Archive for March, 2012

My friend Barb of Profiteroles and Ponytials made this recipe a few days ago, and I knew I had to have it. Barb and I have been friends a really long time, and I think she blogs to get my taste buds going, in fact, I’m sure that’s what it is. I was doing a vegetarian week last week and when I saw this soup, I thought, perfect. Plus JT made it, so it was super easy for me! We are not big potato eaters in our house so we substituted the potatoes for Chick Peas, and it made it a bit heartier too. Another winner, Mrs. Barbie, thank you!

Fassolada (Barb’s Greek Bean Soup)


  • 1-½  cups navy beans, dried
  • 6-½ cups water
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced (we had some in the fridge, otherwise I might have omitted this too)
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chick peas, canned
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-½ cups crushed low sodium tomato sauce (we love the Italian brands, they have an incredibly low sodium rate)
  • 1- ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano (preferably Greek)

Optional Garnish:

  • Greek Yogurt with smoked paprika sprinkled over it.


  1. Place the beans in a bowl, cover completely with water, and let them soak overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse beans. Place in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to boil over high heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Drain beans in a strainer and return to pot. Add water, carrots, celery, onion, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
  4. Remove bay leaf and add tomato sauce, salt and olive oil and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour (until beans are tender). Add the chick peas and heat through.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning, if required.
  6. Serve in bowls with a dollop of Greek Yogurt and smoked paprika.

A hearty and filling soup; a great alternative to meat, but bacon would have gone so well with it...

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The birds get up really early in these parts, even before the sun rises around 4:15am! Has no one told them about daylight savings???? The robins are the noisiest, but I don’t mind; it’s just so nice to have the windows open.

When I made the chick pea béchamel, I got to thinking about thickeners, and I thought if chick peas thickened the cheese sauce so well, would there be another bean that would work better? Navy beans came to mind, plus I could control the sodium (yes, I used canned chick peas! Shame on me!). I made the White Bean Paste and kept it in the fridge all week, using it in this and that (recipe for Quinoa Risotto turned out extremely well) but I had a bit left over and on Saturday I needed an appi for cocktails, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

While torturing myself on the elliptical at the club I watch TV (actually, I listen to my tunes and have the closed captioning on) and most days I can catch Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. While most of his recipes inspire me, I virtually never make them verbatim; on top of that I’m told that there is a secret club who swear one is unable to make any of the recipes in 30 minutes! The other day he was making a Mediterranean dinner with all sorts of things, but what struck me was his presentation of a store bought Baba ghanoush. I’d never seen it presented as such before and I loved it. It was casual and approachable. He simply spread it on a plate and drizzled EVOO on it. Well, I knew I just had to use this technique and soon!

Fast forward to Saturday, we had spent the day downtown doing errands, and were at Yonge/Dundas Square (our Times Square) at 3pm to watch a flash mob promoting What to do Toronto (a relatively new web site highlighting current events in Toronto. The video isn’t up yet, but there are a couple of photos in the link; I’ll post the video when it’s up). The flash mob wasn’t an actual mob…not enough people to count as one, but they did dance in a lively choreographed manner which was entertaining. Sadly, it took place across the street from the Square, which meant JT and I missed the first half, by the time we noticed it was all the way over the other side of the busy street. It was close to 5 when we got home; we were cranky, tired and thirsty (did I mention that cocktails are held at 4pm in our household, drop by anytime, we always have lots!) It was also No Car Saturday, so we ran around using our Metro (I wore my hot pink patent leather stiletto BCBGs, I told you I wear inappropriate footwear, why are you surprised?). I needed an appi for cocktails, pronto. Back to the navy bean paste sitting in the fridge…hmmmm, so I put my Jamie inspiration together with a quick recipe and we were enjoying our cocktails with a lovely appetizer in no time. Cheers!

Not sure why the photo is so hot.

White Bean Hummus

Serves 2-4


  • 1/2 cup navy bean paste
  • 1 tsp tahini (or peanut butter)
  • 2-4 tbsp lemon juice (or to taste)
  • 1 small clove garlic finely minced (I use my handy microplane)
  • 2-4 tbsp Chipotle Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Put everything into a small bowl except the olive oil and mix. Since the bean paste is already processed into a smooth paste, you need not mess up your processor for this recipe, just mix well.
  2. Spread on a pretty plate and drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with the chopped fresh cilantro. Serve with crackers such as these: Gluten Free Almond Sesame Crackers or my Whole Wheat Flat Breads

Flashback to those hideous readers' digest recipe photos, mine is just missing the inappropriately placed gaudy shower curtain.

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I would have never thought that eating vegetarian would leave me so satisfied. And I don’t have the afternoon snackie feeling either. I’ve done well, down 3lbs this week…but I’ve also been working out like a fiend. 16km each day on my bike on Tuesday and Wednesday, and working out cardio and weights everyday this week (don’t worry, I mix up the muscle groups that I work on!). But I am tired…not quite 25 anymore (who am I kidding, I’m not even 35 anymore!!!).

The foods we have prepared are tasty but I must admit it is a bit of a challenge when you have to find recipes each day to cook (kinda like learning to cook again!). I came up with the Quinoa Mushroom Risotto because I was in the mood for a risotto and I didn’t want the carbs that rice has (and I’m still not eating meat during the week). I also came up with a great idea on how to achieve the creaminess that Arborio rice brings to the table, without adding cream or butter!

Pull up a chair and enjoy.

Gluten Free and Vegetarian Quinoa Mushroom Risotto

Serves 4


  • 1 cup red and white Quinoa uncooked
  • 545 g variety of mushrooms
  • 3 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp roasted garlic purée (see note below)
  • 3 tbsp navy bean paste (see note below)
  • 100 mL water
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • Parmesan cheese


  1. In a cast iron pan, toast the quinoa until they begin to pop, remove immediately. Cook as per directions on package.
  2. In cast iron dutch oven, give a good squirt of cooking spray and heat. Add the Shallots and cook gently, adding a bit of water if the oil dries up. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft.
  3. Mix the roasted garlic purée with the navy bean paste, adding enough water to make a thick sauce (like a roux). Pour it into the mushroom mixture and stir well.
  4. Add the cooked Quinoi, thyme and soy sauce to the mushrooms and stir until everything is coated with the garlic bean purée.
  5. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Quinoa is a super food, but you still shouldn't wear a cape if you eat it.


Roasted garlic purée

Take a head of garlic and roast with olive oil and sea salt in the oven until soft (I usually do it in a ramekin, not foil). Pop the cloves out into an immersion blender jar and purée until smooth. Add vegetable stock or water to make the consistency you need. I usually roast a bunch and freeze in special ice cub trays — pop out into a zip lock bag and return to freezer (don’t do it in your regular ice cub tray, otherwise your gin and tonic will taste garlic-y!)

Navy bean purée

Cook dried navy beans until soft. Purée with an immersion blender until you have a very smooth paste adding only as much water as the blender needs to continue the purée. Store in a glass container in the fridge and use as needed. I have used this paste as a roux for many things.

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The weather is incredible and promises to be. I’m thinking shorts and T’s! I’ve already started the tanning cream in hopes that my legs don’t look as pasty white as they have been! And I’ve beefed up my workout schedule. JT got my bike in working order so I’ve been biking the 8 km to and from work! Summer…BRING IT!

In an effort to cut back and hopefully lose a couple of pounds, I decided to eat vegetarian for a week. It’s not as much of a challenge as it would have been 20 years ago, there are so many incredible vegetarian products out there, and one that recently surfaced on my radar again are Sheritaki Noodles. They are low carb, low fat and they have a decent amount of protein. I usually buy this brand of Sheritaki Noodles. I have to admit, one needs a good robust sauce over these noodles because even after they are rinsed well, and heated they still have a bit of a fishy smell (the package calls it uniquely distinct). JT won’t eat them. So I have them for lunch during the week.

Lots of garlic and the basil in the pesto really helped mask the fishy flavour so distinct of this product

Sheritaki Noodles with Tofu Pesto

an original recipe by Kitcheninspirations (serves 1)


  • a handful of fresh basil
  • 55 g of firm tofu
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely minced
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt
  • 1 green onion finely chopped
  • 4 steamed asparagus cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 113g Sharitake Noodles


  1. In the bowl of a small food processor, add the basil, tofu, minced garlic, lemon juice and salt, process until it is a smooth paste (like pesto).
  2. Warm the sheritaki noodles as per package directions, toss with the pesto and the asparagus and garnish with the green onions. Enjoy.

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It was St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday and we always go over to Andy and Mark’s Irish Pub, The Roy to celebrate. Andy was a production artist who worked where I work. A few years ago, his partner Mark was down-sized and that’s when they started seriously thinking about opening a pub. Mark is of Irish decent and they named The Roy after Mark’s dad who passed away a year or so earlier. The pub is in a cute little up-and-coming area in the east end of Toronto called Leslieville; Andy and Mark have lived there for about 7 years, maybe more. Andy quit working with us shortly after they opened the pub, and it’s been doing very well. They serve house-made, honest pub food. It’s not expensive and it’s good and you can always be sure that you will get a smile and a hug when you visit.

We invited my friend Kim (boss and neighbour) to join us on our patronage to The Roy so she dropped by the house for a cocktail and a bite (I always serve some food with booze) before we headed over. Late last week I was over at Tracey’s Culinary Adventures and noticed a Shrimp Burger she blogged about and I thought it sounded interesting and way, way back, Greg at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide told us about his Mom’s Maryland Crab Cakes…I knew I had to combine the two somehow and make a delicious protein packed appi! Isn’t that what inspiration is all about?

These tasty little morsels were pan fried in a little canola oil

I wanted a protein packed appetizer because we were about to indulge in some drinking..maybe even more than one! And no one wants a HO, at our age! One would think we would know better!

I pan fried some and found the frying did not add to the flavour to any degree, so I baked the rest of them. I made the recipe twice and rolled them around in sesame seeds the second time.

These tasty morsels were baked in the oven

Gluten Free Shrimp Balls

Makes about 12 balls about the size of a melon baller (one bite)


  • 65 g raw shrimp, cleaned, de-veined and tails removed, chopped coarsely
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp fat free mayo
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp Worcester sauce
  • 1 green onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp egg whites (or one whole egg)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp chick pea flour
  • 1/4 cup black and white toasted sesame seeds


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Add all of the ingredients except the chick pea flour and the sesame seeds into a mini food processor and process roughly, you don’t want to make the shrimp into a paste, just smallish pieces.
  3. Pour contents into a small bowl and stir in the chick pea flour, adding enough to allow the mixture to form into a ball (cookie dough consistency).
  4. Roll around in the sesame seeds and place on a cookie sheet about 5 cm apart. Bake for 17 minutes or until they are golden.
  5. Serve hot with traditional shrimp sauce (ketchup and horseradish).

Now I don't mean to be rude, but that is MY martini — hands off!

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As you know my dear friend Angela is hosting a Titanic Anniversary party on April 14; it’s the Centenary Anniversary and she is going all out for 8 of her most fortunate friends. JT and I are very happy to be included and I have embraced her enthusiasm and jumped on the band wagon, as any good friend would do (well, I’m no saint, the reasons are purely selfish, I just LOVE this kind of stuff), thank you Angela for allowing me to share in your excitement and to help with some of the food and the embellishments! I really do LOVE this stuff.

Many of my wonderful, gentle readers have been so generous with supportive comments and enthusiasm for this fun event, we thank you sincerely. My new found friend, Charlie Louie from Australia (I really do wish we were neighbours!) gave me a link to one of her very first posts on her lovely blog, Hotly Spiced that gave us a recipe for Duck Liver Pâté from a book she received as a gift from her son (she made her recipe with chicken livers, YUM). I remembered I had a couple of chicken livers in the freezer, so I thought, why not? Plus I needed a little appi for a friend coming over for drinks on Friday! We’ve had such a mild winter, and it warmed up to close to 20°C so we had to indulge and sit on the back patio for drinks after work. We still needed a sweater, but who cares, it was March 16 for crying out loud. I ain’t complaining!

The photo was taken last fall with the foliage in all its glory! Sadly the herbs have seen better days.

I don’t think Angela is including this recipe in her dinner, but I am totally into the mood, so I wanted to try it anyway (update, Angela has kindly given me the opportunity to make this appetizer as well, so I’m really pumped about it). I have to admit, it sounded a little bland when I first read it, but I wanted to keep it true so I didn’t change it up at all. The flavours were subtle yet it was very tasty. The liver really shined with the dash of rosemary. I used a square form that I was able to push the set paté out onto a plate, Charlie plated her’s in ramekins which also looked beautiful. I had to cut the recipe down because I didn’t have enough chicken livers (plus there were only three of us) but you can click here, for Charlie’s recipe. Note, as is my usual fashion, I cut down the butter and used milk instead of cream. I didn’t feel the taste suffered because of my changes.

Titanic Hors D’œuvres: Chicken Liver Pâté

Serves 4-6, depending on how hungry you are!

Chicken Liver Pâté on the back deck on March 16. Who would'a thunk it!


  • 113 g Chicken Livers
  • 25 g melted butter
  • 13 mL milk
  • 1/4 tsp brandy (I actually cheated and added about a tablespoon)
  • 1/4 tsp chopped rosemary
  • crackers


  1. Heat 15 g of the butter in a saucepan, add the livers and cook gently for 3-4 minutes. The livers should be cooked on the outside but a little pink on the inside.
  2. When the livers are cooked, place them into a processor and process until smooth.
  3. Add the brandy and rosemary to the saucepan then heat gently, scraping up the residue of the livers.
  4. Add the heated brandy and rosemary to the liver in the processor, together with milk and seasoning. Process until smooth.
  5. Pack the paté into a form (mine was square) and pour the remaining melted butter over the top of the pate to seal, cover and place in the fridge to chill. This should be made in advance so that the flavours have a chance to really pop.

Thanks again, Charlie, I look forward to making this for April 14th (I’ll likely do your proportions at that time!)

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To correct or not to correct? As I read through your lovely and flattering comments, the first thing I do is correct any typos that I notice. Is that OK? I usually ask you to correct mine, if I notice. Auto correct on my iPhone is great, but it can be a drag too, often correcting to words I do not want (it does ‘do’ for ‘so’ often, ARGH!). Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Breakfast on the weekend usually has a bit more pomp and circumstance than the weekdays, mainly because I’m not rushing to get ready for work. I was dying to try an idea I found on Dara’s Generation Y Foodie and Kelly’s Inspired Edibles blog; Dara made a pizza with a white bean paste base instead of a white béchamel that I thought was pure genius and Kelly took an old favourite of Mac and Cheese and pulled the proverbial rug right out from under it and made it healthy using chick peas instead of noodles. And it got me thinking…a bean paste as a thickener…

You will recall that we had a half a tin of chick peas left over from our Moroccan Mussel recipe the other night and the bean paste béchamel was really itching to get out of my head, so I came up with this lovely cheese sauce. You can pour it over crèpes like I did, or you can use it as a base for pizza as Dara did or better yet, pour it over cauliflower or broccoli! The possibilities are endless. Thank you Dara and Kelly for this inspiration.

Gluten Free Cheese Sauce

Serves 2-4

Cheesy Goodness poured all over that Crèpe


  • 1 cup chick peas, drained and rinsed (you can use any canned bean for this recipe, but I would stick to the lighter ones, like navy beans, or black eyed peas or white beans)
  • 1/2-1 cup low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup finely grated flavourful cheese like Parmesan and Gruyère or sharp cheddar
  • pinch of salt


  1. Add the chick peas to your immersion blender container (usually a tall thin cup), add 1/2 cup broth, salt and purée until smooth and about the consistency of crèpe batter adding the stock as required. Remember you will be adding cheese to this so it will thicken up.
  2. Pour contents into a sauce pan and begin heating up slowly. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese has melted. The cheese won’t stick to the beans as well as it would the béchamel, so you will likely have to emulsify again so that it’s not grainy.  Return to the heat and stir. You may need to add a bit more stock at this point, depending on how thick you would like your sauce.
  3. Serve over crèpes or what ever you wish.


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I’m always intrigued as to what draws a person to a recipe. It’s so personal and subjective, yet the food made from the recipe tantalizes taste buds whether you chose the recipe or not. Friday night JT wanted to make mussels, but we were a tad tired of the same old white wine sauce and we had just had a green curry so that was out. He scoured the net and was drawn to a Moroccan style mussel which included chick peas. Now I am trying to cut carbs down considerably (that’s actually JT’s bread he snuck onto my plate for the photo) and when I read the recipe I was immediately drawn to the chick peas…would they be satisfying enough that I wouldn’t need bread? That was the question.

When I first announced that we had planned a trip to Morocco, Greg at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide kindly emailed me a link to an article that discussed the merits of  traditional Moroccan cuisine in comparison to Modern Moroccan cuisine and we were so intrigued that we bought the cookbook. It’s been sitting on my kitchen desk and when I have any moment, I page through the lovely photos. Sadly, the recipes are very complex, often involving mixes of pastes and such that I do not have ready (a traditional Moroccan household would) so I have been unable to find something easy enough to make. Fast forward to Friday night: JT scouring the net for a recipe for mussels. He finds one on Epicurious. We have all the ingredients at home and it sounds like it would be fantastic. The spices were definitely a tip of a hat to Morocco.

HEY! Who snuck that piece of bread in my shot?

Moroccan Style Mussels with Chick Peas

Original recipe is from Epicurious, JT modified his version, of course


  • 1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (preferably hot)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 (15- to 19-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 lb cultivated mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup low sodium chicken stock


  1. Cook onion, garlic, and spices in oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened, about 6 minutes.
  2. Stir in vinegar and simmer 1 minute.
  3. Add chickpeas, sugar, tomatoes, raisins and chicken stock and increase heat to moderate and gently simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add mussels and return to a simmer. Cover tightly with lid and cook until mussels just open wide, 3 to 6 minutes. (Discard any mussels that remain unopened after 6 minutes.)
  5. Serve Immediately.

The verdict? A M A Z  I N G! I not only did not NEED the bread, I did not WANT it. The chick peas were satisfying and filling AND the broth? What can I say, pass that spoon over please. This is going to make repeated appearances in our house, for sure!

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HAPPY ST PATRICK’s DAY. I have NOTHING green for you, other than this, hope you enjoy it.

I had my hair appointment this week. I book it as early as I can in the afternoon, without having to leave work early. I got 6pm. I had a couple of things done (I won’t divulge my secrets ;-)!) and although I do love my stylist, Jordan, he does have the gift of the gab. A simple cut can take over an hour. I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth, and then some. I wish they served wine, just saying. The appointment this week would be at least two hours long. Good old JT figured I’d be starving by then, so he whipped up an old favourite for cocktails (yes, we had cocktails before my appointment even though it was Thursday. We had time for cocktails but not for dinner. So, what of it?). This recipe is quite forgiving so the quantities are not exact. I urge you to try it to your taste. It is one yummy combo, that’s for sure!

We had this appetizer quite a few years ago, in a place that no longer exists; we up’d the anti, of course!

Sizzling Mushrooms

Serves 2-4

Careful, they are called sizzling for a reason


  • 4-5 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced coarsely (we had white ones that needed to be used, but forest or wild would be incredible as well)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced onions
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled sheeps milk feta
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • a few slices of French stick, or crackers

Delicious lightly buttery shrooms, sweet onion, tangy garlic and sheeps milk feta...oh wait, there is a splash of cognac in that too!


  1. Melt the butter in a cast iron pan (cast is best as it holds the heat longer, after all, it is called SIZZLING!)
  2. Add the onions and sauté until slightly translucent, add the mushrooms and sauté until they have a bit of colour. Add the garlic and sauté just until you can smell its delicious aroma.
  3. Pour the cognac in all at once, you may flambé at this point or not.
  4. Sprinkle the feta into the mushrooms and give it a stir. You can add a bit of Thyme into it at this point, we didn’t, we forgot (having got into the martinis already ;)!)
  5. Serve immediately with Vodka Martinis (I don’t care if you shake or stir, just do it!).

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I’m in a bit of blogging bog. I haven’t been inspired to make anything photo worthy or blog worthy. I totally dropped the ball on the weekend, did not plan out my blog entries nor did I even think about it. I still made my rounds reading and commenting, which is usually the fun part. But I had nothing to post.

My wonderful hubby, JT surprised me with a delicious dinner the other night, one that we used to have most Fridays (Fajita Friday), but since we’ve been trying to cut the carbs, haven’t had it for quite some time: Chicken Fajitas. On the most part, this is not an unhealthy dinner, provided you don’t eat heaps of it, but it is quite carb-ie due to the fajita shells so I did a little ‘take’ on it which considerably reduced the carbs and increased the fibre. She’s back!

Fajitas are all about the condiments! Darn, is that a glass of wine, during the week?

Instead of using my fajita shells to hold my toppings, I cut one up into strips, sprinkled the strips with cayenne and baked them in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes until they were crispy. I was able to have only about half of a small 6″ tortilla as garnish on my fajita salad. It was surprisingly delicious and filling. I will have my fajitas this way from now on! JT had his traditionally in a soft tortilla shell.

Chicken Fajitas, low carb style

Makes one serving


  • 3 oz chicken per person, shredded (we used our BBQ’d chicken we roasted on Sunday)
  • 2 cups of greens (arugula and spinach)
  • 3 mushrooms sliced thickly
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1/4 red pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp fat-free, carb-free, low sugar hot salsa (we used Herdez)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch of cayenne
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1/2 soft whole wheat tortilla shell
  • non stick cooking spray

Condiment Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp fat-free Greek Yogurt
  • 1 sliced green onions
  • 1 tbsp shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3-5 grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1/2 tsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp guacamole (we usually make a large batch and save small portions in an ice-cube tray, it freezes very well)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Take one 6″ whole wheat soft tortilla shell. Spray lightly with non-stick spray on both sides. Cut into 1 cm or 1/2 inch strips. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and cayenne pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes, but watch carefully, because you want them crisp but not burned!
  3. In a cast iron pan, add a couple of squirts of non-stick spray. Add the onion and sauté until somewhat translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté until golden in colour (this is why you don’t want them too thinly sliced, so they can stand up to the heat).
  4. Add the red peppers, garlic and cook just until you smell the garlic. Add the salsa sauce and stir well. Add the chicken and heat through.
  5. Spread the greens onto an appropriate plate, cover with the hot fajita mix, sprinkle with cheese, a dollop of the Greek yogurt and guacamole and arrange the crispy fajita shells on top. Sprinkle with green onions and cilantro.
  6. Dig in!

Yes, that plate is the bottom of a glazed flower pot. Clever huh?

I had it for lunch the next day and I must say, it was even better than yesterday. We will definitely be making this again.

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The Invitations were mailed last week. I wanted to help my friend Angela out by creating her invitations in the original format of the Boarding Pass for the Titanic. I found a low res print here and recreated it in Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop, it’s something I love to do and I was happy to help out. Plus, it’s not like there are a thousand going out, just three (not counting our’s and Angela’s)!

It looks real, doesn't it?

I created it like a four page booklet, with the cover being the boarding pass, the inside front is the actual invitation, the facing page is an actual ticket and then the outside back cover was a note from White Star Lines Angela found that talks about the danger of professional gamblers on board. I just love the language used.

I blurred out the names for privacy reasons!

I also made up little stories about why each person is travelling on the Titanic and some very specific preferences to be considered by the Titanic staff.

I suppose this was directed toward the Gentlemen, as the Ladies were likely not invited into the casino!

I am rather excited about the evening, everyone will be coming in period clothing and Angela has already bought a CD of music of that time. My friend Monica loaned me a gorgeous lace dress that seems to be of the period (it was her sister’s MILs), now I am scouring ebay for long black gloves to go with the dress. JT needs to get some tails and we’re all done (lots to be found on ebay!)! We’re preparing some trivia for the evening that will also be loads of fun.

Now onto something as exciting, my friend Betsy over at Bits and Breadcrumbs has bestowed the honour of four awards and I am excited to tell you about them, but first a little bit about Betsy. Betsy is a graphic designer by day in the Atlanta/Decatur, Georgia area. She lives on a lovely country lot with a gorgeous garden; she can have bon fires in her back yard, how cool is THAT?! You should check out her blog, she cooks up wonderful comforting but healthy meals for herself and her hubby. Thank you Betsy, I am very flattered.

Thank you Betsy for this wonderful honour

  1. Favourite color? Red
  2. Favourite animal? Bunny Rabbit
  3. Favourite number? I’ve never really thought about it.
  4. Favourite drink? Non alcoholic: a good cup of coffee. Alcoholic: vodka martini (I really don’t care if it’s shaken or stirred, just get it to me, chop, chop!)
  5. Facebook or Twitter? Both, but I am slowly losing interest in both.
  6. Your passion? Cooking and travelling (we’ve got three trips planned: May NYC, June Chicago and September Europe (Vienna, Budapest, Barcelona, Lyon and Paris!) ! I’m hoping to bring you along on all three!)
  7. Giving or getting presents? Giving, for sure.
  8. Favourite day? Friday
  9. Favourite flowers? Hydrangea and Lilacs. No wait, Lilly of the Valley.

Now, it is customary to pass along the love (as Betsy put it) and I therefore nominate the following blogs. As usual, your participation is entirely up to you, if it’s a busy week and you just can’t deal with it, just put it aside or don’t even think about it. They are lovely awards and it’s a way for me to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. In no particular order:

  • Promanade Plantings lives in St Leonards On Sea. Her plot of land offers a gorgeous views on a southerly slope facing towards the sea. She gardens like a pro; the most beautiful pumpkins that are not just for Halloween!
  • Generation Y Foodie I came across Dara after she had asked Ann to review her cookbook. Dara is a lawyer by day and enthusiastic foodie by night. She has healthy recipes with a lot of appetite appeal!
  • Charlie Louie of Hotly Spiced is one of my favourite reads. Charlie has a wonderful knack to entertain and weave in a recipe; her family is a rich source of most of her entertaining stories. And she’s a great cook!
  • My friend Barb, Profiteroles and Ponytails, just because. And I’m dying to have a slice of that Moose Tracks Ice Cream Pie! 🙂
  • My other friend Pamela who runs Downton Abbey Cooks a blog about the British show Downton Abbey. Pamela has the skill to weave the storyline of the show into her blog along with a poignant recipe. The show has only recently caught my interest because of the Titanic Party we are going to — the show begins with the dreadful sinking of the Titanic. Pamela also enlightens me on words such as Entail!
  • Karen over at Back Road Journal, much like Oliver Wendell Douglas and Lisa Douglas, Karen and hubby gave up their urban life for a 1730’s home with an apple orchard in a small town in New Hampshire. Karen generously takes us along when she and her husband travel and it’s a wonderful experience of lovely country inns and delicious food.

So there you have it. A few more facts about moi, 6 more bloggers to add to your reading list. Thank you Betsy for the lovely nomination!

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I need a little gift to take to dinner at friends tonight so I’ve been searching my beloved blogs to see what’s out there. I’ve been following Dara on Generation Y Foodie since Ann at Cooking Healthy for Me reviewed her self published cookbook. Dara generally cooks on the healthier side so when I saw this recipe originally posted by Ann, with a little twist, I knew I had to try it. What Dara did was change out the white flour for whole wheat and she added a bit of texture with some ground flax seeds! Brilliant, if you ask me. These little cheese nibbles are a family favourite now, thanks to Ann (my niece and nephew devoured an entire batch in 25 minutes last weekend!) and as I’m always looking to make things a bit healthier…I jumped on these.

They still have the same cheesy taste, but they have a bit of texture from the whole wheat and the flax, and they also have a touch of earthiness too. We gave it a good thumbs up. Thanks Dara for this lovely treat, I will be making it again and again.

Yummy little cheesy nibbles

Whole Wheat Cheez-Itz

You know you want one!


  • 8oz sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (I had to add a bit of mozzarella as I had run out of the cheddar)
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 2+ tbsp ice water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 425° F
  2. Add the cheese, flour, flax, sea salt and cayenne into a food processor. Process a couple of times to mix everything together.
  3. Add the olive oil at once as you are processing the mixture, adding in the ice water one table spoon at a time until the dough sticks together nicely.
  4. Refrigerate for 30+ minutes (but to be honest, I never have time for this, please see my tip below).
  5. Place a sheet of parchment below and on top of the ball and roll out to about 1/8″ (2mm) thickness.
  6. Cut using your favourite cookie cutter (mine is a 1″ (2.5cm) square with scalloped edge. It’s a perfect size because they do shrink in the oven.
  7. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until they have a golden bottom (this is the perfect crunch).
  8. Cool and enjoy.


I store my grated cheese in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. I virtually never remember to defrost it in advance, but using the ice cold cheese in this recipe allows me to skip the step of chilling the dough. Time saved on both counts!

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Continuing on with my short series of First Class Titanic dishes for my good friend Angela’s party, I am tackling a simple dessert of Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly. Now to my modern sensibility I read this dessert title and thought, “What the heck? Jello for dessert in First Class?” Let’s rewind to the early 1900’s to clarify: this was well before the advent of instant gelatin, making gelatin based desserts was labour intensive and time-consuming (let’s just say that there are tendons, ligaments and connective tissues involved, click here if you must know). Serving a gelatin based dessert to your guests meant that the meal was a truly special one.

What doesn't go well with whipped cream?

The description on this recipe says at it combines the sweetness of peaches poached in sugar syrup with the potent herbal essences of Chartreuse Liqueur. Chartreuse is a digestive, sweet with strong herbal flavours (I taste grass), not one of my favourites, I must say, but it did pair nicely with the peaches. Note that the peaches in Toronto are by no way in season at this time; I found it nearly impossible to peel the skin off as per the recipe, I have my fingers crossed that they will behave for the special evening! For the test, I made 1/4 of this recipe which worked out well for two of us. We were both impressed at how tasty it actually was, even though it’s green!

Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly

Makes 6 servings

Recipe developed by Mrs. Beeton (the mother of British cuisine)

Ingredients for the Chartreuse Jelly:

  • 5 tsp powdered flavourless gelatin
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Chartreuse

Directions for the Chartreuse Jelly:

  1. Dissolve the gelatin in 1 cup of water.
  2. In a small pot, bring the remaining cup to a boil. Add the sugar and stir until it is entirely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 20 minutes. Add the Chartreuse and the gelatin and stir to combine.
  3. Pour into a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish lined with waxed paper; refrigerate until completely set.

Ingredients for the Peaches:

  • 3 large clingstone peaches
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • Fresh lemon balm leaves or edible flowers (I will do this for the real dessert, I just didn’t want to buy a box of flowers for just the two testers!)

Tender poached peaches and green jelly. Can you say YUM?


Directions for the Peaches:

  1. Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones. Immerse the peaches in a large pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds; then transfer them to ice water. Slip off the skins.
  2. In a large pot, combine the water and sugar; cook over medium heat stirring gently until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for one minute or until syrup is clear.
  3. Add lemon juice, cinnamon stick and cloves.
  4. Add the prepared peaches making sure they are entirely immersed; cut a piece of parchment slightly smaller than the pot and place over the top of the peaches to make sure the remain submerged.
  5. Bring the syrup to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low and poach the peaches gently for 6 minutes or until soft (they should be easy to cut into with a spoon). Allow the peaches to cool in the syrup. This may be stored for 24 hours in the refrigerator. The syrup that the peaches were poached in are not required for the recipe, but you may reserve it for something else!
  6. To serve, turn out the jelly onto a cutting board and cut half into even little squares; the remaining half should be cut into decorative shapes using a cookie cutter.
  7. The instructions indicate that you are to plate the cut squares onto the centre of a flat plate, arranging the jelly shapes around the edges, but I have special permission to plate in the way I photographed. I think it is a more sophisticated look.
  8. Slice peaches from one end to almost the other, and fan it out onto a bed of jelly. Garnish with edible flowers or lemon balm leaves.

Even though the recipe was not as labour intensive as it would have been in 1914, it will still impress your discerning guests; but then again, after 10 course dinner…there is always room for Jell-O!

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My friend, Sawsan over at Chef in Disguise made this salad and posted it early this week and by luck we had all the ingredients on hand and by that same luck we needed something to go with our oven roasted Salmon. I can honestly say it was delicious, the flavours and textures really worked well together, please pop over to Sawsan’s blog and check out her photos (it was dark by the time I snapped the shots and my photos are pitiful!). If you don’t have salmon to eat with it, a little goats cheese would be very tasty indeed!

I left out the pomegranate seeds as they are now out of season and were $7.00 for a very small container! We should have substituted pine nuts for the pomegranate seeds…next time. Sawsan gave me a great tip, she said she buys her pomegranate when on sale and she seeds them into a little container and freezes them for just this type of application! That’s just genius, thank you for sharing that great tip!

Thank you Sawsan for another wonderful recipe.

I used a square form, the round one would have worked out better!

Layered Avocado Beet Citrus Salad

Serves 3 (I made extra for lunch the next day)

Ingredients for the Salad:

  • 4 Beets, roasted until fork tender, peeled and cubed
  • 2 oranges sectioned and cut into cubes (juice reserved)
  • 1 medium avocado, cut in half, pit removed and cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups arugula leaves, cleaned and dried

Ingredients for the Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (one to two oranges)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard

Directions for the Dressing:

  • Combine all ingredients into a small jar and shake well. Refrigerate.

Directions for assembly:

  • Arrange the arugula leaves in the centre of the plate.
  • Place a plating ring or square (7 cm) on top of the arugula leaves.
  • Layer with the beets then the avocado and finally the oranges.
  • Remove the ring and drizzle with the dressing.
  • Enjoy!

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My latest endeavour was the home made Ricotta from my BB (blogging buddy) John, and it was a huge success; even so, we had left-overs. We’re having our nephew Brian over for Sunday dinner and I thought it would work perfectly in a little hors d’œuvres of whole wheat-flax pan cakes with ricotta and chives and a little lightly pan fried chicken and turkey, spinach feta sausage (another left over from our little brunch on Saturday).

Pass the canapés, please.

Ricotta and Sausage Pancakes

Makes about 14 little pan cakes


  • 1/2 cup Home-made ricotta (or store bought, but the home made is so darn easy)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 14 sausage slices, very thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup soda water
  • 3 tbsp egg whites
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Mix the chives into the ricotta and set aside.
  2. Mix well together WW flour, flax seeds, egg whites, soda and salt. If it’s really runny, set aside for 2-5 minutes (you want a slightly thicker mixture than crèpe batter).
  3. Heat a large cast iron pan and spray lightly with a non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Drop small spoonfuls of the batter onto the hot pan so that they each form a 5cm or 2 inch little round. Cook both sides until golden. Repeat until the mixture has been all used up.
  5. In the same hot pan, spray another little squirt of non-stick cooking spray and sauté each side of the thinly sliced sausage until golden and slightly curled.
  6. Top each little pan cake with a dollop of the home-made ricotta and one slice of the sausage.
  7. Enjoy with a martini.

Canapé Anyone?

And a new friend…

Meet Brown Squirrel.

As many of you already know, my favourite pet in the whole world was my dearest little bunny, Dustie. Sadly she passed away about 7 years ago at the age of 10, and the impact of her friendship has prevented me from trying to find another pet, any pet. Until I met brown squirrel. The strange thing about brown squirrel is that she is the same golden colouring as my Dustie, and that this type of colouring on squirrels in the Toronto area is not common (we have mainly black, some grey and a couple of white squirrels). Brown squirrel is not really a pet, but she has become a ‘friend’. I wonder if she’s on FB?

Now it’s not just the colouring on Brown Squirrel that makes her special, she is a lot tamer than the other squirrels in the hood. She will come when she is called (she’ll even cross the road when we call out to her; she doesn’t look both ways (she IS a squirrel) but we do!). She responds to munching noises (my Dustie did that too!). She’ll even come right up to you and eat from your hand (although I wouldn’t recommend it, after all, she is still a wild animal). We always have to remember to close the front door because she would follow you in (never happened but I sure wouldn’t want to chance it). Brown Squirrel comes to the house every morning for her treats. I snapped this photo from the dining room window through the screen (hence the weird overall colour); normally we wouldn’t feed her on our front porch, but it was darn chilly at 7:30 that morning, and we only had PJs on!

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This past Saturday we hosted a collaborative brunch with a couple of friends. By collaborative, I mean we all pitched in with one or two parts of the meal. One friend brought home-made waffles, while another brought home-made maple syrup, a huge fruit platter, bacon and we supplied sausages, ricotta, whipped cream, smoked salmon and coffee. We may have had morning glories as well (Prosecco and OJ). It was quite the feast! No one left the table hungry at least I don’t think so!

That's quite the pile of ricotta on that waffle, isn't it?

I had wanted to contribute something a little more unusual to the brunch, so I scoured the net. My ‘friend’ John made cream cheese recently and posted about it on his blog From the Bartolini Kitchen; hmmmm, from that post I was linked to another post where he made Ricotta Cheese. I have always wanted to make my own cheese and the ricotta seemed like a great place to start. Plus having a group of people for brunch meant that I wouldn’t have too much left over! We had ricotta with the smoked salmon AND topped off the waffles with it. Quite tasty indeed! Thanks John, I will be making this again and again.

John’s recipe was easy to follow and came together quickly. The only thing I changed is that I halved the recipe because I felt one pound of ricotta would be enough for brunch, and perhaps a lovely appetizer for Sunday dinner with nephew Brian.

Hey, where's the syrup?

Albert Capone’s Homemade Ricotta Recipe (adapted From the Bartolini Kitchen)

Total time: 30 minutes to prepare, at least 2 hours to drain.

Makes about 1 lb fresh ricotta


  • 1.9 L whole milk (homo)
  • 0.5 L heavy cream
  • 1/2 tbsp table salt
  • 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar


  1. Combine milk, cream, and salt in a large non-reactive pot and stir over medium heat as you bring the temperature up to 85°C (185°F) (about 15-20 minutes).
  2. Add the vinegar all at once and stir for 15 seconds; heat for two more minutes before removing from heat.
  3. Allow to rest undisturbed for 15 – 20 minutes; using a small sieve or slotted spoon, remove the floating curds and place them in a cheesecloth-lined colander to drain (I used coffee filters).
  4. Place colander over a bowl in refrigerator and drain for at least a couple of hours or overnight (I found 3 hours was enough). The longer you allow it to drain, the more firm the results.
  5. Remove the ricotta from the colander, place in airtight containers, and refrigerate.
  6. Ricotta will last up to 2 weeks.

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My SIL’s mother, Lea was one of my Mom’s dearest friends (JT’s Mom was her other dearest friend but sadly she passed away quite a few years before my Mom). Lea recently had hip replacement surgery and is recovering slowly, and when I spoke to her, I detected quite bit of frustration in her voice. She has 6 grand children and she likely feels like she’s missing out on quite a bit of action! So, to help cheer her up, I decided to bake her some brownies, but not just any brownies, but Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Chip Brownie Bars! Now who wouldn’t cheer up with a big, fat bucket full of Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Chip Brownie Bars? Frankly, she wouldn’t expect anything less from her good friend’s daughter; my Mom always had food whenever there was a visit!

Chewy, chocolatey and peanuty. I know you want one!

Year’s ago JT was in NYC on business (why wasn’t I with him you ask aghast? I’m still asking myself that same question) and he bought me a Hershey’s Chocolate Cookbook as consolation (huh, diamond tennis bracelet would have done the trick!). Believe it or not, I have not made a single thing from that book. Why, you might ask? Although the book is FILLED with wonderful delectable sweets, it is by far, the most unhealthiest recipes I have in my collection and therefore put it aside for the ‘right moment’. And the right moment is upon us, because as we all know ‘cheer’ is nothing without copious amounts of calories and fat.

So join me in wishing my SIL’s Mom a speedy recovery so she can get back to baby-sitting those rug-rats ;-)!

Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Chip Brownie Bars

Small, bite sized little morsals


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (I used all natural, unsweetened)
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon shortening


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
  2. Stir together the melted cooled butter, sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla in large bowl. Add 2 beaten eggs; stir until blended.
  3. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture, stirring until blended. Spread in prepared pan.
  4. Bake 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, stir together sweetened condensed milk, peanut butter, remaining beaten egg and 1 teaspoon
    vanilla extract. Pour evenly over hot brownie. Set aside 1 tablespoon each milk chocolate chips and peanut
    butter chips; sprinkle remaining chips over peanut butter mixture.
  6. Return to oven; continue baking 20 to 25 minutes or until peanut butter layer is set and edges begin to brown.
  7. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
  8. Stir together remaining milk chocolate chips, remaining peanut butter chips and shortening in small
    microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an
    additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when
    stirred. Drizzle over top of bars. When drizzle is firm, cut into bars. Store loosely covered at room temperature.
    24 to 36 bars depending on the size you cut them.

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I have 73 friends on Facebook. I’m not bragging, I’m telling you because I find it weird. I really don’t have 73 friends; they are acquaintances that for some bizarre reason I share parts of my life with every day. Of course, some of these friends are people I really hang out with, so the sharing is done face to face on the most part. But then there are the friends on FB with whom I never get together, don’t live in the same hood, don’t talk to on the phone, don’t run into at the gym, grocery store or even the library.

One of these friends is a food photographer about whom I’ve shared information with you before, Jim Norton. I met Jim through work, our studio used to shoot with him regularly; our clients have changed and we just don’t shoot at his studio that often anymore. Jim and his wife Tonya live close to our hood and both are regularly active on FB, posting updates every now and then. Jim has posted updates a couple of times on FB about The Westerly, a relatively new restaurant in our hood. As you know, JT and I like trying out new places so we made a reservation for Friday night. During cocktails on Thursday, I had an epiphany so messaged Jim and Tonya on FB if they wanted to join us, after all, we’ve been sharing about our lives, we might as well get to know one another ;-). They said yes and we updated our reservation to four!

The Westerly is a restaurant with a relaxing West Coast vibe and refined comfort food (described by Amy Pataki from the Toronto Star). For me, it’s more Paris Bistro meets LES NYC (Lower East Side, New York City). It’s not a huge restaurant, but large enough that the vibe was great and the noise level moderate. Unfortunately, there was a mix-up with our reservation change and we forgot to take a name, but the staff (and owner) were quick to accommodate, even though they were packed! They sat us at a cozy table near the back which was great because we needed to get acquainted with our FBFs!

We were immediately served Arancini Bolognese (Arborio rice, Woolwich Dairy Goats Cheese, Bolognese and fresh arugula) as a gift for the mix-up. Arancini are deep fried rice balls. Now most of you  know that I am not a huge deep fried eater, never have been, but I must say they were DELICIOUS! Crispy on the outside, creamy and smooth on the inside. Very tasty indeed. Our drink orders were taken and we were left to ponder the menu (which is not huge, but it has a nice variety). Three of us at the table shared a bottle wine, which they brought and poured immediately. The cocktail (some kind of whiskey mix) took quite a bit longer to arrive; other than that, the service was great, and our dishes were nicely spaced giving us time to chat and enjoy the company.

JT and I shared the Butter Lettuce & Gorgonzola which had toasted Walnuts, sherry marinated Red onions and julienne dates (I didn’t get any of the dates, hmmmm?). JT and Jim both ordered Braised Short Ribs, red wine braised, roasted cippolini onions, horseradish mashed potato, marinated golden beets, roasted brussels sprouts — they said it was delicious; Tonya and I had the Steak frites, which was grilled strip loin with bearnaise butter & jus served on house-cut frites (I asked my fries be replaced with a salad, which they quite happily did!). The steak was nicely done (I prefer mine rare) and the butter was a very tasty addition (I just let it melt into the steak for a bit and then set it off to the side). The fries were substituted with fresh crisp greens, shaved fennel, radish, toasted pumpkin seeds, red wine vinaigrette, very yummy.

The dinner lasted just about 2.5 hours! The restaurant was as busy at 10:00 as it was at 7:30 when we arrived! We invited Jim and Tonya back to our place for dessert and coffee and more wine. It really was a lovely evening and now I can truly say I have two more friends!

Overall rating of The Westerly (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 4/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 2.5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

Disclaimer: We purchased our meal for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

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As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my brother and his family came for brunch this past weekend and I wanted a slightly healthier salad to go with a slightly less healthy savoury bread pudding (you can see a similar recipe at Bits and Breadcrumbs, but my version had ham and cheddar cheese, you get where I’m going with this?). This spinach salad comes from an old recipe book that I bought for my MIL about 15 years ago. She had talked about Oprah and her chef and that they were coming out with a cookbook, In the Kitchen with Rosie; she loved Oprah, so I made a mental note and put it on her Christmas list. Well, I should have known because she went out and got it for herself, so then I was stuck with the book.

There are some darn good ‘low fat’ recipes in this little book and some great tricks as well. But the one recipe that keeps making an appearance in my kitchen is the warm orange dressing on a spinach salad (this one is for you, Lisa). Now you can add what-ever you wish to create your very own spinach salad, but this is what our’s had on Sunday: baby spinach, hard-boiled egg whites, grape tomatoes (I like the colour), a little crispy fried pancetta (I know, not healthy but there was not very much of it), thinly sliced mushrooms, orange sections and toasted pine nuts. When you toss this lovely salad with the warm dressing a symphony of flavours start playing in your mouth. So delicious.

A slightly healthier alternative to Spinach Salad

Warm Orange Dressing

Serves 6


  • 1 Navel orange
  • 1⁄3 c Shallot, minced finely
  • 2 Cl Garlic, peeled and minced finely
  • 5 T White Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 t Sherry vinegar
  • 1/24 cup of orange juice with pulp
  1. Peel the orange and remove the white pith, and separate the segments (do this over a bowl in order to reserve the juice). Squeeze the residual juice from the membranes into the bowl and reserve; add the additional OJ to this mix.
  2. In a small saucepan, add the shallots, garlic, vinegars, and reserved orange juice, and bring to a boil over low heat.
  3. Just before you wish to serve, combine all the salad ingredients, add the warm dressing and toss to coat.

I know it's just salad, but doesn't it look yummy?

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