" I truly think it is best to be a robin lightly dressed concocting soup inside my nest" ~Maurice Sendak

Bonne Année !

Tourtière is a savoury meat pie that originated in Quebec and dates back as far as the 18th century.
French Canadians have been making this dish for generations across Canada and the Northeast USA, and it is one of Canada's national dishes.

Traditionally served on Christmas and New Years Eve this delicious pie makes a great meal anytime through the winter. You can use a combination of beef and pork or just beef if you wish.
I used store bought crust to save time but you can make your own.

This is such a hearty dish that all you need to serve along side is a simple spinach salad and buttered brussels sprouts.


Happy New Year Everyone!


Tourtière
  • ~oil
  • 1 pound each of ground pork and beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 rib of celery diced
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp each of thyme leaves and savoury
  • 1/2 tsp each of ground cloves and allspice
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • 1 cup of mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 double deep dish pie crust
Preheat oven to 425F In a large frying pan heat the oil and cook the onion and celery until softened.
Add the ground meats and cook until all the pink is gone.

Add the seasonings and mix well, add the broth and bring to a low boil.
Reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in mashed potatoes.

Pour into bottom pie crust in pie plate and cover with the top pie crust.
Make a few vents in the top for steam to escape.

Brush with the beaten egg.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 40 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Serve hot or cold.


Wine Suggestion:Pinot Noir


Cheers!











Layers of Love

One of the Greek dishes I love is Pastitsio.

This is a super satisfying meal that is great to serve a large crowd.

Similar to Italian Lasagna it had layers of pasta, meat and a creamy white sauce known as Béchamel Sauce. The combination of allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon gives this dish a unique flavour.

It is a bit time consuming to prepare, but it is well worth the effort.



Greek Pastitsio

Meat Sauce

  • 1 pound of lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp each of cinnamon and nutmeg
In a frying pan brown the ground beef and add remaining ingredients and cook for 10 minutes.


Pasta


  • 1/2 package of short tubular pasta such as macaroni, penne or ziti
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg beaten
In a large pot boil the pasta until done. Drain and add remaining ingredients and mix well. Set aside.

Béchamel Sauce
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
In a sauce pan melt the butter and then add the flour and salt mixing to form a smooth paste. Slowly stir in the milk.
Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until sauce begin s to thicken.

Remove from heat.
Mix in the egg and stir briskly.



Putting it all together.

Preheat oven to 350F 
Spray a large deep 9 x 15 or similar size pan with cooking spray.
Spoon half the pasta mixture into the bottom of the baking dish.
Layer the meat mixture over top of the pasta then follow with the remaining pasta.
Finally pour the cream sauce evenly over top so that it covers completely.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes until lightly browned.
Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Wine Suggestion: Vin De Crete Rose


Cheers!


Get Rolling

A question to all out there with a houseful of guests this week, are you running out of dinner ideas yet?
Perhaps other's are looking for an elegant New Years Eve dinner idea?

This dish looks like you spent all day in the kitchen when really it just takes minutes to prepare.
You can substitute the stuffing ingredients with just about anything you have on hand.

Serve with steamed white rice or mashed potatoes and green beans.

Stuffed Beef Rolls with Red Wine & Tomato Sauce
  • 1 cup bread crumbs or diced day old bread
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 each red bell pepper and onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 cup of beef broth
  • 1/2 tsp each of basil, oregano, thyme and savoury
  • salt and pepper
  • ~oil
  • 4 (or as many as you need) very thin beef steaks such as flank steak
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 375F
Combine the first 7 ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well until thoroughly moistened.

Lay out the beef steaks. Place a large spoonful of stuffing on one end of each steak and roll up tightly. Tie with kitchen twine if you like.

Heat olive oil in an oven proof frying pan. Place beef rolls in pan and brown on all sides then place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and place back on stove. Remove beef rolls and keep warm.
Pour wine and tomato sauce in pan and heat to boiling stirring constantly.
Reduce heat and cook until thickened. Season with sat and pepper to taste. Return beef rolls to pan and coat with sauce. Serve with sauce over top.

Wine Suggestion: Merlot

Cheers!





Warm Me Up!

I am sure all the snow we have had over the last two weeks has all the skiers and other winter sport enthusiasts smiling.

After a day spent out in the cold there is nothing better than to come in to a hot bowl of soup.
This is a cross between chili, stew and soup and is one of the favourites in our home.
Chock full of vegetables, beans and meat it is a complete meal, just add a crusty loaf of ciabatta bread and a glass of hearty wine.

This is a great soup to serve a crowd after skiing or tobogganing.

Let it snow!

Hearty Hamburger Soup
  • ~ olive oil
  • 1 pound of lean ground beef or chicken
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 celery rib diced
  • 1 large carrot and 2 potatoes diced
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of navy beans
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 4 to 6 cups of beef broth
  • 1 tbsp each of oregano, basil and parsley
  • 1 tsp of thyme
  • salt and pepper
In a large soup pot heat the oil and add the celery and onions.
Cook until translucent.

Add the beef and cook until brown.

Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil then reduce heat and cook for 2 hours stirring occasionally, adding more beef broth if it gets to thick.
Adjust seasonings.

Ladle into bowls and serve.



Wine Suggestion: Shiraz

Cheers!


Easy Elegance

During this busy, festive season it is easy to run out of ideas for entertaining.

Here is an elegant main course idea. It is so easy, yet looks like you have been in the kitchen for hours.

Frenched pork roasts make for a very elegant presentation when carved table side.
Serve with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.

This is a perfect dish for a holiday dinner party such as Christmas Eve or New Years Eve.


Frenched Pork Loin with A Honey Balsamic Glaze

  • 1 Frenched pork loin roast
  • ~olive oil
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp each of thyme, parsley, and rosemary
  • 1/2 a cup each of balsamic vinegar and honey mixed together
Preheat oven to 450F

Place roast in a roasting pan. Season with the olive oil, garlic and herbs.
Roast in oven for 15 minutes until roast starts to brown.
Reduce heat to 350F and continue to cook basting with the pan juices and balsamic glaze every 20 minutes or so.
Roast until internal temperature is 155F. A three pound roast will take about an hour and a half.
Let stand covered in foil for 10 minutes to let juices settle before carving.

Wine Suggestion: Pinot Grigio

Cheers!


Party Time

Holiday party season is in full swing!

I am sure everyone is looking for appetizer ideas.
Here are two for you, both are hot dip style appetizers.
The first is a vegetarian variety I made for the first time last night, the second an old standby I have been making for years.

Both of them can be prepared in advance the day before your party and then just heated just before guests arrive.

Happy Holidays Everyone!


Hot Bean and Cheese Dip.

  • 1 can of drained chick peas
  • 2 cups of shredded cheese (I used mozzarella and cheddar)
  • 1 tub of cream cheese
  • 1/2 a tub of sour cream
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp of each of oregano and basil
  • diced tomatoes
  • sliced green onion
  • salt and pepper


In a food processor or blender combine all ingredients except the tomatoes and onions.
Blend until smooth.
Stir green onions.
Spread into a shallow oven proof dish.
Cover and refrigerate at this point if serving the next day.

Heat oven to 350F.
Bake dip until light golden brown and bubbly.
Top with diced tomatoes and serve with sliced baguette or crackers.





Hot Crab Dip

Base:
  • 1 o2 2 cans of crab meat drained
  • 1 tub of cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 finely chopped onion
Add any of the following:

  • green onions or chives
  • dill weed
  • parsley
  • Parmesan
  • garlic
  • lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400F
Mix ingredients well and place in oven proof dish.
Bake for 12 minutes and then broil until bubbly.

Serve with sliced baguette, vegetable sticks or crackers.


Cheers!





Copy Cat


Have you ever wished you could re-create a popular secret restaurant recipe at home like the KFC fried chicken or Swiss Chalet Quarter Chicken dinner?

I have done a little experimenting and have come up with a sauce that tastes pretty close to Swiss Chalet Dipping Sauce. I used a mixture of barbecue sauce, chicken broth and cinnamon.

I basted the chicken with 1/4 cup of the sauce and and reserved the rest for serving along side.
My family thought it tasted the same as the restaurant version.
Serve with crispy fries, coleslaw and warm rolls.

I will let you know when I master the KFC batter recipe!


"Swiss Chalet" Style Chicken

  • 1 package of chicken breasts or quarters
  • 2 tsp each of chicken bouillon concentrate, cinnamon and Italian seasoning mix
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of plain barbecue sauce
Preheat oven to 400F
In a small saucepan combine all ingredients except the chicken.
Bring to a low boil and whisk until slightly thickened. Set 1/4 cup aside.
Place chicken in a greased baking dish.
Bake in the oven until it begins to brown then brush chicken with reserved /4 cup of sauce and continue to cook until done.
Serve with remaining sauce along side.

Cheers!



Traditions

For as long as I can remember, when I was growing up, we always had Sunday dinner and it is tradition that I have continued in our home.

There is nothing like the wonderful aroma of a roast slowly simmering in the oven all afternoon.

The secret is to cook the roast in a covered roasting pan with liquid slowly in the oven for about 3 hours. Use a cheaper cut of beef like blade or inside/outside round. The meat breaks down and becomes so tender it nearly falls apart. The remaining liquid in the pan is used to make a rich dark gravy.
Because everything cooks in one pot there is minimal mess so clean up is a breeze.

Think Mom knew what she was doing?




"Sunday Best Pot Roast"
  • 1 2 to 5 pound roast( blade or round is best)
  • onions quartered
  • 12 garlic cloves peeled
  • carrots cut into pieces
  • small potatoes peeled
  • 4 cups of dark beef broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 tsp each of pepper, thyme and oregano or rosemary
Preheat oven to 275F. Sear roast on all sides in an oiled frying pan then place with the onions and garlic in a large roasting pan with a lid.
Pour broth and wine around roast then sprinkle surface of roast with seasonings.

Cover and place in the oven.

Roast for 2 to 3 hours.

Remove from oven and place carrots and potatoes around the roast.

Cover and return to oven. Increase oven temperature to 350F.

Roast for about another hour.
When vegetables are tender remove from oven.

Place roast on a platter and cover with foil.
With a slotted spoon remove vegetables to a serving dish and keep warm.

Place roasting pan over medium high heat on stove top.

Bring broth to a boil.

In a small jar mix 1/4 cup each of flour and water and shake until smooth.

Pour water flour mixture slowly into the hot broth , stirring well until thickened to desired consistency.
Season to taste.

Wine Suggestion: Cabernet Sauvignon

Cheers!

Toss Up

They say variety is the spice of life. I couldn't agree more.

People get tired of eating the same dishes over and over again.
I am always looking for new ideas for old standby meals.
This is an unusual approach for the usual pasta, sausage and pepper skillet dinner. I gave it a different spin by using perogies instead of pasta.
While you prepare the sausages and vegetables the perogies boil in a separate pot just as pasta would. Then you simply toss them with everything else together in the skillet.
My family really enjoyed it.

This is a great weeknight meal, as it is quick, easy and delicious.


Perogy & Sausage Toss

  • ~olive oil
  • 1/2 a bag of frozen perogies
  • 1 pkg of Italian sausages sliced
  • 1 each red and green bell pepper sliced
  • 1 onion chopped
  • handful each of fresh basil and spinach chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp oregano

In a large pot boil the perogies until they float to the top and are tender.

Meanwhile in a large skillet heat the oil and brown the sausages. Add the peppers and onion and cook until soft.
Add the spices and mix well.
Drain the perogies and add to skillet with the spinach.
Toss together and cook until perogies are golden brown.

Serve with sour cream on the side.

Cheers!

Simple Steak

We are all heading into the busiest time of the year right now, with shopping, decorating and entertaining.
It always good to have a reliable, quick to prepare dinner menu in mind for those unexpected guests or impromptu dinner party. Something that can be assembled at the last minute and not require hours of work.

Pan Roasted Steak is fits the bill perfectly. Easy, classic dinner party fare.
You don't need to go out in the cold and barbecue in order to serve juicy steaks during the winter. Done correctly steak can be just as flavourful done on the stove top.

While the steak is roasting you can make the Portobello mushroom side dish.

Add a baked potato, fresh green beans, a spinach salad, crusty bread and a bottle of red wine and you've got this dinner party covered!


Pan Roasted Sirloin with Creamy Portobello Mushroom & Onions.

  • Thick cut Sirloin steaks
  • ~olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • pepper and salt


  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion sliced thinly
  • 4 large Portobello mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • Herbs De Provence to taste (or herbs of choice)
  • splash of white wine
Place butter and oil into a heavy frying pan and begin melting over medium-high heat. Continue until the mixture foams. (Butter burns at a low temperature, so the olive oil that burns at a higher temperature will keep it from burning allowing the steak to roast in in the butter.)

Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper. When foam has subsided, place steaks in the pan and sear on first side until they’re well caramelized a deep brown color, about 10 minutes. Turn steaks and cook on other side for 10 minutes or so for medium-rare or according to your taste.

Meanwhile in another sautée pan melt butter and add mushrooms and onions.
Cook over medium heat until onions are softened and beginning to caramelize.
Add herbs and wine and stir well. Add cream and cook until thickened stirring occasionally.
Serve along side of the steak.

Wine Suggestion: Shiraz

Cheers!


Snap To It

In our house we enjoy seafood a lot, we usually have fish at least one night a week.

Standing at the fish counter at the market the other day I was thinking that I wanted to try something different.
The big sale that day was on Red Snapper so I gave it a try and am I ever glad I did. It is one incredible fish! The texture is silky smooth, moist and meaty with a delicate flavour. Not at all like other fishes that can be dry and flaky. We all really enjoyed it.

I gave it an Asian twist by baking it in the oven with ginger, soy and garlic. This dish is extremely quick to assemble, perfect for a busy weeknight.

Note to self: Try different types of fish more often, your family will thank you for it!


Japanese Red Snapper

  • 2 large Red Snapper Fillets
  • 1/2 cup brewed soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • small piece of fresh ginger minced
  • 1 tsp ,minced garlic
  • 3 green onions sliced
  • pepper

In a large greased baking dish arrange the fish.
In a large measuring cup combine the remaining ingredients except the onions.
Pour over the fish. Scatter the green onions over top.
Bake in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until the fish is opaque and flakes with a fork.
Serve with steamed rice and stir fry vegetables.

Wine Suggestion: Sake

Cheers!






Super Soup

My husband curls one evening a week and on those nights he likes to eat a lighter supper.
I take advantage of that opportunity and create my own soup from scratch.

This soup looks complicated but is actually one of the easiest soups I have ever made.
The main ingredient sweet potatoes, are one of the most nutritious "super foods" making headlines these days.
I gave it an exotic flair by using spices from India.
Having an immersion blender on hand will make it even easier as you won't have to purée the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. You can just blend it right in the pot.

This would make an elegant appetizer for a dinner party or an easy weeknight meal with warm whole grain bread and a spinach salad.

The best part is that it tastes wonderful, and is good for you too!


Curried Sweet Potato Soup

  • ~oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 6 to 8 peeled and diced sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons each of curry, cinnamon and cumin
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • ~parsley

In a large wide soup pot heat the oil and brown the onion and garlic.
Add the sweet potatoes, spices and chicken broth.
Bring to a low boil and cook until potatoes are soft.
Reduce heat .
Purée soup with an immersion blender until almost smooth. Add milk and cream and continue to purée until smooth and blended.
Adjust seasonings and stir in parsley
Serve with an optional flourish of sour cream or crémé fraiche in the center.

Cheers!



Childhood Memories

There are some dishes that remind us of our childhood. Foods our mothers made that create a feeling of comfort.
For me, one of those dishes is Shepherd Pie.
My mother made it often and now I make it for my children and they adore it.
It is a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes and vegetables.

I don't know what her secret is, but I have to say now matter how hard I try, mine still does not taste like Mom's.

Shepherds Pie

  • I pound of lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp each of thyme, savory and parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1/2 cup mixed vegetables or diced carrots, beans and peas.
  • 1/4 cup flour mixed with equal amount of water
  • 4 cups of mashed potatoes
  • paprika
Preheat oven to 375
In a large deep frying pan cook the onion and beef until brown.
Add the spices, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, vegetables and broth.
Bring to a low boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile combine four and water in a small jar and shake until smooth.
Remove bay leaves and pour in flour mixture. Stir well until thickened.
Pour into casserole dish and spread mashed potatoes over top.
Sprinkle with paprika and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Cheers!







Little Tarts

Holiday season arrived, and with it many parties and large scale dinners.
For those of you that have to entertain a large crowd, I am sure any short cuts are much appreciated.
The dessert table can be challenging for those who don't do a lot of baking.
These tarts are extremely easy to make and can be made weeks ahead and frozen.
I used store bought tart shells and canned pumpkin puree, two time savers right there.
This recipe makes about 5 dozen tarts. The filling can also be used for pumpkin pie. Simply pour it into an unbaked crust.
You can scale the recipe down to suit your needs.

Pumpkin Tarts

  • 2 cans of pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 2 tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tap each allspice and ground cloves
  • 1 can of evaporated milk
  • 3 pkgs of tart shells
Preheat oven to 375F
In a large bowl combine all the ingredients except the tart shells. Mix well.
Arrange tart shells on cookie sheet.
Pour filling into shells and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
Cool on wire racks.
Serve topped with whipped cream.

Cheers!




So Chilly

The weather is turning colder.
It is getting to that time of year where you just want to cuddle up inside.
The time when you crave heartier fare that warms you up from the inside out.

This is another variation of the cold weather staple Chili.
This time I used the flavours of Mexico, cumin, chipolte pepper sauce and black beans.
Corn can be added as well (however I omitted it in mine due to an allergy.)
This chili is also wonderful spooned over tortilla chips, or placed in a hard or soft soft flour tortilla shell.

I guarantee this chili will warm you up all the way from the end of your nose to the tips of your toes!

Mexican Black Bean Chili

  • ~oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 pound of ground beef, chicken or turkey
  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1/2 to 1cup of salsa of your choosing (mild to hot)
  • 1 tsp beef bouillon concentrate
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn(optional)
  • 1 tbsp each of minced garlic, cumin and chili powder
  • 1 tsp of chipolte hot sauce (to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot heat the oil and cook the onion until soft. Add the meat, cumin and chili powder and cook until brown.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Serve with shredded Monetery Jack cheese on top (optional)and extra hot sauce on the side.

Cheers!



Between The Sheets



Lasagna is one of those dishes everybody loves to eat but doesn't like to make.
With all the steps required and all the pots and pans going at the same time, it can get pretty labor intensive.
I can't even remember the last time I attempted it.
Now what if I told you that you could make a wonderful lasagna in less time and with less work. Think you would make it more often?
I know I will!
The secrets are using fresh pasta sheets instead of the dried type that require boiling and making a white sauce that doesn't require cooking. Eliminating these steps saves time and less mess to clean up at the end.
For a healthier option I used whole wheat pasta sheets and creamy low salt feta instead of the ricotta cheese. I found the feta has more flavour. You can vary the fillings with vegetables such as eggplant, spinach and tomatoes.
This version is an "Old World" Style. I was thrilled with the way it turned out and how easy it was to put together.

I think much to my family's delight, that Lasagna is going to be on the table a lot more often.


Easiest Ever Lasagna

Red Sauce A
  • ~olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 can of pasta sauce (or homemade)
  • 1/2 or 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 small onion diced

  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning or oregano and basil combined
White Sauce B
  • 1 cup of ricotta or feta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • salt &  pepper
  • 1 tbsp of parsley
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 package of fresh lasagna sheet pasta
  • 1 cup of baby spinach (optional)
  • 1 pound of shredded mozzarella cheese
  •  Parmesan Cheese
Preheat oven to 350F.
  In a frying pan heat olive oil and add onion.
Cook until translucent. Add beef and cook until pink color is gone, drain if necessary.
Add tomato sauce, paste, garlic and seasonings.
Bring to a low boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
Meanwhile combine all the ingredients in Step B in a small bowl and whip until smooth.
Spray a 9 x 13 or similar dish with oil.
Spoon a small amount of sauce on the bottom of pan. Next add a layer of noodles cutting them to fit. Next add another layer of meat sauce and then cover this layer with cheese then add another layer of noodles. This time add a layer of white sauce. (at this point you can add a layer of baby spinach as well) Continue layering in this fashion until you have a layer of meat and cheese on the top.
Sprinkle with Parmesan and cover with foil.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes then remove foil and back for 5 minutes more.

Let stand for 15 minutes or longer before serving.
The longer it sits the easier it will be to cut into squares.

Wine Suggestion: Barolo

Cheers!



Opa!

One of the places I would absolutely love to visit is Greece.
Next to Italian it is my next favourite ethnic cuisine.

Creamy feta cheese, ripe black olives and lots of garlic..it doesn't get any better than that. Tonight I turned plain thick cut boneless pork loin chops into a Greek feast.
My family adored it and demanded I make it again..very soon.

What do I say to that?

OPA!

Greek Oven Pork Chops
  • 4 large boneless pork loin chops
  • 1 cup of low salt creamy style feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • pepper
  • 1/4 cup black olives (optional)
Place pork chops in a greased shallow baking dish.
In a bowl combine oil, feta, 1 tbsp of oregano, garlic, tomatoes and olives .
Spread evenly over pork chops.

Top with remaining oregano and pepper.

Bake for 40 min until done.

Serve with lemon rice and a Greek salad.

Wine Suggestion: Syrah


Cheers!




Curry in a Hurry!

I love to try out different recipes from other cultures.
The aromas and tastes feel like you are taking a mini vacation to another country without even leaving your kitchen.

Indian food is quickly becoming a favourite in our house. The unique spice combinations have such a beautiful flavour, so different then other cuisines.
This is my variation of a popular dish called Chicken Curry that can be prepared in under an hour. You can use plain yogurt instead of the sour cream if you prefer.
Garam Masala is a popular Indian spice blend that available in most grocery stores in the spice aisle.
You will find yourself making this again and again, as it is perfect for a night when you want something a little out of the ordinary.



Indian Style Chicken

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 2 tbs canola oil
  • 1 onion thinly sliced or minced
  • 1 tbsp each minced garlic and fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 1 hot chili pepper quartered(optional)
  • salt to taste
In a heavy wide skillet heat the oil and add the garlic, onion and ginger. Cook stirring until onion begins to turn golden brown.
Add the Garam Masala and chicken.
Cook turning until chicken is light brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the sour cream, stir well and cook until sauce is starting to thicken.
Stir in water, parsley, hot pepper and salt.
Reduce heat and simmer until chicken juices run clear when pierced and sauce is reduced.
Serve with Naan bread, Steamed Basmati Rice or Curried Rice and Peas.

Wine Suggestion: Gewürztraminer

Cheers!





Invasion of Juliets

You are not going to believe this...
I still have tomatoes growing in my garden!!!
Must have been the warm weather the past month.
We went apple picking last weekend and there were people picking strawberries next to the apple orchard! Incredible.
Soon I think we will be able to grow bananas.

Seriously though I never expected my garden to still be overflowing with Juliet tomatoes at the end of October. These are very hardy tomato plants indeed.

Fresh tomatoes are delicious tossed with pasta. This is an easy weeknight meal that goes together easily in under a half hour. It combines the classic taste of a BLT, a favourite in our house.

Now, if I still have tomatoes growing in December... Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas! ;)


Creamy Bacon & Tomato Pasta Toss
  • small onion diced
  • 1/2 pound of bacon cut chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of small tomatoes diced
  • handful of button mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Italian spice (basil, oregano, marjoram)
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves chiffonade
  • 1 cup half and half cream
  • 2 tbs flour
  • pepper and salt to taste
  • hot cooked pasta of your choice
In a large frying pan cook bacon and onion until bacon is cooked through.
Drain any excess fat.
Add the garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and spices (except fresh basil)
Cook until heated through.
Add cream, bring to a low boil then reduce heat to simmer.
Cook for about 10 minutes until sauce begins to thicken slightly.
Sprinkle flour over top and mix well if you like a thicker cream sauce.
Serve over hot pasta with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese on top.

Wine Suggestion: Pinot Grigio

Cheers!

Pot of Goodness

There is nothing more satisfying then a hot bowl of chicken soup.
Warms you up from the inside out.

This variation replaces noodles with long grain and wild rice. You can used leftover cooked chicken or raw boneless as I have here.
My family adores soup, so I use this as an opportunity to add as many vegetables as possible.
The spinach adds extra nutritional punch, something we all need this time of year as cold and flu season is upon us.

How can something this healthy taste so good?


Chicken Vegetable Soup with Wild Rice
  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1/2 large green bell pepper chopped
  • 3 carrots peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 large boneless chicken breasts diced
  • 8 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of long grain and wild rice mix.
  • 1 cup each of frozen peas and spinach
  • 1 tsp each of thyme, savory, and celery salt
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • pepper to taste

In a large soup pot heat oil, add diced vegetables and cook until onion is transparent.
Add chicken and cook until starting to brown.
Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours.
Add more broth if soup gets to thick. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Ladle into bowls and serve with warm sliced crusty baguette.

Cheers!

Slow Perfection

When the cooler weather arrives there is one dish I can't wait to make, Beef Stew.
This a french version made with red wine and herbs.

Braising the meat in the oven for hours allows it to become so tender it nearly falls apart.
The heat envelopes the pot instead of being just on the bottom.

I also find the oven method gives the meat and vegetables a rich roasted flavour and colour.
I left the skins on the potatoes, but if you prefer you can peel them.
Herbs de Provence is a combination of herbs used commonly in France.
The blend I use is,
1 tablespoon each of dried savory, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil and fennel seed. Combine all the spices together and store in an air-tight container.
This is a great dish to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon and your house will smell wonderful.
This truly is "Slow Food" at it's best.
Believe me ..it is well worth the wait!


Rustic French Beef Stew

Step One

  • 2 lbs of stew beef
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 celery rib chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp each of thyme,rosemary,parsley, Worcestershire sauce and cracked pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine
Step Two
  • 3 large carrots peeled and sliced
  • 10 small potatoes quartered
  • 3 parsnips peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 can of tomato paste
  • Herbs De Provence to taste
  • small jar of 1/4 cup each of flour and water shaken together.
Preheat oven to 275F
In a large oven proof dutch oven on stove top over medium heat oil and add the meat.
Cook turning often until brown on the outside.
Add the onions, garlic and celery and cook until softened.
Add remaining ingredients in step one and bring to a low boil.
Cover and place in the oven for about 3 hours.

Remove from oven and add vegetables and tomato paste.
If necessary add more beef broth and seasonings to taste.
Raise oven temperature to 375F and return pot to oven for a further 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Remove from oven and pour water flour mixture slowly into the hot stew, stirring well until thickened to desired consistency.
Ladle into bowels and serve.

Wine Suggestion: Pinot Noir

Cheers!

Thrown Together

I literally threw this dish together in 5 minutes.
I wasn't sure how it would turn out, however, it turned to be a total success!
Hot or mild Italian sausages can be used.
This dish could be served over potatoes or pasta instead of rice.

This is a great weeknight meal for a family or could be served for a dinner party with crusty Calabrese bread and a hearty glass of red wine.

Who knew?


Italian Sausages over Steamed Rice

  • 1 pound of hot or mild Italian sausages sliced
  • 1 onion chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 can of tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp each of basil, oregano and minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • steamed rice
In a large deep saucepan heat the olive oil and add the onions and sausages.
Cook until onions are soft and sausages are browned and almost cooked through.
Add tomatoes, paste, garlic and spices.
Bring to a low boil and reduce heat and cover.
Cook until sausages are done and sauce has thickened.
Serve over hot steamed rice.

Wine Suggestion: Merlot

Cheers!


Sweet Goodness

Everybody loves french fries. We also know how bad they are for us.
Most often they are deep fried and covered in salt and gravy or cheese. Not good for our health or our waistlines.
Would you believe there are fries that are healthy and taste wonderful too?
They are fries made from one of the the "super" foods, Sweet Potatoes.
They are extremely easy to make and full of nutrients and fibre. Baking them in the oven and using olive oil makes them healthy choice.
My family prefers them over fast food fries.

You can stop pinching yourself now..you are not dreaming!


Spiced Sweet Potato Fries

  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp each of chili powder, pumpkin pie spice and cumin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or olive oil/canola oil blend
Preheat oven to 400F
Peel and slice potatoes into 1 inch strips.
In a large bowl combine oil and spices.
Add potatoes and toss well to coat .
Spread fries out on a large baking sheet and place in the oven.
Bake for 3o to 40 minutes until golden turning occasionally.

Place fries in a large bowl lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Season to taste.


Cheers!


Gone Bananas

I always have bananas sitting on my counter. They are my favourite fruit.

There are times though, where they ripen a little faster then I want them to.
Baking with over ripe bananas is the best way to use them up.
Who can resist the aroma of freshly baked banana bread?


I have been making the same recipe for years. I just vary it with the addition of nuts or chocolate chips.
I have also used the same batter in a muffin tin or square cake pan.
Mine was barely out the oven before everyone was spreading butter on warm slices.

Does it get any better then that?


Banana Bread
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup of butter softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 small/medium or 3 large very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 21/2 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp each of baking soda and salt
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips or walnuts


Preheat oven to 375F
Grease a loaf pan and set aside.
In a large bowl mix the sugar and butter until smooth.
Add the eggs and mix well.
Add bananas, milk and vanilla and mix until smooth.
Add remaining ingredients and mix until all is moist.
Pour into pan and bake in the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hour until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in centre of the loaf.
Remove from pan and cool.

Cheers!



Stuffed with Happiness

I am pleased to announce that I have a new camera.
You will notice I am slowly replacing some of the pictures on the blog as I prepare the dishes over again.

This side dish was inspired by a recipe in my new Jamie Oliver cookbook, "Cook with Jamie"
The kids had a blast helping me, by coring out the centre of the potatoes and then stuffing it all back together.
Jamie used bacon, sage leaves, anchovies and garlic in his recipe. I modified it to suit my family's tastes.
We thought this was a really unique dish. It is fun enough for kids yet looks elegant enough to serve at a dinner party.

Thanks to Mom for the great cook book, Jamie for the great recipe and my husband for the wonderful camera!

Stuffed Potatoes

I have left out exact amounts as you would need as many potatoes as required for your group.

  • medium sized potatoes
  • basil leaves
  • cheddar cheese cut in small sticks
  • bacon slices cut in half
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375F
Wash and dry potatoes.
With an apple corer press out the centre of the potato as if you were coring an apple. Reserve the plugs.
Take a bacon slice half, piece of cheese and basil leaf and stuff it in the middle of each potato.
Put the reserved plug back in the ends. ( It is ok if some stuffing sticks out)
Lay in a greased baking dish. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. If you find you have leftover bacon and cheese like I did just scatter it over the top.

Bake for 45 min to 1 hour until golden, turning occasionally.

Cheers!

Leftover Limbo

After this past Thanksgiving there were so many leftovers my fridge was overflowing!

The turkey is always easy to use up. We love sliced white turkey meat piled high between whole grain bread with lots of mayonnaise and black pepper, and who can resist the all time favourite, "Hot Turkey Sandwich" all smothered in warm gravy. (Good thing we only eat like this a few times a year!)

However, this year I didn't have a lot of turkey leftovers, but, I did have a lot of smoked spiral ham. After using some for a ham and egg brunch and a few sandwiches I diced up the rest and created this hearty soup.

I used black beans and pinto beans but you can used any variety of beans here such as navy or kidney.
Simmering it for 2 hours allows the flavours to blend and the stock to thicken.
Serve with crusty bread for a light satisfying meal.

My husband gave it a thumbs up!


Southwest Ham and Black Bean Soup

  • 1 rib of celery diced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 11/2 cups diced ham
  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp each of chili powder, minced garlic and parsley
  • 1 tsp each of cumin and hot chipotle sauce (optional)
  • pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
In a large soup pot heat the olive oil.
Add the diced vegetables and cook till softened.
Add the spices and ham and toss to coat.
Add the beans, stock and tomato paste.
Bring to a low boil stirring well.
Reduce simmer and cook for two hours stirring occasionally.
Adjust seasonings to taste and ladle into bowls and serve.

Cheers!




Two Sides for the Bird

These are two great side dishes for your Thanksgiving dinner this weekend.
Both can be made ahead and reheated the day of the dinner, this allows more room in your oven for the turkey.
The first is a wild rice pilaf.
I used apple juice as part of the broth to give it a fall flavour. Cider would work well here too.
Baking it the oven ensures it will turn out perfect with no sticking on the bottom.
The second is an acorn (also referred to as pepper) squash casserole. Maple syrup and brown sugar sweeten this creamy comfort dish perfectly.

I have made both amounts generous to allow a large crowd. You can scale them down to fit your needs.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Savory Wild Rice Pilaf
  • 2 cups wild and brown rice mix
  • 2 cups apple juice or cider
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp each of dried thyme and savory
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter or margarine
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a casserole dish with a lid combine all ingredients in order, cover, and bake in oven for 1 hour or until all liquid is absorbed.
Fluff with a fork and serve.


Acorn Squash Casserole
  • 5 medium size acorn squash halved
  • 10 tsp each of brown sugar and butter (for each half)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 tbs bread crumbs brown sugar combined
Preheat oven to 375F.
Clean out seeds and pulp from each half of the squash.
Place skin side up on cookie sheets.
Place tsp each of the butter and brown sugar in each half.

Bake in oven for about 1 hour until tender and edges start to brown.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Scoop out squash from skins and place in a buttered 9x12 casserole dish.
Add maple syrup and ginger and mash well.
Add more brown sugar to taste if you like it sweeter.
Spread out evenly and top with brown sugar bread crumb mix.
Return to oven for 5 min to toast the top or refrigerate till next day.

Both dishes can be reheated in the oven at 375F for 30 min till heated through.

Cheers!





Apple of your Eye

Finally, as promised, here is the Apple Crisp recipe.

I have to admit though, we have been to busy to go apple picking, so I used store bought apples that I had in the fridge.
You can peel the apples if you like. I don't bother as it is a healthier option to leave the skins on.
Apple Crisp is a great alternative to the labour intensive apple pie. No pie crusts to roll out and shape!
Sometimes simple is better.



Ultimate Apple Crisp

  • 4 large apples of your choice sliced
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup of butter softened
  • 1 tsp each of cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
Preheat oven to 375F
Place sliced apples in a greased 8x8 pan.
In a bowl combine all other ingredients except the maple syrup
Mix until crumbly. (I find it easier to mix it with my fingers)
Spread evenly over top of the apples
Drizzle maple syrup over the top
Bake in oven for 35 min until golden brown on top and apples are soft.
Serve warm with ice cream or cream on the side.
Enjoy..


Cheers!





Divertiti!

As much as we love pizza after a while it is nice to have a change.

This is a folded over version of pizza called Calzone. The deep fried version found in some restaurants is called panzarotti.
This is a fun casual dish, perfect for the weekend.
The whole family can get involved rolling out the dough and preparing the toppings.
You can use almost anything as a filling that I haven't already used here such as olives, Italian sausage, bacon, anchovies or ground beef.
This recipe makes 4 large size calzones but the dough can be broken down in even smaller balls and used as appetizers for a party instead of a meal.

So get the whole family in the kitchen and have fun making this wonderful Italian dish.




Stuffed Calzone

  • 2 balls of fresh pizza dough(white or whole wheat)
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce of choice
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 an onion chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 tsp each of oregano and basil or 1 tbsp Italian seasoning mix.
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup each of diced pepperoni, sliced Genoa salami, diced cherry tomatoes, diced mushrooms, prosciutto and ham.
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • tomato sauce for topping or dipping on the side
Preheat oven to 375F
Divide each ball of dough into half. Roll into 4 balls.
Dust all 4 balls and roll out to about 6 inch diameter circles.
Place on large greased cookie sheet or pizza stones.
Brush with olive oil.
In a nonstick pan cook the onion, pepper and mushrooms until softened.
Add remaining garlic, herbs, meats and vegetables.
Toss to evenly mix.

Place a large spoonful of filling on each calzone shell. Top with cheese blend.
Fold over dough and press together with fingers or a fork.
Brush with olive oil.
Place in oven and bake for 35 min until golden brown.

Meanwhile warm up some basic Italian tomato sauce. If you have any leftover meat mixture that wouldn't fit in the calzones toss it in the sauce.

Serve with sauce on the side or spooned over top.


Wine Suggestion: Red Sangiovese


Cheers!




Tears of Joy

There is nothing more comforting as a bowl of soup.

One of the most versatile types is French Onion Soup.
Elegant enough to serve as an appetizer for a large dinner or casual enough to be a simple supper on it's own with a salad and crusty bread served along side.

The secret to creating the intense flavour is to let the onions carmalize slowly for at least an hour. This draws out the sweetness of the onions and turns them a rich golden brown colour.

Trust me, this soup is worth all the tears from slicing the onions!

Best Ever French Onion Soup

  • 2 large Spanish or 5 regular cooking onions sliced
  • 2tbs butter
  • 2tbs olive oil
  • 2tbs sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • splash of white wine or Cognac (optional)
  • 1 baguette sliced and lightly toasted
  • 1 cup mixed shredded cheeses (Mozzarella, Gruyère, Parmesan and/or Swiss)
In a soup pot melt butter.
Add onions and olive oil.
sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes stirring frequently.
Add sugar and reduce heat to low.
Cook until onions are carmalized and a deep brown colour stirring occasionally. This takes 1 to 2 hours.
Add broth, Worcestershire, thyme and wine (if using).
Bring to a low boil then reduce heat and simmer for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
Preheat broiler in the oven.
Ladle into oven proof bowls and top with bread rounds and cheese.
Place on cookie sheet and place under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Cheers!

A Thyme for Fall

There are so many things I enjoy about fall.
The produce in season now are among my favourites, especially tomatoes, squash, and apples.
We are going apple picking on the weekend so I will be posting my Apple Crisp recipe next week.

My family adores fresh apple cider. I love its versatility.

When pork is marinated in cider it takes on the apple flavour quite nicely.

This can be grilled on the barbecue or in the oven.
Acorn squash and wild rice pairs beautifully with the pork tenderloin.


Happy Fall!


Apple Cinnamon Thyme Pork Tenderloin
  • 2 pork tenderloins
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pepper
In a resealable bag combine spices and cider.
Submerge pork in marinade seal bag and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat grill or oven to 375F
Remove pork from bag and place on grill or in a shallow roasting pan in the oven.

Cook until internal temperature reaches 155F, about 25 minutes.

Bring marinade to a boil in a small saucepan for 5 minutes.
Baste tenderloin frequently during cooking.
Let stand 5 minutes then thickly slice and serve with remaining marinade poured over top.


Wine Suggestion: Riesling

Cheers!










Olé! Olé!

"One dish" meals are wonderful!

They are easy to assemble, cook unattended in the oven and allow you the freedom to tend to other things.
This is an extremely easy Mexican style chicken dish.
You can use bone in or boneless chicken pieces. I used leg quarters here as that what was on sale that day.

If you don't have cilantro on hand, just increase the oregano to 2 tsp or substitute parsley.

Anything with melted cheese on it is a sure winner in our house. I used a blend of cheddar and mozzarella. Monterey Jack would work well too.

Everyone really enjoyed this dish and the leftovers tasted amazing tucked into a flour tortilla for lunch the next day

Hmmm lets see...easy preparation, all around rave reviews at dinner and a tasty lunch.


What more could you ask for from a meal?

Olé!

Pollo Con
Queso

  • 1 package of chicken pieces of your choice
  • 1 cup of long grain rice
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup or( 1 cup of water mixed with 1 cup of milk and 1 tsp chicken bouillon concentrate.)
  • 1 soup can of water
  • 1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 green bell or red pepper diced
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • 1/2 cup of salsa
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 400F
In a 9 x 12 baking dish combine peppers, rice and beans.

In a bowl combine soup, water and cilantro and pour over rice mixture.

Mix evenly.

Place chicken pieces on top.
Spoon salsa over top of chicken.

Bake for 40 minutes.
Sprinkle cheese over top bake 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Cheers!







So Saucy


I love everything about Italian cuisine.
The seasonings, the ingredients and the aroma that fills your kitchen .
If I had to pick one of my favorite things to cook in the entire world it would have to be Italian pasta sauce.
This recipe is an extremely versatile meat and tomato sauce. It can poured over any pasta, used as a filling in calzone or even as a pizza sauce.
I did the latter the next day for lunch and my family loved it just as much as the night before when it was served over spaghetti.


Now that's Amore!

"Salsa di Pomodori con Manzo"
Tomatoes Sauce with Beef

  • olive oil
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1/2 red pepper diced
  • 1 tbs oregano
  • handful button mushrooms
  • 6 fresh basil leaves chopped
  • 1 can of crushed plum tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in large saucepan.
Add beef and onion.
Cook until beef is brown (drain fat if necessary)

Add garlic and spices.
Cook until garlic is lightly browned.

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 45 min stirring frequently.

Adjust seasonings and serve over hot pasta.

Wine Suggestion: Valpolicella

Cheers!