Tacos (1)

Beef and Bean Tacos

Make your own taco seasoning with this recipe and cut down on salt and other preservatives.   Kids love this part. One recipe makes a double batch of the seasoning so you have some for another day or double it to keep extra in the cabinet. Have the kids work with spices on a baking tray so there is less mess on the counter to clean.

Taco Seasoning Mix from “allrecipes.com” (makes enough for 2 recipes of Tacos):  

Combine in a small bowl - use 4 teaspoons for Taco recipe and save the remaining 4 teaspoons for another time.

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Taco Ingredients:

1 lb of lean ground beef
1 jar of passata (approx. 700 ml)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 can (14-19 oz) black beans – rinsed and drained

Taco shells – soft or hard
shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese (4.5 oz)
romaine lettuce – finely chopped

Optional toppings:
sour cream, salsa, diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro and avocado or guacamole

Instructions:

  1. In a 12 inch sauté pan cook beef over medium heat, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink – about 5 minutes.  Drain off fat in a colander with running water and return to the pan.
  2. Add pureed tomatoes, 4 teaspoons of taco seasoning mix (from recipe above), pumpkin, black beans and simmer until thick – approximately 20 minutes.
  3. While meat is simmering chop lettuce and grate the cheese.
  4. Add warm meat mixture to the taco shells and sprinkle with cheese.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 10 minutes.
  6. Then add your desired toppings and enjoy!!
Print Friendly
Lemon Cheesecake

Lemon Cheesecake

Many cheesecake recipes are made in a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan and end up to be a large deep dish pie.  In this recipe you bake the cake in an 8 inch cake pan and it is the perfect size cut into 8 or 10 slices.  This size cake doesn’t have to be cooked as long and therefore should not brown or crack before it is set in the centre.  A pan with a removable base is the easiest option or line a cake pan with parchment paper.

Shortbread Crust: 

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder

Cheesecake Filling:

1 lb cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup ricotta cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg room temperature
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon flour

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and if your pan does not have a removable base then line it with parchment paper.
  2. Using electric mixers beat together 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup icing sugar until light in colour about 4 minutes.
  3. Blend in 1 cup flour and baking powder until the dough begins to come together in small pieces.
  4. Press the crust into your pan until it is evenly distributed.
  5. Bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 12-15 minutes until the crust is a golden colour.  Set aside to cool.
  6. While your crust is baking prepare the filling.  With your beaters in a clean bowl mix the cream cheese until light and smooth.
  7. Add the ricotta cheese and sugar and continue to beat until light and smooth.  Scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure there are no lumps.
  8. Beat in egg, lemon zest, lemon juice.  Then mix in your 1 tablespoon flour.
  9. Pour into your pan with the cooled crust.
  10. Put a large roasting pan with a few inches of water on the lower rack in your oven to create a humid environment for your cake.
  11. Bake your cheesecake for 50 minutes or until the cake is almost fully set.  Remove to a rack and cool.  While your cake is cooling run a thin knife around the outside of your cake making sure it does not stick to the pan and crack.  Once cooled refrigerate until serving at least 6 hours or overnight.

 

Print Friendly
Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls

A friend from Calgary graciously shared her fabulous recipe for Spring Rolls with me.  She often gets together with friends to make hundred’s of these for the freezer.  This batch will make approximately 35 spring rolls so you can have some with dinner and then some in the freezer for another time.  It is fastest to use a food processor but you could also chop the garlic, onion, jicama and grate the carrot.  Each guest will need a 12 inch frying pan to cook the filling and a baking sheet to bring home the rolls.  You can find the TYJ spring roll pastry packages of 50 in the freezer section of Asian groceries stores along with the jicama in the fresh section.  Best of all these are baked not fried.

Ingredients:

300 grams lean ground pork
8 garlic cloves
1 large onion
5 medium carrots
1 medium jicama slightly larger than a softball
TYJ spring roll pastry – 50
2 teaspoons canola oil
5 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor pulse garlic cloves until minced, remove and set aside in a small bowl.
  2. Next peel and quarter the onion and process onion until finely chopped.  Remove and set aside.
  3. Peel and slice carrots into 3 cm pieces and process in the food processor until finely chopped.  Remove and set aside.
  4. Peel and roughly chop the jicama and process in the food processor until finely chopped.
  5. Add 2 teaspoons canola oil in a large frying pan heated over medium heat.  Add chopped onion and cook on medium low stirring often for approximately 8 minutes until soft but not brown.  Add garlic and cook stirring constantly for 1 minute.
  6. Add pork breaking up into small pieces with a spatula and continue to cook until pork is no longer pink, approximately 10 minutes.
  7. Add carrots and cook for approximately 3 minutes.  Stir in the jicama, oyster sauce and pepper.  Remove from heat to cool a bit before rolling.
  8. Fill a small bowl with water.  Cover the spring rolls wrappers with a damp paper towel while rolling so they don’t dry out.
  9. Lay one spring roll wrapper on a clean work surface with the point facing up and place 2 tablespoons of filling on the top 1/3 of the wrapper.  Fold the 2 side points into touch each other and dab with a bit of water to hold together.  Then starting from the top roll the wrapper around the filling.  Dab the bottom corner with water and roll up to seal.
  10. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.  One batch should make 35-40 spring rolls.
  11. Freeze rolls on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a container until ready to bake.
  12. Lightly grease a baking sheet with canola oil and add the spring rolls brushing the tops with a bit of oil or use a canola oil spray.
  13. Bake from frozen at 400 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes turning once.  Spring rolls should be crisp and golden.

“Sticky Tips”:

  • The tighter you roll the spring rolls the less likely they will pop open in the oven while baking.  It is a learning curve so don’t give up!!
  • You will enjoy doing this activity with a friend as the rolling process is the perfect opportunity to socialize.
  • If you cook with a friend 2 can process in the food processor at a time however you will then need 2 small bows for garlic, 2 bowls for onion, 2 medium sized bowls for carrots and 2 medium bowls for jicama, 2-12 inch frying pans and 2 spatulas.

 

Print Friendly
Turkey Burger 017

Easy Turkey Burgers

It is always the case – summer is done too soon.  Enjoy the last few days in the outside with these burgers on the barbeque.  Each recipe will make 4 burgers and your kids won’t even taste the zucchini.  Our family has now graduated to 1 1/4 lb of meat for 5 burgers so I find it easiest to get this at the butcher, we have even tried ground turkey breast for a leaner option.  The turkey burgers go great with sweet potato fries or corn and a salad like the “Apple Celery Salad.”

Ingredients:

1 package of lean ground turkey meat (500 grams or 1 lb)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced red onion
3/4 cup zucchini grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

4-5 whole wheat buns

Instructions:

  1. To prepare add all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. With clean hands mix together all ingredients and divide into 4 portions.
  3. Form each portion into a patty about 1.5 cm thick.
  4. Store in the refrigerator or freezer covered until ready to cook.
  5. Preheat barbeque grill to high.
  6. Reduce temperature to medium low and grill burgers 6-8 minutes per side until cooked through and internal temperature reads 165 degrees.

“Sticky Tips”

  • Always use fresh ground meats for burgers and meatballs and they will stay together better.
  • Freezing your turkey burgers for an hour or 2 before cooking helps keep them together on the barbeque.
  • Kids will love to get their hands right into the meat mixture so make sure sleeves are rolled up and hands are clean before and after.  It helps if the adult can keep clean hands to help with containers, parchment paper, etc…
Print Friendly
Rustic Peach Pie (2)

Rustic Peach Pie

When cooking pies from scratch I often make a rustic pie which is much easier than in a pie plate and tastes just as good.  The peaches in Ontario have been fabulous this summer which makes this pie even better.  This recipe has been adapted from Joanne Chang’s entry in Fine Cooking and uses a stand up mixer or a pastry blender to mix by hand.

Pie Dough

1 1/2 cups flour (6.75 ounces)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons milk (whole, 2% or light cream)

  1. Mix together flour, sugar and salt in your stand up mixer with the paddle attachment.  If mixing by hand use a whisk.
  2. Cut cold butter into small cubes and add to the flour mixing on low for 1-2 minutes.  Break up any large chunks (bigger than a pea) of butter with your hands.  If mixing by hand use a pastry blender.
  3. In a small bowl combine the egg yolk and milk and sprinkle over the flour mixture and stir on low until the dough comes together approximately 15 seconds.
  4. If the dough is a crumbly dump place it onto a clean counter and bring together with your hands.  Shape it into a disk and cover with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes or up to 4 days.

Peach Filling

6 large ripe peaches
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or vanilla
1 egg whisked in a small bowl
2 tablespoons brown sugar or turbinado sugar

  1. If dough is very firm remove it from the refrigerator so it is easier to roll.
  2. Set your rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. On a lightly floured surface roll dough into a circle approximately 14 inches in diameter.  Rough edges are fine or you can trim a bit and re-roll into the dough.  Transfer to your baking sheet and put in the fridge while you prepare the fruit.
  5. Prepare a large bowl of boiling water and another one with ice water.  Add your peaches for 30 seconds to the boiling water then transfer to the cold water and peel using a peeling knife or even your hands.
  6. Cut peaches into thin slices and combine with sugar, flour and cinnamon or vanilla if using.
  7. Remove dough from the refrigerator to ensure it is pliable enough to fold without cracking.
  8. Heap the fruit into the centre of the dough so you have a 2 inch boarder around the outside.  Fold the border over the outside edge of the peaches and and pleat it as you go.
  9. Brush the pastry with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  10. Bake until the pie is golden brown about 55 minutes.  Some of the juices might escape from the dough but that is fine and gives the pie a rustic look.  Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

“Sticky Tips”

  • Dough can also be frozen for up to 2 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator over night before use.
  • Your kids can help with this recipe – mixing the dough, peeling peaches with their hands shaping the pie and brushing the dough with a wash and sprinkling with sugar.

 

Print Friendly
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 chili 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.

 

Print Friendly
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

Print Friendly
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.

 

Print Friendly
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

Print Friendly
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.

Print Friendly