Saturday, November 15, 2014

Spicy Black Bean Soup

Dear Jess,

Poor Jason informed me that he is hungry. Almost always. This is not surprising, as the weather has officially become cold, and he works outside. The amount of calories he burns everyday has jumped substantially!

I was lucky enough to win a door prize at my friend and Naturopath's open house for the new location of her clinic Healthy Foundations. To my delight, it was the door prize I most coveted: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. As it says on the cover, it is "A complete nutritional and cooking guide for every stage of life, including over 200 gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free recipes." It is packed full of helpful information for people intolerant of many foods, and also what you should be looking for when buying organic. I have found it extremely helpful.

On page 155, there is a recipe for Spicy Black Bean Soup. This is one of many recipes I hope to make in the upcoming winter months. I served it over brown rice, with a salad topped with boiled egg, and homemade poppyseed dressing. (I will include this recipe too!)


Spicy Black Bean Soup
from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, Page 155

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 medium red bell pepper, diced (I subbed celery, because I can't have peppers yet)
1 large carrot, diced
1 small jalapeno chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 tsp chipotle pepper (I omitted this, as I didn't have any)
1 tsp paprika
pinch cayenne
2-3 cups water (I used chicken broth)
6 cups cooked black beans, or 3 cans
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, or one 14 oz can
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (I can't eat corn yet either, so I left it out)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 tsp sea salt or Herbamare, or to taste
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat; add chopped onion and sea salt. Saute until slightly golden, then add red pepper, carrot, jalapeno pepper; saute-stir a few minutes more. Add spices and stir to coat.

2. Add water, black beans, tomatoes, and corn, add more water/broth if necessary. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer until vegetables are fork tender, about 20-25 minutes.

3. Remove pot from heat and add cilantro. Add Herbamare or sea salt to taste. Add apple cider vinegar. Taste and adjust salt and seasonings if necessary. (I also too my immersion blender to it a bit, to thicken and smooth it out a bit)

Poppy Seed Dressing
adapted from a recipe from a friend

1/3 cup honey (or maple syrup)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp grated onion
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Blend honey, vinegar, salt, mustard and onion together. With the blender on, slowly add olive oil to ensure it infuses effectively. Stir in poppy seeds, and refrigerate!

Like a said earlier, I served the soup over brown rice with a salad. It was a hit with Jason, and he said it filled him up! Woot woot! Win for the wife!

I love you and miss you dreadfully. I hope we can see each other soon.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Dear Jess,

I feel like I have been stumbling across many delicious recipes lately. Choosing one to share (on top of finding time to do so...) is becoming challenging.

I love finding truly delicious Slow Cooker meals. It's always such a surprise. I generally find, when doing a meal in the Slow Cooker, that I sacrifice (to varying degrees) flavour... or maybe the distinction in flavours within the meal... does this make sense to anyone else? All this is to say, it is a rare occasion when I find a Slow Cooker recipe that reaches the standards of a meal made more conventionally.

This. One. 

I have made it twice this week. Once because I was desperate (with a sick, teething baby), and twice because we found it such a delight, I made it for friends when they came over for dinner.

It looks spicy, but isn't at all. It is actually a little sweet, due to the coconut milk.

Chicken Tikka Masala

1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1-2 Tbsp garam masala
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp kosher salt
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
1 can full fat coconut milk

Cut chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and transfer them to your slow cooker. Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, 1 Tbsp garam masala, paprika, and kosher salt until the chicken is evenly covered with spices.*

*If you have time: marinate the chicken in 1/2 cup yogurt of up to 6 hours. Shake to remove excess yogurt before transferring to the slow cooker... I didn't do this

*If you have time: Saute the onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet until softened, then stir in the ginger, tomato paste, and spices until fragrant. Transfer to the slow cooker with the chicken and diced tomatoes. This will give oyur tikka masala more depth of flavour.... I DID THIS

Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on hight, or 8 hours on low. Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the coconut milk. If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave the slow cooker uncovered for the last 15 minutes. (I have done it both ways, and didn't see a big difference in thickness.) Taste and add more garam masala or salt to taste.

Serve over rice!

I may even make a batch of this for the freezer! Mmmmm.
I hope you're doing well, and the cooling of the air is a comfort to you. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Butternut Squash and Lentil Curry

Dear Jess,

I am having a feverish love-affair with butternut squash. I can't stop thinking about what I can make next with it! Roasted, sauteed, soups, chilies... and in this case: curry!

This is a recipe I have made at least once a week for the past month and a half! I am even going to go so far as make a batch just to freeze so I can have it constantly on hand!

Butternut Squash and Lentil Curry
adapted from

1 cup dry, brown lentils
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1-2 Tbsp ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup broth (your choice. I used chicken broth)
1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
dash of cinnamon
dash of pepper
1/3 cup full fat coconut milk (plus extra, depending on the desired consistency)

Preheat oven to 400F. Place squash cubed on a lined baking sheet, and drizzle with a little oil and salt. Roast for around 20 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

Cook lentils in a pot of boiling water for about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet saute onion in oil. Add ginger, and saute until onions are tender. (5-10 minutes) Add cooked squash and broth. Simmer 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat and blend with an immersion blender. (A regular blender will do the trick too.) Add curry powder, tomato paste, tumeric, cinnamon, salt and coconut milk. Stir in lentils and heat through.

I usually add more coconut milk to loosen it up a bit. I will end up using about 3/4 of the can. It's totally up to you and your preferences though.

Serve on rice, quinoa, vermicelli noodles... whatever your pleasure!

I know it looks like a plop of a substance you don't usually speak of at dinner... but this dish is so delicious, and smells irresistible! I hope your Autumn is breezy, and full of colour. I miss you greatly, and am looking forward to our next visit.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Chicken and Mango Curry

Dear Jess,

The sun is shining, and the air is cooling. What a wonderful time of year. I have decided it's my favourite. Don't get me wrong, I love love love sticky, hot, humid weather. Maybe it's a result of being born in August. This weather, however, seems strikingly Canadian to me. I feel as if it's in me. In my blood. You know it will get much colder, and you're hanging onto the last long days of sunlight. Sometimes still wearing a t-shirt, even if it's only 10 degrees because the heat of summer is still living inside us. Mmmmm. To top it all off, the kitchen smells of warm, bubbling comfort.

This recipe actually came from a friend of mine. We went to their house for dinner a while back, and she found this recipe for me and my eating restrictions. She was kind enough to pass the recipe on, and I have since made it twice (to raving reviews from the husband!) I left the printed copy at the cottage, but can remember what it said. Unfortunately I can't remember where in the large world of the Internet it came from. So here goes my version of it!

Chicken and Mango Curry
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 Tbsp ginger, grated
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground cumin (or more, depending on your taste)
2 Tbsp curry powder (more or less, depending on your taste)
1 14.5oz can full fat coconut milk
2 mangoes (or 4 cups frozen mango)
The meat of one whole (cooked) chicken
fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

1. Heat oil in saute pan. Add and cook onion and celery for 5 minutes. Add ginger and garlic. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add cumin and curry powder. This will soak up lots of the oil. Add more oil if needed.

2. Add coconut milk and half the mango (one mango if using fresh, 2 cups if using frozen) and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

3. Transfer into a blender. Blend until smooth. Return to saute pan. Add chicken (chopped) and the remainder of your mango. Bring to boil, and simmer (stirring) for another 10-15 minutes.

I serve this on brown rice with fresh, chopped cilantro.

I hope all is going well with the start of a new school year! I am thinking of you often!


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tangy Cucumber Salad

Dear Jess,

I whole heartedly expected this recipe to be disappointing. I made it out of desperation. I had 3 cucumbers sitting in my fridge from the Circle Organic food box that I knew I would never eat in time. I desperately looked up recipes for Cucumber Salad, and pieced together what I thought might work. This is the delicious result.

Tangy Cucumber Salad
adapted from

2 cucumbers (some people say to use seedless... I didn't, and it turned out fine)
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 to 3 tsp honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp yellow mustard (dijon will work well too)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced (optional... but highly recommended)

1. Thinly slice cucumber into rounds. You can do this by hand, or with a mandolin.

2. Place cucumbers and salt in a large colander in the sink. Let sit for 30 minutes. You will lose lots of liquid this way, which is why it is convenient to leave it in the sink.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, cider vinegar and mustard.

4. Place Cucumbers on a tea towel, and thoroughly dry them off. Place them into a large bowl with onions. Pour the dressing over and stir well.

5. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

I found it the best the next day, and the longer you let it sit afterwards. I ate it atop salad greens, with other salads (such as egg salad, and salmon). Jason enjoyed it on a sandwich. I will likely make it again the next time we have burgers! It has a refreshing taste, yet with a little zip from the onions and vinegar. It has won my affection, and a place in my recipe binder.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Chicken Stir-fry with Yams

Dear Jess,

The summer (as always) is flying by. I can't believe we're into August already!

As you have likely noticed, I'm having a chicken and ginger love affair. This recipe has become a quick comfort food for me! If you don't like hoisin, just use soy sauce instead. The yams (or sweet potato in my case) make this dish addictive!

Chicken Stir-fry with Yams
adapted from

2 Tbsp Sesame oil, divided (olive oil will work too, though now with the same flavour)
2 yams (I used a large sweet potato), peeled, cut crosswise into 1/3 inch thick rounds then cut into 1/3 inch wide strips
1 medium size red onion, cut lengthwise into 1/3 inch thick slices
2-3 Tbsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
Meat from one cooked chicken
4 cups 1/3 inch thick strips sliced cabbage (about 1/4-1/2 head)
1 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce (low sodium)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 Tbsp Sesame oil in a large skillet. Add yams and onion. Cook, covered, for 12 minutes (or until tender), stirring occasionally. I had a little measuring cup of water close at hand, so if it started to burn, I would add a bit.

Add Ginger and Garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken and cabbage. Cook for about 5 minutes (or until cabbage is at desired texture. I like my cabbage just a tad bit still crunchy.)

Add Hoisin sauce (add more if desired), soy sauce and salt and pepper. Stir until heated through and remove from heat.

I served this atop a bid of vermicelli noodles. It would go great with rice, or any other stir-fry-friendly noodle.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Chicken with Ginger

Dear Jess,

What a week! Alice got her first cold, and Jason caught it from her. I'm the only one that seems to have escaped unscathed... so far. I have finally caught up in cleaning and laundry.

The weather here has been amazing. It has kept us cheery throughout the sicknesses. My garden is flourishing (both vegetable and flower!) and we are all looking forward to the weekend.

This recipe... all I can say is make it! Unless you don't like ginger... then you will hate it. This is going in my regular recipe book, where I plan to revisit it many times over.

Chicken with Ginger
adapted from

1 large piece of ginger (about 4 inches long), peeled and grated (or finely chopped)
4 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large zucchini, chopped
6 large kale leaves, chopped (take stems off if desired)
1/2 cup soy sauce (low sodium, if you can)
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 tbsp pure maple syrup (or honey)
1 cooked chicken, stripped and chopped (or about 2 pounds cooked chicken breast)
1 cup scallions, finely chopped

1. In a large skillet on medium heat, sautee ginger, olive oil, onions and garlic for about 10 minutes, or until super tender. Add zucchini and kale and cook for another 5 minutes, or until they have reached desired texture.

2. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, vinegar and maple syrup. Pour over vegetables in skillet. Cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken and scallions. Cook for 2-5 minutes, stirring often.

3. Serve with rice, noodles or more veggies! (I served mine with brown rice cooked with chicken broth)

I think I might throw in a few cashews next time! mmmmmmm

I hope you're still enjoying your summer!

Overflowing Love,

Friday, July 18, 2014

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast with Turnip Mash

Dear Jess,

I won't bore you with the list of foods that I cannot eat. Basically it's any food that causes inflammation in your body. If anyone is interested in this, please email me. I would be glad to share the list with you!

This recipe was a hit with Jason. Personally I think he was glad to get something other than a soup or stew! That being said, I though it was delicious as well!

My mom and I share an organic produce box every week from Circle Organic. I would recommend this to anyone who wants organic, seasonal produce at a reasonable price. You also would need to have a sense of adventure in the kitchen, as you are given things you have never heard of and/or used before. This is our second season participating, and I am enjoying it just as much this year.

I made this recipe up because of all the produce in my fridge. I will try to communicate it clearly here.

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast
2 chicken breasts, butterflied
1/4 cup olive oil mayo
1 tsp ketchup (optional)
1 tsp curry powder
Sriracha to taste
1 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375. Mix mayo, ketchup, curry powder, and Sriracha in a small bowl.

2. Open chicken breasts so they're butterflied. Spread mixture on chicken. Add spinach, and fold in half. (You can tie them with string if you want)

3. Place in oiled dish. Top with lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until no longer pink inside.

Turnip Mash
8 turnips (the little ones, slightly bigger than radishes), peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
3 garlic scapes, chopped (you could used 1 clove of garlic minced instead, and/or 2 scallions, chopped)
1 tbsp olive oil
splash of almond milk

1. Steam turnips and carrots until very soft. Place in a bowl, and mash with garlic scapes, olive oil, and almond milk. (I didn't peal my turnips or carrots... I will next time. Also, saute the scapes for less crunch. I will do that next time as well.)

It was lovely seeing you and the hubby! I hope we will be able to get together at least once more this summer!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Grilled Lemon Garlic Chicken

 Dear Sally,

      I had to laugh a little when I read your last post. Usually I get upset with myself because it seems that whenever I starting making things for the blog they never actually end up in a letter to you. Your post reminded me that life gets busy and that's ok.

      Summer is one of my favorite times because I have no excuses. With Jesse gone I have peace and quiet in the house and unlimited time. I'll see what I can get into in the coming weeks.

     As you know, Jesse and I recently returned from Ohio for our anniversary trip. Whenever I return from long trips away or time on the road I always feel like I need a cleanse. After eating out for six days straight, Jesse and I hardly wanted something extravagant for dinner. I pulled some herbs from the garden, grabbed chicken at Costco, and potatoes from the cupboard. Dinner wasn't fancy but it was delicious.

     I'm intrigued to know what the word diet entails for you. If you need some good gluten free recipes I can share some sites with you. I always love the challenge of making food that tastes great but is also healthy. 

Grilled Lemon Garlic Chicken

2 Chicken breasts , chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lemons
A handful of fresh basil and chives
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

3 potatoes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper


Cut the chicken into small cubes and placed in a bowl. Mince 2 cloves of garlic and add it to the chicken. Squeeze both lemons into the bowl and add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. Add some salt and pepper and mix well. I let the chicken sit in the fridge for most of the day and cooked it low and slow on the barbeque.

For the potatoes I simply sliced them along the length and put thinly sliced pieces of onion in. I put butter on top and wrapped them individually in foil. They were put on the barbeque first at a high temperature for about 30 minutes.

      I hope you guys have an amazing summer and you have a chance to put that garden of yours to good use. Looking forward to your visit!



Monday, July 7, 2014

Mung Beans and Rice with Indian Spices and Caramelized Onions (in the Slow Cooker!)

Dear Jess,

It. Has. Been. So. Long.

A few reasons:

1) I have a baby, who as soon as I think I have her figured out... she goes and changes everything! I'm pretty sure this will be my story for the rest of my life! (In a good way!)

2) For reasons I will label  (to avoid grossing out our entire following... and you) as 'digestions issues' I am on a diet that has cut out many foods that are staples in many households. Because of this diet, and the aforementioned child, it has taken me a while to adjust and get creative again in the kitchen.

All that being said... life is oh so sweet!

This recipe is one I made simply because I had all the ingredients. It baffled me when it turned out delicious! I will make this again, and again! I found it on a great blog that I stumbled upon on Pinterest. Let me tell you... the onions make this recipe! Whatever you do, don't leave them out!

Mung Beans and Rice with Indian Spices and Caramelized Onions
Adapted from

1 1/2 cups dry short grain brown rice
1 cup dry mung beans
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp grated fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp dried
6 cups water (I will do chicken broth next time)
1 can organic coconut milk
1 to 1/2 tsp Herbamare or sea salt

*I added carrots and peas as some 'extras'... see instructions for more details.

1 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into crescent moons
1/4 tsp Herbamare or sea salt
1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

Place the brown rice, mung beans, ground cumin, turmeric, ginger, and water into your crockpot. Cover and cook on hight for 3 hours, or on low for 6 1/2 hours. After the beans adn rice are cooked, stir in coconut milk and salt. Be sure to stir in any additional ingredients about 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Turn off heat.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, then add onions and salt. Saute for approximately 10 minutes. I like tot gradually turn the head down as they cook so they don't turn. By the end of cooking I am using low heat. After about 10 minutes, add cumin and mustard seeds. Continue to cook for 3-5 more minutes, or until onions are caramelized and spices are fragrant.

I served this with fresh sprouts, and avocado. Actually, I think in the picture above, it is spinach... any greens will be yummy! You can add whatever you like! It's comforting and tasty! Next time I will add more spices... definitely more ginger!

I can't wait to see you on Saturday!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Honey Balsamic Meatballs

Dear Jess,

I hope you had a chance to make the Quinoa 'Fried Rice' over your March Break! I am so happy you were able to come by for a visit during your travels through Peterborough! I miss our chats and giggles. It was nice to be 're-charged' with them last week.

Today was grocery day. This is a good thing because my fridge was empty. It looked like the Grinch came and didn't leave us a crumb! As sad as my fridge sounds, I was actually happy, because the possibilities for meals this week became endless! I could potentially get ingredients for whatever I wanted! Woot woot!

Jason says he has been feeling 'foggy' lately, and has asked if I wouldn't mind making him lunches with no wheat and very little sugar in support of him trying to do a 'cleanse'. This was exciting for me, because it means I get to do more cooking!

Both of these stories, when combined, are what lead me to make these meatballs. I was trying to think of filling, yet wheat-free recipes that would be appropriate (and easy to eat) for Jason's lunch(es).

This recipe does have a little bit of brown sugar in the sauce, and there is sugar in ketchup. I did less sugar and ketchup than it calls for, and added more honey and some agave nectar. It's fun to play around with these things!

Honey Balsamic Meatballs

For the meatballs:
1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
2/3 cup water
1 lb lean ground beef
1 egg, whisked
1 large shallot OR 1/2 small onion, grated or minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp dried rosemary
salt and pepper

For the Honey-Balsamic BBQ Sauce:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup browns ugar
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

Combine ingredients for Honey-Balsamic BBQ Sauce in a saucepan. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring every so often, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until suace is thick and has lost its vinegary bite, stirring every so often.

Meanwhile, combine quinoa and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil (lid on) and turn heat down to medium-low, and then cook for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork then cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place a cooking rack on top and sqray very well with nonstick spray. Set aside. (I didn't have a cooking rack that would fit on my baking sheet, so I just lined a large casserole dish with foil, and sprayed it well with olive oil.)

In a large bowl combine cooled quinoa, egg, shallot, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, dried thyme and rosemary. Stir to combine. Add beef and mix to combine using hands. Separate mixture into eighths, then form three meatballs from each segment. This will give you 24 meatballs. (I got a few extra because I wanted to make them a tad smaller) Place on prepared cooling rack. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center. Add meatballs to the sauce and serve! You could also transfer them into a crock pot set to 'warm' if you are doing a potluck/hockey game/party type of night.

I hope your return to school is seamless and a breeze! I, of course, miss you terribly and can't wait until our next visit!

So much love,

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake

My Dearest Sally,

Your last post looks and sounds delicious! I'll have to try that one before the break is over.The house has been cleaned and is now slightly more organized. This post is something that I made just before March Break started. Jesse and I had dinner at his brother's house where we had a delicious sweet potato soup, salad and wine. Our responsibility whenever we visit is dessert.

Apart from icing the cake without the proper tools I found this recipe very enjoyable to make. It was loved by everyone at the table except their youngest son who does not share our fondness for blueberries. It is loaded with gluten and dairy so I was not able to take part myself but I was just happy to see that everyone else liked it.

The recipe comes from a site called Sally's Baking Addiction. She has a wealth of fantastic recipes on her website and her visual recipe index make deciding on a recipe effortless.

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake



- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature*
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour, careful not to overmeasure
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk*
- zest + juice of 3 medium lemons*
- 1 and 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh (258g) or non-thawed frozen (275g)

- 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour


- 8 ounces (224g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3.5 cups (420g) confectioners' sugar
- 1 - 2 Tablespoons (15-30ml) heavy cream*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch salt


Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray three 9x2 inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Set aside.
Make the cake. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until creamy - about 1 minute. Add granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until everything is combined, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Set aside.

In a large sized bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat on low speed for 10 seconds, then add the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat on low until just combined. Toss the blueberries in 1 Tablespoon of flour and fold into the batter. Batter is extremely thick. Do not overmix at any point. 

Spoon batter evenly into 3 prepared cake pans. Bake for about 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Mine took 21 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until no lumps remain, about 3 full minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, 1 Tablespoon cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add 1 more Tablespoon of cream to thin out, if desired.

Assemble and frost. First, using a large serrated knife, trim the tops off the cake layers to create a flat surface. Place 1 layer on your cake stand. Evenly cover the top with cream cheese frosting. Top with 2nd layer, more frosting, then the third layer. Top with frosting and spread around the sides. The recipe doesn't make a ton of frosting, just enough for a light frost. Top with blueberries or lemon garnish if desired. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting or else the cake may fall apart as you cut.

I don't have any pictures of the finished product but the website I got the recipe from does a very good job of making your mouth water. I think I may try a different combination of berries and citrus in the spring.

I can't wait to see you girls on Thursday! Until then enjoy the sunny and seasonal weather while it lasts.

Love you!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Quinoa 'Fried Rice'

Dear Jess,

I am finding my new routine. Alice has a few naps a day, and I am able to identify when she needs one. Due to her sleeping at night time, this gives me time to get things done around the house (as I normally don't need to nap myself anymore) and cook more often!

Today's recipe came from the Internet. I haven't done anything with ginger in a while, and you know how I love quinoa! It turned out just how I wanted it. The only thing I will change next time, is I will use another egg.


Quinoa 'Fried Rice'

2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
8oz mushrooms, sliced
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 carrots, peeled and grated
3 cups cooked quinoa (I cooked mine with chicken broth)
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 green onions, sliced
Sriracha, for serving (optional)

1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add eggs and fry until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side, flipping only once. Let cool before dicing into small pieces.

2. Heat remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet or wok* over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring often, until onions become translucent, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Add mushrooms, broccoli and zucchini. Cook, stirring constantly**, until vegetables are tender, about 3-4 minutes.

4. Add corn, peas, carrots and quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until heated through, about 1-2 minutes.

5. Add ginger and soy sauce, and gently toss to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, until heated through, about 2 minutes.

6. Stir in green onions and eggs.

7. Serve hot with a drizzle of Sriracha, if desired.

* I just used my large pot, and put it on medium heat.
** If you're using a large pot like I did, it is not as crucial to stir constantly throughout the recipe.

I was quite pleased with the flavour. Like I said earlier, I will add another egg next time (3 eggs total).

I hope all is well!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Split Pea Soup

Dearest of all Jessicas,

I miss you terribly. My heart aches when I think of you and Caitlin, and how none of us have seen each other in so long. I think we should all plan a "girls' weekend" over the March break! And since it's the March break, the "weekend" can be in the week! Thoughts?

Anyways. I am writing today to share a recipe (for the first time in quite a long time!) for Split Pea Soup. The story behind this one is as follows. Pork shoulders were on sale a while back for around ten dollars each (bone-in). I had just stocked my freezer with chickens, a turkey and a ham shoulder. I decided to pass this sale by. The next week however, they were approximately six dollars each! Huge 4lb+ Pork shoulder roasts! So I grabbed two. On Tuesday I roasted one in my oven (recipe to come when I roast the second one, as I forgot to take pictures of the final product...). My parents dropped by to see Alice. My mom reminded me that if/when I make stock out of the pork bone, I can make Split Pea Soup! How I managed to forget that's what you make with pork stock, I have no idea... but my Mom saved the day! Thus, yesterday, I ran to the bulk barn for split peas, and last night for dinner, we had Split Pea Soup. What a lovely soup on a blowing, snowing day! (Our snow banks on either side of our driveway are taller than our vehicles... looking out the window with a bowl of this bad boy is absolute comfort.)

Split Pea Soup
heavily adapted from

1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 cups pork broth (made from your pork bone)
2 cups carrots, diced
1 cup sweet potato, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 cups dried split peas (yellow and/or green)

1. Add onion, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and olive oil to a large pot. Simmer until onions are translucent. Add broth, carrots, potato, celery, and HALF the split peas. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered, for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add remainder of split peas and simmer for another 40 minutes, or until your peas are at desired tenderness. Stir often, so nothing burns to the bottom of your pot. (The soup thickens quickly)

3. Serve!

I hope your winter is going well, and your students are little angels!

So much love,

Monday, January 27, 2014

Lasagna with Homemade Noodles

My Dearest Sally,

Either my eyes deceive me or it has been months since my last post. Where does the time go? I couldn't believe the last post date when I saw it at the top of the page.

I hope that you are doing well. I image that Alice is growing like a weed. It seems that everywhere I go now people are talking about babies or having babies. The more I am around them the more I desperately want to start a family of my own. But not yet.

I am writing this letter to you from the comfort of my kitchen table at 4:00 on a Monday. When I arrived at school this morning one of the other women I work with told me that they had cancelled the busses last minute and that the school was closed. Imagine my excitement when I realized I could catch up on work and then spend an afternoon at home! I have made three dishes so far today, one which will hopefully be up as a post soon.

The recipe that I will share with you today is one that came almost completely from memory. Jesse sometimes mentions a meal that he loves on the off chance that I will  make it for him. He was lucky when we had a lot of ground beef that we needed to use up and I was out of other ideas. I remembered that my parents had lent us their pasta maker before we were married and it has been sitting in our cupboard ever since. I rolled up my sleeves and set to work making homemade pasta for a meaty lasagna. The process of making the noodles was a little complicated with one person but was still a lot of fun. It can be surprisingly easy with the right tools, enough time, and a good television show to keep you going.

Homemade Pasta Dough
Canadian Living


2 cups four
3 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Mix the flour and salt together and form into a mound with the flower in the bottom of a wide-bottomed dish. (I used a deep pie pan to keep the flour from going everywhere.)

2. Beat your eggs together and pour into the middle of the flour mound. Use a fork to combine the eggs and the flour until it forms a dough. Knead dough for 2-4 minutes by hand or with a dough hook. (I found that the dough hook was not as effective as I would have liked.)

3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes.

4. When the dough is ready, divide it into small manageable sections and run through the pasta maker. I started on the largest setting and ran my section of dough through. After each time I made the opening smaller until the pasta sheets were the thickness I wanted.

5. Let the dough hang until you are ready to use it.

Meaty Lasagna: A Koning Family Recipe


1 1/2 cans tomato sauce (your choice)
500g lean ground beef
1 onion
1-2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 container cottage cheese
2 eggs
2-3 cups shredded cheese (marble or cheddar)
Homemade lasagna noodles

1. I started by cooking my onions and garlic. I chopped the onion into small pieces and sauteed for about 3 minutes. I added the garlic and cooked for another minute before I added the ground beef.

2. Cook the beef until it is no longer pink. Add the tomato sauce and keep warm on the stove. At this point you could add all sorts of vegetables and spices to the mixture. I used a flavourful tomato sauce and skipped the veggies as I didn't have anything else to add.

3. Mix the container of cottage cheese with Italian seasoning and the 2 eggs. Set aside in a separate bowl.

4. Begin layering the lasagna with the meat mixture. Add some of the cottage cheese mixture on top and then place a layer of noodles over that. Repeat this layering process until you only have a layer of meat sauce left on top. Sprinkle the top layer with cheese and cover with tinfoil.

5. Bake in a 350-375 oven for about 45 minutes. If the noodles are a bit chewy leave it in for longer. Once the lasagna is cooked through broil the top for about 2 minutes or until golden brown.

I realize the lasagne doesn't look epic in the pictures but I can tell you that Jesse was very pleased with it. He even shared some with his father who was also impressed with the flavour. It makes a lot if only one person is eating it so ours has lasted a while but it would also be perfect for company.

If you guys are ever in the area let us know. It would be great to see you again soon.

Lots of Love,