Sweet Potato and Chive, Parmesan & Garlic-Coated Ravioli

This recipe was inspired by a quick, tasty dish thought up by my little brother Peter. He used penne for the pasta, and asparagus and carrots for the veggies (which he cooked on the stove in the garlic olive oil since they don’t take as long to cook as sweet potatoes).
His version didn’t have chives, and it honestly didn’t need them– it was delish enough that I went to cook up my own version with what I had in my fridge for supper that night.

The recipe below is how I made the pasta shown in the picture, but go ahead and use any pasta and veggies you have!
The only thing you need to ensure is that you coat the pasta with the Parmesan before mixing it in with the garlic & olive oil veggies.

Buon appetit!

Ingredients:

  • approx. 450 g peeled and diced sweet potatoes– about one-inch thick (I bought mine pre-packaged that way)
  • approx. 300 g ravioli (I used whole wheat broccoli and cheese-stuffed ravioli)
  • olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped
  • small bunch of chives, finely chopped
  • 4-5 heaping tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper for serving (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.
In an oven-proof dish, place sweet potatoes.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for half an hour.
Put water on to boil for pasta.
Pour enough olive oil to cover bottom of medium skillet, and mix in garlic.
Turn on stove heat for skillet to medium low heat. Heat until garlic begins to cook and aroma fills the air.
Stir garlic around in the oil. Add cooked sweet potatoes and chives. Gently stir around to evenly coat potatoes with everything. Turn off that stove element.
Finish cooking ravioli and drain water. Place pasta back into pot, add the Parmesan and gently mix so that cheese sticks to and coats pasta.
Add the now Parmesan-coated pasta to the skillet with the sweet potatoes and mix to coat everything evenly.
Serve (with freshly ground black pepper if desired).

Serves 3

Garlic and Sundried Tomato Asparagus

Add a little something extra to your asparagus this evening. The sundried tomatoes add a nice kick of flavour that juxtaposes nicely with the asparagus. Best of all, this is quick and easy to prepare!

All you need:

  • a bunch of asparagus
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pushed through a garlic press
  • 3 sundried tomatoes (canned), chopped
  • (sea) salt and fresh pepper (to taste)
  • olive oil (approx 1/2 tbsp)

What you do:

  1. Cut the hard bottom ends off the asparagus and wash.
  2. Bring a small amount of water to boil in a large skillet (about a cm high).
  3. Lay asparagus into the water and cook until they begin to soften and colour has turned bright green (about 2-3 minutes).
  4. Remove asparagus and drain water from skillet.
  5. Heat the olive oil in the same skillet and add the garlic and sundried tomatoes. Stir around.
  6. Add the asparagus, grate in your pepper and season with salt to your taste.
  7. Turn asparagus in pan to fully coat all of them. (I used tongs to make this easier).
  8. Remove from heat and Enjoy!

Shrimp Spaghettini with Tandoori Almonds and Honey Dates

For this recipe I used canned Tandoori almonds and pitted honey dates that I had in my snack cupboard. You could probably use other seasoned almonds and dried fruit to get the same sort of cool mix of flavours. The mix of spicy with sweet, and the different textures (including the crunch of the almonds) make this a really pleasant dish to eat!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb shrimp (frozen or not)
  • whole wheat spaghettini (or other long pasta) (a small handful per person)
  • small handful tandoori almonds (or other seasoned almonds)
  • small handful dried honey dates (or other dried fruit?)
  • approx. half teaspoon sage (I froze my sage and used it after a few months, which worked out just fine!)
  • approx. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • fresh Parmesan (to taste)
  • Fresh pepper (to taste)

Assuming you use the same ingredients I did, here’s what you do:

  1. Defrost and remove shells from frozen shrimp (I fill the bag with hot water to defrost quickly), or prepare fresh shrimp for cooking.
  2. Place a pot of water to boil, then cook  spaghettini while you prepare the rest of the meal:
  3. Roughly chop up the almonds so that you don’t have any pieces larger than a quarter almond.
  4. Chop the dates to the same size.
  5. Finely chop the sage.
  6. Finely chop the garlic, or push through a garlic press.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the garlic. Heat for about 30 seconds and add the sage. Stir. Cook until the aroma of garlic fills the air.
  8. Throw in your almonds and dates. Grate in your Parmesan and pepper. Stir to mix and coat all ingredients with the oil and garlic.
  9. Add the shrimp, stir around to coat, remove from heat once shrimp are cooked.
  10. Dump the shrimp mixture into the pot with the cooked pasta, getting all the bits and oil you can into the pot (I used a rubber spatula to do this).
  11. Stir everything around to coat the pasta and serve!

B.A.T. Sandwich

The B.A.T. = Bacon, Arugula and Tomato.

Now, I love the classic flavours of a BLT, but I thought I’d try some things differently to kick this standard dish up a notch… and boy was it worth it!

Some extras that make this sandwich special are the oozing melted cheeses (aged cheddar and mozzarella), the warmth and crunch of the toasted bread and the fact that the arugula and tomatoes are lightly sauteed. The little extras go a long way for making this sandwich such a delight to eat.

What you need:

  • bread slices (number depends on number of sandwiches made)
  • butter or margarine
  • a good chunk of each mozzarella and aged cheddar, grated finely
  • tomatoes, sliced
  • arugula
  • bacon
  • a sandwich press/griddle (or large frying pan if you don’t have one)
  • fresh black pepper

What you do:

  • Turn on your sandwich griddle to preheat
  • Butter both sides of each bread slice
  • In a frying pan, place tomato slices down and throw in arugula– ensure both become heated enough to darken and start to soften. Set aside (try to keep them separate).
  • Fry your bacon.
  • On the bottom bread slices of each sandwich, layer on the sauteed arugula. Then your bacon (you may have to cut bacon pieces in half). Then sauteed tomato. Sprinkle on a bit of fresh black pepper. Then add a generous amount of each cheese, covering everything.
  • Place top bread slices on.
  • 2 at a time, grill them in your sandwich griddle, giving the lid a firm press down. (Or grill in a frying pan and press down with spatula.)
  • When the cheese starts to ooze out, plate the sandwiches, cut ’em in half and enjoy!

* Tips for cooking bacon: I usually put my bacon on a cold pan so they don’t scorch (spread out flat), then turn the heat on to medium-low. Turn frequently to prevent burning. I sometimes press the fat against the pan to help it melt off. — and salad tongs are super helpful!

Zucchini Bread (Mmm!)

I’d never heard of such a thing before my neighbour shared one that he had made, but I immediately threw out all unfavourable preconceptions upon tasting this unique and addictive concoction.

The name of this dish may not lend itself to overwhelming desire or salivation, but, dear readers, I heartily suggest you try it. It’s sweet, rich, moist, full of wonderful flavour, and a cinch to whip up!

I substituted the recipe’s original call for 1 cup walnuts or raisins, and instead used walnuts AND dried cranberries.

* I  also often substitute the walnuts with white chocolate chips (when baking for folks with nut allergies). You can also substitute the “fillings” with a cup of whatever else you like! *

I liked it so much that I whipped up another batch the next day to share with family and neighbours on Thanksgiving weekend.

This flavour-packed loaf also freezes very well– just thaw out on the counter afterwards and enjoy!

 

Here’s all you do:

Instructions: In a large bowl with a whisk, mix well in order given; pour into 2 lightly greased bread pans (can be disposable). Bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour.

(You’ll know it’s ready if a toothpick stuck inside comes out clean. If goopy batter clings to the toothpick, keep the loaf in the oven until that no longer happens.)

Ingredients:

  1. 3 eggs
  2. 2 cups sugar
  3. 1 cup oil
  4. 3 cups zucchini, grated (about 2-3). *You DON’T have to peel them*
  5. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  6. 3 cups flour (all purpose white OR whole wheat)
  7. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  8. *slightly* over 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. 3 teaspoons cinnamon (do not add any more)
  11. 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  12. 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Makes 2 loaves

Old Cheddar Cheeseburgers w/ Sauteed Arugula & Mushrooms

This was a spontaneous first attempt at hamburgers and they turned out not too shabby, if I may say so. I shared the meal with K and my littlest brother, P– we all reached for seconds. The old cheddar and lightly sauteed arugula added great flavour kicks, and the sauteed mushrooms added that extra layer of texture that I’m so fond of.

Because I made them on the fly, I don’t have any measurements recorded– but that’s ok because cooking is largely about interpretation to your own tastes! Here’s an outline of what to do– I hope you like them too!

What you need:

  • 1 small cooking onion, finely chopped
  • about 1 lb (500 g) ground beef (this was extra lean)
  • 2-3 tomatoes (sliced and put into a small serving bowl)
  • 1 package pre-sliced cremini mushrooms (or buy whole and slice them yourself)
  • 2 big handfuls arugula
  • approx. 2 tbsp. yellow mustard (I used French’s)
  • old cheddar (slices to top burgers)
  • sea salt (about 1/4 tsp)  and black pepper (about 1/2 tsp)
  • hamburger buns of your choice (I prefer with sesame seeds– again, for texture)

What to do:

  1. Wash mushrooms and place in a small, covered pot and steam over medium heat until soft. You may have to add a bit of water if the pot starts to get dry. *Let them cook as you do everything else below.* Place into small serving bowl once soft.
  2. In a large pan (the one you’ll use for the burgers), sautee the arugula until it darkens and softens (about 1 minute). Set aside in a small serving bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, combine meat, onion, salt, pepper, and mustard. Mix well with hands.
  4. In the large pan used for the arugula, place as many burgers as will fit reasonably, cooking on medium-low heat (not too high so you don’t burn the meat). Flatten burger patties to about 1.5 cm thickness as you load them into the pan. Flip after cooked on one side, cook completely.
  5. Add cheese slices on top of each fully-cooked burger just before setting them aside on a large serving plate.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all burgers are cooked.
  7. To eat, have family or guests place each burger on a bun and top with the sauteed arugula, mushrooms, and sliced tomato. Bon Appetit!

Hassle-Free, Never-Fail Tomato Salad

What the title claims is true. My mom likes to make this salad for our Sunday family dinners and I’ve loved it each and every time. I tried to make it recently and it turned out perfect. So scrumptious, so juicy, so tasty… and so easy!

Here’s what you need:

  • Tomatoes, chopped into roughly 1.5″ chunks (the delicious-smelling kind with the vines still attached when you buy them)
  • Fresh Basil, chopped (a good handful)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • black pepper (freshly ground into the salad)
  • Goat Feta Cheese (made into small-medium chunks)

Here’s all you do:

  1. Throw tomatoes, basil, and feta into a large salad bowl and mix with your hands. Don’t worry if the tomato juice starts to get over everything– that’s part of it!
  2. Drizzle some balsamic over the salad (enough to go around the circumference of the bowl and a bit).
  3. Grind some pepper over the salad.
  4. Mix again and enjoy!