Best Ever 😋 Apple Streusel Muffins

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I hope you believe me when I tell you that these muffins are really, really good. No need for a big cake muffin when you have one of these apple and cinnamon treats. Add a cup of coffee ☕️ and you are ready to start your day. If your household is like mine (where anything good doesn’t last the day), be quick to grab or hide one.

PREP: 50 min

BAKE: 5 min @ 450 degrees, 12 min at 400.

 🍐 TOPPING

  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1/4 cup golden yellow Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp Walnuts, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted Butter, melted

🍐 BATTER

  • 3 Apples, peeled, chopped & 🍎 *precooked
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
  • pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 Walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven, prepare muffin tins with wrappers, chop your apples and cook in saucepan for 12 min (see below) 🍎.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together your streudel topping which includes your flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and walnuts. Add melted butter and form crumb like mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt. Add butter to flour mixture and blend it in with your thumb and fingers until mixture has course texture. Toss in Apple and walnut pieces.
  4. Mix together eggs and buttermilk and then gradually add to flour mixture. DO NOT OVER MIX.
  5. Add batter (heaping 1/4 cup) to muffin tin.
  6. Top with streusel mixture, generously covering tops and then bake in oven till lightly browned.

TIP:  🍎  An extra step worth completing is to cook your chopped apple pieces in 1 Tbsp of butter and 1 Tbsp brown sugar on medium heat for about 12 min or until Apples are soft.

🍐 MANGIA! (12 muffins) 

 

 

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)

Homemade Croutons

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Homemade croutons made from leftover bread are a great way to elevate a simple Caesar salad.

PREP TIME: 10 min

COOK TIME: 10 min

🍐 INGREDIENTS:

  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Black Pepper
  • Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Baguette (or any left over bread)

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut up Bread into cubes and then place in a large ziplock bag.
  2. Add Oil and Spices to bag and shake , allowing bread to be coated evenly.
  3. Spread onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until bread is golden brown.
  4. Add to favourite salad as topping.

MANGIA!

🍐 INSPIRATION:

Sometimes even small changes can have a big impact.

 

 

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)

 

 

 

 

 

Pasta & Fagioli

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Looking for the perfect Minestrone style recipe? Search no more, especially if you love pasta and beans. Pasta and Fagioli is a traditional Italian dish that is certainly one of my favourites. It is nutritional, economical and extremely tasty, but don’t take my word for it, make it yourself. Half the fun is trying to pronounce the word  ‘Fagioli’ !

( Fah— Jo—Lee)

🍐 Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Carrots, chopped
  • 2 Celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 can (796 ml) Italian Plum Tomatoes
  • 1 can (398 ml) Stewed Tomatoes
  • 1 can (398 ml) dark red Kidney Beans (plus liquid)
  • 1 can (398 ml) white Kidney Beans ( plus liquid)
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 3 cups of Chicken Broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp  White Balsamic Vinegar
  •  1 Tsp Oregano, Basil
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 5 Hot Italian Sausages (or mild if you prefer less spicy)
  • Pasta—I used Farfalline (butterfly shape) but you can really use any small pasta shape you like (small shells, elbow etc)

🍐 Directions:

  1. In a deep pot, add oil and when hot, add garlic and onions and sauté.
  2. Then add vegetables, tomatoes, beans & tomato paste and cook couple of minutes longer, continue to stir.
  3. Next add broth, water and vinegar.
  4. While broth mixture is simmering on medium heat, remove sausage casings and brown meat in a frying pan. When cooked, drain off excess oil and add to broth mixture.
  5. The sausages will have their own flavouring, so taste the broth while you add the spices and adjust to your preference.
  6. When mixture has cooked for approximately 1 1/2 – 2 hours, add cooked pasta just before serving.

TIP: Don’t be afraid to experiment when using a recipe as it is only a guide. You may want to cut the sausages into pieces to change the texture of the dish or increase water amount for more of a soup consistency. Be creative and have fun. 

Mangia! ( Serves 8+) Leftovers freeze really well.

Orzo Salad

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THE PERFECT POTLUCK DISH

 

Whether you add Shrimp, Chicken or keep it simple, Orzo Salad is always a crowd pleaser. I always love a dish you can make the night before and have it taste even better the next day.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pkg Orzo Pasta
  • 1 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small jar Roasted Red Peppers, drained & chopped
  • 1 small jar Marinated Artichoke Hearts, chopped
  • 1 can Black Olives, sliced
  • Cooked Prawns (or cooked & cubed chicken)
  • Your favourite Vinaigrette (or try 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar), dash of salt & 1 Tbsp minced garlic)
  • Oregano, Basil, Black Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook Orzo pasta in pot of boiling water.
  2. Drain pasta and add 1 Tsp of Olive Oil to pasta so it does not stick together.
  3. Place drained pasta in a bowl and add Peppers, Artichokes, Olives and Prawns.
  4. Then add dressing, mix and refrigerate (cover). You can experiment by adding some of the juices from the artichoke jar, but taste your pasta salad first!

TIP:  You can also add Avocado 🥑, Feta cheese and/or Fresh Dill  to this dish for more taste, nutritional value and colour.  If you do decide to add Avocado, best to incorporate it just before serving and pick one that is not too soft. 

MANGIA! (Serves 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)

 

Stuffed Pasta Shells

An easy dish to make but so, so good and fairly healthy for you. The four main ingredients include pasta, cheese, spinach and sauce. It’s a simple meal that will also impress. Hope someone out there tries it. I would love to hear from you.

Ingredients:

1 box Jumbo pasta shells

2, 500g Ricotta cheese

3/4 cup spinach, drain if frozenECFA17BB-6D32-4AC3-9E59-FB1029CA24D6

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

2 cups or so Mozzarella cheese, be generous

1 jar favourite Tomato sauce

Black pepper to taste

Dry Basil to taste

Salt, pinch

Fresh Basil for garnish

Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Boil large pot of water. Add pinch of salt.
  2. Add large pasta shells to water and cook al dente, approx. 15 min.
  3. Drain pasta and add a touch of olive oil so pasta does not stick.
  4. While pasta is cooling add Ricotta, parmesan, spinach, pepper and basil to large bowl and mix.
  5. Stuff pasta with cheese mixture, one shell at a time.
  6. Add a bit of sauce to the bottom of a baking dish and then place stuffed shells on bottom in rows, close together.
  7. Top with rest of sauce so pasta is covered.
  8. Add a generous layer of mozzarella cheese and top with pepper and basil.
  9. Cook at 350 degrees C for about 45 minutes or until bubbly. Add fresh 🌿 basil for garnish.

Mangia ! (serves 4-5)619B6BD2-A9A3-4B47-B85A-6A3ECBD05107

 

Favorite Dish

CA7BD60C-58E0-4738-8D16-5204BB3463DDDo you have a favorite meal? Mine is Pasta & Fagioli. The type of food we are drawn to can hint to our ethnic roots. Now that is not to say that we don’t enjoy foods from other cultures—I love wonton soup and on occasion crave Indian food.  I do, however, find myself drawn to the smells I grew up with as they often remind me of my childhood experiences—like fresh basil or oregano, especially on the top of homemade pizza (hungry yet?). This week I will try and post my daughter’s favorite dish, stuffed pasta shells with ricotta. When I asked her why she loves it so much she said “ It has the perfect blend of cheese and pasta and nothing is more Italian than that”.

🍐Inspire: Make someone their favorite dish when they least expect it.

I would love to hear what you made, why and the reaction.

Continue reading “Favorite Dish”

Chilli

Nothing says warmth and comfort like chilli. It was not really a dish I grew up with, but one you learn when life gets busy with work and kids and you’re
making an effort to eat healthy. My secret ingredient is hot sauce. Another tip is to have tacos or sloppy joes the next night with the leftovers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef, lean
  • 2 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • Oregano, Basil, Garlic Powder, Hot Sauce, to taste
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 can mushrooms/ or fresh, chopped
  • 1 can corn kernels, drained
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp of tomatoe paste
  • 1 can of white kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can of brown beans, drained
  • 1 can of red beans, drained
  • 1 large jar, tomatoe sauce, your favourite
  • Cheddar cheese, to taste
  1. In a large skillet, drizzle in oil and when hot add chopped onion. When onion is tender, add in ground beef and cook for a few minutes until browned. Add spices to taste.
  2. When meat is cooked, remove from heat and drain off excess fat and place temporarily aside. In same skillet add garlic and fry until slightly browned (don’t burn it!). Then add vegetables, including green pepper, mushrooms and corn and cook until softened. To vegetables, add stewed tomatoes and paste, mix and cook for a few more minutes.
  3. In a large pot, add in cooked ground beef and cooked vegetable mixture. Continue to add the beans and tomatoe sauce and then let simmer on low for approx. 1 hour, stir occasionally. Taste just before serving as you may want to add more spices to your liking, especially the hot sauce if someone in your house is addicted to Sriracha —you know who you are…..
  4. Mix in some grated cheddar cheese and add a bit for garnish if you like.

Mangia!  (Serves 4)

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