Did you ever go to a party and find yourself dunking into a delicious dip that was set in front of you? Did you then find yourself dipping again and again, and yet again? I myself can answer yes to both; which brings me to this dip recipe that I came up with. Looks pretty doesn't it? I wanted to create a dip that I could eat and share with friends, but I wanted it to be more "figure-friendly" than a lot of dips that are sold in the local grocery stores. I layered the dip with a healthy roasted red pepper hummus, a little light mayo, mashed avocado, diced tomatoes, and partly-skim shredded cheese. I topped it with chopped basil and green onion, and squeezed a bit of lime juice for a taste of freshness! End result? A delectable party treat! (or anytime treat for that matter!). I made this dip enough for 2-3 people but I say double or triple this recipe for a party.

Serves 2-3 (generously)

  • 1 small pkg of pre-made roasted red pepper hummus (buy the "healthier" pre-made variety)
  • 2 generous dollops of light mayo
  • 1 avocado, lightly mashed + squeeze of lime juice
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • one handful of mozzarella or cheddar cheese, grated (use partly-skimmed)
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2-3 lime wedges
  • freshly cracked black pepper (optional)

1. Get a medium sized plate or bowl. Get a plate or bowl that would show off the layers of the dip. Take all of the pre-made roasted red pepper hummus and spoon it onto the serving plate. Spread it to evenly to coat the bottom of the serving plate.

2. Then layer accordingly: light mayo, mashed avocado, diced tomato, and shredded cheese. Then sprinkle the fresh basil and green onion. Squeeze a bit of lime juice all around and sprinkle a bit of freshly cracked black pepper (if you wish) and serve! Serve the dip with a lot of fresh veggies, fruits, nachos, lightly salted potato chips, toasted pita wedges or even warm naan bread. Kids will love this one!
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Ahhh lasagna! A family dinner time classic! I mean who doesn't love it? What I love about lasagna is the fully satisfying feeling you get after eating it. You get bits of gooey melted cheese, chunky beefy flavour, the thick tomato sauce with pieces of basil to further heighten the flavour...the list goes on! Another great thing? It can feed crowds of any size, and if you're feeding a small crowd you can always save the leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. When I made this particular lasagna, I have to admit I was kinda nervous while making it because I hadn't done it in so long! But with this no-fail recipe (with a few minor adjustments of course hehe!) I was able to have the perfect lasagna. Everybody was asking for seconds, need I say more?

Adapted from the "Classic Lasagna recipe" from the Canadian Living Magazine (January 2012). By: Amanda Barnier and The Test Kitchen.

Serves 12

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F

Baking time: about 1 hour

  • 2 pkgs of fresh whole wheat lasagna noodles (or sub: 12 lasagna noodles) - note: you may not use all of the fresh noodles depending on which brand you get.
  • 1 container of extra smooth ricotta cheese (475 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 good pinch of black ground pepper
  • 2-3 cups blended four Italian cheese mix, pre-shredded (or sub: mozzarella)

Ingredients for Tomato meat Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/4 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste (the herbed variety, if available)
  • 2 cans (28 oz) diced tomatoes (use the no salt variety)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 bay leaves (I like to use fresh if available)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Tomato Meat Sauce:

1. In a large heavy bottom pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the onions, celery, carrot and garlic until soft, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 5 minutes.

2. Add the beef; breaking it up with the back of wooden spoon, until it has nicely browned and most of the liquid has evaporated. This should take another 5 minutes or so. 

3. Stir in tomato paste. Then add in the tomatoes, wine, bay leaves, oregano and pepper. Put the pot on simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has slightly thickened. This should take about 40 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil. Discard the bay leaves. (You can make the sauce of ahead of course: Just let the sauce cool for 30 minutes; refrigerate in airtight container for up to 3 days.)

4. Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook the noodles for 2 minutes less than the package directions for al dente (with a bite). Drain and arrange noodles in single layer on clean kitchen towels. Note: only do this step if you're using the dry noodles not the fresh.

5. In a small bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, eggs and fresh pepper.

6. In 13- x 9-inch baking dish, spread 1-1/2 cups of the meat sauce. Arrange noodles over top; sprinkle with half of the shredded cheese. Top with 2-1/2 cups of the meat sauce, noodles, ricotta mixture, noodles, 2-1/2 cups of the meat sauce, noodles, then remaining meat sauce and shredded cheese. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese. Note: you can make this ahead and just cover/seal with saran wrap and place it into the fridge for up to a couple days.

7. Cover the prepared lasagna baking dish with foil and place it into the oven. Bake in the 375F  oven for about 40-45 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is golden, about another 15 minutes. Loosely cover with foil and let it cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve warm with a fresh green salad with oil dressing. Yum!

Substitutes: If you don't like beef you can also use lean ground chicken or turkey or even pork!
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Happy July! To all the FTY readers out there! For my first July recipe, I thought I would post this delicious savoury corn, scallion and cheddar muffin recipe. Now I have to admit, this picture is not the best I've taken nor does it do this recipe justice. But in all honesty, these are delectable! I don't bake a lot of savoury muffins other than jazzed up version of corn muffins, but these I just had to give them a try. My daughter is so into anything "muffiny" so instead of opting for the usual slightly sugary blueberry or raspberry or banana muffins I opted for these. You know what? It passed the toddler taste test! I served these babies up with a baked tilapia dinner with salad. These are great when you're serving lighter fare for lunch or dinner. Try these also with a bowl of warm soup or just on it's own as a snack, yummy!

Adapted from the "Cheese and Corn Muffins" recipe, from the Top 100 Finger Foods cookbook. Written by: Annabel Karmel. (Copyright 2009).

Makes 8 regular muffins or 24 mini muffins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Baking time: 20 minutes for regular muffins
Baking time: 12-14 minutes for mini muffins

  • 1/2 cup canned corn, drained
  • 3 scallions, roughly sliced
  • 1/4 cup Greek-style Yogurt
  • 2 tbsps butter, melted and cooled (can use olive oil margarine)
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour or 1/2 cup flour + 2 tbsps cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar, grated

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan or two 12-hole mini muffin pans with paper muffin cups. Set aside.

2. Place in the corn and scallions into a food processor and give it a good whiz until it's chopped. Add in the yogurt, butter, honey, and egg. Whiz to combine the wet ingredients.

3. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and paprika. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in the food processor, and add in the grated cheese. Pulse another two or three times.

4. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups (about three-quarters of the way up). Bake around 20 minutes for the regular size muffins and 12-14 minutes for the mini muffins or until firm to the touch. Let the muffins cool and enjoy!
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