Dill pickle chicken salad

I made a chicken salad with leftover roasted chicken, but it felt too ordinary so I jazzed it up with dill pickles. Lots of dill pickles.

dill pickle chicken salad

dill pickle chicken salad

Dill pickle chicken salad
All measurements are approximate; adjust to your personal preference.

1 ½ cups shredded roasted chicken
1 rib of celery, diced
1 shallot, diced
4-5 tbsp mayonnaise or low-fat whipped dressing
4-5 tbsp diced dill pickles
salt and pepper to taste

Mix and eat by itself or on a sandwich with toasted bread and some sort of green leaf/butter/whatever lettuce leaves.

Salsa fresca with a twist

It was a beautiful day on Saturday; the sun was shining and the weather was crisp but not freezing. I even opened the windows for a short time to let in some fresh air. If I didn’t know better I would swear that it feels like spring weather is coming soon! (Hard to tell with weather here… a few days ago it snowed, and then promptly melted the next day.)

To go along with the nice weather I made some fresh salsa inspired by a recipe that I was told came straight from a cook in Mexico. I have a doubt about the authenticity of that recipe though, as it includes celery and I’ve never seen a salsa recipe that includes celery. The vegetable does give the salsa a nice crunch. The other thing about this recipe that struck me was the large amount of green in it, as opposed to other salsas which are more about the tomato than the other flavours. It gives the salsa a really fresh taste. For my version of this salsa, I ended up adjusting the quantities of some ingredients and adding seasoning.

Salsa fresca with a twist

Salsa fresca with a twist

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Cod and tomato chowder

Cod and tomato chowder

Cod and tomato chowder

I’m inherently lazy, and soups are just so easy to make that I can’t seem to stop.

This was dinner last night – hearty vegetables and a great flavoured soup made this a healthy and satisfying meal.

This recipe is from Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite cookbook. All the recipes in there look fantastic; my only criticism of it so far is the way the graphic designer laid out the recipes. Each paragraph starts off with a part of the sentence in bold, large and coloured font, and my eye kept skipping over it as if it was a sub-head. It’s easy to miss important instructions that way, like when to add the tomatoes. Took me three times to read the recipe before I realized my missing tomatoes was written in that fancy coloured text.
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Vegetable and bean soup

Vegetable and bean soup

Vegetable and bean soup

In my efforts to eat more vegetables and reduce the amount of daily calories, I took my tortellini soup and changed it up. Took out the tortellini, added more vegetables, and added a can of white kidney beans (cannellini beans).

One of the vegetables I added was a bunch of roughly chopped kale. This is the first time I have ever eaten kale, and it worked wonderfully in the soup. The leaves are quite tough, so the first servings of soup had some still crunchy kale in it. The kale softened in subsequent servings of the soup the next day. If I had used spinach on the other hand, it would have been overcooked and wilted if left in the soup, and I would have had to add fresh spinach every time I ate a bowl of the soup.

The beans added some protein and, together with a piece of whole grain toast, made the soup into a healthy meal with few calories.

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Cheese tortellini and vegetable soup

When I first made this dish, I used an Internet recipe that I cannot find anymore despite a thorough search through bookmarks, e-mails, print-outs and Google. While there are many tortellini soup recipes on the Internet, none that I read seemed quite right. I wanted something simple but hearty. And something that didn’t require sausage. For some reason, 70% of the Internet recipies I’ve found include Italian sausage! So when I needed to make this dish again, I used my very flimsy memory and flavour preferences, and made up my own version.

Cheese tortellini and vegetable soup

Cheese tortellini and vegetable soup

Cheese tortellini and vegetable soup

Makes approximately 6-8 servings.

Ingredients
Olive oil
One chopped medium onion
5-8 diced or pressed cloves of garlic
One to two cups chopped celery, including leaves (I find the leaves are a nice substitute for parsley.)
One to two cups chopped carrots
One can diced or crushed tomatoes (796 mL/28 oz)
900 mL/32 oz/4 cups of broth (I used two cartons of low-sodium beef broth but you could use chicken or vegetable broth. And you can use homemade stock of course, but I don’t bother because if I make fresh stock/broth, I’m drinking it as soup right then and there. I don’t necessarily agree that sticking water in with some vegetables for a few minutes will make a better stock than one with flavour already included.)
One package of fresh cheese tortellini (350 g)
Italian seasoning, fresh ground black pepper, and salt to taste

Directions
Heat olive oil in a large stock pot and fry your garlic and onions until the onions start to turn translucent but do not let the garlic burn.

Add your celery, carrots, tomatoes, and soup stock. Add the spices. Let simmer until the vegetables are tender enough for your taste. I would recommend not letting it cook until the vegetables are very soft, as a slight bit of crunch is nice to have when eating the soup.

Add the tortellini and cook until the tortellini float to the top, and add additional spices if needed.

The tortellini will soak up a lot of soup, so you may need to add more stock if you are serving leftovers of this dish the next day. Another option is to cook only part of the tortellini package, and cook the remainder when you heat up the soup leftovers.

Variations: Add chopped parsley to the soup. Add other vegetables like spinach. Top soup with some freshly shredded Parmesan or similar cheese. Try using different tortellini like tri-coloured or herbed pasta.