Tag Archives: comfort food

Your 3 Favourite Comfort Foods in Stuffed Baked Potato Form

Craving comfort food, but not sure what to make? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We took some of your favourite go to’s (think: homemade nachos and juicy burgers) and wrapped them in a warm, fluffy potato blanket. So skip the drive-thru and make our cheeseburger-stuffed potatoes. Or if you’re looking to spice things up further, whip up a batch of Tex-Mex inspired baked spuds. If neither of those are your jam, our Swedish meatball-stuffed version promises to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night.

1. Cheeseburger-Stuffed Baked Potato

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
4 russet potatoes
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp vegetable oil, divided
1 ½  tsp kosher salt, divided
⅓ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup ketchup
½ cup shredded iceberg lettuce, divided
½ cup chopped dill pickles, divided
1 Tbsp pickle brine
454 g lean ground beef
½ cup mild cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup diced tomatoes
¼ cup finely chopped white onion

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Scrub potatoes, then pat dry. Prick several times with a fork.
3. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and rub with 1 Tbsp oil, then sprinkle with 1 tsp salt. Bake, in centre of oven, until potatoes are tender and skin is crisp, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, stir together mayonnaise, ketchup, 2 Tbsp lettuce, 2 Tbsp pickles and pickle brine in a small bowl. Set aside.
5. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high. When pan is hot, add remaining 1 tsp oil, then crumble in beef. Season with remaining 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until golden-brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
6. To assemble, slice potatoes down the centre. Divide beef between potatoes, then sprinkle with cheese. Broil, in centre of oven until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Remove from oven, then top with sauce. Garnish with tomatoes, onion and remaining lettuce and pickles.

2. Nacho-Inspired Tex-Mex Stuffed Potato

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
4 russet potatoes
2 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 tsp + ½ tsp kosher salt, divided
½ cup black beans
½ cup corn niblets, thawed
1 small jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice
½ tsp lime zest
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup mild cheddar cheese, grated
½ tsp chili powder
½ cup salsa

Read More: 5 Recipes That Will Make Your Nacho Dinner Dreams Come True

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Scrub potatoes, then pat dry. Prick several times with a fork.
3. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and rub with 1 Tbsp oil, then sprinkle with 1 tsp salt. Bake, in centre of oven, until potatoes are tender and skin is crisp, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, stir together beans, corn, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, zest and remaining 1 Tbsp oil in a medium bowl. Season with 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside.
5. Heat a small pot over medium heat. Melt butter, then add flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until a thick paste forms, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk. Cook, whisking often, until sauce thickens, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in cheese and chili powder.
6. To assemble, slice potatoes down the centre. Top with salsa, then bean-mixture. Drizzle over cheese sauce.

Swedish Meatball-Stuffed Baked Potato

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
4 russet potatoes
1 Tbsp + vegetable oil, divided
1 tsp + kosher salt, divided
454 g lean ground beef
1 egg, lightly beaten
⅓ cup panko crumbs
¼ cup grated white onion
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, divided
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¾ cup no salt added beef broth
¾ cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1.5 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup lingonberry jam (optional)
¼ cup roughly chopped parsley

Read More: How to Make Everyone’s Favourite Swedish Meatballs At Home

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Scrub potatoes, then pat dry. Prick several times with a fork.
3. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and rub with 1 Tbsp oil, then sprinkle with 1 tsp salt. Bake, in centre of oven, until potatoes are tender and skin is crisp, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, combine beef, egg, panko, onion, 1 tsp Worcestershire, allspice and nutmeg in a large bowl. Roll into 1-inch balls, you should have about 52.
5. Heat a large, non-stick pan over medium-high. When pan is hot, add 1 tsp oil, then meatballs. Cook, stirring often, until meatballs are golden-brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
6. Drain fat from pan, then return to heat. Add beef stock, cream, soy sauce, Dijon and remaining 1 Tbsp Worcestershire. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has reduced by half, 6 to 7 minutes. Return meatballs to pan, stirring to coat.
7. To assemble, slice potatoes down the centre. Divide jam, if using, between potatoes, then top with meatballs. Garnish with remaining sauce and parsley.

Craving more comforting spud recipes for any day of the year? Check out these 100+ Perfect Potato Recipes

Nashville Hot Chicken Wings With a Sweet Canadian Twist

Reader be warned: these wings are not for the faint of heart. Nashville Hot Chicken is notorious for its blow-your-socks-off heat. Fiery cayenne gets the heart pounding while an extra hit of hot sauce will set your taste buds alight. We made this recipe our own with the addition of maple syrup, adding a dash of welcome sweetness. No doubt about it, this chicken hurts, so consider swapping your game day beer for a cold glass of milk!

Nashville Hot Chicken Wings

Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
vegetable oil for frying (about 10 cups)
6 Tbsp cayenne
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp garlic powder
4 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup hot sauce, divided
3 lbs whole chicken wings
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 cup sliced pickles

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet.
2. Pour oil into a large heavy-bottomed pot to measure about 2-inches up the sides. Heat over medium until an instant read thermometer registers 350°F.
3. Meanwhile, in a very large bowl, whisk together 5 Tbsp cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, and 1 Tbsp salt. Set aside.
4. Mix flour, black pepper, remaining 1 Tbsp cayenne and 1 tsp salt in a shallow dish.
5. Whisk buttermilk and 1 Tbsp hot sauce in a large bowl until combined.
6. Working in small batches, toss wings in flour mixture until coated. Shake off excess flour, then transfer to buttermilk mixture. Turn wings to coat, then toss for a second time in flour mixture. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining wings.

7. When oil reaches temperature, carefully add 1/3 of wings. The temperature will dip once wings are added. Adjust heat to maintain temperature between 315°F and 330°F. Fry, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown and cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to prepared rack using a slotted spoon. Keep warm in oven. Allow temperature to return to 350°F before repeating with remaining batches.
8. Carefully whisk 1 cup hot fryer oil, maple syrup and remaining 3 Tbsp hot sauce into spice mixture. Add wings and toss to coat. Transfer to a plate. Drizzle with more sauce, if desired, and garnish with pickles.

Craving more chicken dishes to add to your repertoire? Here are 40 Easy Chicken Dinners Done in Under 30 Minutes along with Our Most Popular Chicken Breast Recipes

A Heavenly Blueberry and Bacon Breakfast Casserole Made With Croissants

Blueberry pancakes with maple syrup and a healthy serving of bacon on the side has to be one of the most celebrated breakfasts of all time. When you find yourself with stale croissants, do yourself a favour before tossing them: make this super simple (and reliably delicious!) casserole dish that’s a riff on the quintessential breakfast. With maple syrup, wild blueberries and bacon, it ticks all the boxes of our favourite Canadian ingredients… and the buttery croissant base takes it to the next level. Your weekend brunch game just got a whole lot sweeter.

Blueberry, Maple and Bacon Croissant Casserole

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1-¼ cups milk
⅓ cup 35% cream
⅔ cup maple syrup, divided
2 tsp vanilla
½ tsp kosher salt, divided
8 cups lightly packed stale croissants, cubed or roughly torn into 1-inch pieces
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2-½ cups frozen wild blueberries, divided
1 Tbsp flour

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2L casserole dish; set aside.
2. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, milk, cream, ⅓ cup maple syrup, vanilla and ¼ tsp salt in a large bowl.
3. Add the croissant bread and bacon, and toss to combine.
4. Toss 1 cup blueberries with flour in a small bowl. Add it to the croissant mixture, tossing gently to combine.
5. Spoon into prepared casserole dish and bake until golden and set, about 45 to 50 minutes.  

6. Meanwhile, add remaining blueberries, maple syrup and salt to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 10 minutes.
7. Drizzle the sweet, syrupy blueberry sauce over each individual casserole serving. Bon appétit!

Looking for more comforting breakfast inspiration? Here are 10 Must-Eat Canadian Breakfast Sandwiches and 25 Easy Breakfast Casserole Recipes.

Thai Curry Chicken Pot Pie is Your New Favourite Winter Comfort Food

Thai green curry is wildly popular for a reason. It’s rich and delicious with just the right amount of spiciness. But here, instead of its classic rice pairing, we’ve created a comfort food mashup that marries palate-awakening Thai green curry with classic chicken pot pie. The result is anything but ordinary. Whether you whip this up as a vacation from all your holiday feasts or you bookmark this new dish for the new year, we promise you won’t be disappointed.

Recipe Notes:
– Spicy food fans can add fresh Thai chili to taste when blending the peas and herbs
– Make this recipe vegan by replacing the chicken with the same amount of extra-firm tofu, chicken broth with vegetable broth and all-butter puff pastry with a dairy-free version

Thai Curry Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cooling Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Serves: 5 to 6

Ingredients:
Thai Green Curry:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
2 cups chicken broth
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
1 cup frozen peas, room temperature
½ cup loosely packed fresh mint
½ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
2 Tbsp coconut flour
2 Tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 lime, zested and juiced (about 3 Tbsp of juice), plus more lime slices for serving
1½ Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
To taste, fine grain salt

Crust:
1 sheet all-butter puff pastry, rolled to 1/4-inch thickness
1 Tbsp milk of choice or beaten egg
1 tsp black or white sesame seeds
Pinch, flaky sea salt

Directions:
1. In a large pot, add chicken, sweet potatoes and broth. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over very low heat until chicken is cooked through and sweet potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Do not boil or the chicken will be tough. The sweet potatoes may fall apart and become very tender; this is normal. Stir in coconut milk. Remove 1 cup of the liquid only and place in a medium bowl or blender.
2. To the medium bowl or blender, add peas, mint, cilantro, coconut flour, curry paste, ginger, lime zest and juice, fish sauce and sesame oil. Puree mixture with an immersion blender or blend on high in your blender until smooth and creamy. Stir pea mixture into chicken mixture, taste and adjust seasoning with salt if needed. Add to a medium cast-iron skillet or other deep oven-safe dish.

3. Cool mixture completely (this is important so that the mixture can thicken with the coconut flour and so the puff pastry won’t turn greasy and melt before it goes in the oven). Cooling will take about 2 hours. You can also cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Make sure the mixture is almost room temperature before baking. Alternatively, you can increase the bake time 5 to 10 minutes if the mixture is cold.

4. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
5. Once the curry base is cooled, fit the puff pastry on top, tucking under the sides to fit your pan or baking dish. Using a sharp paring knife, gently slice a few steam slits in the top. Brush pastry with milk or egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds and flaky salt.
6. Bake for 40 to 55 minutes, until mixture is bubbling and crust is browned and puffed. Garnish with additional cilantro and lime wedges.

Craving more curry? Here are 22 warm and comforting winter curries.

cream-cheese-stuffed-chicken

Your Cheesy Stuffed Chicken Breast Needs Creamy Cajun Sauce

With winter in full swing, it’s important to have a few heartwarming, rich and comforting dishes in your dinner line-up. This recipe for Cheesy Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breast with Creamy Cajun Sauce is the ultimate dinner indulgence. Packed with just the right amount of cheese, cream and Cajun spice, it’s bound to become a family favourite. The Cajun spice blend which is the star of this recipe,  features paprika, garlic powder, thyme and many more fragrant spices. To save time, I used a favourite store-bought spice blend but you can add your own special touch by making a Cajun spice blend of your own.

stuffed-chicken-covered-in-cajun-cream-sauce

Cheesy Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breast with Creamy Cajun Sauce

Ingredients:
2 large chicken breasts
2 Tbsp cajun seasoning

Filling:
3 Tbsp of cream cheese
2 Tbsp of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
¾ cup of chopped spinach
Sauce:
2/3 cup of chicken broth
3 Tbsps cajun seasonings
1 ½ cup of cream
¼  white onion finely chopped

stuffed-chicken-ingredients

Directions:
1. Cut chicken breast in half lengthwise, without cutting all the way through. Open the chicken breast up and place wax paper on top (the wax paper will act as a barrier). Use a rolling pin or another round hard object to pound the chicken breast into a thin, even layer.
2. Remove the wax paper and season both sides of the chicken breast with Cajun seasoning and set aside.
3. Chop spinach into thin pieces and place into a bowl, then finely chop 1 clove of garlic and add it to a bowl of cream cheese. Mix mozzarella cheese and spinach with cream cheese until everything is evenly distributed.

spinach-cheese-stuffing-in-bowl

4. Spread the cream cheese mixture inside the chicken, being careful not to over-stuff.
5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Add oil to a hot pan placed on medium heat. Add the stuffed chicken breasts to hot pan and sear each side. Once the chicken breast has a nice brown crust on each side, remove it and place on a baking sheet. Reserve pan and drippings for later.
6. Bake the stuffed chicken breasts in the oven for 25 minutes or until it has cooked all the way through.
7. Return to the pan and add a bit more oil to the pan drippings if necessary, then add onion. Cook onions until translucent. Add chicken broth and bring the mixture to a simmer then add cream slowly, stirring as you add. Once the mixture has thickened, remove from heat.
8. Serve with the stuffed chicken breast and garnish with parsley.

stuffed-chicken-breast-with-sauce

Looking for more recipes? Try these Must-Try Chicken Breast Recipes.

Greek-Style Baked Beans With Tomato Sauce and Feta

Dried beans are a hidden treasure. Well, I guess they’re not really hidden, but you should know that they’re like gold. They’re cheap, healthy, easy to make and have the longest shelf life ever. You can find so many kinds too — red kidney, beautiful borlotti AKA cranberry beans, orca beans, chickpeas… the list goes on and on. For this recipe, I was able to find dried Greek gigante beans. Naturally, they were begging for an herby tomato sauce full of dill and oregano. If you can’t find dried gigante beans, large white lima beans work just as well here. The sauce is simmered and added to the boiled beans, then covered in feta cheese and baked into a bubbly gorgeous casserole, which can be served as a side dish or appetizer with crusty bread. If there are any leftovers (I’d be surprised if there were), you can heat the beans up in a pan and serve with an egg for breakfast.

Greek_Style_Baked_Beans_and_Feta-6

Greek-Style Baked Beans With Tomato Sauce and Feta

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Soak Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 13 hours, 15 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

2 cups dried gigante beans (or large white lima beans)
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp olive oil + some to finish
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
26 oz can or box strained tomato sauce
1 cup chopped dill
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano OR 1 Tbsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt
½ cup water
⅔ cup crumbled feta cheese
Chopped parsley, to garnish
Crusty bread, to serve

Directions:

1. Rinse the dried beans to remove any dirt or impurities, and then place them in a large bowl and cover with tons of water. Leave on the countertop overnight or at least 9 hours to rehydrate.

2. Drain the beans and transfer them to a large pot. Cover the beans with at least 3 inches of water and add in the bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.

Greek_Style_Baked_Beans_and_Feta-5

3. Once the water is at a rolling boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remember: the time will depend on the kind of bean and how long you’ve soaked them for. Check the doneness of the beans after 10 minutes. They should be soft, but not mushy. Drain the beans and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

4. In a medium sauce-pot with lid, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions and saute until softened and slightly browned, about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, dill, parsley, oregano, salt and water. Once the sauce is simmering lightly, turn down the heat to low and cover the pot with the lid. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt.

Related: Healthy Mediterranean Recipes to Bookmark Right Now

5. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the cooked beans with bay leaf and herb tomato sauce into a casserole or baking dish and combine.

888_Greek_Style_Baked_Beans_and_Feta

6. Bake for 25 minutes until bubbly. Remove for the oven and add crumbled feta cheese on top. Return the dish to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. The sauce will be bubbly and hot.

7. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread on the side.

Greek_Style_Baked_Beans_and_Feta-10

Published November 2, 2015, Updated December 22, 2018

grilled-cheese-stacked

This French Onion Grilled Cheese is Made for Chilly Saturday Afternoons

When the temperatures start to dip, there’s nothing more comforting than a warm bowl of soup accompanied by a grilled cheese sandwich. One of my favourite soups in the cold weather is French Onion because it combines both of those elements in one bowl. Here, we’re flipping that soup on its head and combining a grilled cheese with rich, decadent caramelized onions for the ultimate winter comfort food.

french-onion-layered-grilled-cheese

French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe

Serves: 2

Ingredients:
For the Onions:
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup beef or mushroom broth
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp light brown sugar

For the Sandwich:
6 thin slices bread
4 Tbsp salted or unsalted butter
6 slices Swiss cheese

Directions:
Onions:
1. Heat the butter and oil a heavy skillet over medium-low heat.
2. Add the onions and cook for around 15 minutes, until the onions start to turn golden, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the broth, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the skillet and cook for a couple of minutes until most of the liquid evaporates.
4. Sprinkle sugar and the balsamic vinegar over top, and stir to coat the onions.
5. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, over low-medium heat for approximately 10 minutes until all the onions are dark and caramelized.
6. Set aside and cool (refrigerate if necessary) until you are ready to use them.

onions-on-grilled-cheese

Sandwich:
1. Pre-heat the broiler to high and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Toast two of the slices of bread (these will be your middle slices) in a toaster.
3. Butter the remaining four pieces of bread.
4. Heat a skillet (preferably one with a ridged base so you’ll get “grill” marks on the bread) over medium-high heat.
5. Place the slices of bread butter-side down (you might have to do this in batches depending on the size of your skillet) and cook until the bread is golden. Remove from the heat.
6. Place all the bread (making sure you know which slices are the top and bottom slices – with the grill marks) on the baking tray and top with one slice of cheese each.
7. Broil until the cheese is bubbling and melted.
8. Spread the caramelized onions on the cheese on each “top” and “bottom” slice of bread.
9. Now construct your sandwich – place the extra slice of bread in between top and bottom slices and close the sandwich.
10. Serve with lots of napkins and maybe a knife and fork!

french-onion-grilled-cheese

Looking for more cheesy goodness? Try Our Cheesiest Recipes Ever.

Potato Latke Eggs Benedict is Our New Brunch Favourite

Eggs Benedict is a weekend brunch recipe that will dirty more than a few dishes – but the results are well worth it. This version uses classic latkes as the base, instead of the more common English muffin, and skips the ham for rich smoked salmon. A buttery, bright and oh-so-easy Hollandaise, along with perfect poached eggs, completes this delicious Benny variation. The steps are plentiful, though very simple, so this recipe is absolutely doable for a special holiday breakfast or brunch with family and friends.

Latkes-eggs-Benedict-top

Latke Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes: 4

Ingredients:

Easy Blender Hollandaise
2 egg yolks, egg whites reserved for latkes
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp water
200 g (about 1 cup) salted butter, melted, still warm
Kosher salt, to taste

Potato Latkes
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled
1 small yellow onion, peeled
2 egg whites (reserved from hollandaise), whisked
3 Tbsp matzo meal or potato starch
2 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp baking powder
High-temperature vegetable oil, for frying

Poached Eggs
1 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
8 large eggs

To Assemble
2 Tbsp fresh dill fronds or minced chives
400 g smoked salmon
Lemon wedges

Latkes-eggs-Benedict-ingredients

Directions:    

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, reduce to a simmer.
2. Preheat oven to 200ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Bring the smoked salmon out of the refrigerator to take the chill off.
4. In a medium bowl or blender, add egg yolks, lemon juice and water.
5. With an immersion (stick) blender or regular blender running, add melted butter in a slow, steady stream until mixture is thick and pale yellow. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
6. To keep warm, transfer mixture to a smaller bowl to fit into a large bowl, and fill a larger bowl with just-boiled water (do not allow any to get into the hollandaise). Stir the hollandaise a few times when you’re ready to serve. Alternatively, transfer hollandaise to a thermal container (just make sure it doesn’t smell like coffee!).
7. Using the finest shredding attachment on your food processor, process potatoes and onions (or grate both with a box grater). Transfer mixture to a fine mesh sieve, lined with cheesecloth, set over a large bowl. Squeeze cheesecloth to remove excess starch and water from the potatoes and onion. Then transfer potatoes and onion to a large bowl.

8. To the potatoes and onion mixture, stir in whisked egg whites, followed by matzo meal or potato starch, salt and baking powder.
9. Fill a large skillet with ½ inch of oil. Heat to medium-high. Do not allow oil to smoke. The potato mixture should sizzle immediately when added to the pan; if it doesn’t, wait until the oil comes up to temperature. Fun alternative: try adding the uncooked latke mixture to your waffle iron instead of a skillet, for a fuss-free, extra-crunchy base.
10. Working in batches, without crowding the pan, scoop ¼ cup of potato mixture into hot oil and carefully flatten with a spatula. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a prepared baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you finish the latkes. If you have leftover latkes from another meal, just reheat in oven at 200ºF.
11. To simmering water, add vinegar. One at a time, working quickly, crack eggs into a small bowl and gently add to simmering water. Poach for 3 to 5 minutes, until whites are set but yolks are still runny. Remove from water using a slotted spoon and place on a warmed plate.
12. On plates, add stacks of latkes, and then top with slices of smoked salmon, poached eggs and spoonfuls of Hollandaise. Garnish with dill or chives and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.

Looking for more holiday brunch inspiration? Here are 30 Boxing Day brunch recipes.

We’ll be Making Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls All Winter Long

Stuffed cabbage is an Eastern European favourite and depending on where you’re from there will be tons of variations on this comforting, classic recipe. Some swear by a sweet sauce, or insist on using raisins while others follow the sweet and sour tradition. Some stuff with pork and beef, while others keep it simple and vegetarian. No matter how you make them, this classic dish will always satisfy, but our recipe means you can make-ahead. Come home to a meal that’s been slowing cooking and will definitely warm you up in those colder months.

cabbage-rolls-cut-open

Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4-8 hours
Servings: 6

Ingredients
1 large green cabbage head or 2 small

Sauce:
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
½ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper

Filling:
½ cup uncooked brown rice
1 lb lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, grated
½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper

cabbage-rolls-how-to-roll

Directions
Cabbage:
1. Boil a pot of water and toss in a little sea salt. Prepare a large bowl or pot of cold water.
2. Turn your cabbage upside down, carefully slice around the core and pull it out. There may be some parts of the core still inside, do your best to cut them out so you have a hole in the bottom of the cabbage.
3. Once the water is boiling, place the cabbage down into the water with the core-end down. After about a minute, use your tongs and begin turning the cabbage in the water. Allow to boil for 5 minutes and then plunge the whole head of cabbage into the bowl of cold water or simply run it under cold water from your tap.
4. Once slightly cooled, gently remove 12 cabbage leaves, being careful not to break.

Sauce:
1. Heat a pot on medium heat and drizzle oil. Add the onions cool until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
2. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, sea salt and pepper. Cover and allow to simmer while you prepare the filling.

Filling:
1. Place all filling ingredients in a bowl and mix so everything is well combined.

cabbage-rolls-in-crockpot

Assembly:
1. Place about ¼ – ⅓ cup of filling into each cabbage roll. Fold in the sides and end of the leaf and then continue to roll until it’s closed. Repeat until all the leaves and filling have been used.
2. Place a little bit of sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker and then place the cabbage rolls in, seam side down.
3. Pour the rest of the sauce on top. Turn on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

cabbage-rolls-served

Looking for more comforting recipes? Try our Must-Make Slow Cooker Recipes that will keep you full and happy all season long.

beet-barlotto-in-a-pot

5 Comforting Barley Recipes For an Oh-So-Cozy Fall

Barley is far too often cast as a bland and boring grain – that is, until now. We’ve given this comforting fall grain it a makeover with five exciting recipes where barley is the star. The nutrient-rich grain has a firm texture and subtly nutty flavour, pairing well with savoury fall soups, stews and salads, but it can go beyond those recipe confines, too. From a magenta beet ‘barlotto’ to a sweet breakfast porridge and beyond, these recipes offer a glimpse into barley’s sassier side.

Beet Barley Risotto

Beet “Barlotto” (Barley Risotto)

Rice is swapped out for barley in this risotto-inspired meal made with earthy beets and Parmesan cheese.

Directions: In a medium saucepan, heat 1 L chicken or vegetable stock. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp unsalted butter in a large high-sided skillet over medium. To butter, add 1 minced garlic clove and 1 finely chopped onion; cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add 1 cup pearl barley, 1 cup grated raw beet (about 2 small) and 1/2 tsp salt. Add 1/3 cup white wine and cook while stirring until barley has absorbed all of the liquid, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and begin adding stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring the entire time. Keep adding more stock, 1/2 cup at a time, when previous addition is almost fully absorbed. Continue to cook until barley is tender, but still has some bite to it, about 30 to 40 minutes. To finish, stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Remove from heat and add to warmed serving plates or bowls. Garnish with fresh parsley and more Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve. Serves 6.

Creamy Mushroom Barley Soup 

This hearty soup made with mushrooms and barley is a bowl of pure comfort.

Directions: In a small bowl, soak 1 oz. dried mushrooms of choice in 1 cup recently boiled water for 45 minutes. Drain, reserving soaking water and roughly chop rehydrated mushrooms. In a large pot over medium heat, melt 3 Tbsp unsalted butter. Sauté 170 g sliced fresh cremini mushrooms, 1 diced onion, 1 diced carrot and 2 diced ribs celery. Stir in 3/4 cup pearl barley and rehydrated chopped mushrooms. Add in reserved mushroom rehydrating liquid along with 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender. To finish, stir in 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream (low-fat varieties will curdle), ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh dill. Serves 6.

barley porridge

Sweet Barley Porridge

Oats aren’t the only grain the can make great porridge. Barley turns into a delicious, subtly sweet breakfast cereal packed with nutrition and comfort food appeal.

Directions: In a medium saucepan, combine 1 L unsweetened almond milk, 3/4 cup pearl barley, 1 tsp ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring often until mixture comes to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed about 40 minutes. To finish, stir in 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/4 cup golden raisins. Scoop porridge into bowls and serve warm topped with chopped nuts and additional milk. Serves 6.

Autumn Barley Salad

This fall-inspired salad is packed with sweet potatoes, apple, fennel and chewy barley. It’s as good for a weekday lunch as it is tucked next to baked salmon for dinner on the weekend.

Directions: In a large bowl, gently mix to combine 1 cup cooked pearl barley, 1 roasted and diced sweet potato (slightly under-roast and chill for a tidier dice), 1 diced apple, 1 cup shaved fennel and 1/3 cup chopped walnuts. Gently mix in 1 Tbsp ground cumin, 2 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and crumbled feta. Serve. Serves 4.

barley tabbouleh

Barley Tabbouleh

Barley replaces bulgur wheat in this refreshing twist on the Middle Eastern salad.

Directions: In a large bowl, mix 1 cup cooked pearl barley with 1 bunch finely chopped fresh parsley and 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint. To the barley and herbs, add 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1/2 finely diced cucumber and 2 thinly sliced green onions. For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk to combine 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice and salt and pepper, taste. Add dressing to barley mixture, toss and serve. Serves 4.

Now that you’ve mastered barley, reinvigorate another blank canvas-grain with these fast and healthy quinoa recipes.

How to Make the Perfect Croissant Croque Madame

This is going to be the fanciest ham and cheese sandwich you will ever have. Leave it to the French to take something so simple and humble and top it with tons of cheese and toast it until golden brown. And to top it off, let’s put a fried egg on it. Typically made on basic white bread, I’ve taken this dish even further and made it on a croissant. There’s one thing that will happen after having this: you’ll never be able to go back to a regular ham and cheese sandwich.

888_Croissant_Croque_Madame_5

Croissant Croque Madame

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

Béchamel
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup + 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups milk
½ tsp salt
Fresh black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
½ cup grated Gruyére
¼ cup grated Parmesan

Sandwich
6 croissants
Grainy mustard or Dijon
400 g black forest ham
⅔ cup grated Gruyére
⅓ cup grated Parmesan
Salt
Fresh black pepper
6 fried eggs
Chopped chives, garnish
Maldon salt, garnish

Directions:

1. Heat the butter over medium-low heat in a medium sized saucepot. Once the butter is completely melted and begins to bubble, add the flour and whisk until combined. Switch to a heat-proof rubber spatula and continue stirring until the mixture is a light golden colour and smells slightly nutty. Be sure to scrape all around the sides and bottom to ensure nothing is sticking or burning.

2. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the milk into the pot. Switch back to the rubber spatula and cook, constantly stirring and scraping the sides and bottom, until thick and bubbly. About 6-8 minutes.

3. Turn the heat off and stir in the salt, black pepper, nutmeg, Gruyére and Parmesan until cheese has melted. Set aside to cool.

Related: Creative Ways to Use Croissants, From French Toast to Bread Pudding

4. Pre-heat the oven to broil and set the rack in the middle of the oven. Slice the croissants open and spread a generous amount of mustard on each half. Lay the ham on the top halves of the croissants and top with the bottom halves. This will give the béchamel a nice flat surface to sit on. Transfer the sandwiches onto a sheet pan.

5. Top each sandwich with lots of béchamel spreading it to the edges of the croissant. This will prevent the edges of the croissant from burning in the oven. Combine the Gruyére and Parmesan and top each sandwich with the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

888_Croissant_Croque_Madame_4

6. Place sandwiches under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until cheese and béchamel are melted and bubbly.

7. Remove from the oven, plate each sandwich with a fried egg, garnish with chopped chives, fresh black pepper and Maldon salt.

888_Croissant_Croque_Madame_1

Published November 5, 2015, Updated October 29, 2018

This Slow Cooker Butternut Squash is Beyond Easy

Butternut squash is by far the most popular of the squash family, that’s probably because it’s fairly user-friendly, versatile and the perfect balance of sweetness and earthiness. This delicious carby vegetable is also packed with a spectrum of vitamins and minerals that all work to protect your body, especially in the colder months as cold and flu season move in.

Although butternut squash is becoming more commonplace, many people get overwhelmed or confused about how to prep it, use it or cook it. Do you peel it? How do you cut it safely so it doesn’t roll around or worse, so you don’t injure yourself? Should you keep the seeds? Here we give the easiest way to cook butternut squash – in your slow cooker!  Literally, your only job is to buy one, no need for a peeler or a knife. This slow cooker method, which can easily be done in an electric pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot), comes out perfectly tender and sweet, just the way it should be.

squash-slow-cooker-in-bowl

How to Cook Butternut Squash in Your Slow Cooker (or Instant Pot)

Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: Slow cooker: 8 hours,  Pressure cooker: 35 minutes
Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash, choose a size that will fit into your slow cooker or Instant Pot
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp cinnamon

squash-in-slow-cooker

Directions:

Slow Cooker:
1. Place your squash in the slow cooker. Do your best to find one that fits right inside without needing to slice it.
2. Put the lid on, cook it on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

Instant Pot:
1. Pour 1 cup of water into the Instant Pot. Place the steam rack on the bottom and then put the butternut squash on top. Again, choose one that fits into the pot without needing to cut it. If you find one too large, slice it in half widthwise so you have two round circles and scoop out the seeds.
2. Lock the lid, turn the pressure release valve to sealed and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. Turn the valve open to release steam for 10 minutes.

squash-slow-cooker-scoop

Assembly:
1. Allow the squash to cool slightly, then gently scoop out the seeds with a spoon. The squash will be so tender so this will be an easy job.
2. Cut the squash into large cubes and drizzle with maple syrup and cinnamon.
3. Now that you have a beautifully steamed squash you can also do whatever you want with it, make a mash, blend it with coconut milk into a soup, make it into a hummus, place cubes of it on top of a salad or eat it as is.

Looking for ideas? Try the Brilliant Ways to Eat Butternut Squash.

split-pea-soup-feature

The Lip-Smacking History of Split Pea Soup in Canada

When the first chill creeps into the air, the knee-jerk reaction for many Canucks is to get soups simmering on the stove. While we love our minestrone and hearty stews, it’s hard to beat dipping your spoon into a steaming bowl of split pea soup.

This classic stick-to-your-bones soup has been a  Quebecois favourite for over 400 years. For good reasons, too: pure comfort made from easy-to-preserve ingredients.

“Split pea soup is made of yellow split peas, ham hock, vegetables, and thyme, and it’s usually served with bread,” says Ottawa Chef Marc Miron, who is an expert on the dish. “Split pea soup is a dish that can be served as a starter or as a main.”

split-pea-soup-parkersGet the recipe for Parker’s Split Pea Soup

But where exactly did this hearty soup come from in the first place? Miron has an inkling, based on his own extensive research tracing the roots of “habitant soup.” Although he’s headed up kitchens around the world and cooked for celebs like Chef Gordon Ramsay and the Rolling Stones, this busy chef was drawn to explore the history of this delicious Canadian dish.

“It’s a beautiful staple in the Canadian cuisine, not only in Quebec,” says Miron.

The soup’s origins are murky, but Miron believes today’s recipe is likely a distant relative of soup made aboard explorer Samuel de Champlain’s ships from France. On long journeys, the ships would be stocked with ingredients that preserve for lengthy times, such as vinegar, honey, cheese, rice, legumes, and salted meats and fish.

“All of those ingredients were on board that they made soup with,” says Miron. “It was probably not the split pea soup as we know now. But it was a [salted] ham-broth with some peas in it and some vegetables.”

As more habitants – or Canada’s first settlers – arrived from France and landed on Canadian soil, the soup served on ships gradually evolved and came to include game meats, pork, and locally grown ingredients.

“The habitants depended on the forests for their meat, but they farmed pigs along with vegetables, fruit, peas, and beans,” says Miron. “Soup was always part of the meal. Looking at the setup of the table, the spoon would always be there for the soup. They had to get creative with it: basically finding out that the peas matched very well with the ham hock.”

Whether called habitant soup or soupe aux pois cassés or split pea soup, this early settler soup with many names became a staple item on the menu for Quebec’s settlers. For starters, it was a filling and nutritious meal that helped them survive harsh Canadian winters.

“Going through the winter, times were pretty hard,” says Miron. “Pea soup is something that gave them everything from vegetables to legumes to protein. It’s a meal by itself.”

Most habitant farmers also had bread ovens, partly explaining why today’s version of the soup is usually paired with a slice of warm, crusty bread.

“Bread is always part the tradition,” says Miron. “When times were rough for the habitants, you needed a full meal and bread provided for that.”

Of course, the original habitant-style soupe aux pois cassés has changed over the centuries, swapping out salted meats for ham hock, but the soup has become a Canadian classic that has spanned generations.

“My grandmother is 96 and she told me that pea soup was served every Friday,” says Maxime Constantin, the owner of Cabane à sucre Constantin in Quebec where they serve a mean bowl of split pea soup. “So it’s become a traditional meal served in every family.”

In terms of regional variations, Miron says that most recipes still “respect the basics,” adding split peas and vegetables to the soup. The wildcard that he’s witnessed in the culinary world involves the broth.

“The consistency in the soup is where you see the most difference,” says Miron. “Some have it more ‘brothy,’ and some have it thicker.”

As the dish became popular across the country, dry and canned versions of the old school recipe popped up, with the first emerging in the late 1800s, according to Miron.

“They did an instant pea soup around 1867,” says Miron. “When you invent a soup dry, it’s because it’s popular.”

Pig-and-Pea-Soup

Get the recipe for Split Pea Soup.

If you’re not in a hurry, skip the ready-made varieties, and try your hand at creating a homemade batch of delicious split pea soup. There’s the traditional recipe for Québécois-Style Pea Soup made with unsmoked ham hock, but also Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup using a smoked turkey leg, leeks, and green split peas. Or follow Ina Garten’s recipe for Parker’s Split Pea Soup, which uses chicken stock instead of ham hock.

Short on time? Whip up a batch of Chef Michael Smith’s recipe Speedy Split Pea Soup using dried split peas, bacon, and frozen peas. Or if you’re not in a rush, try his more traditional recipe for Pig and Pea Soup with a ham hock broth.

For a soup with a zing, there’s this recipe for Split Pea and Ginger Soup from The Burnt Tongue in Hamilton, Ont. A warming soup with a kick of ginger spice, this dish is hearty to the core without being too heavy.

The food experts have a few tips for making split pea soup at home. At Cabane à sucre Constantin, Maxime Constantin regularly cooks up a colossal cauldron of pea soup that serves 700 people at their family-owned sugar shack. His secret to soup success? Soak the peas overnight.

“At the start, you have to soak the peas a night before,” says Constantin. “After we roast the piece of pork with carrot and onion, we add broth and peas. It has to boil about 2 to 3 hours until the peas are soft.”

For Miron, making split pea soup is a two-step process, which starts with the broth and then the soup. While the other ingredients are important, “the ham stock has to be very good.”

“It’s like roasting a chicken – the leg doesn’t cook the same way,” says Miron. “So I always de-bone and cook it separately. The pea soup is the same. To do a good ham stock, you would need 2-3 hours, depending on the size of your ham hock, to make sure the meat is cooked and falls off the bone.”

Once the broth is complete, Miron adds vegetables and chunks of ham to the rich, flavourful stock, and simmers the concoction on the stove for 30 to 45 minutes.

No matter which split pea soup recipe you choose or how you cook the broth, take pride in the fact that you’re slurping up a Canadian classic that been trending since the days of Samuel de Champlain. Now that’s definitely worthy of a Canadian Heritage Minute!

Apple-Brie Pumpkin Soup Season is Here

Now that soup season is upon us, we’re looking to jazz up our old fall favourites, like classic, creamy pumpkin soup. In this mouthwatering version, we’ve added Gala apples to give the soup just a hint of sweetness, then we gave it the full French onion treatment, with a beautiful topping of crispy baguette and melty Brie. This stick-to-your-ribs soup is just what you need to feel like you’re living your best fall life.

pumpkin-apple-soup-with-baked-brie

Photo by Lindsay Guscott
Lindsay Guscott

Baked Brie Pumpkin and Apple Soup Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, sliced, about 1 1/2 cups
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small pie pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-in pieces, about 6 cups
2 Gala apples, peeled and cut into 1/2 pieces, about 3 cups
1 sprig rosemary, plus more for optional garnish
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup dry hard apple cider
900 ml vegetable stock
1/2 cup whipping cream
8 slices baguette
150g double cream Brie, rind removed and thinly sliced

sugar-pumpkins

Photo by Allison Day
Photo by Allison Day

Directions:
1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until softened, 5 to 7 min.
2. Increase heat to medium-high, then stir in pumpkin and apples. Season with salt. Sauté until vegetables are lightly golden-brown, 5 to 7 min.
3. Add spices and cook until fragrant, 1 min.
4. Pour in cider. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits from bottom of pan. Allow cider to evaporate, 1 to 2 min.
5. Add stock and rosemary sprig. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 15 min. Remove and discard rosemary.
6. Working in small batches, purée soup in a blender. Return to pot. Stir in cream and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 min.
7. Ladle into oven-safe bowls, then top each with 2 slices of baguette and 2 slices of cheese. Broil on high until cheese has melted and is just starting to brown, about 1 to 2 min.
8. Sprinkle with finely chopped rosemary, if desired, and serve immediately.

pumpkin-apple-soup-with-brie-crouton

Photo by Lindsay Guscott
Photo by Lindsay Guscott

Tip: If you don’t own oven-proof bowls, assemble your Brie toasts on a foil-lined baking sheet instead. Once broiled, simply transfer the toasts to your bowl.

Looking for more fall recipes? Try our Brilliant Ways to Use Butternut Squash.

classic-brisket-sliced-with-sauce

An Easy, Tender Brisket Recipe That is Sure to Impress

Brisket is a staple dish for many Jewish celebrations, with recipes that can differ from family to family. While some families prefer a sweet sauce, others love savoury. Some use brine; some don’t bother. Some prefer to sear their meat before braising, while others put their brisket straight into the oven. No matter your family’s preference, the most important part of brisket is that it is cooked low and slow, which is the key to juicy, melt in your mouth meaty goodness.

My recipe is a crowd-pleaser, being a little sweet and a little savoury. It can be made with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry, but that doesn’t mean you can rush this no-fuss recipe. The key to great flavour is giving the brisket the time to marinate and then to cook. It takes about 20 hours from start to finish, so make sure you plan ahead when embarking on this Jewish classic.

brisket-cut

How to Make a Classic Brisket

Ingredients:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
1 cup apricot preserves
4-5 lb brisket
3 onions, quartered

classic-brisket-recipe

Directions:
1. Mix the soy sauce, ketchup, water, apricot preserves in a bowl. Pour into a roaster or casserole dish large enough to fit the brisket. Place brisket in roaster or dish and coat with marinade. Place onions in the dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
2. Remove brisket from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 325F. Place in oven covered with lid or aluminium foil. Cook for 3 hours then remove foil. Continue to cook uncovered for 30 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and let cool on the counter. Once cool, place in refrigerator until completely chilled, about 1 hour. This will help slice the brisket. Skim the fat off the surface of the sauce and discard. Slice the brisket into thin slices and place back into the dish with sauce.
4. When ready to serve, preheat your oven to 350F. Place brisket with sauce back in the oven and cook uncovered until heated through about 30 minutes. Spoon sauce over slices every 10 minutes.

Instant Pot Turkey Chili is Healthy Comfort Food in a Flash

The Instant Pot, the electric pressure cooker,  allows you to create dishes that usually take hours, in just a matter of minutes. This easy turkey chili recipe is a weeknight dinner perfection. It has loads of hidden vegetables, lean protein and best of all, comes together in a snap without forfeiting that must-have slow-cooked taste we all know and love in a big bowl of comforting chili. It’s perfect for busy weeknights and weekends, and best of all, leftovers freeze well, too.

instant-pot-turkey-chili-1

Healthy Instant Pot Turkey Chili

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
2 lbs ground turkey
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp chili powder
1½ tsp salt
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups kale, destemmed and finely chopped
1 (19 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup Greek yogurt, for serving
¾ cup grated cheddar cheese, for serving
¼ cup sliced green onions, for serving
lime wedges, for serving

chili-turkey-instant-pot

 

Directions:

1. Set Instant Pot, (or your electric pressure cooker) to sauté. Add turkey, cumin, chili powder and salt. Break up turkey and mix with spices to combine. Let turkey and spices brown, about 8 minutes, stirring intermittently.
2. Meanwhile, add onion, celery, carrot and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until vegetables turn into a smooth paste. Add vegetable paste to turkey and spices and stir to combine. Stir in tomato paste, followed by crushed tomatoes and kale.
3. Close lid and set Instant Pot to “Chili;” cook for 30 minutes. Allow pressure to release for 10 to 15 minutes until fully released or quick release using the vent. Stir in beans and allow to heat through.
4. Ladle chili in bowls and garnish with yogurt, cheddar cheese, green onions, and lime wedges for seasoning. Serve.

Slow things down in the kitchen and use your multi-cooker to make a warming Slow Cooker Irish Stew.

Veganism Made Easy: Lauren Toyota’s Fail-Safe Tips for Eating Plant-Based (And Loving It)

The idea of noshing on a juicy burger or devouring a bacon mac and cheese skillet (okay fine – and a slice of buttercream cake for dessert) is the stuff of comfort food dreams. It’s also the stuff vegan foodie Lauren Toyota, of famed blog and YouTube channel Hot for Food (part of Kin Community), cooks up on a regular basis. “I’m trying to dispel the misconception that, as a vegan, you have to eat raw food, salad or green smoothies all the time,” she says. That’s also the theme behind her just-released cookbook Vegan Comfort Classics, featuring over 100 plant-based recipes that are unapologetically indulgent and drool-worthy. We caught up with the Canadian star to ask about everything from her humble beginnings to her top tips for entry-level vegans.

Photo courtesy of Vanessa Heins

What inspired you to take such an inventive approach to veganism?

When I first became vegan, I thought I had to uphold some idea of health. I thought I couldn’t enjoy the foods I used to eat when I was an omnivore. But I quickly got out of that trap once I realized, if I don’t change what I’m doing, I’m not going to stick to this whole vegan thing. I don’t want to eat cold food all the time.

Comfort food is just a generic umbrella term because it can be anything to anybody. Whatever is comforting to you might not be comforting to me, because it plays off your childhood, your experiences and your senses. I’m always trying to get my recipes to appeal to as many senses as possible.

Was there a learning curve? What did you eat before becoming vegan?

Before becoming vegan, I had just travelled through the U.S. with a family member, driving through states like Florida and Georgia. We were eating a lot of terrible omnivore food, from po’ boys to Cuban sandwiches. I had gone from eating all of this southern comfort food, which plays into what I make now as a vegan, but then not feeling good. And I went on that trip thinking, this is it. I’m just going to go all out and then come back and get healthy. Whatever that meant.

Once I became vegan I eventually started asking myself things like: How can I make salads more satisfying? I think I probably started there, adding creamier dressings and heavier toppings and then thought, well wait, now I want to experiment more: How do I make cheese as a vegan? How do I make bacon as a vegan?

Oyster Mushroom Po’ Boy (Featured in Lauren’s Cookbook, Vegan Comfort Classics)

What are your top tips for beginner vegans?

Stick to What You Know: Which foods do you like? Try to substitute a few non-vegan ingredients for vegan ones, but don’t try to cook something you don’t even know how to make or know if you like – start with your favourite meal or something you eat all the time and recreate it without your default ground beef or Parmesan cheese. Make tiny adjustments without reinventing your entire diet.

Start Cooking: You have to start cooking something, even if it’s a very basic pasta with jarred sauce. Get used to cooking, because I think if you’re going vegan, or mostly vegan, it’s so empowering and something everyone can learn.

Don’t Overhaul Your Fridge and Pantry:  It can be a slow transition, integrating one thing at a time, or using up that jar of regular mayonnaise before swapping it for a vegan version. Take the same approach when replacing cheese, and so on.

Shake up Your Grocery Store Routine: Walk through different aisles and start reading labels. Educate yourself and get out of your habitual patterns – if you’re not reading labels, you likely don’t realize that much of what you’re buying probably is vegan. So figure out what you’re already buying that’s vegan, and what you should add to your cart.

Tofu Benny with Hollandaise (Featured in Lauren’s Cookbook, Vegan Comfort Classics)

Pantry staples you can’t live (or cook) without?

Raw Cashews: They’re neutral in flavour and don’t taste nutty because they’re not roasted. Vegans like to soak and blend cashews to make thick creams or milk. There’s substance and viscosity to it, and it provides the same texture as whipped or heavy cream in a sauce. I also make Parmesan by grinding cashews into a coarse meal with nutritional yeast.

Nutritional Yeast: I use this ingredient a lot in the cookbook – it’s one of those things people may not know about, but it’s been around forever. There’s nothing weird or processed about it. It has B12 and protein and fibre. I incorporate it into everything because it adds depth, like a cheesiness or nuttiness.

Thickeners (like Cornstarch or Arrowroot): Thickeners are great for soups and sauces. You should always keep one in your pantry because it will never spoil.

Spices: These are important for beginners too because you’re basically trying to season food with spices to taste like meat or other dishes you’re used to eating. Stock up on smoked paprika, cumin, turmeric and onion and garlic powder. Spices are also inexpensive and pretty much last forever, as long as you’re storing them in a dry place.

There seems to be growing interest in plant-based eating, specifically vegan comfort foods. Why now?

At the beginning [in Toronto and elsewhere] we saw more juice and salad bars. Now, in contrast, we’re seeing a second movement: the indulgent side. I think it’s helping people get on board with veganism so they don’t fall into that trap of thinking they have to eat one way. It’s great because you can access both types of food, no matter your diet. I think everyone who’s on the same mission as me in the community realizes this is just how we get people interested and through the door.

Crispy Crabless Cakes (Featured in Lauren’s Cookbook, Vegan Comfort Classics)

Where do you see veganism heading? Where will it be five to ten years from now?

In five years, I think we’re going to be at a place where it’s much more normalized. Every restaurant will have more than one plant-based option on the menu, or if not, an isolated vegan menu, which you’re seeing places do now. I hope it’s not so much of a thing to harp on, that it’s just regular food that happens to be made with plants. At the end of the day, the movement is not a trend. It’s really a way to get people adjusted to the fact that this is the future of what you’re going to be eating.

Want more of Lauren’s decadent recipes? Try her Cauliflower Buffalo Wings, Perfect Vegan Lasagna and Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake Bites.

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.

vegetarian-Cacciatore-recipe

Vegetables Star in This Healthy, Comforting Cacciatore

Known as a “hunter” style meal, this Italian classic is typically made using chicken or rabbit, but our rustic take serves up vegetables as the star.  A mix of veggies and wine simmer together to create layers of flavour that become a perfect pair with pasta.  We’ve intentionally used an array of vegetables to offer lots of textures and tastes with each bite, but if you’re not particularly fond of one veggie, omit and replace with what you love.

vegetarian Cacciatore

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 2 to 4

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb mixed mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, button), sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red pepper, sliced into strips
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 zucchini, sliced into semi-circles
1 Tbsp capers
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp sea salt
Pinch pepper
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped, for serving
2 to 3 cups pasta of choice, cooked

Vegetarian Cacciatore6

Directions:
1. Place a pot or deep skillet over medium heat and coat the pan with olive oil.
2. Add mushrooms and allow them to cook for 10 minutes, so they’ll release their moisture and begin to brown.

Vegetarian Cacciatore5
3. Add onion, garlic, red pepper, celery, carrot, zucchini, capers, oregano, chili flakes, sea salt and pepper and allow to cook for 7 minutes.
4. Pour in the diced tomatoes, vegetable broth and white wine. Cover the pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Vegetarian Cacciatore3
5. Top with fresh basil and re-season with sea salt and pepper to taste.
6. Mix with your favorite pasta and enjoy.

Vegetarian Cacciatore

Looking for tastier veggie-filled dinners? Try our All-Time Best Vegetarian Recipes.

Palak Paneer: An Indian Favourite

By Suganya Hariharan

One of my most craved, all-time favourite Indian dishes, palak paneer is a scrumptious curry made of rich cottage cheese cubes simmered in creamy spinach sauce—“palak” meaning spinach and “paneer” is the Indian cottage cheese. This dish is famously served alongside fragrant rice and garlic naan in India.

To make it your own, replace the spinach with kale or create a blend of your favourite leafy greens. Spinach already goes well with garlic and cheese, and when it becomes a curry mixed with fragrant spices it becomes infinitely more delicious.

This dish takes only 30 minutes to prepare at home. To make it purely vegan, replace paneer with firm tofu, avoid cream and use oil instead of butter. It tastes great with basmati rice and warm naan.

Palak Paneer: Spinach with Indian Cheese, Courtesy of Suganya Hariharan, relishthebite.com, Montreal

Take your leafy greens to new heights with this traditional Indian spinach and cheese curry dish.

PalakPaneer_888embed

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: 3 cups

Ingredients
2 tbsp (30 mL) ghee, unsalted butter or oil, divided
1 small stick cinnamon
3 cardamom pods
1 small dried bay leaf
1 tsp (5 mL) cumin seeds (jeera)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 fresh green chillies, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece ginger, minced
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 tsp (5 mL) chilli powder
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) turmeric powder
8 oz (250 g) fresh spinach (or other leafy greens), washed
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp (15 mL) kasuri methi leaves, crushed
½ tsp (2 mL) garam masala powder
½ tsp (2 mL) chilli powder
3 tbsp (45 mL) cream
8 oz (250 g) paneer

Garnish
1 tsp (5 mL) fresh cilantro
1 tsp (5 mL) cream
Pinch garam masala

Directions
1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf and cumin seeds and sauté briefly, until slightly golden in colour. Add onion, chillies, garlic and ginger; sauté until soft.
2. Add the tomatoes, chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder to skillet; sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until well mixed and soft. Add spinach and cilantro and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until wilted.
3. Remove bay leaf. Transfer the spinach mixture to a blender and pulse it few times until smooth but not puréed, being careful of hot splashes.
4. Return spinach mixture to skillet; add remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil, crushed kasuri methi leaves, garam masala and chilli powder and cook over medium heat. Stir in cream, adding water, if mixture seems too thick.
5. Add paneer to skillet and simmer, covered, for 5 to 6 minutes or until the paneer has absorbed the curry flavours.
6. Remove from heat. Garnish with coriander leaves, cream and garam masala.

Tip: For extra flavour, try frying paneer lightly in butter before adding to the curry.

Jump over here to print, save or share this recipe.

Do you have a delicious dish to share with the rest of Canada? Submit your recipe here for a chance to be featured on Great Canadian Cookbook and Food Network Canada!

Relish the Bite
My name is Suganya Hariharan, author of Relish the Bite. I do the cooking, writing and photography for the blog. Visit my site for all kinds of recipes but mainly tasty, spicy, flavourful Indian recipes. Never be afraid to try new flavours in your cooking!