The culinary adventures of a 20-something woman navigating the wonderful world of food!

The culinary adventures of a 20-something year old woman navigating the wonderful world of food!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuna Cakes with Spinach Salad

I'm a huge fan of tuna, but the husband despises it. He once ordered a tuna pizza in Portugal by mistake, and has since been turned off the fish forever. So if I'm feeling like making something with tuna, its usually for lunch.

These tuna cakes are a perfect light lunch when served with a nice salad and are a refreshing change from a plain sandwich. I adapted the recipe from Kraft after making them once previously and having a few logistical issues (such as the cakes falling apart in the pan).

I highly recommend chilling them in the fridge overnight, or at least for 1 hour after forming them into balls or cakes to make sure they don't fall apart. Also make sure that you spray the pan with non-stick spray well, or consider adding some butter or olive oil to ensure they don't stick.


2 cans (170 g each) tuna, drained, flaked
1 pkg. (120 g) Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken
3/4 cup Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
1/2 cup carrot, shredded
3/4 cup water
4 green onions or 1 small white onion, chopped
1/3 cup Miracle Whip light Dressing
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp dill weed or 1 tsp sweet relish
fresh ground pepper

1. Combine all ingredients well.
2. Form into balls/patties (this recipe makes 8-10 cakes) and place in fridge for at least one hour, preferably overnight.
3. Spray non-stick skillet with Pam and heat to medium.
4. Cook patties for 3-4 minutes per side, until browned and warmed throughout. If you have trouble flipping them without breaking, add some oil or butter to skillet.
5. Serve with salad & enjoy.

Nutritional Information:
Per Serving: (2 cakes) About 280 calories or 6 weight watchers points when made with light mayo and cheese.

Source: Adapted from Kraft Canada

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pork Carnitas with Mexican Rice & Pico de Gallo

         Ever since the husband and I returned from a trip to Mexico he has been begging for Mexican food. I have abstained from making it for fear of producing something completely inedible. And then I met someone in town whose husband is Mexican. She assured me that I could most definitely make an authentic Mexican meal. Rejoice!! I choice Valentines Day to make the sought-after meal.
            I decided to make pork carnitas, which is a fancy way of saying Mexican pork, black bean & corn salad, rice and fresh pico de gallo.  I served the pork with tortillas and all the toppings. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous meal. 
         Did I mention it was fabulous? Next time I'm going to make homemade tortillas!!

Pork Carnitas:
2-3lbs pork shoulder or butt chop, cut into chunks, trimmed of fat
2 tbsp chipotle seasoning
1 tsp cinnamon
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1/3 cup pineapple juice or beef broth

1. Rub pork well with chipotle & cinnamon.
2. Place in slow cooker with garlic, broth, and onion.
3. Cook over low heat for 8 hours. 
4. Preheat oven to 400F 
5. Pull apart pork (should be very tender).
6. Transfer pork into roasting pan and cook for 15 minutes to crisp (optional).
7. Serve with warm tortillas, fresh pico de gallo, cheese, lime & avocado.

Pico de Gallo:
2 large roma (plum) tomatos, seeded & diced
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & finely diced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 sprigs green onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
juice of 2 limes, plus 1/2 tsp zest
1/4 tsp salt

1. Combine well in a medium bowl. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. Keeps 4-5 days in refrigerator.
Note: cilantro and lime are a MUST - no substitutions!
For a spicier jalapeno, roll the pepper before dicing. Remember not to touch your eye!!!

Mexican Rice: (adapted from What's Cooking, Chicago?)

1 (15-oz.) can diced or whole tomatoes (preferably with no salt) OR 3 fresh tomatoes, diced

1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced + 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken broth

1 cup water

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups brown rice
1 green pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, diced

1 tbsp fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In food processor, combine tomatoes with onion and first 2 cloves of garlic. It will be closer to a liquid consistency. Set aside.
3. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add raw rice to hot oil and stir regularly for 4-5 minutes. Add green pepper, remaining garlic, jalapeno and cook for another few minutes. Add a little bit of extra oil if rice starts to burn (its ok to brown)
4. Add in tomato mixture, chicken broth and water and bring to a boil. Transfer to a casserole dish and bake in oven for approx 45 minutes, checking 1-2x to make sure there is enough liquid.
5. Gently fluff the rice with a fork when done. Add fresh cilantro.

Note: this would also taste fabulous with black beans. 

Black Bean & Corn Salad:


  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup canned corn (no salt) drained 
  • 1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • Directions:
  1. Place lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small jar. Cover with lid, and shake until ingredients are well mixed.
  2. In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Shake lime dressing, and pour it over the salad. Stir salad to coat vegetables and beans with dressing, and serve. Keeps up to 48 hours in refrigerator.

Source: Adapted from ""Black Bean and Corn Salad II"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

       I was recently asked to bring an appetizer to a cocktail party and wanted to make something new. At our wedding reception, we had bacon-wrapped scallops that were fabulous. Since I wasn't sure how many people liked scallops, I thought that I would try bacon-wrapped water chestnuts.
      They were easy (although a bit time-consuming) and were a huge hit. You can easily make them a day or two in advance and keep in the fridge until it is time to heat them up. I recommend making a double batch of sauce and to have a dish of the deliciousness available to dip on the side.

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans water chestnuts
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup chili sauce
  • 1 tbsp ketchup

  • Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cut each strip of bacon in half or in thirds (you will figure it out)
  3. Wrap one strip around one water chestnut. Secure with a wooden toothpick. Place in shallow baking dish.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 minutes. D
  5. While the wraps are baking, in a small mixing bowl combine brown sugar, mayonnaise, ketchup and chili sauce to make barbecue sauce. After the wraps have finished baking, transfer them (removing them from the grease) to a second shallow baking dish. Pour the sauce over the wraps.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 to 15 additional minutes, or until bacon is crispy. Serve hot out of dish with toothpicks.

Note: If you would like to make a less-spicy version, use 1/3 cup ketchup and 1 tbsp of chili sauce instead.