Corn and Cotija Guacamole (aka Esquites Guacamole)

Corn and Cotija Guacamole (aka Esquites Guacamole)

One of my favourite dishes with corn has to be esquites which is a corn salad inspired by elote a Mexican style corn on the cob with butter, mayonnaise, cotija cheese and a shot of lime juice. The combination of sweet grilled corn, salty butter and cheese along with the bright and tart lime juice is addictively good and I never tire of it. One addition to esquites that I really enjoy is diced cool and creamy avocado and I couldn't help but think that a guacamole with corn and cotija would also be amazing! This guacamole is pretty simple with avocado, jalapeno, onion, cilantro and lime juice in addition to the corn and cotija. Just like with esquites, I like to cut the corn from the cob and cook it in a cast iron skillet until it starts to blacken, char and even pop a bit as this caramelizes the corn bringing out even more of its natural sweetness, though grilling the corn on the cob is another good option. This corn and cotija guacamole is fabulous dipp-able take on esquites and a great alternative to plain and boring old guacamole! (Clearly I jest, guacamole could never be considered to be plain, old or boring!)

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Strawberry Quinoa and Spinach Caprese Salad

Strawberry Quinoa and Spinach Caprese Salad

A nice fresh strawberry caprese salad is a great way to enjoy some of those perfectly ripe and juicy summer strawberries but if you are looking for something that could be more of a light meal how about a strawberry quinoa and spinach caprese salad? This salad is pretty much just a simply amazing strawberry caprese salad served on a bed of baby spinach and light, fluffy and tender quinoa and it makes for a really quick and easy light meal! When doing a strawberry caprese salad like this I like to kick up the flavour a bit by using a tasty homemade balsamic vinaigrette rather than just a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Strawberry Caprese Salad

Strawberry Caprese Salad

Out of all of the great ways that there are to enjoy strawberries sometimes the simplest ones are the best! Field ripened strawberries certainly don't need anything added to be ridiculously good, certainly not any sugar, but a splash of balsamic vinegar can help brighten them up and coax out even more of their natural flavours. There is only a small step between balsamic strawberries and a caprese style salad with the addition of fresh mozzarella and basil and this salad is truly one of summers finest treats!

Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Chicken and Bacon Quesadillas

Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Chicken and Bacon Quesadillas

Are you ready for some more quesadillas with summer fruit or berries? How about some strawberry quesadillas? Strawberries are in season right now and it's been hard not to think about different ways of enjoying them since I have been picking up four or more pints of them every week! Quesadillas definitely came to mind, I mean you cannot go wrong combining fruit or berries with plenty of melted cheese, and I wanted to make a light meal out of them by adding some grilled chicken. I also included some of my favourite strawberry flavour combinations including smoky and salty bacon, sweet onions, tart balsamic vinegar, spicy sriracha chili sauce and fresh cilantro giving it a nice exotic flare! I have to say that these flavours work very well together making these quesadillas one fabulous way to enjoy some of summers bounty!

Bruschetta Chicken Pesto Tart

Bruschetta Chicken Pesto Tart

I am on a pesto kick this week and up next is a puff pastry tart using the amazing flavour combination of chicken, pesto and plenty of melted cheese! I have been having fun with puff pastry tarts ever since I discovered them a few years ago and it's no wonder given how quick and easy they are to make! You pretty much just need to roll out the puff pastry, top it with either sweet or savoury toppings and bake it until golden brown; all said and done you can have a nice light and tasty meal ready in less than 30 minutes! This tart with it's homemade basil pesto, chicken and mozzarella topping is no different and it is perfect for busy summer days. Although a chicken and pesto tart would be great just all by itself, I like to top it with a juicy ripe tomato bruschetta where the tomatoes are 'marinated' in a touch of balsamic vinegar and this topping along with some fresh basil adds a fabulous freshness to the tart! What a great way to enjoy the fresh summer basil and tomatoes!

Pesto Grilled Shrimp

Pesto Grilled Shrimp

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With summer here it is grilling season and one of my favourite things to grill is meat on a stick! I mean, what's not to like? You have meat, sticks and fire! Mmm... Although I generally think of chicken first when it comes to meat on a stick, you can't go wrong with plump juicy shrimp either! I came across the idea of pesto grilled shrimp on Gina's Skinny Taste a few months ago and I was just itching for summer to arrive so that I could use some fresh basil, fire up the grill and try them out! The recipe could not be easier, you simply make the pesto, marinate the shrimp, skewer is on sticks and grill it and this is good since you will want to be making it every week this summer!

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

With summer here it is time to start looking for ways to keep cool on the steadily hotter days and what better way to do so than with a cool and refreshing glass of lemonade? Instead of running out to the store to get some, how about making your own? Trust me, it's dead easy; it's simply lemons, sugar and water along with about five minutes of effort and the results are so much better than 'from concentrate'! Bored with plain old lemonade? Try adding something to it like one of the many ripe, in season summer fruits or berries like strawberries! As exciting as a fruity lemonade is how about making it even more interesting by adding a fresh herb like basil or mint? This strawberry and basil lemonade is so easy to make from scratch at home and it is sure to keep you cool, hydrated and refreshed on the hot summer days to come!

Summer is going to be so good!

Blueberry lemonade anyone? Blackberry? Peach? There are just too many options to choose from!

BBQ Ham, Bacon and Pineapple Quesadillas (aka BBQ Hawaiian Pizza Quesadillas)

BBQ Ham, Bacon and Pineapple Quesadillas (aka BBQ Hawaiian Pizza Quesadillas)

During the summer I naturally tend to eat a lot more fruit and I often like to try to use it in one of my food obsessions, dishes with plenty of hot melted ooey gooey cheese like grilled cheese sandwiches or quesadillas. I have been enjoying a lot of pineapple these last few days and that had me thinking about fun new ways to use it and the one idea that really stuck with me was to use it in another pizza quesadilla! Hawaiian pizza is one of those pizzas where you either love it or hate it with its use of sweet and tangy pineapple on a pizza along with salty ham and smoky bacon and I am firmly in the love it category so Hawaiian pizza quesadillas were on the menu!

A Hawaiian pizza quesadilla recipe pretty much writes itself, I mean you just take the Hawaiian pizza ingredients, throw them into a tortilla and toast them up until all melty and good but that just wasn't quite doing it for me... Although I do not hold to it all the time, I feel that a quesadilla should include some spicy heat and the basic Hawaiian pizza quesadilla was simply lacking in this regard! After some careful consideration I decided that the best way to add some heat to the quesadillas was take a note from the BBQ chicken pizza to replace the boring old pizza sauce with some sweet and spicy BBQ sauce and I also threw in some jalapeno peppers for good measure! The use of the BBQ sauce in the quesadillas put grilling on my mind so I grilled the pineapple to tenderize and caramelize it, bringing out its natural sweetness.

Isn't summer great? Fresh fruit? Check! Plenty of ooey gooey melted cheese? Check! Mmm...

Chipotle Lime Shrimp and Guacamole Dip with Tomatoes and Charred Corn

Chipotle Lime Shrimp and Avocado Dip with Tomatoes and Charred Corn

I am always looking for tasty new dips and I am a big fan of shrimp so when I came across the idea of a taco shrimp dip on Jeanettes Healthy Living I was enthralled and the ideas started to spin in my head! There are a lot of ways that you could go with a shrimp taco dip but the one that fascinated me the most was combining spicy and smokey chipotle lime shrimp with a cool an creamy guacamole. Although I could have stopped there and the chipotle lime shrimp guacamole would be super tasty I could not stop thinking of a seven layer dip and how juicy tomatoes and sweet corn would add new layers of complexity and depth of flavour to the dip. Instead of just adding the corn raw I charred it in a cast iron skillet to bring out even more of its natural sweetness. You could serve this dip all mixed up but I decided to go with layers so that you could see all of the ingredients and I placed it in small bowls that were perfectly sized for individual servings! The cool and creamy guacamole, spicy succulent shrimp, juicy tomatoes and sweet corm are an amazing combination of flavours that combine to make a totally irresistible dip that is pretty healthy to boot!

Strawberries and Cream Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze

Strawberries and Cream Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze

With the local strawberries in season I have been getting a lot of them every week and it was about time that I used them in a recipe rather than just snacking on them. I have been thinking about a strawberry coffee cake ever since I saw one on Averie Cooks and it was about time that I made one! I went with a pretty basic coffeecake recipe that relies on butter, sour cream and buttermilk to ensure that it is nice and moist and tender both right out of the oven and that it remains that way for a few days. This strawberries and cream coffeecake recipe could not be easier to make; you really just need to mix the dry ingredients, mix the wet ingredients, combine them, pour them into a baking pan and then bake. With less than 10 minutes of work you can have this coffeecake in the oven and be impatiently waiting for it to bake while your house fills up with the irresistible aromas of baking strawberries and vanilla! What a great way to enjoy fresh summer strawberries for breakfast!

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

Every once in a while I get the craving for a creamy dip and although I am completely enthralled by hot melted cheese dips I often want something on the healthier side and at times like this hummus is my 'goto' dip of choice. At it's base hummus is made with pureed chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice but you can easily add flavours to it to keep things interesting. One of my faourite flavoured hummus has to be sun dried tomato hummus as sun dried tomatoes are just packed with flavour and they go really well in a creamy hummus base. Sun dried tomatoes typically come either dehydrated or packed in oil and both work in hummus either by re-hydrating the dehydrated ones or by draining the ones packed in oil and then adding them to the food processor along with everything else to puree. This sun dried tomato hummus works very well as a dip with toasted pita chips or vegetables for dipping or as a tasty spread in sandwiches or wraps where it adds a ton of flavour and a nice creamy texture.

Crispy Baked BBQ Onion Rings

Crispy Baked BBQ Onion Rings

When a reader asked about a replacement for eggs for one of my crispy baked panko crusted recipes one of the things that came to mind was a sweet, smoky and spicy BBQ sauce. BBQ sauce would be thick enough to cling to the food and hold on the panko bread crumbs and it would also add a ton of flavour! Of course one of the fist things that I thought about using the BBQ sauce on was some crispy baked onion rings; I mean you really cannot go wrong with combining onion rings and BBQ sauce! The recipe for these crispy baked onion rings could not be easier, you just dip the onion rings into the BBQ sauce, dredge them in the panko breadcrumbs and then bake until nice and golden brown and crispy. You can use your favourite BBQ sauce either store bought or homemade and using different flavours every once in a while will keep things interesting! The only thing that you really need to worry about is getting the BBQ sauce to the right consistency; you want it to be thick enough to coat the onion rings but thin enough that it does not coat in globs. (If your BBQ sauce is too thick you can thin it down with some water and if it is too thin you can thicken it up by simmering it for a few minutes.) These crispy baked BBQ onion rings are the tastiest onion rings that I have ever had and BBQ sauce definitely works well as a replacement for eggs as the binder!

Steak and Eggs Benedict with Asparagus in Bearnaise Sauce

Steak and Eggs Benedict with Asparagus in Bearnaise Sauce
Father's Day is this weekend and what better way to show him how much you care than to cook something special for him. Dads might not be all that big on breakfast in bed but you cannot go wrong making him a nice breakfast or brunch. Some dads aren't into the whole quiche or even eggs benedict breakfast thing so when I came across the idea for this steak and eggs benedict on Nibble Me This I knew that I had found an eggs benedict that even dad would love! Steak and eggs is a classic breakfast combo, asparagus goes well with steak and bearnaise sauce goes phenomenally well with both steak and asparagus so this dish is a hit on every front!

Although eggs benedict is more involved than a lot of breakfast recipes, it is actually pretty easy to make. To lighten the load in the morning, grill up an extra steak for dinner the night before and set it aside in the fridge for breakfast the next day. All that is left to do is toast the english muffins, steam the asparagus, make the bearnaise sauce and poach the eggs. To make things even easier I like to use a simple blender version of the bearnaise sauce that only takes a few minutes to make which means that the hardest part of this recipe is poaching the eggs which is easy peasy.

Dad is sure to appreciate this steak and eggs benedict with asparagus in bearnaise sauce for breakfast on Father's Day!

33 Father's Day Recipes

33 Father's Day Recipes

With Father's Day coming up next weekend I figured that it was about time to roundup some recipes to make for dad on that special day! Whether you are making dad breakfast, brunch, dinner or dessert I am sure that he will appreciate the extra effort on a day that is set aside for him. In this roundup I have included a few recipes that are easy enough for the kids to make either alone or with supervision and a few more challenging ones with a preference for steaks and grilled meats along with a few sweet and savoury treats and some breakfasts. This Father's Day show dad how much you care with some tasty home cooking!

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Pad Thai, a Thai style stir fried rice noodle dish, has to be one of my all time favourite meals and I always enjoy using its ingredient and flavour combinations in other dishes. With all of the Pad Thai style dishes that I have been making as of late I was reminded that I needed to update the original Pad Thai recipe along with it's 5 year old photo. Given my obsession with Pad Thai it's a good thing that it's so easy to make at home and the only 'exotic' ingredients that you really need to track down are the tamarind concentrate and the fish sauce which can be replaced by more commonly available lime juice and soy sauce in a pinch. One of the great things about Pad Thai is it's amazingly magical balance of sour, salty, sweet and spicy created by the tamarind, fish sauce, sugar and chili sauce. All said and told, Pad Thai really only takes less than 10 minutes to cook and things go quickly after the first ingredient hits the pan so the secret to success is in making sure that you have all of the ingredients ready to go before you start cooking. It's so easy to enjoy Pad Thai at home, even on a busy weeknight and with this recipe it is sure to become one of your favourite meals as well!

Crispy Baked Thai Peanut Sauce Coated Chicken

Crispy Baked Thai Peanut Sauce Coated Chicken

Recently I have been changing some typically deep fried dishes into healthier versions by coating them in panko breadcrumbs and baking them until golden brown and crispy. Normally I get the panko breadcrumbs to stick to the food by first dipping it is egg or an egg based batter but a when a reader asked about egg-less alternatives, it got me to thinking. When I made the Pad Thai shrimp burgers on the weekend the peanut sauce on them led me to the though of coating chicken in a Thai style peanut sauce follwed by the breadcrumbs and then baking them, which sounded so amazingly good! I am completely addicted to peanut sauce so I hardly needed an excuse to make a healthy baked crispy chicken dish with it!

The recipe for this crispy baked peanut chicken is really easy, you pretty much just thin the peanut sauce down until coats the chicken with just enough to get the panko breadcrumbs to stick and then bake until crispy and golden brown! All I have to say about this peanut chicken is that you have to try it! The peanut sauce works amazingly well at holding the breadcrumbs onto the chicken and the breadcrumbs bake up nice and crispy! Of course that does not even come close to being as good as all of the flavour that the peanut sauce adds to the mix!

Pad Thai Shrimp Burgers

Pad Thai Shrimp Burgers

My next tasty new burger this grilling season is inspired by the flavours of shrimp pad Thai, aka shrimp pad Thai burgers. As many of you know, I am a huge fan of pad Thai and I always enjoy using pad Thsi flavours in different dishes and with burgers being on my mind a lot lately it struck me to combine the two. Pad Thai, a stir-fried noodle dish, can be made with any meat but my favourite has to be shrimp and a shrimp burger patty sounded like a fabulous idea. When I think of a shrimp burger I think of large chunks of juicy succulent shrimp bursting in your mouth with every bite and not some kind of texture-less shrimp patty so I decided to start with some fairly large shrimp and to cut them into a few big pieces. The only question was how to hold those large chunks of shrimp together and the obvious solution seemed to be to grind up a small portion of the shrimp in a food processor and to use shrimp to hold the shrimp chunks together. I do not really like to use 'fillers' like egg and breadcrumbs in burger patties so these shrimp burgers are simply large chunks of shrimp held together by some shrimp paste along with a few pad Thai flavours including garlic, shallots, fish sauce, lime zest and cilantro.

Up next was the condiments for the pad Thai burgers and I had to start with the sauce. Pad Thai is normally made with a tasty sauce consisting of sour tamarind, sweet sugar, salty fish sauce and spicy chilies so that is where I started but this sauce is a little too thick for what I wanted so I thinned it down a bit with the addition of some coconut milk. I could have stopped there with the sauce but I could not resist adding some peanut butter, which is not commonly used in pad Thai, but since pad Thai is often topped with chopped peanuts I figured adding some more peanut flavour could only make things better. I filled the pad Thai burgers out with some of the vegetables in pad Thai including bean sprouts and shredded carrots along with plenty of fresh cilantro and I finished them off with some chopped peanuts and crispy fried shallots.

I have to say that these tasty shrimp pad Thai burgers exceeded all of my expectations and that the pad Thai flavours work really well in burger form! I was also really pleased by how well the shrimp patties tuned out! The texture of the large chunks of shrimp was quite amazing and I am looking forward to making many more shrimp burgers in the future!