Pea Guacamole

Pea Guacamole – Candy Coated Culinista

A controversial idea of adding fresh peas to guacamole; which even had Former President Obama tweeting about how this was a terrible idea.

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

Slightly altered from Diner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark original recipe from Dominic Perri

• 1/3 cup of fresh sweet peas
• 2 tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
• ¼ tsp kosher salt
• 1 large avocado, mashed
• 1 green onion, thinly sliced, whites only
• Zest from 1 lime
• Juice from 1 lime

1. Bring a medium pot of water to boil.
2. Cook peas for 1 minute and shock in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process and drain.
3. Using a food processor, puree peas.
4. Add cilantro, salt, avocado, green onion, lime zest and lime juice.
5. Serve with taco’s.

• Add 1 small jalapeno if desired
• Add 1 tsp toasted sunflower seeds if desired
• Serve with a fried fish taco and avocado taco.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I removed the peppers as I don’t like heat; but I bet this would taste just as wonderful with the jalapeno peppers. To me the addition of peas makes so much sense to guac as it add a complexity, it’s vibrant and fresh and add a much needed added texture to the normal guac. Also it makes the perfect “glue for tacos as the shells stay sealed together. This makes so much more sense to me than the avocado bun; which is very impractical and isn’t a bun. If you can get over the fact that peas are in your guacamole you must give this a try. It extends the life of the dish and adds a touch of something special.


Chicken Vesuvio

Chicken Vesuvio - Candy Coated Culinista

Chicken Vesuvio – Candy Coated Culinista

When I heard of a dish called Chicken Vesuvio, I immediately assumed this was an Italian dish because of the name. To me it seems derived from Mount Vesuvius the volcano that erupted back in 79 AD and destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum. Well upon further research this Greek mythology, architecture and history buff was wrong, Chicken Vesuvio is a speciality of Chicago and is an Italian-American dish.

Yield/Serving: 2
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 45 – 50 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

• Extra virgin olive oil
• Salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste
• Onion powder, to taste
• Garlic powder, to taste
• Paprika, to taste
• 2 cartilage in chicken breasts
• 2 large red skinned potatoes, cut into wedges
• Rosemary, finely diced
• oregano, finely diced
• dill, finely diced
• parsley, finely diced
• thyme, finely diced
• ½ a small red onion, diced
• 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
• 2 tbsp all purpose flour
• Low sodium chicken broth
• 1/3 cup frozen peas

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°
2. Season chicken with spices and then using a cast iron skillet, pour some extra virgin olive oil in over medium-high heat.
3. Sear all sides of the chicken breast and turn off heat.
4. Cut the potatoes in wedges and coat with the fresh herbs.
5. Place potato wedges around the chicken breasts and cook in oven for 45 minutes.
6. Transfer chicken and potatoes to a plate.
7. Add onion and garlic to the skillet oven medium-heat to soften.
8. Using a wooden spoon scrape the flavour from the bottom on the skillet.
9. Stir in the flour to make a roux.
10. Slowly add in the chicken broth letting the flour dissolve to your preferred gravy consistency.
11. Add wine if desired.
12. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes and frozen peas.
13. Add chicken and potatoes back into the skillet and let simmer for 5 minutes and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Sometimes I am on a real cooking streak and everything I make just comes out smashingly. This one after I made it I was actually considering making it again the same week; because it was that good. The chicken was moist and juicy, the potatoes were firm and savoury with the fresh herbs and a scratch gravy turned out most excellent again (Thanks Chuck). I will be making this for dinner when I have guests as it a simple yet classy sophisticated dish.

Shrimp & Broccoli Stir Fry & Jasmine Fried Rice

Shrimp Stir-Fry - Candy Coated Culinista

Shrimp Stir-Fry – Candy Coated Culinista

I have been craving shrimp for a while now and I figured it was time to make something shrimp related.

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

Shrimp & Broccoli Stir Fry

• 25 whole shrimp, deveined
• Garlic, 4 cloves, finely chopped
• Kosher salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste
• Broccoli crown, cut into pieces
• 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into circles
• Small red onion, cut into chunks
• Plum sauce
• Spicy ginger oil
• Sesame seeds

1. Clean shrimp and place in a bowl.
2. Add garlic, kosher salt & black pepper and mix then set aside covered with saran wrap.
3. Using a wok over medium heat add some spicy ginger oil and fry the shrimp. Add some plum sauce after the first few minutes. Once cooked set aside.
4. Add more spicy ginger oil and fry broccoli, carrots, red onion and plum sauce for five minutes.
5. Add in the shrimp and mix.
6. Plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Jasmine Fried Rice
Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 20 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

• 1 cup jasmine rice
• 2 tbsp spicy ginger oil
• ¾ cup frozen mixed veg of corn, carrots & peas
• 4 tbsp spicy ginger oil
• 1 eggs
• 2 tbsp soy sauce

1. In a pot, cook the rice in 1 cups of water over medium-high heat until cooked.
2. In a small saucepan cook the mixed vegetables and drain.
3. In a wok with 4 tbsp of spicy ginger oil and fry rice and add in the mixed vegetables and stir frequently for 5 minutes.
4. Add egg and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.
5. Add soy sauce and toss until coated.
6. Serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
My taste tester loved this and was very surprised by the treat. They love Chinese food but always buy it at the restaurant, so I decided to make them my version. This was eaten for brunch, as they couldn’t wait which made me laugh. I seem to have a lot of testers that just can’t wait to dive into the food I prepare which is a lovely feeling. I loved the slight kick of the ginger that coated the shrimp and the sweetness of the plum sauce over the Crunchy vegetables. Funny enough when I was showing a co-worker this picture another co-worker of Chinese-Vietnamese decent saw it and said it looked great. She asked my other co-worker to sneakily ask for the recipe for her. If a Chinese person wants my recipe I have done a good job. I am now officially a big fan of adding an egg to my fried rice and can’t believe I only started doing this last year. I really should have been doing this a long time ago as it just add that little bit extra to the rice.

Gluten-free Minestrone

Gluten-free Minestrone - Candy Coated Culinista

Gluten-free Minestrone – Candy Coated Culinista

A cold weekend is ahead and I have been craving soup in a bad way.

Yield/Serving: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: (beginning to end) 1 ½ hour
Difficulty level is: Medium

• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Red onion, half diced
• 3 carrots, peeled & chopped
• 2 zucchini, cut into half circles
• 1 pound button mushrooms, quartered
• 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 small red bell pepper, diced
• 1 small green bell pepper, diced
• 3 tbsp tomato paste
• 2 tsp dried oregano
• 2 litres vegetable stock, reduced sodium
• 1 can red kidney beans
• 2 tomatoes, cut into pieces
• 2 cups gluten-free farfalle pasta
• ½ cup parmesan cheese
• 2 handfuls of parsley, chopped

1. In a large heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat, pour extra virgin olive oil and brown onions, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, garlic, red pepper and green pepper and let brown slightly, 5 minutes.
2. Stir in tomato paste, oregano, vegetable stock, kidney beans and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
3. Add in the gluten-free pasta and let simmer until pasta is aldente.
4. Continue to let simmer and add in parmesan cheese and parsley.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Such a great fall soup. Zucchini is a summer vegetable but in Ontario it can be readily found up until October and I fully took advantage of that. I have always wanted to make a minestone and this was so delicious I didn’t even miss the protein. The carrots and zucchini were still crunchy and this recipe is perfect for freezing.

Sautéed Fiddleheads

Sautéed Fiddleheads - Candy Coated Culinista

Sautéed Fiddleheads – Candy Coated Culinista

For a few years now I have been intrigued and have been searching for fiddleheads – this peculiar looking green thing that resembles a koru or young fern to me. There are only two places I could think of in Toronto that would for sure carry these; Ever Green Brickworks and St. Lawrence Market. On my first stop to St. Lawrence market I found it and was very happy I wouldn’t have to continue on my journey.
At $7.99/lb these are an expensive vegetable and is it worth its cost I’m not sure really ???

Yield/Serving: 2
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 10 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 4 cloves garlic, diced
• 1/3 small onion, diced
• 1lb fiddleheads
• Sea salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste
• ½ lemon, freshly squeezed

1. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil.
2. Add garlic and onion and fry.
3. Add in cleaned fiddleheads along with salt and pepper and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
4. Finally squeeze fresh lemon and cook for another 2 minutes and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Fiddleheads have antioxidants and are a source of omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids and are also high in fibre. I found them extremely hard to clean to my liking with all those little leaves attached that I knew hold dirt. I wanted to highlight but not overpower the fiddleheads; but it still tasted like I was just eating something straight from the ground or off a tree. The fiddleheads itself taste like asparagus; but with a less dynamic flavour. There is some hype behind these and I find them to be quite overrated as they lack flavor even with my additions.

Fresh Fiddleheads - Candy Coated Culinista

Fresh Fiddleheads – Candy Coated Culinista

Chef’s Plate Review

Chicken Carbonara - Chef's Plate - Candy Coated Culinista

Chicken Carbonara – Chef’s Plate – Candy Coated Culinista

Chef’s Plate promises a better way to cook with farm fresh, premium cuts and healthy & nutritious meals for you and your family. Each week a new set of recipes are available for your choosing and then the fresh pre-portioned ingredients are delivered to your door for you to prepare.

For my first venture in Chef’s Plate is chose steak and roasted tarragon potatoes with a pink peppercorn sauce and mixed green salad and chicken carbonara with fresh linguine pasta in a creamy parmesan sauce. The box even came with some Valentine’s Day treats and a card which was the perfect added touch for those celebrating.

Plans run for a two person plan starting at 49.80/week for 2 meals to $68.70/week for 3 meals; and a four person plan is $87.60/week for 2 meals. There is flexibility with your subscription that you can suspend your deliveries at anytime if you want to take a break; which I like or there isn’t anything on the menu you like that week.

The steak dish was a medium difficulty with 30 min prep time and 470 calories per serving. I would make this recipe again on my own as I never had tarragon before and this was such a simple but appealing dish. The flat iron steak was a great cut and with the addition of the pink peppercorn sauce was simple yet flavourful. I would however season it more than directed and add my usual steak spice medley. The portions on this meal were rather small though and I’m not a big girl or over-eat and I found the portion for two to be ideal for just one person.

The chicken carbonara had a 15 min of prep time with 750 calories per serving and a hard difficulty level; which it lived up to. The recipe couldn’t have been easier until it came to the carbonana sauce portion. My sauce came out too thick and was eggy, which I had to wonder why as I followed the directions and I know the basis of making cream sauces. I checked on social media and I looked at some others photos of the chicken carb and there sauce was also thick and eggy looking; so it’s something in that recipe I gather. The portion size for this meal was huge. This could easily serve 3 people or two very hungry people. This recipe directed to season 3 different parts which I found to be too much.

The directions were almost fail proof which would make this a great idea for those people who aren’t good cooks or just never know where to start. The instructions come on a coloured cardstock paper; with step by step directions and photos for each step. This is one if the few times I followed these recipes exactly without adding anything. I had to use restraint in this aspect which was new as I always go off recipe.

Overall this is a great meal delivery box with delicious simple healthy options and with vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free selections each week. I would try this again when two items on the menu peak my interest. This is also a great way to try a new dish you’ve always wanted to; but didn’t want to source the ingredients or knew you would have to buy much and have leftovers on a dish you may not end up enjoying. The food is delivered in a refrigerated box with ice pack to help food stay fresh until you arrive home. This box has quality ingredients the, price is reasonable; but I can personally source these ingredients for cheaper. That being said this is a great box for super busy people, or people who don’t enjoy sourcing ingredients … I’m a hesitant fan for the moment.

Flank Steak & Tarragon Potatoes - Candy Coated Culinista

Flank Steak & Tarragon Potatoes – Candy Coated Culinista

Chef's Plate Produce - Candy Coated Culinista

Chef’s Plate Produce – Candy Coated Culinista

Macarons with Vanilla Buttercream

Macarons with Vanilla Buttercream - Candy Coated Culinista

Macarons with Vanilla Buttercream – Candy Coated Culinista

About sixteen months ago I made my most favourite treat macarons for the first time and the result were less than favourable in my eyes, sure they looked like macs, but they had this pebbled texture. I consider myself a macaron connoisseur as I know way too much about macs and have tasted then all around Toronto and compare and take notes at each visit (yes I have a small addiction lol). After all this time my piping skills have improved tremendously and yet I still can’t make a beautiful macaron.

Yield/Serving: 40
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 14 min.
Difficulty level is: Technical

From: Eat Live Travel Write

• 4oz (115g) ground almonds
• 8oz (230g) confectioners’ sugar
• 5oz (144g) egg whites, at room temperature
• 2.5oz (72g) granulated sugar
• 2 tsp food colouring powder
Buttercream Frosting
• ½ cup butter, room temperature
• 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
• 1 tbsp milk
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Ensure the egg whites are at room temperature.
2. Line two baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Prepare a piping bag using the circular tip and set aside.
4. Combine almond flour and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor and pulse about 10 times for a few seconds, until combined. Using a fine sieve sift ingredients into a large bowl twice.
5. Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites and sugar at a low speed (Kitchen Aid 4) for two minutes, medium speeds (Kitchen Aid 6) for two minutes, and high speed (Kitchen Aid 8) for two minutes.
6. The egg whites will be large mass at this point and now add the coloured powder and mix for one minute at the highest speed (Kitchen Aid 10).
7. Add in the dry ingredients and fold the mixture while pressing the mixture against the sides of the bowl for about forty passes (counting single strokes) **Stop every couple strokes after twenty-five passes to check the consistency. It should be flowing in ribbons off the spatula**
8. Fill the piping bag and pipe you macarons.
9. Ensure to pipe at an angle to the baking sheet about 3cm in diameter as they will spread while baking. (Make sure to quickly remove the tip when piping making a comma shape.)
10. Bang the tray four times on the countertop to remove any air bubbles.
11. Let the macarons rest for thirty minutes.
12. Pre-heat oven to 300°F.
13. Bake for 16-18 minutes and turn tray around halfway through.
14. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes and then remove parchment paper from the tray and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
15. Remove from the parchment paper.
16. Pair up the macarons with similar shaped shells.
17. Once completely cooled pipe the buttercream filling.
18. Best enjoyed 24 hours after filling.
Buttercream Frosting
1. In a medium-sized bowl, cream together the butter until smooth
2. Slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar until combined.
3. Stir in the milk and vanilla extract until the frosting consistency is achieved.
4. Pour into a piping bag and decorate once cupcakes have cooled.

• I used Gel food colouring as I only have gel or the regular food colouring on hand.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Looking at my macarons I can tell that even though my cupcake piping skills are getting better, I am still having a hard time piping macarons and the batter kept flowing out of the bag as I tried to pipe. The skin and foot on most of my macs weren’t terrible but they all had tails on the tops as I lack that piping finesse and I believe I almost didn’t properly slam the baking sheets enough to remove all the air bubbles even though I thought I had. I made two batches one using the mastard macaron mat again and one by hand. Once again the mat made more circular macs but I the insides were hollow yet when I piped by hand the macs were cooked through properly but non circular and started to brown a tad more on the edges. I also have tails showing on top as my comma technique is also lacking. This recipe is said to virtually no-fail; but I find making these at home too hard and time-consuming. Even though I find them overpriced I will gladly pay whatever the price until I can achieve a proper homemade macaron.

As for the taste these actually tasted like the store bought they are just sadly misshapen with some hollowness in some. The shells we still hard to the touch yet crumbled when bitten into, which are the characteristics you need to look for in a macaron. I will next time add less filling as the buttercream oozed out a little too much for my liking.

I think I will give this one more try or two until my almond flour runs out and just make smaller batches. If by then I still haven’t succeeded I will take a macaron making class to see where I am going wrong. I will be ditching my mastard macaron mat and using my silpat.

Now I know I am being a little overly critical of myself as this is my second attempt and they tasted great and looked half decent, but the perfectionist in me is just saying not good at all and when I look at my picture of these odd, deficient and ill-formed macs I just want to sigh and shake my head.

Macarons with Vanilla Buttercream - Candy Coated Culinista

Macarons with Vanilla Buttercream – Candy Coated Culinista

Sweet Pepper Coulis

Peppers were on sale and I bought too much (the over-eager shopper that I am). I decided to make steak for dinner with some mixed vegetables and a wild mushroom rice. The question was “what am I going to do with all these peppers?… I know I will make a sauce or a coulis (a thick sauce made from pureed vegetable or fruits) for the steak”. My inspiration for this sauce was from an entrée I had at The Keg Mansion for our 1 year anniversary. I choose the top sirloin with roasted red peppers and feta cheese. I can’t believe I still remember that meal today over 3 years later. I guess I must have really enjoyed it, and my dish was just as tasty if I say so myself.

Yield/Serving: 250 ml
Difficulty level is: Easy

• 1 tbsp of olive oil
• 1 small yellow sweet pepper chopped
• 1 small red sweet pepper chopped
• 1 small orange sweet pepper chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic chopped
• 1 small tomato chopped
• 1 small onion chopped
• ½ tsp kosher salt
• ½ tsp black pepper
• 1 tsp dried basil
• 1 cup dry white wine

1. Add all the ingredients into a pot to boil.
2. Once the vegetables become tender, reduce temperature to low to simmer for 15-20 minutes. (Or until liquid starts reducing.)
3. Remove pot from burner and use immersion blender to mix the ingredients.

• I had leftover Sweet Pepper Coulis, so I re-purposed it into my homemade tomato sauce I made the next day.

Please Enjoy

Mr. C. said “very very tasty. It added a nice tang to the steak also when mixed with the rice it was awesome. “

My thoughts
This was a really surprising concoction I came up with; and it all came about because I had too many peppers. I love when my cooking experiments work out well. (I’m not talking to you Cheesecake Fudge)

Candy Coated Culinista 2013 Year in Review

Swedish Pork Loin Sandwich on ACE Ciabatta Piccola - Candy Coated Culinista

Swedish Pork Loin Sandwich on ACE Ciabatta Piccola – Candy Coated Culinista

I started my blog on May 13th 2013 with my favourite Chocolate Diablo Cookies from the Tacofino Food Truck in Tofino, British Columbia, Canada. Now I am 57 posts in and I can hardly believe all I accomplished with my blog. Here’s to 2014 and me learning and sharing more of my food escapades. Click here to see my quick video.

Thanks for following my journey,

Candy Coated Culinista

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