Customizable Recipes




I like using recipes as inspiration and a base for the ingredients that I have on hand. Here I will share with you the most successful recipes that I use and offer some ideas on how you can make those recipes fit your tastes and modify them to what you have on hand. 


The most beautiful thing about cooking is that it is not exclusive, most people cook and even if it is not something that comes naturally, with practice and desire you can become a great cook. I share recipes as an outline or just for inspiration, I will give you techniques, tools and a few suggestions for flavor pairings so that you can experiment, expand and improve your culinary repertoire.


Professional cooking is all about adjusting to variables, that may mean playing with the heat under the pan, cooling something quickly over an ice bath, adding water when something is too thick or thickener if something is too thin. When you are adjusting the flavor of a dish consider the flavor profile, it may not always be salt that is needed, sometimes it will be sweet, sour, even bitter that would round out your dish. When you are looking for any of these flavor adjustments there are so many options to build flavor. If you are looking for salty you may use soy sauce instead of salt, when you are looking for sweetness you may add fruit in place of sugar. In this website I will try to give you many options to suit your taste and encourage you to play around, cooking is fun and you should not be nervous to play around with it!


When it comes to baking I will give specific recipes, but for savory foods I find that when you are cooking at home it is very important to adjust to the tastes of those you are cooking for since you know them well, so I will give a framework for you to start from, to spark your creativity in the kitchen. 


What I suggest for all cooking is that you buy as locally and with the seasons as possible so that your food tastes the way it should and can be made simply which tends to be the healthiest way to eat. Another important tip is to season as you cook so you are not bombing your food with salt at the end and to make sure you taste as you go so you can adjust the seasoning. 


Whenever you have a question, you can submit it through the Ask Mama J tab.


Recipe Reading Tip 


Whenever you are using a recipe remember to read through the whole recipe one time before you begin so that you know what to expect moving forward. That is part of the reason that I don’t like “ingredient lists” at the top of a recipe because some people will gather and prep the ingredients and then when they get to the method realize that they had time to cut and prep some things during the cooking process, being able to use your time more efficiently or you may realize that you have to soak something overnight and it may change your plans entirely.




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Tips for a Healthier Holiday Season

Sometimes we get caught up this time of year, here are some tips that might be helpful:   Holiday gift baking: Dark Chocolate dipped/covered dried fruit and nuts are a great gift in place of cookies, they are better for your friends and healthier for you to pick at! Also, don't underestimate the deliciousness of pickled vegetables like red onions and jalapeños that many people would prefer as gifts over the typical baked good this time of year!    Only eat the things that are worth it, so many times we eat things that we don’t even like because it’s traditional or just because...

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Such a versatile appetizer, lunch or dinner accompaniment. Everyone loves quesadillas and there are endless options to modify them to fit your mood. When it comes to the best cheese for quesadillas that’s debatable, but I generally prefer Monterey jack for it’s flavor and stretchability. If you’re up for some crispy cheesy goodness, here’s some inspiration… Bell Pepper, Onion and Jalapeño Quesadilla with Chipotle Mayo Besides the classic cheese quesadilla, it can’t get much easier than this. I sautéed one small onion with one bell pepper and jalapeño, seasoned with salt, cumin and...

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Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are popular in many cultures, in our house we usually go Italian or Mexican style depending on the mood. They have become so popular in my house that I use stuffed pepper night to clear the veggie drawer and pantry using whatever I have on hand. For your stuffed peppers your filling will be a grain such as rice or quinoa flavored with meat or other protein such as lentils of you want to go vegetarian or vegan. Use your favorite aromatics and season to fit your desire. Here are some recipes that I have made. Italian Style Ground Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers (Base recipe:...

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Fresh Pasta

There is nothing like fresh pasta. When I was little my grandma would come stay with us during summer break and we would make pasta (among many other things) and although there are less opportunities for fresh pasta these days because time is a precious commodity, sometimes you just have to have it and it is so worth the time. When you are making fresh pasta it will take you ten minutes to combine and knead the dough.  Basic Method: With any pasta you will combine the flour (and salt if using) and place it on a clean countertop. Make a well in the center and reserve some of the flour...

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Baked Pastas (and more)

Baked pastas can be whatever you want them to be. You can make a classic baked ziti with meat or no meat, you can make it vegetarian and change the vegetables with the seasons or you can dream up your favorite flavor combination and give it a shot, let me know if you’ve found a great combination to share! You will cook the pasta to just under al dente (in water that is as salty as the sea), I prefer mezze rigatoni, but you can use penne, rigatoni, ziti… your choice. Cool cooked pasta flat on a cookie sheet, do not rinse your pasta under water, that removes the beautiful starch and your...

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Everyone loves meatballs whether they are on a meatball parm wedge (this name is highly contested but I'm sticking with it), nestled on top of your favorite spaghetti or on their own as an appetizer or side. The beauty of meatballs is that they began as a way to make sure nothing went to waste so they can be modified to your heart’s content as long as you follow a few guidelines.  The meat: This can be any ground meat of your choice, just know that if you use lean meat you will have to compensate with extra moisture from another ingredient. The meat may dictate the flavor direction, lamb...

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Essentially a baked custard in a pastry crust, quiche is often thought of as a French dish, but it actually originated in Germany. Quiche is one of my favorite fridge emptiers, when I have a bunch of random cheese ends and meats or veggies I love to throw it all in a quiche or two and make a delectable dish that can be paired with a green salad or a warm soup for an incredible meal. You can even freeze your quiche in slices or whole for those nights that get away from you or for when a friend shows up and you want to give them something homemade. Basic Method:  1. Roll out pie crust...

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I would imagine there are more chili recipes in the world than any other dish. Chili has an interesting past (of course debated, but North America is safe to say as it covers so much ground) and while people fight over the origin, all I care about is the one I get to eat and share with my family and friends.  Chili is a dish of stewed peppers and meat, it can be served on its own, topped with simple or intricate garnishes, served over rice or even pasta. There are more variations of chili than one person can attempt, but that won’t stop us from trying. There are many styles of chili...

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