UpsideDown Nachos 072

Upside Down Nachos

Upside down nachos are baked in a way that ensures your chips don’t get soggy.  I found this recipe in Canadian Living a number of years ago and adjusted a few ingredients to ensure it becomes a family favourite.  You may want to have shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa and avocado or guacamole for serving.

Ingredients:

1 lb of lean ground beef
1 medium onion – diced
3 garlic cloves – minced
1 sweet green pepper – finely diced
1 sweet red pepper – finely diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chill powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can (19 oz) black beans – rinsed and drained
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup frozen or fresh corn

Tortilla chips to sprinkle on top – try baked or low sodium versions – organic from Costco are wonderful.
2 cups lightly packed shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese – approx. 4 oz
2 green onions thinly sliced

Optional toppings:
Shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa and avocado or guacamole.

Instructions:

  1. In a large non-stick pan sauté beef over medium heat, breaking up with a spatula, until no longer pink – about 10 minutes.  Drain off fat in a colander with running water and return to the pan.
  2. Add onions and garlic to the pan with the ground beef and saute until onions are translucent about 5 minutes.
  3. Add peppers, cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes if using, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add black beans, tomatoes with juice and tomato paste and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in corn and heat through.
  7. Spread into a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  You can spread 3/4 in the pan and keep 1/4 aside in a container for a taco salad the next day.  Meat mixture should be refrigerated until ready to serve.
  8. Just before dinner sprinkle with enough chips to cover the meat mixture.   Then sprinkle with grated cheese.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-25 minutes until mixture is hot and cheese is melted.
  10. Serve with a spatula onto plates.  Sprinkle with green onions and add toppings if desired.

 

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies 080

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

The perfect rainy day afternoon activity for your kids. You could double the batch if your child wants to cook with a friend. A stand up mixer is great for this recipe.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup & 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups large flake oatmeal
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks or chips or a mix of your favourite (approximately 9 oz or 270 grams)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium bowl combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt with a whisk.
  3. Cream together butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth.
  4. Add egg and vanilla and blend together.
  5. Add flour mixture and stir on low until combined.  Again on low stir in oatmeal and chocolate chunks/chips.
  6. Drop tablespoons onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.  If baking on 2 trays switch in the oven at 7 minutes.

“Sticky Tips”:

  • Replace 1/2 or less of the butter with coconut oil for a healthier option
  • If using your stand up mixer use the paddle attachment
  • I use a cookie scoop (small ice cream scoop) to portion the dough for these cookies
  • Your kids will be so proud if they make it by themselves

Making Cookies 081

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Bruschetta 075

Bruschetta – A Taste of Summer

Happy Canada Day.  A little something red and white to celebrate today.  This is the perfect summer appetizer to showcase fresh tomatoes and herbs.  You can mix up the topping ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.  You can also toast the bread before hand so that when your guests arrive you just have to top the bread and broil for a few minutes.

Bruschetta Recipe

1 baguette sliced
2 tomatoes, cubed, drained
1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried parley or 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons lemon juice (or try balsamic vinegar)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
ground black pepper to taste
extra olive oil

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Brush lightly each slice of baguette with olive oil.
  3. Toast bread lightly 350 degrees 5-10 minutes.
  4. Top with tomato mixture and broil until cheese melts.  Approx.  2-4 minutes.  Keep an eye on the oven when broiling because bread will toast quickly.
  5. Serve immediately.

“Sticky Tip”:  With a large group of company you should double the recipe.  With a smaller group and a large baguette you could make a few with just cheese.

 

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Fresh Cucumber Tomato Salad 071

Fresh Cucumber Tomato Salad

During our last cooking session we made Kung Pao Chicken and thanks to Susie’s son Zach (9) we paired it with a fresh cucumber tomato salad.  He cut all the tomatoes in half, after I sliced the cucumber in strips he used a crinkle cutter to make bite sized pieces.  He used my herb scissors for the greens and measured and mixed all the dressing.  Yes kids can cut!!

Ingredients:

1 English cucumber quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 Pint of cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
1 Green onion thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh mint thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh basil thinly sliced

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions:

  1. Whisk together the sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper in a medium or large bowl.
  2. Add remaining ingredients just on top.
  3. Chill, toss and serve.
Kids can Cut

Kids Can Cut

photo thanks to: Marialise Young Photography

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Creamy Spring Pasta 013

Creamy Spring Pasta with Chicken

Tonight indulge in a lighten creamy alfredo sauce with spring vegetables.   The pasta is made with leftover chicken from the Greek Chicken on the Barbeque recipe and can be made with spinach, peas and/or asparagus.  This dinner is best made just before eating and great served with salad.

Ingredients:

450 g package of dry pasta
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter
2 garlic cloves chopped or minced
1/4 cup cream cheese
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup grated asiago cheese
3/4 cup cream (10-18%)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1-2 large cooked chicken breasts sliced or shredded
1 cup frozen chopped spinach – approximately 4 oz or 125 grams
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Option – 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs in a bit of oil or butter to sprinkle on top

Instructions:

  1. Set the spinach in a strainer over a bowl to defrost and drain ahead of time or defrost in a glass measuring cup in the microwave then set in a strainer to drain.
  2. In a large pot of boiling water cook pasta as per package instructions until slightly al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water for the sauce.  Rinse pasta under cold water to stop cooking and toss with 1 tsp melted butter to ensure that it does not stick together.
  3. In a large frying pan or brasier melt butter and sauté garlic for 1 minute.  Mix in pasta water and cream cheese with a whisk until melted and smooth.
  4. Combine chicken broth and flour in a measuring cup and whisk with a fork until flour is dissolved and add to the sauce.
  5. When sauce has thickened turn off the heat and add the cheese stirring until melted and then add the cream, salt and pepper.  Taste and season additionally if necessary.
  6. Stir in chicken, spinach, peas, parsley and pasta.
  7. Option:  Heat a bit of oil in another small frying pan and toast up bread crumbs to add as a garnish.

” Sticky Tip”:  Replace or add asparagus to this dish.  Steam first and cut into bite sized pieces.

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Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken on the BBQ

It is warming up finally.  Time for some barbeque recipes.  This recipe is an easy prep that involves marinating the chicken – your kids could prepare the marinade.  It is great paired with Greek Salad, Caesar Salad and/or Lemon Roasted Potatoes or toasted pitas and served with tzatziki.  Leftover chicken can be used in a creamy spring pasta for later in the week.  Look for this post tomorrow.

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts

 Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients into a bowl or ziplock bag and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours until ready to barbeque.
  2. Preheat grill to high heat.
  3. Reduce heat to low and place chicken on grill 8-10 minutes per side until cooked through and internal temperature reads 170 degrees.

“Sticky Tip”

  • Make chicken kabobs instead.  Cut the chicken in large pieces and marinate the same way as above.  Soak your skewers for 1 hour before adding the chicken.
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Banana Bread 008

Best Ever Banana Bread

To be honest I am not a big fan of bananas.  As good as I know they are for us to eat there is only 1 day in the life cycle of a banana that I will actually it – when it is not too ripe or not too green.  So when I make my banana muffins or bread I always use a food processor to have a consistent batter.  Feel free to mash the bananas by hand though if you prefer the texture that offers.  As a healthier option I have cut out the butter and replaced it with either light olive oil, organic canola or coconut oil.

Ingredients:

3 over ripe bananas
1/4 cup coconut oil or other oil or butter at room temperature
2 eggs
1/3 cup plain yogurt – greek works well
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Spray or lightly grease your loaf pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor process bananas until smooth.
  3. Add butter, eggs, yogurt, vanilla and sugars and process again until smooth.
  4. In a medium bowl combine flours, baking soda and salt with a whisk.
  5. Add dry ingredients to your food processor and process until combined – no more than 10 seconds.
  6. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes to 1 hour until a tooth pick comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack and then remove from pan to finish cooling on the rack.

“Sticky Tips”:

  • Once you have overripe bananas on your counter peel them and place in a ziplock bag in the freezer.  When you are ready to make the bread leave on the counter for about 1 hour or in the food processor and they will be easier to process to a smooth consistency.  You shouldn’t process frozen bananas because if your batter is too cold it will not bake evenly.
  • These frozen bananas are also perfect to add sweetness to a smoothie.

 

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Easter Nests

Easter Nests

Inspired by many different pinterest posts I have created my own chocolate nest cookies.  They will be the perfect decoration for our Easter brunch table.  These no bake cookies have been a staple in our house and my mom’s home for years.  With a small indent they become little bird nests which perfectly house three candy coated chocolate eggs.

Chocolate Drop Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup milk (1%)
1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into pieces
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt

2 1/2 cups oats (a mixture of old fashioned and quick cooking is best but either will work)
1 cup shredded coconut – unsweetened if possible
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Cover a large baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large stock pot combine milk, sugar, butter and salt.
  3. Over medium heat stir until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.  Once the mixture starts to boil set a timer and boil for 5 minutes without stirring.  The mixture will rise to almost double in height but don’t stir.   This process will allow water to evaporate so that the cookies firm up in the fridge.
  4. In a medium sized bowl combine oats, coconut, cocoa powder and chocolate chips.
  5. After 5 minutes remove from heat and stir in oat mixture until combined.  Add vanilla and stir.
  6. Using a small ice cream type scoop or 2 teaspoons form rounded cookies on your prepared baking tray.  They can be close together as they will not spread.
  7. Put cookies in the fridge until they get firm – approximately 2 hours.
  8. Store cookies in a container in the fridge for a week or in the freezer.

 Sticky Tips:  

  • To make the nests while cookies are still warm using your finger make an indent and insert 3 chocolate covered eggs.
  • If you use a medium sized pot the mixture will need to cook for 6 minutes without stirring.  These cookies are very sensitive to the amount of moisture which evaporates and can become too dry or won’t harden properly if you cook outside the 5-6 minute time.
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Carrot Muffins 003

Grated Carrots

This weekend was my father’s 70th birthday party and as per his request every year I made Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing.  While I was grating the carrots – about 8 of them (does that make the cake healthy – I wonder…) I decided why not grate a few more and make some muffins; then a little extra to go in Grandma’s recipe for Tomato Sauce and Meatballs.  In the past I have also added them right in the meatball mixture, to salads and to stir-fries.  I like to use the small grating side of the grater and they always cook perfectly.  Here is the recipe I used for the muffins.  The batter will be VERY thick but trust me it will work out and the kids will enjoy these filling muffins.

I also have to mention how much I hate washing dishes – my husband can attest to this fact.  So where ever possible I try to cut corners including using baking cups to line my muffin tins.   The ones made by PaperChef using parchment paper are awesome.  Not a crumb of muffin sticks to the paper and therefore nothing is wasted.  Unfortunately you can’t buy them at every grocery store and not at the dollar store but they work for me.

Carrot Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (or canola oil)
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg
4 medium carrots

Instructions:

  1. Prepare muffin pan with 12 paper liners and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel carrots and grate carrots using the small side of your grater.  The result should be 1 ½ cups loosely packed or a total of 5.25 ounces.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together all dry ingredients – set aside.
  4. In a glass measuring cup melt your coconut oil in the microwave and to that add yogurt to equal 1 cup.  Then in a medium bowl whisk together oil, yogurt and the egg.
  5. Pour liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients along with the carrots and stir with a spatula just until combined.  The batter will be VERY thick.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

 

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IMG_8451

Chicken Chimichangas

I think I just want to make this Mexican dish for dinner so I can say “Chimichangas” as many times as possible.  Today was a fabulous cooking session with my good friend Kristine and the results were delicious.  I just happened to be the one who sampled the results before dinner; all in an effort to get a photo done before the light faded away.  This is a great recipe to make with a friend since you can use the same oil to fry up the tortilla packages.  When it was all said and done each package soaked up about 1 tablespoon of canola oil so not all that bad I would say.  The Chicken Chimichangas recipe has been adapted from one I found at Cooks Illustrated.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown rice (I used Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup salsa

2 chicken breasts

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small onion – finely diced
2 garlic cloves – minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 (14 oz) can pinto beans or black beans – rinsed and drained

1 cup grated jalapeño havarti or monterey jack cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper

1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon water

4-6 10 inch flour tortillas
3 cups canola oil for frying
guacamole and/or salsa for serving

Instructions:

  1. In a ceramic dish microwave rice, broth and salsa on high for 5 minutes and stir.  Put in for an additional 2-4 minutes until most of the broth is absorbed.
  2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. In a large dutch oven heat oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and cook until softened approximately 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin and sauté another minute stirring constantly.  Add 1 1/4 cup broth, the rice mixture and beans and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low and place seasoned chicken on top of the rice mixture.  Cook with the lid on for 10 minutes then flip the chicken over and cook another 5-10 minutes until chicken registers 160 degrees.
  5. Set chicken aside on a cutting board to cool for a few minutes.
  6. In a large clean pot add approximately 3 cups canola oil and heat to 325-350 degrees.
  7. Cut chicken into small pieces (approximately 1 cm in size) and put back in your pot and mix together with rice, cheese and cilantro.  Taste and add any additional salt or pepper needed.
  8. Stir together flour and water in a small bowl to make a paste.  Place 1/4 or less of filling in the centre of the tortilla and brush one side with the flour and water paste.  Roll one side of the tortilla tightly over the filling and then fold the side with the paste to create a roll.  Next using paste on both ends fold in to seal.
  9. Working with 2 chimichangas at a time place them using tongs seam side down in the oil.  Fry until chimichangas are a deep golden brown about 2 minutes per side.  Pat with paper towel and set on a wire rack in a baking sheet to drain and cool.  Repeat with remaining chimichangas ensuring oil stays at approximately 325 degrees.
  10. Slice in half and serve with guacamole and salsa.

Sticky Tips”

  • Warm the tortillas in the microwave if they do not fold easily.
  • Make ahead, refrigerate after cooled and reheat in the oven 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or on a lower temp using your convection feature to help the chimichangas get crispy again.
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