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

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!