Get Kids Excited About Cooking!

Getting kids excited about food and being involved in the kitchen can help take the mealtime stress off parents; and, teach kids valuable life skills at the same time. 

I know this because I started cooking when I was 10!  Thankfully, my parents supported my requests to buy certain ingredients and try out recipes, even though sometime some of the combinations I put together probably seemed pretty weird! 

That's why it's important to me to get families into the kitchen, and bring them closer to food; specially during the back to school season, a time of year when we all need to get back on track with convenient & tasty dinner options.

HERE ARE SOME TIPS:

Parents need to get their kids into the kitchen, and involved in meal prep. 

Make it fun for kids with games like Market Bingo, and have fun quizzing each other about what's in-season, while focusing on buying locally.  This also may help you discover foods that you've never tried before!

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Include the whole family in the meal planning.   Choose your favourite recipes together, ones that everyone will enjoy, and that the kids can help prepare.

Better yet try my Chicken Katsu with Sesame Rice and Japanese-Spiced Slaw!

This recipe is now available to order from www.chefsplate.com , for delivery the week of September 2nd.

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This is a convenient and fun way to get kids cooking by following the step-by-step recipe card and combining the pre-portioned ingredients that are delivered right to your door.

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Younger kids can easily get involved in making this recipe by crushing the potato chips for the breading with a rolling pin or using their hands.  Also they can put together the salad ingredients, and making the dressing!

Parents should also focus on getting their kids in the kitchen not just for some extra hands, but so that kids can fall in love with food and cooking.  Through food, kids will also learn some valuable life skills: like teamwork, organizing and time-management.

Check out this video that I made, that has some tips on how to get kids excited about helping in the kitchen:

What's IN-SEASON in July?

July is one of the very best months to eat in-season fruits and vegetables!

Every time you go to the grocery or the market, try and pick up something new that you haven't tried before!

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Bean, Beets, Onions, Kale, Cucumbers, Radish, Tomatoes

 Eggplant

Eggplant

 Garlic

Garlic

 Zucchini & Summer Squashes

Zucchini & Summer Squashes

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Fresh Berries! My favourite are local strawberries!

Airplane Food-Bring Your Own!

Sometimes travelling can be stressful, and it's good to have some foods with you that you like and are healthy!

Here's what I packed for my trip to Vancouver:

 I took this on the plane with me. One thing to remember! Those pureed fruit packs were over 100ml, so they couldn't go past security! (oops)  I made some Chicken Noodle Salads, with the sauce on the bottom. I packed some hummus and veggies, some Miso soup that you just have to add to a cup of whater, some fruits, and some fruit packs.

I took this on the plane with me. One thing to remember! Those pureed fruit packs were over 100ml, so they couldn't go past security! (oops)

I made some Chicken Noodle Salads, with the sauce on the bottom. I packed some hummus and veggies, some Miso soup that you just have to add to a cup of whater, some fruits, and some fruit packs.

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 My noodle jars made the 5 hour flight. I decided to have lunch when I got to the hotel!

My noodle jars made the 5 hour flight. I decided to have lunch when I got to the hotel!

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 :) How you wash dishes in a hotel...

:) How you wash dishes in a hotel...

Cooking with Friends

November has been so busy for me, but even when I travel, I try and make some time to cook!

Thanks to my friends in different cities for letting me into their kitchens! 

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 Pantry Pasta-One of my go-to fav recipes!

Pantry Pasta-One of my go-to fav recipes!

 I also made a baked Parmesan Chicken in White Wine Sauce.

I also made a baked Parmesan Chicken in White Wine Sauce.

Soup Sisters Family Cookbook

I was so honoured when Soup Sisters asked me to create a soup recipe for their 2017 Family Cookbook!

I experimented making a few different kinds of soup, but decided to do something that kids would really love to make; Cheeseburger Soup!

Soup Sisters was founded in 2009 by Calgarian Sharon Hapton who had a very simple belief in the power of soup as a nurturing and nourishing gesture that could make a tangible difference. Hapton believed that two of societies most prevalent issues, domestic abuse and youth homelessness would benefit from the care and warmth that comes in a bowl of soup. A powerful message that says 'we care' is now being delivered to over 30 residential shelters across the country through home-made delicious soup made with the finest ingredients.

Thousands of community people are coming together across the country to produce over 10,000 servings of fresh and delicious soups for women, children and youth each month. Since March of 2009, over 1.5 million servings of soup have been delivered to shelters from East to West, and there is a growing network of more than 50,000 Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers participants across the country. (SOUP SISTERS)

I've had the opportunity to help with a Soup Sisters even in Vancouver a few years ago, and was really excited that this past week, I had the chance to lead a team in making my soup!

 I was lucky to have two Nutritionists on my Soup Making team!

I was lucky to have two Nutritionists on my Soup Making team!

 We labeled & filled 23L of my Cheeseburger Soup  that was delivered to a Youth Shelter in Toronto.

We labeled & filled 23L of my Cheeseburger Soup  that was delivered to a Youth Shelter in Toronto.

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 So amazing. That evening we made over 100L of Soup that was distributed to Women's & Youth Shelters across Toronto.

So amazing. That evening we made over 100L of Soup that was distributed to Women's & Youth Shelters across Toronto.

 So appreciative to Soup Sister's founder Sharon Hampton for including my recipe in the book! I was honoured too that she asked me to write one of the forwards!

So appreciative to Soup Sister's founder Sharon Hampton for including my recipe in the book! I was honoured too that she asked me to write one of the forwards!

 So amazing to receive this plaque which is my recipe & photo from the book. Great meeting the ladies from Appetite by Random House (who published the book).

So amazing to receive this plaque which is my recipe & photo from the book. Great meeting the ladies from Appetite by Random House (who published the book).

 You can get your own copy of the book  HERE , and try making my Cheeseburger Soup Recipe!

You can get your own copy of the book HERE, and try making my Cheeseburger Soup Recipe!

Ned Bell x Chef's Plate

Lucky to call Chef Ned Bell one of my friends and food mentors! 
He is the head Chef at the Vancouver Aquarium and as well works with Ocean Wise.

Long-time sustainable seafood ambassador Ned Bell is the Ocean Wise executive chef based at the Vancouver Aquarium. Bell’s cooking philosophy is globally inspired and locally created. His love of sport, travel and adventure have taken him around the world, creating memorable experiences and cooking up a storm along the way.

With the support of the Ocean Wise seafood program, Bell founded Chefs for Oceans in 2014 to raise awareness about sustainable seafood by riding his bike across Canada. Bell’s dedication to sustainable seafood has inspired many Canadian chefs to get involved in the cause – a movement that is having a meaningful impact on the way consumers think about the seafood they eat, where it comes from and how they, too, can help protect our oceans by making ocean-friendly seafood choices. -OCEAN WISE

 

This month Chef Ned partnered to create a dish for Chef's Plate!

Of course I had to order it and create it at home myself!

The dish is an Ocean Wise Shrimp Linguini. Chef's plate delivers all the ingredients and instructions, and all you have to do is follow along!

 

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Laksa!

So a few weeks ago I was listening to CBC Metro Morning. Every Thursday Matt Galloway talks with Suresh Doss about his fav food find of the week. Usually it's in some remote strip mall or small plaza. A place that you likley wouldn't normally go.

Such a good thing that he discovered Malay Thai. It's in the corner of a small food court in a Markham Mall that is off-set from the road and you barely notice when you drive by.

I had to go there three times before I managed to get a bowl of the Laksa!!

The first time, was early evening. Oviously everyone else had heard the Suresh talk about it on the radio too, because the people in line in front of me (like me) didn't look like food court regulars...They were sold out that day. The second time I went back they were again sold out. The CBC feature was really good for business.

Finally the third visit was the charm! LAKSA

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This was my fist time trying it. 

It's made with vermicelli and egg noodles, which are bathed in a stock mixed with a spice paste. The spice paste gives the soup its heat and umami flavours and its bright orange colour. The soup is then topped with fish cake, tofu, sprouts and additional spices.

So delicious you could almost lick the bowl after. They have several other things on the menu that are worth a taste, including this other noodle soup (but I can't remember what it was called)!

 

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After-School Snack + Give-Away!

What's your go-to after-school snack!?

For me, that's an easy one. Grilled Cheese!! I'm going to show you how to make a 3-Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Here's what you'll need:

Your Favourite Bread (sliced)

3 of Your Favourite Cheeses, I would suggest something Sharp (I used 3 yr old cheddar), something Stringy (I used Mozzarella), and a Hard cheese that you can grate, for this one, I used Parmesan.

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Butter

Frying Pan

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Spatula

Microplane or fine grater

Now here's what to do:

Start with your non-stick pan on medium (or just below) heat, and once heated add a pad of butter to melt. Use your spatula to make sure the butter coats the surface of the pan:

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While butter is heating up in your pan, slice your cheddar and mozzarella, and butter the outside slices of your bread.

Put slice of bread (butter down) into pan, layer on cheddar and mozzarella slices, top with other piece of bread (buttered side up).

Patience is KEY here. Stay with your pan (don't walk away from the stove). I would recommend 4-ish mins per side. I had my pan covered to keep the steam in and help melt the cheese:

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Removed sandwich, and use microplane or fine grater to grate some parmesan directly into the pan.

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Place sandwich back down on grated parmesan. Grate some more parmesan on top. Flip at about 2 mins, and finish on second side for another 2.

My friend came over after school, and she said she had already eaten. She tried a bite of this grilled cheese, and then she ate the whole thing! 

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Thank you so much to my friends at Zwiling for generously giving me one of these Ballarini BOLOGNA non-stick pans to give-away to one of you! Check my Instagram on Sunday Sept 10th for all of the details!

Back-To-School Lunch Ideas

It's almost September... which means Back-To-School.  😅

 

Today on CTV Your Morning, I show three simple lunch ideas that kids/teens can make themselves or prepare with a little help!

1) Taco Bowls - tacos may be a little messy for school lunches, but a taco-bowl is a great way of taking the same ingredients to lunch.  With some left-over rice from dinner the night before, use that as the base to build the bowl.

Here's what you'll need for a Taco Bowl Lunch:

  • 1 Cup of Cooked Rice
  • ½ Cup Black Beans
  • ¼ Cup Chopped Lettuce
  • 4-6 Chopped Cherry Tomatoes
  • ½ lb Cooked Ground Beef with Taco Seasoning Mix
  • ¼ Cup Shredded TexMex or Cheddar Cheese
  • Guacamole, in the mini (to-go) containers at your local grocery shop
  • Lunch Container with Snap on Lid

Start with rice & beans as the base in your container, then add the toppings on in sections.

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2) Tortellini Pasta Salad - pre-made tortellini: just boil and strain, then add in your favourite toppings and dressing, and refrigerate the night before.  Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 Package of pre-made (ready to boil) Tortellini
  • Salami & Mozzarella Cheese to Cube
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil
  • Italian Dressing
  • Mayo

Start with boiling tortellini (as per package instructions).  Cube cut salami and mozzarella cheese.  Mix ¼ cup of mayo with 3 Tbsp of Italian Dressing.

Once the tortellini is cooked, strain and set aside. When cool, add in the toppings and dressing and mix.  Put into your lunch container and refrigerate overnight.  Before heading off to school, top with chopped basil.

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3. Bento Box Lunch - This lunch idea is great for smaller kids, because it doesn't involve cooking. Mom or Dad just has to gather the ingredients and even younger kids can help pack their own lunch! Here are some suggestions of what can go into your Bento Box Lunch:

  • apples or pears (sliced and cored, seeds removed)
  • seedless grapes
  • sliced deli chicken, roast beef, or ham
  • hard boiled egg
  • cheese (try cheddar or mozzarella, cubed)
  • crackers
  • baby carrots
  • cucumber slices
  • sweet or bell peppers, sliced
  • hummus
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Plum Jam with Top Shelf Preserves

I've been Insta-Friends with Sara from Top Shelf Preserves for the past couple of years, and it was cool to finally meet her in person a couple of months ago.

I was really happy that Sara made some time to teach me about jam making, when I was in Ottawa last week.

Sara started Top Shelf Preserves in 2013, and makes a line up of small-batch preserves, as well as IN SEASON Monthly limited edition specials!

Plums are in season in July/August, so when I visited, we made some Plum Jam (I've never tried this before), so I was really excited!

We started by washing all the plums. (click photo for more)

 

We then cut the plums in half to remove the seeds.

Once all the seeds were gone, we added sugar the plums and macerated the plums in the sugar until they formed into a paste like mixture.

Then we blended the plums and sugar until a smooth liquid formed.

We put the plum and sugar mixture into a large pot and simmered it for about 30 mins, until it thickened up.

We also took the pits from the plums and boiled them in water to remove all the flesh that was still attached, we then took that liquid and added it to the simmering mix. (#zerowaste)

When the mixture started to simmer and reduce; a foam formed; which we continually skimmed off.

We kept checking the thickness of the jam until it reached the right consistency.

Time to taste!!

First Time tasting Plum Jam: tangy, sweet, delicious!!

Top Three Preserving Tips from Sara:

  • Make a realistic plan before you start out!
  • Make something you will eat, not just what looks good for photos.
  • Keep it simple, using quality ingredients.

Saturday Six ...

  1. Super excited for the August bon appétit: The Simple issue, and their new website: Basically!
  2. I've seen the instagrams of people waiting in huge lines for BLACK ICE CREAM... Finally did the same!
  3. I have more Lego mini figures than I have room for. I think they're plotting to take over my room and kick me out.
  4. Week 1 Update on my: Mason Jar Herb Garden Project.
  5. Summer Reading: Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg.
  6. Summer Playlist new add : Let's Eat by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

Father's Day Brunch Recipes

Layered Yogurt Parfaits 

Ingredients: 

• Plain or Flavored Yogurt

• Granola- I used Kind Granola Clusters because it's delicious and has less sugar than some other granolas that I found! • Fresh Mixed Berries • Sliced Bananas

• Jams (optional)

Directions: 

• In the mason jars, layer yogurt, then granola, then fruit, then more yogurt, granola, and fruit. • Berries can be subtitued for Jam or Bananas or any other fruit that you like!

Pizza Bagles

Ingredients: 

• Bagels • Pizza Sauce • Pepperoni • Peppers • Mozzarella Cheese or Shredded Cheese Mix Mozzarella/Cheddar is good too.

Directions: 

• Slice the bagels in half, add pizza sauce, then thinly sliced peppers, then sprinkle the thin sliced pepperoni and cheese together on top. • Bake until cheese is melty and golden brown.

Stacked French Toast

(2 Ways- Savory & Sweet)

(adapted from bon appetit- Classic French Toast Recipe)

Ingredients- French Toast: 

  • 6 Large Eggs
  • 3/4 C Heavy Cream
  • 3/4 C Whole Milk
  • 1/4 C Sugar (omit for savory verion)
  • 1/2 TSP Cinnamon*
  • 1/4 TSP Nutmeg*
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 4 Hamburger Buns (Sliced in Half)
  • 2 TBSP Butter
  • 2 TBSP Veg Oil
  • For Savory Version, Replace Cinnamon & Nutmeg with 1/4 TSP Ground Black Pepper

Ingredients- Toppings & Sides:

  • 6 Slices Cooked Bacon
  • 1/4 C Sour Cream (for topping savory)
  • 1 TBSP Diced Chives
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Maple Syrup
  • Sarcha

Directions:

Lightly beat eggs, milk, cream, sugar and spices in a large shallow baking dish (I do this first step in a bowl) then transfer to the shallow dish.

Add buns, turn to coat, then press down gently on the buns until you feel them start to soak up the mixture.  Let soak for 4 mins.

Heat the 1 TBSP of butter and 1 TBSP of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Carefully lift 3 buns from mix, letting extra mix drip back into the dish. Cook in skillet until golden brown (about 2 1/2 mins per side).  Transfer to plate.

For Sweet:  Stack buns, top with jam & maple syrup.

For Savory: Stack buns with bacon in-between each layer. Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, chives and drops of saracha.

Spring is Maple Syrup Season

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Spring is Maple Syrup Season in Canada! I had a chance to visit Horton Tree Farms to see how it is made: (Video Coming)...

 

Here are links to some awesome Recipes using Maple Syrup from my favourite Bon Appetit Magazine:

 

 

 

Top Chef Canada All Stars

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Can't wait to watch Top Chef Canada All Stars! What an awesome group of Canadian Chefs!

I remember getting to go to the viewing party for Top Chef Canada All Stars Season 4 with Chef Vikram!

I'll be cheering on my fav West Coast Top Chefs, Trevor Bird & Nicole Gomes. I have been so lucky to have cooked and learned with both of them!!