Friday, November 05, 2010

Easy chickpea curry...

I had no ideas of what to cook for dinner, so I pulled out some cookbooks, and the next thing I know, I'm making my first chickpea curry. It tastes a lot like the one at the Indian buffet we frequent and it's easy! Our house does smell of onions, but I did make curry for dinner so my family will be pleased.


2 onions
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 can chickpeas
2 cups diced tomatoes with juice
1 tsp garam masala

  1. Slice onions, finely. crush the garlic. Heat oil in medium sauce pan. Add onion and garlic too pan, cook over medium heat, stirring, until soft.
  2. Add the chili powder, salt, tumeric, paprika, cumin and coriander. Stir over heat for one minute.
  3. Add chickpeas and undrained tomatoes, stir until combined.
  4. Simmer uncovered, over low heat, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in garam marsala. Simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with rice or naan bread.

Inspiration: The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spiced Gingerbread Cookies

This recipes calls for whole wheat flour. I have never bought whole wheat flour, so I substituted all-purpose flour. My friend Jen laughed at me because usually the trend these days is to substitute something healthier. They are pretty good with all-purpose flour, but feel free to use whole wheat.

I made this recipe simply to entertain my daughter. She has been begging to make Gingerbread cookies. I thought we'd have to wait until Christmas, but then I saw this recipe in my parenting magazine.

As an activity for a child who rarely naps anymore, making these cookies was awesome. We made it last all afternoon. From making the dough, to cutting cookies, to coluring the icing, to decorating. Hours of fun.

I used this royal icing recipe because the one that came with the recipe called for egg-white powder and I didn't have any. I had a lot more success with the icing this time, it was less runny. The icing sets hard enough that you can stack the cookies. Using bottles for the icing is awesome. My three-year-old can handle icing bottles very well.


3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 tbsp milk
3 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

  1. In electric mixer, beat butter and borwn sugar until well combined.
  2. Beat in egg, milk, and molasses. Don't be alarmed if the batter separates.
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ones in three stages. This will form a firm dough.
  4. Divide dough into two portions. flatten each into a disc, wrap in plastic, and chill in fridge for an hour or up to three days.
  5. Roll out chilled dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. place cookies 1-inch apart and bake for 15 minutes at 350 F. Transfer to a rack to cool before decorating.

Inspiration: Canadian Family Magazine

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

I've been on the hunt for my own oatmeal blueberry muffin recipe ever since my daughter and I devoured some at a play date. I asked the mom for the recipe but her second baby was due to arrive at any minute, so she never got back to me.

I really like this recipe that I found. It comes from Company's Coming Cook for Kids which I borrowed from the library. I think they are just like the play date muffins we adored.

Before this recipe, my oatmeal muffins always came from a mix. And what's in those mixes anyway? Why do oatmeal muffins need soy products in them? It's so much better to make muffins from scratch.

The original recipe calls for dried blueberries but I have no idea where to buy dried blueberries. I substitute fresh or frozen.

Don't make the same mistake I did the first time I made this recipe and blend the berries with the batter in the electric mixer. The berries disappeared and the batter turned bluish purple. My daughter was skeptical at first but realized they tasted the same. It's better to fold them in by hand at the last minute.

The recipe also calls for buttermilk, another item I never buy. Instead, I do what my mother taught me--I add a cap full of white vinegar to regular milk to sour it.

1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners, or grease.
  3. Combine all ingredients in electric mixer, except blueberries. Mix until combined.
  4. Stir in blueberries by hand to avoid tinting the batter.
  5. Scoop into muffin tin, until 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until wooden stick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
* To make mini muffins pictured above, I filled each muffin cup with a liner and a tablespoon of batter. And baked them for 10 minutes. It made 44 mini muffins.

Inspiration: Company's Coming Cook for Kids, page 19.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Persimmon Salsa

This recipe makes some very compelling salsa. The taste is fresh, sweet, and spicy all at the same time. I first tried it at the grocery store and I was hooked. The grocery store chef was trying to promote persimmons, something I had never heard of before.

Persimmons are an orangey-yellow tree fruit that resemble a tomato. It tastes more like a nectarine but looks a tomato. I didn't buy persimmons that day but I took the recipe.
The only downside to this salsa is the cost. Persimmons at my grocery store sell for $1.69 each and this recipe calls for six. And maybe it's because I'm a novice but chopping the ingredients by hand took a long time. My husband and I kept joking "Still chopping...." But the salsa is worth it. I was worried we'd have to can some of it because it makes so much, but we devoured it within days.

This would make a great contribution to a potluck too.


6 Fuyu* persimmons
3 tomatoes
2 limes
1 red chili pepper ( or jalapeƱo pepper)
1 bunch of green onions
1 small stalk of celery
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
1 tbsp of salt

  1. Dice all ingredients and add into a bowl.
  2. serve with Tostitos scoops.
* Most grocery stores sell two kinds of persimmons: the Fuyu, the kind you can eat right away, and the Hachiya, the kind you can't. If you bite into an unripe Hachiya persimmon, it is if you just drank six cups of extra strength tea, says Tony Tantillo, The Fresh Grocer. Read more about it here.

Inspiration: Longo's Grocery Store.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Amy's Beef on a Bun

I started making this recipe a few years back. It's one that my husband requests again and again. It's so simple to prepare because it's done in the crock pot. The hardest part for me is making sure we have beer in the house. But luckily, I've successfully bummed a beer from a neighbour before to make this recipe.


4-5 lb beef roast
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans condensed beef broth
1 can beer (can be non-alcoholic)
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. oregano
12 buns


  1. Combine all the ingredients (except buns) in a bowl.
  2. Place beef in slow cooker, pour wet mixture on top.
  3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  4. Take beef out, shred with fork.
  5. Serve on buns with bowls of "au jus" for dipping!

Inspiration: My Nest & CT friend Amy

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Julia Child's Best-Ever Brownies

These brownies are so good and so rich that I only needed to eat one* to feel satisfied. That's fantastic in my books. They have this chewy crust on the top and bottom, while the centre stays perfectly moist and gooey.

I think it's best to let the brownies cool completely before cutting into them. Otherwise they look underdone. Kind of like a chocolate molten lava cake. But who can wait? These were great hot from the oven and cold the next day. Very effective at curing any chocolate craving. Here's how they look before they have cooled:This recipe's ingredient list is simple too, which I always appreciate. The suggested preparation is not. It is Julia Child's recipe after all. Hand whisk until it doubles in volume--no way. I didn't follow the recipe's method at all and found they turned out just as many food bloggers online described. I also decreased the sugar by a half cup. I posted my easier method and recipe here instead.

(Maybe one day in the future, when I have more time and patience, I will try Julia's method and see how and if it makes a difference.)

* I originally thought: "I only needed to eat one to feel satisfied." Who am I kidding? These were so good, my family devoured them all by the end of the next day. Amazingly evil brownies. If you have them in the house, they will haunt you.


1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
8 ounces butter, (1 stick)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (4 squares Baker's chocolate)
2 ounces chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In electric mixer bowl, add flour, salt, 1/2 cup of sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until the batter doubles in volume.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn.
  4. Add 1 cup of sugar to the butter and chocolate mixture and stir for half a minute, then remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Little by little, pour chocolate mixture into the batter and fold in gently with a spatula so the chocolate doesn't cook the eggs. Keep folding until the batter is evenly brown.
  6. Poor the batter into a buttered 8x8 baking dish.
  7. Bake the brownies for 25-28 minutes. The top and sides will be set. The insides will appear slightly undercooked and gooey.
  8. Wait until they cool to cut them into perfect squares.

Inspiration: From This Week For Dinner food blog. You can see the original recipe and method here.

Roast Chicken with Emeril's Baby Bam Seasoning

I stumbled upon this recipe while I was making Dr. Oz's vegetable soup recipe. I thought the soup was bland so I searched for ways to kick-it-up-a-notch. That's when I discovered Emeril's series of recipes for kids, which includes this all-purpose seasoning recipe, which makes a fantastic rub for roast chicken.

I cooked my chicken up-side-down. It was a pure accident, but it kept the legs tucked in and the dark meat juices drizzle down to the white meat, so its a good idea really. I also stuffed an onion and garlic cloves in the cavity of the bird.


1/2 tsp celery salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 tbsp salt
3 tbsp paprika
1 whole chicken, or chicken pieces
1 onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves


  1. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Stuff an onion and garlic cloves into the cavity of the bird.
  3. Rub Baby Bam seasoning on the chicken liberally.
  4. Bake in the oven at 375 F until the chicken is done according to a meat thermometer. (About an hour and 15 minutes depending on the size of the chicken.)

Inspiration: Emeril's web site

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Orzo Pasta Salad

My family loves Orzo Pasta Salad. I usually cheat and buy it from the salad bar at the grocery store. But I have also made this version too, which we first had at my sister-in-law's. She said she got it from the Barefoot Contessa's show on the Food Network. I searched the Internet, but could only come up with this dish that had dill, Orzo, and came from the Food Network. I'm pretty sure this is what she cooked--only served cold and without shrimp. It's definitely what I cook now. We think this pasta is great, especially my three-year-old. I'm so fortunate that she relishes strong flavours.


3/4 pound orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
1/2 cup small-diced red onion
3/4 pound good feta cheese, large diced

  1. Prepare Orzo pasta according to package directions.
  2. Rinse pasta under cold water to cool and pour in a large bowl
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir.

Inspiration: Adapted from Barefoot Contessa's Roasted Shrimp and Orzo recipe.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Elmo's Red Vegetable Alphabet Soup

During a short-lived "I love Dr. Oz" phase, I made this soup from the Dr. Oz web site for my daughter. She loved the soup, even though it turned out more like a healthy version of Alphagetti.

Also, I thought it was a little bland for our liking so I added about a teaspoon of Emeril's Baby Bam seasoning.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
5 cups low-sodium tomato juice
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry alphabet pasta, cooked according to package instructions.
6 tbsp Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp of Emeril's Baby Bam

  1. In a medium soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onions, celery and carrots until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomato juice and pepper and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in cooked vegetable alphabet pasta and cook for another minute.
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a dollop of the yogurt.

Inspiration: The Dr. Oz Show web site

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Turkish Zucchini Fritters

I finally attempted this Turkish classic. Finally! My Turkish husband was so pleased. I've made them twice now. The first time, I used cheddar cheese instead of feta and I didn't have any mint. But they were great. Just like my mother-in-law makes. The second time I used feta and found they were saltier.

Although there are lots of steps, I would say this is a fairly simple Turkish recipe because most Turkish recipes are labour-intensive. And this makes a great side dish or appetizer. Turkish people call appetizers Meze. My daughter likes to walk around snacking on these. Except for the oil they are fried in, I think these are quite nutritious. An easy way to eat green.


3 large, firm zucchini, grated with their skins
1 onion, chopped or sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed with salt
3 tbsp olive oil
3 eggs
3 tbsp flour
8 oz feta cheese, or cheddar cheese, crumbled or grated
1 large bunch of dill, chopped
1 large bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 large bunch of mint, chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
salt and pepper


  1. Grate the zucchini and sprinkle with salt. Let weep for five minutes, to remove bitter juices, then squeeze out and drain the excess water. (Meanwhile chop the onion and mince the garlic.)
  2. Heat olive oil in frying pan and fry the onion, garlic, and zucchini until they begin to colour. (Meanwhile, chop the fresh herbs.)
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with flour to make a smooth batter.
  4. Stir in cheese, herbs, and spices. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Stir in the zucchini mixture.
  6. Heat oil in frying pan.
  7. Drop spoonful or two of the zucchini mixture into the oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. I used a 1/4 cup scoop, and had to flatten the batter out into ovals with the back of the scoop.
  8. Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot or cold.

Inspiration: Classic Turkish Cooking, pg 102, by Ghillie Basan

Monday, April 05, 2010

Homemade Teriyaki BBQ Sauce

I made Hawaiian BBQ for my in-laws on Easter Monday at my husband's request. I've been trying to recreate a Hawaiian BBQ dinner he had on a business trip to California. Apparently, I came close. I botched the presentation. I should have layered the ingredients on the platter in this order: iceberg lettuce, white rice, pineapple, and the saucy meat.

As for the meat, the taste was bang on. I marinated the beef flank steak and chicken thighs according to these recipes I posted previously. While BBQing, I basted the meat with this homemade Teriyaki sauce I found on the web. Everyone agreed that this sauce was fantastic. A definite keeper and so easy to prepare.


1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce


  1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, or blender.
  2. Add liquids and mix very well.
  3. Transfer to a tightly sealed jar and refrigerate for at least four hours, overnight is best.
  4. Stir well before using.

Inspiration: Robert's Recipes

Monday, March 29, 2010

Royal Icing for Flooding Sugar Cookies

This is the second time I've tried this recipe. The lemon mixed with sugar tastes great. This recipe is a little runny to apply, but dries firm. Flooding the cookies takes practice. It's a fine art to know how much icing to use so it doesn't drip down the sides. We always have drips because I let my preschooler decorate them. This time we experimented with using more than one colour on each cookie. I love how this icing dries firm so you can stack the cookies on top of each other, but is still soft enough to eat easily.


1 lb confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup water
food colouring

  1. Whisk together sugar, lemon juice and water in a bowl.
  2. Divide icing into several bowls and add one drop of food colouring at a time until desired colour is reached.
  3. For decorating cookies, draw an outline first and fill in the area. Too much icing will drip off the sides.
  4. Set the cookies aside to dry. They will be firm to the touch, and stackable.

Inspiration: Kuhn Rikon Cookie and Cupcake Decorating Set

Friday, March 05, 2010

Three Bean Salad

Beans, beans, beans! I love beans. Especially beans tossed together in a slightly sweet, slightly acidic, slightly spicy marinated sauce. This is my official go to recipe for bean salad. It goes well with everything and is completely nutritious.

And you can make lots of substitutions successfully. I've used different beans, oils, onions, and vinegars based on what I had in the house. Apple cider vinegar is a really nice substitute, for example. The only thing you can't do well is use French-cut green beans. I've bought the wrong kind of green beans a few times.

This salad can been eaten right away, because we have, but it always tastes better when it has a chance to sit and the flavours meld. Marinating at least overnight is best.


1 can kidney beans
1 can chick peas
1 can green beans
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 balsamic vinegar
1 small red onion
1/4 red pepper, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1-2 tbsp sugar
1-2 shakes red pepper flakes

  1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl with a lid.
  2. Stir with a big spoon.
  3. Refrigerate for the day, or overnight for best results.

Inspiration: An internet search, but I don't remember where

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries

I love these fries. My husband loves these fries. My daughter does not. They are too spicy for her. Not only do these fries taste good, they are simple to prepare. The longest part is peeling and cutting the sweet potatoes into shoestring, uniform pieces. One of those fancy potato cutters would take care of that problem in no time. The recipe is adapted from from Janet and Greta Podleski's Crazy Plates book, so they are healthy too.


4 medium sweet potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line baking pan with tin foil. Brush with olive oil or non-stick spray.
  2. Slice potatoes into shoestring French fry shapes. Toss with olive oil in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients together. Add the spice mixture to the potatoes and stir until the potatoes are evenly covered.
  4. Arrange the fries in a single layer on pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Flip the fries halfway through cooking.

Inspiration: My Yammy Spice recipe, pg 143 in Crazy Plates

Friday, January 15, 2010

Curry Maple Glaze Chicken

The free magazine from the Longo's grocery store had a recipe for making Cornish Hens two-ways. I tried both recipes on chicken chicken leg quarters. This one was a hit. I've made it again and again. But never with Cornish Hens.


1-2 pounds chicken (leg quarters, chicken thighs, chicken breasts, whole)
1/3 maple syrup
1 tbsp mild curry paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together syrup, curry paste, oregano, and thyme.
  3. Baste onto chicken three times or so during cooking.

Inspiration: Longo's Magazine Recipe

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Apple Finnish Pancake

I am partial to any recipe that calls itself a Finnish Pancake. I once lived in Thunder Bay, Ont. and often dined at The Hoito, a place famous for its Finnish pancakes. This recipe isn't anything like those pancakes, but it is easy and a nice alternative to serve for breakfast. I do have a good recipe for the type of pancakes served at The Hoito, but I will save it for another time.


2 cups apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup of flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Place apples and butter in baking dish and toss to coat. Bake in the oven for five minutes, or untiil the apples soften slightly.
  3. Meanwhile whisk together eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, and salt until smooth. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.
  5. Pour egg mixture over cooked apples. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until pancake is puffed and browned.

Inspiration: Cook Great Food by the Dieticians of Canada