Stuffed Green Peppers

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I love the fact that you can combine rice, meat, cheese and vegetables into one little, edible package. Sometimes I’ve used a combination of red, yellow and green peppers for colour. I’ve also stuffed sweet long peppers with sausage meat for a more elegant presentation. Either way you will have a reliable and tasty hit on your hands every time 🏆

🍐 PREP: 30 min

🍐 COOKING: Approximately 1 hour at 350 degrees (or until peppers are soft)

🍐 INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • Olive oil (for pan & and top of peppers)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 can (398 ml) plum tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • Cayenne pepper flakes, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 6 green peppers, medium size

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Chop your onions and garlic and then place in oiled frying pan. Sauté for a couple minutes.
  2. Add ground meat and brown for a few minutes. While the meat is cooking add tomatoes, spices and cheese. Reserve 1 cup of mozzarella for later use.
  3. Prepare your green peppers by cutting off the tops (1/2 inch thick) and carving out the seeds and white membrane. Place upright in large casserole dish.
  4. Chop up the green part of the pepper tops and add to ground beef, along with cooked rice. Continue to cook the meat & rice mixture for a few more minutes.
  5. Then stuff the green peppers with  this mixture and sprinkle on a bit more mozzarella and oregano on the top.
  6. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the stuffed peppers. Cook until soft and bubbly. Keep covered until last 15 min or so.

🍐 TIP: If you like make-ahead meals, stuffed peppers can be stored in fridge for use the next day. Just make sure the ground beef is well cooked on the stove top.

🍐 MANGIA! 

 

 

 

Fresh Spring Rolls

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These spring rolls are very easy to make and a refreshing change from the usual meal routine. The effort is mostly in the chopping of the vegetables. Don’t be alarmed if your wrapping technique needs work as this will improve over time. Place only a small handful of ingredients into each rice wrap as this will help. Whenever I make this dish I tend to only use half a package of rice noodles and paper, but these ingredients really store well for next time— and believe me you will want to make these again and again.

🍐 PREP TIME: 20 min

🍐 INGREDIENTS:

  • Pkg of Rice noodles (I use Thai rice vermicelli)
  • Pkg of Rice paper, circular
  • Iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • Long English cucumber, chopped
  • Carrots, chopped (or make ribbons with a peeler)
  • Fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • Fresh Basil, chopped
  • Cooked prawns, 2 per roll
  • Dipping sauce (hoisin sauce is my favorite)

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Chop your vegetables lengthways into matchsticks and set aside.
  2. Chop your fresh herbs and set aside.
  3. Peel your cooked prawns and set aside. (If you decide to buy uncooked prawns, boil prawns in hot water for a couple minutes until exterior is pink in colour, drain and peel).
  4. Place your rice noodles in deep bowl and pour boiled water over top so that the noodles are entirely covered. Let sit for 2 minutes so noodles can soften.
  5. Place single sheet of rice paper in a deep plate (I like to use a pie dish), cover with warm water and  soak for 30 seconds. You will know the paper is ready when it becomes soft and pliable.
  6. Then place rice paper on flat surface and add small portions of vegetables, noodles, herbs and prawns to the bottom edge of the circle. Roll wrap from bottom up and fold in sides as you go.
  7. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

TIP: Bean sprouts are another vegetable that works well in spring rolls but sometimes they can be hard to find in the supermarket.

🍐 MANGIA!

Eggplant Parmesan 🍆

1725008D-CEF4-49D2-B8B7-DDE1E98251F9The reason I love this eggplant dish so much is because it tastes like you are indulging when in fact it’s a healthy, vegetarian dish. That’s right no meat,  but yet full of flavour and texture!  This is another great make-ahead dish that is simple and affordable.

PREP TIME: 20 min

COOKING TIME: 1hr @ 350 degrees F

🍐 INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large *eggplants, peeled and sliced.
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 x 300g container of plain bread crumbs
  • 2 x 650 ml jars of your favorite tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of basil
  • 1 Tbsp of oregano
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Peel eggplants and cut into slices, 1/2 cm in thickness.
  2. Prepare 9 x 13 inch baking dish by adding couple of tablespoons of sauce to bottom of dish to lightly cover.
  3. Break eggs into a bowl, whisk together and set aside.
  4. Place breadcrumbs in shallow dish.
  5. Dip eggplant slices into egg mixture and then into breadcrumbs, coating both sides one slice at a time.
  6. Layer prepared eggplant slices into baking dish, approximately 12 slices. Lightly cover eggplant with cheeses, spices and sauce and repeat this step until three layers are formed. Try to end with a topping of sauce and mozzarella.
  7. Bake in preheated oven until sides are bubbly and cheese is gooey,  approx one hour.

🍐 *TIP: There are many eggplant varieties but for this recipe I suggest the Italian eggplant which is pear shape and dark purple in colour. 

🍐 MANGIA!

 

 

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

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The saying “anything wrapped in bacon is good” was never more true than with this side dish/appetizer. This is a great way to BBQ asparagus and make something so simple look elegant. Pairs nicely with fish or meat. Wrap one asparagus spear with a prosciutto slice or wrap 2-3 thin spears together.

Prep: 5 min

BBQ: 10 min

🍐 INGREDIENTS:

  • Prosciutto (Italian ham), several slices
  • Asparagus bunch

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Wash and prepare asparagus. Hold both ends of an asparagus spear and gently bend until it snaps into two. Discard the woody bottom end.
  2. Loosely wrap asparagus with prosciutto so that stem is mostly covered.
  3. Place on bbq and cook until vegetable is tender and prosciutto is crispy.

🍐 TIP: 

I used my indoor grill and it worked beautifully.

🍐 MANGIA!

 

 

Featured

Zucchini Boats

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Zucchini boats make an excellent vegetable side dish and can  be cooked on the BBQ or in the oven. Super easy to make and a great use of the endless supply of this summer Squash.😀🤪😋

PREP TIME: 10 min

BBQ TIME: 20 min

🍐 INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 small Zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 cup Feta Cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp Balsamic Reduction
  • 1 Tsp Basil Pesto
  • Black Pepper, Basil, Oregano, to taste

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut Zucchini in half.  Scoop out some of the membrane, carving out space for the filling.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together Cheese, Spices, Pesto, Garlic, Balsamic Reduction and Oil.
  3. Add mixture to carved out Zucchini shells.
  4. Barbeque stuffed Zucchini for approximately 20 min to soften outer shell.
  5. Just before serving, drizzle Balsamic Reduction on top for garnish (optional).

🍐 MANGIA! (serves 3-4)

Bruschetta

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Bruschetta is like a taste of Italy. The flavours of garlic, basil, tomato and prosciutto all melt together to make this appetizer unforgettable and irresistible.

Prep time: 15 min

Cooking time: 30 min

⚠️ Warning: one piece is never enough.

🍐 INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Baguette
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Heads of Garlic
  • Basil Pesto (homemade or store bought)
  • 6 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Pepper, Salt & Basil to taste
  • Prochutto slices (Italian ham)
  • Balsamic Reduction (also available in stores)

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut Baguette diagonally, with desired thickness and spread on thin layer of olive oil with brush.
  2. Bake bread in oven for few minutes (don’t walk away) until light golden brown in colour.
  3. Cut off top of garlic so pieces are slightly exposed. Lightly brush with olive oil, wrap in foil and roast at 400 degrees for aproximately 30 min.
  4. Once fully roasted, squeeze out garlic paste and spread a thin layer onto toasted bread.
  5. Then spread on a thin layer of pesto.
  6. Chop tomatoes and place in a small bowl. Drizzle in oil and vinegar, keeping in mind a 2:1 ratio.
  7. Add pinch of salt, basil and pepper to tomato mix.
  8. Spoon tomato mixture (& juices) onto bread pieces.
  9. Top with one slice of prochutto (optional).
  10. Drizzle balsalmic reduction onto your creation just before serving.

🍐 MANGIA!   (Appetizer for small group)

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Tomato Sauce

 

223470EC-77D2-43E9-8C40-6E6A83C6C803 Next time you think about cracking open a jar of tomato sauce, STOP and consider making it from scratch. The aroma, taste and satisfaction of cooking your own sauce will make it all worthwhile. The use of fresh tomatoes is best, but if you don’t have time to blanch/peel tomatoes (and most of us don’t) then canned tomatoes can be the next best alternative.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 large Onion, chopped finely
  • 2 stalks  Celery, chopped finely
  • 1 Carrot, chopped finely
  •  2 cans (796 ml+ 398 ml) Plum Tomatoes
  • 1 (398 ml) can Stewed Tomatoes
  • 1 (156 ml) can Tomato Paste
  • Hot Sauce, to taste
  • Wedge (with rind) of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • Oregano, Basil, Garlic powder, Black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large, deep skillet fry garlic and onions in hot oil until soft. Add celery and carrots and fry for couple more minutes on low heat.
  2. Next add tomatoes (& juices), paste, small handful grated parmesan, spices, hot sauce and stir. Using fork, crush tomatoes into smaller chunks, depending on preferred consistency.
  3. Cook on medium heat, simmer for approximately 45 min. Continue to stir occasionally. Taste and add more spice as needed.
  4. When mixture has thickened, place directly on any cooked pasta you desire. Garnish with fresh basil 🌿 and cheese 🧀 .

TIP: Cut off the Parmesan cheese rind (quarter inch thick) and cook it in the sauce until softened. This adds great flavour BUT I cannot be responsible for the fight over  that soft, gooey piece of cheese!

Mangia! (Serves 6)