01 March 2008

Tales and treats from the stressed redhead...

Just popping in to say hi and let readers know that I’m still alive…just barely. I have been putting in lots of overtime at work and using any spare moments to work on communications and promotions for Ottawa’s upcoming Irish Week. It has been all-consuming to say the least and I’ll be glad when March is over. Wedding aside, this has truly been one of the most hectic periods in my young life. I’m sure we’ve all heard the old adage, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Let’s just say that I’m testing the theory out.

Despite the mad schedule, I do always seem to manage to find the time to slip in a little entertaining. A weekend without family or friends in the house seems like such a waste. I’m far happier when I have a crowd to cook for and a group of people crammed around the dining room table munching happily and enjoying some wine. While I’ve been a homeowner for almost two years now, I still revel in the fact that I can entertain in my own space and finally give something back to the people who have treated me for so many years – it’s a point of pride.

Tomorrow I will be hosting Sunday family supper with my parents, my brother and my future sister-in-law. It has been a while since all six of us have managed to get together, so I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone and cooking a nice meal. Because I want to spend more time enjoying my guests and less time slaving in the kitchen, I’m opting for a handy slow cooker meal. Nothing too racy this time, just a nice mild “Sweet and Sour Chicken Curry,” a garden salad, and some homemade pecan coffee cake. There’s enough flavour to make it interesting, but not overwhelming. Give it a try at your next family dinner; it’s a safe bet.

Sweet & Sour Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
(adapted from Weight Watchers)

1 pound boneless/skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large vidalia onion
14 1/2 oz stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup mango chutney
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp curry powder


  • Place chicken, peppers and onion in slow cooker; top with tomatoes.
  • Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over chicken mixture.
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours.

    Yields approx. 4 servings (11/2 to 2 cups per person)

    Note: Try doubling the recipe for a larger crowd. Feel free to add in extra veggies: carrots, peas, etc. I tend to add more curry powder too. Experiment and make it your own, however the recipe tastes great as is if you’re feeling less daring. Serve over brown basmati rice with some Naan bread or homemade chapati.

    Pecan Coffee Cake
    (altered from All Recipes.com)

    2 cups all purpose flour
    ¼ tsp. salt
    1 Tbsp. baking powder
    1 cup butter, softened
    1 cup sour cream
    1 ½ cups white sugar
    2 eggs
    1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

    1 cup brown sugar
    2 cups chopped pecans
    2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    4 Tbsp. butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease and flour a bundt pan.
  • Sift together flour, salt, baking powder.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sour cream and sugar. Beats in eggs one by one, then stir in vanilla extract. By hand, fold in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Spread half of the batter into prepared pan.
  • To make pecan filling: In a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon. Stir in melted butter and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle over the batter already in the bundt pan. Add reserved half of batter on top of the filling.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes, then turn out onto serving platter.

    Note: Batter will be slightly thicker than regular cake batter. You may have to smooth it out a little in the bundt pan. Once the cake has cooled completely, just before serving, I like to dust the top with some powdered sugar or drizzle with some icing sugar.
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