Pear and Ginger Smoothie

We’re almost into February and there’s hardly any snow on the ground! What is wrong with this picture?  Where are the scarves, mitts, shovels, heaps of snow, slush and salt machines?  One of the benefits, (I thought), of being in TO in the winter while hubby is travelling on business would be that I get to have my snow fix.  But it seems like God has other plans!  The weather is completely wonky- freezing one day with wind chills in the double digits, the next day it’s a balmy 5 degrees Celsius.  No wonder people are getting sick!

To help me get through this very weird patch of winter weather we’re experiencing, I decided to make a pear and ginger smoothie, courtesy of Guilty Kitchen.  I tweaked the recipe just a tad to suit my needs.

Pear and Ginger Smoothie

1 Bosc pear, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces
juice of 1/4 a lime
a tiny nob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (you know those tiny nobs that grow off the body of ginger? well that’s what I used)
2 tbsp honey flavoured 0% Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup 2% milk

Put all ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth. 

Cinnamon-Sugar Palmiers

 For years, I’ve been eating palmiers, (sometimes referred to as elephant ears, french hearts, or glasses). My grandmother and grandfather were fans of the cookies/pastries and we always used to have them readily available in the kitchen. They were great on their own, or could be dunked into a cup of chai or hot chocolate.  

I never thought I’d try my hand at making palmiers, because they looked so complicated with all of their beautiful, swirly layers. However, I have Martha Stewart to thank for making, what seemed like a daunting task, so simple and effortless.  Martha came onto the Today show in December and showed how to make some holiday sweets.  Once I saw her show Al Roker how to make the palmiers, I knew I had to go and make them myself. 
I tweaked the recipe to reduce the amount of sugar from 1 cup to 1/4 cup and I cut out the chocolate. Also, the only difference that I noted between regular palmiers and Martha’s palmiers is that regular palmiers are rolled so that the pastry rolls meet each other, while Martha’s rolls the pastry so that they form an “S” shape.
Cinnamon-Sugar Palmiers
1 package pre-rolled puff pastry
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
Unwrap one sheet of pre-rolled puff pastry and loosen pastry from paper.  Sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture onto half of the puff pastry. 
Begin to fold the dough towards the centre in small increments until you reach the halfway point (no more sugar). 
Gently flip the dough over and repeat the same process again- sprinkle cinnamon-sugar over the pastry and being to roll the dough to the rolled half (it’s okay if one roll is bigger than the other).   Repeat same process with second puff pastry sheet.
Wrap the dough rolls in plastic wrap and chill for 20-30 minutes in the fridge.  Cut the ends off until you are left with even edges. Cut the dough lengthwise int 1/2″ or 1″ pieces and lay them 2″ apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake cookies until underside is a deep golden brown colour.  Using a metal spatula, flip cookies over and bake for another 5 minutes.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for 1-2 days.

Happy New Year! Plus some Lemon Pepper Chicken

Happy New Year everyone!

When I look back, it seems as though 2011 went by in a flash.  I can think back to some key things that I did, saw, and participated in and I hope to do some of those things again in 2012.  Here’s to hoping for a safe and healthy 2012 filled with lots of adventure, lots of learning, and lots of time spent with those whom I love.
This recipe that I’m going to share with you tonight has been a long time coming.  I’ve made it several times (great reviews from family members!)  and have been wanting to share it with you for a really long time.  The reason for it not appearing sooner?  Well, I’ve been lazy. :o) 
I was inspired by a Barefoot Contessa episode where Ina Garten made lemon-pepper chicken breasts. I took some of her ideas, changed them around a bit and came up with my own version using a whole chicken.  This is super simple and is great on a weeknight (it only takes about 1.5 hours to bake if the chicken has been prepared beforehand) or the weekend.   What I do is buy one or two whole chickens and clean them up, then marinate them with the ingredients in the recipe. I then wrap them up in freezer bags and put them in the freezer for a day when I don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen.  Add the chicken to a roasting pan filled with vegetables or small potatoes and bake for 1.5-2 hours and you have a healthy meal on your hands.
Lemon-Pepper Chicken

1 whole skinless chicken, cleaned, washed and pat dried with paper towel
juice of 2 lemons
zest of 2 lemons
4 lemon halves (use the left over lemons)
2 tbsp  + 1 pinch dried dill
2 jalapeno peppers, sliced lengthwise with seeds intact
2 tbsp freshly minced garlic
2 tbsp freshly minced ginger 
2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp salt
Place the chicken on a flat surface and take the minced ginger and garlic and rub them all over and inside the chicken. Take care to get in between the joints.  Take 1/2 tsp salt and a pinch of dried dill and rub them on the inside of the chicken. Take 1 tbsp of salt and rub it over one side of the chicken and repeat on the other side.   Pour juice of two lemons over both sides of the chicken.  Take the remaining dill and spread it evenly over both sides of the chicken. Take the 4 lemon halves and jalapeno peppers and stuff them into the chicken’s cavity.  Sprinkle lemon zest over the top of the chicken (breast-side down).  At this point you can stick the chicken and any juices into a freezer bag and put into the freezer.  If you want to roast it the same day, let it marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Roasting chicken
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place marinated or thawed chicken, and any juices in a roasting pan. If any lemons escaped, stick them back into chicken cavity.  Cover roasting pan with lid and place in the lower half of oven.  Check chicken after 30 minutes. If chicken juices and lemon juices have been released, begin to baste chicken with them. Repeat every 30-40 minutes until chicken is done (about 1.5 hours although I usually check by poking at the leg joints to see if everything is cooked).  Remove chicken from oven and set aside for 5-10 minutes. Remove lid and baste chicken with juices again before cutting it into pieces.  Repeat basting again before serving.