Fancy Mac and Cheese

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A North-American classic, Mac and Cheese is easy to make and tastes great.  Nowadays, many opt for the convenient boxed variety; but here’s to hoping more of us make healthier choices when it comes to what we put into our bodies.  This dish will have you licking your plate afterwards…don’t worry if you do it discretely no one will notice ;) Give this recipe a try!

Fancy Mac and Cheese     Yields: 4-6 servings

2 onions, finely chopped

1/4 C Daiya Cream Style Cheese in Chive and Onion or in Plain

2 C quinoa macaroni pasta (or regular macaroni pasta), uncooked

1/2 C each Daiya Shredded Style cheese in Mozarella and Cheddar

1 C pasta water

Salt and pepper to taste

——————-

First, drop the pasta in salted boiling water and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until desired tenderness is reached. Drain pasta but reserve its water (the 1 cup) for use in the sauce.

While the pasta’s cooking, prepare the cheese sauce.

Finely chop onions and place in a casserole or pot/dutch oven with some extra virgin olive oil (about 2-3 tablespoons) over medium heat. Stir occasionally, add some salt, and allow the onions to caramelize.

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Next, add the cream cheese and stir in with the onions until cheese is warmed and onions are coated.

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Add the shredded cheeses and stir until melted.

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Next, add the reserved pasta water and stir until incorporated. Add salt and pepper.

Your cheese sauce is now ready! And it smells soooo good!!

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Add cooked macaroni to the prepared sauce and stir until fully incorporated.

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Serve alongside salad and enjoy!


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Bon appétit! xo

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Slow Cooked Lamb

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If you don’t own a slow cooker/crock pot, please invest in one.  It doesn’t have to be top of the line, but owning a slow cooker can be very useful for busy moms both at home and at work. It’s peace of mind knowing that a healthy meal is waiting for you when you’re ready for dinner.

This dish is so delicious and no one can resist a good pulled lamb…yum! Give this very simple recipe a go tonight!

You may wish to marinade your lamb overnight, that way it’s ready to cook the next morning. Or you can easily prep this in less than 10 minutes and cook it the same day.

Slow Cooked Lamb     Yields: 6-8 servings 

1 boneless (preferable) or bone-in leg of lamb, ~2-3lbs.

2 medium onions

2 large potatoes

1 cup baby carrots or large carrots cut

2-3tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon OR

1tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 heaping tbsp honey OR

1 packed tbsp brown sugar

1/2tsp ground thyme, or a few sprigs fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

———————

You can either slice the onions uniformly or wedge them – whatever’s your preference, and place in slow cooker.

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The same goes for the potatoes, you can either slice them or cut into chunks (wedges) and add to pot. Add a dash of salt and pepper.

Side note: I also make this lamb with sweet potatoes and it’s amazing! The sweetness of the potatoes compliments the lamb very well. So feel free to substitute the potatoes for the sweet kind if you had that at home. You’d want to cut them in chunks because sweet potato is somewhat of a tough vegetable to cut.

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Next, prepare the lamb*. Add oil and rub to coat the meat. Then, season with salt and pepper.

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Add honey and rub. Then place the lamb fat facing up into the pot to rest on the onions and potatoes.

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Add carrots and a dash of salt on them. Add thyme, cover the slow cooker, and set timer on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours – I personally prepare this in the early morning and leave it for the 8 hours to cook.

No liquid is required for this recipe because the fat and the vegetables will provide more than enough once the meat is done.

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Being careful not to let the steam burn you, lift and remove the lid to uncover this beauty! Notice how much liquid there is! Yum!!

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It’s safe to say that this is my husband’s favourite meal.

Enjoy with a side of rice and salad.

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For the next couple of days, we pull the lamb and add a bit of chipotle sauce** for that extra kick! Delicious!

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Bon appétit! xo

Notes:

* The lamb is available either fresh or frozen at your local grocery stores or butcher shops. I personally purchase mine at Costco. This lamb is boneless which makes it nice when placing in a slow cooker.  And just an interesting FYI – all lamb sold is Halal for those who observe the Muslim faith and/or for those who choose to eat Halal foods.

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** The chipotle sauce is delicious with the pulled lamb, but since Munsur doesn’t like spicy things, we tend to use it on our own portions. An interesting tidbit, I discovered that the Tabasco brand hot sauces are both Kosher and certified Halal. I’ve also confirmed from their customer service rep that the Tabasco brand regular and the Chipotle hot sauces are dairy-free (I’m going to assume all their products are dairy-free but those are the only two I had asked to have confirmed). So enjoy as little or as much as you want :)

Lemony-Coconut Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Lemon Icing

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Munsur’s class hosted a bake sale yesterday and his teachers had asked the parents to bring in something to sell. I turned to my famous lemon-coconut cupcakes recipe.  It was a hit! The perfect combination of lemon and a hint of coconut…they never last around here! Give this simple and irresistibly delicious recipe a try!

Lemony-Coconut Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Lemon Icing     Yields:~30 cupcakes

3 C flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 C coconut oil

2 C sugar

4 large eggs

Zest of 3 lemons

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 C coconut milk

1 Cream Cheese Icing recipe plus

3 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

———————

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Tip: before you begin, have everything ready to smoothen the process: Line muffin tins with muffin/cupcake liners and set aside; whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, baking powder, salt) and set aside; crack the eggs, set aside; zest lemons and squeeze lemon juice..set aside.

In a stand mixer (or hand mixer), start by beating the oil and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time and mix just until incorporated with the sugar mix. Avoid over mixing the eggs.

Tip: crack the eggs in a bowl beforehand to avoid getting shell pieces in the batter.

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Add lemon zest and vanilla. Mix.

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Next, add half of the flour mix and beat until just combined, then add milk and lemon juice. Finish with the other half of the flour mix. Do not over mix!

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Divide batter evenly into the cupcake liners – fill to about 3/4 of the way. Place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of a cupcake.

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Look at these beauties! Let cool before icing.

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For the icing: once you’ve made your icing, add lemon zest and lemon juice and mix.

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Insert the 1M tip into the piping bag before you fill it with the icing. Pipe the cooled cupcakes in a circular motion working from the outside in.

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Tip: if you don’t have tips or piping bags, a cool trick is to use a plastic sandwich bag (Ziploc or the like) and fill with the icing, then snip a corner and start piping!

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Bon appétit! xo

Cream Cheese Icing

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This yummy icing is not only great on cupcakes, but think of cakes (like carrot cake) and other sweet treats! Very simple to make, and always dairy-free!

Cream Cheese Icing     Yields: app 2 cups

1 1/2 C Daiya cream cheese in Plain

1 C confectioners’ (icing) sugar, sifted

1 tsp vanilla extract

—————–

In a stand mixer (or hand mixer) and using a whisk, beat the cream cheese until smooth.

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Add sifted sugar and mix until combined.

Add vanilla. Beat until silky smooth and all ingredients are fully incorporated.

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Delicious on anything and everything! Keeps in the fridge for a few days.

 

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Penne in Tomato Sauce

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Pasta is easy to make, and takes minutes in the kitchen.  I had leftover ground lamb from the night before so I thought about making this dish. Give it a go tonight!

Penne in Tomato Sauce     Yields: 4-6 servings

1/2 package or 227g Penne pasta

1 can (156ml) tomato paste

1 C cooked ground lamb

1 C pasta water

Salt and pepper to taste

————–

Start by preparing the penne. Drop pasta in salted boiling water and cook for 10 minutes, until penne has a nice but tender bite to it. Drain pasta water but reserve some for use in the sauce.

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Next, prepare the sauce. Add tomato paste to pan with 1/2 of the pasta water and stir to dilute paste.

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Next, toss the pasta into the sauce. Add ground lamb, remaining 1/2 cup pasta water, and stir.

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Finally, add salt and pepper to desired taste and voila! Dinner is served. Enjoy with salad or as a side to a main dish.

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Bon appétit! xo

Homemade Donuts

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My sister worked at Krispy Kream years ago, so I consider her a donut connoisseur! And since my brother was visiting from Australia and Munsur can’t have donuts outside, I decided to try making them at home. Needless to say, she gave me two thumbs up! They tasted so delicious hot and ooey gooey good! Although it may not look like it, it is easy to make, so give this recipe a try :)

Dairy Free Donuts     Yields: ~ 30 donuts

1/4C Coconut oil

2Tbsp crisco

3/4C water

1Tbsp quick rising yeast

1/2C very warm water

1tsp salt

1/4C plus 2Tbsp sugar

3 1/2C flour

2 large eggs

Glaze

2 C Confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar)

1/4 C water

1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze

1 C (8 oz) Enjoy Life semi sweet chocolate chucks or chocolate squares

2Tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

———————-

First thing you’ll need to do is prepare the yeast.  In a bowl (or measuring cup!), add yeast to very warm water and leave it for about 5 minutes to activate the yeast.

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In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients (except flour), combine, and set aside.

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In a pot over medium-low heat, combine the coconut oil, crisco, and water. Whisk until melted. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk.

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Next, lightly beat eggs and add to bowl.

Add prepared yeast to bowl and combine to incorporate.

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Now, add the flour and stir until dough forms.

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Once dough’s formed, wrap bowl and throw a towel over it and let sit for about 1 1/2 hours. Dough will double in size!

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Roll dough to about a 1/4 inch thick and using round cookie cutters (or any shape you have really – make it fun!) cut out the donuts.

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To cut out the hole in the middle, I used the ring of my pipe tip ;) Repeat making donuts with scrap dough until all of dough is used.

Tip: Be creative in the kitchen and use what you’ve got!

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Now, fill pot with Mazola or veggie oil and heat to fry the donuts.  You don’t need much oil, maybe about 3 cups or so, depending on the depth of your pot. You’ll want enough to cover about 2-3 inches in your pot. 

Tip: To determine if your oil is at the right temperature to fry, use the back of a wooden spoon and place at the bottom of the pot. When tiny bubbles appear around the wooden spoon, you’re ready to fry!

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Drop a few donut doughs at a time (4-5). They’ll start at the bottom of the pot but will quickly rise to the top. Once they rise, flip after about 30 seconds or so – when donuts are a nice light-golden colour, and do the same on the other side before removing.

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Place on a wire rack on a baking sheet (as shown). I find this allows the excess oil to drip and leaves you with light, crispy, and tender (not soggy) donuts!

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Time to glaze and decorate!

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients for the glaze on medium heat, stirring until sugar is melted. Turn heat to the lowest temp and using a pastry brush (or if you don’t own one a spoon will do), brush or spread the glaze onto the donuts.

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For the chocolate glaze, in a double boiler (a glass or metal bowl on top of a pot with gentle simmering water), add your ingredients and stir once you notice the chocolate beginning to soften.

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Once chocolate glaze is smooth, and using a fork to handle the donuts, gently dip half of the donut rounds into the chocolate glaze and swirl when removing it and place back on the rack to harden. You can add sprinkles here (optional).

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You’re done! Enjoy your hard work with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

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Bon appétit! xo

 

Fennel Potato Soup

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I had fennel sitting in my fridge for a few days and so decided tonight that I wanted to make a soup out of this yummy veggie. If you have about 15 minutes to spare, then give this recipe a try!

Fennel Potato Soup     Yields: 6-8 servings

2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 fennel bulb, chopped

3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

3 1/2 C chicken broth and/or water

3/4 C coconut milk

Salt to taste

——————–

Start with the chopped onion and add to pot with olive oil.  Let slightly wilt before adding the chopped fennel bulb. Stir from time to time for approximately a few minutes.

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Add chopped potatoes and stir occasionally for a few minutes more.

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Once vegetables are nicely caramelized (browned), add broth and/or water and bring back to a boil.

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Once soup is boiling, bring down to a simmer, cover pot, and let cook for approximately 10 minutes until the fennel and potatoes pierce easily with a fork.

Uncover pot, and using a hand blender, blend the vegetables until smooth.

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Add coconut milk to the soup and blend – this helps add a bit of depth to the soup and also makes it creamier.

Add salt to taste before serving.

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The result is a hearty soup, great on its own, or served alongside a meal of your choice.

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Bon appétit! xo

Sautéed Green Fava Beans “Foul Mi’li”

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I love this easy to make delicious meal – a favourite in my family!  Green fava beans are available in any Middle-Eastern grocery store or check your local supermarket in the frozen aisle.

Sautéed Green Fava Beans     Yields: 4-6 servings

1 large onion, chopped

3 C frozen green fava beans

2 C cilantro, roughly chopped

2 small garlic cloves, minced

2-3Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

———————

Start off by chopping the onion and placing in a pot with the oil over medium-high heat.

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Once onions are soft and slightly translucent, add the fava beans and stir a few times. Turn heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook the beans for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Uncover the pot and add the cilantro. Stir a few times until well incorporated.

Tip: I buy cilantro, wash it, chop it, and freeze it in Ziploc bags. That way, I have it on hand for any recipe calling for cilantro!

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Next, turn off the stove and add minced garlic and stir.

Tip: I like to add garlic last when cooking – this step preserves the garlic’s super benefits and also keeps its flavour.

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Add and adjust salt and pepper. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil before serving (optional). Serve with pita bread (optional). Enjoy with a side of salad.

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Bon appétit! xo

 

 

Hummus

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Hummus is a great dip that’s healthy and full of nutrients.  Bonus: it’s super easy to make! Serve with crispy pita bread slices or anything you’d normally dip. Give this recipe a try tonight!

Hummus     Yields: 2 cups

2 Cups Chickpeas (pre-cooked or canned – drained)

1/4 Cup plus 2 Tbsp water

1 minced garlic

1/4 Cup tahini (sesame paste)

2Tbsp fresh lemon juice

salt to taste

———————-

In a food processor, add the chickpeas, garlic, and water and blend until smooth.

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Add tahini (available at your local Middle-Eastern grocery store) and blend.

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Next add lemon juice and salt and blend until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

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Done! Simple right? Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil before serving or serve as is.

Who needs canned hummus when you can make your own batch at home, without the unnecessary ingredients.

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Bon appétit! xo

Green Peas with Rice

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If you’re ever stuck on what to make for dinner, try green peas with rice! This dish is effortless to make, and is loved by young and old alike! Give it a try tonight!

Green Peas with Rice     Yields: 4 servings

1 medium onion, chopped

1 C frozen green peas

1 C rice

2 1/2 C water or broth

Salt and pepper to taste

—————-

Start with the chopped onion. Add to pot with some olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until onion wilts.

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Next, add the frozen peas and stir a few times to soften them and incorporate with the onion. Let cook for about 3 minutes.

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Add the rice and water next and stir a couple of times and bring to a boil. My brother was over that day and was kind enough to lend me a hand!

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Let water continue to boil until large bubbles appear at which point you’ll want to turn heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn heat off and keep pot covered for approximately 5 minutes.

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Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Done! Smells so good!

Serve with a citrusy salad. Bon appétit! xo

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