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Anna Olson’s Best Fixes for Your Biggest Baking Fails

When it comes to baking, nobody is perfect. Even expert bakers like the talented teams on The Big Bake have bad days in the kitchen, but the best part about messing up is learning from those mistakes.

Whether you’re baking a cake, whipping up a batch of cookies, or trying your hand at homemade pie dough, the next time you head into the kitchen, let Anna Olson show you how to fix your biggest baking fails.

Why do my chocolate chip cookies spread too much when baking?

There are two main reasons why your chocolate chip cookies are too soft and meld together into one giant sheet while baking. The first is that your butter could be too soft. An easy fix for that is to scoop the dough onto a pan, and then chill it for an hour before baking.

Your cookies could also fall flat if you use too much sugar or not enough flour. Even a seemingly harmless extra tablespoon of sugar could cause the cookies to spread because sugar liquefies as it bakes. Be sure to use measuring spoons and cups and follow the instructions for the best results.

How do I stop my cake from sinking in the centre?

A common culprit for why your cake is too wet (AKA raw in the middle) or sinking is an incorrect oven temperature. Just because your oven beeps and the display indicates that it’s 350ºF doesn’t mean that the temperature is accurate. An oven that runs too hot may make your cake look done when it really isn’t, or if the temperature oscillates, your ingredients can’t set at the right time and the cake sinks. The best solution is to purchase an oven thermometer and manually adjust how you set your oven.

Another cause is inactive baking powder or baking soda. If you don’t bake on a regular basis, always be sure to check the expiry date on your baking powder. For baking soda, replace it every three to four months and use the older box in the fridge as a deodorizer.

Anna Olson's lemon cake with coconut frosting and shaved coconut, a slice cut out and plated

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Luscious Lemon Coconut Cake

What causes my cheesecake to crack in the centre?

There are a few key steps to remember when baking a cheesecake. First, when adding eggs to your batter, mix them in on a low speed to prevent air working into the batter. Second, run a palette knife around the inside edge of the pan within 15 minutes of the cheesecake coming out of the oven. That way, if the cheesecake contracts, it will easily pull away from the sides without causing it to crack or tear in the centre. Finally, be sure to cool the cheesecake completely to room temperature before chilling. Your cheesecake can be refrigerated when the bottom of the pan is cool to the touch, not the sides.

See More: Watch Baking 101 With Anna Olson

How do I prevent peaked tops on muffins?

When your muffins come out of the oven with peaked tops, this is a sign of overmixing. To get those perfect muffin tops, mix your batter by hand instead of using electric beaters. When hand mixing, use a gentle stirring motion until the point where flour is no longer visible.

Anna Olson's chocolate banana muffins on a plate

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Chocolate Banana Muffins

Can I still use curdled custard?

Curdled custard means that the eggs in the custard have overcooked, but don’t throw it away and start over. While still hot, put the custard into a food processor or blender, and puree on high speed. Strain the custard into a dish, cool and chill as usual, and no one will even know – it’ll be smooth and perfect!

Ready to get even more advanced? See more baking tips from Anna Olson.

What is seized chocolate, and how do I avoid it?

If your chocolate has seized, it will take on a dull, curdled look, it will not be smooth, and some oil (which is actually cocoa butter) will be floating. To prevent seizing, melt your chocolate in a metal bowl placed over a pot filled with an inch of barely simmering water while slowly stirring. The steam from the water gently melts the chocolate. Try and avoid using the microwave to melt your chocolate, but if you must, use a lower heat setting.

If your chocolate seizes, remove it from the heat and add a few drops of tepid water. Stir slowly and gently with a spatula where the water was added, then increase the radius of your stirring motion to return the chocolate to its smooth state.

Craving a chocolate dessert? Try Anna Olson’s chocolate recipes for every skill level.

Why does my pie dough crack when rolled or shrink when baked?

Dough cracking while rolling may not be a sign of anything wrong with the dough itself. It is often that the butter within the dough is too cold, causing cracking. To prevent this, try pulling out the dough 30 minutes before rolling. It will roll out with less cracking (and far less effort).

If your dough shrinks when rolled or after baking, it’s a sign that it needed “relaxing.” The proteins (gluten) in flour become elastic when “exercised,” i.e. making and rolling the dough, and time is the only fix. If your dough springs back when rolling, pop it back into the fridge to rest for 20 to 45 minutes. To avoid a crust that shrinks when baking, chill the lined pie shell for 30 minutes before baking.

Anna Olson's flaky savoury pie crust

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Savoury Pie Crust

Is there a way to prevent a cake from breaking when it’s turned out of the pan?

All baked goods, including cakes, tarts, cookies and muffins, are fragile directly out of the oven. Be sure to wait 15 to 20 minutes before turning them out to cool.

If you suspect that the problem may be caused by the pan (cake will stick to a scratched pan even if it’s greased), then line the pan with parchment paper. Have the parchment hang just above the edges of the pan so you can use it to easily lift out the cake.

Is there a secret to preventing butter tart filling from bubbling over or sinking in the centre?

Butter tart filling bubbles over or sinks in the centre due to over-mixed filling. The eggs hold in the air which rises in the oven, causing the filling to overflow while baking and then sink immediately when taken out of the oven. The secret is to whisk the filling by hand until it’s evenly blended.

Sugar crystals in the bottom of the tarts are also caused by over-mixing, causing the sugar to separate from the eggs as the filling bakes. Adding a teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to the filling ensures the sugar will completely dissolve as the filling bakes.

How can I avoid lemon square filling from seeping under the crust base?

The key to making squares with a fluid filling poured over a base, such as lemon squares, is how you mix the base. It should feel crumbly, so don’t over-mix it. Gently press the base into the pan, and make sure a bit of it comes up the edges and goes into the corners. Do not pack it in firmly or it will pull away from the edges while it bakes, leaving a gap for the fluid lemon filling to seep underneath.

Anna Olson's lemon meringue squares with graham cracker base, lemon curd and toasted meringue top

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Lemon Meringue Squares 

For more with Anna Olson, watch The Big Bake and Junior Chef Showdown. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription

Eden Grinshpan’s Baba Ghanoush With Za’atar, Pomegranate and Mint Will Be Your New Favourite Dip

What makes this an essential is the eggplant technique, which is so simple but blows your mind at the same time. I learned about charring eggplants whole when I was twenty-one years old and working in a restaurant in Tel Aviv. They’d score an eggplant, throw the entire thing on the grill, and then let the fire do all the work. The skin gets completely charred while the heat steams the flesh until it is smoky, tender, and juicy. That becomes the foundation of baba ghanoush, a smoky, velvety dip that’s an essential in its own right.

Baba Ghanoush with Za’atar, Pomegranate, and Mint

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20-35 minutes
Total Time: 30-45 minutes
Servings: 4 cups

Ingredients:

3 medium eggplants
½ cup tahini paste
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, grated
1½ tsp kosher salt
Za’atar, for serving
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
Pomegranate molasses, for serving
Fresh mint leaves, for serving
Pomegranate seeds, for serving (if in season)

1. With the tip of a knife, pierce each eggplant in two places—doesn’t need to be perfect or in the same place every time; this is just so the eggplant doesn’t explode on you (it’s happened to me, and it’s not pretty).

2. Pick a cooking method for the eggplant: grill, broiler, or stovetop burners. The bottom line is that you want this eggplant to be almost unrecognizable. It’s going todeflate and the skin will get white in some places, but that just means the fire is working its magic on that eggplant.

OPTION 1: Grill Preheat the grill until hot. Add the eggplants and let the fire do its thing, making sure to keep turning the eggplants so they char all over. You want them to get black in some places, 20 to 30 minutes total.

OPTION 2: Broil  Preheat the broiler. Put the eggplants in a broilerproof roasting pan and place the pan as close to the heating element as possible. (You may have to adjust your oven rack to accommodate the size of the eggplants and the depth of the pan.) Broil until they are evenly charred all over, 30 to 35 minutes, checking and turning the eggplants periodically. You want the eggplants to keep their shape but get really charred and wilted.

OPTION 3: Stovetop Gas Burners Line your stovetop around your burners with foil. Working with one at a time, place the eggplant over a medium flame and let it char, making sure to turn it every 5 minutes. Continue cooking until it is deflated and black all over, 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Transfer the cooked eggplants to a colander in the sink and let the juices run. (The juices can make the dish taste bitter.) Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, remove the stem and all of the skin.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggplant flesh with the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt.

5. To serve, first make a za’atar oil by mixing together 1 tablespoon of za’atar with 1½ tablespoons of olive oil for every 2 cups of baba ghanoush.

6. For each serving, use a spoon to spread about 1 cup of the baba ghanoush over a platter or in the bottom of a bowl. Drizzle over 1 to 2 teaspoons of the pomegranate molasses (go easy—it’s very tart and sweet), followed by the za’atar–olive oil mixture. Finish with a sprinkling of small mint leaves (or large leaves, torn) and a small handful of pomegranate seeds (if using).

Excerpted from Eating Out Loud by Eden Grinshpan. Copyright © 2020 by Eden Grinshpan. Photography by Aubrie Pick. Published in the United States by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Eating Out Loud, Amazon, $35

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How to Choose the Healthiest Type of Salt for Cooking

With the ability to bring out the inherent, muted flavours in food, salt is added to most recipes — including sweets — to smooth everything out. Without it, home cooking can be bland and unappetizing, but getting in the habit of adding too much salt to foods is linked to high blood pressure and cardiovascular irregularities. While definitely less health-threatening, large amounts of salt can cause water retention, making your pants feel a bit snugger and leaving your skin looking dehydrated. However, salt is necessary for our bodies to function correctly, maintaining normal heart rhythm and nerve function — without it, complications arise.

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How Much Salt Should I Eat Per Day?

Eating too little salt is generally not a concern for most, with the advent of packaged and convenience foods. Enjoying a diet rich in whole, unprocessed, naturally low-sodium foods is the most nutritious option, allowing you to add salt to taste when cooking, reducing the risk of overdoing your daily recommended amount. Current Health Canada guidelines advocate most healthy adults eat approximately 1500 mg of sodium per day, though most are consuming more than double that.

Sodium and chlorine are the two elements that make up salt, making all types of salt sources of these essential compounds, adding another layer of confusion to the mix, as most are indistinguishable to the palate from one to the next. Whether purchasing at a grocery store or specialty food shop, salt’s diverse price range, wide-spanning varieties and nutritional profile can leave you scratching your head.

Related: Forget Salt: I Cooked With 6 Trending Spices to See if They’re Actually Worth the Hype

What is Sea Salt?

Sea salt is derived from its eponymous source (the sea), originating from any number of regions around the world. Its clean, pure taste is adored by cooks and is available in coarse and fine options; the former is well suited for garnishing, while the latter is ideal for cooking food and baking thanks to its ability to dissolve. Coming in white, grey, red, pink and black, the colour you choose is a matter of personal preference and price point.

Regarding health benefits, sea salt is plentiful in trace minerals due to its marine derivation, delivering many of the same nutritional compounds that make superfood seaweed so nutritious. The healthiest forms of sea salt are the least refined with no added preservatives (which can mean clumping in the fine variety). Pink Himalayan salt is touted by healthy home cooks as the ultimate mineral-rich seasoning, said to be the purest of the sea salt family.

What is Ground Salt?

The most common ground salt (taken from the ground, not the sea) is table salt, a cheap and common seasoning that can be found in most home kitchens. A more refined version of salt, table salt has added iodine, a trace mineral necessary for correct thyroid function, thyroid cancer-prevention and proper mental development and maintenance. Iodine deficiency is rare, and the mineral can be accessed from vegetables, seaweeds, milk, wild fish, eggs, and unrefined sea salts.

Related: The Easiest Ways to Save Over-Salted Food 

What is Kosher Salt?

Kosher salt tastes slightly less salty than table salt or sea salts (though it can be derived by either the sea or ground) due to its ability to dissolve more quickly on the tongue. Anticaking agents can be added to kosher salt, but can be purchased pure, too. Kosher salt makes it easy to grab a pinch and clings to food well, making it a favourite amongst chefs and home cooks alike.

What are Gourmet Salts and How Do I Use Them?

Gourmet salts run the gamut in terms of price and taste. “Plain” finishing and naturally flavoured finishing salts can be a unique addition to any dish. They carry a heftier price tag than a basic sea salt or ground salt, but are used in moderate amounts, potentially lasting for years.

Fleur de sel (“flower of salt” in French) is a readily available sea salt ideal for garnishing (both sweet and savoury foods), and, while still expensive, carries a softer price tag than many other gourmet options. Fleur de sel’s pure nature, free of additives, preservatives or anticaking agents, will provide the same trace minerals as other salts, with a cleaner taste.

Smoked salts are just that; smoked. This gourmet treat is to be used sparingly on meats, fish, eggs and vegetables for a truly unique taste. Flavoured salts can include any number of natural additions, from lemon peel to lavender to dried truffles to chili, and can be purchased or made at home.

Are Salt Alternatives Healthier?

Like sugar, salt has low-sodium alternatives that are generally comprised of chemical sources. Some find the strange taste of chemically derived salt alternatives to be off-putting. Salt alternatives can adversely interact with some medications and health conditions, so check with a doctor before reaching for this product.

Natural, chemical-free options such as dulse (seaweed) granules are marketed as a salt substitute, containing the same range of minerals as “pure” sea salt. The taste of dulse granules is decidedly sea-like, so use judiciously when adding this salt substitute to a recipe.

And the Healthiest Salt Is…

No matter which salt you choose, the small amount used contributes little nutritional value to your overall diet, making your selection a matter of personal taste. If you’re concerned about increasing the mineral content in your diet, focus on consuming more grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, nuts and lean protein — salt shouldn’t be used as a supplement or alternative for the nutrition these foods contain. Reducing your total salt intake to the recommended daily intake (1500 mg) can be accomplished with a diet low in unprocessed foods and yes, a pinch or two of salt — any type you like.

Fore more inspiration and alternatives, these healthy salt substitutes are the real deal.

Published January 5, 2017, Updated April 18, 2021

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

What’s in Season? Your Guide to Canadian Fruits and Vegetables

Crisp lettuce and juicy tomatoes in your favourite salad. A ripe peach fresh from the farmstand. Sweet, earthy leeks in a creamy soup. Is your mouth watering yet? As Canadians, we have a plethora of seasonal produce at our fingertips throughout the year and knowing what and when to buy seasonally empowers home cooks with the best local flavours possible. Whether you are looking to shop local or support Canadian farmers across the country,  make food shopping a breeze all year round with our Canadian seasonal produce guide covering January to December.  Grab your tote bags and get shopping – bounty awaits!

What’s in Season in  Winter

The dead of winter brings the blahs for most of us. Winter fare, however, can be quite inspiring. Think warm soups and stews, gorgeous roasts with luscious mashed or roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and rutabagas. Fry onion rings and add sauteed garlic to everything. Braise cabbage or roll it around meat and rice filling for cabbage roll perfection. Dream even bigger with a moist, cream cheese frosted carrot or parsnip cake (yes, parsnip cake!) or rich, dark and dreamy chocolate beet cake. With dishes like these, winter won’t seem long enough!

potatoes-white-red-in-basket

What’s in Season in December

Pears, Brussels Sprouts, Rutabagas, Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Pears

What’s in Season in January

Rutabagas, Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes

Related: The Best Ingredients to Cook With in Canada This Winter (Plus Recipes)

What’s in Season in February

Rutabagas, Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes

What’s in Season in March

Rutabagas, Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes

What’s in Season in Spring

As the seasons change, so does the fresh produce. Asparagus arrives in April in British Columbia, May in the rest of the country, continuing into July towards the East Coast — along with fiddleheads, radishes, spinach and later peas, beans, cauliflower and broccoli. We begin to see fresh lettuce and radicchio, along with celery and fennel in British Columbia, following in July in the rest of Canada. Fruit also begins with outdoor rhubarb, as well as strawberries and cherries in May, continuing into July. Make the most of these months with light pastas, simple salads, pies, tarts and where weather allows — a little grilling.

asparagus-cooked-sauce

What’s in Season in April

Asparagus, Radishes, Fiddleheads, Spinach, Fava Beans,  Rhubarb, Peppers (greenhouse), Tomatoes (greenhouse)

What’s in Season in May

Asparagus, Radishes, Fiddleheads, Spinach, Rhubarb, Kale, Salad Greens, Morel Mushrooms, Arugula, Swiss Chard, Green Onions, Peas, Cherries

Related: Our Fave Spring Dishes That Celebrate Seasonal Vegetables

What’s in Season in June

Asparagus, Radishes, Spinach, Rhubarb, Kale, Salad Greens, Arugula, Beets, Lettuce, Green Onions, Gooseberries, Saskatoon Berries, Strawberries, Broccoli, Celery, Swiss Chard, Garlic (Fresh), Peas, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips, Zucchini, Fennel, Cherries

What’s in Season in Summer

As summer hits, things kick into high gear with seemingly unending produce options. Stone fruits like peaches, plums, apricots and later nectarines burst onto the scene, tending towards an earlier arrival in British Columbia, soon ripening across the country and finally arriving in the Atlantic provinces in September. Berries also arrive this time of year, making it the perfect opportunity for crumbles, preserves and general good eating. Melons are now in full bloom, begging to be soaked in summery sangrias, wrapped in prosciutto and added to salads. And early pears and apples make their way onto the scene in late August, rounding out fruit season. Vegetables like homegrown corn, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and rapini are now in their prime. It’s also the start of leek and eggplant season in August.

fresh-strawberries-in-a-basket

What’s in Season in July

Gooseberries, Saskatoon Berries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Currants, Cherries, Blackberries, Apricots, Nectarines, Green Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Celery, Swiss Chard, Cucumber, Garlic (Fresh), Leeks,  Lettuce, Green Onions, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes (New), Radishes, Rhubarb, Salad Greens, Spinach, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips,  Zucchini, Beets, Peaches, Watermelon, Kale

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Summer Dinner Recipes

What’s in Season in August

Raspberries, Currants, Cherries, Blackberries, Apricots, Apples, Crab Apples, Blueberries, Gooseberries, Melons, Nectarines, Pears, Plums, Prunes, Strawberries, Artichokes, Green Beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Celery, Swiss Chard,  Corn, Cucumber, Garlic (Fresh),  Leeks,  Lettuce, Green Onions, Parsnips,  Peppers,  Potatoes (New), Radishes, Rhubarb, Rutabagas,  Salad Greens, Shallots, Spinach, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips,  Zucchini, Beets, Eggplants, Grapes,  Peaches, Watermelon, Kale, Pears

What’s in Season in Fall

We end our big season on a high note with pumpkin, leeks, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, crabapples and the continuation from August of muskmelon and grapes. We begin to crave in-season apples and pears — and as cool weather approaches, so does the need for warmer dishes. Back indoors, get set for roasting, holiday feasting and all of the apple desserts.

fall-apples-on-a-cutting-board

What’s in Season in September

Cranberries, Apples, Crab Apples, Blueberries, Grapes, Melons, Pears, Plums, Prunes, Artichokes, Green Beans, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Celery, Swiss Chard, Corn, Cucumber, Garlic (Fresh), Leeks,  Lettuce, Green Onions, Onions, Parsnips, Peppers, Potatoes (New), Pumpkin, Radishes, Rutabagas, Salad Greens, Spinach, Tomatoes, Turnips,  Zucchini, Beets, Eggplants, Nectarines, Watermelon, Kale

What’s in Season in October

Cranberries, Apples, Crab Apples, Pears, Quince, Artichokes, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Celery, Swiss Chard, Corn, Garlic (Fresh),  Leeks,  Lettuce, Green Onions, Onions, Parsnips,  Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Rutabagas, Salad Greens, Spinach, Turnips, Beets, Eggplants, Kale

Related: Our Most Popular Fall Recipes on Pinterest

What’s in Season in November

Cranberries, Pears, Quince, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Rutabagas, Turnips, Apples, Beets

What’s in Season in Canada Year-Round

Don’t forget about options available regardless of the season. Take mushrooms, for instance, which are grown year-round and across the country. In addition, many greenhouse farms are using methods that help cut down on waste and reuse water, soil and energy, producing year-round. Cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and lettuce are excellent greenhouse-bought options in winter when local outdoor choices have dwindled so you can enjoy a taste of summer, whatever the weather.

mushrooms-crimini

Published May 5, 2018, Updated April 7, 2021

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

5 Simple Olive Oil Pasta Sauces That Will Transform Your Dinner

While a high-quality bottle of olive oil can carry a hefty price tag, investing in a beautiful and pure variety will allow you to make quick and simple pastas that are not only delicious, but require minimal ingredients. Because a true olive oil demands less heat and cook time, it’s the ideal solution to whip up an impressive dinner. No matter where in the Mediterranean it was produced, choose an extra-virgin olive oil that carries fruity notes and has a peppery finish. Then, use it in one of these five satisfying sauces.

Five Olive-Oil Based Pasta Sauce Recipes:

 

1. Caramelized Mushroom Sauce

Cook ribbon cut pasta, such as tagliatelle, in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped, mixed mushrooms to the dry pan and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and are golden-brown. Reduce heat to medium. Generously drizzle mushrooms with extra-virgin olive oil. Stir in a thinly sliced garlic clove and continue cooking until garlic is soft. Add pasta, then freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley. Toss until pasta is well coated.

wild mushroom fettucini pasta in white bowl on marble table

Get the recipe for Wild Mushroom Fettuccini with Spruce Tip Pesto

2. Fresh Breadcrumb Pasta

Cook long-cut pasta, such as bucatini, in a large pot of well-salted, boiling water. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high. Add fresh breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted. Transfer to a plate. Generously drizzle extra-virgin olive oil into same pan and set over medium heat. Add three thinly sliced shallots and cook, stirring often, until soft. Stir in roughly chopped green olives and fresh thyme leaves until warmed through. Add pasta and breadcrumbs. Toss until well coated.

3. Classic Parmesan Sauce

Cook short-cut pasta, such as penne, in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Reserve a splash of cooking water. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, then two minced garlic cloves. Cook, stirring often, until garlic is soft. Add pasta, along with a large handful of grated Parmesan cheese and reserved cooking water, tossing until mixture is creamy. Season generously with freshly cracked black pepper.

spaghetti pasta in skillet dressed in tomato sauce, with cauliflower, Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, olives and torn basil.

Get the recipe for Vegetarian Cauliflower Puttanesca

4. Capers and Basil Pasta

Cook decorative-cut pasta, such as orecchiette, in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Heat a large frying pan over medium-low. Add a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, then two finely chopped anchovies. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant. Stir in a handful of chopped, drained capers and continue cooking until slightly crisp. Add pasta, then freshly chopped basil. Toss until pasta is well coated.

Pasta salad in clear bowl with fusilli, cucumber, parsley and tomatoes.

Get the recipe for 15-Minute Gluten-Free Tabbouleh Pasta Salad

5. Sundried Tomato Pesto

Cook short-cut pasta, such as rigatoni, in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Add oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained, with toasted slivered almonds, one garlic clove and a handful of grated Parmesan to a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly pour extra-virgin olive oil until mixture is smooth. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Toss with pasta.

Looking for more delicious recipes? See here for our best-ever pasta recipes for easy dinners.

Published February 12, 2016, Updated April 2, 2021

Several dumplings on counter

It’s Time to ‘Dump the Hate’ — One Dumpling at a Time

Food serves us in many ways. While we often think about food as being nurturing and delicious (and it is that!), it can also be powerful — and as a creative new campaign combating anti-Asian hate demonstrates, that power can be used for good.

Anti-Asian prejudice is not new in Canada, but overt bouts of anti-Asian hate and violence are spiking (as just one example, according to 2020 data from the Angus Reid Institute, 43 per cent of Canadians of Chinese ethnicity report being threatened or intimidated as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak). Surges in anti-Asian discrimination and violence can be frightening and disheartening — but it’s hard to know what, tangibly, we can do to counter it. Enter Dump the Hate, a campaign that offers a way to counter anti-Asian prejudice and support Asian communities through the simple act of sharing food.

Several dumplings on counter

What is #DumpTheHate?

Created by a Canadian food blogger and chef, Jannell Lo, Dump the Hate is a virtual dumpling-making fundraiser that combines food (inviting participants to make and sell dumplings to friends and family) with activism (in addition to raising awareness, the proceeds made from the dumplings are to be donated to organizations supporting the Asian community).

The campaign has raised more than $30,000 so far — and more than 10,000 dumplings have been made and savoured. Toronto’s Timothy Chan has raised over $1,900 for the campaign by making 900 dumplings. While Timothy started making dumplings recently as a way to get in touch with his Chinese heritage, the #DumpTheHate campaign offered a unique way to further that connection in a significant way. “The spike in anti-Asian hate crimes was weighing very heavily on me,” Timothy says. “Dump the Hate was a perfect opportunity for me to channel my energy, emotions and effort into a meaningful initiative.”

Showing Solidarity

“Many friends and family who have supported my dumpling drive said they didn’t know how to show their solidarity for the Asian community,” Timothy says. “Dump the Hate is a great way for people to turn their anti-racist intention into impact.”

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus What Canadians Can Do About It)

While the #DumpTheHate campaign is certainly a fun and effective way to spread positively and support the community, it’s one (admittedly, delicious) step in the larger milieu of countering anti-Asian hate and prejudice. “Love us — the Asian community — like you love our food,” Timothy says. “I hope the dumplings will help fuel people’s commitment to anti-racism and empower them to show up, speak up and interrupt racism.”

Plate of dumplings, noodles and veggies

How You Can Help

While Timothy plans to continue his dumpling-making initiative after the conclusion of Dump the Hate on April 4 (Timothy has a wait list), he also highlights the importance of supporting Asian-owned businesses: “Many businesses were hit hard because of the pandemic, but the impact on Asian-owned businesses was intensified by racism.”

To learn more, donate or find a list of organizations supporting Asian communities in North America, visit the Dump the Hate fundraiser page.

Want to take part in Dump the Hate and learn how to make mouth-watering dumplings at home? Register for the live Zoom dumpling-making class, hosted by My Kitchen My Heart’s Allison Chang, this Saturday April 3, 2021 at 2PM PST/5PM EST. Proceeds from the class will be donated to Heart of Dinner.

Photos courtesy of Timothy Chan

Easter egg hot chocolate bombs

These Easy 6-Ingredient Easter Egg Hot Chocolate Bombs Are Almost Too Pretty to Eat

Swap out those mini chocolate eggs for these beautiful Baking Therapy Easter egg hot chocolate bombs! They are filled with a sweet homemade cocoa mix and fluffy marshmallows. Pour warm milk over them and watch them “explode” with chocolatey goodness. Because you can’t celebrate Easter without lots of chocolate, right?

Easter egg hot chocolate bombs

Easter Egg Hot Chocolate Bombs

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

¾ cup icing sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup instant skim milk powder
¼ tsp salt
4 cups melting chocolate wafers, in various colours
2 cups mini marshmallows

Equipment: 

Semi-Sphere Silicone Chocolate Silicone Mold, Amazon, $23.

Easter egg hot chocolate bomb ingredients

Directions:

1. For the hot cocoa mix: in a bowl, sift the cocoa powder and icing sugar. Whisk in the instant skim milk powder and salt. Set aside.

2. For the chocolate bombs: add the melting wafers to separate bowls and melt either using a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second intervals, be careful not to overheat. Dip a clean paint brush into the melted chocolate and create designs in each mold. Place in the freezer for 5 minutes to set.

Easter egg hot chocolate bomb in silicone mold

3. Add about 2 Tbsp of melted chocolate to each cavity and using the back of a small spoon help guide the chocolate up the sides. Place back in the freezer for 5-10 minutes until set. Carefully remove from the chocolate molds and set aside.

Related: Delightfully Easy Easter Desserts That You Can Enjoy All Spring

4. To assemble, warm a non-stick saucepan over low heat. Fill half the molds with 2 Tbsp hot cocoa mix and 1 Tbsp mini marshmallows. To seal, place one half sphere, seam side down on the non-stick pan for 2 seconds to melt slightly. Cover the bottom halves with the top halves to create one complete sphere. Place the chocolate bombs in a mug and pour 2 cups of hot milk over the egg. Stir and enjoy!

Easter egg hot chocolate bombs being made

Easter egg hot chocolate bombs being made

Easter egg hot chocolate bomb in cup with milk being poured on top

Like Sabrina’s Easter egg hot chocolate bombs?  Try her rhubarb and sour cream streusel muffins or her gluten-free quinoa chocolate cake.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

A vegetarian sandwich with greens and plant-based alternatives alongside a mango-coloured cocktail

Can You Guess Which City is the Most Vegetarian-Friendly in Canada?

With the COVID-19 pandemic came the unprecedented shift towards working remotely for many Canadians, and some are looking to relocate to places better suited to their lifestyles, for good. With plant-based diets on the rise for health, ethical and environmental reasons, which cities are best suited to attract vegetarians? 

The Vegetarian Cities Index for 2021 sought to answer this by ranking 75 of the most vegetarian-friendly cities in the world, and that list includes some Canadian standouts. 

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

Rustic table with a blue plate, zucchini noodles, tomatoes, kale and halved soft-boiled eggs

The index assessed the affordability and quality of each city’s vegetarian offerings (including plant-based diet staples such as fruits, veggies and proteins), the number of vegetarian-friendly restaurants and lifestyle-related events. 

Related: From Keto to Vegan, These Are the Pantry Staples You Need Based on Your Diet

The survey identified that while home cooking still played an important role for vegetarians over the last 12 months, plant-based restaurants played an important role in people’s lives (some of these restaurants were not only top rated vegetarian restaurants, but top rated restaurants overall). 

Of the 75, Canada did not crack the top 30 list. However, four Canadian cities did offer established vegetarian-friendly “ecosystems,” with Ottawa leading as the most vegetarian-friendly city in Canada in 31st place. Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal follow in 50th, 60th, and 66th place, respectively. 

Related: The One Dish John Catucci Always Orders From These North American Cities

People in the produce aisle at a grocery store

Out of these four, Ottawa had the most affordable grocery staples (fruits, veggies, plant-based proteins),  while Montreal scored highest out of the four for vegetarian restaurant affordability. Toronto, on the other hand, had the highest number of vegetarian-friendly restaurants, while Vancouver had the highest ratio of these restaurants with nearly a quarter offering vegetarian-friendly options. 

As for which cities claimed the top spots? London (UK), Berlin and Munich were identified as the top three destinations for those opting for a meatless diet. 

We tried TikTok’s Feta Tomato Pasta and Popeye’s Famous Chicken Sandwich — are they worth the hype?

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

Transgender Day of Visibility: Yasmeen Persad Talks About Food Insecurity and Trans Nutrition

For Yasmeen Persad, food is all about community — and, as the trans program coordinator at Toronto’s non-profit organization The 519, she’s had plenty of opportunities to indulge in her passion for cooking and making memories. In particular, with the Trans People of Colour Project (TPOC), which is funded by the Toronto Urban Health Fund and runs out of The 519 (virtually during COVID-19). “There’s nothing like cooking together in the [519’s] kitchen in a circle and having conversations and seeing the smiles on people’s faces,” Persad says. “There’s a social support component to it.”

While the program touches on a variety of topics, from sexual health to homemade recipes, food insecurity and trans nutrition are ones that pop up frequently. Considered a safe space by many in Toronto’s trans community, Persad believes these oft-taboo subjects are seeing the light during TPOC meetings because people feel more comfortable broaching the subjects. “If you don’t have access to food, there’s a lot of shame and stigma attached to that,” she says. “People think, ‘Oh, it will lower my self-esteem to ask for help to access food.’”

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus What Canadians Can Do About It)

According to a Statistics Canada report, the average Canadian spends $214 per month on groceries. However, racialized trans and non-binary people in Canada face higher levels of discrimination than others, resulting in housing inequality, a lack of job opportunities and food insecurity.

To combat the issue and raise awareness, TPOC focused their efforts on crafting Cooking With Trans People of Colour, a cookbook that offers a plethora of diverse recipes inspired by group leaders and program participants. In addition, among its many vibrant pages, are nutrition facts and sexual health stats. “The cookbook represents a history of racialized trans people, [both] those who have passed away and folks who are present,” Persad explains. “We want this to be a celebration for all trans people of colour across the board. We want this to be a recognition and a celebration.”

With Trans Day of Visibility coming up on March 31, 2021, we chatted with Yasmeen Persad about the cookbook, food insecurity in the trans community and how Canadians can take action.

How would you define food insecurity and how does the TPOC program help?

“Food security — for a number of the people that access our programs — has always been a challenge. [This is] because of their identities and the lack of access to places that offers food that represents them. It’s a struggle not just to get food, but to get healthy food. The program was designed to look at that issue specifically because racialized trans people experience higher levels of food insecurity. This is for many reasons: race, identity, being a newcomer to Canada or a refugee. The way we decided to address this issue was to create a cooking program where trans people of colour could come in and talk while cooking at the same time — sharing food, sharing recipes, sharing stories. This way, folks would get good food and also a meal to take home with them.”

Tell us about how the cookbook came together.

“So much work and love went into it. [The recipes are] quite different than the average ones you would probably encounter because most of the folks that come to the program weren’t born in Canada. They’re either an immigrant or a refugee. Whenever we cooked together [before COVID-19] the staff would pass by and everybody would say, ‘Oh my god, what smells so good? Can I get the recipe?’ And that’s where [the idea] stemmed into a cookbook we could share with people. However, we didn’t want to just do a general cookbook. We wanted to add different components to it to make it a lot more interesting — by addressing sexual health and adding some fun pieces to it.”

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You


The TPOC team, featuring (top L-R): Evana Ortigoza and Angel Glady, and (bottom L-R): Mariana Cortes, Yasmeen Persad and Christy Joseph.

How would you describe the link between food insecurity and racism?

“Folks who are racialized often find that the types of food they would want to cook or experience — or any food they might get through food banks or drop-ins — don’t necessarily reflect [the meals] of racialized people. Therefore, a lot of folks might not go to a general cooking program because they’re like, ‘This food doesn’t represent me, I don’t know what to do with this food, I can’t cook this food, it’s not a part of who I am or part of my culture.’ And that was really a key part of this — the [TPOC] participants would come, we’d ask them what they would like to cook and we’d try to bridge [the gap] between racism and food insecurity.”

Beef with plantains
Primavera Beef With Plantains and Black Beans, a recipe by Evana Ortigoza in the Cooking With Trans People of Colour cookbook

How has food insecurity in the trans community been affected by COVID?

“It’s been affected terribly because, prior to this, people could have come to physically get the food. That has been a real challenge. However, the way we decided to address the food insecurity [that arose from the pandemic] was by still cooking and having people come pick up the food. That was part of the way The 519 as a whole, and embedded with TPOC, has been addressing food insecurity.”

Related: Joshna Maharaj on Tackling Food Security, Inclusion in Canada’s Hospitality Industry + More

There is a lack of research on trans nutrition. Is this something that comes up often during discussions at TPOC meetings?

“It does. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions around the trans community, in general, and what food is available in terms of how it impacts hormones, surgeries and health benefits. In the cookbook, we promote hormones and healthy eating and TPOC participants would often ask during our discussions, ‘I started hormones, is there maybe something that I shouldn’t be eating too much or less of?’ Of course, we’re not nutritionists, but we try to draw from our own lived experiences to guide folks through that process.”

Many of the nutritional needs discussed in the program and cookbook are based on lived realities. Can you speak to that a bit?

“We wanted the cookbook to represent real people’s lives — we really wanted to bring a trans human experience to it. Because the group is also strongly embedded in talking about sexual health, we wanted to address those pieces and talk about it in an affirming way. Often, when you talk about trans people living with or affected by HIV, there are so many negative stigmas attached to it. Similarly, with hormone therapy. We want to make this real, but we also want to shine on this in a positive light. We want it to show that you can be someone living with HIV and have a healthy life — and you don’t have to eat food that’s not desirable to you.”

Cooking With Trans People of Colour cookbook cover

How can Canadians help and take action?

“Everyone should look at food insecurity as a social health issue. Just as we have access to medical care, we should think of food in the same way. The way people could help support us is by donating to The 519 website. The cookbook will have a donate button and that would continue to help support the program and help to give racialized trans folks access to healthy food. [Food insecurity] is also not talked about enough — and when it is, it’s always negative. If you don’t have access to food, there’s a lot of shame and stigma attached to that. Together [we] can talk about it in such a way that helps people see it in a different light.”

Where to buy the cookbook

Digital Copy: Download the PDF via The 519 website as of March 26, 2021. Price: Donate what you can.
Hard Copy: Swing by Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop. Price: Still to be announced.

About TPOC

The Trans People of Colour Project (TPOC) fosters affirming support, greater access to food security and access to meaningful sexual health promotion information for racialized trans folks. TPOC is an integral component of The 519’s support of BIPOC 2Spirit, trans and non-binary community members within The 519 — and has continued to provide support through the pandemic. Between 2019-2020, TPOC had over 300 visits to the drop-in. To learn more about TPOC, visit their website.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Photos courtesy of The 519.

Save That Leftover Pie Dough and Make These Cinnamon Pinwheel Cookies!

Several pie crust recipes yield enough dough for the top and bottom of a pie, but not all pies require both. When you find yourself with leftover pie dough, don’t let it go to waste. Turn it into a new dessert with this Love Your Leftovers cinnamon pinwheel cookie recipe. They’re simple to make and are so good that you might just find yourself going out of your way to have “leftover” pie dough. We’ve forever changed your what to do with leftover pie crust dilemma.

Leftover Pie Dough Cinnamon Pinwheel Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 12 to 15 minutes
Total Time: 27 to 30 minutes
Servings: 12 pinwheel cookies

Ingredients:

½ batch pie crust, chilled
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch fine salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll pie dough into a 12 by 8 inch rectangle.

3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt until well blended.

Related: Start Your Morning on a Sweet Note With These Gooey Cinnamon Buns

4. Spread the prepared filling evenly over dough. Tightly roll the dough, beginning from the 12 inch side. Press the seam to seal. Trim and discard the ends, about ½ inch on each side. Cut log into ¼ inch thick slices and transfer to prepared baking sheet.

5. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to chill. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until edges begin to brown.

Like Marcella’s cinnamon pinwheel cookies? Try her leftover turkey pizza recipe or her pink beet pancakes.

Published April 30, 2020, Updated March 23, 2021

Stack of Guyanese roti on a plate

Want Layers of Flavour? This Flaky, Crunchy Guyanese Roti is a Meal-Time Must-Try

It’s a truth (nearly) universally acknowledged that bread on the table makes a meal more delicious, but this mouth-watering spin on a global staple is sure to elevate your table — whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. While North Americans generally think of roti as an Indian food, the traditional flatbread is also a Caribbean staple. In this Guyanese-style twist on roti from Tavel Bristol-Joseph and Kevin Fink, Sonora flour (a nutrient-rich milled grain) adds tons of texture and bite to each crunchy, flaky morsel.

“Roti is an Indian flatbread that’s enjoyed around the world,” says Tavel. “In places, including the Caribbean, it’s traditionally eaten with curry or other types of stew. In this recipe, I make it with a combination of all-purpose flour and Sonora flour, a flour made from one of North America’s oldest wheat varieties.”

Related: Caribbean Recipes That Will Liven Your Dinner Table

Sonora Flour Roti

Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 5 roti

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups white Sonora flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup plus 3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for oiling and frying
¼ cup melted unsalted butter

Related: Can’t Find Yeast? You’ll Love These Yeast-Free Bread Recipes

Directions:
1. Mix the all-purpose flour, Sonora flour, baking powder and salt by hand in a large bowl.

2. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in 3 tablespoons of the oil and 1 1/2 cups water. Mix together until fully incorporated and you can form a dough ball. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

3. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces, each weighing about 120 grams. Form each piece into a ball. Lightly oil a rolling pin and a work surface. Roll each ball out into a circle about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Combine the melted butter and the remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small bowl. Brush the rounds with the mixture.

4. One at a time, make a cut from the centre of a round out. Roll the round up like a cone. Take the tip of the cone and push down towards centre. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes or up to 12 hours.

5. Place a piece of dough on a lightly oiled cutting board and press down on it with your palm until it’s an even circle 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Heat a 9- or 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to cover the bottom. When the skillet is very hot but not smoking, add a roti. Cook until the bottom is golden brown and air pockets start to form, about 3 minutes. Flip and brown the other side. After each roti is cooked, place it in a bowl, cover with a lid and shake the bowl up and down. This creates texture in the roti. Repeat with the remaining roti, adding more oil to the skillet as necessary. Serve hot.

Cook’s Note: It’s important to shake the roti in an up-and-down motion while the roti is hot.

Want to try more takes on flatbread? This vegan za’atar manaeesh is full of flavour.

Cynthia Stroud's trio of cakes with drip technique, chocolate transfer sheet and hand painted chocolate designs

Cynthia Stroud’s Expert Tips to Master 3 Beautiful Chocolate Decorating Trends

It’s easier than you might think to create show-stopping desserts with these three chocolate decorating ideas seen in Great Chocolate Showdown. From a simple chocolate drip technique to hand painting and transfer sheet designs, open your desserts up to a world of delicious decorating possibilities that taste as good as they look.

See More: Here’s What You Need to Know About Cynthia Stroud

How To Paint With Chocolate (Cocoa Butter)

Painting with cocoa butter is different to painting with water-based food colour and edible alcohol. The former is like oil painting and the latter is more like water colour painting. Keep this in mind when creating your designs with cocoa butter.

To create cocoa butter colours, melt cocoa butter and mix in edible food colour powder or dust. If a colour is too deep, you can add white edible food colour dust. Be sure to keep your cocoa butter warm and liquid the whole time you are painting otherwise it will coagulate and make it difficult to achieve the spread you want. To do this, whilst painting, balance your painting palette or a plate you are using over a bowl of warm water.

Cynthia Stroud hand painting with cocoa butter

Tips for Painting With Chocolate:

It is important that your paint brush is dry and free of water otherwise it will cause the cocoa butter to coagulate into clumps.

To create shades in your cocoa butter painting, layer over an area with white cocoa butter.

• To create texture, brush over any painted areas with dry brushes.

• To achieve colours true to type, it is worth painting a layer of white first

• You cannot use water-based food colouring to colour cocoa butter as the moisture in the water-based food colouring will cause it to seize up.

See More: Expert Chocolate Techniques to Master Now

How to Decorate With Chocolate Transfer Sheets

When painting on transfer sheet, paint on the details first. You ought to paint in reverse to the way you’d paint on a piece of paper. On a piece of paper or canvas you’d normally paint the background first and add details after, but for transfer sheets, paint the details first then the background after. To get a good idea of whether your painting is coming along the way you intend, lift the sheet from time to time and crane your neck to look at the unpainted side. That will tell you how your painted cake will look.

Cynthia Stroud's trio of cakes with drip technique, chocolate transfer sheet and hand painted chocolate designs

Tips for Creating Chocolate Transfer Sheets:

• When spreading the melted tempered chocolate, ensure it is not too warm & runny (or it will melt your painting) and don’t overwork the chocolate whilst spreading it on the painted transfer sheet or it will dislodge the painted details.

• Ensure the transfer sheet is covered from edge to edge or this will result in gaps in the transfer collar

Related: How to Temper Chocolate Like a Pro for Perfect Candy Making

How to Create a Chocolate Drip Cake Technique

Use tempered chocolate and allow it to drip down the side of your cake, creating a lovely and simple finish. Tempered white chocolate can be coloured with oil-based food colouring before pouring/dripping for a colourful look or drips can be embellished with gold leaf, dragees (also known as a Jordan amond) or flowers whilst still wet before setting.

Cynthia Stroud demonstrating a chocolate drip technique on a cake

Tips for Creating a Chocolate Drip Cake:

• It is important to cover your cake with a smooth coating of buttercream or ganache and chill the cake till firm/solid to the touch before attempting a drip pour.

• The tempered chocolate should be runny enough to run down the edge of a mug. Always do this test before attempting to drip straight onto the cake!

• It is important to ensure the tempered chocolate is fairly liquid. You can thin it down with some cocoa butter or coconut oil.

Watch Great Chocolate Showdown Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Win Dinner With These Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

A satisfying dinner with a real Tex-Mex vibe, these slow cooker sweet potato enchiladas might just become a part of your weekly menu. We’ve made our own enchilada sauce, which is smoky, silky and hits all the right flavours, but if you’re stretched for time, a store-bought version or your favourite salsa will do the trick. The enchiladas are topped with queso fresco, a fresh and salty Mexican cheese that holds up to the heat, keeping its shape without melting. If you can’t find queso fresco, swap in feta, cheddar or skip the cheese altogether (you can also try a dairy-free version like one of these). Any way you build them, serving these enchiladas with a big scoop of avocado to garnish is an absolute must!

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
Filling:
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp granulated garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp regular or smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Enchilada Sauce:
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp granulated garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne, to taste (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

Assembly and Topping:
8 to 12 corn or flour tortillas, divided
1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled, divided
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 lime, quartered

Related: Refrigerator Rules: How Long Do Leftovers Last?

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Directions:
Filling:
1. Add red pepper, sweet potato, onion and beans to a large bowl. Toss with garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, cumin and salt. Set aside.

Enchilada Sauce:
1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes, until fragrant and starting to turn translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, until fragrant. Stir in chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, to taste, if using, salt and pepper. Toast the spices for 30 seconds, until fragrant and sizzling, then pour in crushed tomatoes and broth. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
2. Carefully pour the enchilada sauce into a blender or food processor, or use a hand blender directly in the pot, and blend on low speed (low speed important for hot mixtures) until smooth.

Assembly:
1. Pour 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of your slow cooker.

Related: 3 Vegan Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Recipes to Steal the Spotlight

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

2. Working on a clean surface, lay out 8 tortillas without overlapping. To the centre of each tortilla, add a scant 1/2 cup filling, tuck in two sides, then place the filled tortilla seam-side down in the slow cooker on top of the sauce. If you have extra filling, repeat this step with more tortillas, then layer them on top of the first round of filled tortillas. Or, skip the additional tortillas and scatter the additional filling over top.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

3. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas and crumble 1/4 cup of the queso fresco evenly over top. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set to cook on high for 2 hours, until the filling is tender and sauce is bubbling.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

4. When the timer runs out, remove the slow cooker lid and gently plate 2 enchiladas per person (they will be very soft and tender from slow cooking, so do this carefully). Top enchiladas with cilantro, avocado, remaining 1/4 cup of queso fresco and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Ready for more wholesome slow cooker solutions? Reignite your love for this retro kitchen appliance with our healthiest slow cooker recipes ever.

Published October 8, 2018, Updated March 15, 2021

Quickie beans, grains and greens bowl

The Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Menu With 5 Ingredients Per Meal

Have you ever looked at a gorgeous recipe photo and thought: “I’m definitely making that!” only to become way less enthused when the instructions call for 20 ingredients or more? We’ve been there. So, we’re giving you the opposite: a day’s worth of 5-ingredient meals. From breakfast to lunch to easy dinner recipes, they’re all easy to make — and the lunch dish is particularly quick (because We Know You Have 10 Minutes!). One rule: oil, salt and pepper don’t count toward the five ingredients. Okay, that’s it. It’s time to get cooking!

Breakfast: Maple Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 12-15 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Servings: 1

Maple quinoa bowl


Ingredients:

¼ cup quinoa
¾ cup non-dairy milk
¼ – ⅓ cup toasted walnuts or almonds, roughly chopped
¼ cup blueberries (or your favourite fruit of choice)
Splash of maple syrup, to taste

Directions:

1. Place the quinoa and non-dairy milk in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 12-15 minutes until fluffy and all the milk is absorbed.

2. Pour the quinoa into a bowl, top with walnuts or almonds, blueberries and a hearty drizzle of maple syrup. Feel free to add more non-dairy milk.

Note: You can replace the quinoa with brown rice or oats. If you already have these grains pre-cooked, simply toss them in the saucepan with just a bit of non-dairy milk to heat up.

Lunch: Quickie Grains, Greens & Beans Bowl

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:

½ cup cooked brown rice or cauliflower rice
½ cup chickpeas
1 cup baby kale, mesclun greens or baby spinach
½ green apple or avocado, sliced
2 Tbsp creamy tahini
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:

1. If you’re using brown rice and it’s not cooked yet, do so according to package instructions. For a grain-free option,  use cauliflower rice.

2. Place the rice or cauliflower on the bottom of a wide bowl or reusable to-go container if you’re taking this lunch with you.

Related: Healthy 5-Ingredient Lunch Ideas You Can Make Quickly

3. Pile the chickpeas together in one area of the bowl. Place the greens in another area of the bowl. Then add the apple or avocado on top.

4. Drizzle tahini, olive oil, salt and pepper, then mix. If you’re taking this lunch to-go, you can dress it beforehand or place the dressing components in a container on the side.

Watch the how-to video here:


Dinner: Sheet Pan Miso Salmon

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 2


Ingredients:

1 bunch broccoli, chopped in florets
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of sea salt and pepper
2 ½ oz pieces of salmon
2 Tbsp white miso
3 tsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp sesame oil

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Place the broccoli florets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toss with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

3. Push some florets to the side and place the salmon in the middle of the baking sheet, so the flesh is facing up. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Place in the oven to roast for 15 minutes.

4. While the broccoli and salmon are baking, prepare the miso marinade by whisking miso, maple syrup and sesame oil.

5. Take the salmon out of the oven when it’s done (you know it’s done when a fork gently flakes it apart) and immediately brush or spoon the miso marinade over top.

Like Tamara and Sarah’s 5-ingredient meals? Try their spicy sauteed cauliflower and chickpeas or their blackened trout with green beans.

Published January 8, 2020, Updated March 11, 2021

How-to-Melt-and-Temper-Chocolate-for-Perfect-Candy-Making

How to Melt and Temper Chocolate for Perfect Candy Making

Dreaming of divine chocolate decorations but terrified of losing your temper? For many baked items, such as fluffy frosting or creamy cake fillings, you can get away with simply melting chocolate to take it from a solid to liquid form like in these Chocolate Divinity Candies. When you get into the world of bonbons and confectionary, however, that’s another matter entirely. Tempering chocolate is a mandatory step if you want both the shiny gloss and the distinctive snap of a well-made candy or decoration like in Anna Olson’s Chocolate Dipped Marzipan — and that’s where you have to pay some attention to technique in order to achieve success.


L-R: Anna Olson’s Chocolate Divinity Candy and Chocolate Dipped Marzipan

Related: Chocolate Making Tools Every Home Chocolatier Needs

If the thought of working with molten chocolate (and even worse, the dangers of it seizing or splitting) has you clutching your (baking) pearls, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find out the best, and easiest, ways to work with chocolate, even if you’re a novice chocolatier.

How to Properly Melt Chocolate

For melting chocolate, each method has its advocates: some cooks prefer the double boiler method (or just setting a glass bowl on top of barely simmering water), while others turn to the microwave for an easy fix. Both methods involve the same basic principle: chopping chocolate into chunks for faster, more even melting, and applying gentle heat until most of the distinct shapes have disappeared.

If the unthinkable happens and your chocolate separates into a greasy, gritty mess, due to over-vigorous stirring or too-high heat, you can try Anna Olson’s ingenious trick to add moisture to return the mixture to molten glossiness (note: this fix is only for melting — even a single drop of water is the enemy of well-tempered chocolate).

See More: Desserts That Prove Peanut Butter and Chocolate Are a Perfect Match

How to Properly Temper Chocolate

For this technique, you’ll need to pull out a few items, namely a candy thermometer, a sturdy glass bowl and a silicon spatula that can handle some heat without melting. Depending on the method you use, you may also need a few more pieces of equipment, such as a marble board and wax paper.

The initial stage of tempering looks much like the melting process — use a glass bowl set over barely simmering water (not a rolling boil; there shouldn’t be any bubbles) to melt the chocolate chunks, or place the bowl in the microwave and use short bursts, checking often.

Where tempering differs, however, is the next step, where the chocolate mixture is cooled and warmed within precise ranges of temperature in order to achieve a smooth, shiny surface when it hardens (the temperature you need to hit depends on the type of chocolate you plan to use).


Anna Olson’s Chocolate Covered Caramel Bars

See More: Easy Chocolate Garnishes With Steve Hodge

This varying of temperature can be accomplished in a couple of ways: by adding other ingredients such as more chocolate (seeding) or cocoa butter to the mixture, or by pouring two-thirds of the hot chocolate mixture onto a marble board and mixing it with putty knives to cool it manually (see Anna Olson’s step-by-step description for more on this method).

Inquiring scientific minds among us may be intrigued by more gear-driven approaches, including Alton Brown’s combination of the friction of a food processor’s blades plus liberal use of a hair dryer to create heat, or J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s sous-vide circulator method over at Serious Eats.

Decoding Seed Tempering

For the easiest method using the least equipment, however, seeding chocolate is probably the best approach for a chocolate novice (for a visual demonstration, check out the video below from Great Chocolate Showdown judge Steve Hodge, pastry chef and chocolatier at Temper Pastry in West Vancouver.) With a few simple steps, this process can be achieved without too much stress (on both the chocolate and the cook).


 

Using the glass bowl over simmering water method, melt chunks of chocolate to the desired temperature (remember that they vary depending on the chocolate and are very narrow ranges, so use that candy thermometer.) We’ll use dark chocolate for this example, which should be heated to 45 to 48 degrees — milk and white chocolate, with higher milk and sugar contents, may react differently. 

Take the chocolate off the heat (leave the burner on…you’ll need it again shortly) and add prepared small pieces of chocolate (the “seeds”), which will help cool the mixture down quickly as they melt into the warmed chocolate.

Stir with a spatula until the overall temperature comes down to about 27 degrees Celsius (again, there may be some variation depending on the type of chocolate you use).

Next, quickly warm the chocolate back up by putting it into the double boiler until it hits 32 degrees Celsius and a thick and glossy texture — perfect for piping into a pretty design on waxed paper that will set up beautifully. If you aren’t sure if you’ve tempered the chocolate correctly, you can test it out by piping a small bit onto the waxed paper (or a metal sheet pan set over an ice pack).

Working quickly, swirl and create chocolate garnishes to your heart’s content: the designs should set up to a delicate decoration with the signature snap when you bite into it (try and leave a few decorations for dessert!)

Watch Great Chocolate Showdown Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Composite image of Noah Cappe, Eden Grinshpan and Steve Hodge over a close-up image of Valentine's Day conversation hearts

Local Restaurants That Food Network Canada Stars Are Loving This Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day, Food Network Canada stars are sending love notes to their favourite local restaurants across the country. From baked goods to a romantic takeout meal at home, these are the local spots across Canada that our stars are crushing on (and with one bite, you will be too!). To participate in the #MyLocalValentine campaign, head to Food Network Canada’s Instagram on February 14th, and share your love notes to your favourite local restaurants using the Valentine’s Day templates in stories.

Related: Easy Pink Beet Pancakes Are the Perfect Valentine’s Day Breakfast

Tiffany Pratt: Tori’s Bakeshop (Toronto, Ontario)

 

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Toronto’s first vegan café and bakeshop in 2012 that has gained a loyal following with Food Network Canada staff and chefs alike. “I love Tori’s Bakeshop in the Beaches so much! I have been eating those breakfast cookies for as long as they have been open! Also their Easter cream egg is the most addictive thing I have ever put in my mouth. I even designed one of their locations! The food is made with love and everything tastes amazing and is good for you too. Gluten-free and vegan alike – this food is for everyone! I LOVE YOU TORI!”

Love the design of Tori’s Bakeshop? Did you know that it was designed by Tiffany herself? See more of Tiffany Pratt and her local restaurant designs in Project Bakeover.

Mijune Pak: AnnaLena (Vancouver, BC)

 

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In Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood, AnnaLena offers contemporary Canadian fare. “Love the creativity, quality of ingredients and commitment to flavours at AnnaLena, and they’re offering a Valentine’s Day tasting menu available for dine-in as well as a take-out.”

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, we tried Mijune Pak’s new chocolate creations (a perfect gift?) and here’s what we thought.

Renee Lavallee: Doraku Sushi (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia)

 

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This Japanese restaurant has been open for nearly thirty years, and is considered a local staple. “My favourite local love goes to Doraku Sushi in Dartmouth. Hands down THE BEST sushi in Nova Scotia. Perfect for a Valentine’s date night at home.”

And if you’re wondering where else to eat in Nova Scotia, here are Renee Lavallee’s top picks.

Eden Grinshpan: Joso’s (Toronto, Ontario)

Another longstanding favourite, this restaurant is a Yorkville staple. In business since 1967, it aims to transport guests to the warmth and beauty of the stunning Dalmatian coast. “My family and I have been going to Joso’s for years and are dear friends with the owners, Leo and Shirley. We LOVE their fresh seafood, squid ink risotto and the overall ambience. We always have the best time there.”

Looking to make a sweet dessert for your Valentine at home? Have you tried Eden Grinshpan’s Pistachio-Dusted Rose-Glazed Yeast Donuts?

Noah Cappe: Mallard Cottage (St. John’s, Newfoundland)

 

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Located in an 18th Century Irish-Newfoundland vernacular-style cottage, you can expect to find traditional fish and chips, moose croquettes, fishwiches, and Nutella crepes on the menu.

Restaurant picks aside, here are 10 more things you ought to know about Noah Cappe.

Suzanne Barr: TORA

 

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If you’re a fan of aburi sushi (or if you’re looking to try the novel flavours of this flame-seared take on the original), TORA ought to be on your list, as it’s on Suzanne Barr’s: “Since we’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day at home this year with our son, we’ve opted to go for a family-friendly menu from TORA – one of our fave spots for high-quality sushi and lots of it. And of course, a nice bottle of sake for after the little one goes to bed ;)”

Here’s how chef Suzanne Barr will make you think about your dinner plate differently

Steve Hodge: Two River Meats (Vancouver, BC)

Two Rivers Specialty Meats has something for those who enjoy the process as much as the results; offering house-made sausage, steak burgers, and more, the meats are thoughtfully sourced from farmers who care about their animals.  “For anyone looking to cook at home, they are the best and can be shipped!”

Aside from being in Project Bakeover, here are 10 more things you need to know about Steve Hodge.

The Ultimate Vegan Pizza Recipe with Almond Ricotta Cheese and Coconut Bacon

If you can’t eat dairy or just want to try out a healthier alternative to cheese-laden pizza, then you’re going to love this vegan weeknight dinner recipe. Making your own dairy-free ricotta “cheese” is easy when you use almonds, which pairs perfectly with fresh, zippy basil pesto, marinara sauce and slivered kale. You’ll really impress everyone with the simple homemade crust recipe, but you can always use a pre-made one instead if you don’t have time to make it from scratch. Take your vegan pizza toppings up a notch by trying out coconut “bacon.”  Even if you aren’t vegan or want to share this dairy-free dinner recipe with your friends, you’ll find the savoury and slightly sweet bacon alternative adds the perfect crunch and a unique smoky taste that everyone will love.

Vegan Pizza with Almond Ricotta, Coconut Bacon and Pesto

Prep Time: 40 minutes (add 8 hours to soak nuts for “almond ricotta” recipe below)
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 70 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Almond “Ricotta”:
1 cup slivered blanched almonds
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 small clove of fresh garlic, chopped

Coconut “Bacon”:
2 cups coconut flakes, unsweetened
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
1 Tbsp tamari
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp smoked paprika

Pesto:
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp hemp seeds or pine nuts
1 tsp lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Homemade Pizza Crust:
1 packet rapid rise yeast (or 2 tsp of baker’s yeast)
1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups spelt flour or whole wheat flour

Additional Ingredients:
2 cups green kale, chopped finely
2 cups marinara sauce

Directions:

Almond “Ricotta”:
1. Place the almonds in a bowl and cover with water so the nuts are fully submerged.
2. Place on the counter and let sit overnight. Alternatively,  soak the almonds early in the morning and then finish the rest of the steps later in the evening. You’ll want the nuts to soak for 8 hours.
3. After the nuts have soaked, drain them out of the water and rinse off.
4. Place the rinsed off nuts, lemon juice, sea salt, 1/2 cup of water, and garlic in the food processor. Blend for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy. You can scrape the mixture down the sides of the food processor to make sure it blends evenly.
5. Pour the blended almond mixture into a bowl and store in the fridge until ready to use.

Coconut “Bacon”:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Toss together the ingredients so the coconut is evenly coated in the oil, tamari, maple syrup, and smoked paprika.
3. Spread out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
4. Bake for 5 minutes, check and stir around. Make sure to keep your eye on the coconut so that it doesn’t burn (it can go from fine to burnt really quickly).
5. Once the coconut is beginning to crisp on the edges, remove from the oven.
6. Let it cool for 5 minutes before removing from the baking sheet.


Pesto:
1. Rinse off the basil well and make sure to dry it with a paper towel or tea towel.
2. Add all of the ingredients to the food processor and blend for 30 seconds to a minute, until everything is finely chopped.
3. Add sea salt and pepper to your taste preference.

Homemade Pizza Crust:
1. In a large bowl, mix the packet of yeast in warm water and stir for 1 minute until dissolved.
2. Add in the olive oil and flour. Using your hands, knead the dough until a smooth ball forms. Add extra flour to the bowl if the dough is too sticky.
3. Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit on the countertop for 15 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
5. If you’d like to make 2 pizzas, divide the dough in half to make 2 balls.
6. You’ll need to roll out the ball of dough to make a circular crust. The best way to do this is by placing a large piece of parchment paper on the counter. Sprinkle some flour over top. Then place the dough in the center. Place a second sheet of parchment paper over top. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a circular shape. Then carefully pull off the piece of parchment paper that’s on top.
7. Poke a few holes in the crust with a fork.
8. Slide or lift the piece of parchment paper with the crust on it onto a large baking sheet.
9. Bake for 5 minutes.
10. Remove from the oven and keep on the baking sheet.

Pizza Assembly:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Spread the marinara sauce out evenly over top of the crust.
3. Sprinkle the chopped kale over top of the sauce.
4. Add dollops of the almond ricotta cheese and pesto.
5. Bake for 15 minutes until the kale is cooked.
6. Remove the pizza from the oven. Sprinkle the coconut “bacon” over top.
7. Serve immediately by slicing into pieces.

As showcased above, making your own vegan cheese is easier than it seems. For another crave-worthy option, check out this Herbed Cashew Ricotta Cheese recipe.

how-to-get-jar-stuck

6 Simple Ways to Open a Stubborn Stuck Jar Lid

It’s dinnertime: you’ve got a pot of spaghetti boiling on the stove and a pan of onions and ground beef simmering beside it. You grab a jar of tomato sauce from the pantry, but when you try to unscrew the lid, it feels awfully tight. Maybe it’s because your hands aren’t completely dry? You place the jar down, wipe your palms on a kitchen towel and try again. No luck. What are you supposed to do now?

Cancelling dinner plans due to a stuck jar lid might sound a little dramatic, but we’ve all had that thought after minutes of struggling to get a stubborn lid open. The truth is, jars can be hard to open for a variety of reasons and it’s not necessarily because you’re not strong enough. Here, we offer some tried and true tips on how to get that just-won’t-budge jar open, every single time.

Related: Your Ultimate Guide to Cooking and Baking Conversions

open jar pickles

Add Traction

Glass jars can be slippery, so something that could help is added traction. Try wrapping a small towel around the lid to twist it open. If the towel moves while you’re trying to open the lid, wet the towel with water and then wrap it around the lid. Rubber dish gloves and rubber bands also work well to create traction. Put on those gloves to grip the lid or try wrapping a thick rubber band around the lid before you give it a go.

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

Break the Seal

New jars often have a tight vacuum seal and by breaking that seal, it takes less force to open the jar. Some people swear by the “baby bum” pat. Turn the jar on its side, then with the palm of one hand, give the bottom of the jar a few strong pats. You may hear a pop, which indicates the vacuum seal has been broken. Another method for breaking the vacuum seal is by targeting the lid. Use an object with some weight to it, such as the back of a heavy kitchen knife or a wooden rolling pin and give the sides of the lids a few taps, rotating the jar as you go. This might help break the seal, making it much easier to twist open the jar.

Run it Under Hot Water

You’ve tried adding some traction and breaking the vacuum seal, but the lid is still stuck. Now, you’ll want to try running the lid under hot water. Depending on the contents of the jar, you may want to be careful not to place the entire jar under hot water (after all, nobody likes warm pickles). Let the hot water run from the tap until it’s piping hot and then turn the jar on its side and carefully dip the lid under water. Rotate the jar so that all sides of the lid get wet. The hot water helps the metal expand, therefore loosening the lid and making it easier to unscrew.

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

tomato sauce jar

Tap the Lid

This method is more useful for jars that have already been open before. Perhaps there’s some food trapped around the rim of the jar, or a sticky sauce causing the lid to get stuck on the jar. Tapping the lid on top and around the edges, again using a heavier object such as the back of a chef’s knife or wooden rolling pin, can help dislodge the food, eventually loosening the jar.

Break out the Tools

Believe it or not, there are tools you can buy that are made specifically for opening jars. New technology enables these tools to grip, twist and open stubborn jar lids with the simple press of a button. You can purchase them at most kitchen stores and online. You may feel silly for using one, but it will undoubtedly save you time, pain and future frustration!

Related: The Top 5 Kitchen Utensils Every Home Cook Needs

Brute Force

Sometimes, it’s really a matter of strength. It’s tough to wrap your hands around jar lids depending on the size, and jars themselves can be awkward to hold in one hand. If you have another person around, ask them to hold the jar with both hands, then use both hands to twist the lid open. If you’re alone at home, opening the jar may simply require a few tries, with breaks in between to rest your hands. As a last resort, you might want to visit a neighbour’s home for assistance.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Published April 27, 2019, Updated January 24, 2021

Sweet potato blondies on kitchen counter

These Comforting Sweet Potato Blondies Will Defeat Your Winter Blues

Traditional blondies get a comforting, cold-weather twist with the addition of sweet potato.  These Can You Vegan It? fudgy squares can easily be made vegan-friendly by swapping in a few simple ingredients. And the addition of chopped pecans kick things up a notch, adding a nice crunch and a decadent touch. Feel free to sub in different nuts, toffee bits or anything else you might be craving. Tip: serve warm to keep you toasty during blustery winter nights.

Sweet potato blondies

Sweet Potato Blondies

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 75 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients:

Blondie Base
⅔ cup unsalted butter (or vegan butter)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg (or vegan egg substitute)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 cup of pecans (optional)

Sweet Potato Top
1 small sweet potato
3 Tbsp condensed milk (or vegan condensed milk)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup chopped pecans (optional)

Sweet potato blondies ingredients on table

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and bake the small sweet potato for 40 minutes. To save time, you can peel and cut the sweet potato into large even pieces, then boil until soft. It will cook faster when boiled, but I suggest baking it instead to maintain all the delicious flavour.

2. As the sweet potato bakes, prepare the batter by browning the butter first. Add the butter to a pot on low-heat. As the butter begins to melt, stir and slowly raise to medium heat. Be careful when you increase the heat, as it’s very easy to burn butter. If possible, use a light-coloured pot so you can see the butter clearly as it begins to brown. Stir continuously — and once the butter has reached a golden brown colour, remove and sift into a large bowl.

Related: Comforting Desserts to Battle Bitter, Cold Winters

3. Once the butter has cooled to room temperature, add the light brown sugar and combine. Then add the egg and stir in the vanilla.

4. Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt and baking powder) to the mix and combine well. Be careful not to over mix. Then fold in the chopped pecans and pour the batter into a buttered baking dish. Set aside.

Sweet potato blondie batter

5. Once the sweet potato is soft and fully baked, remove it from the oven and turn down the heat to 350°F (to bake the blondies). Let the sweet potato cool, then remove its skin and mash it up in a large bowl. Next, add the condensed milk, pumpkin pie spice and pecans. Mix until all ingredients are evenly combined.

6. Pour the sweet potato mixture on top of the blondie batter in the baking dish. Spread it on top as an even layer. Add a few more crushed pecans to top it off.  Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Like Eden’s sweet potato blondies? Try her vegan sloppy Joe sliders or her cardamom teff apple muffins.

Published January 9, 2019, Updated January 2, 2021

This Venison Carpaccio With Cedar Jelly and Sea Buckthorn Jam is the Perfect Appetizer

Not only does cooking reflect culture, but it also reveals the resources found in a community’s surrounding environment. I discovered a love for food as a child, later combining my passion for cooking with the desire to know the history and cuisine of the First Nations peoples better. This is the inspiration behind my dishes.

I work with foragers and hunters in northern Québec who supply me with exceptional products such as wild cattails and currant leaves. My venison carpaccio recipe, which includes cedar jelly and a sea buckthorn jam, is a great example of my cooking technique. Slices of the freshest venison are garnished with the boreal flavours of cedar and sea buckthorn, a tart vitamin C–rich berry that can be found fresh or frozen at specialty markets.

At its essence, my work is focused on adapting the traditional pantry of an ancient culture to modern tastes. For the First Nations, respect for Mother Earth is paramount. By staying in harmony with nature, my recipes permit me to rediscover forgotten flavours that long served as a cuisine of survival. The Canadian wilderness has so much to offer: spices, herbs, flowers, mushrooms and roots, plus boreal nutmeg, peppery green alder (or dune pepper), wood cardamom, serviceberry, wild celery root and the Labrador tea, a tisane of local herbs. These are the colours in my palette of Indigenous cuisine.

Venison-Carpaccio-With-Cedar-Jelly-and-Sea-Buckthorn-Jam_888embed

Venison Carpaccio With Cedar Jelly and Sea Buckthorn Jam

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Sea Buckthorn Jam
1 lb (600 g) sea buckthorn berries, rinsed
14 oz (400 g) apples, diced
17½ oz (500 g) sugar

Venison
12 thin slices venison
2 Tbsp (30 ml) cedar jelly
2 tsp (10 ml) duck fat
Fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper to taste
Microgreens for garnish (optional)

Related: Holiday Party Appetizers Your Guests Will Love

Directions:

1. In a saucepan with splash of water, cook sea buckthorn berries over low heat until they burst.

2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into clean saucepan then discard seeds. Add apples to berry mixture and stir in sugar. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, skimming any foam that forms on the surface. Let cool to room temperature.

3. Place venison on serving dish. Brush each slice with cedar jelly and duck fat, then sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper. Garnish with sea buckthorn jam and microgreens.

Published October 13, 2015, Updated December 28, 2020

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