Category Archives: Murderous Mains

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Oh, Canada!  My home, native land, and where maple syrup originated. First collected by the indigenous people, Canada became the largest producer of maple syrup, and today exports 70% of the world’s demand. Sweet and silky, this amber syrup has hints of toffee and caramel and is like no other. If you’ve been lucky enough to taste our famous export, then you know what I’m talking about. Every spring our maple trees are tapped and the sap that collected is carefully boiled down to pure syrup. Maple syrup is used on everything from an oozing pancake or French toast topping, to a popular dessert flavour to a sweet glaze for vegetables, chicken, fish or pork. So basically this magical syrup goes with everything! Bacon and maple syrup in particular, are a delightful combination and one of my favourites. When your maple syrup runs all over your plate and soaks into your bacon, there are no complaints! So when my friend and I found a recipe for Maple Bacon Jam we knew we had to make it. Paired with some strong cheddar cheese on fresh multigrain bread, this Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese is truly the tastiest way to say Happy 150th Birthday Canada!

This recipe is from Better Homes and Living, and the only change I made was to swap the regular bacon for maple bacon. We bought the two-pound pack from Costco and it took all our will power to not sneak a little bite. Their bacon is so thick, salty and super maple-syrupy!

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

The ultimate sweet and savoury combination, the sweet, caramelized maple flavour balances the rich, salty bacon and strong cheddar cheese. Using mayonnaise instead of margarine or butter is a grilled cheese maker’s secret for a perfectly crispy browned sandwich.

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese
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Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Maple syrup flavoured bacon is caramelized into a sweet and savoury jam, complimenting the strong cheddar, making for the ultimate grilled cheese!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 1
Author ISeeHungryPpl

Ingredients

  • 1 pound maple bacon chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1` medium yellow onion minced
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup old cheddar cheese thickly grated
  • 2 slices multigrain toast 1/2 inch

Instructions

  1. In a large pot (Dutch oven works best) over medium high heat,  saute bacon until just brown and slightly crisp on the edges. Remove cooked bacon and pat excess grease off with paper towels.

  2. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from pot. Turn heat down to medium low. Add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent. Add apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and coffee. Bring to a boil. Add cooked bacon.

  3. Simmer on low for 1½ hours, stirring every 10 minutes, watching closely as the sugar will burn easily.  Bacon jam should be thick and syrupy.

  4. Transfer bacon jam to a food processor or Vitamix. Pulse jam until creamy but still a bit chunky. Spoon into 125ml mason jars.  This jam cannot be processed and must be stored in the refrigerator.  Use within one month, or freeze up to three months.

  5. Head cast iron pan or grill on medium low heat.  

  6. Spread one tablespoon of mayonnaise on each slice of bread and place in hot pan.  Quickly top with half the cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons of bacon jam and remaining cheese.  Place 2nd slice of bread on top, mayonnaise on the outside.  Cover tightly with a pan lit or ceramic plate.

  7. Toast for 2 minutes on one side until lightly brown.  Flip and toast on the other side until brown.  Turn off stove and leave covered for a minute or so until cheese is melted, making sure the sandwich doesn't burn.

  8. Slice in half and serve with ketchup or sriracha!

With this delicious sandwich in hand, I say Happy Birthday Canada!  I’m so proud to be a Canadian and live in a country that believes in equality, diversity, peace and protecting our planet.  I’m thankful for all you have given me.  From the beautiful camping trips to a safe home, a group of friends from many different cultures and the freedom to express myself and believe anything is possible.  Cheers to another a hundred and fifty years!

How did you celebrate Canada’s 150?  Have you ever tried a maple bacon cheddar grilled cheese?

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna


 

Lamb Brown Rice Lasagna

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

I love April for many reasons, spring is in the air, Easter feasts, and my favourite film fest, Hot Docs, the Canadian International Documentary Festival kicks off.  But I also love April because spring means, DETOX TIME!  Many folk cringe at the thought of a detox, but I have cleansed annually for over 10 years now and I love it.  However, my spring cleanse also tends to cross over with my marathon training.  I need lots of carbs and protein to help my body recover from long training runs.  Can one cleanse and train at the same time?  My Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna recipe says YES, yes you can!

A spring detox flushes out all of the stale winter toxins, and resets my system leaving me feeling energized, which is great for training.  Bad habits are broken and every time I discover healthy alternatives and new recipes.  One of the first yummy cleanse-friendly items I discovered was brown rice pasta, that can be found at any big grocery chain or health store.  While a bit more delicate than regular pasta, the brown rice has great flavour and is totally gluten free!

So I managed to make a gluten free lasagna…but can I really make this classic Italian dish dairy free too?

I’m pretty sure my boyfriend’s Italian grandmother would find this sinful…but here I go! 

For the dairy substitute, I really love Daiya products.  My boyfriend is lactose intolerant so we try to stay dairy free throughout the year, and I’ve been buying Daiya cheese regularly.  I combined the Daiya mozzarella shreds with crumbled firm tofu to mimic ricotta cheese, and lemme tell ya, it really holds up!  The tofu and mozzarella substitute blend well together and taste just like soft, salty ricotta cheese.  Yum!

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

 

If you’ve been reading  my blog, you know how much I love lamb.  Juicy, tasty lamb is the only red meat allowed on the detox.  While higher in cholesterol than beef, lamb is lower in sodium, contains more good fats and is rich in zinc, iron and B12.  Most importantly, lamb contains more protein than any other meat, and that makes it a fantastic recovery food for aching muscles.  Our gluten free, dairy free, protein-rich lamb lasagna is coming together!

The final step to making this awesome lasagna is in the construction.  One tip I picked up from taking the Culinary Arts class at George Brown College was to alternate between short vertical pieces of lasagna and horizontal pieces.  By having vertical and horizontal pasta layered throughout the lasagna, it helps to hold the dish together and prevents spillage when slicing.  A genius tip, that I now pass on to you!

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

And there you have it my friends.  Soft, flavourful brown rice pasta is slathered in rich, lamb tomato sauce and held together with creamy, protein infused “ricotta”cheese.  There are so many awesome flavours happening here that you won’t even realize you’ve got gluten, dairy free.  So cleanse away and run, bike and swim your heart out.  This Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna will help you recover and give you renewed energy to do it all again!

 

Lamb Brown Rice Lasagna
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Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

This Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna is filled with rich lamb, brown rice pasta, tofu and Daiya cheese. A delicious dish to have on a detox, and makes for an awesome post workout meal.

Course Healthy, Main Course
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 541 kcal
Author ISeeHungryPpl

Ingredients

  • 1 box brown rice lasagna noodles
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 227 g Daiya dairy free mozzarella shreds divided in half
  • 450 g firm tofu drain, dried and crumbled
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion peeled, diced
  • 1 red pepper seeded, diced
  • 2 tablespoons Bob's Red Mill Cornstarch
  • 156 ml tomato paste
  • 796 ml diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely minced or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely minced or 1 teaspoon dried
  • sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Lightly grease a large casserole dish.

  2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water as per directions on the box.  Be careful not to overcook; brown rice pasta tears very easily.

  3. Spread a couple of tablespoons of olive oil onto a baking sheet. When pasta is ready, drain and spread sheets of pasta flat on baking sheet.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine half the Daiya cheese with the crumbled tofu and mix well.

  5. Heat sauté pan to high. Flatten meat and place in pan, turning down the heat to medium. Slowly break up the meat with a wooden spoon until just cooked. Meat should be greyish in colour, not brown, so that the vegetable flavours can marry with the meat.

  6. Add all the vegetables and garlic.  Sauté until just cooked, shiny but still a bit crunchy, approximately 5 minutes.

  7. Turn the heat down to medium low and sprinkle the cornstarch over meat and vegetables. Mix well.

  8. Working quickly, add the tomato paste and mix well.  Add the diced tomatoes and stir to combine.

  9. Add the bay leaf, chili flakes, basil and oregano and mix well to combine. Simmer over low heat until sauce thickens, but still has some liquid.

  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and remove bay leaf.

  11. Spoon a layer of thin sauce into the casserole dish. Trim noodles and place vertically across the casserole dish, overlapping the edges. Spread 1/3 of the sauce over top.  Sprinkle half of the Daiya/tofu mixture evenly over top of the sauce.

  12. For the next layer, place noodles horizontally across, overlapping the edges, followed by another layer of trimmed, vertical noodles.

  13. Layer 1/3 of the sauce over top, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle remaining Daiya/tofu mixture over top of the sauce.

  14. For the top layer, place noodles horizontally across followed by the rest of the sauce, being sure to cover the noodles well. Use a spatula to help spread the sauce evenly.  Top with remaining cheese.

  15. Cover loosely with aluminum foil, making sure the foil doesn't touch the cheesy top.  Bake at 375F for 30 minutes, covered. Then uncover and bake at 325F for another 15 minutes. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

What are your favourite foods or dishes to have on a detox?  Is anyone else running a race in the spring?  

Let me know if my Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna sounds like a yummy recovery food!

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

My love for lamb has grown steadily over the years to the point where I prefer lamb over a beef burger. Lamb meat has an earthier, more complex flavour than beef. I find that it tends to be juicier and bonus: way more health benefits. From Shepherd’s Pie to lasagna, I post a lot about this gamey protein. Surprisingly, I haven’t posted tacos, and you know how much I love Taco Tuesday! So I decided that for St. Patrick’s Day, I would make some special Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos, just for you.

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

St. Patrick’s Day is bittersweet for me. I never got into the festivities when I was at university because I didn’t live in residence and missed out campus life. It wasn’t until I met my half Irish ex-husband that I started celebrating this day. Our first date was at an Irish pub on St. Paddy’s so whenever I see drunken folk clad in green, it reminds me of him. Not in a bad way, but in a no-regrets-fond-memories kind of way.

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

This taco recipe is based on my Slow Cooked Lamb recipe that features my latest food find: lamb from Costco.

Gotta love $35 for a leg of lamb!

The only change I made to my original recipe is I swapped the wine and beef broth for, you guessed it – beer! I covered the lamb with a whole can of Guinness, because on St. Paddy’s no beer can go to waste. How I love to cook with booze! The strong Irish stout cuts through the fatty lamb and adds a whole level of richness to the meat. The result? Tender fall-apart lamb infused with hints of espresso and caramel. Oh yeah baby, tonight is your lucky taco night!

I loaded this taco with a wallop of fresh guacamole, arugula, caramelized onions and banana peppers and topped the lamb with organic salsa, feta cheese and my favourite hot sauce.

Half a lamb leg still makes a ton of meat. We had enough taco meat for four people, and I turned the remaining lamb and root vegetables into a ragu.  An endless supply of lamb is always a good thing!

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos
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Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with these Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos! Fresh corn tortillas are packed with tender lamb, fresh guacamole and arugula, grilled banana peppers, caramelized onions and topped with feta cheese and organic salsa. May the spirit of the Irish live on through these deliciously rich tacos!
Course Events and Holidays, Healthy, Main Dish, Poultry, Slow Cooker
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

For the lamb

  • 3 pounds leg of lamb approx half a leg
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and trimmed
  • half a lemon zested
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 2 pounds root vegetables ie. squash, carrots, parsnips
  • 1 500ml can Guinness beer

For the tacos

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled, trimmed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil plus more for greasing
  • half a lemon quartered
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 banana peppers trimmed, seeds removed and sliced
  • 2 medium yellow onions trimmed, peeled and sliced
  • 16 fresh corn tortillas
  • 2 cups arugula roughly chopped
  • 170 grams feta cheese crumbled
  • half cup organic salsa
  • your favourite hot sauce

Instructions

For the lamb

  1. Heat a large cast iron pan on medium high heat.
  2. Rub lamb with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a sprinkling of salt & pepper. Using tongs, sear each side for 30 seconds. Remove lamb and place on plastic cutting board.
  3. In a food processor, combine garlic, lemon zest, remaining tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper, mint and rosemary. Process and spread paste over lamb, making sure to get into all the little crevices.
  4. Place lamb over top of root vegetables in slow cooker and pour beer over top.
  5. Cook on high for 4 hours, then for 1 hour on low.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, lamb from slow cooker and pull large chunks apart using a carving fork. reserve root vegetables for later use.

For the tacos

  1. Combine avocados, garlic, olive oil and juice from two lemon wedges. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grease cast iron pan with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Saute banana peppers and onions until lightly browned, approx 5 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, place tortillas on a plate and wrap in syran wrap. Heat in microwave for 1 minute.
  4. Top corn tortilla with guacamole, arugula, lamb, peppers and onions. Sprinkle feta cheese, lemon and a tablespoon of salsa over top. Add hot sauce to taste.

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

So if you’re feeling the spirit of the Irish, throw some beer in your slow cooker and honour St. Patrick with these awesome tacos!

What food do you make to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?  Did you like the addition of beer to these Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos?