Monthly Archives: March 2011

Off To A Good Start: Southwest Breakfast Hash

CH and I love eggs.  We have an “Egg McMuffin” almost every morning and we find they satisfy us until lunch time.  When weekends come around, we still crave eggs, but we like a change from the weekday default.

Elly Says Opa posted this Southwestern Sweet Potato Hash last week and I knew it wouldn’t be long until it was on our table.  I always have sweet potatoes around, the spices are always in my cupboard, so I knew that this meal would be the perfect weekend brunch item!

It also combines so many healthy items and is the perfect start for a weekend hike [CH: Hiking is not nearly as fun when there is no elevation change for 500 km in any direction of where you are] or homework session, such is our life lately!  We both love black beans and they are a great source of protein, cumin is loaded with health benefits, a couple servings of veggies and an egg, what a perfect meal! I served it with some avocado too, just one more healthy item that added to this meals satisfying deliciousness!

I didn’t stray too far from Elly’s recipe…I added some frozen hashbrowns (because potatoes are my best friend!) and served it with avocado.  I also opted to chop my hash smaller, but that’s just preference.  Other than that, I stayed true to the recipe, and why wouldn’t you – it’s an Elly Says Opa recipe – always guaranteed to be delicious!

I’m glad I made a huge batch, it’s in our fridge for tomorrow morning!


Southwest Breakfast Hash

Yield:  4 servings of hash, 2 servings for breakfast with eggs
Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cooking Time:  25 minutes


  • 1 tbsp oil (anything but EVOO, I used grapeseed)
  • 1 large sweet potato (or 3 small), peeled and chopped into 1/4″ cubes
  • 1 cup of frozen hashbrowns
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped into 1/4″ cubes
  • 1 bell pepper (I used yellow but any color will do), chopped into 1/4″ cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (or water)
  • 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, cooked to your liking
  • 2 tsp chopped cilantro (optional [CH: definitely mandatory])
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced for serving (optional)


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the oil and heat for 1 minute.

Add your sweet potatoes to the pan and cook alone for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (to prevent sticking & burning).

After 5 minutes, add the hash browns, onion, bell pepper and cook for an additional 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, making sure not to burn the garlic!

Sprinkle the cumin, chili powder, cayenne and salt over the mixture.  Add in the black beans and stir well to coat and incorporate all ingredients.

Add chicken stock to the pan, stir well and cover with lid.  Reduce heat to low and cook until sweet potatoes and hash browns are cooked through – about an additional 10 minutes.

While the hash continues to cook, prepare your eggs.  Heat a frying pan, add your eggs and cook to your liking!

When potatoes are cooked, increase heat to high and give the mixture 1 – 2 minutes on high, just to get the potatoes a little crispy!  Pay attention to the pan, sweet potatoes will burn quickly!

Place hash mixture in a bowl, top with your egg.  Serve with a garnish of cilantro and sliced avocado!


Note – Elly suggests reducing the chili powder/cayenne if you don’t like it spicy!  I didn’t find it too bad, but feel free to adjust to your taste buds.

Recipe Adapted From Elly Says Opa!


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Filed under Breakfast, Healthy, Mains, Vegetarian and Vegan

Balsamic Glazed Chicken (or “Sticky Chicken”)

This week’s recipe exchange with the fellow WC girls/bloggers was a “quick weeknight meal”.  I’m always looking for quick meal ideas, especially between classes, work, hockey, running etc.

Kylee Cooks provided me with this recipe, and I am thrilled she did. It was amazingly easy, quick, delicious and satisfying. CH has already asked me to make this twice since I made it on Monday. My only suggestion is to be sure to have a splatter guard handy while you prepare the chicken, the splatter gets a little messy!

The only change I made was using chicken thighs, instead of breasts.  I prefer thighs for their moisture and juiciness, not to mention that they cook faster!

When trying to decide what to serve with the chicken, I was sparked with the idea of a Thai salad.  I wanted something light and fresh with the chicken and this was the perfect combination! The hint of mint in the salad was incredible with the flavors of the sauce, a match made in heaven if you ask me! You could also serve this with mashed potatoes and some vegetables for a Sunday dinner!

This will definitely be on our table often!  Thanks Kylee :)!

Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Yield:  2 main course servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes, start to finish



  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil (I used sunflower)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey


  • 1/3 pack of Thai rice noodles, cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 head of romaine lettuce, diced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, minced
  • 4 tbsp mint, minced


Heat a large sautee pan over medium heat.  Add oil and heat for a minute.

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add chicken to sautee pan and cook, flipping half way through.  Cooking for approximately 10 minutes per side, or until almost cooked through and nicely browned.

Remove cooked chicken from pan and set aside.

Add the minced garlic to the pan and cook for one minute.  Stir in tomato paste and chicken stock.  With a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up all the yummy bits!

Add the balsamic vinegar and honey to the pan and bring to a boil for 3 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half.

Return the cooked chicken to pan.  Continue to cook over medium heat, for an additional 10 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked and covered in the delicious balsamic sauce.  Season to taste.

(At this point, you could serve with whatever side dishes you wish!)

While chicken is cooking, split the romaine lettuce, cucumbers, cilantro and mint equally in two serving bowls.  Top with cooked rice noodles (1/2 in each).

When chicken is cooked, place on top of the noodles and split the sauce evenly over the two bowls.  Garnish with a dash of mint!


Recipe Adapted Slightly from Kylee Cooks


Filed under Healthy, Mains

What’s Baking: Traditional Tourtière (French-Canadian Meat Pie)

Our Italian Kitchen is the host of What’s Baking for the month of March!  The theme she has chosen is Bake From Your Nationality/Heritage, which literally make me leap with joy!  I knew immediately what I wanted to make.

Hopefully some of you have popped over and read a little “About Me” or about my cooking roots in my first post, Coconut Drop Cookies.  If not, very briefly, I am very proud of my French Canadian heritage.  My Memere and Pepere (French for grandparents) are no longer with us, but they are in our hearts and memories and my Memere lives on through my cooking.  This recipe is one of Memere’s pinnacle recipes.  She served this only on Christmas Eve and maybe one other time a year, and it is one that evokes wonderful happy family memories!

Tourtière is a traditional French-Canadian dish, originating apparently around 1611.  Every family has its own “original” recipe, passed down through the generations, so depending on the region your family is from, your recipe will reflect that!  Tourtière is served by generations of French-Canadian families throughout not only Canada, but also the bordering areas of the United States.  And, because I am a bit of a nerd, apparently tourtière got it’s name from the pie-pan used to cook it in, which was further named after the key ingredient, which was the cooked meat of the once abundant and now extinct passenger pigeon, the “Tourte(Thanks Wikipedia!).

Anyways, back to the recipe!

Before this weekend, I had never made pie dough from scratch.  Typically when I make this dish, which has only been a few times since my Aunt and/or Mom usually make it for the holidays, I buy pre-made dough from the grocery store!  But, when this months What’s Baking challenge was announced, I knew I had to dig out my Memere’s recipe and attack the crust from scratch too.

It was actually a cinch making the pie dough, especially with my KitchenAid mixer.  This dish is actually fairly easy to make from start to finish, but tastes as though you spent hours making it (or maybe you did, because it took that long to decipher the fuzzily scanned and emailed 30 year old hand-written recipe!).

The flavours of the dish are warm, welcoming and truly comforting.  For me, just the smell of the meat mixture cooking, smells like family gatherings at home.

I hope you give this French-Canadian specialty a try, I know you won’t be disappointed!

*Note, traditionally this is made into one large pie.  However, I prefer to make individual pies as it makes serving them easier, plus I think it’s quite fun having your own*

Memere’s Tourtière

Yield:  One 9inch pie ~or~ four individual 4inch pies
Prep Time:  10 minutes for pastry, 10 minutes for filling, 20 minutes to assemble
Cooking Time:  25 minutes for filling, 25 minutes to bake

Pie Pastry


  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 lb butter, cut into 1 inch squares and kept very cold
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 cups ice cold water
  • 4 disposable tinfoil pie plates (4inch diameter)
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp of water, beat together to create egg wash


Slice your butter into small 1-inch squares.  Place in a bowl and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

In a large bowl, place 1 cup of ice and fill with 2 cups of cold water.  Set aside.

Using a one-cup measuring cup, break in the egg and add the vinegar.  Using the ice-cold water, add enough water to make 1 cup of liquid, including the egg and vinegar.

Place the flour, salt, baking powder and brown sugar in your KitchenAid bowl, fitted with your wire whip.  Mix to combine the ingredients.

Turn on your KitchenAid mixer to a medium speed, remove butter from fridge and add to the flour mixture.  Mix until butter is well integrated and only small clumps of butter/flour remain (no bigger than the size of a pea).

Switch the wire whip to your flat beater.  While still on a low speed, sprinkle the egg/water mixture into the flour mixture.  Mix until flour mixture comes together and forms a loose ball when pressed in your hands.  (Note – the mixture will not form a complete ball, but you should be able to form a ball that stays together). Do not knead the mixture and try to work as little as possible.

Divide dough mixture into 12 pieces.  Wrap each piece with plastic wrap and place in fridge to rest while you prepare the filling.

(Note – you will only need 8 pieces for the recipe below.   You can freeze the additional pieces in a freezer bag for 3-6 months)

Tourtière Filling


  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp savory
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup breadcrumbs


Place all ingredients, except breadcrumbs, in a medium sized saucepan.  Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a rolling boil.  Reduce to a simmer and allow mixture to cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs.  Stir well.  Let stand for 10 minutes.

If mixture is still quite wet, add in more breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is still moist but not drippy.

Set aside to cool while you roll-out pastry dough.

Final Assembly

Preheat oven to 375F.

Sprinkle a clean working surface with flour.  Place one of the disks of dough in the center of the surface and working outwards, using your rolling pin, roll the dough into approximately a 5 inch circle. Flip the dough occasionally as you roll it out, to get an even circle.

Place the rolled out dough into the tinfoil pie pan.  Gently push the dough into the corners and bottom of the pan.  If needed, trim the edges.

Repeat with 3 additional bottom crusts.

Fill the pie crusts with tourtiere filling and brush the edges of the crust with egg wash.

Roll out the 4 additional pieces of pie dough, using the instructions above.  Drape over the filled bottom crusts.  Trim the edges to the same size as the bottom crusts and fold the edges together to form a clean edge.  You can crimp or scallop the edges to your liking.

Cut three or four slices in the top of the crusts to vent the tourtiere.  You can do simple slices or be creative and do some decorative holes!  Using the egg wash mixture, brush the top of the pie crust.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until dough is golden brown and mixture is steaming.

Serve with a homemade gravy [CH: I pour mine on top, through the vents, but not too much is needed], mashed potatoes and some green beans!

Recipe from JBean’s Family Kitchen (and slight adaptations by JBean herself!)

One final note, these can be made ahead and frozen.  Simply prepare until you reach the baking step, double wrap the tourtiere in plastic wrap, one final wrap in tinfoil and then freeze.  When ready to bake, remove from freezer the morning you plan to bake it, and continue as planned.


Filed under French, Mains, Quebecois