Who knew refried beans are so easy to make at home? Just grab a can of pinto beans and off you go. Packed with protein, I love these quesadillas for a weeknight meatless meal. Make more than you think. We fought over the last one. Serves two with leftovers.
refried bean and cheese quesadillas
1 can pinto beans
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper
pinch cumin and chili powder
juice of half a lime
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
4-6 corn or flour tortillas
1 cup grated monterey jack cheese
hot sauce, chopped cilantro, salsa, plain yogurt for garnish
Drain and rinse the beans. Chop the garlic and combine beans, spices and water in small pot. Simmer on low for 10 mins stirring often. Remove from the heat and mash. Stir in sugar and lime, and more salt and pepper if needed. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Assemble quesadillas by layering beans and then cheese on tortillas. Heat each side until warm and brown. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven until serving and slice into quarters with a pizza cutter. Great warm or cold for lunch the next day.
Sweet eggplant and roasted garlic mixed with goat cheese, scooped with homemade sea salt pita chips. Think baba ganoush but with an improved texture. The pita chips are better than store bought and I’ve taken to keeping a bag of them in the freezer for this exact recipe. Serves six with leftovers.
goat cheese eggplant dip + sea salt pita chips
2 small or 1 large eggplant
4 peeled garlic cloves
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon cumin
150 gram packet goat cheese
4 tablespoons olive oil (divided into 1 each)
salt and pepper to taste
garnish with chopped Italian parsley or toasted sesame seeds
Using a fork, generously poke holes in eggplant and salt. Bake in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until soft and dark on both sides. Flip once. Add the garlic cloves to the pan in a foil pouch drizzled with one tablespoon olive oil and pinch salt in the last 10 minutes.
Remove roasted eggplant to stainless steel strainer. Set in sink, sprinkle salt and press down to remove as much liquid as possible. Cool and drain for 20 minutes. Use the stem to pick up the eggplant, scraping as much flesh as possible into a clean bowl. Some pieces of skin are okay and add a smoky flavour. Add remaining ingredients and combine by hand or using a hand blender. Reserve one tablespoon of olive oil to pour on at serving. Let “set” in fridge for an hour. Garnish with chopped parsley or toasted sesame seeds.
sea salt pita chips
salt and black pepper to taste
coarse sea salt to garnish
50 ml olive oil
Using kitchen scissors cut the pita into wedges and place on a cookie sheet. Combine olive oil and salt and pepper in small bowl and brush onto the pita. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until crisp. Flip once. These burn easily so keep an eye out. Taste and top with additional sea salt if desired. Chips stay crisp in an air tight container for three days.
I know I don’t need to educate anyone on the benefits of pitcher cocktails. Too many to count really! More time with friends, less time prepping and making drinks is my rationale. The longer this sits, the better it gets. Perfect for late summer afternoons and dining al fresco. The sangria is close to the colour of rosé wine and so pretty in a glass pitcher. Enjoy!
1 bottle dry white wine
3/4 cup unsweetened pomegranate or cranberry juice
1 1/2 cups sparkling water/club soda
6 shakes angostura bitters
3 tablespoons grand marnier
1 tablespoon sugar
1 orange, lime and lemon
Slice orange into half moons. Drop into pitcher followed by grand mariner and sugar. Leave covered in refrigerator for two hours. Add remaining ingredients and juice of half a lemon. Serve in ice filled glasses garnished with lime wedges.
Sweet, spicy, crispy. Chicken at its best. This tastes like really good take out. Pair with a green salad, or rice to make a perfect weeknight meal. I make the marinade in the morning or night before so the chicken absorbs lots of flavour. This marinade works for up to eight chicken thighs or drumsticks, or a dozen chicken wings.
honey garlic sticky chicken
2 cloves chopped garlic
4 heaping tablespoons honey
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons siracha (depending on how spicy you prefer)
6-8 chicken thighs or drumsticks
Mix marinade and pour over chicken. If making chicken wings reserve half of marinade to brush on wings in last 5 minutes of cooking. Bake at 400 degrees on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Broil for an additional 2 minutes, if you like.
The recipe was inspired by perfect cocktail nuts I ate watching the sun go down on a surfing trip to San Jose del Cabo. [Sidebar: Cabo is a gorgeous and special place to visit if you can. I used to live in BC before calling Toronto home, and all the sailing and surfing and delicious food reminds me of that peaceful west coast way of life].
The best place to eat is a little farm to table oasis in the dessert called Flora Farms. Neil and I told each other stories, sipped California wine and hibiscus martinis while waiting for our table and
inhaled munched on these cocktail nuts. Sweet and smoky and salty. They are divine.
When suitcases were long unpacked back in Toronto I began dreaming of these nuts. . Recipes from travels are some of my favourites because they evoke great memories.
sweet + salty roasted cocktail nuts
3 cups of nuts (1 cup each unsalted almonds, cashews, pepita seeds)
½ cup maple syrup
½ tablespoon fleur de sel
¼ tsp each chipotle powder and chili powder (less chili if you don’t like spice at all, but these really aren’t too spicy)
a few turns fresh ground black pepper
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix everything together. It’s sticky business and I find it easiest to use a spatula and stainless steel bowl. Tumble onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake 10-12 mins just until cashews start to brown. Give the pan a shake and stir halfway through. Let cool on the pan. If stuck together, break up to form delicious little clusters. Highly addictive with a cold drink in hand. Store sealed in a container for up to two weeks. Taste even better the second day.