Zucchini & Fennel Spinach Pesto Salad

Zucchini Fennel & Spinach Pesto Salad – Candy Coated Culinista

I was given the hugest Zucchini I have ever seen from a co-workers garden and now. I could cradle the thing like a new born baby if that give you any indication of size. Since I clearly have zucchini for the week and for weeknight dinner with friends I figured a new recipe was in order.

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 30 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
Pesto

• 1/2 cup fresh basil
• 1 cup fresh spinach packed
• 2 tbsp pine nuts
• 3 tbsp parmesan cheese
• 2 clove garlic, rough chop
• ½ tsp sea salt
• ½ tsp black pepper
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
• Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Salad
• ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
• ½ small fennel, thinly sliced
• 4 medium sized zucchini, trimmed and sliced into ribbons
• ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
• ¼ Yellow bell pepper, diced
• ¼ Orange bell pepper, diced

Tips
• Serve with grilled chicken breast for added protein and pour leftover pesto sauce over top of the chicken breast.

Assembly
Pesto

1. In a food processor place basil, spinach, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, sea salt, black pepper and blend until finely chopped.
2. With the machine running pour in the extra virgin olive oil until pesto is uniform and set aside.
3. Squeeze lemon juice at the end and stir in with a spoon.
Salad
1. Slice red onion..
2. Using a mandolin slice the zucchini lengthwise into ribbons and fennel thinly into strips.
3. Halve the grape tomatoes and dice yellow and orange bell pepper.
4. Place all ingredients into a bowl add pesto and incorporate.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This salad was delicious and flavourful. I was surprised how tasty the spinach pesto was considering I couldn’t find arugula at the supermarket. I even went to the expensive fancy grocer to collect it and there was no arugula to be found. Considering the ingredients for this recipe aren’t the cheapest and I got the zucchini for free this would be perfect for a dinner party or with guests and these are some quality ingredients being used; don’t save it just for yourself.

Garden Zucchini – Candy Coated Culinista

Mango Salad

Mango Salad – Candy Coated Culinista

Mango salad has always been a favourite of mine since I first tasted it many years back being surrounded by so many Filipino co-workers. Back then I thought mango salad was only a Filipino thing; but since I have learned it is also a Thai dish and this is the probably the only way you can get me to have chilies in anything I consume.

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

Ingredients
• 2 mangoes, sliced into match sticks can be green or a little more ripe, your preference
• ¼ red bell pepper, sliced
• ¼ green bell pepper, sliced
• 1/2 medium red onion. Sliced
• Cilantro, handful
• 3 leaves of romaine or a leafy lettuce, chopped
• 1 green onion, chopped
• Freshly squeezed lime juice, from 1 lime
• Sweet Thai chili sauce, to taste

Assembly
1. Prep all the vegetable & fruit and place into a large bowl.
2. Squeeze in lime juice and add sweet chili Thai sauce and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Sweet, spicy and full of mangoes; I mean how can you go wrong. Whether you prefer the mango more green or a little more ripe it’s just a great salad with a slight kick.

Spring Asparagus Medley

Spring Asparagus Medley – Candy Coated Culinista

An easy peasy evening spring vegetable medley to accompany a chicken or beef dish.

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

Ingredients
• 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
• 20 Asparagus; hard bottoms cut off
• 5 button mushrooms, sliced
• 10 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
• ½ small red onion, sliced
• Celery salt, to taste

Assembly
1. In a large frying pan pour olive oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add asparagus, mushrooms. Tomatoes, red onion and fry for 5 minutes until tender.
3. Add celery salt.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
A simple yet satisfying spring dish. This would be a great side dish for a springtime BBQ. Crunchy asparagus, and softened mushrooms, tomatoes and onions is a great combination.

M is for … Melon Cucumber Salad

M is for … Melon Cucumber Salad – Candy Coated Culinista

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

Ingredients
• 4 tbsp lemon juice
• 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tsp agave nectar
• 1/4 tsp sea salt
• 1/4 tsp black pepper
• 1 small honeydew melon, seeded and cut into bite-sized chunks
• 1 golden kiwi, halved and sliced
• ½ English cucumber, cut into chunks
• 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
• 1/3 cup black olives, roughly chopped
• 3 tbsp finely chopped dill
• ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

Assembly
1. In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, agave nectar, salt and pepper until emulsified.
2. In a large bowl add honey dew, golden kiwi, English cucumber, red onion, black olives and dill.
3. Drizzle dressing over salad and mix.
4. Finally top with crumbled feta cheese and give one last quick mix and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This is one of my most creative salads to date. The combination of fruits and vegetables and it being both salty and sweet was very delicious. I would make this for a dinner party in a heartbeat.

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
Ingredients

• 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

Assembly
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

Ingredients
• 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

Assembly
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.

Cider-Braised Chicken with Apples

Cider Braised Chicken - Dutch Oven Version - Candy Coated Culinista

Cider Braised Chicken – Dutch Oven Version – Candy Coated Culinista

I really love apple cider!. So much so that I could consume a 3 litre bottle of Fresh-Pressed Mulled Sweet Apple Cider in one day if I’m not careful and therein lies the problem. I’m not usually one for sweet things; but I can’t resist apple cider and when I came across a recipe including cider I’m all in. Apple juice has always been my preferred juice of choice and almost any combination of apples and I’m sold. So when I came across this I had no qualms about trying it alcoholic or not.

Slightly altered from Epicurious

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 45 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients
• 8 chicken thighs
• 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
• ½ tsp black pepper
• ¼ cup Dijon mustard
• 3 tbsp canola oil
• 2 red delicious apple, cut into wedges
• ½ red onion, sliced
• 2 cups apple juice
• ½ cup apple cider vinegar

Assembly
1. Pre-heat oven to 450°F.
2. Season chicken with salt, pepper and rub mustard underneath the skin.
3. Using a heatproof skillet heat 2 tbsp oil over medium-high heat and sear chicken skin side down, until golden-brown, about 8 minutes.
4. Turn the chicken and then add apples and red onions around chicken.
5. Add liquid and transfer to oven to roast for about 20 minutes.

Tips
• If you want to make this with alcohol use 2 cup dry white win instead of apple juice. Also if apple cider is in season feel free to use fresh apple cider.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I made this recipe about one week to early. I thought two weeks into December would be late enough in the season to find apple cider; but it seemed this year apple cider only made an appearance purely for the Christmas dinner shopping schedule. So I had to improvise; which is what I seem to do best in a bind as this turned out great. The original recipe called for putting the chicken in a heatproof skillet and roasting the chicken; but I couldn’t really understand that part as I envision braising on a stovetop in a close container. This is when I split the recipe in half and did half in the oven per the directions and then I put the remaining in my Dutch oven. Personally I like the look of the Dutch oven version more as the sauce didn’t separate and it was creamier. Not to mention the chicken wasn’t as blackened. I’m glad I followed my instincts and split the batch.

Cider Braised Chicken - Skillet Version - Candy Coated Culinista

Cider Braised Chicken – Skillet Version – Candy Coated Culinista

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

Ingredients
• 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

Assembly
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.

BBQ Chicken, Apple, Bacon & Mushroom Quesadillas

BBQ Chicken Apple & Bacon Quesdaillas - Candy Coated Culinista

BBQ Chicken Apple & Bacon Quesdaillas – Candy Coated Culinista

I knew I wanted to make quesadillas for dinner this past weekend having a huge craving for it. I knew that even though this recipe was going to be familiar I planned on throwing a wrench into the classic quesadillas with some granny smith apples.

Yield/Serving: 2
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 10 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 5 chicken thighs, cut into pieces
• Vegetable oil
• Sea salt, to taste
• Ground cumin, to taste
• Garlic powder, to taste
• Onion powder, to taste
• Red pepper flakes, to taste
• Paprika, to taste
• 4 slices of bacon, cut into pieces
• 8 button mushroom, sliced
• ½ granny smith apple, cut into matchsticks skin on
• 2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
• 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
• 2 tbsp garlic BBQ sauce
• 4 tortillas
• Guacamole, optional using fresh avocado’s
• Sour cream, optional

Assembly
1. Using a frying pan over medium heat fry and season chicken thighs with a little vegetable oil until cooked thoroughly.
2. In another frying pan over medium heat fry bacon until crispy.
3. In another frying pan over medium high heat sauté the mushrooms in a little vegetable oil.
4. Cut the granny smith apple and red onion and set aside in a bowl.
5. Shred cheddar cheese and set aside.
6. Once chicken and bacon are finished cooking, cut into pieces and add BBQ sauce to the chicken pieces and coat.
7. Using a clean frying pan the size of the tortilla, start toasting tortillas.
8. Add in a mixture of chicken, bacon, mushrooms, cheese, red onion and apple and let melt.
9. Place the second tortilla on top and flip at least once until tortilla is crispy and cheese is melted.
10. Cut into quarters and serve with guacamole and sour cream on the side.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This dish was an absolute hit! I even had a request to make another portion as it was so well received and of course I had to oblige. I even stole a bite for myself even though I was beyond full at this point I just couldn’t resist. The granny smiths added a tartness and crunch that was enjoyable and balanced well with the sweetness of the BBQ sauce.

Skillet Chicken Pepperoni Pizza

Chicken Pepperoni Basil Crustless Pizza - Candy Coated Culinista

Chicken Pepperoni Basil Crustless Pizza – Candy Coated Culinista

This fancier weekend chicken pizza dish is crustless and perfect dish.

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

Ingredients
• 4 skinless chicken breast, cut in half
• Kosher salt
• Black pepper
• 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp margarine
• 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
• ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
• 1 can crushed tomatoes
• Balsamic vinegar
• ½ green pepper, diced
• ½ small red onion, diced
• Handful of basil, chopped
• 100g mozzarella shredded
• 75g pepperoni, sliced
• Handful of whole basil for topping

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Cut chicken breast in half to make them thinner.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. In a 9” cast-iron skillet, heat oil and margarine over medium-high heat.
5. Add the chicken in a single layer and sear until both sides are brown and just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.
6. Using the skillet add garlic, anchovy and red pepper flakes, sauté for 1 minute.
7. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, green pepper, red onion, basil and cook for 5 minutes.
8. Add chicken back to the skillet and top with mozzarella, pepperoni and whole basil and let cook for 3 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and slightly browned.
9. Serve.

Tips
• Serve with pasta if desired.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This is one of my favourite dishes I’ve made. It was saucy and tasted just like pizza just classier.

Chicken Pepperoni Basil Crustless Pizza - Candy Coated Culinista

Chicken Pepperoni Basil Crustless Pizza – Candy Coated Culinista

Tilapia Stuffed Avocado Mock Ceviche

Tilapia Stuffed Avocado Mock Ceviche  - Candy Coated Culinista

Tilapia Stuffed Avocado Mock Ceviche – Candy Coated Culinista

This is a recipe I made on Good Friday as this is a fish eating day for me. I wanted to make a classy dish that could also make for brunch or lunch and I think this recipe fits the bill.

Yield/Serving: 2
Prep Time: 1o min.
Cook Time: 15 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
Tilapia
• 2 tilapia fillets
• Season salt
• Black pepper
• Dried basil
• Curry powder, pinch
• Cayenne Pepper, pinch
• Smoke paprika, pinch
Ceviche
• 2 large avocados
• Parsley leaves, minced
• Yellow pepper, diced
• Red onion, diced
• Celery, diced
• 1 lime, freshly squeezed

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Season tilapia with season salt, black pepper, basil, curry powder, cayenne powder and smoke paprika.
3. Place on a baking pan and bake for 15 minutes.
4. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and set aside.
5. In a medium sized bowl add the diced and minced parsley, yellow pepper, red onion, celery and squeeze lime overtop and mix.
6. Set aside.
7. When the fish is cooked, break apart one of the fish and add to the ceviche and mix.
8. Scoop mock ceviche mixture into the centre of the avocado.
9. Cut the second piece of tilapia down the spine and plate a portion for both plates.
10. Serve

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I am a big fan of this recipe. I could probably be a true ceviche recipe; but the only food I have ventured into raw is sushi so far and ceviche and tartare’s just haven’t made it in my list yet. This recipe is light and very flavourful as the tilapia can hold up to the spices on the fish and the burst of citrus with the crunchy vegetables is a hit I my books.

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