Truly the Best Sugar Cookies Recipe Ever!

What I love about sugar cookies are that they are easy to make, shape, decorate, and enjoyed by most. You can make the dough ahead of time — refrigerate up to 2 days in the refrigerator, or even freeze them (up to 3 months) until you need them. I have even made sugar cookie dough and have them away as a gift along with a set of cookie cutters.

I had tried many sugar cookie recipes in the past, but this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, is truly one of my favourites that I have been using since 2020. The cookies have a soft texture and a delightful flavour. So why not give it a try today?

Go to the link above for additional hints and video tutorial.


Ingredients – Sugar Cookies

  • 2 and 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour, plus more as needed for rolling and work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 cup Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 large Egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract or Lemon Extract (optional)*

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl — Flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together. You can use a high speed mixer or by hand until mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the egg, vanilla, and flavoured Extract (if using). Combine well.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until combined. Please note that dough will be relatively soft. If the dough seems too soft/sticky for rolling, add 1 more tablespoon of flour.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Place each portion onto a lightly floured parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Roll out the dough until about 1/4″ thick. If the dough is sticky, dust with more flour and continue to roll.
  5. When you reach 1/4″ thickness, lightly dust one of the sections. Put parchment paper on top, and place the second rolled out on top. Place on a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours (and up to 2 days).
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Take chilled ready-to-cut dough from refrigerator and start cutting into shapes using your favourite cookie cutters. A good trick is to dip your cookie cutter in flour between each cut to avoid dough sticking into the cutter. Re-roll dough scraps to 1/4″ thickness and continue cutting until all dough is consumed.
  7. Arrange cookies on baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes (8 for smaller cookies, 10 for larger cookies). Do not overbake. Cookies may not look baked at 11 minutes, but I highly suggest you remove them from the oven before you see any browning on the edges. Allow to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then transfer onto cooling racks.
  8. Allow to fully cool before decorating with icing or decorative sugar toppings.
  9. Recipe will yield about 18 – 24 cookies depending on cookie cutter size.

Ingredients – Sugar Cookie Icing

  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 6 teaspoons Water
  • 4 teaspoons Light Corn Syrup
  • ½-1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, oil-free start with ½ teaspoon and add more to your taste
  • ½-1 teaspoon Almond Extract, oil-free start with ½ teaspoon and add more to your taste
  • ⅛ teaspoon Salt to help balance out the sweetness
  • Food Colouring

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, stir mixture for about 2-3 minutes until a smooth and glossy consistency is achieved.
  2. If you are using multiple colours, divide the icing into their own bowls before adding the colouring.
  3. After adding the food colouring, you will notice the icing will be slightly runny. This is normal. Different climates and humidity levels can affect the consistency of the icing. If too wet, add powdered sugar (1 teaspoon at a time), if too dry, add more water (1/8 teaspoon at a time).
  4. Spoon the icing into piping bags or squeeze bottles. If you do not have either of these, you can also spoon the icing into plastic ziploc bags and snip off a small bit off one corner.
  5. To decorate, first outline each cookie with the icing. Fill the rest of the cookie with the icing, then use a toothpick to help spread the icing and fill in any holes.
  6. Enjoy the cookies immediately OR allow the icing to “harden” overnight (or about 12 hours), uncovered. Do not stack until the sugar cookie icing has hardened. The cookies will stay soft for 4-5 days in an airtight container.

Memphis-Inspired Brussels Sprouts

  • Contribution and Recipe by Kevin Lee, AVP, Office Solutions Sales & Marketing, Sharp Electronics of Canada

To celebrate National Brussels Sprouts Day, I am reposting this blog originally posted on Dec 2020. This dish was inspired while on a business trip that took Kevin and his colleagues to our Sharp Manufacturing Company of America (SMCA) factory in Memphis, Tennessee. After spending much of the day at the plant, the team ended up going to a Memphis restaurant for dinner. This dish was ordered as an appetizer by his colleague Rolland, but was coaxed into trying it. After the first bite, Kevin’s taste-buds were awakened to the flavours of that Brussels sprout dish that he will never soon forget. He loved it so much, that when he came home, he had to recreate this dish! After a few tries, Kevin finally got the flavour and texture he desired (and remembered) … and we are so pleased that he is sharing this dish with all of us.

There are many debates on which way is best to prepare Brussels sprouts. You have the older generation that will attest that over-cooked, boiled Brussels sprouts is how it should be served, this is how I recall it as a child. Because of this childhood trauma, I never touched these lovely little green mini-cabbages again until I was in my thirties.

Up until a couple of days ago, Brussels sprouts were always prepared on a roasting pan, mixed with balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper, and popped into the oven at least a couple times a week as a side dish.

I decided to finally give Kevin’s recipe a try (on the stovetop) with my cast iron skillet this weekend, and SHOCKING to me … but I’m hooked on this entirely new (and faster) preparation method. Charred and crispy on the outside, lightly caramelized and tender on the inside, these Brussels sprouts taste amazingly good, even addictive!

If I haven’t convinced you to try Brussels sprouts yet, then perhaps telling you that they are so good for you, will! They contain vitamins (such as A, B6, C and K) and minerals (like manganese, folate, iron, magnesium and potassium). These vitamins and minerals are good for your immune system, heart and bones. They are also low-calorie, fat-free (when not prepared with added oil), and full of fibre, which is great for keeping your digestive system running smoothly.

So which is better? Oven-roasted or pan-roasted? To be honest, I enjoy them both. I love the fact that you can toss the sprouts in the oven and let it cook while I’m busy preparing other meal items versus standing guard over the stove-top ensuring they don’t burn. I think, the most distinct difference is texture. Oven-roasted Brussels sprouts tend to be tender all the way through the interior, allowing it to truly melt in your mouth. While pan-roasted Brussels sprouts tend to be firmer, cooked more on the outside and slightly tender in the interior. I enjoy them both for different reasons and appreciate the variation. You’ll have to try both methods and see what you think.

So if you’re looking for a new way to enjoy these beautiful little bulbs, you’re going to be happy you’re reading this recipe. We hope you enjoy it!

How to Trim Brussels Sprouts

Before trimming the Brussels sprouts, make sure you wash them in a colander, ensuring all the dirt is removed.

Dry them on a kitchen towel for a bit before cutting.

Use a knife to cut the tough stem, remove any yellow or damaged leaves.

Cut each Brussels sprout in half lengthwise, from tip to trimmed end.

If you come across one of those “monster” sprouts, feel free to quarter it.

Ingredients

All you need to make these Memphis-Inspired Brussels sprouts are olive oil, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, ground pepper, and soft cheese for the finishing touch.

  • Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed and halved (3 cups)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (2 tablespoons)
  • Red Wine Vinegar (1 tablespoon)
  • Soy Sauce (1 tablespoon)
  • Oyster Sauce or Hoisin Sauce (1 teaspoon)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (pinch)
  • Handful of Soft Cheese (Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs / Feta Cheese / Parmesan / Goat Cheese / or any other crumbly cheese)

Preparation

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cooking Time: 15 mins
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet for approximately 2 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Add the Brussels sprouts and toss to coat. Flip the sprouts so they are facing down (cut-side down) and let sit undisturbed for approx 5-7 minutes, until they develop a dark, caramelized sear (as if you are charring).
  3. Add red wine vinegar, soy sauce and oyster sauce in a 2:2:1 ratio (Kevin suggests applying 1 teaspoon at a time, and apply based on your liking)
    • Hint: I didn’t have oyster sauce on hand, so I substitute it with Hoisin sauce. It added a sweeter flavour, so I added a bit more red wine vinegar to counter balance the sweetness.
  4. Add the pepper, and stir.
  5. Continue cooking, stirring every few minutes, until the Brussels sprouts are all browned and starting to tenderize in the centre (about 5 to 7 additional minutes).
  6. Transfer to plate and sprinkle with a handful of crumbled soft cheese
    • Hint: I also sprinkled this dish with a handful of pomegranate seeds for colour and additional nutritional value
  7. Serve immediately!
    • Hint: This dish can be served as an appetizer and goes really well with a glass of white wine (Pinot Grigio perhaps)

How to Make Paper Bag Popcorn

Making paper bag popcorn in the microwave is one of the easiest ways I know to make popcorn with less cleanup, and creating a healthier version compared to store-bought microwave popcorn.

Here’s what you will need:

  • Popcorn kernels
  • A brown paper lunch bag


Directions
:

Step 1:  Pour ¼ or ½ cup of popcorn kernels into the bag.

When I make popcorn for myself, I use about 1/4 cup of kernels, it’s the perfect amount for a snack-size serving. Use 1/3 cup if you want to share with another person or use ½ cup to completely fill the bag with popped popcorn.

Step 2: Close the bag

Fold the top of the bag twice to prevent the kernels from spilling out.

Step 3: Listen to the popcorn pop

Microwave on high heat for 2 – 3 minutes or until you can’t hear any more kernels popping.  Depending on the type of kernels you use and your microwave’s power, timing will vary.

When the microwave stops, let bag sit for about a minute.  Remove popped popcorn and place in a bowl.  If there are any uncooked kernels, keep inside the paper bag, refold the top of the bag, and microwave for an additional minute.

Step 4:  Add any flavouring you wish

My favourite is still the traditional buttered-flavour popcorn.  Take a stick of butter (I use salted butter to avoid adding further salt) and melt in the microwave for a minute.  Pour melted butter over the popcorn, toss to mix, and enjoy!


Super Easy Baked Feta Pasta

By Jena Branco, Senior Marketing Specialist, Brand & Marketing Communications, SECL


There’s a reason this baked feta pasta is an internet sensation! My twist on the very popular dish from Finland, with a salty baked feta, sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh garlic, asparagus and parsley are tossed with al dente rotini pasta to create this easy, creamy, yet delicious dish!

Baked Feta Pasta is the latest trend to go viral all over the internet and you can find tons of videos and pictures on TikTok, Twitter and on your Instagram feed.

This recipe has 8 ingredients — a block of feta cheese, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), cherry or grape tomatoes, fresh garlic, asparagus, and a short pasta of your choice — and of course, salt and pepper to taste.

  • Tomatoes – cherry or grape tomatoes work great.
  • Asparagus – I added it as a veggie to the dish but you can omit if desired. I think next time, I will also add some fresh spinach.
  • Olive oil – extra virgin olive oil has the best flavour, and I encourage you not to skimp on it.
  • Salt and pepper – a little goes a long way since the cheese is naturally salty.
  • Feta cheese – block-style feta is best and will give you the creamiest consistency (but the crumbly kind works too). Greek Feta cheese is slightly creamier and stronger flavour, but Canadian Feta made from cow’s milk also works great — this is the kind my picky son prefers.
  • Pasta – short pasta (like penne, rigatoni, fusilli, or farfalle) is easier to mix in. I used rotini pasta in my dish.
  • Parsley – use a generous 1/4 cup or substitute with fresh chopped basil.
  • Garlic – Add half while baking and the rest as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Baked Feta pasta is a brilliant way to create a creamy pasta sauce. You basically bake a block of feta in a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish together with tomatoes, garlic, EVOO, and a little salt and pepper. When the tomatoes burst and cheese starts melting, you mash the cheese into a creamy pasta sauce, add your pasta, mix together, and you have the perfect pasta dish that can be served as a main dish or an accompaniment to a meal.

My spin on this baked feta pasta is the added asparagus as I wanted to introduce a vegetable into the dish and make it as a main meal without a meat protein in it … and it’s also the only vegetable my son doesn’t mind eating.

Origin of Feta Pasta

The Baked Feta pasta craze was started in 2019 by Tiiu Piret and Liemessa, two bloggers from Finland. Liemessa’s recipe was then adapted in the U.S. which went viral on TikTok and has became a major trend.

The best thing about this baked feta pasta dish is unlike heavy cream-based sauces which can separate, this recipe retains it’s creamy texture. Add a bit of filtered water (or pasta cooking water if you have any left), before reheating in the microwave or stove-top.

How to Make Baked Feta Pasta

This recipe is so easy. You mix everything in one dish! The veggies and cheese sauce bake together in the oven while your pasta boils on the stove, then you combine them together and you have an incredible Baked Feta Pasta dish.

  1. Prepare veggies – in a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish, combine tomatoes, asparagus, 1/3 cup olive oil, half of your minced garlic (two cloves), salt, and pepper. Toss to coat the veggies, then create a space in the centre.
  2. Add Feta cheese – place the block of feta cheese in the centre and drizzle on top with 1 Tbsp EVOO and some black pepper. Bake at 375˚F for 30 minutes in your Sharp 24” SuperSteam+™ Superheated Steam and Convection Built-In Wall Oven, until tomatoes start to rupture. If you are using a conventional oven, you will bake at 400˚F for 30 minutes.
  3. Cook pasta – while the baked feta is cooking in the oven, start cooking your pasta in a pot of salted water until al dente according to package instructions. Very important: Reserve 1/2 cup hot pasta water.
  4. Add garlic and herbs – remove the baked feta dish from the oven, and add finely chopped parsley and remaining minced garlic. Use the back of a spoon to mash the cheese, and mix with the oil and juices released from the tomatoes.
  5. Add pasta – drain the pasta (no need to rinse the pasta) and add it to the hot cheesy sauce. Mix until all the pasta is coated with the creamy feta sauce. To add an additional creamy texture, pour some of the reserved pasta water, in small amounts, until the desired creaminess is achieved.

Serve this dish a s a main course or as an accompaniment to a meal. Add proteins to the dish, like chicken tenders or shrimp (add during prep and it will cook with the rest of the dish in the oven) or add any veggies you like (such as sweet bell peppers, spinach, rapini, or broccolini). This recipe is so versatile and easy to make, that you can whip it up easily for dinner during the busy work week. Serve this dish with a simple salad, and your family will think that you’ve spent hours in the kitchen making it!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 cup asparagus (ends trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 1 Tbsp to drizzle over cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 225g block Feta Cheese
  • 2 cups rotini pasta
  • 4 garlic cloves finely minced, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley or basil, finely minced

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F in your Sharp 24” SuperSteam+™ Superheated Steam and Convection Built-In Wall Oven, in the Convection Bake mode for 30 minutes. If using a conventional oven, you will preheat at 400˚F.
  2. Add 1/3 cup olive oil, tomatoes, asparagus, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 1/4 tsp salt to a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish.
  3. Toss to combine. Create a space in the centre and place your block of feta in the pan. Drizzle the top with 1 Tbsp olive oil and another sprinkle of black pepper. Bake for 30 minutes (on top rack, or middle tray in a conventional oven) until tomatoes start to rupture.
  4. While the baked feta is cooking in the oven, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta. Cook pasta according to package instructions, stirring a few times to keep the pasta from sticking. Drain pasta (reserving some cooking water if you decide to add it later).
  5. At about 30 minutes, the tomatoes should start to release their juices (crinkly roasted skin is the indicator). Remove from the oven and immediately stir in remaining minced garlic and parsley. Toss to combine.
  6. Using the back of a large spoon to press the cheese into the olive oil and stir until cheese is well incorporated in the dish.
  7. Stir in drained cooked pasta. Add reserved pasta water for a creamier texture, if desired. Serve warm.
  8. Important: Be careful with those tomatoes (the juicy centres will be very hot if you eat them right away).

Coconut Custard Tarts

Jena Branco, Senior Marketing Specialist, Brand & Marketing Communications, SECL

This gluten-free coconut custard tart recipe is the perfect combination of coconut macaroons and custard in a bite-size treat. A great Passover and Easter dessert!


This is a traditional Portuguese recipe that I inherited from my mother-in-law. What I love about this Pastéis de Coco recipe is the ingredients are readily available in the supermarket and it’s the easiest dessert to whip up. The coconut adds a nice dimension to the custard and also helps create a beautiful golden brown topping. The end product is a delightful but delicious little pastry, great to bring to parties or to enjoy with your afternoon coffee or tea.

These tarts are a perfect spring time dessert. There is no flour used in this recipe so it’s perfectly okay to serve this dessert during Passover. Be aware, as they bake, the batter puffs up and separates into a crispy toasted coconut topping with a sweet smooth custard underneath. As they cool, the centre collapses slightly creating a nest. How fun would it be to add a dollop of jam or chocolate eggs in the centre for the Easter holiday?

I love baking these coconut custard tarts in my Sharp® 24” SuperSteam+™ Superheated Steam and Convection Built-in Wall Oven (in the Convection Bake function at 350°F), but you can also use any Convection or conventional oven.

I totally love this dessert as the tops are golden brown and the inside is a soft, custardy goodness that will delight your taste buds.

These dessert tarts are best consumed within a day or two. To be honest, when ever I make these, they don’t last the day. However if you happen to have any left over, make sure you refrigerate them in a seal-tight container for up to 3 days.

I personally like serving these coconut custard tarts a bit warm, so put them in the oven for about 7 minutes at 350°F prior to serving.

Using the regular muffin liners, this recipe will yield approximately 10 – 11 tarts.


INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large eggs (beaten)
  • 300 ml of condensed milk
  • 100 ml of milk
  • 250 ml Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the Sharp® 24” SuperSteam+™ Superheated Steam and Convection Built-in Wall Oven in the Convection Bake function to 350°F.

If you are baking in a regular convection oven, preheat to 325°F or conventional oven, preheat to 350°F. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position.

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with 10 – 12 paper cupcake liners and, if desired, coat the liners with the nonstick vegetable or coconut spray oil.

In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the condensed milk, milk, shredded coconut, and melted butter, whisking well after each addition.

Ladle the custard into the paper cups, filling each 1/4 inch from the top. Make sure to stir the custard frequently to keep the coconut evenly distributed.

You’ll be able to fill 10 to 11 liners.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the coconut is nicely toasted. Cool completely in the muffin tin before removing.

Decorate with additional shredded coconut or a dollop of jam, if so desired.

HELPFUL HINTS

If you are using the Sharp® 24” SuperSteam+™ Superheated Steam and Convection Built-in Wall Oven, place your muffin pan on top of the baking trays.

I personally like the top of my tarts very golden, therefore I put my tarts on the top rack for 24 minutes.

If you prefer your tarts less golden, put your tarts on the bottom rack and bake for 25 minutes.


The Anytime Chocolate Mug Cake

By Jena Branco, Marketing Coordinator, Brand & Marketing Communications, SECL

This Anytime Chocolate Mug Cake is moist and chocolatey. Made in the microwave and ready in minutes, this easy treat is perfect for all chocolate lovers …anytime you have a craving!


Sometimes you crave a piece of chocolate cake. Am I right? This easy mug cake recipe is perfect for when you want just a little cake, and don’t want to bake a whole cake!  It’s easy to whip up, is ready in less than five minutes, and has a warm and moist texture. I’ve tried a few microwave cakes before, and most turned out dry or lack in flavour, but once you’ve tried this one … you won’t be disappointed …. I promise!

What I love about this recipe is that I have all the ingredients in my pantry most of the time. It’s specifically created to be made in a mug (or in a ramekin), in the microwave, without eggs. Eggs are traditionally used in cakes to act as a binding agent to hold its texture/shape, but in the case of a mug cake you don’t have to worry that. Some people mix all the ingredients in the mug which makes for one less dish to wash, however I prefer to mix all my ingredients in a mixing bowl and pour the mixture into my mug or ramekin.

Please note that ALL microwaves are different and will yield different results — it can overcook the mug cake if you aren’t careful. I’m using the Sharp 24″ IoT Microwave Drawer (SMD2489ESC) which is 950 watts, cooking at 100% power for 70 seconds. Knowing this information, it may help you better judge how long to cook yours for and at what power.

Do I Need a Special Mug?

This is a good question .. and the answer is YES and NO.  You want a mug that’s big enough to hold the cake once it’s cooked (and to prevent from spilling over the top), so you want to have at least a 12 ounce mug. If you want to split the recipe in half (sometimes I’m feeling a bit generous and I share with the hubby), it’s ok to use a ramekin or a small coffee mug. One more tidbit, try not to use a mug that is tall and skinny as you will end up with an unevenly cooked finished product. The most important factor in all of this, is to ensure your mug is microwave safe.

So anytime you have a craving for chocolate cake … go start mixing, and you’ll satisfy our craving in less than 5 minutes!


INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. milk (or a non-dairy milk of your choice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional, but encouraged)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (however, I like to use coconut oil)
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut chocolate spread (Nutella) or mini chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together
  • Whisk in the milk and oil until all ingredients are combined, and all clumps are gone.
  • Pour batter into a microwave-safe mug or ramekin
  • Add hazelnut chocolate spread in the middle of the batter or mini chocolate chips. Push slightly into the batter
  • Place mug (or ramekin) into the microwave (hint: place a paper towel under the mug, this is to catch any batter if your mug cake overflows).
  • Microwave mug cake for 70 seconds on high.
  • If you’re splitting the recipe in half and putting batter in two separate ramekins, it’s important to know that you can only put one ramekin into the microwave at a time. Cook for 60 seconds on high.
  • Carefully remove from the microwave and serve immediately.
  • Top with whipped cream, a small scoop of ice cream, or sprinkle some icing sugar over top, if desired. Enjoy!


Gluten Free and Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

By Jena Branco, Marketing Coordinator, Brand & Marketing Communications, SECL

This Gluten-free and Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is healthy and delicious. It’s so easy to make and oh so creamy … but sssshhhhh, don’t tell your family there’s no dairy in it!

What I love about this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe is that it combines two of my favourite comfort foods: pasta and cream sauce!  Butternut squash isn’t only the colour of cheddar cheese, but makes a super creamy sauce when it’s cooked and blended.  Although I’m not lactose intolerance, I’m finding these days my body doesn’t seem to react too fairly when I consume dairy products, so my search for an amazing creamy sauce (without the cheese) was on!

After trying a few recipes I found on the internet, I decided to create my own (inspired by a combination of 2-3 recipes). As I’ve written many times, my son is the pickiest of eaters — if he knew butternut squash is a “vegetable”, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t touch this dish again. Luckily for me, he couldn’t tell the difference! My butternut squash creamy sauce isn’t too strong in flavour or spice and by making this vegan version of mac and cheese , it is a great way to sneak in some healthy veggies and make this traditional dish more nutritious.  

What You’ll Need in this Recipe:

  • Pasta – You can use any type of pasta you like; whole wheat, gluten free or regular. However, I used Brown Rice pasta in the shape of shells as a gluten-free option.
  • Butternut Squash – Try to buy a medium sized butternut squash for this recipe. If you buy a really large squash, you can freeze the rest in a tightly sealed freezer bag up to 3 months. They also sell pre-cubed butternut squash in the produce aisle, if you don’t want to peel and cut your own.  Or, you can buy the cubed frozen butternut squash in the freezer aisle.
  • Plant Based Milk – I usually have almond or cashew milk around but you can use any kind of plant based milk you like, just make sure it’s plain and unsweetened.
  • Nutritional Yeast – There are quite a few spices in this recipe but the most important is nutritional yeast. It’s what gives the butternut squash mac and cheese its’ cheesy flavour without adding any dairy.  It’s usually sold in the natural food section of your grocery store, or in the spice aisle at Whole Foods, but in my case, I had to order it from Amazon as the two grocery stores I went to were completely sold out.
  • Almond Flour (optional) – I use almond flour (toasted in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes) — instead of breadcrumbs — for a true gluten-free recipe.

How to Make Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

This recipe is really easy to make and there are only a few steps:

  • You start by washing the outside of the Butternut Squash before cutting in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roasted squash always has tons of flavour, so this is how I like to cook mine. I used the Superheated Steam Oven at 400°F in the Supersteam Roast function for 20 to 25 minutes, however if using a conventional oven, roast at 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes.
  •  Add the roasted butternut squash by scooping out the insides into a high powered food processor or blender along with almond milk, spices and the nutritional yeast. Blend until it’s silky smooth.
  • Cook your favourite pasta according to package directions (usually, adding pasta to a pot with lightly salted water, bring water to a boil and simmer until tender), drain and then pour the butternut squash cream sauce and mix together. And … serve and eat! 
  • If so desired, you could put it in a baking dish and bake it in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes to get a nice crust on top.
  • Optional: Set a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spread almond flour on parchment or silicone lined baking sheet and toast for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until toasted and fragrant. Then sprinkle a tablespoon or two on top of your mac and cheese prior to serving!
Roasted butternut squash

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups of Brown Rice pasta
  • 1 medium sized butternut squash
  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk (you can add an extra 1/2 cup if it’s too thick)
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup almond flour

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat Superheated Steam Oven at 400°F in the Supersteam Roast function.
  2. Wash butternut squash, cut it in half length wise, and cook for 20-25 minutes in the bottom tray of oven.
  3. Scoop out butternut squash and add to a blender along with the almond milk, nutritional yeast and all the spices. Blend until creamy, about 1 minute.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and add back to the pot. Pour butternut squash sauce over the top and mix until combined. You can turn the stove heat on, if you need to warm it up. Serve and eat!
  5. If so desired, you could put it in a baking dish and bake it in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes to get a nice crust on top.
  6. Optional: Preheat Superheated Steam Oven at 350°F in the Convection Bake function. Spread almond flour on parchment or silicone lined baking sheet and toast for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until toasted and fragrant. Then sprinkle a tablespoon or two on top of your mac and cheese prior to serving! Topping off with some chopped basil and red pepper flakes makes this dish look too good to eat!

Mindful Work-from-Home Snack Ideas

By Gina Greco, Senior Brand Marketing Specialist, SEMCA

**NOTE:   The Sharp Superheated Steam Countertop Oven (SSC0586DS) is not sold in Canada.  


We’ve all been there: it’s 3:00 pm during a busy workday, and hunger hits! It can be easy to gravitate towards a bag of chips or sugary granola bar because it’s pre-packaged and ready to go, but oftentimes those snacks will leave you feeling unsatisfied and hungrier. We are sharing some of our favorite go-to snacks to have during the week that is simple to prep the night before or require only a few minutes to put together. Whether you’re craving something salty or sweet- we’ve got you covered!

Homemade Hummus

hummas

Hummus is one of our favorite snacks because it is so versatile and can be paired with various foods like fresh veggies, crackers, or toast! This recipe from Inspired Taste is versatile and tastes so delicious; you’ll never repurchase store-bought hummus again.

Ingredients:

chick peas

  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
  • 1/4 cup well-stirred tahini
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then process for 30 seconds more. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making the hummus smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then process another 30 seconds or until well blended. Open, drain, and rinse the chickpeas. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, then add remaining chickpeas and process until thick and quite smooth; 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Most likely, the hummus will be too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea. To fix this, with the food processor turned on, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until you reach the perfect consistency.
  4. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Serve hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of paprika. Store homemade hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week.

Frozen Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites

banana bites

Curb your sweet tooth with these mouthwatering chocolate peanut butter banana bites from Not Enough Cinnamon! These are a delicious, mindful choice, including healthy fat from peanut butter, potassium from the banana, and antioxidants from the dark chocolate. We love to add a bit of flaky sea salt on top to finish them off! YUM!

Ingredients:

  • 3 bananas ripe but still firm
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter or your favorite nut butter
  • 10 oz dark chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil *optional but recommended!

banana bites

Instructions:

  1. Cut the banana into slices (about 1/4 inch – 0.7 cm each). Set aside half of the slices and arrange the other half on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Heat peanut butter in the microwave on low/medium for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring in between, until it’s smooth and easily spreadable.
  3. Spoon about one heaped 1/4 teaspoon (up to 1/2 teaspoon if the banana is large) on the banana slices you arranged on the baking sheet. Top with the other half of the banana slices you set aside earlier. Freeze for two hours.
  4. When the banana sandwiches are frozen, prepare the chocolate. Place chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips if using) in a microwave-safe bowl along with the coconut oil (it helps the chocolate melt and stay smooth).
  5. Microwave on low/medium heat in 30 seconds bursts, stirring between each until chocolate is fully melted and glossy (watch carefully, so the chocolate doesn’t burn).
  6. Prepare another baking sheet (or a plate) with parchment paper. Take two to three bites out of the freezer. One by one, dip them in the melted chocolate and, using two forks, “roll” them in chocolate to cover all sides.
  7. Remove excess chocolate and place it on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining frozen sandwiches.
  8. Place the chocolate covered bites back in the freezer until set. Once they are set, you can transfer them to a container. Store in the freezer.

Homemade Potato Chips

potato chip

Ditch the bag of oily chips and make your own using this recipe from Bowl of Delicious! It’s SO simple and only requires 3 ingredients! Bake using our SuperSteam+ Wall Oven or Superheated Steam Countertop Oven for best results.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of thinly sliced potatoes of any kind will work (about 2 medium-sized potatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Other spices, such as black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, etc. *optional

Instructions:

potato chip

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the potato slices (2 cups) and olive oil (1 tablespoon). Mix well, so every surface of every slice of potato is covered evenly- you may want to use your hands for this since the sliced potatoes may stick together.
  3. Place the sliced potatoes on the prepared baking sheet, making sure they don’t overlap (but they can touch a little on the edges). Sprinkle them evenly with the kosher salt (1 teaspoon)and any other spices you want to use. Bake in the top half of the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Turn OFF the oven and allow to sit in the oven. At the same time, it cools off 15-30 minutes (this is optional if you’re in a hurry, but highly recommended, as it will make the potatoes crispier. Keep an eye on them through- the residual heat can quickly burn them if you aren’t careful!).
  4. Serve potato chips plain or with your favorite dipping sauce.

Crunchy Granola Clusters

granola clusters

Trail mix is so 2020. Upgrade your snacking with this granola recipe from blogger, From Scratch Fast! We love topping our yogurt off with this or grabbing a handful when we need something crunchy and nutrient-dense.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats, divided
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped dried fruit, such as apricots, dates, cranberries, currants, cherries, etc.
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey (or a mix of both)
  • ¼ cup virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions:

granola clusters

  1. Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Put ½ cup of the rolled oats in the food processor and process to coarse flour. Add the remaining oats, along with the pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, coconut, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse until the nuts are coarsely chopped, about 5-6 pulses.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup or honey, melted coconut oil, and vanilla. Pour the syrup mixture over the ingredients in the food processor, and pulse until the mixture comes together and looks damp, about 8 pulses.
  4. Transfer the granola to the baking sheet. Using a rubber spatula, press it into a ½-inch thick rectangle, about 8×12-inches large. Bake 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 190 degrees and bake until lightly browned along the edges, golden on top, and firm to the touch, about 20-25 minutes longer.
  5. Cool the granola on the pan. Break it into clusters before serving.

Homemade Chicken Potstickers

By Jena Branco, Marketing Coordinator, Brand & Marketing Communications, SECL

These homemade Potstickers (also known as Chinese Dumplings) are easy to make and incredibly delicious. Cooked in the SuperSteam+™ Superheated Steam and Convection Built-in Wall Oven — there’s no oil splatter to clean up afterwards!


Potstickers are “steam-fried” Chinese dumplings made with round wrappers and stuffed with juicy fillings, traditionally pork and cabbage, but I modified my recipe based on my family’s preference. This recipe is not only easy, but the flavours are exactly what my family enjoys! Since I’m always watching my caloric intake, I use extra lean ground chicken breast instead of the traditional pork. However, feel free to use any protein you wish such as shrimp and ground turkey.

Potstickers are different from other Asian dumplings by their cooking method.  They are lightly browned in oil first (to get a crispy bottom), and once they have a bit of colour, water is then added to the pan. Covered while cooking (with a lid) so the dumplings can finish cooking in the steam. This steam-fry method produces a juicy dish … and that’s what potstickers are in a nutshell! 

Cooking in the SuperSteam+™ Superheated Steam Oven is similar to the “steam-fried” method using the Supersteam Roast function. What I love about this, is unlike the stovetop option, you won’t have any oil splattering when you add water to a hot pan with oil in it. The Superheated Steam Oven will produce a crispy potsticker with a juicy centre … and no oil splatter.

Enjoy these potstickers as an appetizer or serve as a meal along with your favourite salad.

This potsticker recipe is made with:

  • ground chicken: I buy extra lean ground chicken breasts from the butcher, but you can buy regular ground chicken too.
  • shiitake mushrooms:  do NOT rinse mushrooms or else they will suck up water and make your potsticker filling wet, and in turn, make your potstickers soggy.  Instead, brush off any dirt with a damp paper towel if needed.  I used my mini-food processor to finely chop the shiitake mushrooms.
  • green onions: make sure they are thinly sliced
  • ground ginger:  I prefer the flavour of ground ginger, but feel free to use fresh ginger in this recipe. You will need 1” peeled ginger, peeled and minced.
  • garlic cloves: used two cloves, minced
  • soy sauce: I use light soy sauce (or sodium reduced) so your filling won’t be too salty.
  • sesame oil:  toasted sesame oil is best but you can use regular if that’s what you have on hand
  • salt & pepper:  just a dash of each
  • water:  about 2 tablespoons for sealing wontons
  • vegetable oil:  to coat the potstickers before cooking
  • Wonton wrappers:  I purchased the square ones since that’s what my local grocery store carried. There are many recipes for homemade wonton wrappers (my fave is from China Sichuan Foods) but honestly these days, I don’t have the patience or time.

How to Fold Wrappers for Potstickers

Potstickers look fancy, but they are actually very easy to put together. With the round wonton wrappers, you add the filling, fold them in half and pinch the edges together.  Use a fork to crimp the edges together for a fancier presentation. Traditionally, you would fold the wrapper in half and pleat one side of the wrapper to seal in the filling. This is the most common way you would see at the restaurants or takeout menu.

If you cannot find the round wonton wrappers, don’t worry! The square ones are just as good. Put your filling in the centre of the wrapper, dip your finger in water and run it around the edge of the wrapper, then bring all the corners together on the top. Lightly pinch the edges together to seal in the filling.

How to Make Potstickers in the Traditional Way

These dumplings are easier to make than you might think. Here’s how:

  1. Make the potsticker filling: Just put all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix until combined using cleaned hands or with a spoon.
  2. Form the dumplings: Fill each wrapper with about a tablespoon of filling. Wet your finger in water, then run it along the edges of the wrapper. This will help keep it closed.
    1. If your wrapper is round: Fold the wrapper over the filling to create a half moon shape, pinching the edges closed to seal.
    2. If your wrapper is square: Scroll up to see step-by-step photos for folding square wrappers into dumplings.
  3. Pan fry the dumplings: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Lightly fry the dumplings until the bottoms are golden. 
  4. Steam the dumplings: Add 1/3 cup of water, cover with a tight fitting lid and steam the dumplings until the water has cooked away. Uncover and cook for another 2 minutes over medium-low heat.
  5. Serve: Remove from heat and serve your dumplings with soy sauce and thinly sliced green onions!

How to Make Potstickers in the Sharp Superheated Steam Oven

Follow steps 1 and 2 from above, and then:

  1. Preheat to 400°F:  In the Supersteam Roast Function, preheat to 400°F.
  2. Coat each dumpling with vegetable oil:  Using a vegetable oil spray, spray vegetable oil on all sides, including the bottom of the wonton. If you do not have a spray, brush oil all over the wonton.
  3. Cook:  Bake in batches. You can fit 15 potstickers on the pan. When oven is preheated, put the pan on TOP shelf, and steam roast for 8 mins.
  4. Serve: Remove from oven and serve your dumplings with soy sauce and thinly sliced green onions!

Ingredients

Pot Stickers

  • 40 wonton wrappers
  • 1 lb lean ground chicken breast
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms (finely chopped)
  • 3 stalks green onions (thinly sliced)
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons water for sealing wontons
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for coating wontons

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • thinly sliced green onions

Instructions

  • Put all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix until combined using cleaned hands or with a spoon.
  • Lay wontons out on a clean surface.
  • Fill each wrapper with about a tablespoon of filling.
  • Wet your finger in water, then run it along the edges of the wrapper.
  • Bring all the corners together to the top. Lightly pinch the edges together to seal in the filling.
  • Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
  • Working in batches, arrange dumplings on sheet rack 1-inch apart.
  • Preheat oven to in the Supersteam Roast Function, preheat to 400°F.
  • Using a vegetable oil spray, spray vegetable oil on all sides, including the bottom of the wonton. If you do not have a spray, brush oil all over each wonton.
  • Bake in batches. You can fit 15 potstickers on the sheet rack.
  • When oven is preheated, put the sheet rack on TOP shelf, and steam roast for 8 mins.
  • Transfer dumplings to a platter and serve with dipping sauce (or pour sauce over dumplings).
  • Enjoy!!

Caveman Short Ribs

By Matthew Vecera, Senior Manager, Brand & Digital Marketing, SEMCA

**NOTE:   The Sharp Superheated Steam Countertop Oven (SSC0586DS) is not sold in Canada, however this recipe will work in the Superheated Steam Oven (SSC2489DS) on the Supersteam Roast function. Temperatures and baking times are stated in the baking instructions as an option.


At some point, you’re going to eat beef. I don’t get to share this very often, but my father was a butcher. So it is safe to say that we ate well, but my father had some rules. There were some things that he would not eat or bring home for the family. These were things that he considered, allow me to paraphrase graciously here, “lesser cuts of meat.”

Plated Caveman Short Ribs

Don’t get me wrong; this worked in my favor quite a bit when I was a child because it included liver, kidney, and tongue. However, there was a downside as well. My father would never bring home chuck steak… that includes any chuck, so we never had pot roast. He would never touch skirt steak. Most of all, he would never, ever bring home short rib.

Oddly enough, times change. Modern pressure cookers brought back classic pot roast, as well as a chuck roast’s greatest aspiration, “Beef Bourguignon.”

Skirt Steak grew in popularity as a hot appetizer. And short ribs? Short ribs went from being the cheapest cut of meat in the market to being the most expensive, most sought after prize in the meat counter.

Caveman Short Ribs Preparation - Short Ribs Placed in Baking TrayCaveman Short Ribs Preparation - Short Ribs Seasoned in Baking Tray

American and European Cuisines deal with this rather tough cut of meat by cooking it for a very, very long time. Braising it until the meat is not just falling off the bone but soft. Soft enough to serve with a spoon as a ragu. And while that is heavenly, Asian cuisines embrace the chewiness and fattiness by slicing short rib very thinly, bone and all, on a butcher’s band saw, to make slices that grill in seconds and can be cut with a pair of scissors.

Caveman Short Ribs Preparation - Short Ribs Placed in SHARP Countertop Steam Oven

When given a choice, take both. I found these amazing short ribs and knew that I had to try them in the Sharp Superheated Steam Countertop Oven  or in the 24” SuperSteam+™ Superheated Steam and Convection Built-In Wall Oven (SSC2489DS).  The best part is that there is no recipe to speak of: salt, Pepper, a spritz of olive oil, and some garnish. Then 40 minutes later, you have rich, delicious, beefy goodness.

These are definitely toothsome. A gentleman would use a knife and fork. I… on the other hand, tear into them like a caveman coming off a hunger strike.

I used my favorite pan liners on the broiler tray. Seasoned both sides but cooked them bone-side-up. You want the bones’ flavors to baste the meat, and since the cooking time is so long, you want to protect the meat from the upper heat source a little.

Caveman Short Ribs Preparation - Short Ribs Baking in Tray

I set the oven to 485oF for 40 minutes. I really set it for 60 and decided that they were done at the 40-minute mark, but judge for yourself. If your meat was in the fridge, you might need to cook it longer. My short ribs pretty much came out of the grocery bag and into the oven, so 40 min was right for me. Whatever your desired doneness, you are looking for this.

The extended cooking time allows more fat to be rendered out of the meat. The superheated steam is hot enough to start the Maillard reaction on the meat’s proteins and produce the deep browning and complex flavors. Mouthwatering. A little chopped green onion (cut on the bias, please) is all that you need.

Caveman Short Ribs Served with Green Onions

The wine must be red, and it must be bold. It may be time to revisit that Merlot that fell out of fashion. It may be time to break out the deep red blends from Puglia, Italy, or Argentina. It may also be time to floss and have a nap.

Print

Caveman Short Ribs

Satisfy your cravings for beef with this salty, chewy, and indulgent recipe. Eat with your hands!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword beef, short ribs
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Matthew Vecera

Equipment

  • Sharp Superheated Steam Countertop Oven or 24” SuperSteam+™ Superheated Steam and Convection Built-In Wall Oven (SSC2489DS)

Ingredients

  • 14 Pieces Short Ribs Bone-in, square sections
  • Salt and pepper, for taste
  • Olive oil spray
  • 2 Tbsp Green onion, chopped on a bias.
  • 1 Tsp Sesame seeds Optional

Instructions

  • Using aluminum foil or a tray liner, season both sides of the short ribs with a generous amount of salt, and coarse black pepper. Turn all of the pieces bone-side-up and spray with olive oil.
    Caveman short ribs in a tray.
  • Bake at 450 degrees F for approximately 40 minutes. Cook to your desired doneness. / If using the SSC2489DS SuperSteam Oven, preheat oven to 425°F in the Supersteam Roast function, and cook approximately 40 – 45 minutes.
    Caveman short ribs in a pan entering a Sharp Supersteam Oven.
  • Garnish with chopped green onion and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
    Caveman Short Ribs on a tray on a countertop.