Quick and Easy Shepherds Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2-3 cups mashed potatoes (hot)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup beef gravy
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and brown the ground beef in a skillet.
  2. Add in the onion, garlic, mixed veg, and salt/pepper – heat through (about 3-5 min).
  3. Sprinkle the flour on the beef mixture and stir to coat – heat for another minute or so, then transfer to a 9×9 baking dish or round casserole dish.
  4. Mix 1/2 cup of the cheese into the potatoes and scoop/spread evenly over the beef mixture (don’t be too picky with this step, it’s OK if it looks a bit rustic).
  5. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the potatoes and bake in the oven for 25-30 min, or until heated through.
healthy apple crisp

“Healthy” Apple Crisp

I adapted this recipe from the Weight Watchers apple crisp recipe, so it’s healthier than my other one – still just as tasty!

Ingredients

  • 8-10 medium apples (approx. 2 1/2 lbs.), peeled/cored/sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (plus 2 tbsp.)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the 1/2 cup flour, the oats, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the water and firmly press mixture to form clumps – set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the white sugar, the 2 tbsp. flour, nutmeg, and cloves. Add in the apples and vanilla; mix well until the apples are fully coated and pour into a lightly greased 9×12 baking dish.
  4. Crumble the topping over the apple mixture and bake for about 50 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden brown – serve warm or at room temperature.
hummus-IG

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted/seeded/peeled (for notes on roasting, see below)
  • 2 red chile peppers, roasted/seeded/peeled (I used Hungarian chiles)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Juice from half a lemon, (about 1 tbsp.)
  • 2-3 tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt (more or less, depending on taste, just don’t skip it altogether)

Directions

  1. Dump your drained/rinsed chickpeas in a blender or food processor and spin them for about 15-20 seconds just to chop them up.
  2. Chop your roasted peppers coarsely, (be sure not to touch your eyes before washing your hands after, or wear gloves) and toss them in.
  3. Add in the garlic, salt, lemon juice, tahini, (be sure to stir it well so it’s not separated) and 2 tbsp. of the water.
  4. Spin everything until it’s thoroughly combined, you may need to scrape down the sides a few times. If it’s too thick, add a bit more water and keep blending until you get a nice smooth consistency, (probably a minute or so, altogether).
  5. You can serve it immediately but I find a night in the refrigerator allows the flavours to meld and improves the consistency.
  6. Serve with warm naan, pita bread, crackers, veggies, etc.

NOTE: If you don’t like the spice, just swap out your chile peppers for a 2nd red bell pepper. TO ROAST YOUR PEPPERS: preheat oven to 400F, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange your peppers on it. Allow to roast for about 20 minutes, then flip them and roast for another 20 min. The chiles will take about 1/4 – 1/2 the time, since they’re much smaller. By this time, they should achieve a bit of a char on the outside and have softened (they should shrink as they cool) – if not, just go for another 5 min or so. To seed and peel, just cut them length-wise and scoop out the seeds/stem/membrane with a spoon – just be careful of the hot liquid that has accumulated inside – the skin will peel off easily.

no-bake-granola-bars

Easy No-Bake Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (raw organic, preferably)
  • 1/2 cup honey (local raw, if you can get it)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats (I used 1 cup oats & 1 cup crunchy granola since I had it on hand)
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter (or any other nut butter, if there are allergies)
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Combine coconut oil and honey in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Heat through while stirring occasionally and allow to bubble up for about 30-60 seconds as it takes on a nice light amber colour – not too long though, or else you’ll be making candy.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in your vanilla, peanut butter, and cinnamon.
  4. Stir in the oats and walnuts until thoroughly mixed, then quickly mix in the chocolate chips (don’t take too long or they’ll all melt on you).
  5. Press mixture firmly into a lightly-greased (or parchment-lined) 9×13 pan, hopefully hitting about 1/2-3/4″ thickness throughout.
  6. Allow this to set in the fridge for about 30-45 minutes.
  7. Cut into squares or bars – these should keep fine in a sealed container for about 2 weeks, though I promise they won’t stick around that long!

NOTE: You could use butter instead of coconut oil, but I like the flavour the oil adds, plus it’s GOOD for you! Also, you can substitute the chocolate chips and/or walnuts for just about any nut or dried fruit – the possibilities are endless!

¡Beef Tacos!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne if you prefer)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (I prefer smoked)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (freshly toasted and ground if can swing it!)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Hard taco shells or flour tortillas
  • Grated cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream, chopped veggies (lettuce, tomatoes, etc.) or whatever else you like for toppings

Directions

  1. Thoroughly combine all the spices/herbs with the cornstarch and set aside.
  2. Crumble/cook the ground beef in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Once  the beef is nice and browned, stir in the spice mixture and MOST of the water, (leave out about 1/4 cup for now).
  4. When it reaches a simmer, turn down the heat to medium and cook for about 5-7 minutes, (stirring occasionally so nothing sticks) until it thickens. If it seems too dry at this point, stir in the rest of the water, otherwise you can leave it out.
  5. Once the beef is coated with the sauce and it’s thickened up, serve immediately in hard or soft taco shells, with your choice of toppings/fillings. Or, skip the shells and toss it with some chopped lettuce, (along with any of your other veggies) grated cheddar, some lightly crushed tortilla chips, (or corn chips) and a bit of spicy ranch dressing to make an awesome taco salad.

NOTE: You can multiply all the spice measurements to stockpile your own ready-to-use taco seasoning. Besides being a thickener, the cornstarch will keep it from clumping over time, just be sure to give it a good stir before using to make sure you’re getting a good mixture of everything. It’ll take 5 tablespoons for this recipe, just remember that the potency will die down over time, so you may need to add a bit extra the older it gets. It should keep nicely for a good 6 months stored in an airtight container.

banana-bread

Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 very ripe bananas

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Mash and add in the bananas and the eggs, combine thoroughly.
  4. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine (don’t over-mix!)
  5. Lightly grease a 9×5″ loaf pan and pour in the finished batter. (NOTE: It could be a bit thick, just try to spread it as evenly as you can.) Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick poked into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
  6. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes in the pan, then remove carefully and place on a wire rack to cool. Wait 15 minutes or so before cutting into the loaf, just to allow it to set.
  7. Cut and serve as is, or with a bit of butter.
banana-cookies

Healthy Banana Nut Cookies

No eggs, no flour, no leaveners, these are extremely healthy and great for any time of the day – you could even grab a few of them and call it breakfast!

Ingredients

  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Peel and mash the bananas thoroughly with the vanilla – mix in the rolled oats.
  3. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips.
  4. Place tablespoon-fuls on a lightly greased cookie sheet, (or use parchment paper in place of the grease) flatten slightly and bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom.
  5. Remove and place on wire racks until cooled slightly – best served when still a bit warm but not hot.

NOTES: You can use almonds or other unsalted nuts in place of the walnuts. Be sure to use very ripe bananas; I find that using frozen/thawed bananas provides a good smooth texture and sweetness. I say 1 1/2 – 2 cups oats, depending on the size of bananas you use – you don’t want a very dry mixture, but you don’t want it to be too wet/loose either, so start with 1 1/2 cups and add more if needed. I usually use large-flake oats and allow the batter to sit for a few minutes before baking; I find this allows the oats to absorb some of the moisture from the bananas and create a nice cake-y (yet chewy) texture.

Fall-off-the-bone Ribs

Ingredients

  • 1 rack of back ribs
  • 1/2 cup of your favourite barbecue sauce
  • salt and black pepper

Directions

  1. Remove the rubbery membrane from the underside of your ribs (don’t skip this step, it makes all the difference!)
  2. Place the ribs (bone side down) in a baking dish and salt/pepper both sides. If they don’t fit as a full rack, just cut the whole thing in half and arrange them in a single layer.
  3. Cover the dish with a double layer of aluminum foil and bake at 275°F for about 4 hours
  4. Carefully move the ribs to a baking sheet and cover the top generously with BBQ sauce
  5. Set your oven to broil and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes – keep an eye on them so they don’t burn, we’re just looking for a bit of caramelization.
  6. Grab some napkins and dig in!

NOTE: You can finish these on the BBQ instead of the broiler, just set your grill to high and keep an eye on them.

bacon-spaghettini

Bacon & Veggie Spaghettini

Ingredients

  • Handful of spaghetti noodles (enough for 3-4 people)
  • Approx. 6-8 slices of bacon
  • 1 large (or two small-medium) bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

  1. Set the pasta to boil as per the directions on the package. While the water is boiling, cut the bacon into 1-1.5″ pieces and place in a frying pan over medium heat – cook until browned.
  2. Place the cooked bacon bits on some paper towel and drain the excess grease from the pan. Melt the butter in the pan and add in the minced garlic, onions and green peppers – cook until the onions become translucent.
  3. Return the bacon to the pan with the veggies, stir in the half and half, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until it starts to thicken slightly.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese – stir until smooth.
  5. Hopefully by now, your pasta should be cooked – drain it and add it to the sauce mixture. Add in the salt and pepper, and toss until the pasta is coated and everything is mixed evenly.
  6. Serve immediately as is, or with a side of garlic bread and/or caesar salad.

Super Easy Slow-Cooker Baked Ham

Ingredients

  • 1 large cooked ham (7-8 lbs.)
  • 1 can cola
  • 1 can crushed pineapple

Directions

  1. Pour the can of cola into the bottom of your slow-cooker.
  2. Place the ham in and cover the top with crushed pineapple.
  3. Put the lid on and set it to low – cook for 6-8 hours or until it’s nice and tender.
  4. Slice and serve as is, or with some extra pineapple on the side.

Note: You can use an uncooked ham, but be sure to set your slow cooker to high for the last hour or two of cooking. The internal temperature of a properly cooked ham should be 160 degrees F.