Tomato-Pizza-feature-image

How to Make the Best Homemade Pizza

Saturday nights are made for pizza parties, but instead of doing the same-old delivery it’s a lot more fun to make one yourself. You don’t need a wood-fired oven or pizza stone to make perfectly crispy, chewy pizza at home. A large, square pan is a perfect base for your custom creation and we have a few tips to help get your pizza party started.

sausage and broccoli pizza

Start with the dough
When it comes to making good pizza, it all starts with the dough. Warm water and a teaspoon of honey will help activate the yeast. Pay attention when measuring your flour; it’s important not to use too much or too little so your pizza has the right texture.

Roll with it
Roll out the dough starting at the centre and work your way out. It doesn’t need to be a perfect circle. To transfer your dough onto the pan, use Giada de Laurentis’ genius trick: gently roll the dough around your rolling pin and unroll it right onto your pan. Easy-peasy!

Get saucy
Purée canned tomatoes, salt and basil for a simple and flavourful pizza sauce. No need to pre-cook it — the sauce will finish cooking in the oven. Have fun adding your favourite pizza toppings. Try pan-fried veggies, cooked chicken and fresh herbs.

Say cheese!
So much about pizza is about the melted cheese! Here’s the time to experiment and up your game by using other cheese varieties, such as smoked scamorza, a soft cheese made with both cow and goat’s milk. It’ll add a strong smoky flavour to your homemade pie. Prefer a traditional pizza? Drop fresh mozzarella on top your pie. For more cheesy flavour, grate a bit of Parmesan overtop.

We’ve chosen Giada de Laurentiis’ pizza dough recipe to help bring a little taste of Italy to your kitchen.

giada's pizza dough

Ingredients
1 tsp honey
1 tsp active dry yeast
2-1/4 cups flour, plus more if needed
1 tsp kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Add the honey and yeast to 1 cup warm water. Stir to dissolve. Let the mixture to sit for 3 minutes to make sure the yeast is alive; it should foam and start to bubble.

2. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast mixture and mix on low speed until the mixture starts to come together. Turn the speed up to medium and mix for 8 minutes. The dough should start to pull away from the sides but still remain soft and slightly sticky at the bottom of the bowl. Add 1 extra tablespoon of flour if needed. Coat your hands in a bit of olive oil and form the dough into a ball. Place the dough in a bowl that is coated in olive oil. Cover with a towel and proof the dough in a warm place until it doubles in size, 1 hour.

3. Knock down the dough and cut into 4 equal pieces if making small pizzas or simply reform into a ball if making one larger pizza and proof the dough for an additional 1 hour.

Ingredient Inspiration
Not sure what to put on your pizza? Find all the inspiration you need in these scrumptious recipes.

All Dressed PizzaAll-Dressed G-Style Pizza

Olives, salami, spinach and two types of cheese make this an indulgent pizza pie!

Cheese pizzaQuebecoise Sausage and Cheese Pizza

Try mixing some traditional sausage with soft brie and hard cheeses for a burst of French flavour.

Tomato PizzaBuffalo Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza

Keep it classic with torn basil and buffalo mozzarella.

Pizza BiancaPizza Bianca
Ditch the tomato sauce and make a simple, cheesy pizza with fresh lemon zest and thyme.

10 Restaurants with Celebrity Connections

The restaurant game isn’t an easy one to play; even if you’re a great chef with a great concept, capital can really slow you down. It’s only fitting that celebrities would get involved in the restaurant business every now and then, I mean, if I had the money, I certainly would too. Here are 10 popular food businesses owned by or connected to celebrity actors, musicians, athletes and beyond.

Robert De Niro, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Meir Teper Partners of Nobu Hospitality

Robert De Niro, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Meir Teper Partners of Nobu Hospitality

Spin (various locations in North America) 

These days, being able to go to a restaurant, eat, drink and play a game (whether that be bowling, pool, board games or otherwise) is pretty common in most major cities. Owner and actress Susan Sarandon, along with her business partners, were a little ahead of the curve with this one. Head to a Spin location in cities like Toronto or Chicago to play a few games of ping pong, grab some drinks and maybe a slider or two.

888x444_Spin-Toronto

SPiN Toronto

Tagine (Beverly Hills, CA) 

Canadian heartthrob Ryan Gosling — admit it, he’s pretty dreamy and man crushes are nothing to be ashamed of — partnered up with longtime friends to open up Tagine, a Moroccan-inspired restaurant. Dishes served here highlight big, bold flavours using exotic spices, with a chef’s expert touch. Out of all of the establishments on this list, Gosling’s is easily the most unique.

888x444_tagine

Tagine

Wayne Gretzky’s (Toronto, ON) 

It’s not much of a surprise that one of hockey’s most famous athletes has a namesake establishment. Pop in to watch the game and chow down on items like grilled cheese sandwiches, meatloaf or fish and chips. If you’re craving a glass of wine, rest assured that the selection is primarily Gretzky’s own label (also namesake) that’s produced in the Okanagan Valley.

Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Elton John, David Furnish and owner of Neuro Diana Jenkins attend Neuro Hosts a Party at Southern Hospitality BBQ

Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Elton John attend Neuro Hosts a Party at Southern Hospitality BBQ

Nickels Deli and Bar (Québec) 

Peppered around the province of Québec, serving patrons simple food like roast chicken platters, French onion soup and, of course, mile-high Montreal smoked meat sandwiches. Where’s the celebrity endorsement here, you ask? Well, it’s not overly apparent at first glance, but a quick Google search will tell you the Canadian-born multi-platinum songstress Céline Dion is an investor in the Nickels chain.

888x444_Nickels-Deli

Nickels Deli and Bar

Nobu (various locations worldwide) 

Acclaimed worldwide, this string of restaurants opened by partners Chef Nobu Matsuhsia and Hollywood A-lister Robert De Niro, can be found in some of the biggest mecas across the globe: London, Milan, New York (that’s where you’ll find the flagship location) and Los Angeles. The menus may vary from location to location, but there’s strong attention to detail in terms of food and drink offerings, as well as interior design.

888x444_nobu

Nobu

National Underground (Nashville, TN) 

Located on Broadway, the city’s most famous and buzzing street in the downtown core, this generally jam-packed venue offers live music and a standard pub menu. Owned by singer-songwriter brothers Gavin and Joey DeGraw, the former being the more recognizable name in the music world. Like many of Nashville’s Broadway bars, it wouldn’t be unusual to see an actor from the Nashville television series, or a country artist sitting down for a casual beer and bite with friends.

Rock & Brews (various locations in North America) 

More or less a Kiss-focused version of the Hard Rock Café, this music-themed chain serves up simple food like burgers, flatbreads and nachos, and currently only exists in the United States and Mexico. There are a few rumours buzzing around that a Rock and Brews (or two) may pop up in Canada in the coming months, specifically in Saskatoon as it’s the hometown of Gene Simmons’ wife, Shannon Tweed.

888x444_rock-and-brews

Rock & Brews

Rustic (Geyersville, CA) 

Francis Ford Coppola, director of the iconic film The Godfather, shares his personal host of recipes on the grounds of his winery, where you can enjoy thoughtful farm-to-table cuisine just steps from the rows of grapevines. Plates of pasta, salads built of fresh, local produce and of course a couple glasses of wine are always enjoyable in the California sun.

888x444_Francis-Ford-Coppola-Winery

Rustic

Southern Hospitality BBQ (New York, NY) 

We’ve seen him sing, dance and act, so being a verified triple threat, it’s safe to assume that Justin Timberlake can do no wrong. This A-lister taps into his Southern roots at this New York restaurant that offers diners everything from deviled eggs to smoked meats, fried chicken and pecan pie.

On a side note, it’s likely not Timberlake himself posting on behalf of the restaurant on social media streams, but at least the eatery has a similar sense of humour to the actor/musician. “We survived the storm, come celebrate with our deep-fried pickles!” said Hospitality in a recent Facebook post.

888x444_Southern-Hospitality-BBQ

Southern Hospitality BBQ

Music City Food and Wine Festival (Nashville, TN) 

We know this one isn’t a restaurant, but this large-scale annual food festival in Nashville wouldn’t have come to life without the joint effort of celebrities, Chef Jonathan Waxman and two members of Kings of Leon, Nathan and Caleb Followill. When the festival kicks off again this coming fall, a long list of culinary stars will be cooking up a storm in the lively Southern city, including Marcus Samuelsson and Carla Hall.

888x444_Music-City-Food-and-Wine-Festival

Music City Food and Wine Festival

4 Tasty Ways to Use Leftover Tomato Sauce

Take the time to boil and bubble a pot of homemade tomato sauce on Sunday, then reap the delicious benefits all week as you find yourself reaching for that jar of leftovers to deliver an unexpected shot of flavour.

Ricardo's Tomato SauceStart with Ricardo’s 3-Step Tomato Sauce.

Shakshuka with Crumbled Feta

Shakshuka
Also known as Eggs in Purgatory, this tomato and egg dish gets a whack of flavour from sautéed onions and red bell peppers stewed in leftover tomato sauce that’s be flavoured with bold cumin and smoked paprika. Simply crack in a few eggs and simmer until set. Serve with a flourish of chopped fresh parsley, crumbled feta and thick wedges of buttered toasted baguette or pita.

Winter Minestrone

Winter Minestrone

Boxed broth combined with a half cup of leftover tomato sauce creates the flavourful base for a super quick, super healthy bowl of belly-warming minestrone. Just mix low sodium beef or vegetable broth and about a cup of your leftover sauce with Giada’s flavour-boosting combination of diced carrot, celery, pancetta, Swiss chard and cannelloni beans and finish with fresh-grated Parmesan.

almond crusted baked eggplant parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

Crispy almond crusted baked eggplant casserole gets doused with your best homemade leftover sauce and a generous lid of gooey melted mozzarella. Eat with a side of pasta for a heartier dish or simply serve with a leafy green salad dressed with vinaigrette to help balance out this indulgent winter dish.

Shrimp and Chorizo Kebabs with Rice

Shrimp and Chorizo Kebabs with Red Rice

Dip your threaded shrimp and chorizo skewers in leftover sauce and then add another splash to make a fast and flavourful rice. This stir-fry like saucy rice dish gets jazzed up thanks to a mash up of red onions, garlic, chili powder and smoked paprika.

Looking for more leftover ideas? We have lots of recipes to help you transform pork tenderloin, meatballs and chicken breast.

How to Make a Classic Canadian Fried Dough Treat

I first tried these soft, oval-shaped doughnuts while skating down the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. A classic Canadian treat,  these delicious snacks are fried to perfection then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. But toppings can vary from lemon juice with sugar, nuts, chocolate sauce and even caramel. Whichever topping you prefer, just be sure to eat them warm!

Classic Canadian Fried Dough Treat

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Yield: 8 doughnuts

Beaver Tails donuts

Ingredients:
1/4 cup warm water
8g pkg or 2-1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, warmed
2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 eggs
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1 L vegetable oil for deep-frying

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the warm water, warm milk, yeast and 1 tsp sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

2. Add melted butter, sugar, salt, vanilla and eggs. Give everything a good mix together. Add flour and mix with the dough hook (or with a wooden spoon if you’re not using a mixer) and mix until the dough comes together and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Knead for about 6 minutes in the mixer and 10 minutes by hand, until the dough is smooth, silky. Use extra flour if dough is sticky.

3. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Leave to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

4. Punch down dough and place onto a lightly floured countertop. Shape into 8 equal sized pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece of dough into an oval shape. If you like, score a crisscross pattern in the top of dough.

5. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet and leave to rise, covered, for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

6. Make cinnamon sugar by combining sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.

7. Heat a large wide pot with about two inches of oil. Heat to 350F/176C. If you don’t have a thermometer, check the oil’s temperature by tearing off a small piece of dough and see if it sizzles and floats to the surface. Keep a close eye on the oil, adjust temperature as needed to prevent it from getting too hot. If you see it smoking or crackling take off the heat to cool down before frying.

8. Fry your doughnuts on each side for 30-60 seconds until they are golden brown. Dunk immediately in cinnamon sugar or top with lemon and sugar, Nutella, jam or my favourite, maple syrup!

Dishes That Still Stump Our Chefs

Call it the dish that got away, your Achilles heel — or more simply put, rice — but rest assured, we all have a recipe that never turns out the way we’d like. Yes, even the pros have them. Here are the dishes that still frustrate our very accomplished Chef in Your Ear stars.

888x600_ciye-dishes-still-stump-chefs

Baked goods

Baking, admits Craig Harding, is a temperamental science that depends on factors like time, location and weather. “There’s not one correct way, you just need to understand how it works,” he says. “Baking, bread, pastries — they’re temperamental and challenging for sure.” This doesn’t stop him from baking entirely, but you’re not going to see Harding on Sugar Showdown any time soon, either. “I just try and keep pastry extremely simple,” he says.

Diet food

Healthy eating is one thing, but Devin Connell can’t stand curbing her creativity for the sake of a few saved calories. “I would never make a low-fat health dish,” she says. “That would bother me, if I had to restrict anything.”

Cookies

Jordan Andino won’t use recipes unless they’re his own, which makes baking a particular challenge. “There are established rules for baking and you can’t deviate,” he says, “But I hate using recipes, and I rarely get cookies right. I can do bread without a recipe, and I can do some other things, cakes and stuff. But I just can’t get cookies right — it’s frustrating.”

Rice

Cory Vitiello doesn’t like following recipes or leaving food to do its own thing. “Rice is one of those where you just set it and forget it. It’s one of those dishes I try to stay away from,” he explains. Rob Rossi feels the same. “You know, I can definitely cook risotto but beyond that I have a hard time even cooking minute rice. I don’t like to follow recipes, for one. And I’m not patient enough to leave the lid on and let it actually go for 25 minutes. I can’t do that. I have to be involved.”

Watch new episodes of Chef In Your Ear Mondays at 10 E/P and catch up on episodes online.

Q&A: Boralia’s Culinary Duo Serve a Slice of Canadian History

Evelyn Wu and Wayne Morris are serving up a little slice of Canadian history with every dish that comes out of the kitchen of their Toronto restaurant, Boralia. Taking a page from the history books — literally — the restaurant’s menu is filled with modern interpretations of historic dishes. Think pigeon pie circa 1611, a flaky meat-filled pastry served with roast squab breast and parsnip. Reaching even farther back in history is Boralia’s smoked mussels, a particularly dramatic dish dating back to 1605. The shellfish are served under a glass dome, which is lifted to reveal a cloud of pine-needle smoke and aromas reminiscent of old world fare.

Evelyn and Wayne’s extensive research and culinary creativity has lead to an outstanding menu inspired by early settlers of the 18th and 19th centuries and traditional Aboriginal dishes. We caught up with Evelyn and Wayne to hear about their signature dishes, their first food memories and which Canadian chefs excite them.

Evelyn Wu and Wayne Morris

Photo courtesy of Boralia.

What’s your idea of happiness?
Wayne: Having dinner with my wife.
Evelyn: I did not make him say that . . . but I would say having dinner with my husband! And just hanging out at home with our new baby and our cat, Carl.

What’s your first memory of food?
Wayne: One of my first memories of food is going on walks with my parents and collecting periwinkles at an inlet where the Atlantic Ocean met the salt water lake behind my house. We would collect them, steam and eat them with white vinegar and garlic butter.
Evelyn: When I was two, my family moved to Hong Kong for five years. During that time we would go to the New Territories, one of the main regions of Hong Kong where the streets are lined with seafood vendors with live fish tanks. My mom would buy all kinds of seafood which we would take to one of the nearby restaurants for them to cook. My favourite was the boiled shrimp served with a sesame oil and soy dipping sauce.

Who was your cooking mentor? How did you first meet?
Wayne: My cooking mentor is Mark Filatow, the chef and owner of Waterfront Wines in Kelowna, B.C. Mark hired me when I moved out west from Nova Scotia in 2006. Over the next six years, I worked all the stations and ultimately became chef de cuisine. It was while working for Mark that I really got to work with the freshest produce from Okanagan and gained appreciation for working with fresh, local produce and cooking seasonal food and getting the freedom to experiment with new dishes.
Evelyn: My mentor is Daniel Patterson, chef and owner of Coi in San Francisco. He hired me in 2006 when I was really green and fresh out of culinary school. Through working for him, I really learned how to balance flavours and seasoning. He also has a very cerebral and conceptual approach to food and creating dishes that I found very inspiring.

Leclade smoked mussels

Photo courtesy of Boralia.

What do you love to cook the most (your signature dish)?
Wayne: I love making the pigeon pie on our menu. It takes knife work for the filling, I love making pastry and it smells so good while it’s baking. Also, cooking the accompanying squab breast takes skill to make sure it stays moist.

Where do you see yourself in two years?
Wayne and Evelyn: Hopefully we’ll be doing the same thing as we are now! Boralia is only one year old.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
Wayne: I’ve always been fascinated with woodworking, so I think I would have liked to work in carpentry or joinery, specifically on a boat because it’s the most challenging.
Evelyn: I would own a bookstore or a stationery shop. I love the organization in those kinds of shops, and I’d get to read all day.

What’s the least favourite thing about yourself?
Wayne: I wish I had more confidence in myself. I let criticism get to me too easily.
Evelyn: I’m not the most patient person. When I get something in my head I want to get it done right away and I’m very anxious until it’s done. Sometimes it would be nice to just let things happen more organically.

whelk

Photo courtesy of Boralia.

What was the last restaurant you dined at? What did you eat?
Wayne and Evelyn: Cava. The poached foie gras pintxo is magical.

Name a Canadian chef that is doing exciting things in food right now.
Wayne and Evelyn: Our friend Jack Chen of The Farmer’s Apprentice and Royal Dinette in Vancouver. He’s staged at so many great places around the world and is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

If you were any dish or ingredient in the world, what would you be?
Wayne: Wild mushroom. They taste great and they get to live in the forest. I love being in the forest.
Evelyn: Garlic. It makes everything taste better.

What is your favourite quote?
Wayne: “An eye for an eye, and the whole world would be blind.” Khalil Gibran

FettucciniAlfredo

Weekend Project: How to Make Fresh Pasta

If you’ve never made fresh pasta, you are in for a treat! Delightfully fresh al-dente noodles are a comforting indulgence on cold winter days and a great way to learn new kitchen skills. Plus, it’s really fun to make! You won’t be able to resist cranking the handle, feeding the dough into the machine and watching those long, squiggly noodles come out the other side. But don’t worry if you don’t have a pasta machine — it’s just as fun rolling the dough by hand!

Fresh pasta cooks in minutes and chances are, you already have all four ingredients. We’ve chosen Michael Smith’s simple pasta recipe to bring the taste of your favourite Italian bistro on to your table.

Fettuccini Alfredo

Ingredients:
4 cups flour
1 tsp ground pepper
6 eggs
1 tsp olive oil

1. Mix flour and pepper, and pour into a tight pile on a flat work surface. Make a well in the centre. Crack five eggs into the well and lightly whisk them together with a fork. Add a splash of olive oil to the eggs. Using your fingers begin stirring the flour into the egg and if it seems like it needs another egg, add it now. The dough should be a little dry, but workable.

2. When the dough has formed into a workable mass, begin kneading it until it is smooth and elastic. Be patient, this will take some time, 15 minutes or so.

3. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Let dough rest in the fridge for at least an hour or two, overnight is best. Its elastic structure needs time to relax from the stress of kneading.

4. Set up and use a pasta roller, following manufacturer’s instructions. If you don’t have a pasta machine, cut your dough into 6 pieces and roll the piece of dough into a thin rectangle approximately . Starting at one end, fold your dough every 5 cm, creating a roll. With a sharp knife, slice the noodles crosswise into thin noodles.

5. Cut the dough into 6 pieces and flatten them into thin rectangles about 6 – 8-inches in length and 2 to 3-inches wide. Feed the rectangles through the pasta machine, gradually adjusting the thinness, until they have gone through the thinnest setting. Lay the sheets out on a baking sheet, sprinkling more flour on them to keep them from sticking together. Run the pasta sheets through the fettuccine cutter and hang to dry on a pasta rack.

6. To cook, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Salt liberally then add the pasta. Cook until the pasta floats to the top, 3 minutes or so. It should be al dente, cooked through but still chewy.

Simply Scrumptious Sauces
What should you serve with your fresh pasta? We’ve got four delicious options perfect for your noodles.

Leek-and-Lobster-Linguine

Leek and Lobster Linguini
If you are going to make homemade pasta, you might as well treat yourself to a luxurious dinner. All your hard work will be worth it when you taste this herb-filled sauce topped with buttery lobster tails.

Chicken-Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini
Chicken, mushrooms, garlic, herbs and peas mingle in a deliciously rich and chunky sauce. Thick linguine noodles are a perfect fit for this hearty Italian dish.

Fettuccini Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo
If you find your noodles are a little thicker than desired, go for this classic, creamy dish.Top each serving with an extra crack of fresh pepper and grated Parmesan.

winter-squash-fettuccine-with-crispy-pancetta-and-pecorino

Winter Squash Fettuccine with Crispy Pancetta and Pecorino
This perfect winter pasta dish gets its creaminess from winter squash, balanced with salty pancetta and Pecorino.

Chefs Share Their First Job in the Industry

The Chef In Your Ear stars make it look easy, but they didn’t begin their careers as pros. For the most part, these TV chefs began their careers in entry-level positions, cooking, baking, tasting and most importantly, working their way up.

888_ciye-industry-jobs

Craig Harding

Craig Harding’s first job was working as a line cook — “If you want to call it that,” he says — at McDonalds. Eventually, he was fired from that gig, but it’s all in the past now that he’s a household name.

Jordan Andino

Jordan Andino remembers joining his chef dad at the North 44 kitchen as early as nine years old, but it’s tough for him to pinpoint the official moment he started working there. “My dad’s the chef — he’d have to babysit me,” he says. “And he said, ‘You don’t just sit around in the kitchen.’”

Devin Connell

Compared to her Chef In Your Ear colleagues, Devin Connell’s first industry job was pretty sweet. “I started my own cookie business selling cookies to a local health food store,” she explains. “It was called Devin’s Delights and I was 10. I made peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal raisin cookies, and I even got a t-shirt made that said Devin’s Delights.”

Cory Vitiello

“I was a dishwasher at a restaurant when I was fourteen at Pizza Chief in Brantford,” says Vitiello. Although he claims he was “a great dishwasher,” it wasn’t long before management noticed his potential for more. “I was quickly promoted to the buffet line where I was serving dessert toppings on people’s cheesecake,” he says.

Rob Rossi

Like Cory Vitiello, Rob Rossi started as a dishwasher at a pizza joint — in his case, Pizza Hut. “I absolutely hated it, it was an awful job,” he admits. “But it got me in the business and it made me want to experience more. So as much as I didn’t like it, it led me to bigger and better things.”

Watch new episodes of Chef In Your Ear Mondays at 10 E/P and catch up on episodes online.

1 Meatball Recipe, 4 Mouthwatering Leftover Ideas

No matter which way you roll them, meatballs are a versatile mealtime staple worth hoarding. Whether you chose to make them with classic Italian flavours, Middle Eastern or even vegetarian, here are four ways to turn your little balls of joy into a brand new meal.

Orecchiette-with-Mini-Chicken-Meatballs

Start with Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs.

Italian Wedding Soup

1. Italian Wedding Soup
Soup season dictates that once the temperature dips below the freezing point, a steaming bowl of broth should be consumed at least once a week. Thanks to your stash of leftover meatballs, this quick and easy version of Italian wedding soup comes together in mere minutes. Simmer chicken broth and add the cooked meatballs until heated through. Add roughly one cup of spinach and simmer until just wilted. Ladle hot broth to bowls filled with cooked couscous, or any small pasta like ditalini or orzo and finish with a dusting of grated Parmesan.

Meatball Sub

2. Sandwiches
If you’ve got dinner rolls or a sliced baguette, the time is nigh to create what’s perhaps the most beloved of all the meatball leftovers: the meatball sandwich! Heat cooked meatballs in a saucepan with your favourite tomato sauce, assemble the sandwich and top with any quick-melting cheese like mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is bubbly. Make it fancy by adding fried onions, pepper and even some jalapeño for heat. If your leftover meatballs happen to be flecked with Asian flavours, make a version of Banh Mi by topping your sandwich with pickled carrots and daikon, sprigs of fresh coriander and fiery chilis.

potato hash

3. Make a Breakfast Hash
Who says you can’t have meatballs for breakfast? For this riff on a classic brunch time hash, sauté onions together with peppers until soft. Add cooked potatoes and fry until they become crispy and form those glorious craggy bits and add the chopped meatballs until heated through. Serve with a fried egg on top and a squirt of hot sauce.

4. Meatball Calzones
Hot and gooey melted cheese is the food equivalent of cozy knit throw and a crackling fire. Quickie homemade calzones using store-bought pizza dough and leftover meatballs are your cheese delivery du jour. Divide the dough into roughly eight equal portions and roll each section off into a circle, spreading on tomato sauce before filling with chopped meatballs, shredded cheese and any vegetables you have laying around.

halifax donair

How to Make a Nova Scotia-Inspired Donair Kebab

Many would say a night out in Halifax wouldn’t be complete without a donair. Nova Scotia donair kebabs are unique – a combination of heavily spiced salty meat, sweet and garlicky sauce and soft pita that leave you covered in sauce and completely satisfied. If you can’t make a trip out East, then try making a healthy Halifax-inspired version at home. Have lots of napkins at the ready!

halifax donair

Nova Scotia Donair Kebab

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Makes: 8 donairs

Donair Meat:
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
Freshly ground pepper

Donair Sauce:
1 (370ml) can evaporated milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar

Donair Toppings:
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
8 large pitas

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. In the bowl of a food processor combine the ground beef, spices and egg. Whirl the mixture until fully combined, about 30 seconds.
3. Shape the meat into a loaf shape (like a large meatloaf) and place on the prepared baking sheet.
4. Cook for 1 hour, or until the meat is cooked through and springy to the touch.
5. While the meat is cooking make your donair sauce. Combine milk with garlic and sugar. Gradually add white vinegar. Sauce will thicken.
6. Let the meat cool for about 20 minutes, this will make it easier to thinly slice.
7. Thinly slice donair meat (about 1/8 inch thick). Warm your pita and fill with meat, top with donair sauce, onions and tomatoes. Wrap in foil to have the real donair experience or eat as is and have lots of napkins handy!

The 10 Healthiest Whole Grains and How to Cook Them

Whole grains come in all shapes, sizes, tastes and textures. With a myriad of B vitamins, fibre, iron, plant-based protein and minerals, each tiny grain delivers a hefty nutritional punch. A whole grain has its natural bran, endosperm and germ intact, which hold a good portion of its nutritional value.

The complex carbohydrates present in whole grains digest more slowly than refined versions, keeping blood sugar levels (and cravings) regulated for sustained energy. They’ve also been shown to reduce LDL (“bad” cholesterol), help to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, as well as lower heart disease and diabetes risk.

With whole grains, you’ve got many options not only in variety, but versatility in the kitchen, too. From breakfast to dinner and everything in between, there’s a grain out there for every time constraint, cooking level and craving. Here are the 10 most nutritious whole grains with tasty ways to add them to your daily diet.

888x600_healthiest-grains-explained

Warm Brown Rice and Wheat Berry Salad Bowl

Millet
Not just for the birds, millet is a gluten-free whole grain containing amino acids, complex carbohydrates, fibre and a range of minerals. Its tiny, bead-like appearance makes it a whole grain alternative to couscous (refined white pasta), can be ground in your blender to make gluten-free flour for baked goods, and can be turned into a creamy grain main like this Millet, Lemon and Kale “Risotto.”

Quinoa
Quinoa’s superfood status is reputable, with complete plant-based protein containing all essential amino acids, fibre, iron and slow-digesting carbohydrates. The original fast-food, quinoa cooks up in 15 minutes and can be used in lieu of oats in porridge, tossed in a leafy salad, served as a simple side dish or as the main such as this cozy Avocado, Kale and Quinoa Salad.

Oats
Bran, rolled, steel-cut and whole groats are all the same grain presented in different ways. They’re high in soluble fibre, helping to lower cholesterol, improve digestion, help manage a healthy weight, reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and more. An everyday pantry staple that makes not only a fantastic warm breakfast cereal with rolled oats, but also risotto with steel-cut or pilaf with whole groats. They’re also star players in desserts, like this healthier recipe for Honey Oat Roasted Pears.

Farro (Spelt)
A popular grain in Italy long before it appeared on the everyday North American table, farro is an ancient wheat with a chewy, rice-like appearance that comes in three varieties; farro piccolo (einkorn), farro medio (emmer) and farro grande (spelt). Its ability to stay intact makes it the perfect pasta substitute in cold salads, like this veggie-packed Farro Salad with Radishes, Arugula and Feta.

Freekeh
A whole grain with a funny name, freekeh is a low-glycemic, naturally low-carbohydrate popular for its earthy taste and stellar nutritional profile. With four times the fibre of the same amount of brown rice, freekeh keeps you fuller for longer. It’s roasted, allowing it to work as a bold base for hearty pilafs. Try freekeh in a substantial bowl of greens and grains like this Carrot, Spinach and Freekeh Salad with Miso Vinaigrette.

Corn
Not often thought of as a whole grain, corn’s bad-boy health persona should be limited to the refined versions of itself (i.e. high-fructose corn syrup). Its standout nutritional features are lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that help eyesight. As a whole food, corn is a unique grain in that it’s eaten fresh from the cob, as well as dried in the form of cornmeal and flour. For an elegant and healthy vegetarian entrée with corn, try this Veggie Ragu on Blue Cheese Polenta.

Brown Rice
Whole grain brown rice is a low-allergen, gluten-free whole grain high in B vitamins, selenium, fibre and slow-digesting carbohydrates. Many varieties of white rice can be readily found in whole grain brown rice such as basmati, short grain and long grain. Combined with a legume or bean, brown rice turns into a complete plant-based protein, as showcased in this recipe for Goat Cheese, Lentil and Brown Rice Rolls.

Black Rice
Inky-black with a slightly sweet, grapey taste, this dark-coloured whole grain is one of the highest sources of antioxidants in any food, even more so than most fruits and vegetables. It’s excellent as a side dish, used as a bed for curries or made into a healthy dessert like this Black Rice Pudding with Mango, Lime, Passion Fruit and Coconut.

Barley
Nutty, tender barley is best known for its role in wholesome soups and stews. Containing high amounts of B vitamins, magnesium, selenium and fibre, barley is an everyday, economical pantry staple. As it’s not gluten-free, barley isn’t suitable for those with celiac disease. Employ this pleasingly chewy whole grain as a complete-meal like this simple Slow-Cooker Bean and Barley Soup.

Wheat Berries
Unrefined whole wheat (used to make whole wheat flour) makes up wheat berries, which have a fruity, delicate flavour and a texture similar to barley. This slow-digesting, energy-boosting grain delivers a host of B vitamins, as well as fibre and magnesium. Use as a cold or warm breakfast cereal served with fruit and almond milk, or try this superfood-packed, double-grain Warm Brown Rice and Wheat Berry Salad Bowl.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Greg Komorowski

Comedian and slinger of zingers, Greg Komorowski is a man of many strengths but put a Neapolitan pizza in front of the Chef in Your Ear host and he goes weak.

greg komorowski

Here are some other fun facts you may not know about the Food Network Canada star:

1. He’s got a sweet tooth

Greg Komorowski works with some of the biggest names in the food industry and is no stranger to gourmet cooking. But if you want to stay on his sweet side, a chocolate bar from the corner store will do. “I’ve got a real big sweet tooth,” he admits, “so any kind of peanut M&M or O’Henry, for sure. I’ve got a big problem with those.”

2. He loves Italian food

“Even though I’m Polish, I love Italian food,” says Komorowski. He even re-enacted his own version of Eat, Pray, Love – kind of. “She eats at like this place in Naples called Da Michele. I’ve been there too.”

3. Seriously, he LOVES Italian food, especially Da Michele’s pizza

“Da Michele’s pizza is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted,” says Komorowski, joking that it’s even better than his mom’s cooking. “It’s so good you can’t leave it for leftovers. You know when you have that problem, like, I’m so full but there’s half a pizza and I won’t appreciate it but I’m still going to eat it? Yeah, absolutely that.”

4. His last meal would be . . . huge

For his last supper in this life, Komorowski would start with a bagged kale salad with seeds and cranberries, move on to king crab legs and bisque from Tracy’s King Crab Shack in Alaska, and top it off with Wagyu beef. For dessert he’d down Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream with smashed peanut M&Ms and sip on Royal Tokaji ice wine.

5. Perogies made him the man he is today

“My favourite thing to eat when I was a kid was definitely perogies,” says Komoroski. His grandma and aunt handcrafted them, stuffing them with meat, potato and cheese – his favourite. “There’s nothing like starch that’s packed inside of starch,” says Komoroski. Or perogies filled with sweet fruit! “Cherries, berries, they might even mix up the sugar with the smetana, the sour cream. And that’s why I am who I am today,” he says.

6. Europe changed him

“I always liked cooking,” says Komoroski, “but when I went over to Europe it was like a wakening, a food wakening. I was like in my late twenties or early thirties. And then I realized what food could be, which is art.”

7. He’d love to have a moment with Gordon Ramsay

“I think Gordon Ramsay is really interesting because he is so focused and frighteningly so,” he says. “I’d love Gordon Ramsay to call me a donkey. It would just be so fun to have him lay into you.”

8. He can’t resist chicken and waffles

If Greg Komorowski sees chicken and waffles on a menu, that’s what he’s getting. “This is one of my life problems because it’s kind of like a goal now,” he says. “When I see chicken and waffles, I order it.”

9. He’s a great listener

“Active listening is what we do in improvisation a lot, which is where I’m hearing what you say – every single word – and after that I will compose my thoughts based off that,” he explains. It’s a skill that’s particularly handy on Chef in Your Ear. “You kind of have to be as supportive as possible, especially with these new rookies because you don’t want to scare them off. They’ve already admitted they’re not great at what they do, which is a hard thing.”

10. He thinks every Chef in Your Ear contestant leaves a winner

“Sure there’s a winning chef and a losing chef but it’s really all about the celebration of creating food and people who never thought they could cook discovering they can,” he explains. Best of all, the food always tastes good and he loves watching contestants discover that. “What’s really cool is when people are done, they do want to taste what they’ve created, and they also want to taste the other person’s. And it’s great to see the difference because the dishes somehow always end up completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Somebody went with this theme and somebody went with that theme and then you try it and everyone thinks it’s delicious and feels good about it.”

Catch Greg and all the Chef in Your Ear action Mondays at 10 pm E/T. See more show details here.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mark McEwan

You know his face, you know his voice, you may even know the taste of his lobster poutine — but did you know that Mark McEwan adores his wife’s meatballs and Susur Lee’s jokes? Here are 10 fun facts about the newest Chopped Canada judge you’ve probably never heard before.

888x600_mark-mcewan-facts

1. He Can’t Get Enough of Susur Lee

Mark McEwan enjoyed meeting new colleague Antonio Park, and catching up with old friends like Lynn Crawford and Michael Smith, but Susur Lee is the chef who knows how to best season McEwan’s funny bone. “Susur, we had a hilarious time together,” he says. “I had so much fun with Susur. It was just hysterical.”

2. He Suffers for His Art

Mark McEwan is an experienced judge, but Chopped Canada presented challenges that his previous gig on Top Chef Canada didn’t. He thanks the mystery basket for that. “Well, there was a lot of bad food,” he admits, “And that’s what happens when you give chefs peculiar ingredients they don’t have the experience with. You always try to put yourself in their shoes, but at the end of the day, I judge the plate on whether it tastes good or not.”

3. It’s Possible to Stump Him with a Mystery Basket

It’s rare for McEwan to come across an unfamiliar mystery basket ingredient, but it has happened. This season mochi, the sticky Japanese rice flour dessert, appeared in contestants’ baskets, and he admits it would’ve given him trouble. “If you had the advantage of [experience], sure, you’ll figure something out. But on the fly? Very, very challenging to turn it into anything.”

4. He Worked His Way Up

All great chefs have to start somewhere, but McEwan’s first job was one of the industry’s dirtiest. “I was 16 years old and I was a dishwasher in Buffalo, New York, at Mindy’s Wine Cellar,” he explains. “I made $1.60 an hour. That was the first restaurant job I ever had.” One day the restaurant needed a cook, “so they dragged me out of the dishroom.”

5. He’s Organized, Really Organized

An early mentor taught McEwan that organization is a key component in a chef’s toolkit. “How you set your station, how you put your tools away, how you cut your chives, your shallots, how often you clean your stove, how you keep your uniform,” he says. “It creates efficiency and lack of wasted movement. All those things that make for an efficient day.”

6. He’s got a Soft Spot for Bologna Sandwiches with Mustard

“My mom used to make it all the time when I was a kid,” says McEwan of the school lunch classic. “Good, simple working class family.”

7. He Loves Junk Food

“I fly a lot, and what do I buy when I fly the most often? I’ll buy a bag of Peanut M&M’s,” he says, adding that sweets aren’t his only temptation. “Who doesn’t like potato chips? If someone puts a jar of Heluva dip in front of you, are you going to not stick some potato chips in it? I have a hard time not eating the whole jar. I love it.”

8. His Wife is His Favourite Cook

“My wife just makes the most amazing spaghetti and meatballs,” he says. “She makes a perfect tomato sauce that any nonna would love. She knows how to cook pasta; she makes perfectly tender, little veal ricotta meatballs that are to die for. Reggiano, olive oil, fresh basil… done. You put that in front of me any day and it puts a big smile on my face.”

9. Bugs Are Not the Weirdest Thing He’s Ever Eaten

“I’m not a big fan of the larvae group of bugs. Or eyeballs, or anything of that nature,” says Mark McEwan. But the weirdest food he’s ever eaten was raw chicken, in China. “Chicken sashimi I thought was really weird. I didn’t get that one at all.”

10. He’s Got a Solid Hangover Plan

“Generally I try not to have hangovers — they’re pretty difficult to handle at 58,” says McEwan. But when they do happen, he’s got a delicious cure for them. “Water and two Advil, and fatty foods,” he says. “I really like bacon. With extra bacon. And more bacon. A really wicked BLT with lots of mayonnaise on it. You get fat and salt and more fat.”

Chopped Canada returns with more high-stakes, heart-pumping competition on January 9 at 9 E/P. See schedule information here.

Whole Wheat Pitas

Weekend Project: How to Make Bread

One of the best aromas in the world is the scent of fresh bread baking in the oven. The smells permeates the kitchen and you can’t wait to take that first bite, so warm and satisfying in your mouth.

Making your own bread sounds like a daunting task with lots of ways for it to go wrong, but it is simpler than you think. If you’re a beginner baker, pita breads are a perfect place to start. You’ll learn all the basics of rolling and kneading, and how yeast reacts with flour and sugar to create light, chewy rounds. In just one afternoon, you can make homemade pita and watch the dough rise, right before your eyes.

Whole Wheat Pitas

Here are a few tips and a simple recipe to get your started.

Focus on Flour

Choosing the right type of flour for your recipe is essential for successful loaves. Each types of flour has different amounts of starch and proteins, which will affect the elasticity of your dough.

Pita bread is best made with a mix of whole wheat flour and bread flour, which has a higher protein content — an important part of yeast breads.

What You Knead

A stand mixer can be your best friend when making bread. Bread dough needs a lot of kneading to develop that soft, fluffy texture and a mixer with a bread hook will do the job perfectly.

If you are feeling tough, you can knead by hand but you’ll need a little extra time and energy.You’ll know the dough is done when it is stretchy and resembles elastic bands. This means the gluten proteins are bonded and the dough is ready to rise.

Shape-up

The key to making perfectly round pitas is to divide your dough into equal pieces and then twirl and fold them into a ball on a lightly floured surface. This will give you soft, round pieces of dough with the signature air pocket in the middle. Don’t worry about being too delicate with your dough. Baking queen, Anna Olson says that anytime you handle, roll or knead your dough it helps develop a richer flavour with better texture.

Anna Olson’s Whole Wheat Pita Bread

Ingredients:
1-3/4 cup warm water (110°F/43 °C)
1-1/2 tsp instant yeast
1-3/4 cup bread flour
1-3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Steps:

1. Place all of the ingredient into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and knead on low speed for a minute to incorporate the ingredients and then increase the speed one level and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Alternatively, to mix by hand, place all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until too tough to do so and then turn the dough out onto the counter and knead until elastic (try adding as little extra flour as possible while kneading) about 7 minutes. Place the dough into a bowl, cover with plastic and let rise for an hour (the dough will not double in size).

2. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and divide into six 150 g pieces (using a scale is best for evenly sized pita). Shape the dough pieces into rounds (try to not use flour for dusting), cover with a tea towel and let rest for 20 minutes.

3. With a rolling pin, roll out each piece of dough into a circle about 8-inches (20 cm) across (if the dough springs back when rolling, just set them aside 5 minutes and finish rolling them to the right size). Cover with a tea towel and let rest 20 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 450 °F (235 °C) and place 2 baking trays in the oven to heat. Remove a baking tray from the oven, dust with flour and place 2-3 pita rounds on it. Immediately return this to the oven and repeat with the second tray. Bake the pita for 5-6 minutes (they will puff up like a balloon!) and then carefully remove them (they will let off steam if pressed) from the tray to an open tea towel. Cover the pitas with the towel to deflate them and let them cool (this will soften them so they are tender and the pocket will open easily).

5. While fresh pitas are delicious on their own, we have a few tasty ideas for how you can enjoy them throughout the week.

Greek Pita

Paprika-Spiced Turkey

Give turkey breast a dose of flavour with a flavourful blend of fennel, coriander, paprika and garlic powder.

Chicken and Portobello Mushrooms in a Pita

Make this rich, savoury sauteed mushroom dish while your pita is rising and eat it for lunch all week.

Chicken and Wild Rice Salad Pitas

You’ll love the toothsome, chewy texture of wild rice, especially when paired with fresh chives and leftover chicken.

toasted pita triangles

Ina Garten’s Toasted Pita Chips

Toast up your pita bread into crispy chips, Ina Garten-style and serve with your favourite dip as a quick and wholesome snack.

Ham and Cheese Pita Pizzas

Turn your fresh pitas into instant pizzas on the busiest weeknights.

Chicken and Rice Soup

1 Chicken Breast Recipe, 4 Delicious Leftover Ideas

Pan roasted, baked or even poached, there’s nothing quite like the ease and convenience of fast-cooking chicken breast. From Korean lettuce wraps to a nutrition-packed grain bowl, here are four quick ways to make dinner happen in a matter of minutes with your chicken breast leftovers.

Pan Roast Chicken Breast

Start with Pan Roast Chicken Breast with Baby Spinach.

1. Try Korean Style Lettuce Wraps

When constructing these deeply-satisfying butter lettuce wraps, consider gochujang—the fiery red Korean paste—your flavour-boosting glue. Mix one tablespoon of gochujang with an equal amount of white miso paste, a splash of sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Then, smear a dab on each leaf, pile on the chicken and garnish with sliced scallions and matchstick cucumbers. Dinner is done!

Naan Bread

2. Make a Homemade Naan Pizza with Chicken

From-scratch pizza dough is definitely doable, but it’s also a time-consuming treat for when you’ve got the time. When you want dinner in 10 minutes, store-bought naan bread makes a great base for pizza in a jiffy. Spread on any tomato or marinara sauce, leftover cooked chopped chicken breast and sliced vegetables like mushrooms or peppers. Top with grated smoked mozzarella or lumps of torn burrata cheese. The best part? The pizza is done when the cheese is bubbly.

3. Make a Fully Loaded Chicken Grain Bowl

Don’t let sad desk lunches happen to you. Perfectly packable and loaded with nutrition, make 2016 all about the grain bowl. Toss leftover chopped chicken with a cooked grain like quinoa, barley, farro or brown rice together with fresh herbs like parsley, mint or basil, some grated carrot or beet and a handful of toasted nuts for crunch. Bring it together with a quick lemon vinaigrette.

Chicken and Rice Soup

4. Put it in a Soup

Long simmered chicken soup is a winter staple but you can still get fast flavours with a little help from leftover chicken, a whack of sautéed veggies and ready-made broth. Start by sautéing the vegetables together with some garlic and onion and toss in the vegetables. Add the broth and bring to a gentle simmer, tossing the chicken near the end and simmering until just heated through. Finish with fresh herbs like dill and lemon wedges, or coriander and hot chilies for some spice. Fill it out with rice, orzo or Asian-style noodles.

10 Healthy Ways to Use Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a staple in healthy eating, stepping in as a lean, creamy alternative for breakfast and dessert, as well as a nutritious swap for mayo in savoury dishes. Along with its delicious tangy flavour, Greek yogurt provides protein to keep you fuller longer, calcium and vitamin D for strong bones and teeth, and probiotics for immune support, nutrient absorption and enhanced digestion.

When buying, choose plain, no-sugar added varieties without thickeners (like cornstarch), and a fat percentage that aligns with your personal diet. If you’re looking to get more Greek yogurt into your daily regimen, look no further than these fresh, wholesome recipes.

888x600_greek-yogurt-recipes

1. Smoky Tomato-Greek Yogurt Crema
Capitalizing on Greek yogurt’s blank canvas persona, this healthy salsa and yogurt sauce pairs perfectly with grilled vegetables and fish.

2. Waffles with Greek Yogurt
If you’re looking for a new way to eat yogurt in the morning, give these soft, fluffy waffles a try. A protein-packed stack to carry you through until lunchtime.

3. Healthy Chocolate Muffins
Instead of a muffin with loads of oil, Greek yogurt stands in its place for a rich, moist and chocolatey breakfast on the go that will satisfy even the biggest chocoholic.

4. Banana and Matcha Green Tea Smoothie
Antioxidant-loaded matcha gets the smoothie treatment. Here, it’s combined with Greek yogurt for a protein-loaded breakfast or snack that tastes like a milkshake.

5. Strawberry Kiwi Greek Yogurt Popsicles
Tasting like the most decadent vanilla ice cream and enhanced with vitamin C-rich fruit, these Greek yogurt popsicles make the ultimate after school (or work) snack.

6. Roasted Carrots, Spanish Spices, Yogurt, Harissa
There’s nothing plain about this Greek yogurt recipe. Sweet roasted carrots receive the star treatment with a punchy yogurt cream sauce (hold the cream) bursting with bold spices and fiery harissa.

7. Grilled Vegetables with Cilantro-Yogurt Dressing
A raw veggies and dip makeover, leftovers will be a thing of the past when this lean, mayo-free Greek yogurt dressing comes into play.

8. Souvlaki-Style Nachos with Greek Yogurt Feta Sauce
Greek yogurt contributes a cooling component in lieu of traditional sour cream in these nouveau nachos. Use whole grain pita chips for an even healthier dish.

9. Valerie Bertinelli’s Herbed Mashed Cauliflower
Mashed potatoes are lightened up with cruciferous cauliflower in the humble spud’s place. Instead of tons of cream, Greek yogurt is used for a side dish that won’t weigh you down.

10. Strawberry Rhubarb Greek Yogurt Fool
A tangy treat that skips the saturated fat, this recipe employs Greek yogurt instead of whipped heavy cream. Use frozen fruit when fresh isn’t in season as the health benefits are the same.

Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Stew for Chilly Nights

Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Stew for Chilly Nights

By Wanda Baker

When I was a young child growing up in a small town, I encountered my first moose. Not in the woods or side of the road but in my father’s garage. My dad was a hunter and enjoyed heading out to the wilderness whenever his name was drawn. I had innocently wandered into the garage and found a moose waiting to be butchered. Whether I knew it was there or not, I was always curious. Over the years stew came to us in many variations: moose, deer and of course, beef.

When I left that small town, I started cooking for myself leading to all kinds of experimentation. My mom made her stews fairly simple using onions, carrots, potatoes — all the usual suspects. I stuck with beef, chicken or pork since game meat wasn’t readily available. I learned to brown the meat and add flavour enhancers like garlic and ginger.

Over the years my stews have changed to suit our family and our busy lifestyle. Slow cooker stews make dinners quick and easy when we have to eat and run. But I’ll always remember the moose from my childhood and the delicious stew that followed.

Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Stew, Courtesy of Wanda Baker, bakersbeans.ca, Calgary, Alta.

Beef and Barley Stew Bakersbeans

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 6-8 hours
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1-2lbs beef stew meat (1 inch cubes)
Canola oil
1 small onion, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, medium size, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups beef broth
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ginger, minced
1 cup barley
Salt and pepper

Directions:
1. In a skillet over medium high heat add your oil, and brown beef in small batches. Remove from pan, and place in slow cooker. Continue until all beef is browned.
2. Turn heat down, pour a little more oil into pan, and add your onions, carrots and celery stirring for about 5 minutes. Toss in garlic.
3. Pour in a splash of beef broth, and scrape up all the brown bits from the pan. Add contents into slow cooker with beef.
4. Add remaining beef broth, bay leaves, soy sauce, ginger, and a pinch of salt & pepper to the slow cooker. Toss in your barley and cover.
5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles or rice.

Bakersbeans
Wanda Baker is a Calgary-based lifestyles and food blogger since 2006 and has been cooking with her mom in the kitchen since age five. Look to Bakersbeans for delicious recipes and family adventures in Calgary and beyond.

ChickenSaladMasonJar

A Detox Chicken Salad You Can Make the Night Before

By Angie Wright

Mason-jar salad recipes have been floating around the Internet forever and I’m sure happy I stumbled across the idea! Better late than never. It’s no huge secret that I like to indulge in cake and other sweets, so I’ve had to come up with an eating plan that lets me fit in a few treats now and again. If I try putting something completely out of my diet it just makes me want even more of it. During the week my family eats quite well and leaves treats for the weekend. It makes Friday night even better! Grab some cake, hit the couch and enjoy.

My husband and I both work during the week so time is limited for planning healthy lunches. These Mason-jar salads are so easy and can be customized for whatever you have in the fridge that week. The best part is that these salads can be assembled ahead of time, and they keep for up to five days! It’s a great way to balance out the weekend treats.

Detox Chicken Salad, Courtesy of Angie Wright, fridaycakenight.com, Fort St. John, B.C.

These quick-and-easy make-ahead salads are perfect for popping into your lunch bag.

ChickenSaladMasonJar

Prep time: 10 min
Yield: 5 servings

Ingredients
1/4 cup (50 mL) balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup (50 mL) olive oil
2 1/2 cups (625 mL) cooked chicken, cubed
3 cups (750 mL) shredded red cabbage
3 cups (750 mL) shaved carrots
3 cups (750 mL) chopped kale or spinach
5 tsp (25 mL) dried cranberries

Directions
1. Evenly divide balsamic vinegar and olive oil among five large Mason jars.
2. Evenly divide chicken, cabbage, carrots and kale among the jars, layering each ingredient on top of the last.
3. Top each jar with dried cranberries. Seal jars with lids and rings.
4. Refrigerate until ready to eat. Shake before serving.

Friday is Cake Night
Angie comes from a small town in B.C., where she lives with her husband and two children. She spends her spare time working on her blog and travelling with her family as much as possible.

PinaColadaSmoothie

Immune-Boosting Green Smoothie to Start the New Year

By Regina Braun

Being pregnant with my daughter first got me into drinking green smoothies.

Did you know that getting over a cold is much harder when you are pregnant? I had no clue until I was pregnant and fighting the longest cold of my life. Why does it take so long? Well, first of all, the pregnant body gives the growing baby highest priority. Healing mom is not as important. Secondly, there is hardly any cold medication approved for use during pregnancy. So I was left dealing with this extended cold without any meds.

I realized that I had to take a proactive approach to boosting my immune system. That’s when I started to make green smoothies part of my routine. I still didn’t like the thought of a green-tasting drink, so my very first green smoothie creation ended up tasting like a cocktail instead. The tropical flavours of pineapple and coconut do an amazing job at masking the taste of leafy greens.

Is it any surprise, that my daughter already loves green smoothies? She insists on sharing my smoothies with me and loves it when I make them into mini popsicles for her.

Green Piña Colada Smoothie, Courtesy of Regina Braun, leelalicious.com, Calgary

Tropical flavours mask the taste of the leafy greens for a smoothie that is delicious and nutritious.

PinaColadaSmoothie

Prep time: 5 min
Yield: 2 servings (2 1/2 cups/625 mL)

Ingredients
1 cup (250 mL) coconut milk
2 tbsp (30 mL) organic shredded coconut (optional)
1 cup (250 mL) packed fresh spinach
1 cup (250 mL) frozen pineapple chunks
½ frozen banana
shredded coconut (for garnish, optional)
fresh pineapple (for garnish, optional)

Directions
1. In blender or food processor, combine coconut milk, shredded coconut, spinach, frozen pineapple and banana. (Layering ingredients from liquid to frozen makes for easier blending.)
2. Garnish rim of serving glasses with shredded coconut and piece of pineapple, if desired.
3. Serve immediately, or freeze leftovers to make green popsicles.

Leelalicious
I am a busy mom of one little girl who is already a great eater and future kitchen helper. On my blog, Leelalicious, I like to share nutritious and delicious recipes for the entire family!