Lasagna

Lasagna

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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My all time favourite food… LASAGNA!

MMMMM. I could literally eat lasagna everyday for the rest of my life. It’s by far my favourite food, so much so that I even had the nickname Garfield once. The options are endless in terms of the flavour profile you choose to go for, so I’m sure this won’t be my one and only lasagna recipe.

A couple years ago, my partner and I went on a trip to France and Italy. It was my mission to find the best lasagna. I wasn’t planning on getting it in France, but one random evening, in a random restaurant I placed my order. It was the BEST of the trip. I still remember it to this day. And that beats out each of the 4-5 lasagnas I tried while we were in Italy.

Lasagna

It’s all about the layers…

I love all lasagna, especially my mom’s. She used to always make it for me when I’d come home after weeks or months away. While this recipe is pretty close to my mom’s, I have made a few changes.

Lasagna

Lasagna

Lasagna noodles layered with ground beef with veggies, mozzarella, ricotta cheese and baked to perfection.
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian

Equipment

  • 12 x 16 inch pan
  • Large pan

Ingredients
  

  • 450 g lasagna noodles cooked as per packet instructions
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper diced
  • 100 g white mushrooms chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small zucchini chopped
  • 375 g ground beef extra lean
  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 650 ml Primo sauce I used thick and zesty herb and garlic
  • 454 g ricotta
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • cup mozzarella grate
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Cook lasagna noodles in salted water until al dente, as per packet instructions. Set aside once done.
  • In a large pan, on medium-high heat, add olive oil. Wait til hot and sauté onion for 2 minutes. Next, add garlic, salt and pepper and continue to sauté for 1 minute. Add in the ground beef and Italian seasoning and cook for approximately 8 minutes or until beef has browned.
  • Once browned, turn down to medium-low heat. Add chopped red pepper and zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Next, add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Turn down to low heat, add the Primo sauce and parmesan cheese. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Now it's time to assemble your lasagna. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Start with some sauce on the bottom of your pan, then lasagna noodles, mozzarella, beef, ricotta, noodles, repeat. There will be 3 layers of noodles. On top of the last layer, top with sauce and mozzarella. Cover with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Rest for 10-15 minutes and serve!
Keyword lasagna

Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Happy national Mac and Cheese day!

Mac and cheese, mmmm. What a great comfort food that’s perfect as a side or as the main dish. There are just so many options when it comes to this dish! Depending on what cheese you decide to use and whether you decide to add protein or vegetables, the opportunities are endless.

This time, I decided to stick to a classic recipe because I had a bunch of cheese in the fridge that I needed to use. So sticking to the quarantine mentality of using what you got, I made a mozzarella and cheddar version. Our neighbourhood ribfest stand was still up, so we decided to pair it with Silver Bullet BBQ’s ribs.

Mac and Cheese

The key …

It absolutely crushes my soul when I see people post their recipes where they just throw shredded cheese in with some macaroni and bake it. When making mac and cheese, you MUST make a cheese sauce. Otherwise, you’ll have chunky, stringy, half melted cheese on plain pieces of macaroni.

Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese

Macaroni enveloped by smooth, creamy, cheesy mozzarella and old fort cheddar sauce and baked with a crunchy top layer.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • Medium sauce pan
  • Medium pot
  • 10 x 10 baking pan

Ingredients
  

  • 454 g cut macaroni cooked al dente
  • cups mozzarella shredded
  • cups old fort cheddar shredded
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups 10% cream
  • dash nutmeg
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ½ cup seasoned bread crumbs or panko

Instructions
 

  • Cook the macaroni as per packet instructions, about 11 minutes or until al dente.
  • In the meantime, melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and mix until well combined and a roux is formed.
  • Add the cream, reduce to a medium-low heat and stir constantly. After a few minutes, once the cream is warm, slowly begin adding your shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese, a handful at a time, stirring constantly. Once the first handful of cheese melts and is combined, continue to add the cheese, a handful at a time until incorporated. The sauce will thicken as the cheese is added and melted. Once you've added all your cheese and the sauce is a smooth texture, turn of the heat and add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  • Preheat the oven to 380°F. Put half of your cooked macaroni into a baking pan and coat with cheese sauce. Mix so it's well combined before adding the remainder of your macaroni and cheese sauce. Once your mac and cheese is combined, top with seasoned bread crumbs and bake for 15 minutes. Then switch to a low broil and broil for 5 more minutes or until bread crumbs start to brown on the top.
Keyword mac and cheese, macaroni and cheese

Jalapeno Poppers

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Jalapeno poppers in 2 ways!

Mmmmm, jalapeno poppers! These irresistible cheesy and spicy appetizers are easy to make and sure to impress your friends. Perfect for any celebration like Canada day today or really any event. This simple recipe beats the frozen store-bought version any day!

Jalapeno Poppers

Snacky’s, appy’s, finger food – these jalapeno poppers are the perfect pre-meal appetizer or perfect for your guests to grab and munch on while entertaining. I absolutely love finger food and to be honest, sometimes I’d prefer to have a platter of tasty little eats as opposed to a full proper meal.

Variations…

Here are 2 different ways to create these super yummy jalapeno poppers, bacon wrapped or breaded and deep fried. Both are absolutely delicious, but it really depends on your personal preference, time and the ingredients you have on hand.

The bacon-wrapped option is much quicker and my personal favourite. The breaded version on the other hand adds a crispy crunchy texture that imitates the poppers you’ll find at your local bar or the grocery store. My advice? Try both!

Tips:

  1. Spice level. If you follow the recipe but omit the jalapeno seeds, you’ll end up with a quite mild jalapeno popper. To make spicy jalapeno poppers, add the seeds and more hot sauce!
  2. Jalapenos are generally pretty tame when it comes to spicy peppers, but to be on the safe side, wear gloves while handling them.
  3. When is oil ready for frying? Oil is ready when you can flick some water into it and it starts bubbling immediately.
Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeno Poppers, 2 ways

Baked bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers and fried panko coated jalapeno poppers.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12 poppers

Equipment

  • Deep fryer or oil and a pot
  • Bowl
  • Baking sheet

Ingredients
  

  • 6 whole jalapenos halved lengthwise
  • 4 oz cream cheese softened to room temperature
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese finely grated
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce I prefer Tabasco or Frank's, but feel free to use your preferred hot sauce.
  • 3 strips bacon cut in half
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups vegetable oil

Instructions
 

  • Wash and slice the jalapenos lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds of the halved jalapenos and set aside.
  • For the filing: in a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, cheddar cheese, hot sauce, salt and pepper until well combined. *For a little spice, add the seeds of 1-2 jalapenos. For a lot of spice, add the seeds of 3-4 jalapenos.
  • Fill each halved jalapeno with the cream cheese filing.
  • For the bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers, preheat oven to 400℉. Cut the bacon strips in half. Wrap half a slice of bacon around 6 jalapeno pepper halves filled with the filing. Bake at 400℉ for approximately 20 minutes or until bacon fat is rendered and is cooked to your liking. 
  • For the deep fried jalapeno poppers, heat the vegetable oil in a medium pot on medium-high heat. To prepare the remaining 6 jalapeno pepper halves, set up the flour, beaten egg and panko in 3 separate bowls. Dip into the flour, egg, flour, egg, and panko. Fry the breaded jalapeno poppers until golden brown. Remove and place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. 

Notes

Each jalapeno makes 2 poppers, so keeping that in mind when portioning out your servings.
 
Keyword bacon wrapped, baked good, cream cheese, fried, jalapeno, jalapeno popper, popper

Twice baked potato

Twice-Baked Potato

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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A twice-baked potato is twice the fun!

I absolutely love potatoes. It definitely stems from my Polish background, but they’re just so versatile! You can have them in so many different ways, but today I wanted to share a deliciously cheesy, smooth, and flavourful twice-baked potato.

Normally I try to avoid using the oven during the summer, especially for long periods of time, but we had leftover wrapped russet potatoes from our camping trip this weekend. Baked potatoes are delicious on their own with some butter and/or sour cream, but this recipe takes it up a few notches.

Twice-baked potato

The perfect side…

These twice-baked potatoes suit basically any main course, particularly your classic meat proteins. Leftover chicken kabobs and pasta salad from our camping trip made for an easy meal. I can’t have kabobs without tzatziki, and all nutrition’s recipe is so easy that you’ll never buy the store-bought version again!

Twice-baked potato

Variations

Stick to the russet potatoes, but you put whatever you want in your potato mix. You should definitely add some cheese and seasoning in there, but the rest is up to you! I don’t always add bacon, but I must say it takes this twice-baked potato to the next level.

This recipe can easily be adapted to be vegan by using vegan butter and cheese.

Twice-baked potato
Twice-baked potato

Twice-baked potato

This twice-baked potato is twice as good as a regular baked potato.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Side Dish
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Aluminum foil
  • Baking sheet
  • Small bowl

Ingredients
  

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Splash milk
  • 1 tsp green onion finely diced
  • tbsp cheddar cheese grated
  • 4 slices cooked bacon diced
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash your russet potatoes with water and dry. Wrap in tin foil and place on a baking sheet for 1 hour. Once cooked, set aside and let cool for at least 20 minutes.
  • Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and spoon out the inside of the potatoes into a small bowl, leaving the skin intact to create a kind of bowl. You will be returning the mixture to the skins once all the ingredients are mixed and well combined.
  • In the small bowl with your cooked potato, add the butter, splash of milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined. Next, add the bacon, green onion and 1 tbsp of cheddar cheese and mix until well combined. Fill the potato skins with the mixture.
  • Sprinkle your filled potatoes with the remaining cheese and bake for 5-7mins at 375°F or until the cheese on top has melted. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy!
Keyword baked potato, russet potato, Twice-baked potato

Chicken Parmesan

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Coming back to our Italian themed dinner last week, I wanted to share my super easy and flavourful chicken parmesan recipe. This is such a comforting recipe that was the perfect accompaniment to my fresh bocconcini salad and Inspired Taste’s focaccia recipe.

chicken parmesan

How to make it:

First and foremost, it’s important to beat your chicken breasts down into cutlets. I enjoy a thin chicken parmesan cutlet so I slice them in half lengthwise first and then lightly beat the halves until they reach my preferred thickness, about 1 inch.

Next, you want to season the chicken. You can absolutely change the spices based on your preference, but this recipe gives you a traditional flavour. Coat the cutlets in flour, then egg wash and finally in panko.

It’s important to then fry your cutlets in oil first, before assembling them and finishing them off in the oven.

Alternative ingredients…

  • No panko? No problem. Panko is easily substituted for bread crumbs, but I find that panko results in a crispier chicken cutlet.
  • Mozzarella definitely isn’t your only option! You can use parmesan alone or use a different white cheese like provolone.
  • In terms of the pasta/tomato sauce, you can used anything you have in your pantry! I used a Compliment’s pasta sauce, but you can even used a plain tomato sauce if that’s all your have on hand.
Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan

A classic Italian chicken cutlet baked with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • Large pan
  • Baking sheet
  • 3 small bowls

Ingredients
  

  • 2 full chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise and beaten to a 1 inch thickness
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp herbs de provence
  • 1-2 eggs beaten
  • ½ cup panko
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ cup pasta sauce I used Compliment's Roasted Onion & Garlic Pasta Sauce.
  • 1 cup mozzarella grated
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Cut the 2 chicken breasts in half lengthwise and then beat each half until chicken is about 1 inch thick. Season each cutlet with ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, ½ tsp garlic powder and ½ tsp herbs de provence.
  • In 3 small bowls, put the flour, egg and panko in individual bowls. Coat the seasoned chicken cutlets in the flour, then the egg wash, and lastly the panko until fully covered.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large pan, put oil on medium-high heat. When oil is hot, fry the chicken cutlets for 4 minutes on each side.
  • Once fried, place the cutlets on a baking sheet. Put 1/4 cup of the mozzarella on each cutlet. Then cover the mozzarella with 2-3 tbsp of pasta sauce per cutlet. Finally, sprinkle 2 tbsp of parmesan cheese on each cutlet.
  • Bake the assembled chicken cutlets for 10 minutes.
  • Let cool for 2 minutes and they're ready to serve!
Keyword chicken cutlet, chicken parmesan, italian

Bocconcini Salad

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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A super simple and fresh salad…

After my latest Flora Friday post featuring basil, I just had to use the fragrant culinary herb in my next meal. This bocconcini salad highlights basil perfectly because its flavour enhances and brings the entire dish to life. This salad is super fresh and so quick and easy that it’ll only take you a few minutes to throw together. Paired perfectly with Italian cuisine, last night’s Italian themed dinner featured this delightful salad making it the perfect accompaniment to our chicken parm and inspired taste’s focaccia bread.

Bocconcini Salad

It’s all about quality…

Any recipe with few ingredients requires the best quality ingredients. There’s no where to hide with this bocconcini salad so I definitely recommend using top quality ingredients. Fresh basil from the garden brings a fragrant freshness to the salad. While perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes ensures you have a nice crisp bite each mouthful. Lastly, dressing your bocconcini salad with a high quality olive oil and salt will provide a noticeably tastier difference.

Tips and tricks

  • Cut your cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise as well as the bocconcini cheese. I find the smaller bites allow for better flavour distribution and the tomato juice adds to the dressing.
  • When chopping your basil, stack your washed basil leaves on top of one another. Then roll the stacked leaves and proceed to chop, which will result in uniformly thin stripes of basil.
Bocconcini Salad

Bocconcini Salad

A simple, fresh and fragrant salad.
Prep Time 5 mins
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Small bowl

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes rinsed and halved lengthwise
  • 100 g bocconcini halved
  • ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
  • ½ tsp salt to taste
  • ½ tsp pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil extra virgin

Instructions
 

  • Rinse the cherry tomatoes and cut into halves.
  • Cut the bocconcini cheese into halves.
  • Chop the fresh basil into uniform thin stripes.
  • Combine the tomatoes, bocconcini, fresh basil, salt, pepper and olive oil into a service bowl and mix until the salad is fully dressed.
Keyword basil, bocconcini, Bocconcini Salad, cold pasta salad, italian, tomato

Cheese Scones

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
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Happy National Cheese day! I had a lot of cheesy recipes I wanted to share today, but with this summertime heat, I decided on a lighter recipe that wasn’t a heavy comfort food (although those are the most delicious in my opinion…). These flaky and buttery cheese scones are the perfect baked good for breakfast, lunch or with a tea. Eat them plain, with some butter, or ham and cheese like my partner likes. Although this recipe contains cheese, the cheese can easily be substituted; for fruit to make a sweet version, meat to continue on the savory route or you can make them plain and top them with a delicious jam.

Cheese Scones

Recipe tips:

You must must must use cold firm butter!!

No pastry cutter? No problem! You can easily use your hands to break up the cold firm butter into the flour mixture. The key is to make sure the butter doesn’t melt. You want there to be tiny butter chunks throughout the flour mixture.

When mixing the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, be sure not to overwork the dough. Less is better with this recipe. The mixture should just be combined before transferring to your floured surface and knead only a few times until your dough has been formed and shaped.

Cheese Scones

Variations:

With savory scones, depending on your taste buds, you can cut out a little extra sugar and add a tiny bit more salt (I’d recommend only adding 0.5-1 tsp extra). Remember this all depends on how you’re adding flavour to your scones. For example, if you want to make cheese and bacon scones, I wouldn’t add anymore salt because you’ll have added salt from the bacon bits.

With sweet or plain scones, I would add an extra 1/4 cup of sugar to the recipe. My personal favourite are raspberries, but feel free to experiment!

Cheese Scones

A delicious, flaky and butter base scone recipe with added cheesiness.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine British
Servings 8 scones

Equipment

  • Baking sheet
  • Pastry cutter
  • Large bowl
  • Measuring cups/spoons

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter firm and cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese shredded

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in firm cubed butter.
  • Add the egg, milk, and cheese and stir into the flour mixture until moistened.
  • On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough briefly and roll out into a 1/2-1 inch think circle. Cut into 8 wedges.
  • Place on a baking sheet and back for 15 minutes of until lightly browned.
Keyword baked good, cheese scones, cream cheese, scone, scones