How to: Quickie Meal – Mexican Street Corn Quesadillas

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Quesadillas were one of the first meals I learned how to cook. They were simple, required minimal ingredients and they involved cheese. SOLD.

Over the years I’ve filled them with lots of wacky stuff, but guys, I promise you, this is a contender for top all-time quesadilla fillings.

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Mexican street corn and Mexican food in general, have been kind of a big deal in my neck of the woods over the last few years.  As the name suggests, it’s a popular Mexican street snack consisting of a cob of corn slathered in all sorts of delicious stuff (chill, lime, mayo, CHEESE).  It’s also known as elote.

I’ve made my own version of elote at home a number of times and although it’s always a huge hit, it’s doesn’t work well as a complete meal.

Until now!

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These come together in less than 20 minutes ALL IN (prep and cooking included). Meaning, perfect for a last minute weeknight meal.

Quick jalapeño tip: I find they can be all over the place when it comes to heat level.  Slice yours in half and have a tiny sample of it before you throw the whole thing in. You may only need half. Or a quarter. Depending on how much of a heat pansy you are.

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We’re pretty much done with fresh local corn for the year, which just means the high-quality frozen fresh stuff will soon be on sale! Bonus, this recipes is on the table even quicker without having to cut the kernels off a fresh cob.

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This is my tried and true quesadilla technique.  You can certainly cover the entire thing with filling and top with a second tortilla.  Good luck with the flip, though!  I’m guessing you’ll be finding corn in the dark recesses of your kitchen for the next new months.

Also, a note on the cheese.  Use whatever tickles your fancy. I like harvarti ’cause it’s creamy and melty.  Mozz, gouda, monterey jack or even cheddar would work.

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I served mine alongside sour cream and smokey tomatillo salsa.  A perfect combo.

If you want to serve them with something green and leafy for a more complete meal, go right ahead you health nut!

Erin

Mexican Street Corn Quesadillas

Serves 4
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (divided)
  • 1 Small onion (peeled and finely chopped)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup harvarti cheese
  • 4 12 inch flour tortillas

Directions

1. Heat 2 tsp canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and jalapeño and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add chili powder and cook for additional 30 seconds. Add corn and salt and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
2. Transfer corn mixture into a bowl, add mayonnaise and lime juice and stir until combined.
3. Heat large frying pan over medium heat. Brush pan with a tsp of oil. Lay one tortilla in pan and top ½ with ¼ of corn mixture, and sprinkle with ¼ of grated cheese. Fold tortilla over to make a half-moon and press down on top half with a spatula.
4. Cook quesadilla for about 2 minutes, carefully flip it over and cook an additional 2 minutes until tortilla is browned and cheese is melted. Transfer to a cooling rack then cut into 3 pieces when slightly cooled. Repeat with remaining 3 tortillas.
5. Serve plain or with salsa and/or sour cream, if desired.

How to: Make your own Short-Cut Pierogi with Potato and Caramelized Onion

I love a good kitchen shortcut.

Especially one that makes traditional pierogi so light and delicate, I can eat twice as many.

Guys. TWICE as many!

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The secret is pre-made wonton wrappers. If you’ve ever made real-deal pierogi, you’d know preparing, rolling and cutting the dough is at least half the battle.

The circular wonton wrappers look a bit more pierogi-like, but i couldn’t find them so triangle pierogi it is. Shockingly, they taste the same. ;p

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This recipe is lightly adapted from one of my favourite cookbooks – Bonnie Stern’s Friday Night Dinners. If I haven’t mentioned I love Bonnie Stern before, I will now. I love her. There.  She writes a terrific column in the National Post and I just love her food vibe. She uses fresh, often seasonal, high quality ingredients and simple cooking techniques to make her recipes just shine. Bright like a diamond.

These pierogi are a perfect example.  The humble potato and onion are transformed into perfect little pockets of savoury, sweet and smokey.

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The photo above is meant to show you my tear-free onion chopping technique! Set your chopping board up next the stove, turn on the exhaust fan, turn on a burner (no need to be cooking anything) and chop those babies to your heart’s content.  The heat and exhaust fan will draw away all of the offending fumes and your eyes will remain clear and bright throughout dinner prep! Booya.

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Speaking of onions. Caramelizing them is just the bee’s knees isn’t it? Sometimes I’ll take a bag of onions and caramelize them on the weekend with nothing in particular planned for them.  I’ll use them throughout the week in sandwiches, salads, pastas, on pizza or whatever calls for a little extra some’n some’n. They make these pierogi.

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Yukon gold potatoes have a beautiful, smooth buttery texture.  I used a large whisk to ‘mash’ them.

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Once you have a nice little work station prepped, you’ll be done in no time.

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Type-A much?

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Enjoy these.  They’re a damn delight.

Erin

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Short-cut Pierogi

Ingredients

  • 1 ½lb yukon gold potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 6 Small onions (peeled and sliced)
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 Large egg
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Approximately 50wonton wrappers (400g package)

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, cover potatoes in cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes until very tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a deep skillet, heat canola oil over medium high heat. Add onions and ½ tsp salt. Stir occasionally as onions start to brown, scraping any brown bits off bottom of skillet as you go. If pan is dry, add 1 Tbsp water at a time. Cook for 20-25 minutes until onions are a deep brown colour.
3. Remove ½ cup browned onions from skillet and chop. Drain potatoes well and mash along with onions, butter, egg, remaining salt and pepper.
4. On a clean, dry surface lay out wonton wrappers (10-12 at a time; cover remaining ones with a slightly damp cloth while you work). Place 1½ tsp of potato filling in the centre of each wrapper. Dab a little water around edge of each wrapper and fold over to make a triangle. Press edges together to seal them. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet. At this point, you can freeze them if desired.
Allow them to freeze on baking sheet and transfer to a freezer bag once frozen.
5. To cook pierogi, bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook in 2 batches for 4-5 minutes. In a separate skillet, reheat remaining onions. Transfer boiled, drained pierogi to skillet and toss gently to combine. Serve over your favourite baby greens alongside sour cream or greek yogurt.

How to: Make your own – World’s Simplest Tomato Sauce

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This summer has been such a scorcher.  Way back in June, I couldn’t wait to dive head first into Ontario’s summer bounty. For months I’ve been in LOVE with fresh summery salads and grilled everything, but now that September is here, the honeymoon is kinda over.

This Labour Day weekend, we travelled to my BFF’s cottage with a small group of friends.  We always meal plan in advance and decide who will take charge of certain meals.  We chose Sunday night dinner and when I asked my husband Rory if he had any ideas or cravings, he busted out ‘SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS!’. An odd choice since we usually BBQ everything and keep it super simple to maximize outdoor time, but I have to say I was totally on board!

The comfort food cravings are slowly but surely sneaking in.

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In the end we shoved our ‘keep it simple’ rule aside and decided on spaghetti with homemade beef/pork meatballs, eggplant parmesan, homemade garlic bread and a tomato/basil salad with homemade balsamic reduction.

It was a feat and it was just what the doctor ordered for the cool northern summer night.

The one simple thing that absolutely made the meal?  The tomato sauce.

I’ve been making this recipe for years.  It’s a classic by Marcella Hazan, author of the famous cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

Can you even believe the simplicity?! It still blows my mind each and every time I make it.  Friends: Do NOT skimp on the butter.

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The recipe calls for ‘your favourite canned tomatoes’. I’ve read many blog posts and recipe comments that insist on using canned San Marzano tomatoes, which are grown and packaged in a specific part of Italy and carry a DOP certification (as does Parmigiano Reggiano) ensuring they are grown and packaged locally.

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I’ve used a variety of canned tomatoes and I always find the sauce delicious (though sometimes I modify it slightly with herbs/garlic/spices).  I’ve always been curious what a side by side comparison of San Marzanos (double the price at least!) and standard Canadian canned tomatoes would reveal. So here it is!

The San Marzanos are canned with a basil leaf and the Canadian’s are not, so I placed one basil leaf in the Canadian batch. The Canadian tomatoes contain citric acid, calcium chloride and almost double the salt in addition to the tomatoes and tomato juice.  I added an extra ½ tsp of salt (to taste) to the S.M. tomatoes in the end.

The verdict:

After a blind taste test Rory revealed his clear winner to be the SM tomatoes.  He described the sauce as sweeter, less acidic and more well rounded.  I couldn’t agree more. The consistency and texture was better too, as the SM tomatoes broke down more easily.  I ended up using a potato masher to break down the Canadian tomatoes in the end.

Are the worth more than double the price? Maybe. If you’re planning to make this sauce in advance, I would probably say go ahead and get the SM.   If you need a last minute dinner and there’s a can of Canadian tomatoes in the cupboard, do not hesitate, make the sauce anyway! It’s simple and delicious no matter the variety.

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Buon appetito!

Erin

World’s Simplest Tomato Sauce

Serves 4
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Website Marcella Hazan via NYT Cooking

Ingredients

  • 28 oz. can can of whole tomatoes with juices
  • 1 Medium cooking onion (halved and peeled)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • salt (to taste)

Directions

1. Combine the tomatoes, their juices, onion and butter in a saucepan.
2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, uncovered for 45 minutes stirring occasionally and mashing any large tomato pieces with a spoon.
3. Remove and discard (or eat if you wish!) onions before adding salt to taste. Toss with pasta.

How to: Quickie Meal – Indian Spiced Lentil and Coconut Soup

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I have been cooking lots and blogging ZERO. Not OK.

While my momma’s cooking club has been amazing for getting homemade meals on the table three or four days a week, it’s also gotten me out of the habit of testing new recipes and taking photos for the blog.

BUT! I have a new tactic and starting next week I’ve decided to test and photograph on cooking club day.  Two birds. One stone. That old chestnut.

This recipe is one from this week’s club. I only managed to get a couple shots of the final product.  The recipe came by my friend’s sister-in-law who in turn got it from the amazing blog www.ohsheglows.com.  I have heard nothing but good things about the Oh She Glows Cookbook, too.

We adapted the recipe very slightly because we didn’t have enough pot space to make a double batch, but it turned out beautifully; almost a stew-like consistency.

My daughter is coming up on 9 months and is eating just about everything.  Could I be prouder? Nope.  She absolutely loved this soup.  A quick zip with a hand blender to break up the big chunks was all it needed for babyfication.

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This is a perfect one-bowl, 20 minute meal and while it is Indian spiced, it is not at all spicy.  It would be equally delicious with a hint of heat, though.

Enjoy!

Erin

Indian Spiced Lentil and Coconut Soup

Serves 4-5
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 25 minutes
Website Lightly adapted from Oh She Glows - Glowing Spiced Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 1 Medium onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¾ cup red lentils (rinsed well)
  • 796ml can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable stock (or more for a soupier consistency)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Note

If you like a hint of heat, add a pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes when you add the spices to the pot.

Try adding some green by throwing in a few handfuls of baby spinach just before you remove it from the heat.

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
2. Add turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and cardamom. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes until lentils are soft.
3. Add additional salt and pepper to taste and serve.

How to: Seasonal Cooking – Thai Sweet Potato Soup

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Anyone else disturbed by the amount of their grocery bill lately?

Not OK.

With the tumbling loonie, word on the street is grocery costs will continue to rise. It’s all of that fancy imported food we like. Like cauliflower, the caviar of 2016.

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Not to worry though, friends. I’m here to give you an insider tip on how to save some sweet cash.

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Buy local! Yup. Not only does Ontario still have a good variety of locally available fresh produce (check it out here), you can also buy frozen ‘product of Canada’ fruit and veg. In fact, a lot of it is on sale this time of year.  Perfect timing.

Oh, you need some incredibly well tested recipes which feature local foods? I happen to know of a cookbook that’s just the ticket.  Homegrown is selling like mad though, so you bes’ be ordering a copy STAT.

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This super cinch recipe makes use of Ontario roots – sweet potatoes and carrots.  I’ve added a few thai inspired ingredients because thai food kicks ass. Is there a better reason?

Serve it as a side or a starter for any of our other Thai-inspired recipes (um, it seems we’re sort of obsessed with thai food):

Thai Chicken Enchiladas

Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce Pizza

Thai Kale Salad with Sesame Tofu

Shrimp and Mango Fresh Rolls

Thai Chicken Cabbage Wraps

Thai Mango Salad

Thai Turkey Meatballs

Enjoy!

Erin

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Thai Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1lb sweet potatoes (approximately 2 medium - peeled and chopped)
  • 1lb carrots (approximately 4 medium - peeled and chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated or minced ginger
  • 1l low sodium vegetable stock (divided)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (plus additional lime wedges for garnish)
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ cup roasted, chopped peanuts (for garnish)
  • parsley or cilantro (for garnish)

Directions

1. Add potatoes, carrots, ginger, 3 cups of stock and coconut milk to a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 until potatoes and carrots are very soft.
2. Remove from heat. Using a hand blender or counter top blender, puree soup until smooth. Blend in additional stock as needed to reach desired consistency and reheat in pot if necessary. Add lime juice and salt to taste.
3. Divide soup among 4 bowls and top with parsley/cilantro and peanuts. Serve with a lime wedge.