Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Golden Stuffed Pasta Shells




Photo by Leslie Perez. All rights reserved.

One of my favorite me-time moments are Saturday mornings when I spend time reading through cookbooks while sipping a cup of coffee or eating breakfast. Like most peaceful shabbat days, I get my dose of culinary inspiration for the week. Last Saturday morning, I crossed a shell pasta recipe that was rich and creamy. A bit too rich for my taste, so I brainstormed ways to make it a bit leaner than the original version.  My rendition was loaded with broccoli and my daughter couldn't stop eating it, turning this recipe into a wholesome hit.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 box of Primo pasta shells (250 g)
  • 3/4 cup Saputo reduced fat ricotta cheese (new kosher product under the Montreal Kosher Va'ad)  
  • 3/4 cup of light shredded cheese, I use Haolam brand
  • 2 teaspoons of butter
  • 2 cups of frozen broccoli thawed (or boiled fresh  broccoli)
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced 
  • 1 red pepper. diced
  • 1 handful of parsley (cleaned appropriately) & for garnish
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp of oregano
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a stock pot boil water, drizzle some salt and cook your pasta as directed on the package.
  2. Boil 3 cups of water in a medium sauce pan.
  3. Place your broccoli in the boiled water  - either to thaw the frozen broccoli or soften the fresh ones. After 3-5 minutes, drain the water and set aside the vegetable.
  4. Place the butter in a deep pan and saute your onions, red pepper and garlic.
  5. Once softened, add in oregano and tomato sauce and salt & pepper to taste and then broccoli and heat.
  6. By now your pasta should be ready, drain the water and set pasta aside.
  7. Put your vegetables in a food processor, pulse a few times (but not too frequently - you want to avoid turning it into a liquid). 
  8. Mix in ricotta cheese with the vegetable mixture and ad in either half or all of the mozzarella cheese (depending if you would like to use the remainder for topping .
  9. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  10. Take your pasta shells and place them in a baking sheet or Corningwear. Fill each shell with the ricotta and vegetable mixture. Do so gently, not to break the pasta.
  11. Once all pasta shells are filled, you can drizzle mozzarella cheese on top of the shells and then place them in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
  12. And voila, you have golden and wholesome pasta shells!




Monday, July 22, 2013

Lemon Herb Omelet

Photography by Leslie Perez. All rights reserved.
There are those types of people that can't imagine to put salt on any food (like my friend Stephanie ;) and then there is the category of people who enjoy squeezing lemon juice on all there dishes even egg omelets; and  I am one of them ;) I truly enjoy my zesty lemon herb omelet, perfect to live'n up your breakfast or brunch and great with a glass of iced water with some sprigs of mint. what I like about it aside from it's simplicity is that it's different and fresh tasting. Here is how you make it...

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs (2 yolks and 3 whites)
  • 1 tsp of butter or Pam as alternative
  • 1 tbsp of milk
  • 1/4 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 of lemon
  • 1 handful of chopped parsley
  • Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
  • Sliced tomatoes, to garnish

DIRECTIONS


  1. In a T-Fal frying pan  melt your butter (or heat Pam) on a medium flame to then reduce to medium-low.
  2. In a mixing bowl, break your eggs, ad your milk, chopped parsley, salt, pepper and mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour the mixture in the pan
  4. Once the omelet has secured its shape approximately 3-4 minutes, drizzle your grated cheese in the center and fold in each side of the omelet towards the center.
  5. Flip the omelet onto the other side for 1-2 minutes and then place onto a plate.
  6. Drizzle with lemon juice and voila, you have your zesty omelet.. umm!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Disney is Out! A Birthday at the Food Bank a Hit



Who would have thought that a birthday at a food bank could be so much fun?
I am not sharing a recipe in this blog post, neither a cookbook review; instead I decided to focus on a food related cause. As a foodie, I am most adamant about helping those who lack the means to buy food and basic needs, hence I support our local kosher food bank MADA Center (www.madacenter.com).

Like any mother, seeing our children grow, learn and explore is undoubtedly the best part of motherhood, the real deal, as I call it. One of the biggest miracles of my life is giving birth to my two daughters on the same day a year apart Irish Twins.
Unique and special as it is (and not quite sure how I beat the odds on this one lol), I gave birth in the same hospital  room (naturally), with the same doctor, on the same day and EXACTLY a year a part lol. With the challenging baby years behind me (phew!), as a single mom one of the most important aspects in raising my daughters is to teach them to give. Hence, I thought a 'giving back' birthday theme which didn't call for any princesses, spa day manicurist, inflatables or face painting; the birthday theme was about community and celebrating through giving. We invited all grade 1 and 2 girls to join us in making summer camp packages for underprivileged children. In teams of two, the girls filled bags with Dove body wash, wipes, Kleenex boxes, Twizzler's, mini boxes cereals, sunscreen, toothpaste, toothbrushes... L'Oreal Canada  donated LaRoche Posay Sunscreens along with Shampoo bottles, Loblaws provided kids toothpastes and Schreter's donated socks.
My adorable daughters, Miriam & Arielle, born on the same day a year apart. Birthday girl posing with friends.

Upon the guests arrival, each decorated their own floral-topped plastic jars, a craft project that also doubled-up as a loot bag (the plastic containers and sticky gems were from Dollarama and the flowers and rafia from Michael's. The birthday was a hit!

Although my younger daughter Arielle initially expressed how she wanted a 'normal' birthday, she ended up telling me: "mommy you were right, this was a very good idea, it was the best day of my life." ;)

Little guests decorating their loot bags. These jars doubled up as the perfect loot-bag.
 
MADA Center coordinator explains to the girls how the food bank helps the needy. With a little help from companies like Loblaws, L'Oreal Canada and others the bags were filled with amazing goodies.

Girls preparing packages.

A Kol Ha Kavod certificate was attached to each favor.

Me pictured with my daughters and some friends.