Making plans for a colourful March Break

Life with kids is full of colour – whether that’s the crayons you find under the couch or the active days of imagination and laughter. And that seems to double during March Break. It’s always good to plan for some downtime and some activities to keep the kids busy. And usually, I find myself gravitating towards the kitchen for these projects. My thought is this: if we’re getting our hands messy, it might as well be for something to eat or leftovers to prep for the freezer. Here’s some ideas to try this March Break:

 

Creative Ricotta Toasts

Break out of a breakfast rut by making a colourful topping bar for toasts. Swap out nut butters or chocolate spreads for Tre Stelle Ricotta packed with protein to ensure the kids get some wholesome calcium with breakfast and then have them top the toast with nutrient-rich veggies or fruits. Make the toasts savoury: top the Ricotta with avocado, bacon, tomatoes or other colourful veggies. Or go sweet: mix the Ricotta with a teaspoon of sugar (or drizzle with honey) and top with plums, strawberries or even bananas. Let the kids go wild mixing flavours and colours, making designs and getting excited about their creations.

 

Freezer-ready DIY Pizza Pockets

Get ready for a few splatters on the kitchen table! Store-bought pizza dough is a great way to easily create calzones, a type of hand pie, full of pizza goodness (in other words a homemade pizza pocket!) Kids can roll out the dough in small circles and then choose their sauce and cheeses. Let them pick from colourful toppings like pesto, tomato or even romesco sauce. Chop up some vibrant veggies like peppers and broccoli. And finally, offer a range of cheeses to finish their creations: Tre Stelle Bocconcini, Mozzarella and Feta make great choices. Fold the small pizzas in half, sealing the edges with a little water and pinching it with a fork. Place the calzones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until golden brown. These “pizza pockets” are great to eat while watching movies on the couch and easy to freeze for lunches when the kids get back to class. So go ahead and make too many!

 

Mascarpone Truffles

A delicious activity everyone will love! Melt chocolate with cream, stir in cookie or cereal crumbs and Tre Stelle Mascarpone until you have a thick consistency that’s ready to roll. What I love about this recipe is that every step is pretty much kid-friendly. They can stir the chocolate safely on a double boiler, watching the change as the ingredients melt and meld. They can crush cookies, or even cereal “o”’s, with their hands (I like placing them in a sealable bag and then let them bash at it with a wooden spoon or the back of a cup measure). They can stir together the ingredients and then get rolling. Amp up the fun with different decorating sprinkles and even package them up to give as gifts to friends or teachers as they return to school. This colourful recipe truly reflects the laughs and fun kids bring to your life… and to the kitchen!

 

 

trestelle_ldamelio_Jan17Kid-Friendly Mascarpone Truffles

4 oz milk chocolate

4 oz table cream

1 1/2 cup cookie or cereal crumbs

135 g mascarpone cheese

 

Over a double boiler, melt chocolate and cream together. When fully combined, remove from the heat and mix in the crumbs and cheese. Chill overnight in the refrigerator.

 

Using a small spoon or ice cream scoop, scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture. Roll briefly in your hands before rolling them in a topping to decorate. Use sprinkles, cookie crumbs, chocolate or anything else that would coat nicely.

Winter Comfort Food

If there are two things that go hand in hand, it’s Winter and Comfort Food. In addition to warm sweaters, cozy blankets, slippers, fuzzy pajamas and the warmth of the fireplace.  As much as we complain about the cold weather, it’s a great time to slow down a bit, snuggle up with a great book or movie and enjoy some hibernation.

Winter is also time to enjoy soothing, homestyle comfort food.  Whether it’s a great homemade soup or fresh baked bread, comfort foods are sentimental, reminding us of our favourite recipes prepared by Grandma, Mom or Dad.  I reached out to my family and friends to discover their most loved Comfort Foods. Although they gave me a wide variety of recipes, all were associated with cherished memories. My favourite Comfort Food is a piping hot bowl of homemade soup just like my Grandma made!
Tomato Mascarpone Soup 1-6241I probably have never made a soup recipe the same way twice. That is the great thing about making soup. Start with a basic recipe and then add a bit of this and a bit of that, and throw it in the pot. Experimenting with quality ingredients like Tre Stelle cheeses, lets you put your own twist on a beloved Comfort Food recipe.  Too many people say “I can’t cook” and worry about a recipe not turning out perfect.  But don’t fret! The adventure of cooking is taking one of your favourite recipes and making substitutions to suit individual tastes. Look through cookbooks, magazines, and the internet for something new and exciting to try cooking. My recipe for Tomato Mascarpone Soup is a great recipe to add your own twist to. Maybe add some shaped pasta, cooked rice, or quinoa for more fibre. Elevate the flavor with some healthy spices like Tumeric, or add some heat with chili pepper flakes.

For my Tomato Soup recipe I add creamy Tre Stelle Mascarpone cheese.  The mascarpone cheese adds an exceptional creamy, rich flavour to the soup. I serve the soup with a Tre Stelle Mozzarella Grilled Cheese Sandwich. That’s Comfort Food at its finest. Just dip that grilled cheese sandwich into the deliciously warm bowl of homemade tomato soup!

So get fearless, buy great quality ingredients and start enjoying personalizing your own recipes with incredible taste and flavor. And share the joy of cooking with your kids, your friends, or your partner! Invite them into the kitchen for some cooking fun with delicious results. Turn on some music (I love to listen to some great 70’s tunes) and enjoy a unique winter afternoon cooking adventure. Enjoy!

 

Tomato Mascarpone Soup

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion thinly sliced (1 cup)

2 garlic cloves thinly sliced (2 tsp.)

2 tbsp tomato paste

¾  tsp dried thyme

¾  tsp dried basil

1-28oz can whole tomatoes

1 tsp. sugar

3 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth can also be used)

½ tsp pepper

¼ cup Tre Stelle Mascarpone cheese

 

In large skillet melt butter and olive oil.

Add onions and garlic.  Cook over medium heat until onions are golden brown (about 10-12 minutes).

Add tomato paste, thyme and basil, cook for additional 2-3 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes with juices, sugar, pepper, chicken broth and pepper.

Season with salt as needed. Saltiness of broth and tomatoes vary, so salt to taste.

Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Using an immersion blender puree soup. (any blender will work). If you like a really smooth soup, strain through a sieve.

Stir in mascarpone cheese. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes

Serve warm with a Mozzarella Grilled Cheese Sandwich using top quality Tre Stelle Mozzarella cheese.

 

Cook Time: 1 hour     4 servings