Category: Good Eats

Recipe – Mandy’s Macaroni Salad

With BBQ season upon us, I decided to ring in spring with one of my favourite BBQ add-ons (and the one I tend to bring to potlucks most often), my macaroni salad. Now throughout this post, let’s pretend the words macaroni and potato are entirely interchangable. I make the same recipe, both with macaroni or potatoes. However, this time, due to what I had around the house, I went with macaroni.

This recipe is amazing for anyone, because it’s entirely modifiable to whatever you prefer. Don’t like red peppers? No prob, use green peppers. Maybe you hate all peppers in general, well then, leave them out. Have carrots instead of celery, that’s fine too. No fresh parsley, use dried or none at all. I can go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. You can use whatever you have in the fridge, it doesn’t matter.

This also applies to the dressing. Don’t like hot sauce, don’t use it. Hate mustard, leave that out too. Change up the herbs and spices to ones you really like and omit the ones you don’t. The only thing you pretty much need for the dressing is mayonnaise, but if you don’t like mayo, why not do an oil and vinegar dressing? It all comes back to use whatever you want.

You’ll notice there are no amounts in this recipe… I just throw stuff in, for both the salad and the dressing. I suppose I could tell you what’s in this batch, but the salads and dressings I make are never the same. I reiterate once again, it does not matter what you use. Use your judgement, obviously you won’t add 8 cups of mayo to 1 cup of macaroni… At least I hope you won’t. Taste as you go and adjust seasonings as necessary. Go with your gut, it’s where the macaroni salad is heading anyways. 😉

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Mandy’s Macaroni Salad Ingredients:

Macaroni, cooked in salted water and cooled (or potatoes, cooked, cooled and diced)

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Parsley, chopped
Red Onion, small dice
Celery, small dice
Red Pepper, small dice
Shallot, minced
Hard-boiled eggs, chopped
Dill Pickles, small dice
Olives, sliced

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Dressing Ingredients:

Mayonnaise
Yellow Mustard
Dijon Mustard
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
Pickle Juice
Olive Juice
Garlic Powder
Basil
Celery Salt
Herbes de Provence
Salt & Pepper

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Procedure:

1 – Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. (My ratio of macaroni to other stuff is about 50/50, but this is how I like it.) Set aside.

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2 – Combine all dressing ingredients in a smaller bowl. I use the pickle/olive juice to thin out the mayo. (Adding a tart flavour as well as saving me on added calories.) If you wanted to make your salad way more colourful, substitute the pickle and olive juices for pickled beet liquid for a bright pink dressing.

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3 – Whisk this ingredients until smooth and adjust seasonings. I used a different dill pickle brand this time, which was far more vinegary than my usual one, so I added about a tablespoon of white sugar to balance the flavours. Too watery? Add more mayo. Not spicy enough? Add more Frank’s. I like mine to be a salad dressing consistency, tangy and sweet, with a tiny bit of heat on the finish.

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4 – Combine the dressing with the salad and mix until thoroughly coated. Taste to ensure the seasoning are right and enjoy!

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*The salad can also be refrigerated for a later date, which I tend to do. This allows the flavours to meld together much better, but you’ll notice the macaroni soaks up a lot of the dressing. You can either throw together another small batch of dressing or just use some mayo or a bit of pickle juice to moisten the salad.

ENJOY!

Mandy De Geit
Chef-In-Training
“If food was meditation, we’d chant Om-Nom-Nom.”

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Good Eats: Lemon/Basil Roast Chicken with Root Veg

Ah chicken, the ultimate food. It goes with almost anything, aside from dessert (there are some lines I just won’t cross), and there’s nothing I love more than roasting a whole chicken. I used to shy away, thinking it was difficult to get it right, but it really isn’t. I’ve accumulated a few tricks up my sleeve over the course of learning how to rock the roast chicken and I’d be more than happy to share a few of them with you.

But Mandy, why the hell would I not just buy chicken breasts, they come pre-skinned, pre-boned and well it’s just chicken…

FLAVOUR! You’re missing out on all the goodness that comes from the skin and bones. You also lose out on the ability to make stock, which I love doing with my leftover carcasses. (If you aren’t making stock just yet, toss all the extras in a large freezer bag and save it for when you have time.) I personally find making a roast chicken way easier than cooking chicken breasts, you prep it, toss it in the oven and walk away for an hour. Good for those days when you have things to do around the house.

Here’s what I ended up doing with the chicken.

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BRINING!!! Rarely do I make poultry without letting it soak in a bath of spices, salt and sugar. This process makes the meat unbelievably moist and tender. I normally let my chickens soak in a water bath overnight in the fridge… I’ve also parked the chicken in brine from frozen, which serves dual purposes. *(We’ve also had great luck brining turkeys…)

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STUFFING!!! Not with carb filled stuffing, but with flavour. I usually fill the cavities of the poultry with citrus, onion and herbs. This time was lemon and basil. Also, taking the time to jam whatever you’re using under the skin, leaves for a beautifully finished product.

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ROASTING!!! One pot wonders are always a good thing. The veg on the bottom will be flavoured by the chicken drippings, and well, there’s less pots and pans to wash. The veggies also keep the chicken elevated, to allow for better air circulation.

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Et voila! This is what we ended up with. Beautifully roasted chicken, ready to be consumed. 😀

Noms!
Chef-In-Training Mandy

Good Eats: Herb & Garlic Roast with Gravy and Yorkshire Puddings, Cauliflower Puree, Steamed Broccoli and Cheese Sauce

Whew that’s a mouthful, but a good mouthful. 😀 This welcome back to Canada dinner I cooked for my best friend Dickie was pretty awesome. After having cooked chicken the last two nights, I wanted something totally different. I decided on roast beef with a herb rub. I picked up some Juniper berries on my last trip to the Bulk Bin. (I’m pretty sure I’m calling it the wrong thing, but it’s what I call it. I think it’s the Bulk Barn… Whatever, things are in bins, so I call it the Bulk Bin.) I knew that they were a pretty potent spice and needed to be paired with a hearty meat, so I figured a roast was my best option.

I went through a few recipes, but ended up doing what I always do and that’s run with my own idea (or what I have ingredient-wise). I do use some parts of the recipes, but I always end up with a mish mash of recipes, with a twist of my own ideas.

Here’s the spice rub recipe.

Herb & Garlic Roast Beef Rub #1 (It needs a better name… but this will do for now.)

1/2 tbsp Yellow Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Celery Seeds
2 tsp Juniper Berries
1/2 tbsp Peppercorns
1 tsp Dried Rosemary
2 tsp Paprika
1 tbsp Dried Oregano

3 tbsp Minced Garlic (fresh)

1 – Mix everything except the garlic in a mortar and pestle and break down to a powder.

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*(Pretty easy, plus you get a work out with all the smashing. So once this was done I set it aside until it was time to cook the roast.)

2 – When ready to cook, mix spice rub powder with garlic and spread over roast.

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I suppose you can rub this on the night before to allow for flavour penetration, but the roast was taking a marinade bath in the fridge in a mixture of soy sauce, lemon juice, red wine, garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. And yes, I can write that word without needing spell check. 😉

So I pack everything up to head to Dickie’s and make my way to the car. NOTE TO EVERYONE: Never travel on foot with a bottle of wine upright in a box no higher than a quarter of the bottle’s overall height. Point being, SMASHO!!! No more wine. There’s nothing worse than watching it fall and you know there’s nothing you can do about it. Through the miracle of cellphones however, I managed to organize another bottle to meet me at the house for dinner. (I texted the boy and said I smashed the wine…) 😀

So I get to Dickie’s and start cooking. After I covered the roast in the garlic & herb mixture, I set it on the rack of the roasting pan over some beef stock.

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I decided to pair the roast beef with Yorkshire puddings (my first attempt), a cauliflower puree (also my first attempt), and some steamed broccoli with a spicy cheddar cheese sauce. Now this is a lot to take care of, but what made all this worse, is that everything had to be done at the SAME time. Pretty much the same time. As soon as the roast came out, the oven was cranked and the muffin tins went in to heat up the fat. The pudding batter had been sitting for a half hour, coming to room temp and was ready to be poured. The roast pan took over the right-hand side of the stove for the gravy. On the left-hand side, I was making the cheese sauce and getting the cauliflower soft for the puree. I only burned myself once, which isn’t too bad, based on the mess I was rocking. Once the puddings were in the oven, I struggled seeing where they were at because the oven glass was a shite design. (I could only go based on the timer, not colour, so I may have had more success at my house with my oven.)

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All in all, aside from the over-cooked puddings, everything else was fantastic.

Tonight’s dinner is going to be easy. Poached eggs on spinach and toast.
(Except for the fact I’ve never poached an egg in water… UNTIL TONIGHT!!!) 😉
I’ll let you all know how that goes. 😀

Chef-In-Training Mandy

Good Eats – Samantha Snapper and Sauteed Veg

So being a food lover/chef-in-training, I tend to eat some pretty tasty things. I don’t always write down the recipes for said dinners, but I figured I’d share the food photos (which I am always taking) and the stories that go along with my food photos.

The boyfriend (who’s name is Dan, but I tend to refer to him as “the boy”) and I cook together quite a bit. While I’m a little bit of a Nazi in the kitchen, I’m learning to step back and let him take the reins on certain things. *(I’ve learned that I can’t watch him cut things cause it makes me crazy, but I’m learning to bite my tongue and I still love him.)

Our most recent dinners have been fish related. This one is snapper fillets and sauteed vegetables, which I believe was yellow and green zucchini, celery, heirloom carrots, purple beans, onions and garlic.

I sauteed up the vegetables in some coconut oil and let the boy take care of the protein.

The next day, when I told him about the blog and asked him to name his fish, I was looking for something along the lines of “Pan fried snapper with blah blah herbs” or something of the like.

He, however, looked at me and said, in a totally serious way, “Samantha Snapper.”

So here’s Samantha Snapper and Sauteed Vegetables

MDG

Samantha Snapper