Skillet Penne Pasta Dinner

Skillet Penne Pasta Dinner - Candy Coated Culinista

Skillet Penne Pasta Dinner – Candy Coated Culinista

When I was a child pasta night was always Friday and my mom would make her tried and true pasta dish. I have been reminiscing and thinking about my mom more than usual lately and I decided to pay homage and make my version of her dish.

Yield/Serving: 8
Difficulty level is: Easy

• 4 cups Penne Rigate
• 2 lbs lean ground beef
• 1 tsp Sea salt
• ½ tsp Black pepper
• 1 tsp Paprika
• ½ tsp Season salt
• 1 tsp Onion powder
• ½ tsp Garlic powder
• 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
• ½ cup white mushrooms, chopped
• half of one small white onion
• ½ cup of grape tomatoes, halved
• 2 cups marinara sauce
• Generous handful of Italian parsley
• ½ cup of mozzarella cheese
• ½ cup of cheddar cheese
• ¼ cup of parmesan cheese

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water cook penne until al dente.
2. Drain in a colander once cooked.
3. Using a 12” cast iron skillet brown the ground beef and add the salt, pepper, paprika, season salt, onion powder and garlic powder.
4. After 5 minutes stir in the diced garlic along with the mushrooms, onion and grape tomatoes and let cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
6. Stir in the marinara sauce to the meat mixture and add parsley and cook at a simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
7. Pour pasta into the skillet and incorporate into the meat mixture.
8. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for 10 minutes to allow cheese to melt.
9. Serve.

• Freeze some to bake at a later time.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I was so happy with how this tasted and turned out and it was true to my mom’s dish. My mom used a stovetop skillet; but since I have a nice cast iron skillet I decided to take it to the oven and bake it in the dish. I just wish the thing was a little lighter is all.

Cupcake Diaries: Yummy Stuff

Cupcake Diaries: Yummy Stuff Bakery - Candy Coated Culinista

Cupcake Diaries: Yummy Stuff Bakery – Candy Coated Culinista

Location: 1660 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, 416-531-9732

When I can hit a few quest shops in one trip is always a good day for me. When I visited Gloryhole Doughnuts; half a block away was Yummy Stuff and I couldn’t have been happier to visit.

Since it was the week of my birthday I choose a few selections: Pecan Lace Cookies, Raspberry Cupcake with Raspberry Buttercream, Gingerbread Cookie and a Sugar Cookie that said “Happy Birthday” on it. The Pecan Lace Sandwhich Cookie was light and airy and didn’t taste like a dessert to me, even with the buttercream in the middle. The Gingerbread and Sugar cookies were quite tasty and my favourite items from the bakery. Mr. C. had the cupcake and he wasn’t really that impressed as the cupcake fell apart in his hands. It seems that the only thing keeping the cupcake together was the baking liner. As for the buttercream he felt the same way, it was just ok and nothing special. For these four items it came to about $20 with tax; which I found to be a tad pricy.

I went here specifically for the cupcakes, but that in my opinion isn’t the best thing on their menu. I visited based on an article of the Best Cupcakes in Toronto, but somehow I think some other bakeries and shops have come up in the meantime to eclipse these cupcakes, including my own on a good day. Go for the cookies, lemon bars, and brownies and other treats I say.

Mulligatawny Sans Soup

Mulligatawny Sans Soup - Candy Coated Culinista

Mulligatawny Sans Soup – Candy Coated Culinista

Yield/Serving: 3-4
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 20 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Altered from From “Jamie’s Great Britain – 130 of my favourite British recipes, from comfort food to new classics“

I saw this recipe while flipping through Jamie’s Great Britain, while waiting for him to take stage for his book tour a couple of years ago and my face lit up that night in Massey Hall. The other day I was going through some of my older cookbooks and I saw “Mulligatawny” again. For me when I hear the word Mulligatawny, a very specific pop-culture reference comes to my mind; but for me I have two reasons why this recipe will always bring a smile to my face though. First: the 116th episode of the sitcom “Seinfeld”. The owner of this restaurant has gotten this moniker of “Soup Nazi “due to his temperament and his procedure of how to place an order. When Elaine goes in to order she doesn’t follow the procedure and is banned for one year. Secondly, it reminds me of my mom. She was not a big Seinfeld fan yet every time this episode came on she would sit down and watch it with me. She loved when Elaine told off the Soup Nazi and said “You’re through, Soup Nazi. Pack it up. No more soup for you. Next.” She would repeat it as best as she could and we laughed the whole way through. This is a really great silly memory of my mom, so now when the episode comes on and I’m visiting my dad he will hang around and watch it with me and we think of mom.

• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 8 ½ oz lean ground beef
• ½ red onion, finely chopped
• 2 carrots, peeled and diced
• 4 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1 red pepper, diced
• ½ jalapeno, diced
• 2 tbsp curry powder
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• Sea salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste
• 1 sprig of fresh thyme
• Handful of fresh cilantro
• 1 cup basmati rice

1. Using a frying pan over medium-high heat pour in the olive oil and brown the ground beef.
2. Add in the onion, carrots, garlic, red pepper, jalapeno and cook for another 7 minutes.
3. Add in the curry powder, tomato paste, salt, pepper and thyme.
4. Prepare the basmati rice.
5. Pour the beef mixture onto the basmati rice and add the cilantro and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This was an ok dish for me as I am not a fan of Indian or in this case Anglo-Indian Cuisine, but I had to give it a try. I removed the soup aspect as I didn’t want to drink curry flavours, however, if this is your cup of tea give it a try with or without soup. I may not care for this recipe but the memories and smiles it brings me is well worth it.

Ricotta Gnocchi

Ricotta Gnocchi - Candy Coated Culinista

Ricotta Gnocchi – Candy Coated Culinista

I buy ricotta from time to time for very specific recipes, but then I have so much leftover ricotta I just don’t know what to make with it, as I find ricotta to just be a boring cheese. I always say I will use it in another recipe, but then it always gets tossed out. This time I had a goal to use up all my ingredient loose ends and I did.

Yield/Serving: 2
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 2 to 3 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

• 1 ½ cup fresh soft Ricotta cheese, water squeezed from it
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• ¼ cup parmigiano reggiano
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 tbsp fresh thyme minced
• Zest from 1 lemon
• ½ jalapeño, finely diced
• Handful of cilantro, finely diced
• Green onion, sprig of
• Sea salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste
• 1 egg
Butter Basting
• 2 tbsp butter
Tomato Sauce
• 1 canned tomatoes, crushed
• Handful of parsley, garnish

1. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together by hand until well incorporated and dough comes together.
2. Sprinkle a clean pastry board with flour and roll dough into 6 even pieces.
3. Gently roll each piece into a long slender rope, about ¾” wide, and cut with a knife.
4. Generously flour a baking sheet and place the gnocchi on and shake until coated.
5. Freeze if desired. (See tips below).
6. Boil a large saucepan of salted water and cook gnocchi until it begins to float, 2 to 3 minutes.
7. In a large frying pan melt butter and pour gnocchi over top and brown.
Tomato Sauce
8. In a medium frying pan pour the crushed tomatoes in and let reduce.
9. Once tomato sauce has reduced, gently stir in gnocchi and top with fresh parsley and serve.

• Be careful to not overwork the dough.
• Gnocchi can be frozen. After step four is completed place the tray into the freezer for two hours and then transfer to a zip lock bag and continue to follow the instructions at a later time when ready to consume.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I have never been a fan of gnocchi and I love potatoes; but I just seem to find it to be very bland. The ricotta gnocchi however was flavourful and light and came together so easily I was quite impressed. I even froze some for later.

DIY Spine & Ribcage Tee

DIY Spine & Ribcage Tee - Candy Coated Culinista

DIY Spine & Ribcage Tee – Candy Coated Culinista

I have two shirts I absolutely love from the One of a Kind Show. I go to this show twice a year when it comes to Toronto and I have found a lot of unique and more healthy & organic products that now have been a part of my daily life since 2007. The two shirts I love is one that is a stitched outline of the spine and the other is of a hummingbird. These were my inspiration for this tee. I wanted to find a way to depict a spine without stitching on a tee shirt

Difficulty level is: Easy & Fun

• 1 tee shirt
• 1 pair of sharp fabric scissors
• Ruler
• Pen, Pencil, Chalk

1. Lay your tee shirt out flat with the back facing up.
2. Using a ruler draw a 3” lines down the middle on the shirt with 1 ½” space between each line until you reach the bottom.
3. On the left side draw lines in-between the 1 ½ inch space of the center lines, going in about ½” into the area of the center lines.
4. Repeat on the right side.
5. Cut all the lines with a fabric scissors.
6. Now pull the second strip of fabric in the centre and pull down. (leave the first one to maintain the collar)
7. Then pull the third center strip over and then under the second strip.
8. Repeat until you have reached the bottom.
9. Hand stitch the left over loop to the bottom to the tee shirt.
10. Turn the shirt over to the front and add some addition small slits down the side ½” on each side.

• Place a piece of cardboard between the tee-shirt to protect the fabric.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This was my favourite shirt to make to date. Truth be told the side slits happened because I didn’t put a piece of cardboard between the tee shirt to protect the fabric. It turned out so good and my mistake made this shirt even better in my eyes that I just keep adding on to the sides.

DIY Spine & Ribcage Tee - Candy Coated Culinista

DIY Spine & Ribcage Tee – Candy Coated Culinista

Classy Brunch : Poached Egg Practice #1

Poached Egg: Practice #1 - Candy Coated Culinista

Poached Egg: Practice #1 – Candy Coated Culinista

I have never poached an egg before and seeing many a Masterchef egg poaching challenge I thought this was going to be hard, but then I found this recipe on The Kitchn – and it seemed totally doable. Then I see the outcome and think nope something’s a little off here.

The Kitchn

Yield/Serving: 1
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 4 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

• 1 extra large egg
• 1 tbsp white vinegar
• Salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste

1. Using a medium saucepan filled two-thirds full with water and bring to a boil.
2. Once water has boiled, bring down to a simmer. (bubbles coming to the surface, but not a rolling bubble)
3. Crack an egg and place in a small measuring cup with a handle, so it will be easier to ease the egg into the saucepan.
4. Add the vinegar to the water.
5. Carefully ease the egg into the water and tip the egg out of the measuring cup.
6. Cook for 4 minutes.
7. Remove egg from the saucepan with a slotted spoon and pat dry if desired.
8. Season with salt & pepper and serve.

• If you want to poach two eggs at once, ensure the saucepan is big enough to accommodate two without crowding. Add an additional 30 seconds or so to the cook time if multiple eggs are in one saucepan.
• Serve with a croissant and sopressata wrapped asparagus.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
For a first attempt it wasn’t quite bad. I did overcook the egg as I didn’t trust the cook time given and I trusted my eyes instead. I have always seen a swirling technique when poaching an egg, yet this recipe didn’t have that at all hmmmm. The yolk was more to the top then I think it should have been (possibly because of no swirling technique). In any event I’m proud of myself for tackling something I deemed too hard and will try it again with some excellent tips from a chef friend.

Super Moist Carrot Cake

Super Moist Carrot Cake - Candy Coated Culinista

Super Moist Carrot Cake – Candy Coated Culinista

This recipe evolved from a recipe my second mom/big sister uses. She makes this carrot cake all the time and she finally divulged the recipe as she realized with two boys, she has no one to pass her recipes over to and her I am just begging for them. I took her recipe and of course C.C’d it, because I just can’t leave a recipe alone.

Yield/Serving: 3 – 6” round cakes
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: approx. 35 – 40 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

• 2 ½ cups unsifted 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
• 4 cups carrots, peeled and grated
• 1/3 cup Christmas fruit mix, optional
• 1/3 cup pistachios, optional
• 1/3 cup walnuts, optional
• 1/3 cup pecans, optional

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. Add in the carrots and Christmas frit mix until just combined.
7. Incorporate the dry ingredients, using a whisk until just combined.
8. Mix in the nuts.
9. Pour the batter into the three pans and cook for 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
10. Using a flexible cake knife, run it along the edges of the cake pan and then remove from pans and let cool on a wire rack.

• I’m not a fan of cream cheese frosting, but feel free to make a cream cheese frosting if desired.

Please Enjoy

Yesterday when I saw my second mom she gave me a big thumbs up and said you did good. I told her I altered her recipe; which she could tell and she still enjoyed it. My dad called and gave me a glowing review – “This is the best carrot cake I have ever had, you did an amazing job” When he said this I just had to give myself a pat on the back.

My thoughts
When I started grating the carrots by hand using my little (the size of my hand) one sided grater; all I keep saying to myself was there’s got to be an easier way and why in the world would someone make this cake so regularly with all this working out. If I continue to make carrot cake I will need to invest in a box grater or something better than my tiny grater. As for the carrot cake I can’t believe my first attempt at a carrot cake turned out perfectly. I even changed and half batched up a recipe and altered it and it still turned out. I think I really knocked this one out of the park. The top was crunchy as the knife broke into it followed by a super moist interior. I am so proud of myself and beside the arm breaking grating I loved this cake and will make it once and awhile.

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