Coconut Chicken

I run.
I run a lot.  I run about 3 times a week.  A total of about 26 km.  Sometimes more.  Okay... I'm no olympic athlete or anything but I keep it goin'.
I also bike.  Not as much as running but I keep it moving too.  Times kinda running out for me and my bike though.  I've probably got about two weeks left before I put her away until the snow clears.  I'm good with cold.  I just psych myself up for it (and dress appropriately of course) and off we go, my bike and me.  Once the snow hits though that's when I've kinda had enough.  I don't trust the streets here in the winter.  Maybe I'm a chicken but that's how it is for me.

The running though I do year round.  That's has it's own challenges.  You see, I don't use a treadmill.  Partly because I don't like them that much and prefer to run outside and mostly because good ones are damn expensive (and big!) and I can't afford it.  I dream about owning one though.  About getting up early in the morning and having an hour to run while watching a movie or something, before everyone has gotten up.  As it is though, I leave for work early enough to give myself time to run there and clean myself up afterwards.  Challenge is that it's cold and dark and early and outside...  AND right now I psyching myself up for running to work tomorrow morning.

These kinds of recipes are ones that I like because they are a stew sort of thing but they have taste that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.  It's food that sticks to your ribs and tastes great on the way down.  You feel filled up and warm for a long time afterwards.  Just the stuff to keep you going on a cold, dark, early (ok, I don't eat this stuff for breakfast) running day.

Coconut Chicken adapted from BBC Good Food Magazine
serves 4 - 6

3 tbsp butter or oil
1 lg chicken cut into 9 or 10 pieces
2 onions coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 green or red pepper, thickly sliced
Lg piece of ginger chopped or 2 tbsp ground ginger
3 tsp each coriander, cumin and cardamom
1 chicken bouillion cube
salt to taste
2 tbsp honey
1 lg can diced tomato with juice
1 tin coconut milk
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped

Place the oil or butter in a large pan (I used a Dutch oven) and flash fry the chicken until browned.
Remove the chicken from the pot and add in the veggies.  Cook for a few minutes, until just starting to wilt and add in the chicken again.  Cook for a few minutes together.
Add in the ginger, coriander, cumin, cardamom and bouillion.  Cook together for a few minutes.  Add in the honey and mix well.  Add the tomato, coconut milk and salt.  Check the tastes and adjust as necessary (may want to add a little heat as well).  Throw in the basil.
Simmer at low heat for about 30 minutes.
Serve over basmati or steamed rice.

Apple Coffee Cake

This whole time change thing has been putting a serious strain on my blogging.  It's the daylight really... or well, the lack of it.  There just doesn't seem to be enough time to make something and then get a good shot before the light is gone.  We're not even talking about sunlight here.  I know that would be completely unreasonable to expect.  Nope just plain old day, ie not night, ie not pitch black.
Yeah folks, it's serious gone by about 4:30 these days.  Now I know that there isn't long to go until the winter solstice and all that.  I know that once we pass that then things start to get a bit brighter.  But keep in mind that at that point we're talking about January and February.  Not exactly the happiest months of the year.

I don't have a light box for taking pictures of my food in.  I don't really want a light box either.  I like the natural light so that is going to mean getting crafty with some pictures in the near future.  For example, what I did today was make this cake in the middle of the day (weekend eh!).  I'm so much happier when I don't have to fiddle too much with the pictures.  These ones were actually fun ('cause I ate the cake while I was taking them ;-)

The cake itself.  Nice.  The Pioneer Woman says that it's the best coffee cake ever.  I think that she's pretty close to right about that.  Beware though, I used a pyrex baking dish and I ended up burning the edges and bottom of my cake ever so slightly.  Other than that... YUMMY.  I added apple to it because I needed to use them up and because kid #2 is refusing to eat apples these days.  I figured this way I could get apples into him without him seeing them.  Crafty I am!  It worked too....

Apple Coffee Cake (adapted only slightly from The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (scant) sugar
3 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
3 lg egg whites, whipped until stiff
dash of vanilla

3 med to small apples, peeled and sliced thin

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup pecans (optional if you are using the apple)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt together  in a bowl and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Add in the vanilla.
Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, mixing well after each addition.  Begin and end with the flour.  Don't over mix.
Fold egg whites gently into batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Top with sliced apples.
Combine the topping ingredients until they are crumbly.  Sprinkle the topping over the cake and apples.
Bake for about 40 - 45 min.  The centre might still be a slight bit jiggly but that's ok.
Cool for at least 10 minutes before attempting to remove from the pan.  Or just eat it straight out of the pan!

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

A girl can dream, right.  The girls on America's Next Top Model (ok, so yeah, I watch it - it's my weekly dose of the best trash tv out there and I'm not ashamed to admit it - I'm gay for Tyra Banks).  Well, I've been thinking about this blog.  How I'm approaching the one year mark.  I know, I know, there's still about a month to go but I'm just thinkin'.

I've learned a lot in this year.  I've done way more than I thought I could ever do on this blog.  I've had a lot of fun on-line journalling and chronicling all the stuff that I've been cooking and baking.  You guys have pushed me to try recipes that I probably would have put off - that's cool.

I dream sometimes about getting a call (or an email - it's 2010 right?) from a magazine or something like it.  The conversation would go something like this:
Mag: 'Hello Ms Wanda.  I am contacting you from PSPFOD magazine.'
Wanda: awkward silence.... 'Hello?'
Mag: 'Ms Wanda, we've been following your blog for some time now and we're so impressed with the work that you've been doing'
Wanda: 'Wow'
Mag: 'We were wondering if we could meet with you and discuss the possibility of hiring you as a contributing blogger on our website  We really think that you could add something to our online presence.  If you are interested, when might you be available to meet?'

... And you get the idea.  The reality is though, that although I've made things that I might not have made before I've also learned that simplicity in cooking is a wonderful thing.  There are some fundamentals and if you stick to them you are (mostly) guaranteed to get something good at the end of the day.  This recipe is one of those simplistic things that  fits right into that.  I could've thrown a lot into this dish and probably would have not too long ago.  This time though,  I pared it down.  Just mushroom, sundried tomato and spinach.  Simple (like duh simple) sauce and we had an easy dish that worked and made great leftovers as well.  Dreams are great... and necessary but sometimes reality can be just a good.

Spinach Parmesan Pasta
serves 4 - 6

4 cups rotini or penne pasta cooked al dente
1 large bunch of spinach (about 6 cups precooked) diced
4 cups button mushrooms, halved
1 small onion, sliced thin
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup broth, white wine or milk
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp dried basil (fresh would be nice too)
1 tsp nutmeg
dash of salt

In a large pan or pot add some oil or grease.  Add in the onion, mushrooms and spinach.  Cook over med/low heat until the spinach has wilted and the mushrooms are beginning to soften a bit.  Add in the cream, parmesan, basil, nutmeg and salt.  Add in the milk, broth or wine until the sauce is a good thickness for you.
Check the tastes and add in the pasta.  Toss the pasta and sauce together and serve.

Cabbage Dijonnaise and weekdays off

I had two weekdays off this week.
Weekday #1 was because I was sick.  Ugh.  Stupid cold.  Thought that I had kicked it and then it came back with a vengeance and knocked me out for a day.  So, even though I was sick it was all kinds of awesome to be home during the day.  I listened to CBC radio.  Stayed in my PJ's for a long time and just generally took it easy.  Even better was that I didn't feel guilty about taking it easy because I was sick.
Weekday Off #2 was because we had a P.A. day at school.  It was across the entire school board and so a whole lot of us were off but I ain't complainin'  Feels like a vacation, truth be told.  This time though I didn't feel wretched.  I didn't stay in my PJ's all day.  I took some time to be lazy but I got some work done too.
Kid #1 and D went off to see a movie that was opening that day.  You might've heard of it before.  It's called 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'.  I'm not jealous or anything.  They needed some bonding time and so off they went.  I stayed home with Kid #2 who alternated between asking when we could go to Granny's and when Kid #1 and Daddy were coming home, pretty much the whole time.  I'm not upset about that or anything.

Kid #2 insisted on the LEGO dude - in between question #1 and #2
Being home though, I got to eat lunch.  Like really eat lunch.  I hate eating lunch at work.  I don't know why, really I don't.  I don't even fight it anymore.   What I've taken to doing this school year is have tubs of my favourite yogurt at work and just scarf some of that down at some free 5 minute interval during the work day and then hightail it home at 2:30 and eat something then.  At that point though, it's late.  So, I don't usually eat a lunch, I'll just nibble on something.
Well, today I ate a proper lunch.  I made this.

Thank you's for the inspiration Food & Drink magazine.  I had a part of a cabbage that needed to be used and... well, I'm sure that you all know how I feel about sausage.  I use them all the time.  Perfect marriage.  And it was yummy.
Thank you's to the Toronto Catholic School Board for the day off.
Thank you's to the Sun for shining so that I could take great pictures IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY ON A FRIDAY.

Cabbage Dijonnaise adapted from Food & Drink magazine
serves 4

1/2 head green cabbage, sliced about 1 inch thick
3 tbsp olive oil or butter
1/2 med sized onion, sliced
3 pork sausages, casings removed (I used hot italian sausage)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
splash of red wine vinegar
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 cup of chicken broth
1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp honey (or brown sugar)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Boil the cabbage slices for about 7 min.  Drain and set aside.
Heat a large skillet.  Add in the oil or butter and saute the onions alone for a few minutes.  Add the sausage, crumbling them while you add them in.  Add in the garlic.  Cook together for about 4 minutes.  Add in the cabbage and combine well.  Continue cooking and add in the wine vinegar, worcestershire sauce, dijon and chicken broth.  Mix well.  Add in the rest of the herbs, salt and honey.  Mix and simmer for about 20 min.

Serve with rice, mashed potato (Yum) or even butter egg noodles.

Kid #1 managed to eat a good lunch before venturing  out

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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About Me

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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