Italian Stuffed Shells

Italian Stuffed Shells – Candy Coated Culinista

A striking Italian meal that is great for a dinner party or a Sunday dinner.

Yield/Serving: 8-10
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium, time consuming

Ingredients
• 36 Jumbo shells
• 1 lbs ground beef
• 1 tsp canola oil
• 1 small onion, diced
• 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp black pepper
• 1 tsp season salt
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp onion powder
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp dried basil
• 1 cup pasta sauce
• 2 cups spinach, stems removed and chopped
• ¾ cups ricotta
• 1 egg
• ½ cup grana padano
• ¼ cup parmesan cheese
• 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Assembly
1. Over high heat boil shells in batches and cook until al dente draining and setting aside. Ensure not to break or cook a few more just to be safe.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat add canola oil and onion and garlic and cook until softened.
3. Add in ground beef and spices and brown.
4. Add in ¾ cups pasta sauce in ground beef mixture and set aside.
5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
6. Set out two casserole dishes and pour a thin layer of pasta sauce into each casserole dish.
7. In a medium sized bowl add spinach, ricotta, egg, grana Padano, parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese and combine.
8. Start assembling the shells by adding ground beef first followed by ricotta mixture and place in casserole dishes.
9. Shred a little more grana padano and mozzarella cheese overtop and drizzle more pasta sauce overtop.
10. Bake for 45 minutes covered with aluminum foil and then serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This recipe was very time consuming more so than a lasagna; but if you make a few batches like I did it is well worth the while. I made two meat filled shells casserole dishes and one vegetarian casserole option and these tasted great all be it a touch messy to eat. The shells were the perfect amount of meat, cheese and veg and very eye catching. I would definitely make this again; just not in the next few months. Also this is not a weekday meal, unless you start as soon as you get home from work as this took me almost 2 hours from beginning to end.

Italian Stuffed Shells (Pre-Oven) – Candy Coated Culinista

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Carrot Apple Easter Cake

Carrot Apple Easter Cake - Candy Coated Culinista

Carrot Apple Easter Cake – Candy Coated Culinista

Nothing beats a carrot cake for Easter dinner and this recipe is one I come back to over and over again even with a few tweaks here and there.

Yield/Serving: 3 – 6” round cakes plus 6 cakelets
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: approx. 35 – 40 min.
Difficulty level: Time-consuming

Ingredients
Carrot Apple Cake

• 2 ½ cups un-sifted all-purpose flour
• 2 ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp ground cloves
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• ¾ tsp ground nutmeg
• 1 ½ tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1 cup oatmeal crisp maple nut cereal, crushed
• 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
• 1 ½ cup vegetable oil
• 3 eggs
• 2 cups carrots, peeled and shredded
• 2 granny smith apples, peeled and shredded
• 1/3 cup fruit mix, chopped
• 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
• 1/3 cup pecans, chopped

Cream Cheese Buttercream
• 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 (250g) package cream cheese, softened
• 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Zest from 1 tangelo

Assembly
Carrot Apple Cake

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Trace out the shape of the pan on pieces of parchment paper.
3. Spray the pans with vegetable oil spray and place parchment paper inside the baking pan.
4. Using a medium sized bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt and cereal and mix and set aside.
5. In a large bowl beat sugar, maple syrup, vegetable oil and eggs.
6. Shred carrots and apples using a food processor.
7. Add the carrots, apples and fruit mix until just combined.
8. Incorporate the dry ingredients, using a whisk until just combined.
9. Mix in the nuts.
10. Pour the batter into the three pans and cakelet pans and cook for 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
11. Let cook in pans to cool and then let cool on a wire rack.
Whipped Cream Cheese Buttercream
1. Using and electric stand mixer with the whisk attachment, combine butter and cream cheese.
2. Add in confectioners’ sugar followed by vanilla extract and continue to mix.
3. Lastly add tangelo zest.
Layered Cake Assembly
1. Use a serrated knife, trim tops and even out if necessary to level out the cakes.
2. Smear a little frosting on the silver disc so cake doesn’t move.
3. Place first layer on the bottom layer and spread some cream cheese buttercream frosting over top.
4. Then place the next layer over and spread more cream cheese buttercream frosting over top.
5. Place final layer over and cream cheese spread buttercream frosting over top and along the sides.
6. Place in fridge to let the crumb coat firm up some.
7. When crumb coat is firm using an offset spatula frost the cake entirely.
8. Decorate as desired. I made a swirl pattern on top; added some sprinkles and added some Easter coloured M&M’s.
9. Serve and enjoy.

Tips
• If you are making cream cheese buttercream omit 1/3 granulated sugar from the carrot apple cake, as there is enjoy confectioners’ sugar in the frosting to compensate. Otherwise, keep the full amount of sugar in.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Okay so I so love a carrot cake and adding in the apples was just perfect. This cake had a little bit of a Christmas cake feel with the nuts and fruit mix. I loved the amount of cream cheese in this frosting as it didn’t tasty too tangy and the tangelo flecks added a little extra something. I tried a new piping technique on top and it turned out wonderfully with a little bit of sprinkles scattered about. This recipe is really a process of love as it’s time-consuming; but so worth it.

Carrot Apple Easter Cake - Candy Coated Culinista

Carrot Apple Easter Cake – Candy Coated Culinista

Carrot Apple Easter Cake - Candy Coated Culinista

Carrot Apple Easter Cake – Candy Coated Culinista

Rafanata

Rafanata – Candy Coated Culinista

I had never heard of Rafanata before and it took Jamie Oliver to get me loving this simple little appetizer or lunch dish.

Yield/Serving: 8-12
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 1 hour & 20 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

From: Jamie Cooks Italy

Ingredients
• 1 ½ lbs potatoes
• 2 knobs unsalted butter
• 2% milk
• 1 ¾ oz pecorino or Parmesan cheese
• 2 inches fresh horseradish, plus extra to serve
• 3 large eggs
• 3 ½ oz piece of smoked pancetta
• ¾ cup coarse stale bread crumbs

Assembly
1. Peel potatoes, chop into big even chunks, then cook in a pot of boiling salted water for a5 to 20 minutes, or until tender.
2. Drain and leave to steam dry for 2 minutes and return to pan.
3. Add 1 knob of butter and a splash of milk, finely grate in cheese and peeled horseradish and crack in the eggs.
4. Mash ingredients, mix well, season, and put aside.
5. Preheat oven to 400°F.
6. Slice pancetta and place in cast-iron skillet. Over medium-high, heat let the pancetta sizzle and add bread crumbs.
7. Cook until crisp and golden and then mix into the mash.
8. Press mash into the frying pan, smoothing it out with a slight curve.
9. Fry on medium-high heat for 5 minutes, jiggling the pan to create a nice rounded edge.
10. Loose edges with a spatula and life slightly and place the last knob of butter into the pan underneath.
11. Once melted, put a plate on top of the pan, carefully flip over, and slip the rafanata back into the pan.
12. Bake in over for 30 minutes, or until golden and hot through.
13. Place a mixture of small greens and shredded cheese on top.
14. Serve with extra horseradish finely grated overtop, to taste.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This is a great little appetizer for dinner guests; just serve a slice with a dollop of creamy horseradish. This recipe did take a lot longer than I expected for the simplicity of it all. The rafanata with its crispy crust and mashed centre with horseradish and pancetta inside adds a flavorful combination I have never tasted before.

Sunday Roast Dinner

Sunday Roast Dinner – Candy Coated Culinista

I really can’t get enough of a roast chicken and this one is high up on my list. Roast chicken is such a simple protein to make and yields leftovers for another meal soups or salads.

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 70 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

From Simple

Ingredients

Spring Roast Chicken with Preserved Lemon
• 5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 3 tbsp thyme leaves
• 3 garlic cloves, crushed
• ½ small preserved lemon, seeds discarded, flesh and skin roughly chopped (2 ½ tbsp.)
• 1 lemon, finely zest to get 1 tsp, then juice to get 1 ½ tbsp.
• Salt
• Black pepper
• 1 whole chicken
Roasted Asparagus with Almonds, Capers and Dill
• 1 bunch of asparagus, ends removed
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• Salt
• Black pepper
• 2 tbsp unsalted butter
• ¼ cup sliced almonds
• 3 tbsp baby capers, or regular capers
• ½ cup dill, rough chopped
Sweet Potato Mash with lime Salsa
• 2 lb sweet potatoes, unpeeled and cut in half lengthwise
• ¼ cup olive oil
• Salt
• ¼ cup basil leaves, finely chopped
• ½ garlic cloves, minced
• 2 limes, finely zest to get 2 tsp, then juice to get 1 tbsp
• Black pepper

Assembly

Spring Roast Chicken with Preserved Lemon
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Place butter, thyme, garlic, preserved lemon, lemon zest. ¼ tsp salt and black pepper in a food processor and combine.
3. Loosen the skin away from the breast and spread most of the butter mixture underneath. Spread the remaining butter over the legs.
4. Place chicken in a baking pan and drizzle lemon juice and sprinkle ½ tsp salt and pepper.
5. Roast for 70 minutes, basting every 20 minutes or so, until golden brown and crisp and the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a small knife.
6. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Roasted Asparagus with Almonds, Capers and Dill
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Mix asparagus with 1 tbsp of oil, salt and pepper.
3. Arrange on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, spaced well apart and roast for 8-12 minutes until asparagus is soft and starting to brown in places.
4. Transfer to a large serving plate and set aside.
5. Put butter into a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat.
6. Once melted, add almonds and fry for 1-2 minutes stirring frequently until almonds are golden brown.
7. Pour almonds and butter over asparagus.
8. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil to saucepan and place over high heat, once hot, add capers and fry for 1 – 2 more minutes, stirring until crisp.
9. Using a slotted spoon remove capers from oil and sprinkle over asparagus along with dill.
10. Serve warm.
Sweet Potato Mash with lime Salsa
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Rub potatoes with 1 tbsp of oil and season with ¼ tsp of salt.
3. Place of parchment-lined baking sheet, cut side down and roast for 30-35 minutes, until very soft.
4. While potatoes are roasting, prepare the salsa.
5. Place remaining 3 tbsp of oil into a small bowl with basil, cilantro, garlic, lime zest, lime juice and salt and stir to combine.
6. Once potato is cool enough to handle, remove the skin or scoop out the flesh and mash.
7. Add salt and pepper, transfer to bowl, and serve with salsa on the potatoes or on the side.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I really can’t resist a roast chicken Sunday dinner as it reminds me of my mom. This spring chicken was so delicious I have made it twice already and it will be a new way to enjoy my Sunday chicken. I even made a preserved lemons weeks before. The flavours were bright and fresh with a little spin.

Spring Roast Chicken with Preserved Lemon – Candy Coated Culinista

Roasted Asparagus with Almonds, Capers and Dill – Candy Coated Culinista

W is for Watercress Winter Salad

W is for … Watercress Winter Salad – Candy Coated Culinista

I just love when I can get my hand on those winter fruits. It’s one of the few things I look forward to when it’s frigid and icy.

Yield/Serving: 2
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 10 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
Winter Salad

• Watercress, bunch, stems removed
• Spinach, medium sized bunch, stems removed
• Parsley, handful, stems removed
• Persimmon, ripe & sliced
• Physalis, handful halved
• Kumquats, sliced
• ¼ pomegranate arils
• Blackberries, handful
• Extra creamy Danish blue cheese, crumbled
• ¼ cup pecans tossed in vinaigrette
Persimmon Kumquat Maple Vinaigrette
• 1/3 persimmon, rough chop
• 2 kumquats, rough chop
• Splash of apple cider vinegar
• 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp pure Canadian maple syrup

Assembly
Winter Salad

1. Place watercress, spinach and parsley on a large serving plate.
2. Add persimmons, physalis, kumquats, pomegranate arils, blackberries and set aside.
Persimmon Kumquat Maple Vinaigrette
1. In a food processor add persimmon, kumquats, apple cider vinegar, olive oil & maple syrup until smooth and combined.
2. In a small bowl place pecans along with a tablespoon on vinaigrette and toss.
3. Sprinkle blue cheese and pecans over the salad and drizzle vinaigrette.
4. Serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This is a wonderful winter salad with such a great combination of well everything it was a delight to eat. It doesn’t take a little longer than a regular salad; but it’ worth in.

Semolina Almond and Blood Orange Syrup Cakes

Semolina Almond and Blood Orange Syrup Cakes – Candy Coated Culinista

A chance to use blood oranges in my baking … yes please.

Yield/Serving: 12
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 18 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

From: Modern baking

Ingredients
• 3 eggs
• ½ cup caster (superfine) sugar
• 1 cup natural Greek-style (thick) yoghurt
• ¼ cup light-flavoured extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 tsp finely grated blood orange rind
• 1 cup fine semolina
• ¼ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
• 1 tsp baking powder, sifted
• 1/3 cup almond meal
• 2 blood oranges, thinly sliced
• 2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar, extra
• Confectioners’ sugar, to serve
Blood orange syrup
• ½ cup blood orange juice
• ¼ cup water
• 1/3 cup caster (superfine) sugar

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Grease 12 x ½ cup capacity muffin tin.
3. Using an electric mixer place eggs and caster sugar in bowl and whisk on high for 3-4 minutes or until pale and thick.
4. Add yoghurt, oil, vanilla, orange rind, semolina, flour, baking powder and almond meal and fold to combine.
5. Spoon mixture into tins and top each with an orange slice and sprinkle with extra sugar.
6. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden or a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
7. Allow cakes to cool slightly in tins before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.
8. To make blood orange syrup, place juice, water and sugar in a small saucepan over high heat.
9. Bring to a boil and cook for 4-5 minutes or until reduced and syrupy.
10. Spoon the blood orange syrup over the cakes and dust with icing sugar to serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I am really enjoying cakes with semolina and almond flour. I adds a more sophisticated element to the cake and the vibrancy of the blood orange syrup made these cakes outstanding. Still a little too much sugar; but that seems to be a theme in this book. I made some mini cakes of varying sizes to test out the cake as I knew this was one I’d want to make again and again and the mini cakes turned out great.

Teriyaki Wings

Teriyaki Wings – Candy Coated Culinista

Superbowl Sunday is this weekend and I am rooting for the Pats. I take so much flak for supporting this team; but this has been the only team I have ever supported in the NFL and that will never change. I plan on serving my teriyaki wings along with a menu to be determined in the next day or two.

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 35-45 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 tbsp sesame seeds
• 2 pounds of chicken wings
• Salt
• Black pepper
• Teriyaki sauce
• Chinese five spice
• Red chilli, optional
• 2 scallions

Assembly
1. Toast sesame seeds in a dry pan over low heat and place on a plate.
2. Coat wings in five spice, salt, black pepper and teriyaki sauce
3. Place wings in a roasting pan and bake for 35-45 minutes at 375°C..
4. One baked place in a frying pan and add more sauce and brown the wings on both sides.
5. Sprinkle with scallions and chilli if desired.
6. Toss is sesame seeds and serve.

Tips
• Serve with Asian inspired potato salad and coleslaw.
• Serve with sweet chilli thai sauce on the side

Please Enjoy

My thoughts

Simple, satisfying, scrumptious, salty and sweet. This is great for a football Sunday spread or more importantly Superbowl Sunday.

Lamb Kofta with Garlic Sauce and Pickled Onions

Lamb Kofta with Garlic Sauce and Pickled Onions – Candy Coated Culinista

A great middle eastern dish that is so scrumptious and satisfying you’ll have to hold yourself back from overeating.

Yield/Serving: 4-5
Difficulty level is: Easy, time consuming

From At My Table

Ingredients
Kofta

• 1 pound ground lamb
• 1 peeled and coarsely grated, to give ¾ cup loosely packed
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp ground coriander
• ¼ tsp ground allspice
• ½ tsp ground white pepper
• 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
• 3 tbsp finely grated parsley
• 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
• 2 tbsp olive oil
Garlic Sauce
• 1 2/3 cups Greek yoghurt
• 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
• 1 – 2 lemon zest of 1 lemon and 3 tbsp of juice
• 2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
• 2 tsp dried mint
Toppings
• Tomatoes
• Iceberg lettuce
• Faltbreads
Quick Pickled Onions
• 1 small red onion, peeled & cut into half moons
• Juice from 2 -3 limes

Assembly
Kofta

1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil into a large bowl and roll into sausage shapes. Do not compact the lamb mixture once in the desired shape.
2. Slightly flatten sides and place on a baking sheet lines with cling wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Combine yoghurt, garlic, lemon zest, juice, salt and dried sauce together.
4. Slice red onion into half moons and let marinate in lime juice
5. Using a large frying pan heat frying pan and cook kofta on medium-high heat for 5 of so minutes each side until cooked all the way through.
6. Serve inside faltbreads along with toppings

Please Enjoy

My thoughts

It was great making koftas another way as last time I made them it was a bowl and I quite enjoyed them. I decided to serve mine with cucumber, pomegranates, and pickled onions to bulk up the meal a little. This was a lovely meal; but it was time consuming. It didn’t seem like it would take so long and since there is not times given I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The directions were a little off, so to achieve the kofta look I was accustomed to I sear all sides and cooked the remaining time in the oven. Almost 2 hours beginning to end. That’s a little long for me on a weekday after getting home for work; but then there is leftovers for the next couple of days. A trade off perhaps?

Lamb Kofta with Garlic Sauce and Pickled Onions – Candy Coated Culinista

Dried fruit, Ginger & Cashew Energy Balls

Dried fruit, Ginger & Cashew Energy Balls – Candy Coated Culinista

Need an afternoon pick me up instead of going to the coffee shop for a coffee; try this energy balls.

Yield/Serving: 12
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 20 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 3 ½ oz unsalted cashews
• ¾ oz raw sesame seed
• 3 oz dried apricots
• 3 oz golden raisins
• 3 oz dates, pitted
• 1 cup puffed brown rice
• ½ of fresh gingerroot, peeled & grated
• 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
• 2 tbsp Manuka honey

Assembly
1. Toast cashews and sesame seeds in separate dry non-stick pan over medium-high heat and let cool.
2. Remove 1 ½ oz of cashews and crush in a food processor and place on a plate.
3. Add remaining cashews, sesame seeds, apricots, raisins, dates and puffed rice in a food processor until finely chopped.
4. Peel and finely grate ginger and add spices and process.
5. Then add honey and process for 1 to 2 minutes.
6. Add more honey if necessary to help mixture bind; just be patient.
7. With wet hands divide into 16 portions and roll into balls.
8. Drop into ground cashew dust and store.

Tips
• Will keep for up to 2 weeks in an air-tight container.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
These energy balls are spiced so well and have a great after kick of ginger. I was worried for a bit that the mixture wouldn’t come together; but I just divided my batch in half in the food processor. These energy balls were well received and especially since no additional sugar was added, this was a real happy treat. I gave this batch away as a gift and I can’t wait to make a batch for myself in the New Year.

Dried fruit, Ginger & Cashew Energy Balls – Candy Coated Culinista

Christmas Leftover Winter Ragu

Winter Ragu – Candy Coated Culinista

Have leftover Christmas meat and looking for a way to use it up. Make this winter ragu.

Yield/Serving: 6
Prep Time:
Cook Time: 2 hours
Difficulty level is: Easy

From Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook

Ingredients
• 1 red onion
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1 carrot
• 1 leek
• 1 stalk of celery
• 1 sprig fresh rosemary
• Olive oil
• 1 fresh bay leaf
• ¾ cup + 5 tsp Chianti
• 2 x 14oz can of plum tomatoes
• 14oz leftover cooked meat
• Extra virgin olive oil

Assembly
1. Peel onion, garlic, carrot, wash and trim leek with celery and pick rosemary leaves and
2. Finely chop all adding to a large casserole dish over medium-low heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a bay leaf.
3. Cook for 20 minutes or until the vegetables have softened, stirring occasionally.
4. Now turn heat up to high and add in wine and let cook down for a few minutes and add tomatoes.
5. Fill each can half way up with water and swirl around and pour into pan.
6. Roughly chop or tear leftover meat, stir well and bring to a boil; breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
7. Reduce down to low heat and continue to simmer for 1 hour to 1 and a half hours, or until thick.
8. Taste and season with salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil to finish.
9. Serve with pasta, rice, polenta, potatoes or chunks of crusty bread for dipping.

Tips
• Use leftover meat of if Christmas was so good there were no leftovers, then use fresh ground beef.
• Serve with fried or creamy polenta, pasta or rice.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I swapped out the wine for de-alcholized wine and it tasted just as rich and bold and the hue was a treat. Season with salt and pepper at the end; giving the ragu time to marry completely first.

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