Friday, April 26, 2013

Greek Souvlaki

Dear Sally, 

     This week was one of the rare times that I was able to make a meal every evening and not have to rely on leftovers from the freezer. One of my greatest achievements this week was souvlaki. I was browsing through Jamie Oliver's Food Escapes and found this recipe. I made my own homemade tortillas instead of using flatbreads. Jesse really enjoy the meal so I counted that a success. 



3 sweet frying peppers (red and yellow)
8 flatbreads (I used homemade tortillas
4 springs of fresh mint
red wine vinegar
olive oil
1 lemon


1 ¾ pounds chicken (cut into 1-inch cubes)
3 tbsp. fresh mint
1 tbsp. dried oregano
juice of 1 lemon
6 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
pepper and salt for seasoning


½ large cucumber
¾ cup plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic peeled
2 tbsp. fresh mint
1 ½ tsp. red wine vinegar

If using wooden skewers, cut 8 to fit your grill pan and soak them in a tray of water to stop them burning. Put all your kebab ingredients into a bowl and use your clean hands to mix everything together really well. Cover with plastic wrap, then pop into the fridge for 30 minutes, or longer if you want the flavours to get a bit more intense.

Meanwhile, blacken the peppers directly over a gas flame, in a hot dry grill pan or under a hot boiler. Turn them every so often and when they look almost ruined, pop them into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put to one side to steam for 5 minutes or so – this will help their skins to come off.

Make your tzatziki by coarsely grating the cucumber into a sieve set up over a bowl. Add a few good pinched of salt, then use your hands to squeeze out as much water as you can. Pour the water away, then tip the cucumber into the empty bowl and add the yogurt. Pound the garlic in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of salt until you have a paste, and spoon that into the bowl with the cucumber. Add the dried mint and red wine vinegar and mix really well. Have a taste to make sure you’ve got the balance right, then put aside.

Preheat a grill pan or grill over high heat. Thread the skewers through the marinated pork pieces, leaving little spaces between them so that the heat cooks everything evenly. Cook the kebabs on the screaming hot pan or grill for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally until done on all sides. Warm your flatbreads in the oven or in a hot dry pan while your kebabs are cooking.

Just before your kebabs are ready, peel and deseed your blackened peppers, then tear them into strips and put them into a bowl. Roll up your mint leaves, finely slice them and add to the bowl along with the dill. Add a few splashes of red wine vinegar, a pinch or two of salt and pepper and a lug of extra virgin olive oil. Toss and mix together, then have a taste to check the balance of flavors. Cut your lemon into wedges.

Put a dollop of tzatziki and the meat from one skewer on each warmed flatbread. Top with some of your pepper mixture, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Life doesn’t get much better.

    Instead of using a fry pan I cooked my chicken on skewers in the oven. They were nice and juicy when I pulled them out. I would also recommend using the bbq to add a smoky flavour. I also blended up Jesse's tzatziki sauce so he wouldn't know there was cucumber in it. My trick seemed to work! 

    Another successful food adventure comes to a close. May your own adventures in the kitchen be very successful and blessed. 


Friday, April 19, 2013

Polenta Pizza with Avocado and Baby Portabellos

Dear Sally,

     I could not believe the day we had today! When I left the school at noon it was still a little cool. By the time I went for a walk in the afternoon it was 24 degrees and beautiful outside! I felt the urge to wear my sandals while walking giving my toes a breath of fresh air. I was so inspired I wanted to try out a new recipe for gluten free pizza. The Curtis family recipe for pizza dough will forever be my favorite and although I will never see it with my own eyes I will still enjoy it. That being said I can also appreciate gluten-free and flavourful alternatives. One thing I love about this recipe is that the dough itself is so simple and yet still has so much flavour. It could easily be cut into fun shapes for a party or young children.
    The toppings I chose suited the ingredients in the fridge and the mood I was in at the time. I used avocado mixed with garlic as my sauce. I fried some baby portabello mushrooms in a pan with Montreal Steak seasoning. Just before they were finished I added some soft goat cheese. I topped it off with some hot banana peppers and that was it!

-->  Polenta Pizza 
(adapted from LCBO Food and Drink magazine)

Crust Ingredients

3 cups vegetable stock (for crust)                                    
1 teaspoon sea salt (for crust)                                    
12 teaspoon dried basil (for crust)                                    
12 teaspoon dried oregano (for crust)                        
12 teaspoon dried parsley (for crust)                        
Freshly ground black pepper (for crust)                                    
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (for crust)            
1 1/4 cups polenta cornmeal (for crust)                        

    TO PREPARE CRUST: Over high heat, bring stock to boil. Reduce heat to medium and add salt, basil, oregano, parsley, pepper and olive oil. Whisking continuously, pour in polenta and continue whisking for 5–7 minutes until smooth and thick. Pour into two 11inch tart pans and spread evenly over bottom of each pan. Cool slightly and then refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.

    Choose your toppings and place them on your pizza as desired. Bake a 350 oven pizza in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until cooked through. 

     I have to confess that as I write this blog I am watching and episode from season three of Murder She Wrote. Jesse says that I am obsessed but I can't get enough! I saw an episode the other day with the young George Clooney! I have a small suspicion that many famous actors had a spotlight on this show. Enjoy the weather this week. I will see you soon.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Southwestern Quinoa Pasta Salad

Dear Jess,

I am so excited for your visit!! You can absolutely come earlier and we can have a good visit before the crowds show up.

Like you, I am loving the arrival of Spring. I love waking up to the sound of birds, I love the smell of the ground de-frosting, I love wearing a jacket instead of coat, mittens and a hat. All that being said... you know that my favourite thing (about any season change) is the food change. Like you, I have made many stews and soups for the damp days. But with the coming of Spring, comes the return of the BBQ.

Over Easter weekend we went to my Mother-in-law's house for a BBQ. I brought this salad. I love it. It's light, a little spicy, and oh so delicious! I will be making this again for sure!

Southwestern Quinoa Pasta Salad
adapted from

Salad Ingredients
8 ounces uncooked egg noodles
1/2 tbsp olive oil (for pasta)
1 cup cooked quinoa (any colour!)
1 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 avocado, pitted and chopped

Dressing Ingredients
1/2 cup lime juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cloved garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
11/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1. Cook egg noodles according to package directions, being careful not to over or undercook. Drain and rinse. Toss with 1/2 tbsp of olive oil.

2. In a blender combine lime juice, olive oil, jalapeno pepper, garlic and salt and pepper.

3. Combine cooked pasta with cooked quinoa, beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers. Toss with dressing and cilantro. When ready to serve, add in avocado.

I hope you have a great week!

Lots of love,

Monday, April 15, 2013

Toffee Squares

Dear Sally,

        I'm not sure if I told you this but I am on the 'Treat Team' at church and we each bring treats once every six weeks. I was supposed to bring these squares last week. I had prepared them a week in advance and put them in my freezer so I could take them out the day before. It turns out that I forgot to bring them to church so Jesse enjoyed snacking on them instead. From what I hear they are quite delicious!

Toffee Squares

 (Adapted from Bake or Break)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 & 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup Skor bits
1/2 cup coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 2  9-inch square baking pans. Line with parchment paper or grease.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar and continue beating until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

Gradually add flour mixture, mixing until almost blended. Divide into two equal sections. Transfer dough to prepared pans and spread evenly.

Sprinkle top with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, Skor bits, and coconut.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until edges are golden and topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares.

        Jesse and I are looking forward to the get together in a couple of weeks. It will be nice to catch up with everyone and to see you guys. I was hoping we could come early to visit before everyone else comes and festivities start so look out! I'll let you know first ;)




Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hungarian Stew

Dear Sally, 

     For April the weather has still been cool and for that I always recommend stew. I had flipped past this recipe the other day when I was trying to plan the groceries for the week and hoped that it would warm me up. I am sure that wearing proper footwear and a jacket would also help but I refuse to revert back to boots. 
     I didn't quite have the right ingredients for this recipe so I did what I always do and improvised. When I make this again I may try tenderizing the beef before putting it in the pot or changing the recipe to vegetarian.


Hungarian Stew
(Adapted from Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook)


2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 pounds beef stew meat
2 carrots, cut into ½-inch rounds
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 small white onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
½ cup tomato sauce
2 cups beef broth
sea salt and black pepper


1.     In a large pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat.
2.     Add the stew meat and brown for 5-7 minutes.
3.     Add all of the veggies to the browned beef along with the garlic, stir well, and cook for 10 minutes.
4.     Add the paprika and rosemary and mix well.
5.     Cook for another 5 minutes.
6.     Pour in the tomato sauce and beef broth, mix well, and bring to a boil.
7.     Turn the heat down so that the stew is just at a simmer and cook uncovered for 2 hours.
8.     Before serving season with a little sea salt and black pepper.

Until the weather turns into consistent plus 15 degrees I will keep recipes like this stew close at hand. Looking forward to your next post as always.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Arborio Rice with Goat Cheese and Mushrooms

Dear Sally, 

Your last three posts look delicious! I am going to have to try those bacon wrapped dates. Jesse loves anything wrapped in bacon. Today Jesse was cutting holes in the walls while I was cooking away in the kitchen. There were a lot of recipes that I wanted to try but with so little time I had to choose only one. I had picked up some Arborio Rice at the grocery store and searched for a recipe I could modify. I found this one from Martha Stewart and added my own spin to it. The most important thing I changed was the amount of liquid and the cooking time. I added a lot more water and it took me a lot longer to cook but the end result was perfect!

Arborio Rice with Goat Cheese and Mushrooms
(Modified from Martha Stewart's Easy Arborio Rice)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups mushrooms (diced)
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1/2 cup soft unripened goat cheese

  1. Heat oil in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add onions, mushrooms and salt and saute until onions are translucent, 3 minutes.
  2. Add rice and garlic to pan and saute until rice is toasted and fragrant, 2 minutes.
  3. Add chicken broth to the pan in small batches. Bring to a boil stirring constantly, when the liquid evaporates begin adding water 1/4 cup at a time. continue adding  water and stirring it in until the rice is soft. This  may take up to 20-25 minutes so be prepared.
  4. Remove from heat, add the goat cheese and stir. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes and fluff with a fork before serving.

I can't wait to see you in a couple of weeks! Are you enjoying the beautiful spring weather? Jesse and I have started our seeds for the garden. I look forward to seeing what you are going to grow this year. 



Monday, April 1, 2013

Bacon Appetizers and Muffin Sized Lasagna

Good Morning, and Happy Easter Monday! 

I hope your weekend was wonderful, and you were able to get outside and enjoy the beautiful Spring weather! It was snowing a little bit this morning (in typical April style), but the sun has now come out and it's looking like a cheerful day!

We celebrated my Mom's birthday this weekend, and Jason and I had the whole family over for dinner. Including significant others... this was a total of 10 people! We set up our living room with our 2 tables and had a lovely time!

Kristy came over to help me (which was awesome!) and the night was a success (company, food, atmosphere... everything!)

The Menu:
Bacon wrapped Dates
Hummus and Flatbread (homemade)

Arugala, Mango and Avocado Salad
Bussels Sprout, Parmesan and Toasted Walnut Salad
Muffin Sized Lasagna

Coconut and Dark Chocolate Cups
Baked Apple Halves 

I will be sharing two of these recipes with you today.

Bacon wrapped Dates
from Caitlin, who made them for Jason and me the last time we visited

Pitted Dates
Bacon, cut in half
Goat Cheese
Toothpicks (sturdy ones)

1. Place one almond and a chunk of Goat cheese inside the date. Wrap in half a piece of bacon. Stab with a toothpick. Pace in a greased casserole dish.

2. Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

3. Serve.

Always make more than you think you will need! Though they sound weird... they are so delicious!

Muffin Sized Lasagna
adapted from

1/3 pound extra lean ground beef
salt and pepper
24 wonton wrappers
1 3/4 cup (7oz) freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 3/4 cup (7oz) grated Mozzarella Cheese (I used marbled)
3/4 cup (3oz) Ricotta Cheese
1 cup Pasta Sauce
Fresh Basil for Garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375F. DO NOT spray muffin trays!

2. Brown beef, and season with salt and pepper. (I added seasonings to my beef.) Drain.

3. Reserve 3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese and 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese for the top of your lasagnas. Start layering your lasagna. Begin with a wonton wrapper and press it into the bottom of each muffin tin. Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese in each. top with a little meat and pasta sauce.

4. Repeat layers again (i.e. wonton, Parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, and pasta sauce). Top with reserved Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. To remove, use a knife to loosen the edges then pop each lasagna out.

6. Garnish with basil and serve.

These are so yummy and so easy to adapt to individual tastes! This recipe makes 12... Kristy and I made 48. Half of the meat we seasoned with Thyme, Basil and Oregano. The other half we used Chili Powder, Cumin and Red Pepper flakes. They taste amazing the next day as well! Very good recipe to have! 

Lots of Love,