Barbacoa Quesadillas

Barbacoa Quesadillas
The other day I was craving some tender slowly braised beef barbacoa and since it's so easy to make in the slow cooker I whipped up a batch and used it to make these tasty barbacoa quesadillas! Beef barbacoa is packed with flavour and although it's great enjoyed simply in tacos with onions and cilantro you can't argue against using it in some cheesy quesadillas! There is just something about biting into those crispy toasted tortillas filled with the tasty barbacoa and loads of ooey gooey melted cheese that is so irresistibly delicious! I like to keep these quesadillas nice and simple to allow the flavours of the barbacoa to shine through so a fresh pico de gallo is perfect in them.

Fresh Pea Salad

Fresh Pea Salad
As nice as potato salads and pasta salads are one of my favourite summer salads has to be the fresh pea salad, sometimes called an English pea salad. A pea salad typically consists of peas, in a mayo based 'dressing' along with bacon and cheese and it's super easy to make! Although frozen peas will work year round I particularly enjoy the fresh summer peas where you can usually find them in bags in the fresh produce section of your grocery store or even still in their pods at the farmers market. The sweet peas go so well in the creamy dressing with the salty bacon and cheese and contrastingly tangy onions and I like to add a touch of mint for even more freshness. This is one of those salads where it is even better to make it a day ahead of time as the flavours have a chance to come out and mingle while sitting in the fridge overnight and serving it chilled, straight from the fridge is perfect on hot summer days!

Update 2015/07/02: Since I was making this salad again this summer I took the opportunity to update the photos!

Loaded Cauliflower Salad

Loaded Cauliflower Salad
Continuing with my summer outdoors theme this week I have a loaded cauliflower salad for you today! This loaded cauliflower salad is essentially a potato salad using cauliflower instead of potatoes and it has all of the flavours of a loaded baked potato including sour cream, green onions, bacon and cheese! The recipe for this salad could not be easier, you just need to cook the cauliflower, let it cool and mix all of the ingredients! In addition to being super tasty this salad can be made a day ahead of time which is always nice to cut down on kitchen time if you are making a lot of food. Feel free to change things up a bit by replacing some or all of the sour cream with mayo and/or ranch dressing, making this more of a bacon ranch cauliflower salad. When looking for sides for your summer dining skip the potato salad and go for this lighter and healthier cauliflower salad!

Caesar Grilled Asparagus

Caesar Grilled Asparagus
The local asparagus is still going strong and I have another recipe for you, a caesar style asparagus dish with grilled asparagus served in a caesar dressing along with croutons and plenty of parmesan. This recipe could not be simpler, you just need to grill the asparagus and serve it topped with caesar dressing, croutons and parmesan. If you use store bought dressing and croutons this recipe is lightning quick but I like to make my own because that way I know exactly what goes into the dressing and I can use up some leftover bread for the croutons. For the dressing I went with a non-traditional version with a base of Greek yogurt to keep it nice and light but I did not sacrifice anything in the way of flavour! Instead of just using basic croutons, I flavoured the oil with garlic and tossed the croutons in parmesan cheese before baking until nice and golden brown and crispy! You can make both the dressing and the croutons the day before to cut down on time spent in the kitchen when you would rather be outdoors grilling! I like to grill the asparagus for this dish because you can do it outside and it adds a fabulous smokiness but you could also steam, roast, etc. it if you prefer. If you're looking for a tasty side dish for a summer grilled meal this caesar grilled asparagus is definitely a great option!

Caesar Salad Dressing

Caesar Salad Dressing
The caesar salad is a classic salad, and with good reason given how tasty it is, and most of the flavour comes from the dressing which is easy to make at home! The caesar dressing traditionally consists of olive oil, lemon juice, egg, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and black pepper and you can play around with it from there. I like to add anchovies, Dijon mustard and parmesan to mine for even more flavour and you can mix everything in a blender so it's a piece of cake to make! If you are a bit squeamish about using the raw egg yolks or you want something a little on the lighter side you can replace the egg yolks and olive oil with greek yogurt and buttermilk and still get a super tasty caesar dressing. To be honest I prefer the flavour of the egg and oil version of the dressing more since it is richer, creamier tastes lighter but if you replace some of the greek yogurt in the lighter version with mayonnaise it gets much better so you can find your own balance between flavour and calories. The next time you make a caesar salad at home pull this recipe out and make you own instead of reaching for the store bought bottle; it's super easy to make and it tastes so much better!

Sundried Tomato Caprese Turkey Burgers with Balsamic Caramelized Onions

Sundried Tomato Caprese Turkey Burgers with Balsamic Caramelized Onions
When I think about summer holidays and food I tend to think of barbecues, grilling and burgers and with the first summer holiday coming up I was just itching to try out these sundried tomato caprese turkey burgers with balsamic caramelized onions. I recently came across the idea for sundried tomato burgers on Bev Cooks and given that I am a big fan of both the sundried tomatoes and the fresh basil that these burgers are stuffed with, they were a must make recipe! My first thought for these burgers was a caprese salad theme with tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinegar and since the patties already included the tomatoes and basil all that was left was to top them off with some melted fresh mozzarella and some balsamic vinegar. Instead of just drizzling a balsamic reduction or glaze onto the burgers I caramelized some onions and added the balsamic vinegar to them before throwing them on top of the melted cheese! In my mind I burger just isn't a burger without some bacon so I fried up some pancetta (an Italian style bacon) until crispy and added it along with some cool and creamy slices of avocado. I finished the burgers off with a topping of fresh basil which adds even more summery goodness!

If you only try one new burger recipe this summer it should definitely be these sundried tomato caprese turkey burgers with balsamic caramelized onions! The sundried tomato turkey patties are moist and just packed with flavour, the salty pancetta goes perfectly with the sweet and tart balsamic caramelized onions and you can never go wrong with plenty of melted cheese!

Summer Holiday Recipes

Summer Holiday Recipes

The first of the summer holidays is upon us and that means that it's a great time to pull out some of my favourite recipes for such an occasion! When the weather is nice it's hard to resist heading outdoors for summer festivities and whether you are doing barbecue, going out for a picnic or just eating a meal in your backyard you are going to want to have some tasty recipes at the ready! Very often the centre piece of the meal is going to be grilled meat such as burgers, chicken, fish, ribs, etc. but don't forget the side dishes and with all of summers bounty available you are spoilt for choice between all of the vegetables, fruits and berries. Of course there is always the classic BBQ pulled pork sandwich with a side of coleslaw which just screams summer and if you have a smoker it gets even better! Whatever your plans are for the holiday, make sure that it is filled with plenty of tasty food!

Mediterranean Tortellini Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Tortellini Pasta Salad
With summer here there is going to be a lot more outdoor eating from barbecues to potlucks to picnics, etc. and it's always good to have some tasty side dish recipes on hand like this Mediterranean inspired tortellini pasta salad. This tortellini salad is just packed with flavour from the salty feta and olives to the crispy and juicy cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers to the tangy dressing! You can easily dice all of the vegetables in the time that it takes to cook the tortellini making it a nice last minute side or you can make it the day before and let it chill in the fridge until needed. Whether you are hosting your own outdoor dining event or bringing something to one this Mediterranean tortellini pasta salad is nice, quick, easy and it's sure to impress!

Grilled Asparagus with Bacon and Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese (aka Bacon Jam Asparagus)

Grilled Asparagus with Bacon and Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese (aka Bacon Jam Asparagus)
Up next we have another great way to enjoy some asparagus, topped with a simple bacon jam and creamy crumbled goat cheese! Bacon jam is a super tasty 'jam' that is made primarily of, you guessed it, bacon along with caramelized onions and various other flavour packed ingredients! I was thinking that some sweet and salty bacon jam would go perfectly on crisp and tender but still juicy and smokey grilled asparagus! I did not have any bacon jam in the fridge at the time so I made a simple version with bacon, an onion, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce that tastes just as great as the original and takes a fraction of the time! This grilled asparagus with bacon and balsamic caramelized onions and goat cheese is a great way of enjoying some bacon, I mean asparagus, and it's sure to be the star of your summer meal!