Spanish Mac and Cheese

Spanish Mac and Cheese (4 of 4)

I have been wanting for a very long time to create a stellar macaroni and cheese recipe, one of my all time favorite comfort dishes. I have tried variations including meat, vegetables, herbs and spices and had yet to develop that one flavor that made my taste buds sing.

So I had to take a step back and think about what I loved about mac and cheese dishes I had eaten in the past. Why did their flavors make me remember them long after I had consumed them.  My biggest realization is that sometimes you don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel.  This simple casserole is basically pasta and cheese sauce.  None of the restaurant style varieties had anything different thrown in, just a sharp cheesy tang and tender starchy pasta.  And quite honestly it really is about the cheese.

Spanish Mac and Cheese (2 of 4)

At a recent event at the St. Lawrence Market hosted by the Trade Commission of Spain and ICEX Spain Export my senses were pleasantly assaulted by an unreal number of Spanish cheeses available for taste.  This is a life changing event for any bonafide cheese lover.  Many of the cheeses I was already familiar with; Manchego and Iberico, were massively represented in varying degrees of age yet it also was easy to find some new favorites like the creamy Drunken Goat Cheese, or a nutty Sant Gil d’Albio.

Spanish Mac and Cheese (1 of 4)

Spain’s vast diverse landscape has a huge impact on the production of cheese.  Dairy producing livestock; cows, sheep, and goats are found all over the country yet the terrain in which they live can make a difference in even the most subtle way to the flavor of its milk.  Mountainous , rocky terrain can be favorable to the more hardy stock of goat while rolling hills provide the perfect grazing conditions for sheep.  Mixed milk cheese can be produced throughout the country adding to the over 100 varieties currently available in production.  Local wines and other edible products can also make a difference in the flavors available with some traditions including rinds made of fresh herbs or soaked in local wines.  As a country vast in landscape and climate variety each cheese produced is steep in quality and tradition.

After eating my weight worth of cheeses it was obvious that this is the direction I needed to go in my quest for the best macaroni and cheese.  And with so many of these great Spanish varieties available at my local cheesemonger. Don’t be afraid to change the kinds I used in my recipe with any others your prefer.  I chose 12 year old Manchego and Iberico for the pungent strong flavours and my new dream cheese the creamy Drunken Goat. Go to your cheese counter and ask to try what they have.  People who love cheese have a vast palate for what they prefer much like wine connoisseurs.  Experiment until you find your new favorite.  That’s how this recipe came to be.

Spanish Mac and Cheese (3 of 4)

I would thank to thank the Trade Commission of Spain and ICEX Spain Export , Spanish cheese expert Julie Rogers and Mary Luz Mejia for inviting to this event thus allowing my brain to create this decadent dish.

Spanish Mac and Cheese

I used 4 oz. Drunken Goat cheese, and 3 oz. each of 12 year old Manchego and 12 year old Iberico to make up my 10 oz of cheese for this recipe. Feel free to use any combination you prefer.

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Ingredients

  • 500 g pasta, any shape your prefer
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablspoons flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups milk, warm
  • 10 oz shredded cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch of sea salt and your pasta. Cook until just fork tender and drain
  2. While the pasta is cooking preheat your oven to 350 degree F. Coat an 9" oval casserole dish with butter or cooking spray.
  3. In a heavy bottom pan melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
  4. Add the flour and cook stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the roux start to smell nutty, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the milk and stir constantly till thick. Once the milk mixture begins to coat the back of your spoon evenly you know it will be thick enough.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted.
  7. Add the pasta to the sauce, stirring to combine then pour into prepared pan.
  8. In a small bowl or fry pan melt the butter.
  9. Add the bread crumbs and mix well.
  10. Sprinkle the butter bread crumbs evenly on top of your casserole.
  11. Place in preheat oven and cook until top begins to brown and become crunchy, about 20 minutes.
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Secret Recipe Club: Mushroom and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Mushroom and Cheese Stuffed Shells (4 of 4)

Amanda over at Dancing Veggies is an octo-lacto-vegetarian and could not be anymore opposite then I am when it comes to food.  I’m more of meato-bacono-moremeatarian kind of eater.  So when I was assigned her blog for this months Secret Recipe Club I may of pouted a little then huffed and puffed, but in all honesty I do enjoy a challenge.  We can always use for vegetables in our house but finding a recipe in her extensive collection was a little harder than I thought given that I would be cooking this for DH (the pickier one).  Lucky me (and him) I hit a home run when I decided to make her Stuffed Shells with Mushrooms.

Mushroom and Cheese Stuffed Shells (1 of 4)

It looked like such a complete recipe that I chose to change very little.  I added some onion to the tomato sauce and changed my cooking method just a little.  Her cheesy stuffing and basic rich and refreshing sauce were a perfect pair.  I even made extra to freeze for another meal.  Success!

Mushroom and Cheese Stuffed Shells (2 of 4)

Yields 4

Mushroom and Cheese Stuffed Shells
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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 basil leaves, finely diced
  • 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • For the Shells
  • 1/2 lb large shells, pre-cooked and cooled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 lb mixed mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 basil leaves, finely minced
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, separated in half

Instructions

  1. In a large pot heat the 2 tbsp olive over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until translucent.
  2. Add the can of tomatoes, basil and salt and pepper.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer while making the shells.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. In a skillet over medium-high, heat the oil.
  6. Add the garlic and onion and cook until fragrant 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until soft. Remove from heat, stir in the basil and let cool.
  7. In another bowl mix together the cheeses (1/2 cup of the mozzarella) and cooled mushroom mix.
  8. In a 9" square or oval casserole dish spoon just enough tomato sauce to coat the bottom.
  9. Stuff each precooked pasta shell with the filling and place on top of the sauce. Top each shell with a spoonful of sauce and set the rest of the sauce for serving with cooked dish.
  10. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the shells and bake in preheated oven 35-40 minutes or until bubbling and cheese has melted.
  11. Serve with more sauce is needed
Recipe Type: Pasta
7.6.8
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Secret Recipe Club: Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage

Brown Butter Gnocchi

When I received the email saying that there was finally space and I had been selected to a participate in The Secret Recipe Club I may have just squealed a little in joy.  Then the panic set in.

I am all for trying other blogger recipes whether verbatim or adding my own spin to it.  I actually relished the idea of having something new to try every month as well as meeting all the amazing food bloggers out there that an extra 24 hours a day still wouldn’t allow me the luxury of reading each and every one. What set me into hair pulling, shot drinking mode was the idea of people cooking from my site.  What if they didn’t like anything? Or the recipe was a completely disaster?  What if…?  I guess I will have to wait and see since this is my first month but as the saying goes ” what doesn’t kill me only makes me drink harder.” Or something like that.

The first blogger I was assigned was Renee’s Kitchen Adventures.  Reading her about page I quickly related her work experience in healthcare (me too!) as well as the fact that her recipes all include points values for the Weight Watchers program.  I have been a member myself successfully and not so successfully on and off for what seems to be a lifetime.  And while I am not currently following the plan I understand it and can appreciate the points values in terms of whether it’s healthy and I can have lots or not so healthy and please eat in moderation.

It’s hard as a food blogger to not want to get your hands into a recipe and play around but I wanted with my first try I’d keep it simple and follow the recipe perfectly.  I compromised by making Renee’s homemade potato gnocchi and personalized it by tossing it with brown butter and sage.  The only change I made was I had to add a bit more flour to my dough to make it less sticky and I peeled my potatoes before cooking them for easier handling otherwise being was my first time making gnocchi I think recipe was just perfect.

Yields 4 side dishes

Secret Recipe Club: Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage
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Ingredients

  • 6 medium yukon gold potato, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the potatoes until fork tender.
  2. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  3. Using a potato ricer or masher, mash the potatoes into a large bowl.
  4. Mix in the egg, oil, salt and pepper.
  5. Add the flour combine until dough is smooth and soft.
  6. On a lightly floured surface and working with 1/3 of the dough at a time roll it out into a long 1/2" log. Cut into 1/2" pieces.
  7. Roll the little pieces carefully down the front of a fork to create the ridges and place on a lightly floured baking sheet until all the dough has been used.
  8. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the gnocchi and cook until they begin floating to the surface about 3-5 minutes. Drain.
  9. Meanwhile in a large frypan melt the butter and cook, stirring, until butter begins to brown and the fragrance starts to smell nutty.
  10. Stir in the sage, cook for 1 minute, then toss in the gnocchi.
  11. Cook until coated and warm.
Recipe Type: Pasta
7.6.8
315

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Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

Many times on this blog I have enumerated about DH’s limited palate and my enjoyment of nights on my own where I get to cook delicacies for my sole enjoyment.  Or for the good fortune of my food adventurous acquaintances. Yes feeding DH can be headbangingly limited though credit is due on the occasions when he has no other option but to eat what I have created, less he have to find something for himself.  There are, however, times like this recipe here that I cook something that is only for him.

Italian Wedding Soup

This is not my favorite soup in the world (hello french onion!).  Trust me it’s delicious but until DH had mentioned it I would have never made it on my own.  I’m glad I did make it though.  Aside from the time it takes to roll all those meatballs it is relatively simple to make and with simple changes like pasta shape, addition or subtraction of vegetables (wouldn’t carrots look pretty?), and meatball concoctions, incredibly easy to personalize.  And if you do what I did and make tons of meatballs, more than enough for twelve pots of this soup, you have quick leftovers to freeze and bring out the next time you want spaghetti, or a stroganoff or meatball sub sandwich.

Italian Wedding Soup

Yields 6-8

Italian Wedding Soup

The ingredients required for the meatballs make more than enough for this soup with lots of leftovers. Cook up all the meatballs and store the extra in the freezer to use later.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 1/3 lb lean ground pork
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumps
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken stock plus 2 cups water
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup orzo pasta

Instructions

  1. Combine the ground beef, ground pork, eggs, chopped onions, bread crumbs, spinach and 3 cloves of garlic. Roll into mini meatballs.
  2. Heat a large fry pan and cook the meatballs in batches until browned. Drain on a plate with paper towel.
  3. [img src="http://www.tastygardener.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Italian-Wedding-Soup-1-of-4-300x199.jpg?x45499" alt="Italian Wedding Soup" width="300" height="199" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-19720"]
  4. While the meatballs are cooking melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  5. Add the onion and cook until soft.
  6. Add the stock and water and increased heat to high. Bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cooked meatballs (as many as you want to have in your soup, leftovers will be frozen for another day).
  7. Once the orzo is fork tender add the spinach and continue cooking until completely wilted. Serve
Recipe Type: Soups, Salads and Sandwiches
7.6.8
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Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

The Canadian Food Experience Project: My Cherished Canadian Recipe.

This is the first time I have ever made this recipe. Seems weird to be my most cherished right.  The thing is my mom was never an exciting cook. But there were things that she made that I loved to smell cooking in our house.  I would come home from school and see the pot of pasta boiling on the stove and the grater overflowing with shredded cheese and I knew this was the best day ever.  She made this rather simple, yet delicious pasta dish that filled my dad’s required quota of “Italian” and made me one happy little girl.

Part of the reason this dish was so cherished for me was that I would be allowed to help mom grate the cheese and in most cases, having made way to much macaroni she would let me have a little bowl of hot pasta stirred with a handful of cheese as pre dinner treat.  Only for me. Her little taste tester.  Part of me thinks she made the extra pasta just for me and not as a eyeballing error.

Even today when I crave something warm and comforting for dinner I’ll boil up some pasta and stir in that handful of cheese and enjoy my little dish with a huge grin on my face, probably the same one I wore as a little girl.

The other day I decided to make the full casserole my mom use to make.  While it tasted fantastic and I was glad I attempted it it still taste better from mom.

My mom used to get a certain brand of breakfast links however as years passed they were harder and harder to find.  I had to make do with these ones from Schneiders.  You want to precook them by frying them up in a pan. Place them in the bottom of a sprayed casserole dish and top with sliced onions.

Macaroni and Cheese CasseroleOnce your pasta has cooked and drained you want to stir in the cheese and a can of crushed tomatoes.

Macaroni and Cheese CasserolePour on top of sausages and sprinkle with more cheese.

Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Bake until bubbling and the top has started to get crunchy.

Macaroni and Cheese CasseroleLook at all that cheesy goodness.

Yields 6

Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
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Ingredients

  • 3 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 pkg breakfast sausage links
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup reserved
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes, drained

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a medium oval casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large pot of boiling water cooked the pasta until just fork tender.
  3. While the pasta cooked brown the sausage in a fry pan until cooked through.
  4. Place sausage in bottom of prepared pan and top with onion slices.
  5. Drain the pasta and while it's still hot stir in cheese until melted and then stir in the tomatoes.
  6. Pour pasta on top of sausages and top with reserved cheddar cheese.
  7. Bake in preheated oven until top is browned and crispy about 40 minutes.
Recipe Type: Pasta
7.6.8
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The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.   I hope you enjoy my experiences and stories with Canadian food and hope you get a chance to check out the other bloggers involved. Please leave a comment below about your own experience based on the monthly theme.

Pasta and Bean Salad for my Dad

I always laugh when I see the pinterest joke “I’ve made pasta. Would you  and 75 of your friends like to come for dinner.”

My dad was notorious for this.  I have inevitably inherited this trait.  It’s always a case of “oh that doesn’t look like just enough so one more handful”.  Which in every case means it takes it over the top and leaves you with scads and scads of left over pasta.  Lucky for both my dad and I we always had a way to use up the extra.

My dad also loved beans. Yellow, green didn’t matter the colour and he would plant rows and rows of them scattering the planting dates by a week or two so our summer harvest was never without a bowlful or two of the snappy legumes.  Which meant lot’s of leftovers of those as well.  This recipe is a homage to my dad resourcefulness by taking the leftover pasta and leftover beans, tossing them with Italian dressing and having a great summer salad for lunch.

Pasta Salad with green beans, sundried tomatoes, feta, and pine nuts.

Tomorrow will be the 8th anniversary of his death.  It’s hard to believe that it’s already been that long since there are days where it still feels like yesterday.  I still grief for him being his little girl and all.  We were born under the same zodiac sign and unfortunately for my poor mom we were identical in so many ways.  I wish he was around to see this website: I know he would have been my biggest fan (and taste tester).

I hope as time goes on and it gets easier I can share more stories about my dad.  When I spoke at his funeral I had the attendee in stitches with stories about growing up with this larger than life, hilarious man.

So enjoy this recipe.  For me and my dad.

 

Pasta and Green Bean Salad
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb green beans, cooked
  • 3 cups pasta, cooked
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in bowl and toss well to coat. Place in fridge until ready to serve.
  2. The longer you let this salad rest the more the flavours come together.
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Pastitsio

Baked pasta dishes are always a time saver since they can always be made ahead of time and quickly popped in the oven.

Serves 1/8

Pastitsio
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Ingredients

  • 8 oz pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups onions, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 6 oz light cream cheese
  • 28 oz canned tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 3/4 cup romano cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. In a large skillet over med-high heat cook the ground beef until cooked.
  3. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until onion begins to soften.
  4. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the milk and cream cheese.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes, pasta and spinach.
  7. Pour pasta mixture into a large 9x13 casserole dish.
  8. Sprinkle with cheese and broil until golden 3-5 minutes.
Recipe Type: Pasta
7.6.8
209

Preheat broiler.
In a large skillet over med-high heat cook the ground beef until cooked.

Add the onion and garlic. Cook until onion begins to soften.

Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the milk and cream cheese.

Stir in the tomatoes, pasta and spinach.

Pour pasta mixture into a large 9×13 casserole dish.

Sprinkle with cheese and broil until golden 3-5 minutes.

Chicken Carbonara

This pasta is not for the diet crowd.  But for those not too concerned about calories and fat and want a dish that is quick and full of flavour, this one is for you.

Serves 1/2

Chicken Carbonara
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Ingredients

  • 6 oz linguine
  • 2 slices bacon, diced
  • 6 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water.
  2. Meanwhile in a non stick skillet cook bacon until crisp.
  3. Remove from pan and add chicken cooking until no longer pink. Add the garlic. Remove from pan and let cool
  4. Meanwhile in a large bowl whisk together the eggs, cheese and cream. Stir in bacon and cheese.
  5. Drain pasta and while hot toss with egg mixture until everything is warm and coated.
Recipe Type: Pasta
7.6.8
213

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water.
Meanwhile in a non stick skillet cook bacon until crisp.

Add chicken cooking until no longer pink. Add the garlic.

Remove from pan and let cool.Meanwhile in a large bowl whisk together the eggs, cheese and cream. Stir in bacon and chicken.

Stir in bacon and chicken.

Drain pasta and while hot toss with egg mixture until everything is warm and coated.

Pasta with Peas and Prosciutto

You can use any kind of pasta shape for this meal.

Serves per 1 cup

Pasta with Peas and Prosciutto
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Ingredients

  • 3 oz prosciutto, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 6 cups fusilli, cooked and hot
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 10 oz peas, cooked

Instructions

  1. In a skillet over med-high heat cook the prosciutto until browned. Remove from heat.
  2. To same pan add the oil and garlic cooking 1 minute.
  3. In a large bowl combine the prosciutto, peas, parsley, cheese and hot pasta.
  4. Drizzle with garlic and oil and toss to combine.
Recipe Type: Pasta
7.6.8
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In a skillet over med-high heat cook the prosciutto until browned. Remove from heat.

To same pan add the oil and garlic cooking 1 minute.

In a large bowl combine the prosciutto, peas, parsley, cheese and hot pasta.

Drizzle with garlic and oil and toss to combine.

Pasta with Mascarpone and Lemon

A very simple sauce for a very elegant dish. You can serve this as a main entree for 2 people or as a side dish for 4.  Adapted from The Kitchn

Serves 1/4

Pasta with Mascarpone and Lemon
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Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 lb spagettini
  • 5 cups spinach. chopped
  • 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large pot of salted water cook the pasta until fork tender.
  2. While the pasta is cooking combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, mascarpone, salt and nutmeg.
  3. Drain the pasta reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid. Return the pasta to the pot and stir in the cheese mixture.
  4. Add the spinach and cook until it begins to wilt.Add the reserved water.
  5. Stir in the hazelnuts and serve.
Recipe Type: Pasta
7.6.8
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In a large pot of salted water cook the pasta until fork tender.
While the pasta is cooking combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, mascarpone, salt and nutmeg.

Drain the pasta reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid. Return the pasta to the pot and stir in the cheese mixture.

Add the spinach and cook until it begins to wilt.Add the reserved water.

Stir in the hazelnuts and serve.

Farfalle with Three Peppercorn Braised Beef Sauce

Braising the beef in a slow cooker will take up to 10 hours however all you need to do is add the ingredients and leave it.  Once the beef is done the pasta dish takes barely 20 minutes to complete.  So cook your meat overnight or start it just before leaving for work, by dinner time you have a simple and delicious meal.  The Summer Fresh Three Peppercorn sauce is full of whole peppercorns making each bite snap with flavor.

Yields 4

Farfalle with Three Peppercorn Braised Beef Sauce
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Ingredients

  • Any size roasting beef, leftovers are great on sandwiches
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups farfalle pasta
  • 1 container Summer Fresh Three Peppercorn Sauce
  • 1/2 cup cream

Instructions

  1. Heat a fry pan on high. Season your roast with salt and pepper.
  2. Place the roast in your hot pan and sear all sides. This helps lock in the juices.
  3. Once all sides are seared remove roast and place in slow cooker.
  4. Add the onion to your pan.
  5. Pour in 2 cups of the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the wonderful brown bits off.
  6. Add the garlic cloves and bay leaf.
  7. Pour the wine mixture over the beef in the slow cooker.
  8. Add more wine, if needed, until liquid reaches half way up the roast.
  9. Cook on low 8-10 minutes.
  10. Once beef is cooked and tender remove it from the slow cooker and using two forks carefully shred the meat.
  11. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook your pasta until al dente.
  12. While the pasta is cooking whisk together the Three Peppercorn Sauce and cream in a medium pot over medium-high heat.
  13. Add the shredded beef and simmer until everything is heated through.
  14. Serve over cooked pasta and garnish with chives and parmesan cheese.
Recipe Type: Main Dishes
7.6.8
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Heat a fry pan on high. Season your roast with salt and pepper.

Place the roast in your hot pan and sear all sides. This helps lock in the juices.

Once all sides are seared remove roast and place in slow cooker.

Add the onion to your pan.

Pour in 2 cups of the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the wonderful brown bits off.

Add the garlic cloves and bay leaf.

Pour the wine mixture over the beef in the slow cooker. Add more wine, if needed, until liquid reaches half way up the roast.

Cook on low 8-10 minutes.

Once beef is cooked and tender remove it from the slow cooker and using two forks carefully shred the meat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook your pasta until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking whisk together the Three Peppercorn Sauce and cream in a medium pot over medium-high heat.

Add the shredded beef and simmer until everything is heated.

Serve over cooked pasta and garnish with chives and parmesan cheese.

Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes and Bocconcini

I found this amazing recipe from an issue of Canadian Living.  It’s is super easy to make and surprisingly filling.  Make this a standard for meatless Mondays. Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes according to your heat tolerance.  This amount gives just a little bit of zing.

Serves 1/4

Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes and Bocconcini
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Ingredients

  • 5 cups fusilli pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup mini bocconcini

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until fork tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
  2. In a large skillet over med-high cook the onion and garlic with the oil until soft.
  3. Add the tomatoes.
  4. Stir in the salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.
  5. Cook until the tomatoes begin to split open.
  6. Add the spinach, cooked pasta and reserved liquid.
  7. Add the cheese.
  8. Cook until the spinach begins to wilt and the cheese starts to melt.
Recipe Type: Main Dishes
7.6.8
174

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until fork tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

In a large skillet over med-high cook the onion and garlic with the oil until soft.

Add the tomatoes.

Stir in the salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.

Cook until the tomatoes begin to split open.

Add the spinach, cooked pasta and reserved liquid.

Add the cheese.

Cook until the spinach begins to wilt and the cheese starts to melt.

Summer Vegetable Pasta

It’s nice to have a meatless main dish every once in awhile.  This one is packed full of healthy and delicious vegetables. For those who can not live without meat serve this as a side dish to grilled chicken or beef.

Serves 1/4

Summer Vegetable Pasta
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Ingredients

  • 4 oz cooked pasta, any shape
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 8" casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large skillet over med-high heat the oil. Add the zucchini, squash and onion. Saute for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for 3 mintues.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the cooked pasta, 1/2 the mozzarella, basil, oregano, 1/2 tsp salt and the pepper flakes.
  5. In a small bowl combine remaining salt, ricotta and egg.
  6. Stir the ricotta mixture into the pasta.
  7. Pour into the prepared pan.
  8. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or bubbly and browned.
Recipe Type: Main Dishes
7.6.8
169

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 8″ casserole dish with cooking spray.
In a large skillet over med-high heat the oil. Add the zucchini, squash and onion. Saute for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for 3 mintues.

Remove from heat and stir in the cooked pasta, 1/2 the mozzarella, basil, oregano, 1/2 tsp salt and the pepper flakes.

In a small bowl combine remaining salt, ricotta and egg.

Stir the ricotta mixture into the pasta.

Pour into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or bubbly and browned.

Chicken and Mushrooms in Dijon White Wine Cream Sauce

This decadent pasta dish has a wonderful nutty and woodsy flavour thanks to the wild mushrooms and toasted almonds.

Serves 1/2

Chicken and Mushrooms in Dijon White Wine Cream Sauce
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Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced
  • 1 cup mixed mushrooms, sliced (i used brown, white, portobello and shiitake)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz white wine
  • 1 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat cook chicken with garlic in oil until cooked.
  2. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and add the wine. Cook until reduced by half about 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cream.
  5. Stir in the dijon mustard.
  6. Return the chicken and mushrooms to the pan and simmer for 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in the pasta and cook until everything is heated through.
  8. Serve sprinkled with toasted almonds.
Recipe Type: Pasta
7.6.8
207

In a large skillet over medium heat cook chicken with garlic in oil until cooked.

Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the wine. Cook until reduced by half about 3 minutes.

Stir in the cream.

Stir in the Dijon mustard.

Return the chicken and mushrooms to the pan and simmer for 2 minutes.

Stir in the pasta and cook until everything is heated through.

Serve sprinkled with toasted almonds.

Tomato Tortellini Soup

This is super delicious, healthy and incredibly easy to make.

Serves 1/8

Tomato Tortellini Soup
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Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cups tomato soup
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen cheese tortellini
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat cook the onion and garlic with the olive oil until vegetables are just beginning to soften.
  2. Add the tomatoes and corn. Saute another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the water and tomato soup and bring everything to a simmer.
  4. Add the spinach.
  5. Finally add the tortellini.
  6. Cook 10 more minutes or until pasta begins to float to surface.
  7. Serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese and serve with fresh bread.
Recipe Type: Soups, Salads and Sandwiches
7.6.8
187

In a large saucepan over medium heat cook the onion and garlic with the olive oil until vegetables are just beginning to soften.

Add the tomatoes and corn. Saute another 2 minutes.

Add the water and tomato soup and bring everything to a simmer.

Add the spinach.

Finally add the tortellini.

Cook 10 more minutes or until pasta begins to float to surface.

Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and with fresh bread.

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

Rich yet delicate in flavour.  Plus it includes the most important food groups out there: cheese, butter and cream.

Serves 1

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

Feel free to omit the chicken and add shrimp or vegetables to this recipe.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Pounds of Chicken Breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 24 ounces fettuccine
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 pint heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Mix together garlic, onion and pepper and season both sides of chicken before placing on pan. Cover chicken with more foil.
  3. Bake the chicken for 35 minutes then remove foil and continue baking another 15 minutes or until juices run clear. Let cool then cut into cubes.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente 8-10 minutes, drain.
  5. While pasta is boiling melt butter into the cream in medium saucepan over low heat. Add the salt and pepper.
  6. Increase heat to medium and add the cheese, stirring until melted. Add the chicken and stir until heated through.
  7. Add the pasta and thoroughly coated with sauce.
Recipe Type: Pasta
7.6.8
59

 

Spread foil on baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (2)

In a small bowl mix together the garlic powder,onion powder and black pepper.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (3)

Place chicken on foil and sprinkle seasoning mix on both sides. Cover with more foil and bake in oven 30-35 minutes or until juices run clear.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (5)

You want the chicken covered so as to poach the meat as opposed to baking it.  You want the chicken to remain white to keep with the creamy appearance of teh dish.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (6)

Dice the cooked chicken and set aside.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (7)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the fettuccine.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (9)

I leave it standing upright and the heat of the water will slowly soften it and it will drop into the boil.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (11)

Now on to the stars of the show.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (8)

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter into the cream in another saucepan.  Season with salt and pepper.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (10)

Add the cheese in batches, stirring it while it melts.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (12)

Once the all the cheese has been added and melted add the chicken to heat up again.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (13)

Drain the fettuccine.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (14)

Add the pasta to the sauce and stir well to coat.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (15)

Transfer to bowl.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (16)

Garnish the dish with a sprinkling of parsley and some cheese shaving.

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (18)

 

Chicken Fettucine alfredo (1)

Vegetable Lasagna

Serves 1/8

Vegetable Lasagna

You don't necessarily need meat to make an amazing tasting lasagna. The trick to serving your lasagna all in one piece is letting it sit for 15-20 minutes before slicing. It will still be hot and will come out intact.

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Ingredients

  • 16 oz package lasagna noodles
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 jars pasta sauce
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 15 oz container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x13 lasagna pan.
  2. Cook the noodle in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. In a large saucepan add the oil and cook the mushrooms, green peppers, onion, zucchini and garlic.
  4. Stir in pasta sauce and basil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  5. In another bowl mix together ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, and eggs.
  6. Layer half the noodle on the bottom of the pan. Top with 1/2 the cheese mix, 1/2 the sauce and 1/2 the parmesan cheese.
  7. Top with remaining noodles then follow up with the remaining cheese mix, sauce, parmesan and the last 2 cups of mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes and let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Recipe Type: Pasta
7.6.8
124

 

Prepare your pan and preheat the oven.

In a large pot of boiling water cook the lasagna noodles until al dente.  To tell if it is just right remove a noodle and try to pierce it with a fork.  There should be just  a bit of resistance.  Drain and let cool.

While the noodles are cooking chop up your mushrooms, onion, zucchini, pepper and garlic.

Add all your vegetables together in a medium sized pot with the oil and cook until tender.

Add the pasta sauce and basil and simmer until everything is nice and hot about 15 minutes. You can always add more seasoning to suite your taste.  I like red pepper flakes, oregano, a bit of salt…you know play with the taste.  Set aside.

In a bowl combine the ricotta and eggs.

Add 2 cups of the mozzarella and all of the Parmesan.

Stir everything together.

Spray your lasagna pan with cooking spray to prevent any sticking.  Layer the noodles on the bottom of the pan.

Spread half of the cheese mix.

Top the cheese with half of the pasta sauce.

Repeat with another layer of noodles, the remaining cheese and pasta sauce.  Sprinkle the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella cheese on top.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes then let it stand for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

 

Walnut Sauce

Serves 1/4 cup sauce

Walnut Sauce

This sauce can be used over any kind of pasta but for a heavier dish use cheese or meat filled shapes like ravioli and tortellini. If you can't find minced walnut it's not hard to make your own. If you have a food chopper then your one step ahead if not you can do what I do.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of minced walnut
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • About a 1 1/2 pounds fresh ravioli

Instructions

  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water add the ravioli and cook until tender. Drain.
  2. In another saucepan melt the butter over low heat.
  3. Add the flour and stir until lightly brown coloured.
  4. Add the milk, stirring as you do to help break up any lumps.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking until sauce begins to thicken. Add the walnuts.
  6. Cook a few minutes longer to heat up the walnuts.
  7. Carefully stir in the pasta so as to not break it apart.
7.6.8
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Place chopped  walnuts in a Ziploc bag.

Pound them into a pulp using a meat tenderizer.

Keep pounding them until they are the consistency your need.

In a saucepan over low heat melt the butter.

Add the flour and stir until golden.  This is called a rue.

Add the milk and whisk constantly breaking up any lumps and keeping the bottom from scorching.

Season with salt and pepper and add the walnuts.

Cook for a few more minutes until thick.  Serve with your favorite pasta, over chicken or fish.

 

 

Spaghetti Bolognese

Serves 1/4

Spaghetti Bolognese
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 onion,diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste, optional if you want a thicker sauce
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch hot pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. In a skillet heat oil over med-high heat. Add the oil.
  2. Saute the ground beef, breaking it up into small pieces using the back of your spoon, until cooked through and beginning to brown.
  3. Add the onions and peppers and continue cooking until the onion begin to get translucent.
  4. Add the garlic and stir for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, paste (if using) and spices stirring it all together nicely. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil and add spaghetti. Cook until tender, then drain completely.
  6. Pour the spaghetti into the pan of sauce and mix well. Sprinkle with cheese and serve. Enjoy!
Recipe Type: Pasta
7.6.8
57

 

Dice up the onions and red pepper.  Mince your garlic.  I’m a believer in not slaving away in the kitchen so I tend to use garlic from a jar of already minced cloves.  It comes it super handy, can be used in an instant, plus the juice is great drizzled on salads, soups, veggies and more.

Add the oil to your pan.

Add the ground beef.  Break it up into smaller pieces with your spoon.

You want the meat to be completely cooked and just starting to brown.

Add the onions and red peppers and cook until they just start to get tender.

Stir in the garlic.

Add the tomatoes.

And your basil, oregano, salt and pepper.

Mix it all together well.  Here is where I decide if I want to use the tomato past or not.  If it’s a little too runny like it is here I’ll add a tablespoonful just to thicken it up.

Simmer on medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a pot of water to a boil and start cooking your pasta.

Once it is cooked to your liking (some like a bite to their pasta, others prefer mushier) drain off the hot water.

Mix together several scoops of sauce and pasta in a bowl and sprinkle with cheese. Enjoy!!

 

Greek Pasta Salad

Serves 1/16

Greek Pasta Salad
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Ingredients

  • 450 g. rotini pasta
  • 2 container greek feta, plain or seasoned, crumbled
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 can black olives, drained
  • 1 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta until al dente in a large pot of boiling water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking combine the remaining ingredients except the olives in a large bowl.
  3. Drain the pasta and immediately add the cheese mixture. Mix together well.
  4. Stir in the olive.
  5. Refrigerate for 1 hour or serve warm.
Recipe Type: Soups, Salads and Sandwiches
7.6.8
134

 

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until just al dente.  While it’s cooking chop the basil, oregano and red onion.  You want about a 1/4 cup of each of the herbs.

Place the cheese in a medium sized bowl. I really like the flavour  of the fetas that already come mixed with herbs and spices.  This one is a garlic and herbs.

Add the onion.

Then the herbs.

Drizzle in the olive oil.

Mix everything together well.

Drain the pasta and place it in a large serving bowl.  While it’s still hot add the cheese mixture.

Stir it together well.  Since the pasta is still warm it slightly melts the cheese giving the salad a creamy texture.  It also softens the onions.

Stir in the olives.

This salad can be served warmed or you can refrigerate it until you need it.  Just make sure to give it a good stir before serving.