Great “Game Night” Finger Foods

If staying in sounds like a perfect Friday evening, we’ve got your winning night right here. Hosting a classic game night is one of the easiest parties you can throw at a moment’s notice and is always a blast. Whether you opt for a classic card game, an eerie murder mystery or a rousing game of charades, you can’t go wrong, especially when combined with good friends and seriously good snacks.

Skip the formal dinner party menu – this casual, laid-back affair is all about relaxing and letting loose. Opt for easy yet impressive dishes that players can load onto their plates and enjoy with their hands, no utensils required. These delicious recipes deliver game-friendly finger foods that are sure to fuel the fun.

chicken-nachos-sour-cream

Chicken Nachos

The ideal game night dish if ever there was one. The key to winning nachos is your layering strategy. Chips, cheese, chicken, repeat, will ensure maximum crunch and melty cheese on every single chip. Pop in the oven as guests arrive for a perfectly timed snack.

 

bubbling-sangria

Blushing Bubbly Sangria

Fresh or frozen fruit works perfectly well for this crowd-pleasing batch cocktail that you can make before guests arrive.

 

jalapeno-dip-recipe

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Everyone’s favourite freezer snack is reinvented and served as a delectable dip. Creamy, cheesy and spicy, the cherry on top of this indulgent dip is the crunchy breadcrumb crust. Pass the chips!

 

caulflower-wings-3-ways

Cauliflower Wings

You may have to roll the dice to see who gets the last of these highly addictive vegetarian wings. Humble cauliflower becomes a sensational snack when battered and baked in finger-licking flavours like Maple Chipotle BBQ, Crunchy Thai Peanut and mouthwatering Honey, Garlic and Sesame.

 

Bite-Sized Blooming Onions

Bring the pub menu to your party with a miniature version of everyone’s deep-fried favourite.

 

Chicken and Waffle Sliders

For an appetizer so good you’ll forget whose turn it is, look no further. Break out the batter for fresh waffles or opt for frozen –either way, it’s the spice-filled fried chicken that stars in this easy homemade dish.

 

Party Totchos

With all the dice shaking and charades, your guests will need serious snacks to keep them fueled for a fun-filled night of competition. As the game night gets going, it’s time to raid your freezer for a mindblowing midnight snack. Frozen potato tots become the base for your favourite nacho toppings. Don’t forget the sour cream and guac!

 

Apple Cinnamon Roll Slab Pie

No forks needed for this handheld pie that packs all the flavours of two of your favourite desserts into one. Store-bought cinnamon roll dough becomes a cinnamon-filled base, but wait – it gets better: Save the cream cheese icing to drizzle over top your finished pie for sugary-sweet perfection.

Deep Fried Pickles

Snacking can’t get more dill-icious than these crispy, golden, beer-battered pickles! Serve with a creamy vegan dill dipping sauce for the ultimate party snack everyone can enjoy.

Giant Jenga Party Sandwich

Serve up the fun and food together with this two-in-one recipe that is guaranteed to be a blast. The best part is eating your way through the tasty tower to try each of the three delicious sandwich combos. You don’t want to miss that bacon jam and Brie!

And don’t miss Game Night, in theatres February 23.

 

These Fully-Loaded Vegan Nachos are the Ultimate Healthy Party Snack

This is our fully-loaded, monstrous tower of insanely delicious vegan nachos. What can be better than crispy tortillas piled high with zesty guacamole, spiced black beans, creamy vegan cheese and fresh-to-death pico de gallo? Don’t just reserve making this recipe for game day or dinner parties – you’ll crave it for a snack every day of the week. Not only are you getting your nacho fill, but you’re also eating a healthy dish equipped with great fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Bon appetit!

Fully-Loaded Vegan Nachos

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
Vegan Nacho Cheeze:
1 cup cashews, soaked
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 clove garlic

Spiced Black Beans:
15 oz can black beans
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp tamari

Guacamole:
1 avocado
1/2 tomato, diced
1 Tbsp red onion, minced
2 Tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime, squeezed
Pinch of sea salt and pepper

Pico de Gallo:
1 large tomato, finely diced
1/4 cup corn
3 radishes, finely diced
2 Tbsp red onion, finely diced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced (optional)
1/2 lime, juiced
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
¼ tsp sea salt

Assembly and Toppings:
1 bag of your favourite tortilla chips
Sliced radishes
Fresh cilantro
Green onions
Sliced olives

Directions:
Vegan Nacho Cheeze:
1. Soak the cashews in boiling hot water for 30 minutes to soften, then drain and rinse.
2. Place all ingredients in your food processor or high-speed blender.
3. Turn the food processor on and gradually add 2 Tbsp of water at a time (there are 8 Tbsp in 1/2 cup).
4. Blitz until creamy.

Spiced Black Beans:
1. Drain and rinse the black beans.
2. Place a saute pan over medium heat, add the extra virgin olive oil and toss in the garlic powder and chili powder, mix around to allow them to toast for 30 seconds.
3. Add in the black beans and tamari, stir to combine with the spices. Let them heat up in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove from the stove.

Guacamole:
1. Slice the avocado in half and scoop it into a bowl, discarding the peel. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well to combine.

Pico de Gallo:
1. Prep all of the veggies and toss them in a bowl. Mix well to combine the flavours.

Assembly:
1. We like to assemble these nachos on a large cutting board, but a big plate or tray will also do the trick.
2. Place down a layer of tortilla chips, then top with a hearty scoop of spiced black beans, pico de gallo and nacho cheeze. You can dollop the cheeze on top or place it in a plastic bag, cut a hole at the corner and squeeze it over.
3. Layer on more tortilla chips and place the rest of the toppings over, dollop with scoops of guacamole and finish with thinly sliced radishes, fresh cilantro, green onions and olives.

Looking for more healthy, crowd-pleasing dishes? Try these must-make Vegan Taco Recipes (think pulled jackfruit and crispy cauliflower).

5 Recipes That Make Your Nacho Dinner Dreams Come True

Nachos may be the perfect food. They’re crispy, cheesy, spicy and a crowd-pleaser — that is if you’re so inclined to share. You can dress them up with fresh veggies like tomato and pepper and bake them to perfection in the oven, or microwave chips with a little cheese and salsa on top and call it a day. Either way, nachos are plain-old delicious.

Yup, aside from pizza, nachos may just be the most perfect food when it comes to satisfying that cheesy, comfort-food craving.

Unfortunately, you can’t always eat nachos for dinner — not if you’re trying to win at #Adulting, at any rate. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them in myriad other forms. Take this recipe for Nacho Chicken Drumsticks, for example. Delicious, tortilla chip-crusted drumsticks are fried and then elevated to a whole new level when baked with some fresh Cheddar and topped with salsa, guacamole and pickled jalapeño peppers.

 

We dare you not to salivate when watching the video. In fact, we may be craving a whole other way to eat “nachos” right about now, and it involves glorious, glorious fried chicken.

But why stop there? There are plenty of other great nacho-inspired recipes that have us totally rethinking our nacho game, especially if you want to take a more “traditional” approach to your dinner.

For example, take these baked potato nachos, which are smothered in delicious toppings like cheese, sour cream and black beans. With some salsa and fresh cilantro, regular old baked potatoes seem so last year, don’t they?

 

Needless to say, potatoes and chicken drumsticks are most definitely going on the shopping list this week.

Want some more nacho inspiration? Check out these great recipes that transform basic dinner staples into dishes of nacho heaven.

Chicken Nacho Soup

On a cold day we can all agree that nothing feeds the soul like hearty chicken soup. (Heck, they came up with an entire line of feel-good books based on that very concept.) But if it’s still nachos you’re craving, this cheesy, tomato-based chicken soup definitely hits varying levels of comfort, and we never, ever want to go back.

Nacho Topped Chili Pot

What’s better than a comforting bowl of chili? Chili topped with an entire serving of fresh nachos, of course. Move over, chili cheese fries and regular old chili nachos. We love the way Rachel Ray tops her pot of chili with chips, cheese and other nacho staples and throws it all under the broiler to serve up complete chili nacho perfection.

Pork Tenderloin Posole with Bottom of the Bowl Nacho Surprise

Posole, a traditional Mexican stew, is another one of those staples that hits the spot when you need a warm bowl of comfort. But again, Rachel Ray takes hers to the next level with an entire layer of nacho goodness stacked into serving bowls first, giving us a whole new level of nacho posole perfection.

Looking for more nacho goodness? You’ll find comfort food perfection in these Tasty Nacho Recipes.

 

 

3 Healthy Vegan Taco Recipes You’ll Crave Every Tuesday

Step aside meaty tacos, we’ve got three satisfying, fresh and insanely delicious vegan versions that will blow any taco enthusiast away.  Although they may share similar seasonings to their meaty cousins, these tacos have so much more to offer (like a hefty amount of fiber and an ample supply of vitamins and minerals). Meaning, while your taste buds can love them up, so can your body. Each taco is paired with a simple topping, like a smack of vegan cashew sour cream and a zesty dollop of fresh guacamole.  Impress friends and make these for a dinner party, or just for yourself – you won’t regret it.

Pulled Jackfruit Tacos with Guacamole

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4-5

Vegan Pulled Jackfruit Tacos

Ingredients:
Pulled Jackfruit Filling:
1 can young green jackfruit, drained and rinsed
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup veggie broth
1 tsp tamari
1 tsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp chipotles in adobo sauce (optional)

vegan pulled jackfruit taco ingredients

Guacamole:
1 avocado
1/2 tomato, diced
1 Tbsp red onion, minced
2 Tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime, squeezed
Pinch of sea salt and pepper

Assembly and Toppings:
6 to 8 small sprouted corn tortillas or small tortillas of choice
Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
Cilantro, roughly chopped

Pulled Jackfruit Taco Filling

Directions:
Pulled Jackfruit Filling:

1. Once jackfruit is drained and rinsed, chop it up into thin pieces.
2. Heat a pan over medium, add 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil and saute the yellow onion in the pan for 5 minutes until translucent, then saute the garlic for another minute.
3. Add the jackfruit, spices, broth, tamari, maple syrup and adobo sauce.
4. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer on low heat until the liquid is absorbed, this takes about 15 minutes. Keep uncovered.
5. Once the jackfruit softens, shred it by pulling apart with two forks, it will resemble pulled pork.

Guacamole:
1. While the jackfruit is simmering, prep the guacamole.
2. Slice the avocado in half, scoop it into a bowl and mash it. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.

Guacamole Recipe

Assembly:
1. Warm the tortillas slightly, if needed.
2. Spoon a good amount of jackfruit filling onto the tortillas, sprinkle on sliced cabbage and cilantro. Dollop guacamole on top.

Crispy Cauliflower Tacos with Mango Salsa

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4-5

Crispy Vegan Cauliflower Taco Recipe

Ingredients:
Crispy Cauliflower Filling:
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp granulated garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup non-dairy milk, like unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 lemon, juiced
2-3 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Crispy Vegan Cauliflower Taco Ingredients

Mango Salsa:
1 mango, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/3 cup green or purple cabbage, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp red onion, minced
2 Tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 lime, squeezed
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of sea salt and pepper

Assembly and Toppings:
6 to 8 small sprouted corn tortillas or small tortillas of choice
Cilantro, roughly chopped

Crispy Cauliflower Snack Recipe

Directions:
Crispy Cauliflower Filling:
1. Chop the cauliflower into florets.
2. In a bowl, combine the almond flour and spices, mix well so the spices are dispersed throughout. In a separate bowl add the non-dairy milk, brown rice flour and lemon juice.
3. Have a tray lined with parchment paper ready for the next step.
4. Dip the florets in the milk mixture, shake off excess, then coat in the almond flour mixture and place onto the tray. Repeat until all cauliflower is coated.
5. Drizzle 2-3 tsp of extra virgin olive oil on top of cauliflower to allow for even more crisping.
6. Bake in the oven at 375ºF for 25-30 minutes until golden and crisp.

Mango Salsa:
1. While the cauliflower is baking, prep all salsa ingredients and place them in a bowl, mix well so everything is combined.

Mango Salsa Recipe/Taco Topping

Assembly:
1. Warm the tortillas slightly, if needed.
2. Spoon a hefty amount of salsa onto each tortilla, place 3-4 crispy cauliflower florets on top and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Lentil Walnut Tacos with Cashew Sour Cream

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4-5

Vegan Lentil Taco Recipe

Ingredients:
Lentil Walnut Filling:
1 cup cooked green lentils
1 cup walnuts
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1.2 tsp granulated garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp tamari
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp lime juice

Vegan Lentil Taco Ingredients

Cashew Sour Cream:
1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 15 minutes or up to overnight
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 Tbsp non-dairy milk

Assembly and Toppings:
6 to 8 small sprouted corn tortillas or small tortillas of choice
Red peppers, thinly sliced
Radishes, thinly sliced
Fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions:
Lentil Walnut Filling:
1. Cook 1/2 cup dried green lentils, submerge with water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until soft and cooked.
2. Pulse the walnuts in the food processor until crumbled into small pieces; don’t over process or you’ll end up with walnut butter!
3. Place 1 cup of cooked lentils and the rest of the ingredients into the food processor with the crumbled walnuts and pulse a few times until lentils are slightly chopped up and all of the ingredients are combined well.
4. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 375ºF. After the lentil and walnut filling is roasted, it will resemble ground meat.

Cashew Sour Cream:
1. While the filling is in the oven, prepare the cashew sour cream.
2. Soak the cashews for 15 minutes or up to overnight in water. If you’re only soaking for 15 minutes, use hot water.
3. Drain the water and place cashews in the food processor with the rest of the sour cream ingredients, blitz until smooth.

Vegan Cashew Cream

Assembly:
1. Warm the tortillas slightly, if needed. You can wrap a few tortillas in aluminum foil and place them in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 350ºF.
2. Spoon a desired amount of lentil walnut filling into the center of each tortilla. Top with sliced red peppers, radishes and cilantro.
3. Either dollop cashew sour cream on top, or place it in a piping or ziplock bag, cut a little hole at one end and squeeze it over.

Discover more delicious plant-based mains with 20 Easy Vegan Weeknight Dinner Recipes.

How to Make Everyone’s Favourite Swedish Meatballs At Home

When the weather cools down and you want a good old-fashioned comfort food, meatballs always seem to do the trick — especially if they’re Swedish meatballs. Whether you whip up a batch to freeze, serve them at a potluck or dole them out over a bed of buttered egg noodles with that delicious, creamy Swedish meatball sauce, there’s no denying that these little balls of deliciousness are an instant hit.

That’s probably why Ikea’s Swedish meatballs are the stuff of legend. Seriously, when’s the last time you went into the store and didn’t either sit down for a plate of them or take a pack of frozen meatballs home with you to enjoy later on? In our case, we often do both — they’re that memorable.

So that means it’s hard not to crave them. Köttbullar, as they’re called in Sweden, have a unique flavour of mixed savoury meats, cream and butter, and have long been served as a staple food back in Sweden. Traditional Italian or sweet-and-sour meatballs just don’t always hit the spot the same way.

Well here’s the good news: thanks to this recipe for Almost Famous Swedish Meatballs, you can now have savoury pork- and beef-filled meatballs with a creamy gravy and Lingonberry jam any old time you want.

 

Sure, sure—these balls may be designated as “almost” famous, but that’s just because they aren’t the actual meatballs you’d buy from the furniture store. But we dare say they’re even better; especially since you have the satisfaction of knowing you whipped them up yourself.

Serve them at your next shindig but be sure to make a little extra for yourself, because these meatballs will go like hot cakes.

Looking for other great Swedish meatball recipes? We’ve got a few suggestions that even the Swedish Chef would approve of.

Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs

If you’re looking to take the muss and fuss out of dinner, this recipe is brilliant in that you can cook and serve your meatballs in the very same pot. Lazy? No. Brilliant time-management? Of course!

The Pioneer Woman’s Swedish Meatballs

If meal-prepping is your thing, you can’t go wrong with this batch-cook recipe for all-purpose meatballs from The Pioneer Woman (one batch makes 125 meatballs!). Make them fresh or ahead of time, and then pair them with her lip-smacking gravy and egg noodles for a weeknight treat.

Alton Brown’s Swedish Meatballs

If you want to add a little more richness to your plate, Alton Brown’s recipe calls for his meatballs to be pan-seared until they’re nice and golden-brown. He then douses them with a luxurious beef broth gravy for a little plate of meatball perfection.

healthy apple pie oatmeal bake

This Healthy Apple Pie Oatmeal Bake is Your New Favourite Breakfast

A warm hug in the morning, this baked oatmeal recipe, chock-full of apples, walnuts, cinnamon and chia seeds, is a nourishing start to a cold winter morning. This version skips the eggs and dairy to make it fully vegan, so everyone can enjoy it. Serve with additional nut milk or coconut yogurt, along with your favourite fresh fruit and endless hot coffee.

Comforting Apple Pie Oatmeal Bake

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4 to 5

Ingredients:
2 cups large-flake rolled oats
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp coconut oil, plus more for dish
2 small or 1 large apple, cored and cut into small pieces
2 cups unsweetened nut milk or oat milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
2. In a large bowl, mix to combine oats, walnuts, sugar, chia, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt.

vegan apple pie oatmeal bake

3. For the topping, take out 1/2 cup of oat mixture and transfer to a small bowl, then cut in coconut oil until combined and resembling an apple crumble crust.
4. Stir apples into large bowl of oat mixture (not crumble topping), followed by milk and vanilla.



5. Grease an 8×8-inch or medium casserole dish with a bit of additional coconut oil, then carefully transfer oat and apple mixture to dish. Crumble over topping and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until dry to the touch and beginning to brown on top. Serve warm.

vegan apple pie oatmeal bake

Notes:
Bake this recipe ahead of time and warm in a low oven or microwave until heated through, or enjoy cold.

Looking to add more wholesome recipes to your breakfast rotation? Here are 15 Vegan Breakfast Recipes You’ll Want Every Morning.

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin

Your Weeknight Needs This Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin Recipe

Perfect for a gathering or a simple weeknight dinner, this meat-and-veg meal always impresses. Slow cooker pork tenderloin is incredibly tender and moist so you can forget all about dryness.  What’s more, the leisurely braising brings on a sweet, caramelized flavour as the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup work their magic on the pork tenderloin. Finally, seasonal vegetables add pops of colour and a welcome earthiness to this hearty meal. While oven baked pork tenderloin is delicious we’ll be making this easy Crock Pot dinner all winter long.

Slow-Cooker-Pork-Tenderloin-2

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin with Winter Veggies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours on high, 4 hours on low
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes on high, 4 hours 10 minutes on low
Serves: 4
Slow-Cooker-Pork-Tenderloin-3

Ingredients:

1 (2 lb) pork tenderloin (see Notes below)
3 red potatoes, cut into 2-inch cubes
3 stalks celery, chopped into 2.5-inch pieces
2 carrots, sliced into 1-inch circles (we used a mixture of purple and orange carrots)
1 red onion, sliced into 1-inch half-moons
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp grainy mustard
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
ground black pepper, to taste
fresh thyme leaves, to taste
fresh chopped parsley, for serving

Directions: 
1. Add all ingredients except parsley to a large slow cooker, positioning the pork tenderloin in the centre and surrounding it with the vegetables. Replace lid and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours.

Food-Network-pork-tenderloin-2

2. Once the cook time is up, transfer pork to a cutting board and slice into medallions.
3. Dish up the vegetables along with those delicious slow cooker juices onto plates or into shallow bowls, top with pork tenderloin medallions, then garnish with parsley. Serve warm.

Slow-Cooker-Pork-Tenderloin-Recie

Notes:
To enhance the caramelized flavour in this stew, you can sear the pork in a skillet before it goes in the slow cooker. To do so, add olive oil to a skillet set over medium-high heat, then brown each side of the pork tenderloin until desired colour; continue with the remainder of the recipe.

Soak up all of those mouthwatering juices on your plate with a warm slice of Chef Michael Smith’s Pot Baked Bread with Homemade Butter.

The Best Vegan Cheesecake Recipe Ever

Don’t let the “cheese” in this “cheesecake” throw you. This baked vegan “cheesecake” provides the same richness and creamy flavour as the original and may even become your new dessert of choice.

Sitting on a homemade maple graham crust is a decadent, delicious no-bake vegan cheesecake filling made from silken tofu. This fully vegan dessert feels rich yet is light, and can be finished with whichever topping you love,  we love melted vegan chocolate!

vegan-cheesecake-3

Prep Time: 8 hours 20 minutes (includes cooling)
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours, 45 minutes
Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

Homemade Graham Crust
11/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp miller’s bran (not cereal)
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup vegan butter or coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp agave or maple syrup

Filling
2 (349 g/12.3 oz) packages silken extra-firm tofu (“silken” texture imperative, do not substitute; available in shelf-stable tetra packs or fresh)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup apple juice
2/3 granulated sugar
1 Tbsp agar agar flakes (Eden Foods makes one readily available)

Topping Ideas
Melted chocolate
Strawberry jam
Caramel sauce
Fresh fruit
Stewed cherries

vegan-cheesecake-1

Directions:

Homemade Graham Crust
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, bran, cocoa and cinnamon until combined. Mix in vegan butter or oil and agave or maple syrup until fully combined. Firmly press into a 7-inch springform pan.
3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and beginning to crack on top. Cool completely.

Filling
1. In a medium saucepan, bring apple juice, sugar and agar agar to a boil, reduce to medium and cook, stirring a few times, for 5 minutes, or until agar agar flakes are completely dissolved. Keep warm.
2. In a food processor, purée tofu until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Add apple juice mixture, lemon juice and vanilla. Purée until fully combined and pour into prepared crust. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, until set.
3. To serve run a knife around edge of springform pan, unhinge and slice. Garnish with your topping of choice (chocolate, cherry, caramel, etc.). Serve chilled.

vegan-cheesecake-2

Looking for more tasty vegan treats? Check out: 25 Vegan Desserts Even Non-Vegans Will Love.

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup is Fiesta Flavour Without the Fuss

This zesty and warming soup is just asking to be on your dinner menu this week. Toppings of tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro and lime add incredible flavour and texture to a big, comforting bowl of slow-cooked shredded chicken, sweet potato, black beans and tomatoes. To make this into a vegan or vegetarian soup, simply skip the chicken, toss in another can of black beans and replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth.

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours on high, 4 hours on low
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes on high, 4 hours 20 minutes on low
Serves: 4  

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

Tortilla Soup
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 small or 1 large yellow onion, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt

For Serving
1 lime, quartered
1/2 cup (about a handful per serving) tortilla chips
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 avocado, pitted and diced

Directions:
Tortilla Soup
1. Stir to combine all tortilla soup ingredients (except for toppings) in a large slow cooker. Replace lid and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours.

2. After time is up, shred the chicken using two forks and stir to coat with remaining soup ingredients.

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

For Serving:

1. Dish the tortilla soup into bowls and top each one with a squeeze of lime, tortilla chips, cilantro and avocado. Serve hot.

For tortilla soup outside of the bowl, try this family-friendly Chicken Tortilla Casserole (aka Mexican lasagna!) from The Pioneer Woman.

marinated-chicken-breast on a plate with salad

How to Cook Chicken Breasts Perfectly Every Time

Loaded with lean protein and low in calories and fat, boneless, skinless chicken breast have become synonymous with people looking to start or maintain a healthy diet. Baked in the oven, roasted with veggies, stuffed or slow cooked, there are countless chicken breast recipes to choose from. While the versatile protein has a magic ability to take on any flavour you apply to it, the lack of fat means it is easy to overcook, leaving you with dry, bland chicken. Not to worry, it doesn’t have to be that way!
Whether you are starting a healthier diet or simply looking to eat more chicken, learn how to cook chicken breast perfectly every time. These tips will add life and excitement to your baked chicken breasts and ensure maximum flavour.

sliced stuffed chicken breast on a plateGet the recipe for Rachael Ray’s Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Start with Quality Chicken Breast

The taste and texture of chicken starts with how it was raised. Chickens that are raised to free range on pastures are usually healthier and more nutritious. Look for organic chicken that has been humanely raised. The meat might be pricier, but the difference in flavour and texture is worth it.

Season Your Chicken Breast

Sprinkle salt on raw chicken before you even think about pre-heating the oven. This will ensure the meat has time to absorb the salt, flavouring the meat inside as well as out. The result is a more flavourful chicken breast than seasoning after it is cooked.

sliced chicken breast with salad and lemonGet the recipe for Marinated Chicken Breast

Marinate Your Chicken Breast

Chicken breasts are like sponges for flavour – so get creative! Place chicken in a freezer bag with the marinade of choice. Store it in the fridge for hours or overnight before cooking for maximum impact. Pesto makes an easy herby flavour-injection, or try yogurt with Indian inspired spices for a creamy texture.

Don’t Roast Chicken Alone

Chicken breasts are a blank slate for flavour, so consider roasting them with complementary vegetables and herbs. Aromatic vegetables, citrus and herbs help inject flavour into the meat and help give you a tasty side dish to serve alongside.

bowl of chicken phoGet the recipe for Anne Burrell’s Chicken Pho

Try Poaching Chicken for Maximum Moisture

If you are making chicken soup or stew, poaching is an easy way to cook chicken. Simmering it in water or broth will ensure your meat stays moist and helps add flavour to pot. Immerse chicken breasts in simmering stock for about 10 minutes, then shred or slice the chicken into your desired dish.

When in Doubt, Don’t Overcook

We’ve all been there, you’ve left your chicken breasts in the oven a few minutes too long and you’re left with dry, unpleasant meat. How do you know when chicken is done? An instant-read thermometer will help you know what temperature you should cook your chicken to, no more guessing! Inserted into the thickest part of the breast should read no higher than165°F when the chicken is done. Easy, peasy!

Let Your Chicken Rest

Once you’ve cooked your chicken to the perfect temperature, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before you slice. This will allow time for the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and ensure maximum juiciness. Cut too soon and those juices will escape. Have patience.

Looking for chicken breast recipes?  Look no further than these Popular Chicken Breast Recipes You Need to Try.

Slow Cooker Saag Paneer

Slow Cooker Saag Paneer is the Tastiest Way to Eat Your Greens

Looking for new and exciting ways to eat your greens? We’ve got the perfect healthy slow cooker recipe for you. This saag paneer is loaded with spinach, fresh cheese, spices and a hint of lime juice, leaving your taste buds happy. We’ve given this traditional Indian dish a twist by omitting the heavy cream that’s commonly used and replaced it with coconut milk to add natural sweetness. A big bowl of saag paneer will definitely warm you up on a cold day, especially if you have some naan handy to heat up and dunk in!

Slow Cooker Saag Paneer

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours on high, 4 hours on low
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes on high, 4 hours 10 minutes on low
Serves: 2 to 3 as a main, 4 as a side


Ingredients:

2 small or 1 large yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
3 tomatoes, diced
2 bunches fresh spinach
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
3 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
1/2 lime, squeezed
3 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp coconut oil
1 brick of paneer (fresh Indian cheese), cubed
1/4 cup toasted shredded coconut

Directions:

1. Toss all ingredients except coconut oil, paneer and toasted shredded coconut in a large slow cooker. Replace lid and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours. When the saag (spinach) mixture has about 15 minutes left to cook, make the paneer.
2. Heat a large skillet (non-stick ensures easy turning) over medium and add coconut oil. Place the cubed paneer into the skillet and fry until golden, flipping around every so often until most sides are brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. Set aside pan-fried paneer while you puree the saag mixture.

3. Once the saag mixture has finished cooking, use an immersion blender to puree inside the slow cooker until smooth, or carefully transfer to a blender, puree and add it back to the slow cooker to keep warm. The green colour will have dulled but the flavour is huge.
4. Add the reserved pan-fried paneer to the slow cooker with the pureed saag and stir until combined and warmed through. Or, keep pan-fried paneer on the side and add on top of bowls of saag right before serving, like we did in the photo.
5. Divide saag paneer into bowls or enjoy as a side dish. Garnish with additional cilantro and toasted shredded coconut. Serve warm.

Cool things down after dinner with Indian-inspired Mango Coconut Ice Pops.

Red Thai Curry Slow Cooker Soup

Slow Cooker Thai Red Curry Soup That’s Easier (and Better) Than Take-Out

Thai curry is all about layering flavours, and slow-cooking the ingredients allows everything to fully meld, creating a rich, complex dish without standing at the stove for hours. Chicken, vegetables, brown rice and roasted peanuts make this bowl a complete meal, while prepared red Thai curry paste keeps things simple. With this spicy, coconut milk and chicken soup, you’ll skip the take-out once and for all.

Slow Cooker Thai Red Curry Soup with Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours on low, 4 hours on low
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes on high, 4 hours 10 minutes on low
Serves: 4


Ingredients:

Thai Red Curry Soup with Chicken
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp red Thai curry paste
2 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 Tbsp tamari (a gluten-free soy sauce)
1 large or 2 small yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2-inch piece ginger, minced
1 cup broccoli florets
2 carrots, sliced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For Serving
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime, quartered


Directions:
1. Whisk the coconut milk, broth, curry paste, coconut sugar and tamari together in a large slow cooker. Add the remaining soup ingredients and stir to combine. Replace lid and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours.

2. Once cooked, shred the chicken using two forks and give the soup a good stir.

For Serving:
1. Ladle soup into bowls and top each one with cooked brown rice, peanuts, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Serve warm.

Looking for more Thai curry recipes? Try these 26 Thai Recipes to Make at Home and forget about take-out.

Ginger Beef

The Delicious History of Ginger Beef

There’s one iconic Canadian dish that’s a “must try” in Calgary and you won’t find it at the steakhouse. Instead, head straight to Chinatown — the birthplace of sticky-sweet ginger beef. Here, you can savour a plate of crispy and golden battered beef swimming in a sticky, spicy sauce, often served over rice. “It usually has deep-fried beef, ginger, peppers, carrots and onions and is served in a sweet sauce that is a bit like General Tso’s,” says Lenore Newman, food historian and author of Speaking in Cod Tongues: A Canadian Culinary Journey. “I see it as an excellent example of the early mixing of Canadian and Chinese tastes.” Food lovers have likely encountered this crunchy, satisfying dish in restaurants across Canada and abroad, but there’s nothing quite like eating ginger beef in Calgary.

Ginger Beef

Get the recipe for Ginger Beef With Carrots and Rice

“Whenever I go to Chinatown in Calgary, ginger beef is in the back of my mind,” says Ryan O’Flynn, chef at Calgary’s acclaimed The Guild Restaurant and Canadian Culinary Championship winner.  “It’s a staple. When the Chinese restaurants get ready for a busy night, they’ve got the 150 portions of ginger beef ready and probably 30-50 of everything else.”

Chinese food wasn’t always so popular in Cowtown. In the early-  to mid-20th-century, Chinese-owned restaurants struggled to popularize Peking-inspired dishes and instead served comfort fare like burgers, fries and grilled cheese sandwiches. In the 1970s, George Wong, chef at The Silver Inn in Calgary, was looking for ways to boost business and make his menu more appealing to Western patrons. Playing with a recipe from Northern China and inspired by British pub grub, George deep-fried shredded beef and then simmered the crispy strips in a spicy chili sauce. He dubbed the dish “deep-fried shredded beef in chili sauce” and began serving it to patrons.

“It had that fast food flavour,” says Ryan. “It’s kind of ingenious — George Wong was one of the first to adapt and push the boundaries in Calgary.” Turns out, George’s creative cooking instincts were bang on: customers gobbled up the newfangled dish, loving the zingy sauce and the beef’s crunchy texture. “It caught on and became known as ‘ginger beef,'” says Karen Anderson, president of Alberta Food Tours. “Because Canadians mistakenly believed there was ginger in the sauce.”

Today, ginger beef remains a staple on The Silver Inn’s menu and has become such an iconic dish that it was even included in the Royal Alberta Museum’s Chop Suey on the Prairies exhibition. Several decades later, there’s a growing appetite for this dish across Canada, with more chefs incorporating ginger beef onto their menus.

Related: Tasty Chinese Takeout Dishes You Can Master at Home

“To think that a dish from Calgary built in the 1970s can now be found in Victoria to Toronto to Halifax is pretty fantastic,” says Ryan. “It gained way for other Chinese restaurants to do a new style of Asian food.”

The original recipe has evolved over the years, to reflect changing tastes and ingredients. Some renditions include ginger and garlic, and it’s more common now to add sauteed onions, peppers and carrots into the mix before serving. Regardless of the fixings, the outcome is always tasty. “The result is tender morsels of beef in a crispy coating with sweet hot sauce and brightly coloured vegetables,” says Karen. “When it’s done right, it’s out of this world delicious.”

Some daring chefs are even playing around with this Canuck favourite, creating everything from ginger beef poutine to a sesame ginger beef burrito. The dish has even fuelled a “Ginger Beef Throw Down,” a one-time cooking competition between food trucks that was hosted by the Royal Alberta Museum.

Although you can make your own at home or try it at various restaurants across the country, Ryan says:  “You must go to The Silver Inn… You can’t have it anywhere else! Have it there first, so you know what it is, and then go and check out other renditions.”

Published January 5, 2017, Updated January 1, 2018

The New Year, New You Easy Green Smoothie You Need

It’s a new year and chances are you are A) still nursing one heck of a hangover or B) making a resolution of some sort to eat healthier. Smoothies are a great way to pack in lots of veggies when you don’t have the time or appetite to munch on a salad and unlike a juice, you get all the healthy fibre from the skin and pulp, making you feel fuller longer. In this smoothie, the sweetness of the apple juice helps temper the bitterness and grainy texture of kale, while the frozen blueberries keeps the smoothie cold and adds a tinge of tartness. Ginger has long been used as a home remedy to help with an upset stomach, but more importantly, its spice adds a nice kick to every sip.

Related: Cold-Busting Citrus Smoothie That’ll Save You When Sick Season Hits

Feel free to adjust the amounts of each ingredient to your taste and experiment with other greens and fruits you have on hand. Smoothies are also a great way to use up greens that are starting to wilt and would otherwise look sad in a salad. If you want to cut down on the amount of sugar, replace the apple juice with almond or coconut milk and add an additional teaspoon of maple syrup or honey. A scoop of unflavoured protein powder would also make this a nice breakfast option on the go.

Green Smoothie

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:

1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 ½ cups kale, stems removed and chopped finely
½ cup baby spinach leaves, chopped finely
½ cup frozen blueberries
1 cup apple cider or juice
1 tsp maple syrup

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Directions:

1. Peel ginger by scraping the skin off with the edge of a spoon.

KaleSmoothie_peelingGinger

2. Blend all the ingredients in a blender until everything is well mixed and liquefied. Drink immediately.

Published January 5, 2015, Updated January 1, 2018

Pecan-Butter-Tarts

The Sticky-Sweet History of the Butter Tart

How do you like your butter tart — firm or runny? With raisins or bacon bits? Made with butter or shortening? There are a gazillion and one ways to make (and eat!) a butter tart, but only one truly great place to enjoy them: in Canada, the birthplace of this sweet, satisfying treat. “The butter tart is 100 per cent Canadian,” says Anna Olson. “It’s an individual tart, as opposed to a full-sized pie.”

In case you’ve been in hibernation, a butter tart is a flaky, round pastry shell filled with a gooey buttery filling that’s semi-solid, with a crunchy top. Taste testing is almost a patriotic duty, offering a delicious way to sink your teeth into Canadian history.

whiskey butter tarts

Get the recipe for Pecan Whisky Butter Tarts

Like many legendary dishes, the butter tart’s origins are fuzzy. It’s believed that filles à marier (“marriageable girls”) created a crude version in the 1600s. These newly arrived Québécois brides filled their French tarts with New World ingredients: maple sugar, freshly churned butter and dried fruit such as raisins.

“The idea of mixing a syrup with eggs and dried fruit to form a dessert is an old one — and was likely born out of necessity to make do with ingredients on hand,” says Dr. Lenore Newman, food security and environment director at the University of the Fraser Valley.

Others believe the butter tart has roots in pecan pie, brought to Canada by Americans or possibly is related to Québec’s sugar pie or even Scottish border tarts. And some experts credit pioneer cooks for creating the beloved version known today, tracing the earliest printed recipes back to the 1900s. Ultimately, no one knows for sure, but the tart’s origins are likely a combination of all of the above. “It just slowly evolved and appeared,” says Anna. “It looks like a lot of other tarts: like the French [Canadian] tarte au sucre or a treacle tart [a traditional British dessert].”

Four hundred years later, the butter tart has become the quintessential Canadian sweet treat. It was all the rage in the 1920s and 1930s, and it’s one of the few authentically Canadian recipes that exists on paper.

“The butter tart’s success in Canada is likely linked to our general love of sweet desserts,” says Dr. Newman. “However I do feel that the butter tart is being influenced ever so slightly by Canada’s cuisine with its dedication to local foods. British and French settlers loved sugar, but butter tarts also fit a model of early Canadian foods that needed to pack a really high calorie load into each bite. We worked outside in the cold and needed to eat a lot more than we do now.”

Related: Butter Tart Spots to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Today, the craze continues. There are even butter tart trails that dessert lovers can follow, with Ontario’s Kawarthas Northumberland Region and Wellington County offering maps and self-guided itineraries to explore local bakeries and cafes. What’s even more incredible is the butter tart has become an international superstar.

“No matter where I am travelling, I’m always asked to demonstrate a butter tart,” says Anna. “I have demonstrated butter tarts in Argentina, Moscow, Dubai, all over Southeast Asia. I just hosted a chef from the Philippines and the one thing on his checklist was trying a butter tart. Because the world knows the butter tart as ubiquitously Canadian.”

What makes an “authentic” Canadian butter tart? It’s a hotly debated topic within the baking community, especially when it comes to three aspects: should the tart’s filling be runny or firm? Should it contain raisins? And how far can you stray from the original recipe? According to Anna, there’s no clear answers: it really depends on the baker and the proof is, well, in the pastry.

“The butter tart has as many recipes as there are people who make them,” says Anna. “But whether it’s a filling made with maple syrup or corn syrup is very particular to the [baker]. Some swear by lard pastry, others by butter. To call it a butter tart, you can’t change the shape or syrupy filling.”

Nonetheless, bakers and pastry chefs are making endless and ever-evolving variations on this favourite Canuck dessert. Some stuff the flaky pastry cup with toasted pecans instead of raisins or even chocolate or bacon fillings.

The bacon butter tart has become a staple — it’s that salty crunch in the bottom,” says Anna. “I’m seeing more with chocolate melted into the syrupy filling. You could even put in marshmallows and chocolate chips for an s’mores butter tart!”

In recent years, some maverick chefs and bakers are even masterminding butter tart-flavoured foods, such as ice creams, cookies, cobblers and Butter Tart Cheesecake.

Butter Tart Cheesecake

“While you may not change the butter tart, you can integrate those flavours and textures elsewhere,” says Anna. “For my new cookbook, I want to do a butter tart swirl cheesecake that has that the same pastry crunch, butteriness and drifty caramel swirl.”

It’s worth taking a tantalizing tart trip across Canada to try all the variations and recipes, with Anna naming Niagara’s 13th Street Winery and The Pie Plate Bakery & Café as being among the best. If you’re feeling adventurous at home, try mastering Anna’s Pecan Butter Tarts. For holiday entertaining, you could even build a butter tart buffet that will entice guests to the table.

Pecan-Butter-Tarts

Despite her playful renditions, there’s one thing that Anna is old-fashioned about when it comes to making a classic Canadian butter tart. “Can you make a low fat butter tart? No way!” she says. “But you could make them miniature sized.”

Published November 14, 2016, Updated January 1, 2018