Friendly Food Snobs

sheet pan grilled cheese

Dunking a grilled cheese into a warm bowl of soup is my comfort food and reminds me of my childhood. (Tomato soup 100%!) I love making grilled cheese over March Break or a winter weekend. But I have growing boys and I cannot stand at the stove flipping for an hour. Enter the sheet pan grilled cheese! Hot oven for ten minutes and perfect grilled cheese every time.

I used Premiere Moisson bread available at Metro grocery stores and a combination of asiago, cheddar and mozzarella. But you can use any cheese combination you like. This Premiere Moisson bread is becoming a staple in my house because it’s natually fermented, made using slower traditional methods, and has no sugar or preservatives. I always keep a loaf in the freezer for toast or grilled cheese cravings. The whole wheat and country-style loaf are our faves. Try the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments or on Instagram! Makes four grilled cheese sandwiches.
Another tweak I love to do is layer roasted red peppers and zucchini inside with the cheese – a way to get more veggies and also tastes delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp salted butter room temperature
  • 2 cups of grated cheese (like an old cheddar + asiago + mozzarella combo)
  • 8 slices of good bread

Heat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Butter every slice of bread and place four slices (butter side down) on the baking sheet. Top bread with cheese mixture and place another slice of bread on top (butter side up). Place grilled cheese in oven for 10 minutes, flipping halfway. I use my kitchen timer and stay in the kitchen. The high heat makes the sandwich melted inside and crispy outside. Slice and eat while the cheese is still gooey. I love to change it up from ketchup and instead dip in hummus or sun-dried tomato pesto – yum! Hope you enjoy! ūüôā

Thank you to Metro for supporting this post! I sometimes work with companies and sponsors, but only those I actually enjoy eating in my own kitchen, promise.

yogurt garlic lemon roast chicken

roasted chicken

Meet my best roasted chicken ever. I am on a serious winter cooking kick. We got home from Mexico about two weeks ago to lots of snow in Toronto and I’ve been cooking and trying to catch up on laundry ever since.

I’ve made this yogurt-lemon-garlic-thyme roasted chicken twice in the time we have been home and it is probably the most moist and flavourful chicken I have ever had. I love it. Something about the garlic, lemon, yogurt combination quickly brines the chicken and packs so much flavour. The plus of cooking a whole chicken? So much cheaper then buying pieces of chicken and you have leftovers for days (leftovers = my happy place).

How did I get the idea for this? When I was waching Salt Fat Acid Heat and saw how Samin Nosrat marinated her chicken in buttermilk for 24 hours before roasting and it turned ino the most gorgeous brown tender looking chicken ever, I knew I had to try it.

I don’t have buttermilk on hand usually, but I do have plain full fat yogurt and lemons as staples and it worked amazingly well.

Ingredients:

1 organic whole chicken

3 heaping tbsp plain full fat yogurt

3 cloves garlic peeled and roughly chopped

salt and pepper

1 tsp thyme

1 lemon

Generously salt and pepper the chicken on both sides and set on a plate. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large plastic freezer bag. Be sure to squeeze all the juice out of the lemon and and throw the actual lemon in the marinade as well (more flavour). Put the raw chicken in bag with the marinade and rub it all over the chicken and set in fridge for 24 hours minimum. I always marinate for 24-36 hours and the flavour is so much better if you can do it. Quck note, plastic freezer bags rarely leak but I always place it on a plate in my fridge underneath it as no one wants raw chicken spilling.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. I like to line my cast iron pan with parchment and cook the chicken in that. But any oven safe dish will work if you don’t have a cast iron. Let chicken come to room temperature by sitting on the counter for 15 minutes. Place chicken on parchment lined pan and roast for 30 minutes at 400. After the 30 minutes is up reduce oven temperature to 350 and roast for another 60 mintes. So that’s 90 minutes of total roasting: first 30 minutes at 400 degrees and then 60 minutes at 350 degrees. Your house will smell divine at this point too.

When time is up and chicken is brown and crispy remove chicken from oven and let rest ten minutes before tearing into it. I almost always steal a wing or drumstick at this point for my efforts. Hope you enjoy the recipe, friends and stay warm!

zucchini noodle pesto pasta

Zucchini noodles, brown rice pasta, pesto, plus a red pepper and a few pantry staples can cobble together a beautiful little pasta dish. This recipe is packed with vegetables (yay nutrients in cold season!) and flavor, plus it is gluten free and I love how simple it is. A bowl of pasta on a January night makes me so happy.

zucchini noodle pasta


I have started buying spiralized vegetables when I grocery shop and they are a huge time saver with two little ones, having a prepped vegetable ready to go. We are actually eating more vegetables (in pastas or rice bowls) because of it.

Okay, back to the recipe! I love to make it with red pepper and zucchini, but you could also use baby spinach or swiss chard instead of zucchini noodles; or mushrooms instead of red pepper, just follow the recipe and sub in those veggies. I use brown rice pasta but you could use any type of pasta you like. I love using fusilli or spaghetti because it curls and blends so beautifully with the spiralized zucchini.

To estimate the amount of pasta here is a great trick, if the recipe calls for 200 grams of pasta, just look at the grams listed on the package when you open it and eyeball it. For example, my pasta box said 450 grams so I knew 200 grams would be approximately half of the package. Hope you enjoy the recipe, send me a little note on Insta or in the comments if you make it. Recipe serves four generous portions. Happy winter cooking!

Ingredients:

300-400 grams zucchini noodles (spiralized zucchini)

1 red pepper chopped

200 grams of your favourite pasta (I use brown rice spaghetti)

4 cloves garlic chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 heaping tbsp pesto (I use storebought)

salt and pepper

1/2 cup crumbled goat feta (or parmesan) for topping

Fill a large pot of water to boil, salt well and cook pasta according to package directions. Heat oil in a large skillet/frying pan. Add garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add red pepper and cook until pepper softens slightly. Add the zucchini noodles to pan (be sure to NOT include the liquid from them, it makes the sauce watery) and generously add salt and pepper. Saute the vegetables for ten minutes.

Stir in the pesto and balsamic vinegar being sure to scrape up everything in the bottom of the pan and sides. This will create the sauce for the pasta. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss to combine. I have a large frying pan that can hold all the pasta. If yours is too small put the pasta back into the empty pot you cooked it in, and pour the pesto and vegetable mixture over it. Use tongs to combine the pasta with the pesto. I like to add some of the cheese now so it melts a little bit. Taste for salt and pepper. I usually add a little bit near the end. Serve with extra cheese sprinkled on top.

breakfast egg cups

breakfast egg cupsbreakfast egg cups

Only five days until Christmas, can you believe it? I am more organized this year since becoming a mama of two, I mean every present is already wrapped and normally I am always scrambling last minute. I am excited for the holidays and slightly nervous about two weeks of no nursery school for Oscar and keeping him somewhat quiet for Dash’s naps. Yikes. Back to the recipe!

I wanted to plan to make something delicious on Christmas morning that didn’t involve me standing over the stove for a long period of time. Hence these little breakfast egg cups were born. Christmas morning should be cozy and casual and I love these egg cups because they can sit alongside some croissants/fresh bread and berries and fruit on my table and be enjoyed as the morning goes on, more coffee is made and presents opened.

I love this recipe because the only thing you need to prep/cut is one little onion that adds a lot of flavour. I have made these ahead of time and also frozen them. That works, but I do prefer them made fresh.

If you have all the ingredients ready to go in your fridge they are quick to assemble and bake, are toddler approved in my house and do not require a fork and knife to eat..see my thoughts on cozy and casual above. Wishing you a happy and peaceful holiday friends!

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped onion (one small onion)

12 regular size eggs (use only 10 if using large eggs)

2 cups fresh baby spinach 

1/2 cup roasted peppers chopped (drained, from a jar)

1/2 cup feta cheese (or any cheese you want)

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

non stick spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom of a frying pan with a little olive oil, Add the chopped onion, a little salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat until fragant. Add the spinach and cook for another two minutes until wilted. Combine the peppers with the spinach and onion in the pan and mix well.

Coat a muffin tin (12 cups) with non stick spray and fill each one with some of the spinach, pepper, onion mixture. In a large bowl beat the dozen eggs. Pour the eggs over each cup in the muffin tin. (I put the egg mixture in my plastic blender just to pour them because it has a spout, so less mess!) Top with crumbled feta, or whatever cheese you are using. Goat cheese or cheddar would work too.

Only fill the muffin tin 3/4 full as the cups will expand as they bake. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until tops of egg cups bounce back to the touch and look firm. My oven took 23 minutes. Let cool in muffin tin. To remove slide a spatula around the cups and wiggle them out. Store in the fridge for 3 days or freeze for longer. Reheat in the oven for a few minutes or microwave for 30 seconds on high. Hope you enjoy!

meditation, food prep and self care

Rachel Barbaro

We are in the busy weeks leading to the holidays and I was looking at the calendar earlier this week and felt that holiday anxiety set in. So much to do, so many commitments. And then yesterday I found myself eating a  protein bar in the car for lunch. Sad for me, because food makes me so happy usually!

I thought to myself, time to amp up my self care and food prep…I want to enjoy this season and not feel run over by it. I don’t know about you but eating well and taking care of myself seem to be the two foundations to stay calm and present. To be able to enjoy the sparkle in my boys’ eyes when I turn on the Christmas tree every morning or reading a book cuddled under a blanket. It’s the really simple mundane everyday moments that I love the most, not the high pressure ones. Here are a few rituals I’ve found so useful year round, but especially this season.¬†

Meditate 

I love to find some stillness between my thoughts before I start my day. I practice every morning and have for years. 

Here’s what I do: as soon as I wake up (before caffeine) I take a few minutes usually between five and ten to sit in stillness in my bedroom. (Yes I drink some water and visit the bathroom first..very very quietly to not wake the kids!) I don’t use a fancy meditation cushion or an app. This is old school zen meditation.¬† I sit cross legged on my bed and shut the door. If the kids are asleep or awake I still practice. And Neil protects those few minutes of the day for me because he knows how important it is. It just resets my mind to a place of stillness before the stream of thoughts and busy starts. Jon Kabat Zinn has a few amazing talks that you can watch on youtube. This post from Mindful.org helped me so much when I started my practice.

Self care/self love

Caring for yourself, honouring yourself is whatever fills up your¬†cup. It is not usually going to spa for me or getting my nails done…after having two kids that isn’t realistic. I need actions that can be done simply and usually at home.

Here are my faves: chai or peppermint tea and watching a foreign movie or doc on Netflix (leave the chores for another day),  doing a mini facial and using a scrub/mask and my best face creams before bed slowly and mindfully, or making it to a yoga or bootcamp class to sweat out the old energy and breath in new. The point is to honour your body. 

Pure fun

Leave all screens in another part of the house and pile onto the couch or bed under a blanket with a magazine solo or with my kids and a dozen of their silliest books.

Walk outside in the trails and parks near my house with or without the little ones, noticing the change of the seasons.

Take myself for lunch or a coffee solo, my friend Tamara reminded me this is called an artist’s date and I love that.

Turn on music (like some 90’s rock or pop) and cook or bake usually super seedy banana bread or a soup that will be used for a few meals.

Onto the recipe below.

raspberry honey chia pudding

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons whole black chia seeds

2 tablespoons plain full fat yogurt

3/4 cup almond milk (or any milk you like)

shake of cinnamon

1 teaspoon honey

tiny pinch sea salt

topping ideas: fresh raspberries/any berries, raisins, granola, coconut flakes

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl, stir well and cover and set in fridge overnight. When ready to eat give it a stir, and top with raspberries and whatever else you have on hand. If it’s too thick for your liking add a few drops of milk and stir.

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