Monday, December 12, 2011

Vegetarian Christmas Stuffing?!

Yes, it can be done. Just don't put the stuffing in the turkey.

I recently made another of my FAVOURITE Christmas classics: stuffing. This dish is simple to pull together and can easily be made with leftover rice, quinoa, corn (or other grainy) bread, and a few aromatic vegetables.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Red & Green Salad

It has happened. It is December. Bring on the large gatherings with family and friends. But how do you feed that many people?!

Be not afraid of feeding the crowd of 23, with kids of varying ages, the cousin you see twice a year, and your aunt who has an extra glass of wine or two.

RECIPE: Red & Green Salad

broccoli (one bunch of 3-4 florets)
cauliflower (1/2 head)
2-4 bell peppers
1 cup mayo
1/4 cup wine (or wine vinegar + 2 tbsp sugar)
3 cloves garlic
craisins or raisins

This is a salad of 3's. What do I mean? There are 3 components: veg, sauce, and nuts. In each component there are 3 ingredients. Here's how it breaks down:

> for the veg; chop the broccoli (including stems), cauliflower, and bell peppers into bite sized pieces, keeping your audience in mind (I always chop smaller for little kids and the elderly) and pop that into a large bowl

> for the sauce; mix together the mayo, wine (or wine vinegar and sugar), and garlic - I usually use about 3 cloves or a tsp of ground garlic

> for the nuts; this is FULLY open to your discretion and ingredients at hand. I love this salad with chopped almonds, sunflower seeds, and craisins. My latest iteration contained sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried chickpeas, sunflower seeds, and craisins.


And that is it. This is essentially the template for a firm veggie salad at my house. This salad has also contained the following ingredients:
- radish
- onion
- green peas (frozen or fresh)
- snow peas
- snap peas
- kohlrabi
- carrot
- beet
- cilantro
- parsley
- basil
- mint
- parsnips
- apple
- and BACON

Honestly, this salad is a meal in itself. Just add a little meat or a few extra nuts and voila! Dinner is served.

Easy, filling, delicious, AND festive to boot!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tapas for Dinner

It was one of those nights where we just did not feel like making or eating a "real" dinner. So instead, I made this:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ranch Dip

There is something about it... creamy and delicious, a good ranch dip or dressing makes everything better. 

After looking in stores for the perfect iteration, I am usually appalled either by the price or the ingredient list. Is it really that hard? Is a good ranch dip out of reach?

Fear not, amazing home-made ranch dip awaits!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mexican Night

I get fully inspired by various cultures... and then I make it my own, usually blending cultures along the way.

Take last night, for example. We had corn tortillas and I was not sure where we would end up, but Mexico was my inspiration and I managed to convince the ingredients to join our culinary adventure.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fresh Fish

There is something to be said for fresh fish. It is amazing. Entirely unlike anything else. And what do I mean when I say "fresh"?

We spent part of early September in a little town called Ucluelet (you-clue-let), BC. What a treasure! It is perched literally at the end of the road on the west side of Vancouver Island.

The rainforest outside our cabin.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday and Motivation

I have been reminded many times recently to be grateful.

Gratitude has been this month's theme in Sunday school for the kids. Reading about the hard times friends of mine experience with health and loss of a loved one remind me of the many blessings I take for granted.

This Christmas will be all about spending time with family, like Joanne, Kim, Stina, and many others - making memories, eating cookies, drinking coffee, and working our way through puzzles.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Madras Roasted Vegetables

If you are looking for a simple, easy, quick, versatile vegetable side dish for anything saucy or curry-ish, THIS dish is for you.

green cardamom pods

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tangy Chilli Sauce

Ever come across a sauce that makes every dish it touches magical? I made one of those mythical sauces recently and have made it again several times in the past few weeks - we keep polishing off every bottle I make!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Roasted Chickpea Snacks

Today's lunch was simple to pull together, delicious, and fun to eat. The beauty is, these chickpeas can be combined with veggies and a starch for a simple lunch or can be a tasty snack on their own.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Vegetable Soup

There are times when I discover two or more types of leftover roasted, steamed, or otherwise pre-cooked vegetables hiding in the fridge. Just enough to keep, but not enough for anyone's dinner or lunch. The solution? Soup!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Eat Somethin' Good

Today's entry is essentially a guest post by my friend Phil.  To see his original posting, go here.

Grub's up

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tools: The Whisk

My little boys call all things by their purpose. It is not an 'excavator', it is a 'digger'. It is not a 'whisk', it is a 'whisker'.

There are a few keys to finding a really good whisk.

1. Find a whisk whose wires do not touch each other. If they do, this is a place water can sit and rust your whisk.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Satay Chicken

RECIPE: Thai Satay Chicken

This is currently my favourite thing to eat!! I have also recently shared it with several groups of friends and family. This posting is for those who have been hounding me for the recipe and for those who want a super simple, incredible dish that is certain to impress every time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Simple Salad Dressing

I love salad. I love salad dressing. I love home made salad dressing. And my favourite dressing could not be simpler to make.

Are you ready?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Vegetable Fritter

I found myself staring into the fridge, unsure what would be for dinner. I was making some minced beef that could have been served on rice or pasta, but I didn't want either.

There it was - a zucchini - but what would it become?

Monday, October 31, 2011

This is the problem...

This past month - getting into the groove of school, the busyness of life, and all the rest - I have often found myself in this place:

Having realized, "Oh, I intended to take photos of that and share with my friends... but now my plate is empty and all the food is put away into containers for lunches tomorrow.

The rhythm of life has returned to somewhat of a balance. I have recipes and photos at the ready to share. We will begin the foodie entries anew for November.

Fasten your taste buds, my friends... I have some excellent food to share with you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

For the Love of Potatoes

When the kids and I arrived home around 7:00 pm, I asked Chris what he wanted for dinner. "Deep fried anything, covered with cheese," was his answer.

Obviously I was not going to deep fry anything. I made a basic salad, chicken, and oven fries.

At my house, oven fries are super simple:
1. tiny potatoes washed & quartered
2. into the bowl: oil, powdered garlic, pepper; stir then add quartered potatoes
3. dump onto a rimmed cookie sheet and broil on high, removing every 5-7 minutes to flip (2-4 times)
4. when they are golden and perfect, salt then eat them

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Harley's Salad Dressing

Well, the kids kitchen is not yet gone, but Harley has entered the kitchen.

The other day, he asked if he could make (and eat) a salad for a snack. Could he make both the salad AND the dressing?

His creation was quite good with interesting flavour combinations I would never have chosen, but they all work really nicely together.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Inspiration From The Food Network

My boys LOVE food. They have always enjoyed watching cooking shows and pretending in their kitchens. One day years ago, I found them playing in their kitchen "cooking" stuffed animals.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Side Dish

The side dish seems to have disappeared as of late. When cooking, I tend to make a couple of dishes, veggies, meat, starch... but it seems rare that I create just a classic side dish, like buttered corn or green beans and almonds.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Garlic Vegetable Omelette

I will be the first to tell you that I do not like eggs. In fact, I really do not like eggs. All by themselves, the texture, flavour, and aroma - I cannot handle it.

I clearly remember it - a night when I was about 7 or 8, I slept over at a friend's house. The mom and dad of the home kick-started Saturday morning with a nice big breakfast of bacon, toast, and sunny side up soft eggs. I ate all I could of that breakfast - even some of the egg whites - until my stomach threatened to embarrass me, at which point I stated I was full.

The other day, I knew I needed an egg for breakfast, protein and veggies, but what could I make? The best answer: eggs.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Grandma's Tomato Juice Spice Cake

There is nothing like aroma to transport you to another time and place. A few weeks ago, I volunteered to make desert for a get-together with friends and family. But what could I make for a group of 22, including thirteen adults, one nine-year-old girl, and eight boys aged two to eight?! 

Two desserts were obviously needed: chocolate cookies and Grandma's Tomato Juice Spice Cake.

The cookies were made first and were a raging success - the boys thought we should just eat them and take only the cake for dessert that night. I decided lunch was a better idea, and fed them something healthy on top of the chocolate cookie they had each just consumed.

Then, the cake batter was made to my Grandmother's instructions and went into the oven. Upon taking it out of the oven, I was transported back to my Grandmother's little apartment and her tiny galley kitchen.

Grandma and my Mother at my wedding

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

School Lunch

I'm not ready for it. School starts tomorrow and I am not ready to start packing lunches and snacks again. Here is something that may make its way into the kids lunchbox in the not-too-distant future.

Last week, I made some "cheese crisps" that were just cheese. It is pretty much the easiest thing to do. Ready for the instructions?

1. cut
2. fry
3. eat

Simple, right?

step 1: cut the cheese (I used mozzarella)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Breakfast Like A Mennonite

It was a slow start to the day and I soon realized that breakfast was turning into brunch... and then brunch was turning into lunch. So the breakfast-brunch-lunch became heartier as I made it, and here is where we ended up.

It started out as eggs and sliced tomato. Then I saw the leftover perogies, red onion, red cabbage, and sliced scallions in soft goat cheese and I knew I had all I needed to make a really great meal.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Herbes de Provence

It sounds so yummy - so French - so... complicated and intimidating. But it is not complicated. It is simple and delicious. You read right; French, delicious, simple.

This is a chicken thigh over salad. Super easy, incredibly flavourful.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Grandma's Chocolate Chip Cookies


Highly addictive chocolate chocolate chip cookie recipe follows. Use with extreme caution.

In combination with a tall glass of cold milk or a bowl of vanilla ice cream considered delicious and worthy of consumption until the cookies are all gone.

Consider yourself warned.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies & Learning From Mistakes

I made them on the weekend when we were having company over. I decided to use a recipe I am in process with - tweaking and changing.

The goal was crumbly, soft cookies that were ultra peanut buttery and tender like good shortbread. Like the ones Grandma used to make. The result was... somewhat unlike the goal. Oh they were peanutty. They were crumbly.

And regretfully, they were ultra dry. The first bite and every single person (all the company included) had to get a new FULL glass of water. In fact, several of the kids didn't even finish their cookies and most of the others declined the offer of seconds. You KNOW it is bad when that happens.

I am making a multitude of deserts this week - some for a dinner with family and friends (21 people total, if my math is close) and for a birthday boy who will be six this week. Hopefully they will all be raging successes. Hopefully the birthday boy will like his cake. And HOPEFULLY I will not make anything nearly that dry again this week!

The peanut butter cookie recipe will be fixed (hopefully) and I will post it then. For now, if you need dry peanut butter crumb, I have a great recipe.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


From time to time I am asked, "What are you reading lately?" and usually my answer is the title of a cookbook... or two... or three. Their reply (of course) is often something like, "No, I meant books that you are reading; novels, history or biography, self betterment, that type of thing." Honestly, I would rather read a cookbook the way one reads a novel.

I start at the beginning and read through, putting post-it's on the recipes I want to try first, marking my spot when I must leave and return to the book later. The current page-turner I have on the go is in preparation for Christmas baking, titled 'Scandanavian Classic Baking'. Such a great book. I cannot wait to try some of these recipes. For a review by a guy with a blog, go here.

So here I am late at night, looking up recipes, reading about food, and planning what to cook, bake, broil, grill, fry, boil, sauté, braise, or chop next. And I cannot wait to find out what it will be.

I wonder what will be for breakfast?

Philly Cheese Steak

Sometimes I think that any cookbook I make might have a full chapter devoted to "things that go on a bun". This sandwich would be in that chapter.

Neither I nor my husband have ever been to the east coast, but this is our best guess at what this legendary sandwich might taste like...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Culinary Inspiration

It can come from almost anywhere... inspiration to create a new flavour experience. Lately, we have been watching a lot of Food Network TV. Plenty of inspiration there!

That got me wondering... what kind of a "food kick" are you on these days? Are you experimenting with an ingredient? Style? Cooking method? Ethnicity? Spice? Vegetable?

This mushroom cap seemed like such a great idea at the time, and it was, but my execution turned it into a super spicy fail.

I stuffed the mushroom cap with a medley of fresh garlic, ginger, and italian parsley. I failed to gently sauté this medley first. Unfortunately, that left all components of the stuffing fresh and spicy and my children crying as they ran to the water cooler. Live, cook, eat, learn.

Next time, I will gently tone down the spice and enhance the sweetness of the stuffing in a skillet BEFORE roasting it to perfection. And next time, I think some cheese will find its way into those caps as well.

That got me wondering... what is your culinary inspiration these days?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

En Papillote

One of my favourite ways to cook fish is the french style 'en papillote' (in parchment). All it means is that you cook the fish in the oven, wrapped in parchment paper. The result is always perfectly done moist fish. Here is how it breaks down...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Long Weekend

Another long weekend is upon us in Western Canada. What will you be doing? What will you be cooking or eating?

My plans involve a lot of salad, grilled meat, and time with family. Photos will follow next week... Until then, I head into today with a long list to accomplish and a large mug of espresso in my hand!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Camping & Cooking

Whenever we go camping, we take all the camping essentials and one of those is our camp stove. Okay, it's actually a "Camp Chef" two burner bbq, like this one:

We have a grill box that sits over one of the burners and that is where the grilling of meat and veg occurs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Steak and Salad

Dinner Saturday night was amazing!! I made a salad and My husband grilled the steaks. Sounds simple, but it was incredible!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Last Day of School

Yes, the last day of school was at the end of June and I am posting about it nearly a month later!!

I wanted a little something special for the boys at the end of the year, so here is what we made:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Broiled Tilapia on Japanese Inspired Slaw

I cannot BELIEVE how hectic life has been these past two months. The last bit of school was more involved than I thought it would be and I have started organizing my friend's house. Add in swimming lessons and lots of overtime at work for my husband, my own home organization and cleaning, and there is little time left in the day!

On top of that, my husband has embarked on a weight loss journey, so I have been cooking nearly exclusively from his diet plan (with additions of starch, dairy, and fats for the kids). I have had to forge creativity in the midst of strict diet rules and it has been a challenge.

Here is what I made for dinner the other night...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Turkey Mini Meatballs

The other day, I wanted something fun, yummy, and different. We are on quite the salad and fish kick right now, but the ground turkey in the fridge was begging for inspiration. What to do? Turkey Meatballs, of course!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lunch With A Friend

Friends came over for lunch and a visit yesterday and it was delightful! The kids had a blast and my friend and I had a lovely visit.

Good company, good coffee, good food... excellent day!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mangos For Breakfast

With spring in full swing, I find myself awake around 6:15 every morning, so I have started a new habit: getting up with my husband and making a proper breakfast for both of us.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lazy Pizza

The other day, I decided on pizza for dinner. It was already nearly 5:00 pm and I was low on ideas.

The kids decided on ham, pineapple, and bell pepper pizza. For Chris and I, vegetarian. We picked up two pizza crusts (gasp) at the store and got to making it. I really did not want a tomato pizza sauce, so I made a "white" pizza sauce that worked quite well.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spiced Espresso

I love espresso, just in case that wasn't already obvious! All beans are not grown or roasted equally. Find out about the ones you use; are they ethically grown? harvested? fairly traded? organic? treated chemically?

There are times when I feel the need for a flavour in my coffee, something more than just the warm, welcoming hug of espresso mixed with hot water.

In those cases, I often end up in front of my spice rack, wondering what to grind with the beans. Sometimes it is whole green cardamom, other times it is cinnamon, vanilla, or oil of oregano (yep).

Have you tried herbs or spices in your morning brew? Did you like it? What have you tried?

Whole green cardamom pods that will be ground with espresso beans.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fish For Lunch

I am often surprised by how few people around me seem to eat fish, cook with fish, or have even tried fish.

On our last trip to the grocery store, we bought one package of each of the frozen fish options, where the fish is filleted and packed as is, right after cleaning.

So yummy and simple, it hardly feels like I am actually cooking!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Portabella Garlic Mushroom Burgers

I was in need of a delicious, healthy, filling, fast dinner (on our way out the door). One that the kids would eat quickly and enjoy. Solution: Portabella Garlic Mushroom Burgers.

It's actually one of the best things I have ever put on a bun. Here is how it breaks down...

Portabella Garlic Mushroom Burger with tomato, cilantro, and caramelized red onions on a toasted ciabatta bun.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Finally... Spring?

I'm finally starting to feel like myself again. I think the cold is FINALLY gone, after six long weeks. The weather looks like it is turning for the better, and spring *might* finally be here. I can only hope.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring is in the air... And on my table!

It was warm and beautiful yesterday, and also at times today. So lovely in fact, that the only logical option for dinner was pasta salad.

RECIPE: Tuna Pasta Salad

500 g package of small pasta noodles
500 g frozen peas
1 bell pepper, diced
other veggies, diced (tomato, cucumber, celery, onions, cilantro, green beans, corn, etc.)
spinach, lettuce, or greens of some kind

2 cans tuna, drained
1/2 cup mayonnaise or sour cream
1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp ground)
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Butter Chicken, Re-Invented

The other night, I was feeling lazy about dinner, so I made the Butter Chicken sauce found here (about halfway down the page) and then I defrosted, rinsed, and pulled the tails off a handful of frozen pre-cooked shrimp and added them to the sauce to warm through. I also made rice and some simple steamed veggies.

We ate most of the supper that night and I ended up with just one portion of Butter Chicken Shrimp leftover in the fridge, no veggies or rice.

The next day for lunch, I realized that I had a few fresh veggies, frozen peas, and the leftover curry. Once the curry was heated up, the veggies chopped, and the peas warmed in hot water, lunch was ready!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Return Of Taste

After being sick for the last month, my sense of taste is finally returning. It disappeared among the orange juice, toast, soup, and cough syrup I have been living off.

I figured that posting recipes while I could not actually taste anything was not a wise choice. At one point I loaded something I was eating with Frank's Red Hot Sauce and still could not taste a thing. Now that I can taste, it's time to start posting again!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I've Got Questions... You Have Answers!

There has to be room for improvement in the way I have my own kitchen and food ideas organized, which is why I want to hear all about how you do it. This got me wondering...

How do you organize your recipes?

Where do you find culinary inspiration?

Are there types or ethnicities of food you would like to experiment with?

What do you do when you get in a "food rut"?

I can't wait to hear from you! If you would rather email me than comment here, my address is

Friday, April 15, 2011

Comfort Soup

At my house, we have been sick for a week. My husband has been mostly home since last Thursday (he went in twice but came back home soon thereafter). It is one of those colds that have hit all of us, all at the same time and it has been awful.

Trying to cook or eat when you are sick is not a simple task. Our week has been full of soup, grilled cheese, and skillet-browned boneless chicken thighs and rice. 

Tonight we had soup with a broth that has simmered since yesterday. It was simple and delicious and took (maybe) 5 minutes.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Saturday Night Wings

I love chicken wings. But I do not like going out for wings, paying at least $12 for a plate of them, and finding only 12 wings (or fewer) on the plate with two dry sticks each of celery and carrot, likely chopped sometime yesterday. Sometimes the proportion of sauce to wing is not right, the wings are not crisp, or something else taints the experience.

My solution? Wings at home. Crisp, excellent wings are totally attainable, with only the basic kitchen tools you already have.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Simple Crisp

It seemed like such a good idea at the time... chasing my 7-year-old home from school on a warm afternoon, fresh snowball in hand, ready for launching... and then all of a sudden, I was on the ground, sopping wet, and my left wrist hurt.

A few hours later, after seeing that my wrist was not broken and receiving a tetanus shot for the scrape on my hand (it had been 12 years since my last one), I was on my way home again. A week later, and I'm feeling much better!

For some reason, whenever I make an Apple Crisp, my five-year-old always calls it a 'Crusp'. His favourite part is obviously the 'crust' or 'crisp' on top.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wood vs. Plastic: the epic cutting board debate rages on

After reading a whole slew of articles, essentially, the choice is yours to make.

There are articles in support and against both sides of the coin. Both hold onto bacteria and both are soft enough to not damage your precious knives. Wooden ones work well as trivets (for putting hot pots and pans on) but plastic ones can go into the dishwasher.

Function is really important to me when choosing a cutting board. It MUST be big enough.

There are articles that talk about wood vs. plastic and others that discuss sanitation of your cutting board and pros & cons of various materials like glass. If you are STILL undecided after that, you could read a study by University of California at Davis.

I usually end up deferring to my preference for natural materials, like wood. I also looked at this article on cutting boards and how to season them, as well as this article by TV hosts Anna & Kristina who put products through a rigorous testing. And often when I am unsure about all things food, I defer to Michael Smith.

Whatever it is you are looking for in a cutting board, I know you will find it!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lazy Cookies

When I was little, my family bought packages of half-cup squares of Parkay Margarine. At one time, I'm ashamed to say, I used to eat it straight up, by the spoonful.

My parents have long since converted to buying actual butter and I thankfully no longer eat margarine (or butter) by the spoonful. My stand-by cookie recipe comes from that Parkay box and if I'm creating a new recipe for a cookie, it often originates here:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Watermelon Salad

Sometimes kids who come over are uncertain of the strange things that we make. When my niece and nephews came over for dinner on Friday night, we were interested to see how they would respond to dinner.

I roasted carrots and halved mini potatoes in one pan and some fresh dill-covered salmon fillets in another.

For the salad, we made this: