Father’s Day

Not sure what kind of gift to get Dad for Father’s Day?  He’s already got enough ties (that he never wears), and we’re past the age where macaroni art is considered cute.  If you ask me, the best gift you can give Dad is a full stomach. Think outside the BBQ and forgo the typical steak and burgers routine.  Get creative and serve up something non-traditional, like meatballs!

Meatballs are a great alternative because the varieties are endless.  You can use any ground meat, like chicken or turkey, but I tend to favour a combination of pork and beef.  Sure, you can whip up a batch of spaghetti and meatballs, but there are so many more flavour combinations to explore.

How about a meatball sub, loaded with a fiery tomato sauce and gooey Tre Stelle® Mozzarella. Serve the sub alongside a cold glass of Dad’s favourite Pale or Amber ale.  If Dad likes spice, try a Red Thai Curry sauce with meatballs and served with rice. Keep with the Thai theme, and serve this dish with a Thai-style Lager.

My favourite way to make meatballs is to stuff them with Tre Stelle® Mini Bocconcini Cheese. Not only do these meatballs go with almost any sauce you choose, but they’re super easy to make, and score you major wow-factor points with Dad.

Really want to knock Dad’s socks off this Father’s Day? Try this Spicy Apple Glaze, made with ginger, garlic, jalapeño and apple jelly. Since this dish is sweet and spicy, a Wheat or Cider beer works best – and make sure the beer is very cold!

Bocconcini Meatballs with a Spicy Apple Glaze

Yields about 20-25 meatballs depending on size

Meatballs

½ lb ground beef

½ lb ground pork

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp onion powder

½ cup bread crumbs, such as Panko

1 egg

Tre Stelle® Mini Bocconcini Cheese

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place a cookie sheet in the oven while it’s preheating.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs and mix until well combined. Measure out about 2 tbsp for each meatball. Wrap the meat around the mini bocconcini balls and roll in your hands until the cheese is completely encased.

Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and add some oil so the meatballs don’t stick. Bake for 8-10 minutes, but not so long that the cheese is exploding out the sides.

 

Glaze

½ cup apple jelly

¼ cup soy sauce

1 tbsp grated ginger

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp cayenne

½ small jalapeno, finely chopped

 

Combine all ingredients into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Toss cooked meatballs with hot sauce and serve with rice or rice noodles.

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

 

 

Simply Back to School

There’s this buzz in the air by late summer. It’s the sound of families trying desperately to enjoy those last few days of wonderful weather mixed with the busy hum of grocery and stationary stores stocked with back to school basics. It’s the kind of buzz that gets you a little excited, but also can drive you crazy like the cicada’s loud call from the trees in the summer heat.

The build up to back-to-school can be stressful with your “to do” list growing steadily. Here’s some tips to get that list done with minimal stress.

trestelle_backtoschool_ldamelio_2Make a realistic shopping list

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for stationary even though I haven’t been in school for some time. I’ll take a new shiny notebook and a brand new pencil and eraser to the checkout any time. Don’t get caught up in the lure of new stuff. Take an hour to review clothes and school supplies to make a list of what your kids really need before heading out shopping. Then put a limit of what you are going to buy: either based on a budget or just on a sheer number of new things, like only 5 new stationary items. This way both you and your kids prioritize what is really needed.

Create a homework hub

The one thing I definitely dislike about all that stationary is that seems to dissipate across our home over the course of the year. Most of it lands in a “junk drawer”, as a mix of usable and unusable pens, dry markers and bent paperclips by June. To make homework, and prepping for school days easier, put all the supplies you need in one place so there’s no searching for that last pencil that still has an eraser on it. Use mason jars to wrangle your writing utensils, or a back-of-the-door organizer like one you might use for shoes, to make everything to find and organize after it’s not needed anymore.

Make your own goals

Much is said about sitting down with kids to talk about the coming school year and what their goals are or should be. But what about parents? Take a moment to decide what will make September, and the months after, easier for you. Can the kids help with breakfast in the morning? Do you want to be sure to ask your kids one or two key questions everyday after school to see how things are going? How many after school activities can both you and your kids handle without feeling like you are rushing all week? This follows the important practice of self-care. If you are stressed and overwhelmed yourself, you likely will pass that stress on to your kids. The goal is to find a way that everyone has responsibilities, that hopefully they enjoy, to make school days run smoothly.  My kids love the Bacon, Egg and Tre Stelle Bocconcini Breakfast Bowls. They are an easy and fun recipe to make with your kids, and they taste great! Need some more inspiration for you breakfast? Try one of these great breakfast recipes.

Make sure everyone is eating right

Eating properly is important in our home and I know that even I can’t focus if I’m hungry or haven’t eaten properly all day. I used to think cooking on the fly daily was a fun challenge – since I love to cook – but with kids, I now understand breathing space that prepping snacks and meals on Sundays for the week brings. Snacks particularly, so that everyone, even adults, has smart eats to grab even in a rush. Pack up snacks in bulk, like cereals, pre-cut fruit, cubes of mozzarella or provolone cheese and crackers, mini muffins and more, so that they are easy to grab from the fridge.

Have a prepping party

I’m a big fan of turning a chore into something fun, or even a race. And if you find packing snacks and school bags a chore – really, who doesn’t? – then it’s time to get everyone involved, no matter how young they are. Get everyone in a room to sort out clothes to wear, backpacks to pack, lunch boxes and more. Set a timer, like 2 or 3 popular songs, and dance or sing your way to the end.

Summertime Grilling

There is absolutely nothing I look forward to more in the summer than grilling. I am a self-professed BBQ addict, known to be out there through rain, sun, and even snow. Over the years I’ve accumulated some must have’s and make’s for grilling season, and I’d love to share them with you.

1First up is a clean grill. There is absolutely nothing worse than lifting up a lid and seeing all the food still stuck on there from the last time you cooked. I’ve cycled through just about every kind of grill brush and stone out there, but my hands down favorite is this style:

 

It does a really good job of getting in between all of the grates, and deep into the corners of the BBQ. A brush isn’t something that you keep season after season though, I usually go through at least two a year. As soon as the stainless steel bristles start looking a little rough (really bent, gunky, or falling off), it’s time to get a new one. What happens if you’re about to cook though and you realize it’s time for a new brush? Just crumple up a good sized piece of aluminum foil and use your BBQ tongs to brush it around the grill, it’ll do just as good a job cleaning it up for you!

Speaking of BBQ tongs, I am a big lover of tools and gadgets (my poor husband, he’s such a trooper). I’m going to break down my favourites into to two lists: must haves, and love having.

BBQ Tool Must Haves:

1. Long handled tongs
2. Long handled turner
3. Long handled basting brush
4. Instant read thermometer

These tools aren’t the same ones you use in your kitchen (unless you enjoy searing the hair off of your arms). You want some that are made for the grill, with a nice long reach so that you can get to the back with the tool, and not your hand. An instant read thermometer is my best friend both in the kitchen and at the grill. Cooking on the BBQ goes a lot faster than the oven in most cases, so it’s important to keep an eye on where your food is at so you don’t accidently overcook it.

BBQ Tools I Love Having:

1. Pizza Stone
2. Rib Rack
3. Smoker Box
4. Metal Skewers
5. Cast Iron Griddle
6. Metal Basket
7. Foil Pans

2I know, a heck of a list. A pizza stone is a must for me. I pretty much exclusively grill my pizzas. I can get the stone a lot hotter in the BBQ than I can in the oven, and that slightly smoky flavour makes me feel like I’m eating a wood fired pizza. Click the picture above to check out my BBQ jerk chicken pizza with Tre Stelle Mozzarella cheese all done on the grill (you can make this with or without a stone).

3A rib rack is just a great way to cook ribs – standing them up makes for all around heat circulation, and tender juicy ribs every time. A smoker box goes hand in hand with ribs for me. All you do is add some wet wood chips, and put the box on the opposite side as your vents (or at the front if you can when the grill vents are at the back). You want the smoke to be pulled back over your meat on its way out.

Metal skewers are such a great, versatile tool. You can do the obvious shish kabobs, but I LOVE doing tornado sausages on them: just stick a skewer through the center of a sausage, and use your knife to cut a swirl all the way around the sausage (basically turning it into a slinky). The finished sausage has lots of amazing crispy bits, and really pulls in your toppings for every bite. Or do dessert; make a grilled strawberry shortcake, alternating strawberries and pound cake, then top with whipped cream once they come off the BBQ.

4If you have the room, adding a cast iron griddle on one side of you grill can be a great way to cook up some amazing toppings at the same time. Making burgers? Why not fry up some onions and jalapenos on the griddle at the same time. Really want to be a show off? Crack an egg on there at the last second to add to your burger. AMAZING!

Metal baskets and foil pans are a great way to grill sides, like veggies and potatoes. When I’m BBQ’ing, the last thing I want to do is run back and forth, inside and out, to cook the whole meal. I love grilling my sides as well.

Alright, we’ve got the tools out of the way, now it’s time for the fun stuff: FOOD! Nothing is more important to a BBQ than the food you’re cooking on it. Everyone knows the staples: burgers, sausages, steaks, and anything pork. I’m not going to hit you with what you already know. It’s the ingredients that you may not be thinking of for the BBQ, that to me, are absolute musts.

I love using fruit with my grilled dishes, and everyone always thinks it’s so unexpected. Making some quick pork chops? Chop up some pineapple and red onion to throw on top. Make your own BBQ sauce with peaches and bourbon to brush over ribs (add some jalapenos for a surprising kick). Be bold and experiment, and your meals will never be boring.

My hands down, number one thing you need to be grilling with though? Cheese! Hand to my heart, I have yet to find a meal that isn’t made better when Cheese is added to it. I’d love to share a few of my favourite Cheesy recipes with you:

My citrus ginger chicken with three melon salsa is one of the most flavourful pieces of chicken you’ll ever eat. It is made 1,000 times better by adding some crumbles of Tre Stelle Feta cheese on top just before serving.

These bruschetta style BBQ pork chops are great topped with some Tre Stelle Mozzarella Cheese. I love switching it up sometimes though, and swap out that Mozzarella for Arla Smoked Havarti.

6

These Cajun stuffed BBQ chicken breasts are bursting with flavour (literally!). That melty, gooey, Tre Stelle Mozzarella Cheese is exactly what this chicken needed to make it anything but a typical BBQ’d breast. Don’t be shy with Cheeses either. I love a bacon wrapped pork tenderloin that’s stuffed with Ricotta and sautéed onion. Throw it on the rotisserie, and you have a delicious, hands-free dinner.

Have fun with your food! Experimenting with different flavours and styles is what makes cooking fun. See you at the grill!

Caprese Style Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In the spring there is something wonderful about lightening up our dinner fare. Less are the hearty comfort foods of the winter months as we move into longer daylight hours and lighter dinner menus that include salads. There is nothing that our family enjoys more than a caprese salad with dinner. Ripe tomatoes sliced thickly with a light dusting of salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, then sandwiched between layers of fresh basil leaves and some quality mozzarella cheese. Finally, a few swirls of balsamic reduction over the top to finish it off. It is pure heaven, and we have it with everything from a good steak, to bbq’d burgers and sausages.

Something else that we love in this house is grilled cheese sandwiches… as long as it doesn’t include a yellow square. I felt like I had won the lottery when the idea came to me to make a caprese style grilled cheese sandwich. I felt like I’d won it twice once I bit into it too!

capRec1

The key to this sandwich, and to keeping the fresh taste that a caprese salad is known for, is in how you cook it. You’re going to cook the sandwich open face style, which mean both sides of the bread will cook at the same time in the pan, with the cheese on top, and you’re going to start off in a cold non-stick pan. This way, the mozzarella has some extra time to melt, and we add the tomatoes and basil at the last second, to keep them cool and fresh.

First, though, I had a little something else up my sleeve – a slice of prosciutto. I popped it into a 350℉ oven on a foil lined baking sheet for 12 minutes while I prepped the rest of the sandwich.

While the prosciutto is cooking, cut some nice thick slices of the tomato and Tre Stelle® Mozzarella cheese, about ¼” thick each. Get two ½” thick slices of a crusty Italian bread (I used Pugliese for this one) and generously butter one side of each slice.

capRec2

Now it’s time to cook. Place the bread butter side down in a cold pan and top with the Mozzarella cheese. Place over medium-low heat, and cook gently until the cheese has completely softened and started to melt. Check the bottom of the bread, and turn the heat up to medium until the bottom turns a delicious and crisp golden brown. Turn off the heat, and add the prosciutto, tomatoes, a generous drizzle of balsamic reduction, and basil leaves, in that order. Top with the second piece of bread, and move to a cutting board. Let it cool for a few minutes before slicing. I drizzled the top of mine with a bit more balsamic reduction, but if you don’t want to have messy hands, just put a bit on your plate to dip into.

RECIPE (per sandwich)

Ingredients

1 slice prosciutto
2 thick slices (½”) crusty Italian bread
3 to 4 (¼” thick) slices Tre Stelle® Mozzarella Cheese (depends on size of bread)
3 to 4 (¼” thick) slices of fresh, firm tomatoes (heirloom, or on the vine preferred)
2 to 3 fresh basil leaves
salt
pepper
balsamic reduction
butter, softened

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350℉ with a rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean up, and put your piece of prosciutto on the foil. Bake for 12 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to cool once done.

While the prosciutto is baking, prep and begin cooking the rest of your sandwich.

Slice your tomato and mozzarella. Lightly season the tomato slices with salt and freshly cracked pepper.

capRec3

Generously butter one side of each slice of bread. Place the bread, butter side down, in a cold, non-stick pan. Top each piece of bread with an even layer of mozzarella cheese. Place the pan over medium-low heat, and let gently warm until the cheese has completely softened and started to melt. Your bread will not have browned much, if at all, at this point.

Once the cheese has melted, turn the heat up to medium until the bread has crisped up and turned a golden brown on the bottom – this shouldn’t take very long, about a minute.

Immediately turn off the heat. Top one side of the bread with the slice of prosciutto, then the tomato slices. Drizzle on a generous amount of balsamic glaze, then top with the fresh basil leaves. Finally, carefully place the second piece of bread on top –remember that it will be hot.

capRec4

Set the sandwich aside on a cutting board for 2 minutes to cool slightly before cutting. You can drizzle some additional balsamic reduction on top of the sandwich, or onto the plate for dipping.