Recipe review: Penne and zucchini carbonara

Verdict: Delicious

Do again: Definitely

I kind of followed this recipe, but not particularly faithfully. It was really more of a case of taking the basic idea (replace some of the pasta in carbonara with zucchini) and using it in my usual carbonara.

I usually cook 2oz of pasta, so for this I only cooked 1oz and replaced the rest with a large zucchini, sliced into short sticks. I added the zucchini to the pasta pot around 3 minutes before the penne was cooked and used my usual egg/cheese/pepper combo for the carbonara sauce.

One thing that I did change is that I usually use some diced maple cured bacon and for this one, I used a small amount of pancetta. This is not something that I usually use and I was able to get just a tiny bit from the deli. The stuff is a lot saltier than my usual bacon so I didn’t add any more salt to anything. It’s definitely a “little goes a long way” thing as far as flavour is concerned!

I definitely like this option to healthify one of my favourite pasta dishes. The zucchini makes it a bigger, more satisfying portion while reducing calories and increasing the healthy-stuff content. It’s tasty and I’m now wondering what other pasta dishes I could do this with.

Recipe review: slow-cooker chicken tikka masala

Verdict: Amazing!

Do again?: Definitely

I saw this recipe for chicken tikka masala in the slow cooker a couple of weeks ago and immediately knew that I needed to make it. I only eat meat three or four times a week, but for the main part it is beef and pork with chicken only rarely and, when I eat chicken, usually a prepared chicken something from my butcher.

So I know that I should be switching some of my red meat out for chicken or turkey, but I’m not actually that keen on either. It’s usually too dry and tasteless and most recipes start with breast meat, which is my least favourite part of poultry.

This recipe uses boneless skinless chicken thighs, which I hadn’t even known existed before. They are (for me) a much tastier cut and co-incidentally around half the price of breast. The high price of chicken in Canada compared to beef was the other factor putting me off using it more, so it looks like these lovely chicken thighs will be my go-to chicken cut from now on.

The recipe is delicious. You can vary the heat levels (I carefully only pricked my jalapeno lightly so mine was not hot at all), the meat is fall-apart tender and the taste is amazing. It’s also remarkably healthy and low fat!

I ate one portion with rice and put another six me-sized portions into the freezer. I froze it before adding the final couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt just in case the yoghurt didn’t freeze well – I’ll do that final step when I re-heat it. I’m very happy with this recipe and will definitely be repeating it if it freezes well.

Recipe review: cornbread muffins with goats cheese and green onions

Verdict: Om nom gorgeous!

Repeat: Definitely.

I found the recipe for cornbread muffins with goats cheese and green onions a couple of weeks ago and immediately started plotting when I could use it. I’ve also been trying to figure out some things to speed up and jazz up my lunch preparation.

Cooking these muffins to serve with a bowl of spicy bean and lentil soup (my own recipe, I may post it if anyone is interested) seemed like the perfect solution to both dilemmas.

These muffins worked beautifully. I needed to give them the full 20 minutes (I might even give them 22 next time) to get them cooked through and I used yellow cornmeal so they were only just starting to get a hint of darker colour on top when I took them out. The cornbread taste is quite mild so the cheese and onions really stand out. They were a particularly good contrast with the soup, if I may say.

I’ve kept a few in an airtight container so I’ll see how they fare. I’ll probably warm them a little in the microwave when I’m eating them at work during the week. The rest are in the freezer and I’ll see how they defrost and reheat later in the week. Great recipe and the instructions are spot-on. It took me perhaps 10 minutes to mix them up making them a great quick prep item.

Recipe review: rhubard muffins

Verdict: Delicious!

Repeat: Definitely.

Additional notes: see the end of the review for notes on what I would change/had to change.

I had a big weekend of baking and the first thing on my list (because I wanted to eat them for breakfast) was the rhubard streusel muffins from smitten kitchen.

The muffin itself is not very sweet so most of the sweetness comes from the streusel on top. That allows the rhubarb to come through nicely. Mine were quite sweet (for rhubarb) so there wasn’t the kind of mouth-puckering sourness that I’d half expected. The muffin is very moist and I’ll be interested to see how the keep because the areas adjacent to rhubarb chunks were almost wet.

They’re delicious warm and I think that I’ll be warming them in the microwave for a few seconds on future mornings. A number have been packed away in the freezer so I’ll see how those ones fare versus the ones in an airtight box in the cupboard.

It’s worth noting that I needed to cook them for around 25 minutes to get them completely cooked. Also, next time I’d mix together the dry ingredients for the streusel but I wouldn’t pour the butter on and mix it up until the moment before I need it. The stuff clumped into large, hard lumps that needed breaking up because it took me around half an hour to get from making the streusel to folding it in and topping off the muffins.

ETA: Warming in the microwave works very nicely, but a couple of minutes in the toaster oven probably works even better. The micro makes the streusel soften. Heating in the toast oven may be a weekend treat 😀