Cajun Chicken Quinoa Salad

When I’m busy I always forget how much I love cooking.  Since I haven’t done that much dinner preparing this month, I was a little sluggish in making a final decision for this meal.  At first I was uninspired, standing alone atop a chair in my kitchen, gazing into the pantry with a spaced out look on my face.  I was so close to making Kraft Dinner.  Resisting the instinct to eat like a student, I finally decided to base my meal around three key ingredients: red pepper, red onion, and quinoa.

A simple google search informed me that I wasn’t insane in my dinner mission, and that the three ingredients I chose would actually go quite well together.  I’ve had an ungodly craving for chicken lately (bizarre, I know), so decided to throw that in for fun.  I found one recipe on the web that looked good, and decided to use it as a starting point for the dish you see below.

This turned out to be a great meal.  I’m currently studying in the library, deeply regretting my choice to leave my leftovers at home.  Guess what I’m having for dinner?  For students looking for a quick protein and fibre fix to get them through exams, this meal is stellar.  It also only takes about half an hour to prepare, which means you can get back to your work (or Facebook lurking) as quickly as possible.

Man, the thought of leftovers is killing me right now. Thank god Ariel is buying me a muffin. (Update: I just ate my leftovers for supper, I’m so happy right now)

See the recipe after the jump!

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Spring Chicken Salad with Pasta (and a troop of new vegetable friends)

It may have been the first day of spring in Ottawa yesterday, but apparently Mother Nature didn’t get the message.  Every form of precipitation known to mankind fell from the sky Monday, including a strange misty rain and tiny hail pellets.  Seriously, if there is something making our mythological season changer angry (Father Time cheated on her, etc., I don’t know), then it needs to stop.  I took out my bike on Sunday and it is now buried in snow. My sadness reaches epic proportions.

First day of spring in Ottawa: photo courtesy of The Weather Network

Trudging around in my winter boots again, I decided to defy Mother Nature and begin my spring cooking.  Well not quite. I’m not really sure what spring cooking is since this is the final season I must get through before my blog has its first birthday.  I figured this dinner recipe had the word “spring” in it and, for now, that was good enough for me.

Also, I just really wanted to cook and eat a real supper.  I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been eating very well for the past few weeks.  I’ve been so busy with school and work that I’m only ever home to sleep.  Also, as some of you know I’m currently on the hunt for Ottawa’s best cupcake for the blog Local Tourist Ottawa, so that has been keeping my sugar intake high, and my health content low.  Must strive for healthy balance!  I biked to pick up cupcakes this past weekend, that sort of cancels out the sugar, right?  Maybe not. Fine, I’ll get better.

I saw this recipe on Tastespotting when I was browsing the site at school.  At this point I had officially decided I needed to eat real food, and was deciding what meal should mark my re-emergence into the world of health.  I found this recipe on the blog Zoom Yummy, and it looked simple and delicious.  Petra (blogger) had posted several pictures of the how-to instructions, and the stunning images made it look like a PWC blog post.  I truly admire people who can take pictures detailing every step of the cooking process.  I would not have the patience.  My goal is to minimize the PTM (pan to mouth) time as much as possible.

Anyways, lots of chopping with this one, so make sure you do it before you start cooking your chicken.

Also, have a little fun along the way:

The green onions were just begging to be doodled on. Come on, don’t try and tell me you wouldn’t do the same thing.  Also, they’re kind of reminiscent of my squash friend, n’est-ce pas?

(Aside: please don’t think I’m a complete weirdo, I just really like playing with my food).

Other than getting three new vegetable friends out of this recipe, I also got the perfect amount of pasta for last night’s supper and today’s lunch.  How dearly I have missed you leftovers!  The recipe itself was pretty good.  I love parsley so added in about double what the recipe requested…..also, I didn’t have any ground ginger, so that got omitted this time around.

Gosh I’m hungry now.  Might eat leftover pasta for breakfast.

Source: Zoom Yummy

Chalet Chicken Soup

Yes, the name of this post is swiped straight from the Swiss Chalet menu.  If no one has ever had the amazing soup from this beloved restaurant of my childhood (there was one so close to my house!), then I suggest you drop what you’re doing and shimmy on down to the nearest location.  Especially if you’re in Ottawa and it’s a frigid day like today.

OR you could just read this post in warm comforts of your home.  Writing this post, I’m tempted to brush aside all the work that I have to do today in favour of an afternoon cuddled up with my Snuggie and tea.  There’s a very good chance that this may happen…

I was so excited last week when I got the March edition of Canadian Living in my mailbox.  I was extremely pleased to find the recipe for this cosy chicken and rice soup.  Before I continue, since when does cosy have an “s?”  Does that just not look like some weird attempt at parseltongue?  Nope, I refuse to be anything but co-zeeeee.  Apologies.

Now, you all know how obsessed I am with soup, so when I find a delicious looking recipe for my favourite soup of all, I really have no choice but to make it.  Unlike the traditional chicken noodle soup, this one had rice in it, meaning that it was a tad cheaper (which is always welcome).  Also, even though I really need to try leeks, I didn’t buy them for this recipe, since I feel absolutely awful when I have leftover veggies that I forget about and don’t use.  Must minimize waste.

Mmmm, and chicken thighs, you have changed my life.

PS: these pictures were taken on my friend Gord’s window sill using a bowl that I bought this weekend in Chinatown.  I am super jealous of his rustic window settings.  Also, speaking of Gord (who, if you recall, is the author of another fantastic student-friendly food blog), we cooked up something special this weekend.  Stay tuned to find out more…

PPS: see recipe after the jump.

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Chicken Chorizo Paella

I am embarrassed to admit that it took me two solid days to learn how to say “chorizo.”  I know what you’re thinking: “Hilary is so stupid, it’s pronounced exactly how it sounds!”  This is a valid point.  I compare my difficulties with chorizo to the full week it took me to pronounce and spell Milla Jovovich’s name.  She is the actress who plays Alice in Resident Evil, and also the female I have the biggest girl crush on.  Regardless of my zombie-killing admiration towards her, I insisted on spelling and saying her name like this: Jokovich.  This error caused my roommate Brittany, another huge Milla fan, to sigh in irritation.  However, just as in chorizo, I finally learned.  This is why radio scripts have pronunciations, my friends.

Alright, so that was a little off topic…

This Chicken Chorizo Paella recipe was from the November issue of Canadian Living.  To be honest, I was actually a little disappointed in this one.  The flavours were very similar to that of the squash risotto I made a few weeks ago (to be fair both recipes did use white wine, arborio rice and chicken broth).  Also, I’m not 100 per cent sure I like chorizo.  After all the trouble I spent learning how to pronounce the damn thing, you think it would be super tasty, right?  Unfortunately it left some sort of cross between pepperoni and kielbasa taste in my mouth, a flavour to which I would rather have been unexposed.  The consistency of the rice was good, and I controlled my irrational desire to add more than the required cup, a restraint which I wish I had when I made my soup a few weeks ago.  I am confident in saying that this dish would have been way better with just the chicken, but that’s just me.

Also, this recipe represents the first time I’ve actually bought wine to add in to a dish.  I stole some of my roommate’s before (sorry Alex if you’re reading this, it was only 1/4 cup I swear!) and decided it was finally time to invest in my own bottle.  The bottle is now sitting staring at me from atop my dresser, begging me to use it again.  We’ll see.

Hmmm, now what do I do with the other half of my chorizo…

Chicken Squash Curry

Alright, I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been eating 100 per cent well lately.  It is absolutely crazy at school right now (I feel like all the other university students out there can feel my pain) and I just haven’t had time to take care of myself at all.  For example, this past Monday the only thing I ate was a bagel (sesame seed toasted with strawberry cream cheese, the only way to go), a piece of lemon poppy seed loaf from Starbucks, a Vitamin water and a piece of leftover brownie cake.  I managed to get in all four food groups, right?

WELL, by the time Tuesday rolled around, I was craving actual food.  I’m sorry that this is another post featuring squash as the main-ish ingredient but lets face it, I am one person, with one squash.  No matter how many times I feed my roommates (Ariel has been benefitting quite greatly from my cooking lately), it still takes me three times as long to finish one thing.  This being said, you can expect some sort of “stuffed squash” dish over the next few days, unless I follow Brittany’s suggestions and bake something.

Okay, so this Chicken Squash Curry was something I found when browsing the Canadian Living website the other day, in search of a way to use up my inhuman amount of squash.  Since this recipe also allowed me to use the mild Indian curry sauce that has been sitting in our fridge for months, I decided to go for it.  Mmmm, I forgot how good curry sauce smells when you cook it.  I was happy to smell like a little Indian food restaurant for the rest of the day.  To pay tribute to how crazy even this day was, my cooking was interrupted halfway through by a telephone interview I needed to perform for journalism.  Luckily for me, onion and green peppers don’t mind sitting in a pan half cooked…

Anyways, before you motor on over to your kitchen to cook this, I must add that I used (a) green peppers instead of chili green peppers and (b) didn’t add in as much cilantro because I think it is kind of yucky.  So be cautious.  Also, leftover curry makes some delicious rice wraps (especially when mixed with leftover couscous from the roommates).  Now that I have said that, go forth and eat.