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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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.

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.

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.

Christmas Dinner-Starter: Beet Carpaccio

Beet Carpaccio – Candy Coated Culinista

A vegetarian carpaccio what a unique idea.

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

Slightly altered from: Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook

Ingredients
• 4 large beets, peeled
• 2 tbsp raspberry balsamic vinegar
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Pinch of sea salt
• 1 lemon
• 2 tsp Dijon mustard
• 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tbsp plain-yoghurt
• 1 handful dill, ends trimmed

Assembly
1. Wash and peel beets and then using a mandolin finely slice the beets and place in a large bowl.
2. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a good pinch of sea salt and then squeeze half of a lemon.
3. Toss together and ensure each beet is well coated as this will tenderize the beets.
4. Using a small bowl, whisk mustard, Worcestershire sauce, yoghurt and the remaining lemon juice and ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil and set aside.
5. Arrange beets over a large serving platter and sprinkle dill over top.
6. Drizzle the dressing and serving extra dressing on the side.
7. Dollop some yoghurt on a serve (if desired).

Tips
• Use gloves if you don’t want beets stained hands. I didn’t use gloves; but I didn’t mind.
• The recipe called for arugula I used dill instead due to availability.
• Serve with warm crusty bread, goat’s cheese.
• Use heirloom beets eg white, golden, Chioggia (candy cane)beets and swap out the balsamic vinegar for a herb vinegar so the beets won’t get discoloured.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
The smell of this starter was irresistible; the fresh dill filled the air with the tangy mustard yoghurt dressing. This is a great way to start a Christmas dinner. I would have this salad any time of year. I don’t have beets all the time; but when I do I remember how much I love these things especially raw.

Winter’s Day Turmeric Smoothie

Winter’s Day Turmeric Smoothie – Candy Coated Culinista

Sunshine in a cup with oodles of health benefits.

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

Ingredients
• 1 large banana
• Knob of turmeric
• 1 blood orange
• 1 large carrot, peeled
• 1 mango (optional)
• 6 ice cubes

Assembly
1. Add all ingredients together into a blend and blend.
2. Serve.

Tips
• Use turmeric powder if you can’t find turmeric roots

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I love the colour and smell of this smoothie and I can totally handle turmeric now. It’s all about the dosage and now that I am using the right quantities and not purchasing turmeric cold pressed juices. I am a huge fan now and I notice all those health benefits associated with this root in this smoothie.

Seared Turmeric Chicken & Couscous with Greens

Seared Turmeric Chicken Hummus, Peppers, Couscous & Greens – Candy Coated Culinista

The iron journey continues….

Yield/Serving: 2
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 1 hr 25 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium, time-consuming

From: Everyday Superfood

Ingredients
• 2 large roasted red peppers
• 2 sprigs of fresh oregano
• 1 tsp ground turmeric
• Olive oil
• 2 boneless skinless chicken breast
• 7 oz Seasonal vegetables, like Swiss chard or spinach
• ½ cup whole-wheat couscous
• ½ a bunch of fresh mint
• pomegranate seeds
• fresh carrots, peeled and diced
• 1 sprig green onion, diced
• 1 lemon
• 1 tbsp blanched hazelnuts
• 1 can of chick peas
• Olive oil
• Lemon
• 3 garlic cloves
• Salt, to taste
• Plain yoghurt, optional
• Hot sauce, optional

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 400°F and roast red peppers coated in olive oil for an hour.
2. Finely chop oregano and place in a bowl along with turmeric, salt and pepper and olive oil.
3. Add chicken to the marinade and set aside.
4. Blanch greens in a large pot of boiling water under just tender and reserve water.
5. Add couscous to the just boiled greens water and season and let sit for 10 minutes.
6. Add mint to couscous and squeeze in half a lemon.
7. Toast hazelnuts in a dry non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and crush in a pestle and mortar slightly.
8. Cook chicken over high heat in a cast-iron skillet for 4 minute on each side until cooked through.
9. Remove stems from red peppers and set aside.
10. Reheat greens if needed.
11. Place chick peas in a food processor along with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt and blend.
12. Serve chicken with couscous, peppers, greens and hummus.
13. Add hot sauce if desired.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This is one of my favourite recipes. It combines all the components I enjoy except I wasn’t a fan of the hazelnuts. Marinating the chicken in turmeric gave it a lovely colour and taste and my favourite part was the roasted red peppers and the lemony bright hummus. As a plus I boosted my iron level some and I love that there can be a vegetarian and meat option.

Buttermilk Chicken with Chelo & Persian-Inspired Cauliflower

Buttermilk Chicken with Chelo & Persian-Inspired Cauliflower – Candy Coated Culinista

The perfect weekend family dinner with and Southern and Persian twist.

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 24 hours prior
Cook Time: 60 min. plus
Difficulty level is: Medium

Buttermilk chicken from: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Buttermilk Chicken

Ingredients
• 3 ½ – 4 pound chicken
• Salt
• 2 cups buttermilk

Assembly
1. The day before you want to cook the chicken remove the wingtips by cutting through the first wing joint with poultry shears or a sharp knife.
2. Reserve for stock.
3. Season chicken generously with salt and let sit for 30 minutes.
4. Stir 2 tablespoons of kosher salt or 4 teaspoons of fine sea salt into the buttermilk to dissolve.
5. Place the chicken in a re-sealable plastic bag and pour buttermilk in.
6. If the chicken won’t fit double up two plastic grocery bags to prevent leakage and tie the bag with a piece of butcher’s twine.
7. Seal it and squish the buttermilk all around the chicken, place on a rimmed plate and refrigerate.
8. If you’re so inclined, over the next 24 hours turn the bag so every part of the chicken gets marinated, but that’s not essential.
9. Pull the chicken from the fridge an hour before you plan to cook it.
10. Preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack set in the center position.
11. Remove the chicken from the plastic bag and scrape off as much buttermilk as you can without obsessing.
12. Tightly tie together the legs of the chicken with butcher’s twine.
13. Place chicken in a 10” cast iron skillet or shallow roasting pan.
14. Slide the pan to the back of the oven with the legs facing the back.
15. After 20 minutes reduce heat to 400°F and continue roasting for 10 minutes and move the pan allowing another side to brown.
16. Continue rotating so that all sides can brown and continue to roast for 30 minutes or so until juices run clear.
17. Let rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Tips
• Know your salt and how much to add.
• Use yoghurt if you can’t find buttermilk

Chelo or Tadig (Persian Steamed Rice)

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 20 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients
• 1 cup basmati rice
• 1 1/4cup water
• ¼ cup canola oil
• 1 tbsp salt
• Turmeric, to taste
• Saffron, to taste
• 3 pats of butter

Assembly
1. Rinse rice a few times until water runs clear.
2. Add water to pot and over medium-high heat boil.
3. Once water has boiled bring temperature down and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. In a small bowl mix, turmeric, saffron, a little water and canola oil and set aside.
5. As rice is steaming bore holes into the rice with the end of a spatula.
6. Pour turmeric saffron mixture over rice.
7. Wipe pats of butter around the edges on the pot and continue to cook.
8. Continue to cook until the bottom on the pan forms a crust.
9. Flip unto a plate and serve.
10. Optional – just flavour the rice with the turmeric and saffron mixture and serve in a bowl.

Tips
• I have never been a fan of burnt rice and as a West-Indian child, I have come across this many a time, so I opted for jus t flavoured rice.

Persian inspired Cauliflower

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 6 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• Cauliflower, cut into florets
• 2 tbsp lemon oil
• Sumac, to taste
• Cumin, to taste
• Thyme, to taste
• ¼ pomegranate seeds
• Handful of cilantro, removed from stems
• Pistachios, shelled and chopped
• Pomegranate molasses

Assembly
1. Using a medium sized saucepan, steam cauliflower until just tender as set aside in a bowl.
2. Pour lemon oil, sumac, cumin, thyme into bowl and coat using hands.
3. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds, cilantro, pistachios and drizzle with pomegranate molasses.
4. Serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
The chicken was salty and briny and the buttermilk marinated chicken made the chicken so succulent and simple. This was my first time using buttermilk in any of my cooking or baking as I have never understood the concept of sour milk. The Chelo almost Tadig rice was a bright and flavourful and complemented the chicken perfectly. The veggies was a nice addition; but I really hate cauliflower and am still trying to find a way to love it. I could tolerate it in this dish; but I will swap it out next time for broccoli or Romanesco. The pomegranates added a tartness, while the cilantro and pistachios added a lemony and crunchy texture. This is a wonderful complete meal that received comments like “wow look at this feast” and “look so yummy” with those compliments all that time in the kitchen and prepping was very much worth it.

Buttermilk Chicken – Candy Coated Culinista

Chelo – Candy Coated Culinista

Persian-Inspired Cauliflower – Candy Coated Culinista

Buttermilk Chicken with Chelo & Persian-Inspired Cauliflower – Candy Coated Culinista

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