Category Archives: Everyday Cooking

bowl of stew with sourdough toast

One Humble Can of Tomatoes, Six Different Meals to Remember

As the weather turns cooler and we spend more time cozied up indoors, we often turn to our pantry to see what simple recipe we can whip up for a weeknight dinner. From pureed to chopped to strained, tomatoes are something I always have on hand as they can be used in endless ways. Here are six recipes you can make with a humble can of tomatoes.

Shakshuka

Shakshuka is a tomato-based dish that consists of poaching eggs in a spicy sauce. You can make it in 30 minutes with just a few simple ingredients. Start by sautéing garlic, diced onion and sliced red bell pepper in olive oil. Add your chopped tomatoes, paprika, cumin and chili powder. Let simmer for 10 minutes before cracking in the eggs. Cover with lid and poach the eggs until the whites are cooked, but yolk is soft. Garnish with crumbled feta cheese and fresh parsley.
shakshuka in a cast iron pan

Sloppy Joes

Have a can of tomatoes and ground meat in the freezer? Grab yourself some fresh buns and make sloppy Joes! A childhood favourite of mine, sloppy Joes consist of simmering together ground meat — beef, pork, chicken or turkey — as well as tomato sauce, onion, garlic, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. You can sneak in a few extra veggies if you’d like too. Serve the mixture on a bun.

bun with sloppy Joe mixture on black plate

White Bean and Tomato Stew

This stew consists of simmering white beans in tomato sauce, along with chicken stock, garlic, onion, celery, thyme and red pepper flakes. It is loaded with flavour and can be served a number of ways: over steamed rice, on sourdough toast or with pasta simmered right into the stew. Serve with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

bowl of stew with toast

Pizza Sauce

One of the most popular uses for canned tomatoes is homemade pizza sauce. We make a lot of pizza at home — and I prefer homemade sauce to the store-bought option, as you can control the flavours. It is so easy to make and requires no heating. Just stir together the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. You’ll be wondering why you didn’t always make your own sauce.

two slices of square pizza on a black plate

Salsa

Almost as easy as pizza sauce, you can turn a can of tomatoes into fresh restaurant style salsa. To a food processor: add tomatoes, green pepper (optional), fresh cilantro, onion, jalapeno, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Pulse until the salsa is as smooth or chunky as you prefer. Open a bag of tortilla chips and dip, dip, dip away!

grey plate with tortilla chips and bowl of homemade salsa

Chili

The perfect hearty meal on a brisk fall or snowy winter day is — hands down — chili! You can add pretty much anything you like, be it lots of vegetables or just beans, ground meat, tomatoes and spices (chili powder, paprika, cumin and coriander). I like to include onions, celery, carrots and red and green peppers in my classic chili recipe.

chili in a white bowl

Want to cook with more pantry staples? Here is one humble can of chickpeas, six different ways and one can of black beans, six ways.

Lemon spatchcock chicken on roasting pan

You’ll Love This Easy Lemon Spatchcock Chicken With Roasted Apples, Parsnips and Leeks

We are big fans of sheet pan-style meals where everything cooks together — especially when they’re a show-stopping dish like this. This is one of our favourite ways to cook a whole chicken, because when you spatchcock it, it cooks more evenly and you’re not left with overcooked breasts and undercooked thighs. Roasting apples, parsnips and leeks together with woodsy herbs like thyme has an incredible warming appeal that offers tart, sweet and earthy flavours.

Spatchcock chicken on sheet pan with roasted veggies

To spatchcock your chicken, flip the chicken so the back is facing up and cut along one side of the backbone from the top to the bottom. Now cut along the other side of the backbone, take it out. Flip the chicken over so it’s laying open in front of you. Using a knife, slice the cartilage that’s found between the breasts and then pull on both sides of the chicken to really open it up. And that’s it! Or if you don’t want to do the heavy lifting here, ask your butcher to do this for you.

Related: How to Grill the Perfect Piri Piri Spatchcock Chicken

Lemon Spatchcock Chicken With Roasted Apples, Parsnips and Leeks

Prep Time: 20 to 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

Chicken
1 whole spatchcocked chicken
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped finely
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
Pinch black pepper

Apples, Parsnips and Leeks
3 parsnips, chopped into 1-inch cubes
2 large pink lady apples, chopped into 1-inch cubes
2 leeks, washed thoroughly, halved and sliced into 1-inch thick pieces
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
A few cracks of pepper

Garnish
Fresh thyme sprigs
Freshly chopped parsley
Lemon wedges

Spatchcock chicken ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Spatchcock your chicken if you did not buy one pre-spatchcocked. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl: garlic, parsley, thyme leaves, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper.

Spatchcock chicken marinade in glass bowl

3. Chop the fruit and veggies and lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss around to ensure all pieces are seasoned well.

4. Push the fruit and veggies to the side and create space in the middle for the chicken. Lay the spatchcocked chicken down and then nuzzle it with the fruit and vegetables.

Lemon spatchcock chicken with veggies on roasting pan

5. Spread some of the marinade under the skin of the chicken and then spread the rest mostly on top of the bird. Rub a small amount on the underside. Roast in the oven for 1 hour.

6. When you’re ready to eat, garnish with fresh thyme, fresh parsley and lemon wedges.

Cooked spatchcock chicken and roasted veggies on serving tray

Like Tamara and Sarah’s spatchcock chicken recipe? Try their sumac-spiced roasted delicata and their 5-ingredient beef Bolognese.

These Pan-Fried Pork Chops With Roast Cabbage Wedges Will Help Your “What’s for Dinner?” Woes

Healthy and budget-friendly, cabbage is one of the most delicious and versatile cruciferous veggies. Anyone who is “on the fence” about cabbage will be converted with this roasted variety — promise! High heat cooking caramelizes the outer cabbage layers and opens up the nutty sweetness, while maintaining a tender, textured crunch. With the addition of the quick and easy pan-fried pork chops, this meal ticks off all the boxes and will become a family favourite.

Pan-fried pork chops and roasted cabbage on white plate

Pan-Fried Pork Chops With Roast Cabbage Wedges

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Cabbage
1 red cabbage (feel free to swap out red cabbage with white cabbage or a medium Savoy cabbage)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice or red wine vinegar

Pork Chops
2 bone-in pork chops (1 ¼ to1 ½-inch thick) (approx. 1 ½ lbs)
½ tsp each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 thyme sprigs
3 cloves garlic, smashed
4 green olives (optional)

Garnish
Chopped parsley
Finely grated Parmesan

Ingredients for pan-fried pork chops and roasted cabbage

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Cut cabbage in half and then each half into 6-8 equal wedges, keeping the core and stem intact. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet; brush with ¼ cup of the oil all over and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Roast until browned and slightly charred on bottom, about 10 to 15 minutes. Flip and continue roasting until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice or vinegar.

Cabbage roasting on pan

3. While the cabbage is cooking, sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and cook pork chops until golden brown on one side, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes; repeat flipping and cooking until browned and instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 135°F, about 8 minutes total.

Related: 12 Must-Try Fall Cocktails to Give Thanks for This Autumn

4. Remove pan from heat. Add butter, thyme, olives (if using) and garlic to pan, tilting and spooning the butter mixture over chops, basting the fat cap to brown.

Pork chops in pan

5. Transfer chops to a cutting board; cover and rest for 5 minutes. Cut into thick slices, reserving juices. Sprinkle with parsley or grated Parmesan (if using). Serve with cabbage.

Pork chops and roasted cabbage

Like Soo’s pan-fried pork chops with roast cabbage wedges? Then try her Chinese stir-fried eggplant or pork banh mi burgers.

These Curried Brussels Sprouts Are the Fall Side Dish You Need Right Now

Fall is all about making roasted veggies — and Brussels sprouts should be high up on that list. Their small size and nutty taste make them perfect for roasting. The key is to get the edges crispy and caramelized by roasting them cut side down at a high temperature. And don’t even think about removing the small leaves that fall off — those become so crunchy and make the best Brussels sprouts chips. In this recipe, we use a delicious curry spice mix to take them to next level. All you need to do is cut the Brussels sprouts, toss them in the spice mix and roast them on a sheet pan. The perfect side dish for any meal!

Curried Brussels Sprouts

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 lb Brussels sprouts
3 large garlic cloves
1 ½ tsp curry powder
¼ tsp chilli powder (more to taste)
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil
Lemon wedges (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash the Brussels sprouts well and pat dry using a paper towel. Trim the ends and cut in half lengthwise. It’s fine if some of the outer leaves fall off, keep them to roast on the pan.

2. Peel the garlic and crush it using a garlic press. Mix together the curry powder, chilli powder, paprika, salt, olive oil and crushed garlic.

3. Toss the Brussels sprouts with the marinade ensuring they are well coated. Turn the Brussels sprouts cut side down on a sheet pan and space them out evenly (do not overcrowd!).

4. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Serve as a side with lemon wedges.

Looking for more fall recipes? Try this vegan pumpkin soup or this easy paleo butternut squash tart.

5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Dinner Ideas: Slow Cooker Beef Bolognese

Ready to make the most comforting dinner with the least amount of effort? Then you’ll love this beef Bolognese. It only required five ingredients, plus a little salt and pepper! It’s the perfect, warming dish to make as the weather starts turning cooler — and is usually loved by all family members, even picky eaters. After a quick sauté of the onion and beef, simply throw all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and voila, you’re done. We like to choose a jar of our favourite store-bought marinara or tomato sauce, since it infuses so much flavour in one simple ingredient. If you would like to add the extra step of making your own, go for it. For the ultimate comfort dinner, serve the Bolognese over a big pile of your favourite noodles.

5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Beef Bolognese

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 to 6 hours
Total Time: 3 to 6 hours
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
1 x 750 ml jar marinara or tomato sauce
½ cup chicken broth or dry red wine
½ tsp sea salt and pinch of pepper

Directions:

1. Place a wide skillet over medium-high heat and add in the oil. Once heated, put in onion and cook for 3 minutes until translucent.

2. Add in the ground beef, break it up with the back of a spoon and allow to brown.

3. Then place the onion, browned beef, sauce, broth, salt and pepper in the slow cooker.

4. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours.

Like Tamara and Sarah’s slow cooker beef Bolognese? Try their vegan pumpkin soup or their no-bake chocolate layered oat bars.

The Big Social: Canada’s Ultimate Feel-Good (Socially-Distanced) Food Party

Here at Food Network Canada, we’ll take any opportunity to break bread with our friends, but the meals taste even better when we’re dining for a good cause!

The Big Social is a national cross-country food party that brings people together and raises funds for low-income communities. Like many other nations, Canada has been deeply affected by the coronavirus crisis. It’s challenging enough to self-isolate in a well-stocked home. But for the many Canadians living on a low income, there is a heightened sense of anxiety. Food insecurity was already an urgent problem, with 1 in 8 Canadians struggling to put food on the table. Now, 1 in 7 people are experiencing food insecurity during the ongoing pandemic.

With The Big Social, you can connect in person or online, making this year’s Distance Edition the perfect way to give back during COVID-19. From October 9-25, raise funds, share food, have fun, show you care!

The best part is that anyone can host, and joining is as easy as 1-2-3. Go to www.bigsocial.ca to register to host. Once you’ve registered, you can set a fundraising goal for your dinner, and send out a (socially-distanced) invite to your friends, family or coworkers to join and support low-income communities through donations!

Your generous donation supports community members to eat well, cook healthy and take action on issues that affect their livelihood.

An example of donation breakdowns:

$30 can give seniors a healthy cooking session
$50 can provide fresh fruit and vegetables for a family
$75 can bring food literacy education to kids
$100 can grow a garden in low-income communities
$175 can help to open a new Community Food Centre

To stay safe and healthy, consider these virtual event themes:

1. Cross-country (or global!) cheers: The beauty of a virtual event is that you can “cheers” your friends across the country — or the world! 

2. PJ party: Because let’s be honest, there’s nothing quite like eating in your PJs. 

3. Beloved family recipes: Everyone can cook from the same recipe, follow a kitchen leader, or prep separately and then share the story behind the dish.

Register to host an event for The Big Social at www.bigsocial.ca.

For more, check out how FoodShare’s Paul Taylor breaks down food insecurity (and how Canadians can help) and how food injustice inspired this 23-year-old to start her own farm.

This Comforting Mujadara Recipe is Our Favourite Way to Cook Rice

Mujadara is a simple and delicious dish of lentils, rice, spices and fried onions. The first-known recipe of this popular Middle Eastern dish can be found in a 13th-century Iraqi cookbook. This vegetarian meal was once considered to be “food of the poor” — as its inexpensive and readily available ingredients can feed many people. It gets its rich, infused flavour by coating the rice in olive oil and spices before cooking it. If you have leftover rice, you can improvise a cheat version of mujadara and fold it in with the lentils and onions at the end. But it’s always best to start with a traditional recipe from scratch before you begin experimenting with shortcuts — so you know how it’s meant to turn out. This recipe is adapted from methods from my favourite Middle Eastern chefs, who bring Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian and Syrian influences to their recipes. I remember trying mujadara for the first time as a little girl and savouring the crispy onions — and now, when I make it for my own children, they also eat the onions first!

Vegetarian Mujadara

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 (depending on if it’s a main or side)

Ingredients:

1 cup vegetable oil
3 large or 4 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced as evenly as possible
1 ½ cups water
1 ¼ cups brown or green lentils
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 cup basmati rice
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1 bunch of parsley, picked off the stems and roughly chopped (optional)
1 lemon, quartered for serving
Sea salt and black pepper

Serve this mujadara recipe warm or at room temperature, with a side of plain Greek yogurt or labneh, lemon wedges, parsley and a chopped salad of tomato and cucumber.

Directions:

1. Heat the vegetable oil on medium to high in a heavy-bottom saucepan with a lid or a Dutch oven. Once the oil is hot, add half of the onions. Fry for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a rich golden brown. Some dark bits are fine, that’s where you’ll get the bitterness. If the onions are all the same size, they will cook more evenly. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the onions to a colander or plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. (Act fast— the onions crisp up quickly at this stage and it’s in the last seconds where they’ll go from brown to black if you’re not careful). Season with salt. Repeat with second batch and set aside.

2. While the onions are frying, add the lentils to a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the lentils are soft, but slightly firm in the centre. Drain and set aside.

Related: 25 Healthy Middle Eastern Recipes You’ll Make on Repeat

3. Drain the oil from the saucepan you fried the onions in and wipe it clean. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, rice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to coat the rice with the oil and spices. If you’re adding sugar, now is the time to put it in as well. Bring to a boil before simmering on low heat for 15 minutes. (Be patient and don’t open the lid — you don’t want any of that steam to escape).

4. Remove from heat, take the lid off and immediately cover with a clean tea towel and put the lid back on, sealing tightly. This will allow the mujadara to keep steaming gently. Let rest for about 10 minutes.

5. Transfer the rice and lentils into a large mixing bowl or straight into your serving platter and then gently fold in half the fried onions.
Top with the second half of the fried onions and garnish with parsley.

Like Claire’s vegetarian mujadara? Try her mother’s recipe for seven-vegetable Moroccan couscous.

This Easy Ethiopian Mushroom Stir-Fry Will Be Your New Fave Weeknight Meal

Tibs are a quick, easy and delicious Ethiopian-style stir-fry traditionally made with beef or lamb. Mushroom tibs are one of my favourite ways to make a tasty plant-based alternative to this popular dish. It is super flavourful and perfect for a quick lunch or weeknight dinner. Tibs are typically served with injera (a spongy fermented Ethiopian flatbread), but can also be enjoyed with rice, fonio or quinoa.

Vegetarian Mushroom Tibs Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4

Ingredients:
450 grams mushrooms
1 tomato
1 yellow onion
1 ½ bell peppers (different colours)
1 jalapeno
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ Tbsp berbere (Ethiopian spice blend)
1 tsp ground korarima (Ethiopian Black cardamom) (optional)
1 sprig rosemary
Salt, to taste

Directions:
1. Begin by prepping all of the vegetables. Clean mushrooms thoroughly and remove the stem (save stems for another dish). Slice mushrooms evenly and set aside.

2. Dice tomatoes, thinly slice the onion and bell peppers and set aside. Remove the seeds from the jalapeno and thinly slice.

3. To a hot pan, add the sliced mushrooms. Cook down on medium-high until it reduces in volume. Drain the excess liquid and remove the mushrooms. Set both the liquid and mushrooms aside for later.

4. Now add oil to the heated pan and sauté the onions.

5. Once the onions begin to become translucent, add the berbere spice and stir. Pour back in a few spoons of the liquid from the mushrooms as needed.

Related: 20 Easy Plant-Based Recipes for Beginners That Will Make You Drool

6. Add the minced garlic to the pan, stir and add the diced tomatoes. Next add bell peppers and stir.

7. Add the mushrooms, jalapenos, korarima spice, rosemary and stir.

8. Garnish with rosemary or thinly sliced jalapeno (in Ethiopian cooking, jalapenos are both an ingredient and garnish!). Serve with fresh injera, rice, quinoa or fonio. Enjoy!

Tip: Tibs are all about your personal preference. If you’d like this dish to be a bit less saucy, add half of the tomato instead. Many berbere spice blends have salt within the mix, so be sure to taste your stir-fry as you go and salt to taste.

Like Eden’s mushroom tibs recipe? Try her vegan sloppy Joe sliders or teff breakfast bowl.

These Oven-Baked Zucchini and Corn Fritters Are the Perfect Dinner Side Dish

Got too much summer zucchini and corn? Don’t quite know what to do with it? This recipe combines two of summer’s greatest hits and uses the oven to bake crispy vegetable fritters without all the hassle of deep frying. Lots of corn fritter recipes use only corn, but by adding grated zucchini, you’ll add a different texture (and a pop of colour!). The fritter is perfect on its own, served with a little sour cream and some pesto for the ultimate light summer meal. However, they’re also a great side dish, served with roast chicken or as an accompaniment to a summer BBQ. These will be on repeat in the summer and can just as easily be made in winter using frozen corn.

Oven-Baked Zucchini and Corn Fritters

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 16 fritters

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchini, washed and grated (approx. 2 cups grated)
1 ½ cups corn kernels (from 3 small cobs or thawed and drained if frozen)
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup shredded cheese (use something sharp, like Cheddar)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp flaky sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
Sour cream and pesto to serve

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Place a few layers of paper towel on your countertop.

2. Squeeze the water out of the grated zucchini with a cheesecloth or tea towel. Place the squeezed zucchini on the paper towel in a single layer. Place a few more paper towels on top and gently pat dry.

3. Once dry, place the zucchini in a large bowl with the corn kernels, breadcrumbs, cheese, eggs, salt, pepper and optional red pepper flakes and mix well to combine, using a wooden spoon or your hands.

Related: 50+ Zucchini Recipes You’ll Absolutely Love

4. Using a 3-Tbsp cookie scoop and packing the mixture in tightly, scoop out mounds of the mixture and place them about 1 inch apart on the baking trays. If you don’t have a cookie scoop this size, use a ¼ measuring cup filled ¾ full of the mixture. If you notice lots of liquid in your mixture, make sure to drain it before you place on the tray.

5. Bake for 15 minutes, then use an offset spatula to carefully flip the fritters flattening them slightly as you do. Be careful, they are a bit fragile still!

6. Bake a further 10 to 15 minutes, until the fritters are crispy and golden on both sides. Serve with sour cream and pesto. Enjoy!

Like Mardi’s fritters? We also love her cheesy, comforting butternut squash tartiflette and mixed berry galettes for a sweet treat.

We’ve Actually Tried These Kid-Friendly Recipes — Our Honest Opinion

As a parent of two children, one of the things that is constantly on my mind is food. What should we have for dinner? Do I need to go grocery shopping today? I really hope the kids will eat this. These are the thoughts that are swirling around my brain. I chase down awesome kid-friendly recipes as if they are Pokémon GO characters – hard to come across and once captured, oh-so rewarding. I’ve learned over the years that the key to any great family meal is modification. Choosing meals that can be simplified for your picky eaters and fancied up for the adventurous palates. If you’re looking for easy meal ideas, I’ve actually tried the below kid-friendly recipes — here’s my honest opinion.

Related: How I Cooked for My Family of 4 for a Week on Less Than $100

Triple Pepperoni Pizza

Pizza is high on the list of kid-friendly recipes because this meal is so easy and versatile. Purchase store-bought pizza dough, pizza sauce, cheese to grate (or pre-shredded), whichever toppings to suit your kids’ tastes and voila! You’re good to go. My kids especially love to roll up their sleeves and make their own personal pizza, so they’re getting a cooking class plus making their own meal – it’s a big win for dinner time. You can also take this opportunity to introduce toppings that your kids have never tried like prosciutto instead of pepperoni or black olives over green ones. And if you have a picky eater on your hands, go the double-cheese route (or no cheese and only veggies, I’ve seen it happen).

Best part of this recipe: the kids get to help!

Get the recipe for The Pioneer Woman’s Triple Pepperoni Pizza

Spaghetti and Meatballs

The great thing about spaghetti and meatballs is that you can serve up just the pasta, just the meatballs or mix it all together and everyone in your family is happy. Also, spaghetti is a long and stringy pasta, which creates loads of fun opportunities during dinner time – let your kids play! We created some fun to see who can slurp up the longest strand of spaghetti or who can make the better spaghetti mustache. Chances are, if your kids are in a happy mood, they are more willing to try new things. Pro tip from this parent: if you have a young child who isn’t keen on eating meatballs due to texture, place a very small piece of meatball on a fork and wrap a lot of spaghetti around it. Trust me, it works every time.

Best part of this recipe: quick and easy meal, kids can have fun, yields plenty of leftovers.

Get the recipe for Mom’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

Fajitas

When I introduced fajitas to my kids, it was an utter failure and I spent the evening reading about the nutritional value of eating just plain tortillas. It was the saucy meat, grilled peppers and new tastes that were generally off-putting to them (as most kids love plain foods). But as soon as I changed my thinking and stopped expecting my kids to eat this meal how it is usually done (which is ingredients wrapped in a soft tortilla shell) my kids were more willing to try. I placed the tortilla on the side, cooked up some meat without the sauce  and cut a bunch of uncooked veggies for them to enjoy.

Best part of this recipe: healthy, delicious and quick to prepare (hopefully one day my kids will try fajitas they way they are truly intended!).

Get the recipe for Tyler Florence’s Grilled Steak Fajitas

Pasta Salad

This is more of a meal for lunch rather than dinner and I’m glad to report it was a success! It was not only easy to make, but I could use whichever veggies I already had in my fridge (yay for modifying!) and hide ingredients in it that my kids would not normally eat. We decided to add bacon, cherry tomatoes and cubed cheese. I also threw in cucumbers to suit my kids’ taste, while leaving the green onions out.  With a pasta salad, each bite offers your child something new to eat. I noticed they consume whichever ingredient they like most first (one ate all the cherry tomatoes first, while the other devoured all the cubed cheese).

Best part of this recipe: simple to make, easy to customize.

Get the recipe for The Pioneer Women’s Kid-Friendly Pasta Salad

Another fun way to get your kiddos to enjoy their food? Bento lunch boxes! Here’s how to make colourful back-to-school meals your kids will devour.

You’ve Been Making Couscous All Wrong. Here’s the Right Way to Prepare It

Couscous is a staple of North African cuisine and it’s undeniably Morocco’s most recognized dish around the world — yet chances are that until now, you’ve been eating and serving it all wrong. The following is my mother’s recipe for seven-vegetable Moroccan couscous. She grew up in Casablanca and learned the traditional technique from her own mother. Note that while many authentic versions of couscous use smen (a fermented butter), our Sephardic Jewish family makes a kosher version with olive oil instead.

Seven-Vegetable Moroccan Couscous Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 90 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

8 chicken thighs or 4 whole legs or substitute with a homemade chicken or vegetable broth
1 large onion, peeled
1 cup dried chickpeas (soaked overnight) or 1 can of chickpeas
1 small butternut squash, seeded and cut into large wedges (no need to peel)
6-8 celery stalks, quartered
5 medium to large carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise
1 green bell pepper, seeded and quartered
1-2 ripe tomatoes, whole
1 bunch of parsley and/or cilantro, tied with cooking twine (reserve and chop 2-3 Tbsp for garnish)
¼ cup saffron water (dry out ½ tsp crushed saffron threads in a warm skillet, crush again and add to 1 cup of hot water, not boiling)
1 ½ Tbsp of coarse salt
¾ tsp turmeric, divided
2-3 zucchinis, half peeled, cut in half lengthwise
1 large sweet potato
2 turnips, cut in large chunks
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 pound dried, medium-grain couscous
1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
½ cup of blanched almonds, sliced

If you want to know how to make real couscous, you’re going to have to forget everything you know about the quick-cooking and soaking method. Authentic Moroccan couscous involves slowly and lovingly steaming it to fluffy (never clumpy) perfection in a couscoussier, the North African cookware which looks like a double boiler or stackable steamer. The lower pot is used to make the broth that will both steam the couscous and be served on top of it. The perforated upper pot is for the couscous grains. If you can’t get a couscoussier, you can use a metal colander or perforated steamer that fits snugly over a stock pot. You’ll want to line it with a later of cheesecloth.



Directions:

Broth
1. In the bottom vessel of a couscoussier or a stock pot, add the chicken, onion, soaked chickpeas (if using), squash, celery, carrots, green pepper, tomatoes, parsley/cilantro bouquet, saffron water, salt and ½ tsp turmeric.

2. Fill with water to cover the vegetables and chicken, leaving room at the top for the broth to bubble up.

3. Cover pot and bring to a rapid boil, then simmer for about 30-45 minutes until the vegetables soften and the chicken is fully cooked through, skimming any impurities from the broth as it cooks.

Related: From Homemade Bread to Pickles, 20 Recipes to Master While Indoors

4. Add zucchini, sweet potato and turnips to the broth and canned chickpeas (if using). Cook for another 15-20 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Add black pepper to taste.

Couscous
1. While the broth is cooking, dump the couscous grains in a wide and shallow pan, cover with two cups of water and let stand for 1 minute. Stir and then pour out any excess water. Let sit for about 15 minutes for the grains to dry out a bit.

2. With wet hands, lift the grains while rubbing them gently between your fingers and the palms of the hand to release any clumps, letting the couscous fall back into the bowl, 2-3 times.

3. Drizzle the couscous with olive oil (or rub the oil on your hands) and sprinkle the grains with ¼ tsp of turmeric and season with salt. Start to separate and gently work the grains again until the turmeric, olive oil and salt are well incorporated and the couscous is uniformly golden, about 1-2 minutes. Then rake the couscous with your fingers, which will plump up the grains. (This is how the couscous gets soft and fluffy).

4. Gently place the couscous grains in the top vessel of the couscoussier or colander. Place it over the bubbling soup and let it steam for 15 minutes, uncovered, making sure that the broth in the bottom pot doesn’t come into direct contact with the couscous grains while steaming. To help the couscous steam evenly and prevent it from clumping, toss with two forks every 5 minutes.

5. Now, transfer the steamed couscous back into the pan and spread grains out evenly. Pour a couple ladles of the hot broth over the couscous and gently mix with two forks. Let stand for 10 minutes.

6. Transfer couscous grains back to the top of the couscoussier or colander for its second steaming for another 5-10 minutes until light, fluffy and heated through.

7. Dump the finished grains directly from the couscoussier or colander onto a large, shallow dish or serving platter. Discard herb bouquet, onion, tomatoes and green pepper that were added for flavour. Top the grains with remaining cooked vegetables from the broth. Optional to include the cooked chicken, separated from any bones.

Related: This Mint and Lemon Pearl Couscous Salad is What Every Dinner Table Needs

8. Garnish with sliced almonds and chopped cilantro/parsley. You can also serve with a side of broth, so guests can moisten as desired.

Optional: Make a quick North African red pepper sauce by combining 1-2 tsp of prepared or homemade harissa paste with 1 cup of the broth, a couple pinches of cumin and fresh lemon juice and olive oil to taste. In Morocco, this is a classic and delicious accompaniment to spoon over the couscous.

Besseha!

Craving more? Here are some recipes that prove harissa paste belongs in all your meals.  You might want to try these top food trends for 2020, too.

One Humble Can of Black Beans, Six Different Meals to Remember

With summer in full swing, grab a can of black beans from your pantry and make these six super simple recipes for your next barbecue night. Black beans are loaded with nutrients and are oh-so versatile. From grilled black bean burgers to a seasonal black bean salad, I am sharing a variety of recipes you can create with a humble can of beans. Just be sure to rinse and drain the can of beans before using to remove any excess liquid or sodium. OK — here we go!

Related: One Humble Can of Chickpeas, Six Different Meals to Remember

Spicy Black Bean Nachos
Nachos are the ultimate snack food: you can keep them as simple as you’d like or load them up with ingredients and flavour. Next time you whip up a skillet of nachos, try sprinkling them with smoked cheddar cheese, diced corn, black beans, taco seasoned ground meat (optional) and sliced jalapeños. Don’t forget to serve them with a side of salsa, guacamole and/or sour cream for dipping.

Black Beans and Rice
Rice is a staple side dish for just about any meal, but instead of serving plain white rice, why don’t we jazz it up a little bit? Mix steamed rice with black beans, olive oil, grated garlic, chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This will pair wonderfully with grilled chicken, pork or beef.

Fried Egg With Black Beans and Toast
This quick toast is one of my go-to recipes for breakfast or an afternoon snack. A fried egg served with pureed black beans, diced tomatoes and cilantro. Serve over a taco shell or slice of toast.

Related: The Tastiest Things You Can Put on Toast (That Isn’t Avocado)

Black Bean and Corn Salad
Nothing says barbecue season like a colourful bean salad. It can be made a day ahead of time and travels really well for a picnic in the park. This one features black beans as the base with diced tomatoes, diced corn, minced red onion, grated garlic, olive oil and freshly squeezed lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Black Bean Burger
In my house, burgers are on high rotation during the summer months. If you are looking to reduce your meat intake, turn a can of black beans into homemade veggie burgers! You can mash just about any flavour into these burgers. Start by sautéing minced garlic, onion and peppers until softened. Add them to a food processor with a can of black beans, cup of panko bread crumbs, two eggs, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. For extra flavour, add paprika, cumin and a pinch of cayenne. Pulse until mixture comes together and shape into patties. Chill for 30 minutes to firm before pan frying or grilling.

Related: These Vegan Burger Recipes are Perfect for Grilling Season

Black Bean Dip
Turn a can of black beans into a flavourful summer dip to serve with tortilla chips. To make, simply blend a can of black beans with minced garlic, olive oil, jalapeño (seeds removed), cumin, fresh lime juice, salt and pepper. Add a splash of water until desired consistency is reached. Garnish with tomato, mango or corn salsa if desired.

Want to cook with more pantry staples? These canned salmon recipes and tortilla recipes might do the trick!

How to Cook for One Without Eating the Same Meal All Week Long

No matter how much you love to create in the kitchen, cooking for one can be a bit of a challenge. It can be hard to figure out how to shop and cook for yourself without eating the same darned thing until you’re blue in the face (or until your leftovers are green with mould). Sometimes it seems that creating a satisfying meal for one is more work than it’s worth. When I lived solo I certainly reached for a few pickles and scoops of hummus on occasion. And sure, sometimes a dinner like that is exactly what you need. But if you’re looking for more than a snack plate for dinner, here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years to help make things easier – not to mention more fun.

Plan Some Meals

Planning out all your meals isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some semblance of meal planning that works for you. Are you the kind of person who loves slotting in every single meal for the entire week on a giant chalkboard wall and sticking to a plan? (Guilty!). Go for it. Does that seem like way too much work? No problem. Start by scribbling down a few meals that you want to cook in a notebook or on your phone and then go with the flow each day. The important part is to think about what you’re going to eat in advance, so that you’re not blankly staring into the fridge come 5 p.m. and turning to delivery instead.

Related: 9 Easy Weekly Meal Plan Ideas That Really Work

Consider Your Schedule

Figuring out the kinds of food you plan on eating isn’t the only part of meal planning — deciding what you eat depends on how busy you are too. When I was living solo and I knew I’d be swamped with work, I’d roast up a chicken and some grains on Sunday and repurpose that all week long — into salads, sandwiches, tacos, etc. On the opposite side, if I had a lighter week, I’d plan to simmer up some soups, casseroles or other larger dishes that I could then portion out and freeze for later. Knowing your schedule is an essential component when it comes to successfully cooking for one.

Get the recipe for Ina Garten’s Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken

Shop Accordingly

It may seem obvious, but when you’re cooking for one you’ve got to shop for one too. Otherwise your fridge will start to rot from the inside out. Shopping for one means not giving into several fresh fruits and veggies and sticking to a few you know that you’ll consume instead. It means buying the two-pack of chicken breasts instead of the value size (unless you plan on dividing and freezing). And it means making friends with the people at the deli, meat and cheese counters, because odds are you can get a small portion of what you want from one of those helpful folks (hi Catherine!). Last but not least, always try to have a list and never shop hungry, because that’s when impulse or bulk buying is always at its worst.

Stock up on Staples

Just because you need to be careful about how much fresh food that you select, doesn’t mean you can’t stock up on things that will keep for a long time in the fridge or cupboard. Eggs have a long shelf life and I love how ridiculously versatile they are. Oatmeal and grains can last me for months and canned beans are the perfect thing for a last-minute salad, chili or taco night. Bulk stores are great too because you can pick up the portions you need for basically the same price or cheaper than at the regular grocery store, so maybe consider investing in some airtight containers and giving your pantry a makeover. For me, when I have more options to choose from, I always feel less bored with what I’m eating and making for myself.


Get the recipe for Pinto Bean Salsa Salad

Related: Budget-Friendly Pantry Staples You Should Always Have on Hand

Halve Your Recipes

One of the most frustrating things about cooking for one is when you come across a recipe you want to try out and realize that it inevitably serves two to four people. Because no thanks, I don’t want to gamble on having to eat a new dish that I might not like for the next four days. Luckily, it’s a problem that can be easily solved by learning to halve your recipes. Know your basics (there are three teaspoons in a tablespoon; a quarter cup has four tablespoons) or do what I do and turn to good old Google when you’re stuck. Need to halve an egg? Put it in a container, whisk it, and save half for later.

Make Meals You Can Repurpose

I seriously love roasting up whole chickens. You get more bang for your buck, they’re delicious and most importantly, they can be transformed into so many other dishes throughout the rest of the week. Tacos, power bowls, salads, a chicken pasta, soup… the possibilities are endless. Think beyond chicken though. Cook up a batch of quinoa that can be transformed into bowls, patties or even sushi, roast some beef for a variety of meaty dishes or steam up a big bowl of rice to be made into some creative mains… or even dessert.


Get the recipe for The Pioneer Woman’s Red Wine Pot Roast

Organize the Freezer

The freezer is your friend, especially when you’re trying to portion out meals for one. Veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and peppers can be saved for later by washing, cutting and flash-freezing them on a parchment-lined baking sheet before transferring them to a freezer-friendly container or bag. Herbs can be saved by dividing them into ice-cube trays and freezing them with some water or stock. And anytime you make a soup, casserole or other freezer-friendly offering, portion it out and freeze it so that you can have your own “microwave dinners” whenever you need something quick. I’ve learned that this works well for desserts too. Divide and freeze pies and cakes or whip up some cookie dough and portion it out onto trays. You can flash-freeze and store them, so that you can pop a cookie or two into the oven whenever the sugar craving strikes.

Related: 35 Easy Freezer Meals You Can Make Ahead (And Devour Later)

Have a Go-To List of Single-Serving Recipes

We’ve agreed that the two to four serving recipe struggle is real, but that doesn’t mean all recipes are the single-person’s devil. Mug cakes are a delicious way to microwave your way to a quick dessert after a long day, for example. Or a quick omelette with a salad is the perfect mid-week meal. Take note of any recipes you make (bookmark them, print them out or file them away in the old memory bank if you prefer) and refer back to them when you need a little inspiration.

Find a Support System and Share

One of the less glamorous parts about eating and cooking alone is that you can never quite participate in bulk purchases, family meal packages or organic produce boxes. The good news is that you probably aren’t the only one feeling like you’re missing out on those deals, so why not grab a fellow singleton and go in together to reap those rewards? Splitting a grocery bill or bulk shop with a friend, family member or even roommate lets you fill your fridge and pantry with a wider variety of options of things that (hopefully!) won’t go bad, while keeping you on track with your budget and dietary needs.

Related: How to Host a Successful Freezer Meal Swap

Let Go of the Idea of “Traditional” Meals

Cooking for one doesn’t need to be bleak, but it also doesn’t have to be fancy. Before you feel guilty for not breaking out the fine china or cloth napkins for yourself, remember that any balanced diet is a good diet. So if that means grilled cheese for dinner or a simple salad, you do you. In my days of cooking for one I was just as likely to whip myself up a New York striploin or master a new recipe as I was to throw a tuna melt in the toaster oven or put a hunk of cheese and a few veggies on a plate and call it a day. That’s the beauty of cooking for one: anything goes. By embracing that mentality, then suddenly all of the pressure is off. And for me, that not only means that I have more fun in the kitchen, but I’m more likely to try new things too.

Need more inspiration? Here are 40 quick and easy meals for one.

These Freezer-Friendly Russian Pelmeni Dumplings Are the Perfect At-Home Cooking Project

If you’ve ever visited a Russian restaurant, you’re probably familiar with pelmeni. Pelmeni are savoury dumplings stuffed with ground meat and onion. They can be served in a broth or on their own with a healthy helping of butter or sour cream. Regardless of how you choose to serve them, these dumplings make for a great cooking project. Make a big batch and split among friends or store in the freezer for those times when you’re running low on groceries.

Russian Pelmeni Dumplings

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Servings: Approx. 50 pelmeni

Ingredients:

Dough
1 large egg
¾ cup lukewarm water
2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp fine sea salt

Filling
1/3 cup grated onion, about ½ medium onion
100 grams ground pork
100 grams ground beef
¾ tsp fine sea salt
¼ cup ice water

1 bay leaf (optional)

Directions:

1. Whisk egg and water in a large bowl. Add flour and salt, stirring with a wooden spoon until dough comes together. Knead the dough either in the bowl or on a clean surface lightly dusted with flour, until it is smooth, about 5 minutes. Form into a disc then wrap tightly in plastic and transfer to the refrigerator to let rest for 30 minutes.

2. In the meantime, combine the onion, pork, beef and salt in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed. Add 1 tablespoon of ice water and stir vigorously until absorbed. Repeat this process with the remaining 3 tablespoons until no liquid remains.

Related: 15 Perogie Recipes That Are Pure Comfort

3. Lightly sprinkle a sheet tray with flour. Divide dough into two halves. Wrap one half and set aside. Roll out dough until it measures 1/16-inch thick. Using a 2 3/4 or 3-inch cutter (or overturned glass) cut out circles.

4. Place a generous teaspoon of filling in the centre of each circle. Fold the dough over itself to create a half moon. Press the edges tightly with your fingertips (if the dough does not stick to itself lightly brush the edges with water) then fold the edge upwards. Grab both ends of the half moon and draw them towards each other so they overlap. Press firmly to seal. Transfer to prepared tray. Repeat with remaining dough. Scraps can be rerolled to use up excess filling, but the resulting pelmeni will be tougher.

5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the bay leaf, if desired. Cook pelmeni in boiling water until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Pelmeni can be frozen on prepared sheet tray, then transferred to a tightly sealed zip top bag for storage. To cook from frozen, boil for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Want more at-home cooking projects? These mini bagels and 12-layer chocolate cake will surely impress.

Snack Plates Are the Easy Dinner Option You Need This Week

We’ve been at home for months now. We’ve brushed up on our cooking skills, baked enough to open a bakery (are you also a banana bread connoisseur?) — but, some days, the thought of cooking one more meal that ends in a mountain of dishes is too much to handle. And as the weather gets warmer, we’d rather be spending our time outside and not chained to a hot oven. So, here’s the solution: make snack plates for dinner a thing every week.

Snack plates are essentially the way toddlers eat (not a bad thing!) and make perfect sense for adults as a simple, vibrant and ultimately exciting meal option that promises a myriad of flavours, textures, colours and nutrients. Start by selecting items that already live in your fridge or pantry. Remember: the plate is still supposed to resemble a meal, so even though it’s snack-style, ensure there’s colourful fibrous veggies and fruit, protein and healthy fats.

Related: How to Prep Slow Cooker Freezer Meals to Get Through the Week

What to Put on Your Snack Plate

Veggies:
● Choose veggies that have texture (good crunch), colour and can be grabbed easily.
● Some great examples are carrots, cucumbers, celery, radishes, fennel, bell peppers and snap peas.
● You can also BBQ, roast or saute veggies like onion, zucchini, eggplant, broccoli , cauliflower and Brussel sprouts.

Fruit:
● It’s officially the season for fresh fruit, so add it generously.
● Use fresh mixed berries, sliced apples and pears, pineapple, peaches, nectarines — the list goes on!
● Cut everything small enough so it’s easy and quick to grab.

Dips:
● If there are dips in the fridge, use them; if they’re half finished or need a little bit of love, drizzle some oil on top, add toasted seeds or nuts, mix in fresh herbs and even sprinkle some spices on top.
● For example, a half eaten hummus container in the fridge can easily be revived by adding some chickpeas, sesame seeds, parsley, tahini, lemon and za’atar on top.
● Or make dips like pesto, roasted red pepper and beet hummus.

Protein:
● You can keep it vegetarian or use animal proteins (the snack plate is yours to design).
● Ideas include crispy chickpeas, grilled skewers, hard-boiled eggs, sausages, sliders, cooked chicken or fish, lox, tofu or tempeh.

Grains:
● When choosing a grain, try to find one that’s rich in fibre.
● You may want something that acts as a vessel for dip, stuffed with other ingredients or just added for carby-deliciousness.
● Think: crackers, sliced bread, pita, tortillas, chips, cornbread or savoury muffins.

Related: Our Fave Food Trends to Come out of Quarantine, From Pancake Cereal to Bread Art

Extras and Bonuses:
● These are little delicious bonuses that add punchy flavour or satisfying crunch.
● Things like olives, pickles, toasted cashews, tamari almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, dates or raisins.
● You can also add sweetness with dessert-inspired bites like chocolate chips, truffle balls and brownies.

Plate Themes:
● You can theme your plate based on cuisines you love or based on leftovers that need to be revived.
● For example, if you already have leftover falafel or chicken shawarma, you can make a Middle Eastern plate and add hummus, pitas, pickled veggies and crudite with drizzles of tahini and fresh parsley on top.
● Or if you have leftover ginger soy salmon, you can create an Asian-style theme and add nori chips, steamed dumplings, kimchi, sesame crackers, edamame and lettuce leaf wraps.

Related: Middle Eastern Sumac Chicken With Date Syrup, Lemon and Pecans

How to Assemble It:
● Depending on how many mouths are being fed, choose the size of your plate accordingly. It can be a big platter, a few platters or just a normal size dinner plate.
● This doesn’t need to be Instagram- or Pinterest-worthy, but bonus points if it is!
● Start by adding one item at a time, placing each item either in a few different spots on the platter or in one dedicated spot.
● Your snack plate can be as elaborate or as simple as your heart desires. Then, enjoy yourself an easy, clean-up friendly dinner!

Want some more easy dinner ideas? Try this baked salmon with spicy mango avocado salsa and mint and lemon pearl couscous salad.

Baked Salmon With Spicy Mango Avocado Salsa, Because Summer is Coming

Summer is all about simple cooking: few ingredients that are fresh and easy to prepare. That’s why this salsa is about to become a staple in your home. It’s one of the quickest salsas to whip up and it has big zesty flavours. It marries so well with salmon — but, the truth is, this salsa is really versatile and the perfect addition to grilled chicken or shrimp, over a cabbage slaw or even dolloped on top of a coconut curry or stew. A quick tip: if you don’t have access to fresh mango, we tested it with frozen and it worked just as brilliantly!

Baked Salmon With Spicy Mango Avocado Salsa

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Total Time: 31 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

Salmon
2 pieces salmon (5 oz each)
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
Splash of extra-virgin olive oil

Salsa
½ large or 1 small mango, diced (or heaping ½ cup diced frozen mango, defrosted)
1 avocado, diced
3 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 stalk green onion, finely sliced or 2 Tbsp finely diced red onion
½ to 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
3 Tbsp lime juice
½ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.

2. Season salmon with chili powder, sea salt and pepper.

3. Place a pan, that’s also oven safe, on the stove over medium heat and add a splash of extra-virgin olive oil and swirl it around.

4. Once hot, place the salmon in the pan, flesh side down and sear it for 2 minutes, then flip and sear for another 2 minutes on the other side.

Related: Middle Eastern Sumac Chicken With Date Syrup, Lemon and Pecans

5. Carefully take the pan off the heat and place it in the oven to cook for 12 minutes until perfectly flakey and tender.

6. While the salmon is cooking, prepare the mango avocado salsa. Start by dicing both the mango and avocado: first score them lengthwise and horizontally, then scoop out the fruit into a bowl.

7. Add the remaining salsa ingredients and mix until well combined.

8. When the salmon is done, remove from the oven and top with fresh mango avocado salsa.

Craving more easy summertime recipes? You can whip up this simple miso chicken and this salad with tuna in almost no time!

This Mint and Lemon Pearl Couscous Salad is What Every Dinner Table Needs

Looking for something simple and fresh to make this season? Look no further! This vibrant couscous salad utilizes the freshness of mint, citrus and cucumber, as well as pearl couscous. This grain is also called Israeli couscous and is similar to regular couscous, but is much larger in size and yields a chewier texture. However, if you have quinoa or regular couscous in the pantry, that will do the trick.

Mint and Lemon Pearl Couscous Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 ½ cups pearl couscous (Israeli couscous)
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, store bought or homemade
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
1 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
½ cucumber, diced
½ cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, add 2 Tbsp of olive oil and the couscous. Continuously stirring, cook until couscous is lightly toasted.

2. Add the chicken stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover with lid and let cook until liquid is absorbed, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool slightly.

3. To the mixing bowl, add the remaining olive oil, garlic, shallot, lemon zest, lemon juice, mint, cucumber and feta. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Want more recipes you can whip up quickly? This simple miso chicken and this salad with tuna both come together in a flash!

This Simple Miso Chicken With Glazed Carrots Recipe Comes Together in Just 45 Minutes

This is a favourite meal of ours because it’s quick to pull together and has big flavour thanks to the magical marinade that’s sticky, sweet and salty. Whenever you mix miso, sesame oil and honey, you get pure deliciousness. Here, we slather it all over chicken breasts, but thighs would be just as perfect and much juicier. The glazed carrots are also divine. This is a quick one-pan meal with little mess.

Simple Miso Chicken With Glazed Carrots

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 33 minutes
Total Time: 43 minutes
Servings: 2-4

Ingredients:

¼ cup white miso
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp avocado oil
1 tsp minced ginger
2 carrots, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
4 cloves garlic
2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs (about 1 lb), skinless and boneless
¼ cup fresh cilantro or parsley, roughly chopped (optional)
Sesame seeds (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients (miso, sesame oil, honey, rice vinegar, avocado oil and ginger).

3. In a wide, oven safe dish, add a splash of extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil to coat the bottom.

Related: Here’s How to Organize Your Tupperware Drawer Once and for All

4. Place the carrots and whole garlic on the bottom of the dish and then the chicken on top.

5. Pour the marinade over the chicken and carrots, ensuring the chicken gets the majority of marinade.

6. If the carrots seem too dry, add a splash of avocado oil and make sure they’re coated so they cook well.

7. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes and broil for 2-3 minutes at the end, so the marinade gets bubbly and caramel in colour. Make sure you watch the chicken as it broils because the miso can burn easily.

8. Top with fresh herbs and sesame seeds and serve with brown rice, if you like.

Want more delicious chicken recipes? This slow cooker chicken shawarma and Middle Eastern sumac chicken are must-makes.

One Humble Can of Chickpeas, Six Different Meals to Remember

Beans are not only one of the most versatile pantry ingredients, they offer a variety of health benefits, too! Chickpeas in particular are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre. Aside from turning that can of chickpeas hiding in your pantry into homemade hummus, here are six ways you can incorporate them into a healthy snack or meal. Be sure to rinse and drain the chickpeas before using them to remove any excess sodium. OK — here we go!

Chickpea Pasta
I grew up eating chickpeas in pasta, so this dish is one of my favourite quick dinners to whip up! It adds a serving of protein and fibre to an otherwise carb-heavy dish, which will keep you fuelled for longer. To make: simply simmer the chickpeas in marinara sauce (store-bought or homemade) until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Put it on top of the pasta of your choice and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Related: The Best-Ever Pasta Recipes for Easy Dinners

Roasted Chickpeas
Roasted chickpeas make for a filling and healthy afternoon snack. You can toss them in any flavours or herbs you favour. My favourite flavour is everything bagel with a hint of garlic, but feel free to use any spices you already have on hand (onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, dried herbs, etc). To make: toss the chickpeas in extra-virgin olive oil and desired seasoning. Roast at 400°F for 30 to 35 minutes, until crispy. Enjoy them as is or add to a salad.

Salad With Chickpeas
Chickpeas are a great alternative to diced chicken on salads as it adds a plant-based protein, but they also work as a gluten-free substitute for croutons. Prepare your favourite mixture of vegetables and top with a handful of chickpeas. For additional crunch and flavour, try adding leftover roasted chickpeas.

Related: 70+ Chickpea Recipes to Make Your Heart Happy

Chickpea Salad Sandwich
This recipe is a twist on a tuna salad sandwich. It is great on its own or served between two slices of toasted bread. To make: add one can of rinsed chickpeas to a mixing bowl and mash slightly with a fork. Toss with mayo (regular or vegan), dijon mustard, diced celery, minced shallots, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Make a big batch and enjoy over several days for lunch.

Chickpeas and Eggs
For this quick morning breakfast, you can scramble the chickpeas right into the eggs or top the scrambled eggs with roasted chickpeas. If you have additional ingredients on hand such as cheese, spinach, tomato or roasted red pepper, try scrambling those in with your eggs and chickpeas too.

Related: The Most Creative Ways to Cook With Eggs

Chickpea-Stuffed Red Peppers
For this recipe, the red peppers can be stuffed with just about anything you have on hand including herbs, cheese and grains. I like to start with a base of chickpeas and quinoa, tossed with olive oil, parsley, crumbled feta, shallots and lemon. To make: hollow out each red pepper and stuff with filling. Bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling is warmed throughout and the pepper has softened.

Want to cook with more pantry staples? These canned salmon recipes and tortilla recipes might do the trick!

crockpot-freezer-meals

How to Prep Slow Cooker Freezer Meals to Get Through the Week

Slow cooker freezer meals are a must for any family and for the budget-savvy home cook. Often referred to as “dump meals” or “dump bags”, what makes it easy, is that you thaw and simply dump the contents of your freezer bag into your Crockpot. Then you let it do its thing as you go about your day. And when it’s dinnertime: your delicious home-cooked meal is ready to devour. This style of cooking awards you some precious time back, and it also happens to be kind to your wallet. Win, win.

To make perfect Crockpot freezer meals, there are a few tips and tricks to getting it just right. You don’t want to end up with a stew that’s way too soupy or vegetables that are mushy and unappetizing. Here’s what you need to know!

Related: These Budget-Friendly Microwave Recipes Are Total Time-Savers

lentil-soup-crockpot-freezer

Get the Right Meal Prep Equipment

Before you start planning which meal to make, you need the right equipment: a slow cooker, freezer bags, a permanent marker and labels (although these aren’t entirely necessary). We recommend buying name-brand freezer bags that are sturdy. The ones that have the slide lock are the easiest.

Always Label Your Freezer Bag First

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to make, it’s important you label your freezer bags. Do not attempt to label once the food is in, not only will the bags be too hard to write on, but the marker often won’t work, or the label won’t stick because of the moisture released from the ingredients inside.

This surefire labelling method will help you remember what you froze, how long it’s been in your freezer and how to cook it. First label what the meal is, for example: “Chicken Tortilla Soup” or “Turkey Chili” and write down the date you made it. Then label it with ingredients that need to be added before cooking as well as cooking instructions. For example: add 1/2 cup broth before cooking, set on high for 6 hours.

Label it with instructions on how you’re going to serve the meal once it’s ready – so you know which ingredients you need to have on hand before slow-cooking. If it’s a chili, maybe you want to serve it with avocado, fresh cilantro and some grated cheese. If it’s a curry, you might want to serve with toasted coconuts, peanuts and fresh mint. Or if you’re making chicken tortilla soup, you will certainly need to have tortillas on hand to crisp up and top your bowl.

Related: This Clever Trick Will Prevent Freezer Burn for Good (And Major Food Waste)

slow-cooker-prep

Time-Saving Tips for Freezer Meal Prep

Take your time chopping up all ingredients first and prepping the sauce or marinade before packing. It’s best if all prep work is done before for efficiency and for easy clean-up. Usually prepping for slow-cooked meals only takes 15-20 minutes.

Some savvy home-cooks like to make several different freezer meals at once, so they’ll prep four different recipes first, then pack all of the bags and freeze. This will usually take a whole day to do.

Some slow cooker recipes call for sautéing or blanching the veggies, or browning the meat beforehand. We’ve found these steps to be unnecessary. Just toss everything in, uncooked.

How to Pack Freezer Bags

To avoid big spills and messes in the kitchen, stand the bags upright to pack. You can buy special baggy rack holders online, or simply place the bag in a big bowl so it won’t fall over as you’re adding the ingredients.

No matter the meal, you can add the ingredients to the bag in any order. Some people prefer veggies and beans at the very bottom, sauces and marinades in the middle, and meat on top; but, once in the slow cooker, it will all meld together.

When closing up the bags, press them firmly to ensure all the air is released. Then lay the bag flat in the freezer (this allows for easy defrosting, and it doesn’t take up as much of your precious freezer space).

Related: Can I Freeze This? How to Freeze Fruit, Cheese, Leftovers and More

crockpot-freezer-packing

Do’s and Don’ts for Slow Cooker Freezer Meals

If you’re making a meat Crockpot meal and your chicken, turkey, lamb, pork or beef is already frozen, don’t defrost it before adding it to your bag. You never want to defrost raw meat and then freeze it again.

Slow-cooked meals tend to release a lot of liquid, especially if you’re cooking lots of veggies. You don’t need to add as much broth or water as you think; otherwise, you’ll end up with a soupy texture and diluted flavour.

Most dairy products need to be added to the slow cooker the day of cooking and shouldn’t be frozen, for example: milk, cream, sour cream and cheese.

If your recipe includes pasta, add it the day-of, don’t freeze beforehand. Pasta tends to get very, very mushy, so unless you’re making a baked ziti, add the pasta 15 minutes before cooking time is up.

Be careful with veggies that get too mushy, like broccoli, asparagus or leafy greens. Add those towards the end of the cook time to preserve some texture. If you don’t mind mushy veggies, then you can add them in with the rest of the ingredients.

Related: 10 Tasty Uses for Leftover Food Scraps to Reduce Food Waste

How to Thaw and Cook Crockpot Freezer Meals

Always thaw the freezer meal first before adding it to the slow cooker… this is important for food safety. You can defrost the freezer bag by placing it in the fridge the night before. The meals tend to store well in the freezer for 3-4 months.

Depending on how much time you have, most meals need to be cooked for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

The Best Crockpot Freezer Meals to Make

The best meals to make in the slow-cooker are soups, stews, curries, chilis, daals, meatballs, ribs, brisket and roasts. We don’t recommend slow-cooked fish, seafood or pasta dishes.

There you have it: the ins and outs of making Crockpot freezer meals for any weeknight dinner!

Looking for some tasty slow cooker dishes to try? Start with our most popular slow cooker recipes.

Published September 1, 2018, Updated April 11, 2020