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

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: Gew├╝rztraminer


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.