Living the Plantlife

photo 3So I want a garden. I want to grow squash, peppers, strawberries and zucchini. I want to grow corn and potatoes, regular and sweet, and I want to grow tomatoes and jalapenos and even herbs.  I want to grow everything. All my own stuff. Two problems: 1. I kill everything, and 2. I live in an apartment with no yard to grow a garden.  But this year I decided I just HAD to grown SOMETHING.  And after promising myself that I would not forget to water my beautiful plant babies, I decided to buy some cherry tomato plants and a few jalapeno plants.  I also decided to to grow come herbs: coriander, parsley, basil lettuce leaf, rosemary and chives.  Since I don’t have a place to put a garden, I borrowed a few planter pots from my boyfriend’s mom (she is my teacher in this whole… “growing thing”) and put four small jalapeno plants in one pot, four small tomato plants in another, and all five of my herbs into the third.  My tomato and jalapeno plants have yet to sprout, and according to their little plant information sign thingies, tomatoes take about 60 – 65 days to mature and jalapenos take 60 to 80 days to mature.  So I should see some tomatoes around the end of July and the peppers probably closer to the end of the summer.

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 I am super duper, over the moon ecstatic about my mini garden.

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When my boyfriend and I {hopefully} buy a home next year, we will plant a big garden with as many veggies as possible.  And eventually, we want to build a greenhouse when we can grown our own produce all year round. Of course, that’s a stretch from my three potted veggies and herbs, but we’ll get there one day.  For now, I’m just working on not accidentally killing the plants I have now. I can rarely keep plants alive inside my home, but I think the reasoning for that I don’t care enough to remember to water them… and then they die.  Which, is sad, I don’t want to be a plant murderer, I want to be a plant grower, a gardener, a herb whisperer, a seedling soother, a shrub nourisher.  I want to be like professor sprout from Harry Potter, just a total boss when it comes to gardening.

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I of course, had to purchase a bright pink watering can. Because, you know, it’s pink, and pink water cans water plants more efficiently. Everyone know that.

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 Now, onto the recipe I’m going to share.  The recipe is simple, quick, excellent for a weeknight meal, and contains loads of fresh rosemary from my herb garden.  I can across this recipe at bakedatmidnite.com while browsing Pinterest and tailored it a little based on the veggies I have in my house.

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Roasted Rosemary Chicken and Vegetables

serves two

Ingredients

  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced into small pieces
  • 1 cup mushrooms, cut into strips
  • 1 large bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup red onion, sliced
  • 1 tbs olive oil for browning chicken
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

to make the sauce

  • 2 large rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and add to the skillet, browning on both sides.  This should take 5 to 8 minutes per side.
  2. Add all vegetables to a large bowl and toss in 2 tbsp. olive oil. Spread the veggies evenly over the bottom of a n oven safe baking dish. Top with brown chicken.
  3. Mix all sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken and vegetables.  Add another few rosemary sprigs (whole) on top if desired, and bake at 400 F degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

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So, super fantabulous right? Love love love this recipe and it’s great because it doesn’t really require much effort, making it a perfect weeknight dinner.  I like to add a little more wine to the mix as well.  After I pour the sauce over the chicken and veggies, I dump a little more wine over the chicken and veggies so that the veggies are almost completely immersed.  This helps ensure the veggies will soften a little more.  Ken likes his veggies a little firmer so this time around I didn’t do that, but I prefer a softer veggie.  I love the fact that I can use a little bit of what I’ve grown in this recipe.

I absolutely wish I had the ability to start my big gigantic vegetable (and maybe fruit?) garden this year, but I guess I’ll just have to wait until my and Ken have a backyard to plant one in.  Happy baking!

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Garlic Lime Chicken Salad with Bacon, Goat’s Cheese and Arugala

There are alot of things that can make a salad great.  I think a great salad requires some sort of cheese, some bacon {DUH}, grilled or sautéed chicken slices with a wonderful sauce or marinade {no poached, boiled, or seasoning free chicken for this girl}, and an extremely tasty {preferably homemade} dressing.  This salad has all those things, as well as a rainbow coloured assortment of veggies. Yummy!  I’ve developed a love for salads recently. They’re just so darn good, and I like how light I feel after I eat them, but yet full and satisfied.

Now, the first thing I want to say, is that yes, I know, i have been writing that much, and the reason for that is: 1) I suck and I’m lazy; 2) aside from this salad and a delicious BBQ chicken pizza I’ll share next week, I have made nothing new and exciting; and 3) I wish I could say it’s cause I’ve been busy, but I’ve been playing video games and reading books like it’s my freaking job, and I’ve just plain and simply made no time for writing.  So, I apologize for that, but after a trip to the Dominican, countless hours of video games, and six whole books later, I’m back!  My trip was magnificent by the way.  Truly fantastic. I’d go back in a heartbeat. And the food…oh the food. It was so great. And there was alot of it. And I mean alot. And the booze was also plentiful. I came back feeling a little bloated. So I made this salad to make myself feel better, a little lighter.

photo 2So whats in it? Well, as the title suggests, I marinated the chicken in a garlic and lime concoction that included four {minced} garlic cloves, a little salt and pepper, 1/2 cup lime juice and 1/4 cup of olive oil.  I essentially mixed all the ingredients in a large bowl, plopped in 10 oz of raw, slice chicken strips, and let sit for about a half hour covered in the fridge.  Then, i added the chicken to a skillet, along with a few large spoonfuls of the leftover marinade, and cooked covered on medium heat, flipped every few minutes, until the chicken was cooked through.  Then I removed the cover and cooked until the juice of the marinade were gone and the chicken began to brown.

While cooking the chicken, I also cooked four slices of bacon (two for each person, but cook only one for each person if you want to cut some calories).

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Once all the meets were cooked, I placed both the chicken and bacon atop a bed of fresh spinach, lettuce, arugula and red cabbage.  I added a few hunks of goat’s cheese and then made a homemade honey dijon dressing that included honey dijon mustard, salt, pepper, olive oil, white rice vinegar and celery seed.

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Garlic Lime Chicken Salad with Bacon, Goat’s Cheese and Arugala

makes two dinner sized salads

Ingedients

for the chicken marinade

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

 for the salad

  • 10 oz. chicken breast, sliced
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and cut into strips
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup lettuce
  • 1 cup cabbage
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 2 oz goat’s cheese

for the dressing

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. Mix all marinade ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add sliced chicken and allow to sit for about 30 minutes covered in the refrigerator.
  2. Strain chicken from marinade and add to a skillet along with a few large spoonfuls of the marinade.  Cook on medium heat, covered and flipping occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Uncover the skillet and continue to cook until all extra marinade juices are gone and the chicken begins to brown.
  4. Divide the salad ingredients between two plates and top with the cooked chicken.
  5. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and divide into two, drizzling over the salads.  Top with goat’s cheese (1 oz. per salad).

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I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, salad is an amazing thing to eat during the week, because it takes very little time and effort, and trust me, I am not one who likes slaving away in the kitchen during the work week. So, try this and add a little salad inspiration to your week!

Bacon Ranch Barbecue Chicken Burgers

photo 2Okay…. so apparently I’ve been a little obsessed with burgers lately.  Perhaps it’s because I’m being hopeful that spring weather will soon be upon us – we got snow yesterday… April 2nd… and I’m feeling a little depressed about it.  The weather forecast, however, does look promising and I don’t see any below zero degrees Celsius in the next week.  Pray that the weather network isn’t lying, and that the temperature will warm up, bring rain, and get rid of the six-foot snowbanks that encompass every street in the city.  To me, burgers are something that you eat in the summer, you barbecue them on your patio, or at camp, the sun beaming down on you – seriously, I’m getting sick of this snow, maybe if I keep cooking summer foods mother nature will get the hint and bring me some double digit temperatures.

So the recipe I’m going to share today is great because not only does it taste fantastic, but it’s also relatively healthy, like most of my recipes.  Burgers are typically a little higher in calories, since they usually are accompanied by a bun, some sauces, and in my burgers, cheese and turkey bacon, but trust in me when I say that this is well worth it.  Each burger patty will run you just over 300 calories – the rest depends on what toppings you would like to add.  For this burger I added a slice of turkey bacon to top my ground chicken patty, as well as a slice of mozzarella, some fat free ranch salad dressing, a few lines of Sriracha (because I love me some spice) and a few slices of red onion.  I served it, of course, on a whole wheat Ezekial bun and ate it with a cucumber and tomato Greek style salad.

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For the patties I combined ground chicken, bread crumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and some PC Chicken Barbecue Sauce – but you can use any sauce.   I mashed all the ingredients together with my hands, and then formed the mix into four 4 oz patties.  I cooked the burgers in a skillet, covered, for about 6 minutes on each side, then topped them with bacon and cheese, re-covered, and then cooked for an additional 30 seconds (or until the cheese has melted).  I pretty well cook all my burgers the same way – in a skillet, as I am not allowed to have a barbecue, and for about 12 minutes.  I then topped the burgers with Kraft’s Fat Free Ranch Dressing – I love this stuff because it’s creamy and thick and doesn’t really taste like fat free.  If you’re looking for a taste that’s closer to the full fat dressing, you can always go for the Calorie-Wise Ranch Dressing from Kraft – it pretty well tastes exactly like the full fat version.  I of course, made it spicy, and couldn’t resist adding a little Sriracha Sauce.  I developed this recipe by working off this one from JuliesEatsandTreats.com.

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Bacon Ranch Barbecue Chicken Burgers

makes four 4 oz. burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp barbecue sauce
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 4 slices of cheese (I used Mozzarella)
  • 4 tbsp ranch dressing (about 1 tbsp per burger)
  • Sriracha Sauce (if you like it spicy)
  • Other garnishes of your choice – tomatoes, onion, spinach, etc.
  • 4 Burger Buns

Cooking Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine ground chicken, bread crumbs, spices and barbecue sauce.  Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
  2. Divide the chicken mixture into four and make four equally sized patties (they should be about 4 oz. each)
  3. Place in a skillet and cook covered on medium heat for six minutes.  Covering helps your burger get an even cook.  Flip and repeat.
  4. Add bacon slices and cheese to each burger patty, cover, and cook for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the cheese has melted.
  5. Remove burger patties from heat, serve on a bun and top each burger with ranch dressing, Sriracha, and you favourite burger garnishes.
  6. Eat it!

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I promise that you will LOVE this burger.  It’s got a great taste and I LOVE adding the spicy Sriracha to give it a kick.  I promise I will make something else other than burgers at some point – they’re just so easy and versatile – meaning that they’re great for a weeknight dinner.  For more burger ideas please see my Burger Lover board on Pinterest.  Happy Cooking!!

Parmesan Dijon Chicken With Fettuccine Alfredo and Sautéed Vegetables

I’m pretty in love with parmesan cheese.  I love it on my my pasta (all types of pasta) and sometimes on my meat, usually my chicken.  I love adding it to sauce, and have no objections to eating it by itself.  I like it in Caesar salad, and cold pasta salads.  I like it here and there and everywhere, I would eat it with a fox and I would eat it in a box. I would eat it on a train and on a plain, in a house or with a mouse.  Excuse my Dr. Seuss quotations… but I really do feel… passionate about parmesan cheese.  I’m THAT girl at the restaurant who, when the waiter says, “Parmesan Cheese or Fresh Cracked Pepper Miss?”  I say, “ABSOLUTELY!!” And then they say, “Okay, let me know when.”  And I don’t say when, and the Parmesan cheese just keeps piling up and piling up. But I just don’t say when.  And finally, I say it, but only because the people I’m dining with look at me like I’m a freak and the waiter is annoyed and I don’t want them to spit in my dessert.  SO I think we’ve determined that I love parmesan cheese and that I like using it in my recipes, which is what I did.  I made a Parmesan Dijon Chicken and served it with Fettuccine Alfredo and sautéed red onion and spinach.  It was fantastic.

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I first chopped up the chicken into strips. I brushed each strip front and back with Dijon mustard, and then pressed each piece into the shredded parmesan cheese, coating the entire surface of each chicken strip with the cheese.  Next I melted 1 tbsp of butter in a skillet with 1 tbsp of oil.  I laid each piece of chicken down in the pan and cooked them on medium heat.  After about 5 minutes I flipped the strips and let them cook for an additional 5 minutes and until the chicken was no longer pink inside.

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I made the Alfredo sauce during the last few minutes that the chicken was cooking.  I melted 2 tbsp of butter with 2/3 cup of heavy whipping cream in a skillet over medium heat.  Once the mixture started to chicken (about 4 minutes) I added 2 cups of whole wheat fettuccine noodles and turned the heat to medium-low.  I added another 1/3 cup of heavy cream and 2/3 cup of parmesan cheese.  This is meant ot be served immediately so make sure you time it that this is the last step you must complete before serving your meal.  I laid the chicken strips on top and added some sautéed onion and spinach – mushrooms and asparagus are also a great addition to this dish.  I drizzled a little bit of the Alfredo sauce on top and sprinkled with yet, more parmesan cheese.

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Parmesan Dijon Chicken With Fettuccine Alfredo and Sautéed Vegetables

Serves 2

Ingredients

for the chicken

  • 10 oz chicken, cut into strips
  • Dijon mustard
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup to coat all the chicken)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. oil

for the fettuccine Alfredo

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups whole wheat fettuccine (you can use up to 4 cups if you are serving more people)

Cooking Directions

  1. Brush both sides of each chicken strip with Dijon mustard and then press into shredded parmesan cheese until entire piece is coated.
  2. In a skillet, melt butter and add olive oil.  Ensure pan is well coated.  Place the strips in the skillet and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Flip and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
  3. Make the Alfredo sauce by combining the butter and 2/3 of the cream into a skillet on medium heat.  Warm for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mix starts to thicken.
  4. Add the noodles and turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the parmesan cheese and the rest of the cream (1/3 cup).  Serve immediately.
  5. Top with the chicken and sautéed vegetables of your choice.

So there you have it! It’s super easy.  This took me about 20 minutes from prep time to eat time, and there’s nothing I like more than a tasty, quick and easy recipe on a weeknight.  I’ll be signing off for a bit… I have my final exam this Thursday and then I’m done school until the summer. Woohoo! Wish me like. Happy Baking!