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Got food on the brain? Check out some simple, tasty recipes and try one tonight.

Eating out. See the dishes I've tried in various cities, including my fav, Kingston!

Recent Posts

Summer Sweet Salad

I was making a new, delicious main pork dish tonight (which turned out great!), so to save time, I picked up my go-to Sweet Kale salad from Costco. But then…. I was in the grocery store and thought, with all this fresh goodness, I can do better than my pre-packaged winter salad – so I did!

Instead I got flavorful ingredients and filled my salad with fresh fruit, toasted pecans, and creamy cheese atop tender greens.

  • baby spinach with tenders (tub of lettuce)
  • fig goat cheese (from Loblaws)
  • toasted pecans
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • strawberries, sliced
  • kiwi, sliced
  • poppyseed dressing

Start by putting your lettuce in a big, pretty bowl then begin layering it up with all the above toppings. The end result is a colorful, delicious and satisfying salad to enjoy with any meal. *Add roasted chicken and make it your main.

Pork Tenderloin with Maple and Pear

This was an excellent dinner that I’ll surely be making again. The ingredients pair together nicely and the tender meat was thoroughly enjoyed by my toothless baby.

My in-laws were here for dinner and while they are not picky, I do like to fancy-it-up. The prep was easy with chunky veg and fruit and everything can be started and finished in the same pan. I served this dish with a summer salad and rice, but roasted potatoes would also be perfect!

You’ll need:

  • pork tenderloin, about 1 lb (I bought from Costco)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
  • 4  Bosc pears, cored and each cut into wedges
  • 3-4 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • fresh thyme sprigs – I used 8 from the garden

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large ovenproof pan over medium-high heat. Sear the pork, turning occasionally, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes total then transfer to a plate.

Add the onion and pears to the pan and sauté for 3 minutes. Return the pork to the pan and drizzle with the maple syrup and balsamic. Scatter the thyme leaves in the pan. Transfer to the oven and roast  20 minutes.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into slices (~1/2 inch thick). Proudly place your pork medallions, pears and onion wedges on a plate and drizzle with the glaze (from the pan). Enjoy immediately!

I served this with a summer salad I whipped up which was quite delicious. I will blog it down so I remember and make it again.

The original pork recipe is from http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/glazed-pork-tenderloin-with-pear-and-thyme.html

 

Quinoa and Apple Sausage

Today I was at the butcher to buy ground beef and saw Apple Sausages (Bob’s Butcher). With tacos in mind for dinner, I quickly rethought my plan to include these delicious looking sausages. I decided to BBQ sausages, saute veg and add them to quinoa. Here we go…

Throw the sausages on the Barbie (4) and in the meantime, cook the quinoa.

  • 1 cup raw quinoa cooked in 2 cups chicken broth

While that is cooking, dice and saute in coconut oil:

  • 1 small yellow pepper
  • 1 small orange pepper
  • broccoli
  • 1 large firm apple (I used Royal Gala)

When the sausages are done, cut them into medallions and add them to the cooked quinoa along with the sauteed veggies (until desired tenderness).

Make a little dressing:

  • 2-3 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 tbs honey
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • dash of paprika

Toss everything together – serve and enjoy!

 

 

French toast casserole

Before this warm weather hit,  we had an all-in-one dinner, dessert and breakfast! This delicious dish was a casserole of cubed french baguette, sausage, nuts and berries. A baguette is best fresh, unless you are turning it into French Toast! I took my fairly stale bread, soaked it in my egg mixture, then spread it out in a pan, added my sliced cooked sausage, studded it with pecans, dotted it with butter, and topped it all off with berries and maple syrup. It was awesome!

  • 1 large baguette
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • cinnamon
  • 3 sausage (Maple sausage, house made at John’s Deli)
  • 1/2 + of pecans
  • 2-3 tbs butter
  • berries and syrup to top it off

It’s best to get your bread soaking first – the longer the better (even overnight in the fridge). Since we wanted to eat asap, our dinner only soaked half an hour or so.
Crack eggs and whisk with milk, vanilla and cinnamon.
Dice the bread and toss in egg mixture to coat. Let the bread absorb the egg as you continue.

Cook your sausages. I cooked mine in the frying pan with a little water. Once cooked, slice into medallions and add to bread/egg mixture.

Grease your baking dish (9×13) and pour in your bread/sausage mixture so it is evenly distributed. Sprinkle pecans throughout and pop in an 350 oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden.

Dish onto a plate and serve with berries and maple syrup…. or ketchup, whichever you’d prefer

 

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

I titled it cake because I think it would make a nice cake, but I made up cupcakes since they are so easy to grab and go. AND, my silicon muffin liners are very easy to use with no greasing required – ever!  I whipped this up after 9pm because I hadn’t baked anything yet today and I had extra quinoa I’d been thinking about since dinner. With a baby in bed and a hubby out at a meeting, I could not sit still. I LOVE chocolate everything and knew I could use my quinoa in a fast and satisfying dessert..

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup milk (next time I’ll try coffee)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs veg oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 scant (barely) cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a food processor, whiz the quinoa. Add milk, eggs, oil, vanilla and vinegar (optional – I added it for tang and to work the soda). Process until smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients – sugar, cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt. Add the wet ingredients and mix until well combined. Try this batter – it is good!

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes (or until toothpick is mostly clean).

This amount made 7 cupcakes (plus my fill of leftover batter). Double this recipe and make 2 round 8″ pans.

I found the original recipe on Pinterest, but since I cannot follow a recipe exact, I’ve modified it and cannot wait for my buzzer for I can try them out! Enjoy some for yourself =)

http://www.barefeetinthekitchen.com/2013/08/unforgettable-chocolate-quinoa-cake-recipe.html?m=1

Maple berry muffins

The other day my friend served muffins at a play date and they were so good I asked for the recipe right away.  She wanted them to be more moist so I made a few modifications. The results are so tasty I needed to get the muffins out of sight so they would last for through the week. Bonus, it is maple syrup season and these are a delicious way to incorporate one of Canada’s staples =)

Here is what you need:

  • 2 cups flour (I used 1c white, 1c whole wheat)
  • 1/4 cup  sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp  salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup  maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (or a combo)
  • 1/4 cup veg oil
  • 1+ cup fresh berries (I used blackberries cut in half)

Topping:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 2 tbs slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

To make the topping, combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

For the muffins, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt).

In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients (egg, maple syrup, yogurt and oil). Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just combined (don’t overmix – it will result in a tough muffin). Fold in the berries and spoon into muffin liners (as always, I  use silicon which do Not require greasing, and the muffins pop out in tact EVERY time).

Original recipe from http://www.canadianliving.com/food/baking_and_desserts/maple_blueberry_muffins.php

Caramel Popcorn

I was inspired to make this because… Last week I brought home the Chicago Mix popcorn (sweet and salty) from Costco but told my husband he could not open it until company comes (really, it is a very big bag)!

So, I thought I’d make some for us Tonight!!  I had two bags of popcorn nearing their expiry date. If I had more popcorn, I probably would have doubled the recipe. This popcorn is very easy to eat!

Here is what you need:

  • 2 bags of popped popcorn
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Pop your popcorn and set aside. In a med sauce pan melt butter then stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil and let it simmer (bubbling), untouched for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla.

Dump half the pop corn in a huge bowl (I used a big pot) and pour half the caramel on top giving it a good toss. Add the remaining popcorn and drizzle the rest of your caramel mixture over it and stir until everything is coated. Yum Yum!!

If you’d like – Add Chocolate!! Chocolate makes it Better but more messy!

I laid it out on 2 baking sheets and simply melted chocolate chips with 1 tbs of coconut oil and drizzled on top, then I sprinkled it with kosher salt. *Note: my husband came home in the process and one cookie sheet was consumed right away, prior to chocolate! This popcorn was still awesome without the chocolate.

Modified from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/caramel-popcorn/

 

Beef, quinoa and parsnip soup

The recipe was created because I have a sick husband and a giant leftover steak. I knew I wanted to make something hot and healthy to get him on the mend. I though quinoa would be filling and I had an extra parsnip so here’s what I did….

You’ll need:

  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large parsnip (or carrot), diced
  • Leftover beef, cubed (1 large steak or roast etc)
  • liquid smoke (optional)
  • spices -  parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, pepper, celery salt (whatever you’d like)

In a medium pot I melted the butter and sauteed the onion then added the garlic and parsnip.

I added 1 can of beef broth plus two packets of beef bouillon and 3 cups of water (or you could just use 4 cups of beef broth).

Add beef and spices to your taste

Bring soup to a simmer and add 3/4 cups quinoa. Cover and simmer 15 mins. Uncover and keep heated on low until ready to serve.

 

sweet layer bar – copy cat

Today I had lunch with my mom and baby Lou at one of my favorite spots. I had an interesting and very delicious Dill Pickle soup. Before heading out, I got a dessert bar they called a Holly Bar. It was fresh out of the oven, looked awesome and tasted great. However, at $4.25 for a square, I thought I should be making this myself! I must say, that my bar was even better. Are you craving chocolate with a crunch and toffee flavor? Try this!

I should warn that I whipped this up free hand – no measuring, however below I will provide guestamates as a guideline

As always, improvise with what you have on hand

You need:

  • 1 bag of graham crackers – whizzed in food processor (or pre-packaged crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup butter (melted)
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened coconut (or enough to cover your pan)
  • 1.5 cups semi-sweet choc chips (I used mini chips)
  • 1 cup toffee pieces
  • 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • cinamon

Line a baking pan (mine is 9 x 11) with parchment paper and heat oven to 350.

Combine graham crumbs and butter and press into bottom of pan
Sprinkle coconut evenly over base
Sprinkle mini chips and toffee pieces over coconut
Poor/drizzle condensed milk over the goodies until almost everything is thinly coated
Sprinkle milk choc chips and pecan pieces overtop
Bake at 350 for 20-25 mins
Cool, cut and consume

Corn, Potato and Bacon chowder

I am pretty pumped about this soup I made last week! Really, you should try it. The day was cold. I had no dinner plan and my meat selection was limited to bacon so I made this with what I had on hand. I made a big batch and got to share it with my mom and sister. Although this soup would stay good for a few days, it did not last that long around here. We liked it so much I made a second big pot this week.

  • 1.5 cups corn – roasted
  • 8 slices of bacon (I use the pre-cooked from costco)
  • 3 tbs flour (used whole wheat)
  • 1 red pepper – diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 1-2 large potatoes (2nd time I used a bunch of mini potatoes cut in half)
  • mushroom (optional) could use anything – celery, parsnips, carrot (I used 1/2 pkg white sliced mushroom)
  • 1/4 cup cream (optional – I had it on hand)
  • 2 cups milk (warmed so it does not stop the simmer)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • salt & pepper

Spread a single layer of  corn on a roasting pan and bake at 400 for 15 mins or until browned. Set aside

If  using raw bacon, cook it, dice it and set aside but save 2-3 tbs bacon fat in bottom of pot. (If using precooked like me, simply dice the bacon and use 2-3 tbs butter in pot).

Saute the onion & red pep until onion are translucent then stir in flour and cooke for 3 mins.

Add in the chicken broth, potatoes, mushrooms and corn and simmer until soup starts to thicken. Add milk, cream and spices and continue to simmer until it tastes just right =)

blondies

Turns out, I LOVE blondies. After I made them for the first time recenlty, I wondered – why haven’t I made these before. the answer came really quickly. It is because they are not chocolate. Instead, I normally make brownie. However, after I made these chewy, sweet and delicious treats (which chocolate and pecans), I quickly added them to my regular rotation.

It’s a snowy winter and I’m on maternity leave. I never thought it would happen, but I’ve stated watching some day time TV – mostly cooking shows. “Cooking with Stefano” is where I got this gem =)

I made my own minor adjustments to suit me. This includes making everything in one large pot on the stove. You could end up with chocolate chunks throughout, but I added mine a little early so that the chocolate melted and marbled throughout – I recommend.

Grease your 8×12 pan and heat your oven to 350.

In your pot over med heat, add:

  • 1 cup butter (I always bake with unsalted)
  • 2 cups brown sugar

Stir this until its all melted together then remove from heat

Add:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla

Instead of using a separate bowl, I just set a sieve (fine mesh strainer) over my pot to add my dry ingredients. You could also whisk your dry ingredients in a separate bowl first then add them to the wet if you prefer. Mix until just combined

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Fold in:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1.5 cup dark chocolate chips (mine melt through the batter, but you could carefully fold choc chunks to keep them in tact)

Scrape batter into prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Bake 20 mins or until tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool, cut and enjoy.

Hot Cocoa for Two

It is a hot-cocoa-kind-of-day. The snow is heavy, the skies are grey and the air is frigid. It looks beautiful outside, but this evening we will enjoy the winter wonderland through the window from our cozy couch by the fire. The perfect addition to our conversation and cooing baby is a large mug of decadent hot cocoa.

Here is how I whipped up a batch:

In a medium pot, add and whisk together:

  • splash of milk
  • 2 heaping tbs brown sugar
  • 2 heaping tbs cocoa

Now that you have a paste, turn on the burner to med heat and add:

  • handful of dark chocolate chips
  • 2.5 cups of milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • small sprinkle of cayenne pepper
  • small dash of cinnamon

Whisk this all together until hot. Pour into mugs, snuggle up and enjoy. Garnish this with a good conversation and smiles =)

Note: making the paste first allows everything to be incorporated without lumps of cocoa. A good way to measure the amount of milk you need is to poor the milk in your mug first, then add it to the pot.

One Dish Orange Chicken Bake

The first time I made this was last week and it was a home run with my husband. It is real hearty food, delish and quick to prepare. The recipe below is what I used for 2 ppl (with leftovers in mind), but you can easily double this recipe for more people. You can also use whichever potatoes you have on hand and feel free to add other root vegetables to the base.

In your big baking dish add the “bed” of veg and toss them in a generous amount of olive oil and salt & pepper:

  • 20 mini potatoes cut in half (0r 3 yellow flesh potatoes cut into chunky wedges)
  • 1 white onion, sliced  (a red would be even better)
  • 10 whole garlic cloves

In a bowl, toss together:

  • chicken drumsticks and thighs (enough to feed your consumers – I used 4 drumsticks and 2 thighs – skin on, bone in= way more flavor)
  • 4 tbs honey
  • 3tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 orange cut into wedges
  • fresh rosemary
  • add more salt & pepper & olive oil. I also added a splash of orange juice -optional

Place the contents of the bowl over your veg base. Bake for 40 mins (or until chicken is cooked through and veg are tender). Yum Yum =)

My recipe is adapted from a cooking show – check it out here http://www.cbc.ca/inthekitchen/2014/01/sticky-orange-chicken.html

Taco tower

My sister gave me this idea and I made it to great reviews…. from only one person, my husband. But, I am confident that if we shared it with others, they would like it too! This is a fun twist on tacos without using every topping bowl in the house.

Preheat oven to 350 and get out a round baking tray

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb ground beef + taco seasoning (and water)
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1-2 chopped peppers
  • 4 large soft tortillas
  • cream cheese
  • grated cheese
  • avocado, salsa, jalapeno yog dip, cheese whiz (all optional)

Saute:

  • onions & peppers (I added some beef at this time for the grease for browning)

Add and brown:

  • ground beef then add taco seasoning with 3/4 cup of water and let simmer
  • add jalapeno yogurt dip or cheese whiz at this point to make it a little creamy (or don’t, whateves)

In the meantime, spread:

  • cream cheese on one side of each tortilla (I just did a thinn-ish layer on each)

Place one tortilla with cream cheese up on your baking sheet (a pizza pan works well). Spread 1/4 beef mixture over tortilla and repeat -  tortialla, beef, tortilla beef. On the last tortilla, place cream cheese down (so it doesn’t burn in oven). Spread the remaining beef mixture on tortilla and top with grated cheese. At this point, add your extra veg – chopped tomato, salsa etc. I drizzled with hot sauce.

Bake at 350

Salted chocolate toffee saltine pan – Danger Bay

Okay, I’ve been away for a while. I’ve been totally busy with play groups and being a new mom! I also have been baking whenever possible, but my internet time has taken a beating.

Just now I made a delicious dessert. I whipped it up within minutes and then had to crop my photo so you cannot see how much I immediately ate while it was still hot.

Here it is – easy peasy. Make it now,  but have a husband or friend over in the very new future so you don’t eat the entire pan yourself.

You’ll need

  • 1 sleeve of saltine crackers (I actually used whole wheat salted since that is what I had on hand when I decided I need this right now)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 bag chocolate chips (I used dark chips, but use what you like)
  • course salt, toffee bits and/or nuts (all optional)

Preheat oven to 350 and fill a cookie sheet with one a single layer of:

  • crackers – I put parchment paper underneath but don’t think it was necessary.

In a saucepan, bring to a boil:

  • butter & brown sugar

let this boil for 3 minutes – stir often. Make sure to keep an eye since it could boil over. Pour butter/sugar sauce over the crackers and pop in the oven for about 7 minutes. Remove from oven.

Sprinkle evenly with:

  • 1 bag of chocolate chips

let the chips sit for 2 minutes, then spread evenly with spatula

Here is where I lightly sprinkled the entire tray with course salt and toffee pieces. I promptly started eating it, but really you should let it cool completely (in the fridge if there is room). Break into pieces and share with your friends =)

 

aisain slow cooker

pork rpat

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • big squirt hot sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbs grated ginger
  • 4cloves pressed garlic
  • 3 large carrots – chopped in big chunks

Vibrant Winter Salad

I’ve made this salad twice in one week to serve with friends and family. It is packed with flavour and colour and is so tasty. It has a sweet tang and the ingredients seem to combine together just right. Just when I think I’m done, I find my fork back in the bowl for just one more bite.

Start with a bed of mixed greens (could use baby spinach as well) and top with the fruit, nuts and cheese. The amount of each will depend on how large you want your salad to be. Play around it until you’ve found the amounts that are just right for you!

Here are my approximate measures:

  • mixed greens (1/2 of a large plastic tub from the grocery store)
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds only of course
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 diced pear
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (I like roasted)
  • 1/3 walnut pieces (second time I used pecan pieces and it was just as good)
  • goat cheese
  • Dressing – cranberry ginger

The dressing is a key component to any salad. It turns out I had the perfect dressing on hand, but I’m sure there are a variety of sweet berry dressings that would be delicious on this loaded salad. I used Stonewall Kitchen – Cranberry Ginger Dressing.

Carmelitas

Yum Yum Yum is a good way to sum up this dessert. It takes a little time to prepare, but it is worth it! This dessert deserved to be double and that is exactly what I did – even at that, it will be gone too soon.

The ingredients are simple but the taste is gooey goodness!

The recipe below is ALREADY doubled. First you need to find a decent show, start a good convo or better yet, find a helper and unwrap caramels. I tried to find them unwrapped in bulk, but no luck. However,  my husband unwrap the goods while I got the other ingredients together. Preheat the oven to 350 then begin the baking.

In a pot, melt and stir together:

  • 70+ caramel squares
  • 1 cup heavy cream

While you’re working on that (melting takes a while), in a big bowl combine:

  • 1.5 c butter,softened (or melted if necessary)
  • 1.5 c brown sugar, packed
  • 2 c flour
  • 2.5 c rolled oats
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • squirt of lemon juice (I tend to add this to everything)

Pack half this down in your baking pan 9×13 and bake for 10 mins. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly.

  • 1 bag + chocolate chips

I like a lot of chocolate so I used an extra half a bag. I used a spatula to spread the melting chocolate . Pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate then crumble/plunk down the remaining oat mixture evenly over top.

Bake the entire thing for 15 minutes or until golden. Don’t get too eager for a taste test, the caramel takes a long time to cool – lesson learned! Store at room temperature so you get the gooey effect when its served. Cut into squares and enjoy…with ice cream =)

*original recipe from pinterest

raw chocolate mini cups

This is a recipe I whip up a couple times a week. You can always find a stock of these little treats in our freezer. They are perfect for a quick chocolate fix of melt-in-your-mouth richness. Warning, have one and wait 10 mins. I’ve devoured several within minutes and ended up with a sore tummy.

on the stove melt together:

  • coconut oil
  • cocoa
  • maple syrup (or other liquid sweetner – honey)
  • 1 tsp mint extract (optional)

pour into mini muffin cups (I love silicone) and cool to let harden – can do so in the fridge, or keep a stock in the freezer

Crispy & Tender Eggplant Disks

Well, I wish I had measured my ingredients so I could give you an accurate play by play of this recipe, by truthfully, it is very forgiving so a dash here or there will only make it more personally yours!

I started by washing then slicing my eggplant into (about) 1/2 inch disks. I generously sprinkled them with salt and left to tend to other things. The salt extracts the water so when I finally got back to the eggplant – over an hour later, I patted them dry with a cloth.

I made a paste/batter for the eggplant then tossed them in Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Paste (measurements are approximate – go with your gut). In a bowl, combine:

  • 3 heaping tsps corn starch
  • 2 tbs chilli powder
  • 1 egg
  • splash of lime juice (could use water)

coat each slice of egg plant in the paste and transfer into another bowl with bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet (I lined mine with tin foil for easy cleaning) and bake on 350 for about 30 minutes (or until the breadcrumbs are toasty). No need to flip.

These are great on their own, but I particular enjoyed them this morning when I topped them with a slice of cheddar, tomato and a friend egg – yum!