3G Baked Penne – Grown Up Gourmet & Gluten Free

I made a lasagna the other day and had some left over Ricotta and left over roasted cherry tomatoes  so I whipped this version of a baked penne – for grown ups.  I made this one using a gluten – free corn pasta, but your favorite gluten free, or regular pasta works too.

If you have time – roast the cherry tomatoes with a bulb of garlic (slice top off) – drizzle EVOO over all of it and bake at 400 for 20-25 min.  Use all of tomatoes and juice and 1-3 cloves of garlic out of the bulb (squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skin).  Heat some Honey – Oat  Gluten Free Bread for dinner and use the roasted garlic instead of butter.  To shorten the prep time, use minced garlic.

Gourmet Baked Penne


4 cups cooked penne


ricotta spinach basil oregano garlic mixed with penneBaked Gourmet Gluten Free Pennesingle serving 3G Baked Penne2 cups ricotta cheese

1 egg (slightly beaten)

3 dashes Franks Red Hot

1/2 cup steamed and drained spinach

1/2 c left over roasted cherry tomatoes with and juice from roasting (I had a about 5 more raw ones that I thew in whole but tried to keep them nearer the top so the tomatoes roast and burst into the casserole)

salt to taste

1 tsp minced garlic (or roasted garlic – see above)

1/8 tsP black pepper

1/4 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp basil

1/8 c shredded mozzarella

2 TB parmesan cheese

Once blended pour into a greased casserole dish, top with

plus 1/8 – 1/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese

Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Raise heat to 400 and uncover for last 7 min.

Serve & enJoy.  Want to see more posts like this? Like this post and comment to let me know! Follow me on Twitter, Pinterst & Facebook too!

Never Buy a Packet again – Homemade Taco Seasoning

A favorite supper in this house is Taco’s. Unfortunately most of the packets you get in those kits are more like salt licks than seasoning in my book.  This is our favorite mix of seasonings adapted from the original that I found, the original recipe can be found here.  On a former post I listed our top ways to make Taco’s better for you – and those can be found here in my post titled Forget Hockey – Its Taco Night in Canada.   Think those fast food taco’s aren’t that bad?  Check out my post comparing popular fast foods to their homemade counterparts., titled “Fast Food – is it really that bad for you?”

Here’s our recipe – you can make it as needed or mix it together and store in an air tight container, use about 3 TB for 1 -1.25 LB ground beef.

Taco Seasoning

IMG_20140302_174409 Combine together:

  • 1 TB chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (spicy – for mild reduce to 1/8 tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4tsp – table salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp potato starch (or corn starch)

IMG_20140302_174920Brown extra lean ground beef with diced onion, drain any fat.  Add 3 TB of Taco Seasoning.  Add 1 cup -1 1/4 cup water, bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 5-10 min, until it thickens slightly.

Serve on corn tortillas, nachos or on a bed of lettuce and top with you favorite toppings!  I suggest adding Jalapeno Joy Hot Pepper Sauce .

EnJOY! As always leave me a comment and like this post if you want more of these!  Follow me on Twitter & Facebook too!


Easy Enchiladas Sauce

Easy Enchiladas Sauce

This is my recipe for Easy Enchiladas Sauce – use this and substitute for canned enchiladas sauce in recipes! So good with just enough of a bite to cut the tomato.

2 Cups plain tomato sauce (NOT pasta sauce)
2.5 C water
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
3 TB Chilli Powder (subsititute 1 TB Chipotle if you want the heat amped up)

4 TB Cornstarch whisked with 4 TB water

Add all ingredients except cornstarch & water to a medium sized pot. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, add cornstarch mixture and continue to simmer until thickened (about 15 min,)


Better, Faster (makes you stronger) than Take Away ….Beef Stir Fry

Beef Stir FRyEveryone likes to order in once in a while right?  Well one of my pet peeves is ordering in and getting something salty & tasteless.  In less time then it would take to have it delivered, and a fraction of the cost, you can make this beef stir  fry.  Best thing – no weird ingredients and I’ve included my favorite short cuts to shorten prep time. Ready, Set, …Let’s Stir Fry!


  • 2/3 c soy sauce
  • 1/2 c beef broth (stock)
  • 1/3 c rice vinegar
  • 3 1/2 TB brown sugar
  • 1 TB sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 TB minced garlic
  • 3/4 TB minced ginger
  • 2 TB Cornstarch

Veggie of choice. Rice. 1 LB beef – sliced thin

Our favorite veggie combo for a beef stir fry is:

  • about a pound of mixed red, green, orange and yellow peppers – sliced  – fresh is best, but frozen are a good time saver! (About 2 peppers, sliced total)
  • 3-4 bulbs of baby bok choy
  • 1/2 onion – sliced thinly
  • 1/2 bag (454g) of “Carrot Slaw” (shredded carrot and broccoli) – you can also  manually shred these
  • 400 g brown cremini mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 bag of bean sprouts

other options we play with:

  • sliced water chestnuts
  • mini corn
  • snow peas
  • broccoli

Cook rice (we like basmati) according to instructions.  (Or use a rice cooker like me :)  ) While rice is steaming,  mix sauce except cornstarch, once it is mixed add cornstarch and whisk until mixed completely, set aside.

Heat wok or large, deep fry pan,  when pan is hot add about 2 TB sesame oil.   Let heat for a moment, then add garlic, stir fry for about 30 sec, add onion.  Continue to saute for 1 min. Add beef & try to sear.  Add peppers. (if using frozen peppers the trick I use is to thaw peppers (in microwave in a pinch) and squeeze out all excess water, as that will render your sauce tasteless).  Add carrot slaw.  Add about  2TB-4TB  water, cover and let carrots steam for about 3 min.  Remove lid (water should be gone or pour off excess water).  Add mushrooms, Toss. Add sauce & toss.  Heat sauce to boiling and continue to stir fry for about 3 min, – the sauce will thicken, your rice should be ready.  Plate with rice, serve and eJOY.

As always I love reading your comments! Like this recipe?  let me know – like the post and follow me on Twitter and Facebook.






First call of order – Happy 2014! My apologies for my absence from the blogging world,  time just got away from me.  My New Years resolution?  Make time and it a priority to blog weekly!

So onto the first post of the year! Today I made something simple for supper, Baked Salmon, oven fries and Ceaser salad, however my 7 year old took one look and said “Mommy you make such fancy food and its so delicious” (I swear no coaching!) so here it is the “fancy” Simple Baked Salmon.

IMG_00001916 IMG_00001917

Simple Baked Salmon

  • Salmon
  • 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 425,  when there are 15 min left for Oven Fries (see the link for the recipe), place salmon on cookie sheet drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle with Salt & pepper, then slice 1/2 of the lemon into slices and place on fish. Bake for 15 min.  Serve with a Ceaser Salad and oven fries. Squeeze the rest of the lemon juice over the fish.  EnJOY.

As always I love hearing your feed back and comments!  Like my blog and let me know!

Top Toodler/Preschool Friendly Dishes …p.s. their healthy too

Recently I responded to a post that asked for suggestions for a vegetable-picky toddler besides purees.  It generated a lot of response and a lot of requests for preschooler idea’s too.  Until recently I was the caterer for a Co-Op Daycare and cooked in house morning and afternoon snacks as well as lunches.  I was only there 2 days a week so I made all the other stuff ahead of time and either froze or refrigerated it for the staff on those days I wasn’t there.  So by request of  posters looking for help (you know who you are if your reading this, lol) These were some the kids (age range 12months – 5 year, on PA days schooler agers as well).

Oh, we also had a guideline that we tried to get everyone to try 3 bites of everything on their plate so they would try different things – now, that being said if Bobby’s latest whim is that he hates green vegetables, but loves raw carrots – and its veggies and dip on that day, we won’t serve him green veggies but carrots and halved grape tomatoes and orange peppers (or whatever).  Don’t make it a battle – you have to go with the flow a little!

The Power of the Shred!

IMG_00000761  IMG_00000270 IMG_00000589 chicken and noddle casserole cookedBest ever Tuna or Chicken Salad Sandwiches

In a bowl mix: 1 can of tuna (packed in water), drained. 1-2 TB mayo, 2-3TB Ranch Dressing, 1/2 zucchini – washed, stem chopped off & grated (rind and all), 1/4 red or white onion grated.

In a bowl mix:   , 1 carrot-grated*, 1 cup chopped chicken**, 1/4-1/2c cup mayo (depending on preference), grated onion, salt and pepper.

*If the carrot organic, you can gently wash it and use the peel and all, or if you wish to peel, keep it in a freezer bag, in the freezer and add alike pieces of veggies to it so you have lots of variety to add to a stock),

**Chicken can be leftovers from a Roasted Chicken or other chicken dish.  For the daycare I would buy chicken on sale and roast 2 or 3 at a time and make ahead some chicken dishes as well as portions of chicken meat (for sandwiches or dishes on the fly) – you can also use the carcases to make homemade chicken stock for soups, rice skillets or other dishes as well – make ahead and freeze 2 cups will fit in a sandwich sized Zip-Lock bag.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (or Loaf)

Beat together 3 eggs, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup oil ( or substitute pumpkin puree or applesauce).  Stir in: 2 cups grated zucchini (skin and all).  Add 3 tsp vanilla, 3 cups flour, 3 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, a pinch salt, and 1/4 cup cocoa . Blend drop by spoonful (will be very thick), into muffin tins, lined with liners, or 2 generous loaves. Bake at 350 for 25 min (keep checking!) for muffins or 50 mins for loaves.  12-15 min for Mini Muffins.

I found toddlers and preschoolers will eat more of anything if cut into small pieces – sandwiches in 4′s (or use a cookie cutter in shapes), mini muffins, Quesadilla triangles etc.

Love this type of food  but don’t have the time to make it?  Check out my website:  http://mealsfromjoyskitchen.com and shop online (Durham Region, ON only).

Snacks & Lunches

Tortilla Rollups
Spread cream cheese on a tortilla, place 3 thinly sliced red pepper, cucumber, carrots, etc along the centre, roll tortilla up into a long cylinder, and cut into pinwheels.  Try with cream cheese and jam or nutella or peanut butter (Great for birthday parties).

Kids don’t like tortillas? Use bread with the crusts cut off instead!

Ham and Cheese & Broccoli Quesadilla
Place wheat tortilla on hot pan (sprayed with cooking spray or oil), sprinkle, shredded cheese of choice (mozzarella, cheddar, marble (farmer), etc), sprinkle chopped ham(or chicken) over and red pepper,  onion, cooked broccoli (or whatever they will eat) over and cover with another tortilla flip after 2 min (or when it browns), use a pizza slicer to cut and serve in triangle with salsa, guacamole and sour cream.

Bacon and Egg Bake
In a bowl, beat together 6 eggs, 1/2  cup  milk, salt and pepper, 1/4 tsp dry mustard. Lay 4 slices bread in bottom of a 9 *12 pan. Place (optional) cheese, bacon, and sauted: mushrooms/onion/peppers/tomatoes/celery/ blanched spinach etc over top, pour 1/2  egg mixture over top, cover with another layer of bread pour rest of egg mixture over. (Optional: sprinkle with crushed cornflakes), allow to sit (refrigerated) for several hours or overnight (I did it the day ahead). Cover and bake at 350 for an hour. 

Celery topped with peanut butter and raisins (ants on a log) or laughing cow cheese. Lots of salads, grape tomatoes, avocado slice, dragon fruit slices, kiwi.

Use cream corn instead of condensed soup in recipes calling for cream of … soup.

Also see my kid friendly recipes like:  Peanut Butter Chicken, Chicken and Noodle Casserole, Cheesy Hashbrown, Ham and Corn Casserole Creole Red Beans and Rice.

Other suggestions – let me know if anyone wants recipes and I will try to include in part 2 of this post! 

In Part 2

  • Individual Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Icing. 
  • Ham &  Sweet Potato Pie.
  • Chicken (or Pork) Stir Fry.
  • Rice Skillet (with Breakfast Sausage, Veggie etc).

This is a family favorite and its Gluten Free to boot!  Feel free to add (left over) cooked broccoli or bell peppers or other veggies to make it your own.  Super simple and delish – without all the processing that comes from canned soup!

Hashbrown, Ham & Cheese Casserole

hashbrown caserole, with corna dn ahm topped with breadcrumbs

  • 1 Cup Ham (cooked)
  • 1 Cup cubed cheese
  • 1 cup GF Basic white sauce (see below)
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • dash salt, pepper and cayenne
  • 1/2 bag of hashbrown potatoes
  • plus – left over veggies – cooked broccoli, mushrooms, bell peppers or corn
  • 1/4 cup gluten free bread crumbs

Mix all ingredients except bread crumbs in a bowl, pour into a greased casserole dish.  Top with bread crumbs.  Bake covered  at 375 for 30 mins or until heated thru. EnJOY!

Basic White Sauce (GF)

  • 2 TB butter (or margarine)
  • 2 TB GF all purpose flour or rice flour
  • 1- 2 cup milk (depending on how thick you want to make it)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard

In a sauce pan over medium high heat, melt butter, add flour& dry mustard and stir continually, slowly add milk until desired thickness is obtained.

Wow! Chocolate & (not Peanut) Butter Bars!

This is one of the recipes I use for a treat for the daycare I was catering at. The kids loved it! We had peanut & nut allergies so I used WOW! Butter for this recipe.  If there is no risk of allergy feel free to substitute real peanut butter for the WOW! Butter.  Best part – this is  a no cook recipe and only takes 5 min to prepare.

WOW! Butter & Chocolate Bars.

Wow Butter Bars (2)  wow butter bars

  • 1 cup  Syrup – I’ve used corn syrup or maple or table syrup
  • 3 cup Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes (or a mix of both)
  • 2 cup WOW! Butter or Peanut Butter
  • 2 squares of semi sweet chocolate

Mix first 3 ingredients in a bowl – please note all of these measurements are approximate as I actually just toss this stuff in together and mix it until its the consistency of rice krispy squares.  Add more or less of each ingredient until you get the right consistency.

Wow Butter Bars (3)Press into the bottom of a 8*10 pan (I line it with wax or parchment paper – so I can life the entire thing out to cut later).  Melt the chocolate for 30 seconds in microwave – and stir continue in 10 sec, spurts until melted (or melt in double boiler on stove top).  Spread on top of mixture in pan.  Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate until the chocolate hardens (about an hour).  Lift out of pan using the parchment paper and cut into bars – freeze  or serve.  Keep in refrigerator,  freezes well.

enJOY.  Don’t forget to leave me a comment and like my post!

Don’t be a Jerk…Pork It!

IMG_1474One of my favourite “spicy” dishes is jerk.   I love jerk chicken and jerk pork.  I also hate the rain, so this chilly rainy day in October I decided to make some oven roasted Jerk Pork.  Traditionally Jerk Pork is made with Scotch Bonnet Peppers  – which I love and actually have a JIYK (Joy In Your Kitchen)  Hot Sauce Line – which 3 of 4 sauces are made of Scotch Bonnets – but I really like jerk turned down a notch, so I use jalapeno peppers instead. I will give the instructions using different variations of heat.

(Don’t be a) Jerk Marinade.

3LB + Pork Roast or Chicken Wings, Chicken Thigh etc


  • jerk chicken IMG_1465 IMG_1466 IMG_1468 IMG_1469 IMG_1472 IMG_1474  2 Jalapenos (mild) or Scotch Bonnet Pepper(hot)  – chopped, with seeds and membranes -** heat hint see below**
  • 1/2 tb dried thyme
  • 2 tsp salt (table salt)
  • 1TB brown sugar
  • 2 tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon ( I used Mexican cinnamon)
  • 1/3 c sodium reduced soy sauce
  • 2 TB vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 c Mango Juice
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (or 2 cloves)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger/ ginger paste
  • 1/2 oz dark rum
  • 2 -3 drops bitters

Puree all items except for pork/chicken in food processor.  I cut almost thru my roast because I like the seasoning thru.  Pour marinade over meat and marinate for a minimum of 2 hrs.

Take meat out of fridge, while oven is coming to temperature.

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking dish with tinfoil and place a rack on top.  Using extra long skewers to “reattach” the roast together and place over baking dish.  Pour about a cup of marinade over meat.  Reserve remaining marinade.

Bake at 450 for 20 mins, reduce heat to 325.

Pour about another 1 cup of marinade over meat and roast until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. (3 LB about 75-90- min).

Allow to meat to rest for 15 -30 minutes before serving.  enJoy!


Love this recipe?  Let me know! I love likes comments and follows!

**to bring the heat down, seed these jalapenos, to bring the heat level up – substitute scotch bonnet peppers (seeded) or up it further by removing the stem of the scotch bonnets but adding the seeds & membranes into the marinade.

Alice fell down the Toad in the Hole

Today’s post brought to you by “Going crazy with 2 sick kids at home”.com, donations of wine in particular are accepted.  Seriously though, its the time of the year here in Ontario, Canada that the leaves are changing and the weather is getting cooler.  To our family this means, a yearning for a hot breakfast and a blanket to curl up and read a book with.  Alice in Wonderland is great read and Toad in the Holes are my daughters favorite breakfast, put them together and you get …

Alice Fell Down the Toad in The Hole

Toad in a Hole (5)

  • 1 piece of bread
  • 1 egg
  • margarine or butter



Toad in a Hole (2) Toad in a Hole (7) Toad in a Hole (1)

  1. Heat a small frying pan on medium-high heat. Melt a bit of butter into pan.
  2. Butter both sides of the bread.
  3. Use a small cookie cutter (we use one shaped like a heart or a star) and cut a hole in the bread.
  4. When pan is hot, place bread into bottom of pan, then crack egg into hole.
  5. Fry the stars as well. 
  6. Flip over after about 3 minutes and fry for an additional 2 minutes (or to taste). 
  7. Remove to plate and serve. EnJoy!

hint: also good, if instead of frying in butter, there is a little bacon or sausage grease in the bottom of the pan


Like this?  Let me know! I love comments and likes!