Zucchini "Pasta" with Shrimp, Pancetta, Cherry Tomato served on a Goat Cheese Lemon Shrimp Broth

Zucchini ‘Pasta’ with Shrimp, Pancetta, Cherry Tomato served on a Goat Cheese Lemon Shrimp Broth

Since I’m participating in a 6 week Transformation Challenge, my diet has been limited to a certain amount of calories and some of my favourite foods are not allowed to be eaten. 😦

Some nights for dinner I’m making two separate meals. One for Geoff and I and another for the kids.

Last night ‘Dinner Tonight’ was no exception. The kids enjoyed a Spaghettini with their favourite Egg Yolk and Parmesan Cheese sauce. And Geoff and I had a Zucchini ‘Pasta’ with Shrimp, Pancetta in a Goat Cheese Lemon Shrimp Broth. The lemony broth high acidity was a great compliment to the fatty taste from the pancetta.

KIDS DINNER

Spaghettini with Spinach and Grape Tomatoes in a Egg Yolk and Parmesan Sauce

Spaghettini with Spinach and Grape Tomatoes with an Egg Yolk and Parmesan Sauce

OUR Dinner

Zucchini "Pasta" with Shrimp, Pancetta, Cherry Tomato served on a Goat Cheese Lemon Shrimp Broth

Zucchini ‘Pasta’ with Shrimp, Pancetta, Cherry Tomato served on a Goat Cheese Lemon Shrimp Broth

The pictures from the “Dinner Tonight” on @the5oclockrush Instagram and Facebook feed received a lot of compliments and requests for the recipe.

So here it is…..

Zucchini ‘Pasta’ with Shrimp, Pancetta, Cherry Tomato served on a Goat Cheese Lemon Shrimp Broth

Serves 3-4

 Mise En Place

  • 1 pkge. President’s Choice® Large Raw Zipperback Pacific White Shrimp 31-40, thawed, and peeled, reserve shells
  • 1 pkge. Baby spinach, steamed, squeezed dry and finely chopped (½ cup)*
  • 2-3 fresh zucchini, spiralized
  • 1 pkge. President’s Choice® Italian Diced Pancetta
  • ½ cup leek, chopped
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. fresh goat cheese
  • 20 whole grape tomatoes
  • 6 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp. coconut oil
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. Kosher Coarse Sea Salt
  • Water enough to poach shrimp shells
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 whole peppercorns
Goat Cheese Lemon Shrimp Broth

Place shrimp shells in a shallow pan with bay leaves and peppercorns cover with water until it is approx. 1 inch above the shells. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan. The broth should have a pinkish hue and slightly shrimp flavour. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the liquid into a saucepan. Press out as much liquid as possible. Throw out the used shells.

Shrimp Broth (Fume)

Poaching Shrimp Shells for Broth

Shrimp Broth

Shrimp Broth

Add the lemon juice to shrimp broth and add the goat cheese and whisk until smooth. Keep warm on very low heat. FYI The sauce may curdle from the lemon juice and if overheated.

Zucchini ‘Pasta’ with Spinach, Shrimp, Pancetta and Grape Tomatoes

In a large non-stick frying pan with a lid, place the fresh baby spinach. Cover. Turn the heat on high and steamed. The spinach will take very little time approx. 3-4 minutes and will reduce by half from the cooking process. Drain and squeeze the excess water from the spinach finely chop and measure, and set aside a ½ cup.

You can always substitute frozen chopped spinach; thaw, drain, squeeze and measure ½ cup.

In the same large non-stick frying pan, cook the Italian pancetta on medium-high until crispy; then add the chopped celery and leeks. Cook for 3-5 minutes until celery has coloured but still crispy. Add black pepper. Remove the pancetta and celery from the pan; set aside.

Crispy Pancetta with Celery and Leeks

Crispy Pancetta with Celery and Leeks

Toss the shrimp with kosher salt. Using the same pan and the fat from the pancetta, cook the thawed, peeled shrimp on high heat. Toss the shrimp in the pan and keeping the shrimp moving. Only cook until the shrimp is pink. Overcooked shrimp will become a chewy rubbery texture. Remove from pan and set aside with pancetta.

Wipe down the pan with a damp paper towel. Add coconut oil to same pan and cook the spiralized zucchini. Cook on medium high heat; continually tossing for 3-5 minutes. Keep the zucchini crisp not a soggy texture. Add in the cooked finely chopped spinach to incorporate and warm through. Then add whole grape tomatoes to warm. A couple quick tosses in the pan. 😉

Zucchini "Pasta"

Zucchini “Pasta” made with Spiralizer

Serve the zucchini ‘pasta’ in a bowl with the shrimp broth and top with shrimp, pancetta, celery and leek mixture.

**Tip: When using shellfish, such as lobsters and shrimp in other seafood dishes; reserve shells and place in a freezer bag to use at a later date for an intense flavourful broth. Or a fantastic fish soup.

Zucchini 'Pasta' with Shrimp, Pancetta, Cherry Tomato served on a Goat Cheese Lemon Shrimp Broth

Zucchini ‘Pasta’ with Shrimp, Pancetta, Cherry Tomato served on a Goat Cheese Lemon Shrimp Broth

What is a Spiralizer?

Spiralizing is turning vegetables and fruits into noodles. The spiralizer allows you to transform a healthy, low-calorie, low-carb vegetable into a giant bowl of pasta! It means that within minutes a great dinner is complete with a sauce and protein that won’t break the diet bank.

I purchased my Spiralizer for approx. $14 at Zehrs. It comes with 3 blades.

Spiralizer

Spiralizer

Blade 1 creates a thin ribbon noodle; also great for making potato chips

Blade 2 creates a thicker spaghetti noodle; great for cucumbers

Blade 3 creates the thinness spaghetti noodle; my favourite for zucchini thus far.

The vegetable/fruit that you choose cannot be hollow, seeded or have a tough core. It should be at least 1.5″ in diameter and at least 2″ long. The vegetable/fruit must have a firm, solid flesh (no squishy, juicy fruits or veggies.)

Zucchini ‘Pasta’ vs. Regular Wheat Spaghetti  The nutritional differences between regular spaghetti and a bowl of zucchini ‘pasta’. Spaghetti comes in at a whopping 221 calories and 43 grams per serving, while zucchini ‘pasta’ weigh in at 41.6 calories and 7.6 carbs.

Spelt Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash

Spelt Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash

My dinner options for Wednesday were very slim. I had already used the “egg” option on Tuesday night with Mini Goat Cheese, Bacon and Leek Quiches. I was contemplating the grilled cheese cop-out since I need to be out the door and on the ice for 7pm.

This box of Spelt grains in my cupboard was calling to me for sometime. I have never cooked Spelt or even made a Spelt Risotto. I did know that the grains could be cooked in the same method of risotto.

I had all the ingredients for a risotto and decided to tackle it in the short time frame.

I love cooking Risotto. And I think I have pretty much mastered the process. 😉 Risotto is a great change-up from rice or pasta.

I found that the Spelt grains were much more forgiving than Arborio rice. I could actually walk away from the stove which is something you shouldn’t do. And I used a little more stock than when I cook a regular risotto. I tasted the texture of the spelt  a lot through the last part of the cooking process.

If I had planned better I would have used sage instead of the herbs listed in the recipe below; it tasted fantastic with that combination. It was a hit with the family. And an awesome vegetarian option especially since it is high in protein.

I recently hosted a birthday dinner for my friend Emma. The Menu’s theme for the Dinner Party was Spring even though the weather was NOT. I made an awesome Risotto with Roasted Shrimp, Peas and Edamame.

Birthday Dinner Pictures below:

Appetizer: Marinated Salmon Rollup

Appetizer: Marinated Salmon Roll-up

Appetizer: Brie, Figs and Pear

Appetizer: Brie, Figs and Pear

Asparagus Salad

Asparagus Salad

Risotto with Shrimp, Peas, and Edamame

Risotto with Shrimp, Peas, and Edamame

Dessert: Homemade Lemon Sorbet with Maple Syrup Blueberries

Dessert: Homemade Lemon Sorbet with Maple Syrup Blueberries

Always check out my Instagram @the5oclockrush  to see my daily dinners photos.

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Ricardo’s Maple-Glazed Drumsticks

Today is the last day of March and the weather is not very Spring-like in Ontario. It actually snowed today in southern Ontario. It is hard to believe that Easter is this weekend. There are those key main ingredients when I think of an Easter dinner: Ham, turkey or leg of lamb are the traditional choices.

I was pleasantly surprised when I was approach by Ricardo’s team to review a recipe from the Easter category on my website. The Ricardo’s Cuisine website has an enormous selection of recipes for any occasion and daily dinners, plus the level of difficulty ranges from very quick easy to more elaborate and technical recipes.

Ricardo’s Cuisine has 139 Delicious Easter Dinner & Dessert Recipes which offers many unique choices for a complete Easter dinner. Ricardo’s Cuisine has also made it easy with an Easter Meal Planner that includes Ricardo’s Favorite Easter Menu.

There were so many recipes to choose from the Easter section alone. There are some very Canadian and Québécois recipes such as Daniel Vézina’s Maple Sugar Pie which include lots of maple syrup. ❤  I wanted to attempt the Bell Pepper and Asparagus Tart and the Cream of Asparagus Soup with Parmesan and Poached Eggs. But in this short time frame, and I wanted to choose a recipe that would be Dinner Tonight for the 5 o’clock rush.

I chose to review Maple-Glazed Drumsticks which is a simple non-traditional Easter recipe.

I think the recipe for the Maple-Glazed Drumsticks is very simple and cost-effective for a large Easter gathering or would be great for any occasion such as a potluck or buffet. This recipe could easily be adapted for wings and would be awesome in the heat of summer on the bbq (still on foiled-lined baking tray or disposable foil tray).

I marinated the chicken legs overnight and I basted them twice during the cooking process. The flavour was a great combination of sweet and tangy. The legs were sticky and the kids enjoyed them and asked for seconds. I served the Maple-Glazed Drumsticks with Basmati Rice with mixture of melted butter and coconut oil and sweet corn.

Now I want to tackle the Maple Pull-Apart Bread Recipe because the kids favourite ‘big name grocery store’ maple bread is always out of stock and this would be a great replacement. 😉

Ricardo’s Maple-Glazed Drumsticks Recipe

Prep Time 15 min Cooking Time 45 min Serves 4
Maple-Glazed Drumsticks

My Dinner Plate of Maple-Glazed Drumsticks

Mise En Place

Marinated Chicken Legs

Marinated Chicken Legs

  • 12 chicken drumsticks, with the skin*
  • ½ cup (125 ml) maple syrup
  • ½ cup (125 ml) chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) white wine vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

In a glass dish or in a resealable plastic bag, combine all the ingredients except for the drumsticks. Season with salt and pepper. Add the drumsticks and coat well with the marinade. Cover the dish or seal the bag. Refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours.

Marinated Chicken Drumsticks

Marinated Chicken Drumsticks

With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 200 °C (400 °F). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Drain and reserve the drumsticks marinade for basting. Spread the drumsticks on the baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Brush the drumsticks with the marinade several times during cooking.

Finish cooking under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until the drumsticks are golden brown. Serve with rice or roasted potatoes and a green vegetable.

Ricardo's Maple-Glazed Drumsticks

My Dinner Plate of Ricardo’s Maple-Glazed Drumsticks

*For a deeper flavour, you can, using the tip of a knife or kitchen shears, make three or four incisions lengthwise in each drumstick before marinating.

The 5 o’clock rush has not been compensated by Ricardo Cuisine for writing this post and all opinions shared are my own.

Always check out my Instagram @the5oclockrush  to see my daily dinners photos.

Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

Life has been very busy since the holiday season ended. Of course I’m feeding my family and making daily dinners. I just haven’t had the opportunity to blog the recipes I have been developing. The recipes are on many Post-its in my Recipe Journal. I need to light a fire under my fingertips and get typing.

Over the holidays, my friend and professional photographer, Lana was visiting and she gave me some great DSLR lessons. Since I take all my blog and Instagram pictures in ‘real time’ as I’m cooking my family’s dinner and the end plate is my dinner plate. She helped me with my camera settings, i.e. ISO, f-stop etc. and lighting for my night shoots in my kitchen and at my permanent staging table. What a wonderful difference from the iPhone pictures I was using previously on the blog. The pictures are visually more appealing and more professional. Check out Lana’s Facebook Viva Image Group – Photography and Videography Service

Tonight’s dinner, as with most of the 5 o’clock rush dinners, came to fruition at about 5pm 😉 with what was available in the fridge and freezer. Swedish Meatballs smothered in gravy and served on a spaetzle is very comforting for a late January dinner. And it is very simple to whip up.

If you are a regular reader of the 5 o’clock rush, you will know that I stock pile a LOT of ingredients ahead and save leftover components in the freezer. The kids are disappointed when is no room for ice cream!

The caramelized onions were made ahead from previous recipe. Caramelizing onions are very time-consuming so when I make them I usually double up.

If you have leftover kale from your kale chips or salad, remove stems from cleaned kale and place in a Ziploc freezer bag and it can be chopped to add to soups or sauces

And the balsamic mushroom enhancers are also in the freezer from a previous adventure Flavour Enhancers for Future Recipes ** but with reduced balsamic vinegar for added flavour.

Check out my Instagram @the5oclockrush to see my daily dinners photos.

Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

Makes about 40 Mini Meatballs Serves 4-6
Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

My Dinner Plate Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

Mise En Place

Mise En Place

Mise En Place

  • 1-500g pkge. Bechtle™ spaetzle or egg noodles

Meatballs

  • 1 lb. extra lean ground turkey
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup cooked caramelized onions *
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic mushroom enhancer **
  • ¼ cup frozen kale or spinach, chopped ***
  • 1 tsp. rosemary, stem removed and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper

Gravy

Mise En Place

Mise En Place

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ cup cooked caramelized onions
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 3 tbsp. butter or canola oil
  • 3 cups chicken stock, homemade or terra packed
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic mushroom enhancer
  • 1 tsp. coarse grain Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • green onions, sliced
  • finely chopped rosemary

Garnish

  • fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • olive oil or melted butter
  • sour cream

Place a large pot of heavily salted water on the stove to boil.

In a large bowl, combine extra lean ground turkey, bread crumbs, egg, balsamic mushroom enhancer, kale, and cooked onion; season with salt and pepper. Using a wooden spoon or your ‘gloved’ hands, stir until well combined. Using a small spring-loaded ice cream scoop, fill scoop with mixture and form about 40 meatballs.

Meatball Mixture

Meatball Mixture

Using enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Add meatballs, in batches, and cook until all sides are browned, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

To make the gravy, melt butter in the same cast iron skillet. Add the finely minced garlic and caramelized onions. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Add in the grainy mustard and balsamic mushroom enhancers. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stir in meatballs, rosemary, sliced green onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through and thickened, about 8-10 minutes.

Cook spaetzle according to package instructions.

Drain noodles, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

Serve immediately, garnished with sour cream, if desired.

Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

My Dinner Tonight Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

My actual Dinner Plate of Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle (6:45pm)

* To make a quick version of caramelize onions:

Caramelizing onions is a long slow process to develop the sweet, rich flavours which can take up to 90 minutes to prepare. This is a ‘cheater’ version.

Chop a large onion into a medium to fine dice.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become soft and rich brown colour, about 10-15 minutes. Add a little sugar to speed up the process.

Dinner Tonight-Swedish Meatballs

Dinner Tonight-Swedish Meatballs iPhone photo (6:45pm)

Chicken Stew with Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits

Last night for dinner I made Chicken Stew with Dumplings  Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits.

I decided the last minute to switch from dumplings to biscuits because I felt a little ‘flaky’ instead gooey. LOL! 😉

It was a fake-it, make-it recipe. A well stocked pantry helped out, as I always have Bisquick for that ‘just in case’ moment of a recipe development.

The biscuits turned out awesome especially with a pat of butter! 😀

Over the weekend, we had the pleasure of hanging with our friends and their little bundle of sweetness. My friend Lana is a talented professional photographer. She took a few pictures of me and our dinner of flattened chicken. She said “smile even if I’m just snapping pics of your hands”. Obviously, some pics were taken above MY HANDS! Should have combed my hair and changed my top. Yikes!

I aspire to have great pictures like hers on my blog……ONE DAY.

Always check out my Instagram @the5oclockrush  to see my daily dinners photos. My food pictures are improving. There are ‘real time’ pictures of my dinner plates.

Please check out Lana’s Facebook page Viva Image Group – Photography and Videography Service

Chicken Stew with Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits

Serves 6
Preparation 30 minutes Cooking 60 minutes
Chicken Stew with Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits

Chicken Stew with Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits

Mise En Place

For Chicken Stew:
 Vegetables for Chicken Stew

Vegetables for Chicken Stew

  • 1 package of pancetta pieces *
  • 5 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons PC Roast Chicken Spice **
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (480 ml) chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 stalks of green onions, chopped
  • Optional: 1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas
For Biscuits:
Mise En Place

Mise En Place

  • 3 cups Bisquick
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 4 slices, pre-cooked bacon strips, cut into bite size pieces ***
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or 3/4 teaspoon dried dill weed

To make the Chicken Stew:

In a Dutch oven (or a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid), cook the pancetta until slightly crispy.

* I had Pancetta in my fridge to use up. You can substitute bacon or omit. If you do omit, add oil to pot to saute the vegetables.

Add the celery, carrots, onions, and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate; reserve the pot.

Season the chicken all over with the roasted chicken spice, salt and pepper. In a resealable plastic bag, place the seasoned chicken pieces with flour.

** PC Roast Chicken spice grinder has the typical flavours associated with roast chicken such as sage, marjoram, roasted garlic, thyme etc.

Seal bag and shake until the chicken pieces are evenly coated. Using the drippings and additional oil or butter, brown the chicken, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Add the whole grain Dijon mustard, water and chicken stock.

Add the vegetables and pancetta back to the pot; stir. Cover and place in 350F oven and bake for 60 minutes. (I place the pot on a cookie sheet in case there is spillage and I hate cleaning my oven)

Chicken Stew Ready for Oven

Chicken Stew Ready for Oven

Remove from oven; add the fresh green onions and fresh chopped parsley and dill. Seasoned to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

To make the biscuits:

In a medium bowl, whisk together Bisquick, dill, bacon pieces and cheddar cheese.

*** I always cook the entire package of bacon and IF there is any leftover, I freeze it for future recipes. Or you can use the pre-cooked package bacon. Tip: Use scissors to cut the bacon into small pieces.

With a fork, gradually stir in 1 cup milk to form a moist and soft batter.

Using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop, place a scoop of batter into a greased muffins pan.

If desired, reserved a small amount of bacon and cheddar cheese to sprinkled on top of biscuits.

Bake at 450 for 12 to 15 minutes.

Chicken Stew with Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits

Chicken Stew with Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits

Confession: As you can see from the pictures above, I didn’t follow my own method of preparation. Originally I was planning on using my new smaller crock pot for dinner. I began preparing the chicken for the crock pot by browning it. I quickly determined that the crock pot was too small. Out came my Dutch oven and continue with cooking dinner in 2 pans.

I decided to write the recipe for my readers as if I began the cooking process in my Dutch oven. One pot, less dishes.