Manicotti

Manicotti

Manicotti!! One of the most delicious Italian/Vegetarian meals ever!! In my humble opinion…. Similar to cannelloni, but instead of filling the pasta noodles with minced beef, Manicotti’s are made with just ricotta cheese and spinach. This makes them really simple to make, yet elegant, delicious and a full hardy authentic Italian meal!! The key to a good manicotti is fresh and flavourful marinara sauce. I am just going to go ahead and reference my Basic Marinara sauce recipe to go with this meal. Make this ahead of time with love and care! The more time it has to marinate (hence marinara ;)) the better it will be.

Italian DinnerI made this fabulous Italian feast for a very special friend’s wedding celebration! I really did want everything to be simply perfect for this exceptional occasion. We had 7 lovely girls for dinner, and I thought choosing Italian would be a safe feast everyone can enjoy. Having a vegetarian option was also important, but that just came naturally as I chose the menu. Flat bread home made pizzas, with marinara and basil, Caprese salad with beautiful garden tomatoes, fresh basil and bocconcini cheese (recipe also found on my site here!), manicotti, then homemade gnocchi with pesto. I must say everything was fabulous and so easy to prepare ahead for a larger group.

I bought my fresh pasta at our local Italian store “Lucianos”, when I am going to the effort to make any authentic meal and especially for guests getting the best ingredients is very important. There is no way I am serving those pre-rolled, hard pasta noodles in the box, quality ingredients make all the difference! Therefore, fresh pasta was key. I asked Mr Luciano himself how he would cook these, he was very helpful and straight to the point in an Italian manner. Buy 6 sheets of pasta, cut them in 3, boil each with salt just 3-5 minutes, then run them under cold water right away, this will prevent them from sticking. I did exactly what he said and they turned outĀ famously!

You will notice there are not too many ingredients for this meal, which makes it so simple and doable!! Hope you enjoy šŸ™‚

Makes 18 rolls

manicottiIngredients

6 sheets of fresh pasta (to be cut into 3)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 containers of ricotta cheese

1 large bunch of spinach

2 eggs

salt and pepper

chopped up basil to garnish

about 4 cups of homemade marinara

manicottiMethod

Preheat oven to Ā°400.

Once the marinara is ready and has been marinating awhile, then you can start the pasta and filling. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, then add the ricotta, chopped up spinach, half of the parmesan and salt and pepper. Set aside.

Now for the pasta noodles. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil, add a pinch of salt. Once boiling gently place in the pasta only about 4 at a time, don’t over crowd the noodles. Once 3-5 minutes is up and they are floating around, bring them to a colander and run cold water over them, set aside on a clean towel. Repeat until all 18 are done.

 

manicottiPour about 1 cup of the marinara in the bottom of a large baking dish (I had to use 1 large one small). Then simply put about 2 tablespoons of the filling into the middle of the pasta, roll up, and place them in the baking dish seam side down. Repeat till finish, then pour the rest of the marinara on top. Sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan – some people will add a bunch of mozzarella on top, you certainly can but I really don’t think it’s necessary, remember K I S S!

 

manicottiPlace the baking dishes in the oven for about 40 minutes or until bubbly, once done let them cool before serving. Top with fresh basil and boun appetito!

Asian Shrimp and Spinach Stir Fry

asianshrimpHello my fellow readers!! It has been a while since I posted something delicious, my time has been consumed with summer, but also a new secret endeavor I am pursuing. Relating to my passion for health, food and nutrition! I’ve had a couple people ask me lately, how’s the blog going? And I was sad that I was letting it go a bit, so here I am back on! It may be less often, but I want to keep it going to keep adding to my personal recipe inventory, I love to share to whoever reads!

This recipe is so healthy and delicious, you can never go wrong with a stir fry, especially the way I make them šŸ˜‰ wink wink. I always keep my Asian ingredients the same when I make a stir fry but the veggies and protein are always changing depending on what I have in the fridge. This time I had lots of spinach, onions, mushrooms, edamame’s and shrimp in the freezer!

For the Asian ingredients I like to always keep on hand ginger is #1! Not the powder… it really doesn’t have the same potency, the fresh root! Something I like to do with ginger is freeze it, but not as a whole, because then it’s tricky to cut, so instead I roughly peel it and cut it into a bunch of chunks, throw it in a container and leave it the freezer for things like lemon ginger tea, stir fry, or any Indian dish. The next important Asian ingredient is soy sauce, one’s that are low in sodium and organic I appreciate. Rice vinegar, if you don’t have that white wine, or regular will do the trick. Now something sweet, you could use anything, brown sugar, honey or agave are my preferences, but maple syrup and white sugar are options. Sriracha for spice! Or dried chili flakes and you are set for any Asian type meal you make.

Here we go, my gourmet weeknight Asian meal made in 30 minutes or less!

Makes 3-4 servings

Ingredients

2 tbsp of sesame oil (or olive)

About 15 shrimp, peeled and de-veined

1 large bunch of spinach (spinach gets so small when cooked so don’t be shy!)

About 3 cups of mushrooms sliced (same with mushrooms! They get so small so fast)

1 green bell pepper diced

1 white or red onion chopped into chunks

sesame seeds

3 garlic cloves

1 cup of edamame

1 cup of uncooked rice

Cilantro and or green onion for garnish

For the sauce

1 tbsp of minced ginger

1 tbsp Srircha (depending on your spiciness liking)

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp of brown sugar

half a lime juice (keep the other half for serving)

1 tbsp of corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp of water first

Method

First things first, start the rice. You know how to make rice right? rinse 1 cup of basmati rice under water until it runs clear to minimize that starch. Then 2 cups of water, bring to boil until fluffy.

Prepare all your veggies, peel your shrimp, chop the veggies, if you have baby spinach like I did you probably don’t need to chop it. But if you have bigger spinach I would give it a quick chunky chop. Dice the garlic, mince the ginger, chop the cilantro.Ā asianshrimpfry

Pour the oil in a hot stir fry pan, add the garlic, onions and shrimp. Cook the shrimp until they are pink and no more – if you don’t want them to be chewy take them out and set them aside while you finish the rest. Add the mushrooms, green pepper, and edamame. I love getting frozen edamame’s, with frozen food you can guarantee it’s freshness plus it’s just easy and lasts! While the mushrooms are cooking and getting smaller make your sauce. In a small bowl add all the sauce ingredients and whisk.

Add the spinach, the sauce and throw the shrimp back in to warm up. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and toss in half of the cilantro/green onion you chopped up.

AsianShrimp3

That’s it! Serve over rice and enjoy. A little fancy trick I did with my rice if you are having guests…. put the rice in a ramekin, then flip it over on your plate to make it a perfect cylinder. Garnish with more cilantro and a lime wedge.Ā asianshrimp2

Spanish Rice with Black Beans

Spanish Rice CookerYou can’t go wrong with a side dish like Spanish Rice with Black Beans, it’s hardy, healthy, tasty and really spruces up plain ol’ rice.

I actually had every intention of making plain rice, but then I kept seeing things in my fridge I wanted to use up and I kept adding to the rice and all of a sudden it turned into Spanish rice. Which was a much better idea anyway.

I made all this in the rice cooker, that’s right, you can add more to a rice cooker than just rice. Don’t be scared of experimenting with a rice cooker! I like to make quinoa in it, veggies, sometimes I use it like a slow cooker, depending on what I am slow cooking. Start with your rice and water, 1 cup water 1/2 cup rice, add your oil or butter then let it cook for a few minutes. Then you can start adding your extra ingredients and your done!

My dad has a tendency to watch a lot of cooking shows, if it’s not golf, it’s cooking shows. This is something he became more interested in in his retired life. My mom always says we have too many chefs in the house now! Everyone giving their opinions, haha. Anyway, my dad got me on always rinsing your rice and quinoa first before cooking. I usually just listen to my dad’s advice without question or reason, I figure in his X amount of years of life he knows a thing or two. I started rinsing my rice and quinoa and I actually notice a difference. First off, as you rinse it you can see the natural coating/bubbles/starch fall into the sink. When you rinse off the starch on rice it takes away the sticky, thicker gluey texture and makes the rice more fluffy and light. You can also taste the difference, or not taste the soapy, grainy, starchy flavour that gets rinsed away. So I just wanted to pass on that tip from my dad, give it a shot and see if you notice a difference!

Makes 3-4 side dishes

Ingredients

1 cup water

1/2 cup whole wheat or white rice

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 green bell pepper chopped

1/2 red onion

1/2 can or about 3/4 cup of tomato puree or sauce

1/2 cup of pre cooked black beans (or about half a can)

1 tsp chill powder

1 tsp cumin powder

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 lime juice

1 bunch of chopped cilantro

Method

Pour into the rice cooker 1/2 cup of rinsed rice, 1 cup of water and 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Let the rice cooker do it’s thing for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile prepare your veggies, chop the pepper, red onion and cilantro.

On a small pan on medium high heat, pour in the rest of the olive oil, pepper and red onion. Add the cumin and chili powder and cook until onions are soft.

Pour into the rice cooker the tomato puree and pan cooked veggies, making sure to scrape in all the spices and give it a stir. Let sit another 5 minutes or until slow cooker goes to warm. Then add the beans, salt pepper, lime juice and half the bunch of cilantro (leave the rest for garnish). Be careful when stirring not to mush the beans!

Let everyone get nice and warm and serve!Ā Spanish Rice

 

Garden Salad with Poached Egg

Garden Salad

This year I proudly joined the CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture. How it works, isĀ the CSA members pay the farmer a one time fee before crops are grown in orderĀ to help the farmers pay for all their initial costs involved in growing crops. Then throughout the season they deliver family shares or single shares of produce to a community pickup area weekly. This reduces the waste involved in blindly growing crops for an undetermined number of people! This is an excellent opportunity to not only receive freshlyĀ picked farm-raised food, but to support local farms, the community and the environment.

As you can tell I am quite excited about this, every week is a new surprise and I was thrilled with my first pickup which was a couple weeks ago now. I meant to post about this sooner but was having technical difficulties with my site. Now I am up and running and wanted to share what I made with just my first pickup from the CSA program. Even though this package was a little smaller than what is to come, since it is the beginning of the season, they did make up for that by giving us a dozen free-run eggs and organic honey.

CSA

I always like to challenge myself by working with what I have and using up everything in the fridge. In this case I didn’t have much in the fridge and the farmers share was a great excuse to see what I could make from it. I got a beautiful assortment of green lettuce,Ā colourful carrots, fresh strawberries, eggs, honey and garlic scapes. Not sure what garlic scapes are? I didn’t know at first so I gave my mom a quick call šŸ™‚ They are the flower part of a garlic bulb and they usually are out earlier in theĀ season. They are then cut off the garlic to help it grow – so they need to be used up too! They taste like garlic but not as intense and a little sweeter. Sort of like a mixture of a green onion and garlic andĀ can be used anyway you would use either of those.

I used them to make the dressing in this salad, blended it with olive oil, lemon, and garlic scapes, with honey! Then simply roasted my carrots on the side, poached my eggs, drizzled on the dressing et voila! Simple, healthy, nutritious and delicious!

Here’s the recipe, I hope you enjoy šŸ™‚

Serves one

Ingredients

2 eggs

1 bunch of green lettuce

about 5 carrots

about 10 strawberries

sprig of thyme

1 tbsp of white vinegar (for the poach egg water)

salt and pepper

For the dressing

2 garlic scapes

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp of honey

Method

Heat oven to 475Ā°

For the dressing, in a small blender, blend the garlic scapes, then add the olive oil, honey and lemon juice.

Prepare your produce, rinse and rip apart your lettuce. Cut the strawberries in half and drizzle the carrots with half of the dressing.

Spread the carrots out on a baking dish, sprinkle with salt, pepper and a sprig of thyme and roast them in the oven for about 30-45 minutes.Ā Carrots

Time to poach some eggs! Bring a shallow pot of water to almost a boil, more like an aggressive simmer, thenĀ add about a tablespoon of white vinegar to it. This helps keep the egg whites all together.

Gently crack 2 eggs into the water. Be sure to get your timing right by roasting theĀ carrots 30 minutes already before you start your eggs, these won’t take long.

Cook the eggs until they are white all over, about 3-4 minutes, then gently take them out with a slotted spoon. I like to place them on paper towel when I am putting them on a salad to soak up any excess water.Ā Poached Egg Salad

When slicing into the egg they should be perfectly cooked and hard all around, then runny in the middle. This is something that takes practice! One thing I notice about free run eggs verses eggs by the volume in a grocery store is the yellow yolk. Largely produced eggs, with the chickens in their small spaces I don’t even want to think about, have a much paler yolk because they lack the nutrients free run chickens have. This honestly makes an egg so much better and how it should be!

Once everything is ready assemble it all together! I like to toss my dressing on the lettuce well before I put it on the plate, then add the eggs, strawberries, your carrots on the side and the extra garlic scape was purely for decoration :).

 

Healthy Blueberry Crisp

Blueberry_CrispThis Healthy Blueberry Crisp is made with oatmeal, almonds, blueberries, coconut oil, and agave nectar. I was craving a late night snack last night, while wanting something healthy, but sweet and satisfying. Sometimes when I am ambitious I will whip up some late night muffins or cookies, but I didn’t even have eggs and I am not a huge fan of the vegan substitute for eggs, I have done it before and I just don’t think it’s the same.

Working with what I had – lots of frozen blueberries, oatmeal and almonds, this crisp was the perfect idea! It was very quick to make and required minimal ingredients which made it an attractive dessert. Usually crisps would be made with butter to help keep it together and something sweet like brown sugar, but to make this a little healthier I opted for coconut oil to replace the butter and agave nectar for the sugar. If you don’t have agave nectar you could use maple syrup or honey, both great natural options.Crisp

This recipe can easily be adjusted, I had frozen blueberries but fresh berries, or other types like strawberries, black berries, raspberries, even a medley would all be delicious options. I am not much of a baker because I have troubles following recipes exactly, which is why this is the perfect recipe for the non-baker. No flour, baking power, and baking soda to fuss over, and if you added a little bit more or less of an ingredient it won’t ruin the dish – that’s my kind of baking!

The Healthy Blueberry Crisp is a must try, so simple, crunchy, delicious and packed with antioxidants from the blueberries, vitamins and good fats from the almonds, and fiber from the oats. A healthy crisp like this one could easily be served warm, or cold, for breakfast or for dessert. Enjoy!!

Ingredients

1 cup steel-cut oats

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups of frozen blueberries

1/3 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup chopped crummy almonds

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

Method

Heat oven to Ā°350

In a large bowl mix together the oats, agave, coconut oil, salt and almonds. For the almonds slice the first 1/4 with a chopping knife, and with the second 1/4 blend in a chopping machine so it turns into large crumbs.Ā Oatmeal Crisp

In a rectangle baking dish, no need to oil the dish, add the blueberries, the lemon juice and zest. Add the oatmeal mixture on top, et voila! Heat in the oven for 40 minutes until you see the blueberries bubbling.Blueberry_Crisp

Once it’s ready, take it out and let it cool 10 minutes. Serve with ice cream or Greek yogurt!

Vietnamese Vermicelli Noodle Bowl

Vermicelli Noodle Bowl Ā A light and refreshing salad bowl, this is one of my favourite dishes! When everyone talks about going to Pho restaurants and ordering a giant bowl a soup, I don’t really understand when there is the Vermicelli Noodle Bowl on the menu. Next time you go out for Pho, you have to give this dish a try, either that or simply make it at home! The Vermicelli Noodle Bowl is healthy, nutritious, light, and extremely flavouful with your classic Vietnamese sauces and julienne veggies.

Made with vermicelli noodles, julienne carrots, cucumbers, beets, bean sprouts, cilantro, lime, bok choy, and a perfectly balanced sauce, if you haven’t hadĀ a dish like this, it’s time. There are lots of variations that can be made to thisĀ Vietnamese creation, a lot of times it will be served with a marinated pork like you would see in the Pho soups. In this case I decided to go vegetarian because I had all the veggies to put in it and I didn’t have pork. Also, you could use any type of lettuce, I actually haven’t seen a restaurant put bok choy in this dish, or beets for that matter, that was my idea, but to me it made the most sense. Otherwise if you don’t have bok choy, you can do shredded green lettuce, or boston lettuce to cover the bottom of the plate.

Finally for the sauce, a perfect blend of sweet, salty and sour with fish sauce, chili paste, rice vinegar, and a tsp of sugar. Serve this dish cold, top with some Hoisin sauce, Sriracha and your laughing! Enjoy šŸ™‚

Ingredients

1/2 package vermicelli noodles

1 beet, peeled and grated

1 cucumber julienned

1 carrot julienned

1 green onion chopped

1 lime

2 baby bok choys

1 bunch chopped cilantro

1 handful bean sprouts

1 tbsp of sesame oil (for the bok choy)

salt and pepper

For the sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup fish sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp chili paste (Sriracha does the trick)

1 limes juice

1 clove garlic chopped

Method

Start by prepping your vermicelli noodles, bring a large pot of water to a boil then add the noodles. Cook just until soften about 5-10 min, not any longer or they will get mushy. Strain the noodles while running them under cold water to stop them from cooking and set aside.

Next, heat a pan to medium high and add the sesame oil, separated bok choy leaves and salt and pepper. Stir fry just 10 minutes so the bok choy is still crunchy, but the green ends are soft and flavourful.Ā Bok Choy

Prepare all your veggies, Julienne the carrots, cucumbers and grate the beets. I have used cooked and uncooked beets, both are delicious. Cooked will probably turn your noodles pink like my dish, but that’s ok too! Chop the green onions, cilantro and garlic and set aside.

Vermicelli Noodles

Now to mix the sauce. In a medium size bowl whisk together the vinegar, fish sauce (don’t have fish sauce? use soy sauce) sugar, lime juice, chili paste and garlic.Ā Vietnamese Dish

Now I mixed the sauce in my veggie medley and noodle bowl to incorporate all the flavours evenly. Now for the fun part, assembly! Place the bok choy at the bottom, bean sprouts, then the vermicelli veggie medley on top. Squeeze some more lime juice and garnish with cilantro and optional crushed peanuts or cashews to add a crunch.

Vermicelli Noodle Bowl

How to Make Paneer

Paneer
Paneer is a fresh cheese found in some favourite Indian dishes such as Saag Paneer or Ā Paneer Tikka Masala. It is a soft creamy cheese that doesn’t melt in high temperatures which makes it handy and delicious for these type of meals.

I love Indian food in general, but Indian food with paneer is always a treat. The way the paneer has that nice chew to it, can easily replace meat, while cutting and mellowing out the strong spices, it’s really a must have cheese in your Indian dishes. It’s not so easy to come across in these neck of the woods, I have checked cheese sections in grocery stores, even the frozen aisle and I can never find it. One time I went to China town where they have Asian/Indian stores and I did find some frozen paneer there. ItĀ were decent, but there is really no comparison to fresh. When in doubt I use tofu, which has a similar texture and shape, but it’s missing that creamy aspect.Paneer

Finally enough was enough! I’ve heard from my sister in laws father, who is from India and is a fabulous cook, that it is actually quite simple to make at home. He explained the method of bringing milk to a boil and adding something acidic, either lemon juice or vinegar till the milk curds and separates from the whey. From there it’s just a matter of straining it with a cheese cloth and letting it sit in the fridge till firm and ready. There is no trick to this! After making it last night it felt pretty fool proof, I wondered why I don’t do this all the time – well the reason for that is it takes 4 cups of milk to make justĀ 2 cups of paneer – which is OK, But it just takes a lot of milk is all. If I were to make this for a crowd I would double the recipe and use 8 cups of milk, to get a good amount of paneer.

About that cheese cloth….. I actually didn’t have any, I wish I did but I didn’t and wasn’t going to go out to buy any. My suggestions are a thinner cloth – specifically I ended up using a wipey I had from my first class train experience I had kept. They are lemon flavoured, and have the perfect thin, yet clothy texture similar to a cheese cloth. So I took it out of it’s package, rinsed it out well, and lined a colander with it. It worked perfectly if I do say so myself, not that you at home would necessarily have squirreled away these train souvenirs..haha šŸ˜ But anyway, there is also of course, cheese cloth šŸ™‚

Cheesecloth

 

Makes about 2 cups of paneer

Ingredients

4 cups of whole milk

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cheese cloth

Method

Bring 4 cups of whole milk (1% or 2%) to a boil in a non-stick pot. Watch it carefully, and stir occasionally so it doesn’t over flow, or burn.Milk Once at a boil turn down the heat and add the lemon juice, you should see it separate right away. This won’t take long, stir in one direction to try to keep the curds together rather than stirring them apart.

curd

Now strain the milk in the cheesecloth/colander.

Paneer

Gather the edges into a ball and run it under cold water to rinse out the lemon flavour and also to cool it down for when you ring it out. Once it’s at good temperature to touch, really squeeze out the cloth for about 5 minutes at the sink.

Paneer

Now place the ball on a plate with the twisted side down to get a nice round shape, place another plate on top with something heavy to press it down. I used my coffee press, no pun intended šŸ˜‰ Coffee_PressPut inĀ the fridge for only about 20 minutes, the longer youĀ leave it the firmer it will get which is fine, just depends when you need it for. I had time to whip up my Palak PaneerĀ , then take out the cheese, cut it up and throw it in at the end.Ā Palak_Paneer

Huevos Rancheros and Refried Black Beans

Huevos_RancherosFeliz Cinco De Mayo! When the Mexican army prevailed over the French in 1862 – or in other words, when us non Mexican’s make it a thing Ā to eat Mexican food! Both great reasons to celebrate, because Mexican food is some of the most delicious, well liked food in the world – wouldn’t you agree? I mean, wrapping anything in a tortilla, with spicy flavourfulĀ sauces automatically makes food delicious and they have been doing it since the beginning of time.

There are so many Mexican dishes I was thinking of making in preparation for this post. I was trying to be more authentic with a dish suggested by my friend called Cochinita Pibil, which is similar to a pulled pork, but marinated and cooked with citrus orange flavours, topped with pickled red onions, wrapped in a tortilla. This seriously will be a delicious dish when I make it, but I just didn’t have pork in my freezer, and I was trying to use what I already had in my fridge.

I had recently made Mexican SaladĀ and I already haveĀ Enchilada’sĀ and aĀ Salsa VerdeĀ post. So in the end I went with a classic, simple Mexican breakfast – Huevos Rancheros! Since this was my last night dinner, I wanted more than just that, so I added refried black beans to the side to make it more filling and hardy.

Hope you enjoy this breakfast (which could be a dinner!) as much as I did last night šŸ™‚

Huevos Rancheros

Serves 2

Ingredients

For the RefriedĀ Black BeansĀ 

1 can, or about 1 1/2 cup black beans

1/2 yellow onion diced

1 clove of garlic diced

2 tbsp oil (olive, canola, or coconut)

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 cup water, or more as needed

For the Huevos RancherosĀ 

3-4 eggs as you would like

1 can diced tomatoes

1/2 yellow onion diced

2 cloves garlic diced

1 tsp diced jalapeƱo

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili flakes

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp brown sugar

salt and pepper

jalapeƱo_onion_garlic

Method

Start with the refried beans because they will take some time to simmer. Prepare your beans, if you have dried ones, either soak for 12 hours, or boil for 2, as the package reads. If you have canned, drain and rinse. Chop your onion and garlic (leaving enough for the Huevos Rancheros).

Refried Black Beans

Heat a medium sized pot on the stove and add the oil, onion, garlic and spices. Cook till the onion is soft, about 5 minutes, add the beans and the water so it just covers the beans. Put the lid on, turn the heat to low and let sit about an hour stirring occasionally.

Refried Blackbeans

While the refried black beans are simmering, prepare for the Huevos Rancheros. I used a cast iron pan, something I could put in the oven, but if you don’t have that option, choose a wide pan with deep edges and a lid.

Preheat the oven to 400Ā° if you are using the cast iron pan.

Your onions and garlic should already be chopped for you, if you were thinking ahead from the refried black beans. Chop your jalapeƱo, if you don’t like it too spicy, just add a bit, if you like it real spicy, add more!

Add oil to the pan on medium high heat. Once hot, add the onions, spices and jalapeƱo. When it comes to cast iron pans, I like to wait on the garlic so it doesn’t burn. Cook the onions until they are brown, once they are brown you can add the garlic.

Onions_JalapeƱo_Garlic

Pour in the can of tomatoes, tsp of sugar, and salt and pepper. Let this sit for about 20 minutes so the sauce thickens. Meanwhile check on your beans. They should be really soft now, and the water should be gone. If it looks very dry don’t be shy to add more water, the beans will soak it up quickly. Now mash the beans with a fork, or potato masher and they are done – keep them warm with the lid on.

Once the tomato sauce is nicely reduced, make little holes for the eggs, crack them in quickly – so they cook at the same time and either throw the pan in the oven for 7 minutes or put a lid on for 3-5 minutes.

That’s it that’s all! The eggs should be runny and delicious, serve on a plate with cilantro, cheese or avocados. Usually these would be put in a corn tortilla, but I skipped that step since I thought they were great on their own.

Caribbean Stir Fry on Hummus

Caribbean Stir Fry

You might be wondering what a Caribbean Stir Fry is, or who puts a Stir Fry on Hummus? I had no idea either until I created the “Caribbean Stir Fry on Hummus” last night and the results were ah-mazing! I wasn’t quiet sure my thought process on this one, but as usual I was trying to think of what I had in my fridge that I needed to use up. I always cook in the order of what would go bad first in my fridge and what would last longer, to ensure I use food up and never let anything go bad!avocado salsa

In this case I had left over slow cooked pork from the Mexican Salad I made on the weekend, along with corn on the cob, half a red pepper, zucchini and avocado. Then I was thinking about what could be put with this meal to make it a little heavier, while still being healthy. Rice comes to mind – boring! Quinoa, couscous, all would be good but then I thought – chickpeas, or even better lets mash them into hummus so they soak in the flavour of everything else. Brilliant! If I do say so myself… Why don’t we use hummus more incorporated in our meals? Such a versatile mash, dipping pitas and veggies in it gets a little old

Hummus

Finally, I wanted to add a cold salsa on top of all this, using up my avocado and tomatoes along with the fresh cilantro I had. So yes, this Caribbean Stir Fry does have a couple steps, the hummus, the stir fry then the salsa – but all very quick and easy and the end result is worth the effort. If you wanted to make this meal even more simple, you could buy the hummus and same with the salsa, but in my case that would defeat the purpose of using up my avocado!

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Mexican Salad

Toss it up with this healthy and hearty Mexican Salad. All your favourite ingredients into one salad, no dressing is required and can easily be made into a vegetarian meal. I’ve made this salad many times before when I am in a crunch and not sure what to make. This Mexican Salad has ingredients that you would usually have in your fridge, and it comes out delicious everytime.

I had 3 special ladies join me for dinner this Saturday, my mom and my two aunts, right before we went to go see Dirty Dancing the musical! Needless to say it was a great night, a little cheesy, but lots of laughs! One of my aunts is mostly vegetarian, so I wanted to give her the option to have a vegetarian meal. This Mexican Salad was perfect for that, it was loaded with veggies, good fats from the avocados, protein from the plain yogurt and black beans and tonnes of nutrients from the rest of the veggies. But for those who do like a little meat, I slow cooked a pork shoulder for 8 hours on low and made a fabulous pulled pork.

Couple tid bits for this salad to make it extra perfect:

  • Cut the romaine lettuce very thin, almost shredded so it mixes well with all the ingredients.
  • Slice the onions and peppers VERY thin – because that’s just how fajitas are!
  • I used corn from corn on the cob, boiled it and cut it off, I feel it’s just so much sweeter and full of flavour using the fresh stuff.
  • Although sour cream would be your typical condiment, I decided to use plain yogurt just to cut back on fat and let me tell you – when mixed into this salad with all the ingredients you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. So why not right?
  • Finally, I don’t put salsa on this salad, but instead chop tomatoes up, put them in a bowl and sprinkle them with lime, salt, pepper, cilantro and call it a day!

This Mexican Salad can be done in many ways and easily adjusted to ingredients you may or may not have, so give it a try, I’d love to know what you think!

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