place in the fridge while you get the rest of your ingredients together. (or do this in the morning).
2. Heat a large non stick skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tsp olive oil. Sauté onion, zucchini, red pepper, and celery until tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes and cook for another 5 minutes.
3. Add wine and cook for about 5 minutes, or until wine is reduced by half.
4. Add half of the basil, tomatoes, and water and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture has thickened, about 15 minutes.
5. Add tilapia chunks and cook, stirring the sauce, for about 5 minutes, or until tilapia is cooked through.
6. Add cooked pasta, capers, parsley and remaining basil and stir to combine and pasta is heated through.

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How To: Big Batch – Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

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It’s only the first week of January and I am already sick of winter. It is just so cold out there lately that it is getting very hard to leave the warmth of my apartment and brave the snowy and icy streets.

There is one good thing about this weather though – it’s soup season!

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And there is nothing that can warm me up more than a giant bowl of spicy tortilla soup. It really has the best of everything Mexican cuisine has to offer. Loads of vegetables and beans fill a cumin scented tomato broth that all gets topped off with buttery avocado, salty feta, and crunchy homemade tortilla strips.

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Digging into a giant bowl of this soup makes me forget about this extremely cold winter we are having and has me dreaming about lying on a beach with a margarita in one hand and a giant bowl of guacamole in the other.

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We use our favourite handy dandy immersion blender to thicken this soup by removing just about a cupful and pureeing it. Once added back to the pot, it helps to thicken the flavourful broth.

One of the best things is all the delicious toppings – green onions, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, feta, and super easy homemade tortilla strips. Not only is this soup an easy weeknight meal, it also makes for a fun dinner party. Cook up a big pot, set up an array of toppings, and let everyone customize their own bowl.

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So lets all travel together to the beaches of Mexico and leave this snowy weather behind – cook up a big batch of this mouthwatering soup today.

Dara

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Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Serves 4-6
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish, Soup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 Cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 celery stalks (chopped)
  • 1/2 jalapeño (seeds removed and minced)
  • 2 zucchini (chopped)
  • 1 red pepper (chopped)
  • 1 can corn (drained)
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 Cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tsp cumin
  • 1 Tsp corriander
  • cilantro, feta cheese, green onions, avocado, lime (to garnish)

Tortillas

  • 4 whole wheat tortillas (sliced into strips)
  • 1/2 Tsp chili powder

Note

This soup is the perfect winter weather one-pot meal. Feel free to add leftover shredded chicken if you like. It also freezes really well so it's a perfect make ahead and big batch meal.

Directions

1. Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat and add oil. Add onion, garlic, jalapeño, carrot, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
2. Add red pepper, corn, and zucchini and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes until tender. Add tomatoes, cumin, coriander, black beans, and stock and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for about 10-15 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
3. Remove 1 1/2 cups of soup and puree with an immersion blender or in the food processor. Add back to the soup and heat through. Garnish with tortilla strips, cilantro, avocado, lime juice, and feta.
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4. Preheat oven to 400. Place tortilla strips on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Bake for about 10 minutes or until browned and crisp.

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