Recipe: Bocconcini pasta with tomato meat sauce

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I was drawing a blank for what to make for dinner the other night, so I asked Jordan for an idea. “Uhh… how about ground beef? And pasta?” was his response. With that in mind, I set out to make something delicious with those two ingredients as a base. This turned out to be a hearty, flavourful meal with lots of leftovers! I love when experiments go well.

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 2 cups of bocconcini pasta (you can also substitute penne pasta)
  • 3/4 lb. of ground beef
  • 1 can of pureed (or chunky) tomato
  • 1 tbsp. crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 of an onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 cup shaved parmesan
  • Ground black pepper

Directions 

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
  2. While pasta cooks, fry ground beef in a large pan with olive oil until fully cooked.
  3. In a seperate smaller pan, fry garlic and onion for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Drain ground beef and add pureed tomato, garlic, onion, cayenne, chili flakes and dried basil to the pan.
  5. Continue cooking until this meat sauce is slightly thickened and heated through.
  6. Top pasta with the sauce and add parmesan and ground black pepper on top.

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Recipe: Sweet & spicy chicken

Sweet & spicy chicken

Sweet & spicy chicken

Chicken is so easy to cook on a weeknight but I’m always looking for new ways to take it up a notch. This was a total experiment that my boyfriend deemed successful (aka he ate every last bit on his plate) so I figured I’d share it with all of you, too! If you’re looking for an insanely easy/quick weeknight meal that’s full of flavour, give this a try. I paired it with green beans, drizzled in olive oil, parmesan and walnuts, plus a side of mini yellow potatoes.

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

  • 2 breasts of chicken
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. cayenne
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • Dash of chili flakes
  • Ground pepper to taste

Directions 

  1. Coat chicken with olive oil, honey, dijon mustard, cayenne, garlic and chili flakes.
  2. Marinade chicken in this coating for a few hours, if possible. If you’re short on time, simply add chicken to a pan coated with olive oil.
  3. Cook chicken 8-10 minutes, turning often, until fully cooked through.
  4. Serve with your sides and enjoy!

Sweet & spicy chicken

Recipe: Penne alla vodka with pancetta

Penne alla vodka

I’ve been meaning to experiment with penne alla vodka for awhile and finally decided to take the plunge over the weekend. After seeing countless different recipes and trying different versions at restaurants, I played around with the ingredients and I’m happy with this flavourful blend of spices – and it only took about half an hour from start to finish. Quick and delicious? That’s my style.

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 2 cups penne pasta
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced pancetta
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup shaved parmesan
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 green onion
  • Ground black pepper

Directions 

  1. Boil pasta for approximately 10 minutes, until al dente.
  2. While pasta is cooking, finely chop green onion.
  3. Add olive oil, garlic, pancetta and green onion to a pan over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, chili powder and basil. Simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add whipping cream and most of the shaved parmesan (saving some for later). Simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
  6. Add vodka and continue cooking sauce for another 3-5 minutes, stirring often.
  7. Once pasta is ready, add it to the pan and coat with sauce.
  8. Serve immediately, topped with ground black pepper and parmesan.

Penne alla vodka

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Recipe: Pizza with prosciutto & arugula

Pizza with prosciutto & arugula

I’m a sucker for good pizza. You know the kind – savoury toppings, thin crust, perfectly melted cheese. Ever wondered how to make pizza at home? I know I have! My parents came over for dinner on Labour Day, which seemed like the perfect time to try making some… since I needed food that didn’t require eating at a kitchen table, because in our tiny condo, we don’t have one!

I got all the basic ingredients for this at my local Loblaws (we go to the gorgeous one at Maple Leaf Gardens.) They sell the perfect amount of pre-cooked pizza dough, sauce and mozzarella – pick those up and you’ll make your job a lot easier at home. We also grabbed some President’s Choice za’atar spice blend, which is a delicious Middle Eastern mix of dried thyme, roasted sesame seeds, and a few other yummy things:

Pizza with prosciutto & arugula

Ingredients (for 1 pizza, 6 slices):

  • 1 thin pizza crust
  • 1/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/2 cup shaved mozzarella
  • 2-4 strips of prosciutto
  • 1/4 cup arugula
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. za’atar

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. While oven heats up, layer sauce, mozzarella, arugula and prosciutto on pizza crust.
  3. Sprinkle the spices overtop.
  4. Cook pizza for around 7-8 minutes.

Pizza with prosciutto & arugula

Pizza with prosciutto & arugula

Recipe: Pork & peppers with sriracha sauce

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Jordan and I have been on a mission to  get sriracha sauce for awhile (you know, that yummy, spicy stuff that you can get at Vietnamese restaurants) but it’s been totally sold out every time we go grocery shopping at our usual location. But we finally found it after randomly stopping off at another store one day – hurrah! I decided to experiment with it on some pork chops we bought, and it turned out to be delicious. The pork chops don’t taste overwhelmingly like chili peppers or anything, but it does add a burst of flavour and spice. Tossing some bell peppers in the same pan makes for an easy but flavourful weeknight meal.

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

  • 2 pork chops
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 4 tbsp. sriracha sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • Salt & pepper

Directions 

  1. Marinate pork chops with an even coating of sriracha sauce, olive oil, garlic, sesame seeds and some salt and pepper. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour.
  2. In the meantime, chop red and yellow bell peppers into slivers.
  3. Add olive oil to pan and fry pork chops for 10 minutes (5 minutes per side).
  4. Add slivers of pepper and saute for another 5-10 minutes, until pork is fully cooked.
  5. Serve with juices from the pan drizzled overtop.
  6. Tip: This would go well with a side of smashed potatoes!

Pork & peppers with sriracha sauce
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Recipe: Baked pork tenderloin

Baked pork tenderloin

I realized the other day that if I’m cooking meat, it’s generally chicken. Jordan will sometimes bring home steak to feed his manly cravings for beef, but really, most weeknight meals are good ol’ fashioned poultry. When I realized how boring that makes me in the kitchen – I knew I had to try something new! Pork tenderloin seemed like a good idea… but I’d never tried it before. And we don’t own a barbecue. Those potential issues aside, this actually turned out quite nice in the oven – very juicy and flavourful. Jordan said it kind of tasted like chicken, but I’ll let you guys be the judge on that!

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Ground black pepper

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Mix garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil together in a bowl.
  3. Slather half of the mixture on the pork tenderloin, coating both sides.
  4. Sear the tenderloin on the stovetop until all sides are browned (takes 3-5 minutes).
  5. Slather the tenderloin with the remaining mixture.
  6. Once oven is ready, bake tenderloin for 30 minutes or until fully cooked.
  7. Let sit for 5 minutes, slice, and serve.
  8. Tip: This pairs nicely with my smashed potatoes!

Baked pork tenderloin

Recipe: Chilli lime chicken & green beans

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Chicken is so quick and easy – but with this dish, it’s actually got some kick, too. The combination of chilli pepper and cayenne in the marinade gives both the meat and beans some heat. I put all this together on the stovetop, but I can imagine this tasting even BETTER on the grill (if you’ve got a BBQ!)

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • Green beans
  • 1 green chilli pepper
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp. garlic
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • Ground black pepper

Directions 

  1. Grate the lime and squeeze out the juice.
  2. Add lime juice/shavings to bowl, along with chopped up chilli pepper, garlic, olive oil, and cayenne pepper, to make the marinade.DSC_0191
  3. Coat chicken with marinade and let sit in the fridge for half an hour or so.
  4. Transfer chicken to a pan and cook on medium heat. Add more olive oil, salt, cayenne and ground pepper.DSC_0215
  5. While chicken is cooking, blanch green beans in a pot of boiling water for 3-4 minutes.
  6. Transfer green beans to pan with chicken and continue cooking until it’s ready to eat!

PS: If you’re not a fan of beans, this chicken dish would be amazing with cayenne-covered corn on the cob. And to cool down your tastebuds when you’re done, why not try some homemade berry or mango paletas – aka fresh, fruity ice pops? It’s the perfect meal for a summer night!