Chicken Tagine with Vegetables, Dates and Honey

Yum!  Flavorful, yet not too spicy, Moroccan tagines are wonderful mix of meat, vegetables, dried fruit, honey and spices such as cinnamon, cumin, sage, and chili powder. I’m a bit sensitive to onion and garlic but if you’re not, one onion, chopped and two cloves of garlic, crushed, can also be added.

 

3 chicken breasts

1 small can diced tomates

1 pepper, chopped

2 c. baby carrots

1 c. dried dates, chopped

2 c. chicken broth

2 T. cinnamon

1 T. sage

1 – 2 T. curry spice blend

1/2 T. each cumin, chili powder and ground allspice

1 tsp. lemon pepper

2 T. honey

salt and pepper to taste

 

Cut up chicken breasts into chunks and place in large pan with a little oil. Brown over medium heat. Add remainder of ingredients except honey and cook over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes until breasts are cooked and vegetables are tender. Add honey. Serve with rice, couscous, or quinoa. About  4 servings.

Raspberry Dessert

Low in sugar, yet still delicious, this easy dessert is great for a potluck or work event.

2 cups graham crumbs

1/2 c. melted butter or margarine

4 cups raspberries (thawed if frozen)

1/4 c. sugar

3 – 4 T. cornstarch

1/4 c. water

Combine graham crumbs and melted margarine in a oblong pan. Combine raspberries, sugar, and water in small sauce pan, bring to a boil. Add cornstarch and stir until thickened. Pour over graham crumb mixture and place in refrigerator for several hours to chill. Don’t panic if it is quite runny prior to placing in the fridge; it will thicken as it chills. One package unflavored gelatin can be used in place of the cornstarch. Serve with whipped cream. Cuts into about 12 pieces,

Pork, Pepper and Papaya Stir Fry

I had two humongous leftover pork chops and decided to make a stir fry. I thought papaya would make an interesting addition and complement the other ingredients.  Turns out I was right! Flavorful pork stir fry. If not sensitive to fresh garlic or onion, these can be added as well.

Featured in the fall, 2016 edition of Food Bloggers of Canada’s over 25 quick and easy stir fry recipes: Quick & Easy Stir Fry

2 extra thick pork chops, pre-cooked, and sliced thin

2 peppers, seeded and chopped

4 carrots, peeled and diced

1 – 2 green onions, chopped

1 cup chicken broth

1 – 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly torn

2 cups frozen papaya chunks, thawed

2 tsp. Cajun mix spice blend

1 tsp. lemon pepper

1 T. tea masala spice blend

1/4 c. Kirkland Organic no-salt seasoning mix

Put the peppers and carrots in a bowl with water and cook a little bit in the microwave until they soften a bit. Combine pork, peppers, carrots, green onions, chicken broth and spices in a large frying pan. Mix well. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes until vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, thaw papaya chunks in microwave. Add papaya and spinach to pork-pepper mixture. Cook about 10 – 15 minutes more until vegetables are soft and spinach has wilted. About 3 – 4 servings.

To make this #glutenfree, serve with rice or quinoa and ensure chicken broth is gluten free.

Gluten Free Banana-Blueberry Muffins

Gluten free blueberry-banana muffins are made with ground almonds in place of flour.

 

Here, have a moist and tasty gluten free muffin!

2 cups raw almonds, finely ground

1/4 c. ground flax

1/2 c. sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1 T. cinnamon

1 ripe banana

2 large eggs

1/2 c. plain yogurt

1/4 c. water (can use 1/4 oil instead)

2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 325F and grease a muffin tin. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. In another bowl, mash the banana until smooth then add the rest of the wet ingredients except the blueberries. Whisk well together. Transfer the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Spoon into muffin cups filling about half full. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Let stand in pan 10 minutes or so before removing. 12 muffins  Tip: Ensure the almonds are finely ground. My batter was a bit too runny as my almonds weren’t finely ground, so I added 1/2 c. oat bran to thicken (a gluten free flour could be added instead of the oat bran, if necessary, to thicken.)

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Smoky-Sweet Sauce

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulk/7327049962

Fall comfort food.

The cocoa powder and coffee in the sauce give the sauce a rich depth of flavour.

1 lb. pork tenderloin

1 small can tomato paste

1 small can of water

1 T. molasses

1 T. brown sugar

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. Mrs. Dash southwest chipotle spice mix

1 tsp. cumin

1 T. mustard

1 T. each instant coffee and cocoa powder

salt and pepper to taste

Place tenderloin in the slow cooker liner. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a small bowl combine tomato paste, water, molasses, brown sugar, paprika, the southwest chipotle spice mix, cumin and mustard and more salt and pepper if you wish. Spread over the tenderloin. Place slow cooker liner into the slow cooker. Cook for 6-8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Shred the pork with a knife and fork after it is cooked (you can keep it in the slow cooker for this). Serve in buns, or over rice or quinoa. 4 -6 servings.

Pasta Veggie Toss Up

This is a pretty versatile pasta dish. Mix whatever small to medium shaped pasta (wheat or gluten free) you have on hand, with whatever vegetables you have on hand. Serve either hot or cold with your choice of protein.  Parmesan cheese can also be added.

3 cups uncooked pasta

1/2 large zucchini, diced

1/2 pepper diced

5 small tomatoes, chopped

1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped

2 T. olive oil

1 T. Italian spice mix

salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the vegetables to the pasta water to soften. Drain. Place pasta-veggie mix in a large bowl. Add olive oil, fresh basil, spice mix, salt and pepper and toss together.

Mexican Pie with Cornbread Muffins

Adapted from a recipe in Company’s Coming “Beef” cookbook. This comes together relatively quickly and is not super-spicy.

1 lb. ground beef

1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes

1/2 package taco seasoning mix

1 cup flour

3/4 c. cornmeal

1 T. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 T. parmesan cheese

1 large egg

1 c. milk or buttermilk

2 T. each oil and water

Preheat oven to 375. Brown ground beef, add tomatoes and taco seasoning mix and cook on low for about 15 minutes until mixture is consistency of thick sauce. Spray a pie pan with cooking spray, then add the ground beef mixture. Combine dry ingredients (flour-Parmesan cheese) in large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in small bowl and add to dry ingredients; mix until just moistened. Spread about half this mixture over the ground beef mixture. Place the rest of the cornbread mix into individual muffin tins. Bake both the pie and muffins at 375 for about 30 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

This is easy to convert to #glutenfree by using all cornmeal or using a gluten free flour.

Pear Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups flour

1 cup oats

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 large egg

1 cup milk, soured with 1 T. vinegar (or use buttermilk)

1 medium ripe banana, mashed

5 T. maple syrup

1.5 T. oil

2 1/2 cups fresh pears, finely chopped

5 T. chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 375. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.
Crack egg into a small bowl. Whisk. Add milk, banana, maple syrup, oil, and pears. Mix well. Add to dry ingredients, mix until just moistened. Fold in pears and chocolate chips. Fill muffin liners three quarters full.
Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. About 16 muffins

Thai Green Curry Chicken-Veggie Soup

Flavourful soup which takes a bit of time to make. Next time, I think I’ll cook the chicken the day before, or use meat from use one of those roasted chickens from the store. Spice can be adjusted to personal taste.

One container chicken stock

1 can light or regular coconut milk

4 – 5 cups chopped vegetables

1 T. green curry paste

6 chicken thighs (pre-cooked)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place chicken thighs in a casserole dish and cook in oven about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, chop vegetables. Combine stock, coconut milk and vegetables and curry paste in a large pot. (For the vegetables, I used green onions, pepper, zucchini, carrots and frozen corn). Cook until vegetables are tender about 15 minutes. If using zucchini and corn, add later on in the cooking process so they don’t get mushy. Once chicken thighs are cooked, remove from baking dish, cut up into chunks and add to soup. Cook another 10 minutes or so or until zucchini is soft.

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today my husband was laid off. This was waiting for him when he came home on November 18, 2015.
amarula

Here are the positives of the past year:

  • My husband had worked for this company for over 10 years, so he received a good severance package.
  • We were able to spend 37 days in our RV (a record for us) on vacation.
  • We were more able to be there for others, such as my mother-in-law, who needs assistance at times.
  • Bianca and Laid Off Calgary.
  • For both of us, as often happens when in a period of adversity, there’s been a time of extreme growth. Mostly this growth was all good, as:

You never know what you’re capable of, until you have to be capable of it.

There was much to learn, and much to do.

My Journey

I graduated with honours in 2014 from the University of Calgary with a Certificate in Professional Writing (PR and Marketing concentration). I’d been looking for work since, albeit somewhat languidly, as my husband was working. My love of, and natural affinity for, writing is such I have several passion projects on the go and have volunteered my writing and editing skills. Wanting, and now needing, to get paid for my skills, my husband’s layoff was the kick in the pants I needed to take looking for work seriously. I got my ass in gear.

I had to stop hiding my light under a bushel. Moreover, I had to stop thinking I didn’t even have a light to hide.

I had to learn to put on my big girl panties and suck up all my fears and insecurities.

I am super grateful for those  I’ve met along the way, and so thankful for the part-time writing contract I secured this fall, as well as other possibilities waiting in the wings.

Our Journey

We had to make ourselves climb out of our comfort zones, at times kicking and screaming. In some cases, we went way out of our comfort zone such as the time we were filmed for an appearance on the news, while in the midst of a photo shoot for laidoffalberta.com.

We had to learn how to network, how to develop an *elevator pitch, revamp our resumes countless times, study interview techniques, attend presentations, sell ourselves, get out there, and talk to strangers. I’m a shy extrovert, and my husband is an introvert, so meeting new people is difficult enough for us, never mind talking about ourselves and our accomplishments. Networking is a work-in-progress for both of us. We both had to learn to do what works for us. In the world of networking, one on one is more our style.

We had to learn to ride the emotional rollercoaster of job-hunting.  As our applications for positions were ignored,  we’ve had to remind ourselves, over and over again, of what we have to offer companies.  When interviews were granted for positions we were a strong fit for, yet the jobs went to someone else, the feeling of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” emerged.

As someone mentioned the other day, in this economy, “there’s a lot of sellers, and not many buyers”, which makes it difficult to remain positive. “It’s not me, it’s the economy” soon became our mantra.

We had to be there for each other in countless ways to keep our relationship strong.

And our faith? Oh, our faith, to be honest, it’s been a challenge to trust that God’s got this.  He may have it, but He’s sure taking his time delivering it.

*My elevator pitch:

I am a self-starting, results-driven writing Ninja with a breadth of writing experience.
Put your idea in front of me and I’ll bring it to life.
I’m an excellent story-teller with the skills to creatively communicate
your ideas, product, business or service.

*My husband’s elevator pitch:

I am a Business Intelligence Specialist with 20 years experience in providing advanced problem-solving analysis, specializing in data analytics and data /system integration. I have the ability to break down complex data and/or system related issues by redefining them in ways that are solvable.

I am looking for an opportunity to help the business to improve their ability to manage their business processes.