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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Romanesco Steaks with Romesco

Romanesco Steaks with Romesco Sauce – Candy Coated Culinista

It’s BBQ season; but what about all on you vegans and vegetarians. Here is one dish that is substantial and you won’t be envious that you aren’t apart of the BBQ season.

Yield/Serving: 2
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 8-10 min. per side
Difficulty level is: Easy

Inspired by: Food 52 Any Night Grilling

Ingredients
• 1 head of Romanesco
• ¼ cup vegetable oil
• 2 large red bell peppers, halved, cored and seeded
• 2 fresh chilies
• ½ red onion, cut into thick wedges
• ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
• 2 plum tomatoes, halved
• ¼ cup skinned roasted hazelnuts or almonds
• 1 tsp sherry vinegar, plus more as desired
• 2 tbsp freshly chopped thyme or marjoram leaves
• 1 tsp smoked paprika
• 1 clove garlic or 1 tsp smoked garlic (from book)
• Kosher salt, to taste
• Ground black pepper, to taste

Assembly
1. Remove leaves and trim stem of the Romanesco leaving the core intact.
2. Place on a cutting board and slice in half.
3. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper.
4. Prepare charcoal grill to medium-high heat and coat the gill pan with extra virgin olive oil over high heat using a paper towel. If you are using a grill basket allow to heat for 5 minutes prior to use.
5. In a bowl lightly toss bell peppers, chilies and onions in olive oil.
6. Place over grill on in grill basket turning and rotating for 6 to 7 minutes for the onions and continue to char the red peppers.
7. Cover peppers in a kitchen towel (to make it easier to remove the skin)
8. Grill tomatoes and when cooled enough remove skin also.
9. Using a food processor add peppers, chilies, onion, tomato along with nuts, thyme and paprika and salt into a thick puree. Drizzle in olive oil as you go.
10. Grill Romanesco rotating them to prevent excessive charring. The exterior should be just tender.
11. Serve in a pool of the romesco sauce and sprinkle with flaky salt id desired.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
The original recipe called foe cauliflower; which I’m not fond of. I did plan on using cauliflower; but I came across the Romanesco a cousin to the cauliflower and said maybe this is better. The sauce was also supposed to be a harissa; but another recipe I made had way too much sauce left over and I hate wasting. So this is how I got here; I loved it, a red sauce is very complimentary to the green veg and it all worked out well. Romanesco still tastes like cauliflower to me and it was just ok.

U is for … Udon Noodle Soup

U is for … Udon Noodle Soup – Candy Coated Culinista

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

Ingredients
• 6 cups beef broth
• 2 celery stalks, chopped
• 1 medium onion, diced
• Handful of Italian parsley, rough chop
• 2 green onions, chopped
• 7 cloves of garlic, finely diced
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
• One knob of ginger, minced
• ½ cup sugar snap peas, halved
• 2 tbsp, mint leaves
• 200g, 1 package of pre-cooked udon noodles
• 1 baby bok choy, halved down the length of the leaf
• 6 dashes, fish sauce
• 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Assembly
1. Cook the udon noodles according the package then drain and set aside.
2. Using a large saucepan pour in the beef broth and bring to a boil.
3. Add in celery, onion, parsley, green onions, garlic, carrots, ginger, snap peas, mint leaves and let cook for five minutes.
4. Add in the udon noodles along with fish sauce and apple cider vinegar and cook for five more minutes.
5. Turn down the temperature to simmer and add in the bok choy and let cook for 10 more minutes.
6. Serve

Tips
• Use vegetable broth to make this a vegetarian, vegan dish.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I usually love the soup I make; but so far the Asian inspired soups I haven’t really been a fan of. It tasted fine, but just not to my style.

Gluten-Free Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup – Candy Coated Culinista

You have guests coming over the weekend and you want to make something warm and comforting; but keeping yourself on a budget try this heart-warming soup.

Yield/Serving: 6-8
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 45 min. to 1 hour
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 small onion, diced
• ½ lbs, ground beef
• ½ lbs, ground pork
• ½ tsp sea salt
• ½ tsp black pepper
• ½ tsp dried oregano
• ½ tsp fried basil
• ½ tsp red chilli flakes
• 12 oz can of Crushed tomatoes
• 900 ml or vegetable broth
• 2 sprigs of basil leaves, chiffonade
• Handful of Italian parsley, torn
• 8 – 10 gluten-free lasagna noodles, broken
• ½ a link if pepperoni, sliced
• 1 cup fresh spinach
• 1 cup baby kale
• Mozzarella shredded, optional
• Parmesan cheese, optional
• Basil, to garnish

Assembly
1. Using a medium sized Dutch oven pour olive oil into pot and allow to heat up over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion and garlic and sauté until golden.
3. Place ground beef and pork in and cook until brown adding in sea salt, black pepper, oregano, basil, red chilli flakes.
4. Pour in the crushed tomatoes followed by the vegetable broth and bring to a boil and then reducing to simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add in the pepperoni slices and lasagna noodles and let the mixture simmer for 25 minutes until cooked.
6. Add spinach and baby kale in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
7. Serve garnished with fresh basil and shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Tips
• Use canned whole tomatoes and blend quickly in a food processor if you are unable to find crushed tomatoes.
• When reheating add more vegetable broth.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I never thought of making a lasagna soup but I was craving lasagna and didn’t want to do all that work and well we are in the midst of an extreme cold weather warning. So this really hit the spot and everything came together very easily. My taste testers enjoyed and even left with some soup for home. This was surprisingly flavourful and such a great treat on a cold day. I actually made three recipes at once with the same ingredients more or less. I made my Italian Meatballs (a request for me to make), my skillet chicken pepperoni pizza and then the soup. I managed to make 3 recipes for under thirty-five dollars and had about thirteen servings; which was amazing. This was my first bigger meal prep as I don’t really like doing mass meals for the week and I had meals to carry me though some lunches and dinners; which freed up time for me to do things I enjoy like ice skating at night.

Christmas Dinner: Pea Soup

Pea Soup – Candy Coated Culinista

This Christmas I want to make a complete and composed dinner from beginning to end and who better than to use Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook. I am practicing these recipes early so Christmas dinner has no hiccups and I am always one to eat Christmas dinner any time of the year; to a few of my friends chagrin. They just don’t understand Christmas in July of Turkey in late spring. I have been adverse to pea soup for as long as I can remember and the only reason was the colour of the soup. I don’t mind peas in any other fashion, so what is my problem right?

Yield/Serving: 6
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 40 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

From Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook

Ingredients
Soup

• 1 onion
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
• 1 leek, rough chopped
• 2 celery stalks, rough chopped
• Olive oil
• 6 cups of frozen peas
• 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
• 6 sprigs of fresh mint
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Plain yoghurt or crème fraiche, optional
Toast
• 6 slices of whole-grain bread with seeds
• 5 ½ oz leftover cooked ham
• 1 crunchy eating apple
• 1 ¾ oz Stilton cheese
• ¾ oz mature Cheddar cheese
• 1 tbsp liquid honey
• 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Assembly
Soup

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Using a Dutch oven add in the garlic, onions and leek and celery over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until softened; but not coloured, stirring occasionally.
3. Add in the frozen peas and stock and let boil.
4. Add on a pinch of salt and pepper.
5. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for 10 minutes.
Toast
1. Lay bread in a large baking sheet and shred ham, apple and crumble chees atop of the bread.
2. Finely grate cheddar cheese over top and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil and honey.
3. Cook for 10 minutes and then place in soup bowls.
Soup
6. Pick out the mint leave and using the immersion blender; blend until smooth.
7. Ladle soup into bowls, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, add a dollop of yoghurt or crème fraiche, and serve.

Tips
• Make ahead and reheat when needed and you can also gather the toast topping and have ready to go.
• Top with pomegranates, crumbled bacon if your not making the toast depending on your guest.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Now that I enjoy a daily green smoothie I have no quams about the colour of this soup and I’m very happy I finally decided to try it. The pea soup was so flavourful and my only issue was getting the soup to be silky smooth. Other that that I’m sold. I would suggest using vegetable or mushroom stock instead of chicken and serve the toast, yoghurt or cream fraiche on the side so those vegetarians and vegans can partake.

Christmas Dinner – Potato: Potato Al Forno

Potato Al Forno – Candy Coated Culinista

It’s not Christmas without a side of silky smooth mashed potatoes right? Well how about this year you go a little more rustic and complex.

Yield/Serving: 8-10
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 1 hr & 50 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

From Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook

Ingredients
• 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
• 2 onions
• 2 bulbs of fennel, with herby fronds attached
• 2 ½ cups whole milk
• 1 2/3 cups heavy cream
• 6 anchovy fillets in oil
• 8 cloves garlic
• ½ bunch of fresh rosemary
• 6 fresh bay leaves
• 1 whole nutmeg, for grinding
• 1 ¾ oz Parmesan cheese

Assembly
1. Peel onions. Potatoes and trim the fennel, reserving the fronds .
2. Finely slice the potatoes, onion and fennel just under ¼” thick, using a mandolin with the guard.
3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
4. In a medium sized saucepan pour milk and cream in and tear anchovies, crush in the unpeel garlic and add rosemary & bay leaves and finely grate in half the nutmeg.
5. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat and let infuse for a few minutes.
6. Remove out the rosemary and bay leaves and grate in some Parmesan cheese and season if desired.
7. In a baking dish layer the potatoes, onion and fennel.
8. Pour the cream mixture over and finely grate the remaining Parmesan cheese.
9. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes and the remove foil and continue to bake for another 45 minutes, or until tender and golden.
10. Garnish with reserved fennel tops and serve.

Tips
• Swap out fennel for any other seasonal vegetable such as celery root or celery heart.
• I would also recommend rutabaga as that is easy to find in Canada in the Autumn & winter months.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This is a recipe you could prep the night before and cover in the fridge and cook the morning before your Turkey goes in. This recipe was surprisingly savoury and luscious with all the dairy added. I didn’t notice the anchovies; which I actually love; but some of my guests swear they hate. (When they come to my place it’s in lots of things unbeknownst to them and the eat away) This is a amazing and sophisticated side dish that is also great as leftovers. Add some dill to the top also if you have some in the house.

Potato Al Forno – Candy Coated Culinista

Turkey Stock

Turkey Stock – Candy Coated Culinista

Another great make ahead Thanksgiving or Christmas recipe that can be used in stuffing, gravy and day after soup.

Yield/Serving: 1 litre
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 4 hours, plus
Difficulty level is: Easy, time consuming

Slightly altered from No Crumb Left

Ingredients
• 6-8 turkey pieces; combo of wings and drumsticks
• 10 cups of water
• 1 large onion. Sliced into rings
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 2 celery sticks, chopped
• Fresh parsley, handful
• Fresh chives, handful
• Fresh thyme, handful

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Place turkey pieces into a roasting pan and bake for 60 minutes. (Just ensure all sides of the turkey are a golden brown)
3. Check every 30 minutes and flip.
4. Meanwhile using a large stock pot add ten cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
5. Once turkey is done, tear apart the wings and place all the turkey pieces along with the vegetable into the stock pot.
6. Scrape the brown bits from the roasting pan with a wooden spoon and add to the stock pot. (If it hasn’t all deglazed; just turn on the burner and add some water and let boil and scrap the turkey pieces off)
7. Gently simmer over low heat for 4 hours. The stock will reduce down.
8. Let cool and pour into jars and chill.

Tips
• Use the leftover turkey for whatever you like. I saved the drum sticks for dinner as they remained whole and the turkey wings were put in a quick turkey soup with the rest of the veg.
• You can also freeze this stock.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Not going to lie here this is a lot of work for stock; but then there are no preservatives, sodium or salt and chemicals. So start this in the morning and go about your day in the house and let this reduce while you’re doing chores and other baking. There is no salt in this recipe so it won’t be as flavourful as you expect; but it’s best to salt whatever dish you put this into after the fact.

Hearty Winter Soup

Hearty Winter Soup – Candy Coated Culinista

We had our first snowfall last Friday and I was pushed head on into soup season a little earlier than I expected. Now I had bought rutabagas and had no clue what to do with them besides my usual preparation and then I thought of adding this to my winter soup.

Yield/Serving: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 1 hour + 45 min. inactive tine
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 pepper squash
• 2 rutabagas, peeled and cubed
• 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 1 tbsp, extra virgin olive oil
• 1 white onion, diced
• 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
• 3 button mushrooms, sliced
• 1 litre homemade vegetable stock

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Cut squash in half and scoop out the insides while the oven warms up.
3. Place in a roasting pan and bake for one hour.
4. Prepare rutabagas and sweet potatoes and boil in a medium sized saucepan until tender.
5. Using a frying pan over medium heat pour in olive oil and add onions, garlic and mushrooms; fry until golden brown.
6. Place rutabagas, squash, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and mushrooms in a bowl and set aside.
7. Using a large stock pot, pour vegetable stock in and add vegetables.
8. Using the immersion blender, vegetables and let simmer until squash is tender.
9. Once squash is cooked, scoop out of the skin and add to the stock pot.
10. Blend again until all the vegetables & fruit have been pureed and the soup is smooth.
11. Let simmer on low for 45 minutes.
12. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve.

Tips
• Use store bought vegetable stock.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This turned out much better than I expected as rutabaga has very little flavour. However; with the other vegetables there was an added earthiness I enjoyed. The colour was a little muddier than I’d hoped; but I would have had to add more squash and sweet potato to get my desired colour.

Heirloom Tomato & Purple Pepper Salad with Marinated Onions

Heirloom Tomato & Purple Pepper Salad with Marinated Onions – Candy Coated Culinista

Another trip to the Farmer’s Market with wonderful results.

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

Marinated Onions slightly altered from No Crumbs Left

Ingredients
Marinated Onions

• 1 medium red onion, sliced
• ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp dried basil
• Chives, small bundle finely chopped
• 1 tbsp fresh thyme
• ½ tsp dried oregano
• 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Heirloom Salad
• Heirloom grape tomatoes, sliced
• Heirloom Purple peppers, sliced
• Red bell peppers, sliced

Assembly
Marinated Onions

1. Thinly slice onions and place in a small bowl.
2. In a small bowl, mix oil and vinegar and herbs and pour over onion.
3. Ensure the onions are submerged and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
Heirloom Salad
1. Slice grape tomatoes in half and slice peppers, keeping their full shape.
2. Place tomatoes and peppers along with onions (not including the marinated oil) on a platter and serve.

Tips
• Marinated onions keeps for two days unrefrigerated.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
The original recipe called for just oregano and the use of red wine vinegar; but I had just used both these up. (just my luck) so I worked with what was in my pantry. I didn’t slice the onion as thinly as I hoped; but I still turned out great.

P is for … Pea Risotto

P is for … Pea Risotto - Candy Coated Culinista

P is for … Pea Risotto – Candy Coated Culinista

Yield/Serving: 2
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 20-22 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 900ml low sodium chicken stock
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 small onion, diced
• 4 cloves garlic, diced
• 1 cup Arborio rice
• Sea salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste
• 1/3 cup fresh peas
• 1 tbsp unsalted butter
• Parmigiano Reggiano, to taste
• Handful of parsley, finely diced

Assembly
1. Pour chicken stock into a large saucepan over high heat and boil.
2. Once the chicken stock has boiled, turn down to low heat to keep warm.
3. In a medium saucepan heat extra virgin olive oil and pour in the onion and cook for three minutes.
4. Add in the garlic and continue cooking for another 3 minutes until soft and translucent.
5. Stir in one cup of Arborio rice along with sea salt and black pepper stirring constantly for two minutes.
6. Ladle in a half cup of chicken stock to the rice until the liquid is absorbed.
7. Continue adding chicken stock a half cup at a time until rice is tender with a firm centre and the risotto is creamy, about 20 to 22 minutes.
8. Add in the peas and butter in the last 3 minutes of cooking.
9. Stir in the parsley and grate some Parmigiano Reggiano to taste.
10. Serve immediately.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
A slow but well worth it process. Creamy and aldente with the fresh peas and parsley along with the Parmigiano Reggiano made this a rich dish.

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