Archive for the ‘Chicken’ Category

One of the reasons I had wanted an Instant Pot was to get rid of a few of my small appliances like the slow cooker, air fryer, and rice maker! This recipe uses the instant pot for the rice as well as the chicken. To cook the rice, please see the notes below.

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 2


  • 1 200 g chicken Breast, skinless, boneless
  • 30 g Greek yogurt, divided
  • 15 mL roasted garlic purée
  • 2 g oregano
  • 5 g flour
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 15 mL olive oil
  • 15 g butter
  • 50 g sweet onion, finely diced
  • 125 mL water
  • 30 mL cooking Sherry
  • 1/2 a sun-dried tomato, cut into small pieces
  • 5 black olives, sliced
  • 1 artichoke heart, chopped
  • Parsley, for garnish
  • Rice for serving, see notes for IP cooking Rice


  1. Combine the yogurt, the roasted garlic, oregano and salt and mix well. Spread half of the marinade over the chicken reserving the extra and refrigerate while prepping.
  2. Heat the olive oil & butter on the “Sauté” setting and cook the onions until translucent. Brown the chicken on both sides. Turn off the “Sauté” setting and add the chicken stock with the cooking sherry and the sun-dried tomatoes to release the fond. Put on the Pressure Cooking lid and set the vent to sealing, set the time to 5 minutes. Mix the flour and the lemon zest, into the remaining yogurt mixture. After five minutes, de-pressurize the Instant Pot and add the remaining yogurt mixture with all of the ingredients and mix well.
  3. Secure the pressure lid and vent to sealing, set to Pressure Cook for 5 additional minutes. De-pressurize carefully.
  4. After allowing the chicken to rest, slice it and lay it on a plate over rice. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken serve.


  • Rinse 100 g (heaping 1/2 cup) of rice in cold water until it runs clear. Add to the Instant Pot. Add 100 g (about 1/2 cup) of cold water or broth to the Instant Pot, add salt and 15 g (1 tbsp) melted butter, and stir well. Secure the pressure cooker lid and turn the pressure knob to the sealing setting. Use the Pressure cook setting on high for 3 minutes, then allow the steam to release naturally (about 10 minutes). Open by pressing the knob to release any extra steam to allow the lid to easily come off. Remove from the IP and set it aside.
  • Adding the sun-dried tomatoes for the initial cook allows the tomatoes to totally soften into the sauce.

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Back in the 80’s, when I was first dating JT, his parents would occasionally invite me to dinner at their home. JT’s Mom didn’t love cooking but she really made an effort. She focussed on areas she could master, like soups, salads, and pies (she made awesome pies). She let the experts deal with the proteins for the most part and one of her favourite proteins was, Chicken Cordon Bleu. She had her local butcher make up these delicious little parcels and she just popped them into the oven and baked them. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about these bundles until about a year ago when I was really trying to make our meals more of an event, since we weren’t doing much else (thanks Covid). They didn’t disappoint!

I created a very easy way to parcel the chicken breasts with the ham and cheese so they would stay together. I didn’t bother putting the little chicken crown over my version but it was still beautiful and delicious.

The trick is to even out the chicken thickness by pounding with a flat pounder, I like to put the chicken into a zip lock bag so that it doesn’t splatter when I’m pounding it. You don’t want it too thin but you do want it even. You can pound it thinner and roll the ham and cheese but I’ve always found that the cheese eventually melts out so I make a pocket the length of the breast without cutting through and stuff the ham and cheese into the pocket. I use a metal skewer to hold the opening shut which will be removed just before slicing.

Flash-back to the 80’s Chicken Cordon Bleu!

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 2 (ingredients may be doubled or tripled easily)


  • 1 @ 200 g (or 2 @ 100 g) chicken breast, deboned and skinned
  • 100 g Gruyère, grated
  • 1-2 slices of Serano ham
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp mayonnaise
  • 80 g AP Unbleached Flour
  • 15 g granulated garlic
  • 15 g dehydrated onion
  • 100 g panko
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Place the panko, granulated garlic, onion, and salt into a spice grinder and pulse until it is relatively fine. Toast the panko mixture gently in an oven-proof, dry frying pan until golden. Set aside to cool. Save the pan to cook the chicken in.
  2. Add the flour to a flat pan (I use small baking sheets about 20cm x 30 cm).
  3. Prepare your breading station by combining the egg and mayo and whisking until smooth. Pour into a second flat pan.
  4. Pour the cooled panko mixture into a third flat pan.
  5. Prepare the chicken breast by placing it into a zip lock bag and pounding it until it is relatively even thickness. Remove it from the bag and slice a thin slice through the breast to create a pocket (I try to keep the opening as small as possible to avoid losing the filling during the baking process).
  6. Place the Serano ham into the pocket and spread out as evenly as you can. Fill the pocket with the cheese. Taking a thin metal skewer, “sew” the opening up so that it remains closed during the baking process.
  7. Place the chicken bundle into the first pan, and coat evenly with the flour.
  8. Transfer the bundle to the egg station and roll to coat evenly.
  9. Finally, roll the bundle in the flavoured panko and make sure that it is well coated. Return the bundle to the zip lock bag and fill it with the remaining panko mixture. From the outside of the bag, press the panko into the chicken bundle. Roll tightly and refrigerate until required.
  10. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Heat the oven-proof frying pan (previously used for the panko) with a little oil and fry 3 of the 4 sides of the chicken bundle until golden. When all three sides are golden, place the unfried part of the chicken bundle down onto the pan and place the pan in the oven and bake the chicken until the internal temperature is 165° F at its thickest part.
  11. When the chicken has reached the temperature, place the cooked chicken on a cutting board and cover for 10 minutes. Slice it in even slices and serve with your favourite veggies.


I served the chicken with cauliflower mash.


  • I add the mayo into the egg because it really helps to crisp the breading, because it is baked and not fried.

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Many years ago, when I was working as a design manager in a professional services firm, one of the freelancers I regularly hired invited me to a potluck house party.  It was mostly women and someone hired a fortune teller (apparently, this was the purpose of the party); everyone took turns going upstairs to have their fortune read. Everyone but me. I have never been a fan, to be honest, it’s a bit freaky to me so I stay clear. Fortunately for me, someone brought this salad and I was just as happy, sitting downstairs munching on this delicious dish. I asked for the recipe and it was quickly jotted down on a scrap piece of paper. It’s been many years since I’ve made it and I have lost the recipe so I really had to stretch my memory to come up with the dressing but I think I’ve got it and it’s a keeper. It’s important to toast the curry powder either dry or in a little oil to bring out the full flavour and subdue the bitterness that it could have. The salad is best made hours or a day before you plan on eating.

I stuffed a delicious freshly baked croissant with the tasty salad. Definitely a keeper.

Curried Chicken Salad in a Croissant

Makes enough for 2 for lunch


  • 15 mL curry powder, heat level is your choice
  • 15 mL oil (optional)
  • 3 g salt
  • 125 mL yogurt
  • 75 mL mayonnaise
  • 30 mL lime juice
  • pinch of sugar
  • 150 g rotisserie chicken, cubed
  • 40 g raisins
  • 50 g celery, cubed
  • 1/2 red pepper, cut into small cubes
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 30 g pecans, toasted and roughly chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and add the curry powder and salt and cook until fragrant, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, lime juice and stir well. Once the curry has cooled, add it to the yogurt mixture and mix well. Taste and add sugar as desired.
  3. Combine the chicken, celery, raisins, red peppers and scallions and mix into the prepared dressing. Stir well to coat. Set in the refrigerator for a few hours for the flavours to meld.
  4. When ready to serve, cut the croissant lengthwise in the center and open up like a clam. Stir half of the pecans into the salad, reserving the other half for garnish. Spoon the salad into the croissant and sprinkle each croissant with a quarter of the remaining toasted pecans.


  • I had made some crispy shallots for another dish and saved the oil from frying the shallots, the oil was quite fragrant, so I used the shallot oil to toast the curry powder.
  • You don’t need to add sugar, just taste the dressing to be sure. You can make the dressing a day in advance which will help the flavours come together.
  • You can also serve this on a bed of greens instead of a croissant, but I had some at home, so why not.



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I used to reserve Thai Green Curry for the times we go out for lunch, but nowadays there is no going out so we’ve had to improvise and make these tasty dishes at home. I’ve tried many a-green curry pastes and some were so hot, I just couldn’t tollerate them. I’ve tried making my own too, but have not found a recipe that reminds me of the restaurant style that I long for. That is until I combined two lovely green curry pastes! This is not a traditional Thai Green curry recipe, but it’s one that works for me and JT is always requesting it.

Thai Green Curry

Serves 2


  • 2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • 15-30 mL green curry paste (see notes)
  • 200 g protein of your choice (I used chicken)
  • 15 g corn starch
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) chicken stock
  • 5 mL fresh lime juice
  • 5-15 g brown sugar
  • 15 mL fish sauce
  • 200 mL coconut milk
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 200g frozen green beans, French style
  • 1/3 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
  • Steamed jasmine rice, to serve


  1. Cut the chicken into thin-ish, bite-sized pieces. Coat with the corn starch.
  2. Heat the peanut oil in a small Dutch oven and cook off the green curry paste until fragrant and has become somewhat dry. Add the chicken and cook until it is golden.
  3. Add the chicken stock, lime juice, fish stock and brown sugar and stir until it heats through and the sugar has begun to melt.
  4. Add the coconut milk and stir until smooth and creamy. Do not boil because the coconut milk can separate and it won’t look as good. Add the kaffir lime leaves and simmer until the chicken has cooked entirely through.
  5. Add the frozen green beans (see notes) and stir until heated through. Remove the kaffir lime leaves.
  6. Serve over an inverted bowl of rice, garnish with Thai basil or kaffir lime leaves.

It’s super creamy with a hint of heat. The chicken is velvety soft and delicious in this dish.


  • I usually find green curry paste too hot at full strength so I’ve had difficulty finding one I can tolerate. We have an incredible Asian grocer near us with an unusally large compliment of sauces and pastes and I’ve found this one isn’t too hot but I add a little of this one which is super hot. The combination makes a wonderful restaurant-style green curry sauce.
  • I didn’t have green beans so I just added some peas.
  • Thai green curry is traditionally made with Chicken but you can use any protein.
  • The traditional vegetables are eggplant and sugar snap peas but you can use whatever you have on hand. Bamboo shoots would add a lovely crunch to this dish. I prefer to keep my vegetables on the green side because I love it in monochrome.
  • I usually start with a 5 grams of sugar and work my way up to 15 grams, if necessary. Some green curry pastes are already sweet so you’ll need to taste as you go along.

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I have been making this fabulous butter chicken recipe since I first found it in 2009. I love it because it is the closest to our favourite Bombay Palace’s Murgh Makhani. It is a rich, tangy tomato-based sauce that is completely moreish. I made it in mid-March when our weather suddenly turned into spring with temperatures of 14° C to 20° C (57° F to 68° F) and we had friends over two days after we were released for our latest 100-day lockdown. If it weren’t for our cosy heated patio, I would have surely gone mad.

You can easily make this vegetarian by substituting firm tofu for the chicken but I wouldn’t skip the spice rub and marinade, grilling also adds a level of flavour but not absolutely necessary.

Butter Chicken-Murgh Makhani

Serving Size: 6-8


  • 15 mL olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 1.6 L stewed tomatoes
  • 43 g roasted garlic
  • 7 g ginger, grated on a Microplane
  • 3.5 g Meat Masala (see recipe below)
  • 3.5 g Garam Masala (see recipe below)
  • 35 mL lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • Salt to taste
  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 100 mL cream
  • Cilantro to garnish

Directions for the gravy:

  • In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and cook the onions until golden. Add the stewed tomatoes and simmer until it has reduced to two-thirds of the original volume.
  • Add the roasted garlic, ginger, both masalas, lemon juice and stir well to combine. Add a pinch of baking soda and stir until it has stopped bubbling. Blend this gravy with an emersion blender and run it through a fine sieve (I prefer a smooth, creamy gravy). Add salt to taste. You can hold the gravy overnight in the refrigerator.
  • If you are serving immediately, add the butter and stir so that it melts into the gravy. Add the cream and stir well. Hold the gravy on very low heat (be careful, it bubbles quite furiously) and add the chicken just before serving.

This recipe is restaurant quality without the salt and extra calories!

Tandoori Marinades

  • 1 kg chicken, skinned, deboned, trimmed (I used chicken thighs)

Ingredients for the spice rub:

  • 6 g red chili powder (I used mild)
  • 3 g turmeric
  • pinch of baking soda
  • salt to taste
  • 30 mL lemon juice


  1. Combine the ingredients for the spice rub and rub well into the chicken (I would use gloves). Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.

Ingredients for the marinade:

  • 100 g Greek yogurt
  • 6 g red chili powder (I used mild)
  • 7 g ginger, grated on a Microplane
  • 30 g roasted garlic
  • 5 g coriander
  • 5 g cumin
  • 5 g garam masala
  • 15 mL lemon juice
  • 30 mL olive oil


  1. Combine all of the ingredients and spread evenly onto the chicken pieces. Refrigerate overnight or for a few hours.
  2. When ready to grill, heat the grill to 350° F.
  3. Brush off a lot of the marinade.
  4. Grill the chicken, basting with the marinade once or twice at the beginning until cooked through, about 165° F.

I always double the batch so that I can freeze leftovers for a quick and delicious meal.

Garam Masala

(recipes for the masalas are from HeartSmart flavours of India by Krishna Jamal, 1998)


  • 4 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground mace

Directions for the Garam Masala:

  1. Add all of the ingredients into a heavy bottom pan and toast until fragrant.

Meat Masala


  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 black cardamom pods
  • 1/4 star anise
  • 3 cm cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp mace
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp red chili


  1. In a small pan, toast the coriander, cumin, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon stick and cloves and toast until fragrant. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Add toasted spices to a spice grinder with the remainder of the spices and grind until it is a fine powder. Store in an air-tight container in a cool dark place.

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When I was first dating JT, back in the eighties, his dear Mom would make a version of this salad for lunch. She wasn’t into cooking so this type of dish was perfect, few ingredients and easy to assemble. She would poach the chicken where I prefer to use leftover BBQ’d chicken because of the additional flavours the smoke of a charcoal BBQ adds, but leftover rotisserie chicken works wonderfully as well. The original recipe was heavy in mayonnaise, I like to lighten it up with a little yoghurt and a splash of lemon juice. The flavours and textures really hit the spot.

Waldorf Salad was created by Oscar Tschirky, in the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City in 1896. The original Waldorf was made with only apples, celery, and mayonnaise, it did not contain a protein or nuts. The latter two were additions made in the 20th century. I like to make this salad with chicken or canned tuna, both are equally satisfying.

Chicken Waldorf Salad

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 2 portions for lunch or a light dinner


  • 100 g BBQ’d or rotisserie chicken, cubed or 1 tin albacore chunk tuna in water or stock 
  • 1/2 cup diced celery (dice all items similar size)
  • 1/2 green onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 apple, diced 
  • 2 tbsp walnuts pieces, toasted
  • squirt of lemon juice, more for taste 
  • 15 mL mayo (I used full strength)
  • 15 mL yoghurt (I used an Icelandic style)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Drain the tuna and set aside, if using.
  2. Add the apple to a small bowl and squirt a bit of lemon juice on it to prevent it from oxidizing.
  3. Add the celery, green onion, walnuts and apple to a bowl and combine well.
  4. Combine the mayo and yogurt with a squirt of lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir well. Add it to the vegetable fruit mix and coat evenly.
  5. Add the cubed chicken or chunk tuna and stir until equally distributed.
  6. Serve on a bed of salad greens, butter lettuce is particularly nice.


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During our first major grocery shopping when we arrived in Spain, JT bought some frozen ready-made Tuna Empanadas. I was excited because we love tuna and we love empanadas and we had never had tuna empanadas. Sadly, we were extremely disappointed, the quality just wasn’t there. The filling was mainly tomato sauce with nary a taste of tuna. But I got the taste of empanada in my head and I knew eventually, I would need to make some.

I made most of our meals during our time in Spain. And when I did, I made double or triple batches so that we could have a quick lunch or dinner after a tiring day of exploring. The European refrigerator in our flat has three good-size freeezer drawers to store home-made meals. At home in Toronto, I make these traditional Chilean empanada made with beef and pork; years ago a friend and neighbour kindly showed my Mom how to make and it’s been family favourite ever since. But in Spain, beef is not as common so I decided to use Chicken. I didn’t grind the chicken (no meat grinder) but I roughly chopped it into smallish chunks so that you can still get a chicken texture as you eat the empanada. Another option would be to roast it and shred it.

The winds on the Med had increased to about 45 km per hour, which made sitting outside nearly impossible. In fact, I was worried the wind would pick up the empanada and steal it away!

Empanadas de Pollo (Chicken Empanada)

Makes 6 large empanadas


  • 30 mL olive oil
  • 90 g onions, roughly chopped
  • 12 g roasted puréed garlic
  • 433 – 450 g skinless chicken breast, roughly chopped
  • 12 black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 10 dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 200 g frozen mixed vegetables, defrosted and drained
  • 3 g cumin
  • 1 g smoked paprika
  • 3 sheets puff pastry, defrosted in the refrigerator
  • 1 egg, whisked with 30 mL water


  1. Sauté the onions in the olive oil until translucent. 
  2. Add the chicken and stir to cook evenly. Cook all the way through.
  3. Add the roasted garlic, cumin and cook stirring until fragrant. Remove from heat and stir in the drained frozen vegetables, black olives and dates. Set aside in the refrigerator to cool completely.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each puff pastry sheet to 20 cm x 40 cm and cut in half, then cut each half into a 20 cm circle, reserve pastry ends for the fancy finish.
  5. Brush all around the edges with the egg wash. Fill one half of the round with 1/6th of the cooked, cooled chicken mixture leaving about 2 cm all the way around the edge and then fold half to create a crescent, pressing down the edges to seal.
  6. Brush the top of the empanada with the egg wash. Finish edges into a fancy design (I used the left-over pastry and made it into a rope design). Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate or freeze until ready to bake.
  7. Continue with remaining ingredients until you have 6 meal-sized empanadas. 
  8. Freeze for future use or bake at 400° F until pastry is golden.
  9. Serve with a lightly dressed salad.
The vegetables are also unusual for empanadas, but we like veggies so I added them!


  • Traditional Chilean Empanadas are made with golden raisins but believe it or not, I was not able to find any type of raisins in our little village so I used dates. This is not a sweet dish, the dates or raisins just add a bit of sweetness so taste your dates or raisins and determine how many you will use depending on how sweet they are. The dates I used were not the same sweetness that the dates I buy in North America, so I used ten, but you may need to reduce it if you use the super sweet kind. 
  • I used puff pastry because my little kitchen in Spain is ill-equipped and very small. You can use this recipe for pastry but I am unsure of how well-fitting the proportions of filling to pastry will be. You can always freeze extra pastry in a ziplock bag.

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We may have put on a few pounds during our holidays. It’s always so difficult to stay on track while on holiday, but the plus side is that we did walk a lot, the day we visited the Alhambra in Granada we walked 11 kilometres!

Now that we are back to reality, we wanted to get back into eating fewer carbs. This used to be one of JTs favourite meals but I was a little apprehensive in making chicken cutlets without breadcrumbs and this recipe definitely does not disappoint. The almond flour crisps up beautifully and provides a wonderfully flavoured coating. I served this cutlet with cauliflower purée and cucumber salad. JT loved it.

A tasty cutlet that doesn’t dry out.

Low Carb Chicken Cutlets

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 2


  • 200 g chicken breast
  • Pinch of dehydrated garlic powder
  • Pinch of dehydrated onion powder
  • 1 egg
  • 5 g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 75 g almond flour
  • Pinch of herbes en Provence
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 30 mL grapeseed oil for frying


  1. Portion two 100 g chicken breasts and pound thinly between sheets of plastic wrap.
  2. Combine the Parmesan cheese and almond flour, set aside.
  3. Lightly whisk the eggs with the herbs, onion, garlic and salt together and set aside.
  4. Dip the chicken breast into the egg and coat it, allow excess to drip off. Then dip it into the almond flour mixture to coat both sides. Repeat with the second breast.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Pan fry chicken both sides until the internal temperature is 171° C. Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Net carbs are only 2.8 g! Chicken Cutlets only, no sides.

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We just got back from a two-week holiday in Arizona. I apologize for not commenting as much as I usually do, but you know the drill on holidays.

Regarding Arizona, I would love to say it was perfect weather, and perhaps it was, for Toronto weather but it was cold, sometimes snowy and rainy. Our time with dear friends more than made up for the lousy weather. Although we did have a few gloriously sunny days before the ugly, rainy days we spent in Sedona. Fortunately, our time at the Grand Canyon was clear, albeit cold (read: two layers of leggings, three long-sleeved Ts and a light winter jacket with hat, mittens and scarf). Once I get our photos sorted, I’ll post a few good ones on the blog, in the meantime, I thought I’d share one of my favourite ‘diet’ dishes, chicken “schnitzel” with roasted garlic cauliflower mash!

Chicken “Schnitzel” with Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 2


  • 460 g cauliflower
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, roasted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 165 g chicken breast, boneless, skinless
  • 35 g egg white
  • 2 Ryvita whole wheat snack bread
  • 10 g whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup Herbes en Provence with granulated onion and garlic
  • few sprays of non-stick spray
  • chopped fresh dill for garnish


  1. Pre-heat oven to 425° F.
  2. Break down cauliflower into equal-sized florets and set on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with non-stick spray. Roast until softened. Add a bit of water at the end to steam to perfect tenderness for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cauliflower florets into a glass bowl and add the roasted garlic cloves. Blitz with the hand blender until creamy and smooth, adding a bit of water if necessary (I just added the left-over steaming liquid from the roasting pan). Set aside.
  4. Divide the chicken into two equal portions and butterfly each, cover the chicken with plastic and flatten it to about 0.5 cm or 1/4 inch with a kitchen mallet. Put them into the fridge.
  5. Add Ryvita to a small zip lock bag and smash into smaller but coarser bits. Add the Herbes en Provence and mix well.
  6. Add the egg whites into a large flat bowl and beat with a fork.
  7. Remove one chicken cutlet from the fridge and lightly dust each side with the whole wheat flour. Then dip it into the egg whites to cover both sides. Sprinkle each side with the Ryvita mixture to coat evenly. Repeat with second cutlet.
  8. Heat a non-stick frying pan. Spray each side of each cutlet and cook cutlets on both sides until nicely golden and the internal temperature is 185°F. Serve immediately with a slice of lemon and some fresh dill sprinkled onto it.


  • The diet I use allows for two 100 g servings of protein per day.
  • If you don’t have roasted garlic on hand, simply put a few unpeeled cloves into a ramekin filled with a little water or stock and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until softened.
  • Even though the chicken is very thin, it is so tender, it will knock your socks off.

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My Father in Law passed recently. He made his 92nd birthday two-weeks earlier. It was very sad to lose him but to be honest, the last few years have not been kind to him, he simply existed, partly by choice and partly by nature (use it or lose it). That’s all of our parents now and I must tell you that it feels weird being an orphan at my age, both JT and I were very close to each other’s parents. Since Dad lived in Toronto, we made arrangements close to home and our home was the hub, which proved to be a lovely distraction. Our dearest friends Paul and T drove up from Wisconsin to help us and console us. Paul had known JT’s Dad through business so there was a strong connection with him. My newly married nephew and his bride also stayed with us because they live about two and half hours from the city. The house was alive with action! My FIL would have LOVED it!

Everyone came to the city to be at his bedside—I know he would have loved that too, although he didn’t love attention, he loved the buzz of activity. He passed very peacefully during the early hours of the morning of May 28, he didn’t suffer long. That evening, everyone gathered at our home and we had a wonderful family dinner telling stories and being there for each other. We ate rotisserie chicken, a variety of store bought salads and some homemade cookies I had in the freezer (I didn’t have time to throw anything together). We had the visitation on June 2 and the service on the 3rd. At 12pm on the 2nd, I discovered that everyone was coming for dinner just prior to the service the very next day so I sprung into action and made a huge batch of chicken mole out of the leftover rotisserie chicken. Fortunately, I had tried this recipe before and got the thumbs up from JT, so it was an easy decision to make it again.

ChickenMole_2 We had a couple of leftovers that JT and I had for dinner later that week.

The mole sauce can be made in a slow cooker but I did it stove-top this time—I found it therapeutic to be involved in the dish, chopping, stirring and cooking. Like any saucy dish, this definitely tastes better the next day. The rotisserie chicken is an easy addition to the mole, just shred it and stir it into the cooled mole sauce, fill the corn tortillas, refrigerate overnight so the flavours can meld. It was a huge success! Everyone loved it.

JT usually orders a mole when we dine at a Mexican restaurant and I’ve always wanted to try my hand at it. Although there are many recipes handed down generations that take two to three days to make, this one can be made in about an hour. It developes the depth of flavour as it sits overnight. I would not rush it, make it a day or two ahead.

Bucket List

Chicken Mole Enchiladas

Makes 24 Enchiladas (15 cm or 6 inch corn tortillas)

For the original recipe, please click here.


  • 750 mL (3 cups) sodium-free chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 500 mL (2 cups) freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 good sized oranges)
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) EVOO
  • 570 g (1 1/4 lb) sweet onions, sliced
  • 55 g (about 1/2 cup) sliced almonds
  • 6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 8 g (4 tsp) cumin seeds
  • 8 g (4 tsp) coriander seeds
  • 4 g dried pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed*
  • 4 g dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed*
  • 40 g (about 1/4 cup) raisins
  • 4 8 cm x 1 cm (1/2-inch) strips orange peel (orange part only)
  • 1.5 g (1 1/2 tsp) dried oregano
  • 45 g semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 g ground cinnamon (omit if using Mexican chocolate)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or green onions
  • 24 corn tortillas
  • 1 rotisserie chicken (or 3 left over), shredded (replace with firm tofu or beans if vegetarian)
  • 200 g (2 cups) Queso de Oaxaca or Mozzarella Cheese, grated
  • Crème fraîche, sour cream or yogurt as garnish
  • Sriracha sauce/or chipotle mayo as garnish


  1. Heat the EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) a large Dutch oven, add the sliced onions and sweat them out.
  2. Add the almonds and toast slightly. Add the garlic and cook until they release aroma, then add the cumin, coriander, two types of chilies (*replace with 15 mL (1 tbsp) smoked paprika if you prefer less spicy food) and cook until you can smell the spices.
  3. Add the raisins, orange peel, oregano, chicken stock and orange juice. Mix well. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If using the dry chilis, remove them and discard.
  4. Add the chocolate and cinnamon (or Mexican chocolate) and stir until chocolate has completely melted. Using an emersion blender, blitz the sauce until very smooth. Cool completely. Set aside 2 cups of sauce. Stir in the cold shredded rotisserie chicken.
  5. Fill each corn tortilla with some chicken mole and a little cheese, tuck the rolls into an oven proof pan with the rolled end secured. Repeat until there is no more mole. Pour reserved sauce over the enchiladas, sprinkle with grated cheese. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
  6. 1 hour prior to sitting down to eat, preheat oven to 350° F (177° C). Bake enchiladas for 30-40 minutes or until totally heated through (inside temperature should be around 150° F (66° C) and cheese should be melted and bubbling.
  7. To serve, drizzle with Crème fraîche, sour cream or yogurt and Sriracha sauce or chipotle mayo. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and/or green onions. Serve over Coconut Cauliflower Rice (recipe to come).
ChickenMole_3 We had these at the cottage a week or so ago. I added a little guacamole for fun. I don’t have many food style tools at the cottage so the garnish is quite rough.


  • The enchiladas freeze well. You may wish to slip a piece of parchment between each enchiladas so you can easily separate them.
  • *If you are concerned about the dish being too spicy, omit the dried chilis and replace them with 15 mL (1 tbsp) smoked paprika.

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ChickenALaKingSoupDuring my childhood, we ate mostly Canadian-ized Hungarian food. And by Canadian-ized, I mean that Mom used yogurt instead of tejföl (sour cream), oil instead of lard etc. Every weekend we would have a roast of beef or pork (but mainly beef) and in the summer, Dad would BBQ steak and thick juicy bacon (szalonna). On weekdays Mom had her repertoire of chicken and fish dishes and I do recall the odd (when Dad wasn’t home for dinner) meatloaf, with the obligatory hard-boiled egg inside and various Hungarian stews like Lecsó and tok fózelék (a similar dish to creamed spinach but it’s on the sour side).

Around the timeI turned 14, I became interested in cooking recipes that I chose myself and my dear Mom encouraged me. One of my favourite resources very early on was the Milk Calendar, put out in full colour print for free by the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Every December, I eagerly awaited the Milk Calendar tucked away in the weekend edition of the Toronto Star. One of the first dishes I ever made on my own was Chicken á la King with leftover chicken (back in the day when a roast chicken fed a family of four AND had enough leftovers for another meal!)

I have to admit, I am unsure if the following inspiration came from the Milk Calendar (I’m leaning toward this) or my beloved Five Roses Cookbook (recipe page 233). What I can tell you with most certainty is that as I was making this soup, I instantly recognized the aroma and flavour of our beloved childhood Chicken á la King. The ingredients are quite unexpected and it’s pretty healthy to boot. If you love the flavours of a creamy Chicken á la King, you will LOVE this recipe.

When did you first begin cooking on your own and did you have a favourite recipe book that you used until it fell apart?


Chicken á la King Soup

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes  3 or 4 servings 700-800 mL (3 1/2-4 cups),


  • 180 g red lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • water to cover
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/4 cooking onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 celery stalk, cubed
  • 1 carrot, cubed
  • 2 radishes, cubed
  • 2 tbsp frozen peas (optional garnish)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 100 g chicken breast, skinless and boneless, cut into smallish strips
  • chicken stock
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste


  1. In a medium, heavy bottomed pot, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and sauté the celery, carrot, and radish until soft. Add the chicken and cook through. Set aside in another bowl.
  2. In the same saucepan, add the remainding 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the lentils, stir and cover with water. Cook until lentils are very soft. Remove from heat and blitz with an immersion blender until very smooth, adding chicken stock until desired thickness is achieved (I left mine relative thick so it’s more stew-like). Add the apple cider vinegar and blitz until well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Return the puréed lentils to the heat and slowly reheat, add the cooked vegetables and chicken and stir well. Serve pipping hot.
ChickenalaKingNF Healthy Chicken á la King Soup


Traditional Chicken á la King


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Cottage season is almost over and we’re heading right into the holidays: Canadian Thanksgiving, Halloween, American Thanksgiving and then Christmas! My how time flies. This “recipe” has become a “go to” recipe for brunches and lunches at the cottage where refrigerator space is at a premium and standard grocery items are difficult to find (to say the least). It’s the perfect recipe to reinvent ‘leftovers.” For the last couple of years, whenever I make a one pot rice dish like Paella, Jumbalaya, Risotto or even a pasta dish like JT’s Mediterranean Pasta, I ALWAYs make 2 extra servings. The trick is to set aside the two extra servings so that you’re not even tempted to finish off every last bite and lick the plate clean ;-p! The two extra servings combined with eggs and a little flavouring bake up into the most delicious dish, you will be tempted to make the recipe just to rebake it for brunch the following day! And the best part is that it freezes very well, so even if there is only two dining on leftovers, freeze the rest cut into single portions in a ziplock bag, ready for a quick lunch or a fancy brunch.

LimerickLake On some mornings the lake is so very still.


Bits of the seafood, chicken and chorizo dot the delicious egg bake.

Paella Bake

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 8



  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (177° C). Prepare a square baking pan with perpendicular sides (some square cake pans have angled sides). Line with parchment so that it extends up two of the sides. Spray lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine eggs and La Bomba and whisk well. Fold gently into the leftover paella being careful not to squish the rice into a mushy mess.
  3. Pour into the prepared pan and jiggle around making sure that the proteins are distributed evenly. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  4. Cool slightly and cut into 8 portions with a very sharp knife. Serve with lemon slices and a light salad.
PaellaBake2 Would you care for a slice?
PaellaBake3 Our Paellas are always full of flavour.
LimerickLake_Sunset Red sky at night, sailors’ delight!
LimerickLake_cocktails Cocktails inside the screen-in porch, so peaceful.

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Did you have pancakes on Tuesday? Pancakes are traditionally served on shrove Tuesday, not sure why but because we love the ‘cakes of pan’ we had these beauties for dinner Tuesday night. Thank you Sissi.

In early February, mid-February, late-February and now early March, we have been going through a bit of a deep chill which always makes us crave hearty, spicy foods. We invited my nephew, niece and her beau to dinner last month and I wanted to serve something new, for them and for me (I’ve never made this before!) so I turned to the hearty West Indian Rôti, always comforting with it’s warm flavours and great textures.

I chose Chef Marcus Samuelson’s Trinidadian Chicken Roti recipe, with some very minor alterations. I also used this recipe* for my Jamaican Curry powder; I actually liked the second one because I was able to make as much or as little as needed — I used 1 teaspoon as my single measure for the ratios which made more than enough for 4 tablespoons! You may also buy Jamaican Curry Spice ready made from the store.

There is absolutely nothing stopping you from omitting the chicken and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to make this entirely vegetarian, you can even add tofu but the chickpeas are likely filling enough.

Below is the calorie count for one of the Rôti’s served at our favourite takeout place.  After the success of this recipe, I suspect that rôti will not be bought take out ever again! For the record, I always cut my rôti in half and shared it with someone else!

Calories: 1,013 YIKES!
Fat: 43 grams DOUBLE YIKES!
Sodium: 1,617 milligrams OMG!
Carbohydrates: 106 grams
Protein: 51 grams

Chicken Roti_2099 A perfectly seasoned and slightly spicy Chicken, chickpea and kale roti

Trinidadian Chicken Rôti

Makes 8 servings. Please see Chef Marcus Samuelson’s original recipe here. Make the curry a day in advance because it will taste better!


  • 1 cup dried sprouted chickpeas**, rehydrated over night (or low sodium can of cooked chickpeas)
  • 3+ cups chicken stock
  • Quick spray of non-stick spray
  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium Chinese egg plant, cubed
  • 2 generous cups kale, chopped
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 4 tbsp Jamaican curry powder*
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • 800 g chicken breasts, no bone, no skin, cut into even chunks
  • 1/4 cup white wine


  1. Add the sprouted chickpeas and stock to a slow cooker and set on high for 4 hours.
  2. Spray a large dutch oven with non-stick spray and sweat the onions until translucent on medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic, eggplant and kale and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the Jamaican curry powder, cumin and salt and pepper and stir until fragrant. Add the vinegar and give it a good stir. Using a silicon spatula, scrap this mixture into the slow cooker and give it a good stir. Cook on high for 4-6 hours.
  4. About 1 hour before serving, reheat the dutch oven and sear the chicken pieces in the spice laden dutch oven. Add the chicken to the curry in the Dutch oven. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and add to the curry.
  5. Give the curry a good stir and reset the timer and heat to Low for 1 additional hour.
  6. You may need to add a bit more more stock if the curry is too thick because you want a lot of gravy.
  7. Serve with Roti bread.
Chicken Roti_2097 Delicious!

** I tried sprouting my chickpeas for the first time on my friend Norma’s suggestion, not sure it made much of a difference the taste but it was fun to do.

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 3.00.46 PM Nutrional Facts for the Curry
Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 2.26.11 PM Nutrional Facts for the Roti Bread

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Remember back in March, we held our second progressive dinner on our street and it happened to fall right smack in Earth Hour? Our course was the appetizer and I chose to make Sopa Azteca or Tortilla Soup. The soup was a resounding success, full of flavour, colour and texture, but I did the unthinkable — I completely forgot to record my recipe which worked out to be a hybrid of Rick Bayless’s Sopa Azetca and a recipe that my good friend Barb of Profiteroles and Ponytails posted about some time ago!

Cinco de Mayo was just a few weeks ago and I thought it’s a perfect time to recreate this wonderful soup, before the weather starts getting too hot to enjoy soup. There is a bit of prep work, but once it’s all done, you pop it into a slow cooker and forget about it. I would even suggest you make it the day before you want to serve it because it’s just that much tastier the next day.

This soup is well worth the effort. This soup is well worth the effort.

Sopa Azteca (Tortilla Soup)

Serves 4, dinner portions


  • 100 g onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small smoked dried haberno chili peppers, seeds removed (haberno is hot)
  • 1 large pasilla chili pepper, seeds removed (pasilla is much more mild)
  • 4 coriander stems with roots (rinsed well)
  • 2-3 epazote stems (I could only find dried, you could probably use a bay leaf instead, but remember to remove it or omit it entirely)
  • 800 mL strained tomato purée (I prefer low sodium)
  • 2 L low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp coriandre
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups frozen corn (or fresh on the cob BBQ’d and kernals cut off)
  • 1 small whole wheat soft tortilla shell

BBQ’d Chicken or Turkey Breast (omit if you are using a previously roasted whole chicken)

  • 400 g skinless, boneless chicken or turkey breast or 1 previously roasted chicken
  • 1 dried haberno pepper, seeds removed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Avocado Garnish (or use guacamole):

  • 1 small avocado
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 green onions, roughly chopped

Other Garnishes:

  • 4 tbsp low fat yogurt
  • 4 tbsp shredded Mexican melting cheese (like Chihuahua or mozzarella)
  • 1 lime cut into wedges

Directions for the Soup:

  1. Prepare your slow cooker by preheating it. Add the tomato sauce and chicken stock to the slow cooker; add the dried epazote and cilantro stems and roots.
  2. If you are using a previously roasted chicken, remove all the tiny bones and add it to the slow cooker, covering with the liquid.
  3. Add the seeded, dried chilli peppers (if you prefer less heat, put these peppers into a cheese cloth bag and tie off).
  4. Add the onions and garlic and cocoa, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and coriander into the tomato sauce and stir well. Add  1 cup of corn.
  5. Cook on a medium low setting for 3-5 hours.
  6. Remove the woody stems and roots of the cilantro and epazot and discard, blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve to remove all the corn husks return to the slow cooker and add the other cup of corn. Keep warm until you wish to serve.

Directions for the Chicken or Turkey (omit if you are using a previously roasted chicken):

  1. Combine everything for the rub but the chicken or turkey in a dedicated coffee grinder for spices and grind until it’s a fine powder.
  2. Remove any bits of fat or skin from the chicken or turkey and completely coat with the dry rub. Refrigerate while soup is cooking.
  3. BBQ (with or without smoke) until the internal temperature is 74°C or 165°F. Set aside for 10 minutes and then using a fork, tear bite size pieces off. If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate and reheat when ready to use.

Directions for the Avocado Garnish:

  1. Peel and chop the avocado into half centimetre cubes (1/4″).
  2. Combine with the garlic, lime juice, cilantro and green onions and stir well.
  3. Refrigerate until serving.

Tortilla Cones:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175° C or 350°F.
  2. Lightly brush the tortilla shell with olive oil to prevent it from drying out.
  3. Using a pizza cutter and a kitchen ruler, cut the tortilla shell into 5-7mm strips (1/4″).
  4. Join 3 strips together end to end using a bit of water and pressing the strips firmly together.
  5. Carefully wrap each strip, oiled side in, on the cannoli cones. I found that pressing some tin foil on the tips prevented them from unraveling.
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes turning once. You are aiming to dry out the tortilla into a crisp, cracker cone.
  7. When finished, allow to cool for a minute and gently pry the cone from the cannoli mold. Reserve for presentation.
Tortilla1_4657 The strips are being attached to each other.
Tortilla Cone_4658 I won’t lie and say it’s easy, but with a little practice, it worked out very well.
OvenReadyCone_4659 The cones are ready for the oven
They released perfectly without casualties. They released perfectly without casualties.

Soup Assembly:

  1. Reheat the soup and chicken/turkey separately until piping hot. Ladle a generous amount of soup into each bowl, if using BBQd chicken or turkey breasts, shred into bite sized pieces and pile the chicken/turkey in the centre. If using the whole pre-roasted whole chicken, remove from bones and shred and pile into the centre of the bowl. Add a tablespoon of the avocado mixture and a tablespoon of yogurt. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the grated cheese over the hot soup and add the tortilla cone last to stand in the centre.Serve immediately with a wedge of lime.

Serving suggestions:

  • Serve with Jalopeño corn bread.
  • Instead of fussing with the tortilla cones, just toast the sliced tortilla strips until crisp and serve piled in the centre like a Tee-Pee.


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My friend Barb made an incredible feast for Chinese New Year, she had so many delicious things it was really difficult to choose just one. But when I saw the Lemon Chicken plated out, I knew I had to try it because, believe it or not, I happen to adore the not so good for you version at Chinese fast food stalls! It turns out that lemon in savoury dishes is not one of JT’s favourite things, although he did say he didn’t hate it. Well, what he actually said was he prefers the taste of lemons in desserts! Go figure. I really enjoyed this recipe because I adore sour and sweet combos. And I have to admit, I reduced the sugar for our dinner and if I were to make it again, I would reduce it even more as I found it a little too sweet for my taste (I have adjusted the recipe below to reduce the sugar). I also baked the skinless, boneless Chicken breasts instead of pan frying to be a little healthier.

Lemony Chicken

Original Recipe from House and Home

Serves 2, 100 g portions

IMG_4153_BLOG Cutting the chicken into strips allows them to cook faster so that the crumbs become crispy but don’t burn.


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sugar (I have reduced this from my pictured recipe already)
  • 1 heaping tbsp grated ginger root
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 200 g boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 tbsp cold water
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup panko-style bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • Mix of greens such as shredded romaine lettuce.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine water, sugar and ginger in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes to infuse the water with the ginger.
  3. Stir in the freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest and quickly return to a boil.
  4. Dissolve the cornstarch in about 1 tbsp cold water and stir well into the lemon mixture. Cook on medium neat until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Remove all residual fat from the chicken. Place in a zip lock bag and pound so that the breasts are even thickness. Cut each breast into similar thickness stips.
  6. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, stir well. Set aside.
  7. Whisk egg white, water, soy sauce and garlic in another bowl, set aside.
  8. Pour Panko into a third bowl and mix in the sesame seeds.
  9. Set up your breading stations so that the flour mixture is first, the egg whites second and the panko last.
  10. Dredge the chicken strips in the flour mixture and shake off excess, then dip into the egg whites and lastly coat with panko/sesame mix. Repeat with all the chicken strips until all have been breaded.
  11. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 12-15 minutes (turning about mid way) or until chicken has an internal temperature of 165°F or 74° C.
  12. Reheat the sauce. Fill a bowl with mixed greens, place chicken strips over the greens and dress with the hot lemony sauce.
  13. Enjoy!

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It’s still blistery cold in these parts and we’re craving hearty foods. This was a recipe created because I wanted to make Naan again and I needed something Indian to go with it (I know, it’s usually the other way around, but I really wanted to eat test my new recipe again). It’s a lovely subtle curry with just enough spice to enhance the flavour and a wonderful creamy texture. I used coconut milk powder and water for the coconut milk in the recipe, but feel free to use the high fat canned stuff, I’m sure it will taste a lot richer. By the way, serve it with this Naan.

A delicicous combination of curry and coconut milk

Coconut Chicken Curry

Serves 4, 100 g servings of chicken each


  • 400 g boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2.5 cm or 1 inch chunks
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 tbsp coconut milk powder
  • 400 mL or 14 oz warm water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 red pepper sliced thinly
  • 1/2 green pepper sliced thinly


  1. Heat oil and curry powder in a large skillet over medium-high heat for two minutes. Stir in onions and garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add chicken, tossing lightly to coat with curry oil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in center and juices run clear. Reserve chicken.
  2. Combine coconut powder and warm water and mix well.
  3. Pour coconut milk, tomato paste, lemon juice and sugar into the pan and stir to combine. Cover and simmer stirring occasionally for approximately 30 to 40 minutes or until the coconut milk reduces to a nice thick sauce. During the final 15 minutes, add the red and green peppers so they don’t overcook and the chicken to reheat.
  4. Serve with Naan.

The most delicious naan yet

Yes, these are as good as they look. I kid you not.

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It’s that time of year again, cold and flu season. For the most part, I can pretty well ward off any cold or flu I come across with my evil powers (just kidding) but this one bugger finally got me late last week. I’d been plagued with a sore throat since a week ago Monday, but no coughing or sneezing or any other symptoms, until Saturday. My voice is now three octaves lower and a little raspier…dare I say sexy? Well, if it wasn’t for the sneezing and coughing, perhaps. But not so much ;-)!

We went Christmas tree chopping on Sunday (you may recall we did this last year too), I probably shouldn’t have gone, but I really, really, really wanted to. And it was cold, and slightly snowing. We snapped a few pics but the weather wasn’t great and I paid for it the following day. I stayed home and nursed my achy body. And with great timing, my friend Kelly up in Ottawa at Inspired Edibles created a alcohol free (I know, what was I thinking?) hot toddy that sincerely HIT THE SPOT. I will make this my go to winter drink when I feel a cold coming on. You can actually taste the healing properties (and heating properties ;-)!) I’m not going to post the recipe because I made it just as Kelly suggested (except I didn’t have star anise, so I used cloves instead) and her pictures are better anyway. Please do yourself a favour and try this drink. It is seriously yummy and it works!

Lightly snowing made it picture perfect for tree cutting
No, we don’t just walk into a forest to chop down our tree, we actually to go a tree farm!

We chose another smallish tree, but this one has a lot more girth (but Mum’s the word when the tree asks if it looks fat all dressed up!)

We’ll decorate it tomorrow night! (Weird glow is from the iPhone 4 flash)

When we arrived home that evening, I just felt like soup, so I made just what the doctor ordered, chicken noodle soup. This is a variation of Nigella’s Cold Cure Soup as I wanted something a little simpler than her version. And I only put 1/4 of a fresh lemon into it as I have found that more than that can make the soup bitter tasting, particularly when your taste buds are a bit off with a cold.

Cold Cure Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves 4 generous portions

A gorgeous mix of carrots, parsnips and onions garnished with parsley and green onion. There are glass noodles hiding in there too!


  • 2 bone in, skinless chicken breasts (about 400-450 g)
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium parsnip, cut into large chunks (reserve the tops)
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, smashed but left whole (so you can remove them)
  • 1/4 lemon
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • Water
  • Salt to taste
  • Glass noodles
  • Parsley to garnish
  • Green onion to garnish
This is the instagram photo


  1. If the chicken still has some fat on it, remove all fat (you’ll thank me later so your soup isn’t a large puddle of grease!). Sear the chicken breasts, meat side down until lightly browned.
  2. Add onion, carrots, parsnips, garlic and the lemon. Stir for a moment. Fill the pot with water to cover all of the chicken and vegetables.
  3. Wash and tie the parsnips tops, add to the soup pot. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through (I found that 1 hour 30 minutes was good for our chicken, but you should definitely check the internal temperature) You don’t want to cook it too long so that the vegetables are not mushy!
  4. Remove chicken and allow to rest for about 5-7 minutes (covered). Taste and salt stock to your preference.
  5. In the meantime, soak the glass noodles according to directions.
  6. Strain the soup through a fine sieve, reserving the carrot, parsnip and onions. Discard the parsnip tops, garlic and lemon.
  7. Cut the carrot and parsnips into small bite size sticks.
  8. De-bone the chicken and tear into small bite-size pieces.
  9. Into four bowls, add even amounts of the noodles, vegetables and chicken and cover with the hot stock.
  10. Serve immediately garnished with parsley and green onions.

On an unrelated note, my blog is fast approaching our 100,000 visitor! I’m hoping we can reach that goal before the new year. I might even do a give away! Stay tuned.

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In October we were invited to another theme dinner party: Truman Capote’s Black and White Masquerade Ball, the party of the century! We were asked to dress in black and white and wear with a mask, which worked out perfectly since Halloween was just around the corner!

Our lovely hostess made this beautiful little booklet for the evening. The menu was pulled from Capote’s favourites, Basil Chicken Hash and served similar to the style of the time. We all had a blast! Mind you, I think we lasted about 10 minutes wearing the masks! Sadly, I didn’t get any pics of JT and I. Nor did I shoot the hash…but rest assured, it was AMAZING. The basil infused the chicken and although there is nothing Thai about it, it had a slight Thai flavouring to me. This will definitely go into our steady repertoire, such a flavourful and easy dish.

My friend chose Ina Garten’s recipe which turns out to be healthier than the real deal, believe it or not; Ina uses an extra pot to sauté the peppers, but I wanted to make it much simpler and modified the recipe accordingly.

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Our lovely hosts also gave us a bit of a teaser for the next themed dinner party in the Springtime…it will be Bond 007! What fun! Now, tell me which Bond girl should I be?

Basil Chicken Hash

Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network

Serves 4, 100 g chicken per serving


  • 1 or 2 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin removed (400 g)
  • 5 stalks of fresh basil leaves
  • dash of EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small boiling potato, peeled and large diced
  • 1 red onion, chopped in large quarters
  • 1 red bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 minced scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh leaf parsley
  • dash of vegetable or chicken stock
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Spray the baking sheet with non-stick spray and lay two stalks of the basil leaves down (I was lucky, I used what was left from the garden).
  3. Place the chicken breasts on top of the basil, bone side down. Lightly rub each chicken piece with EVOO and sprinkle with salt. Put two more basil stalks on top of the chicken and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and cut the chicken in large dice pieces and set aside.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large sauté pan and add the potatoes and onions, salt and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until evenly browned and cooked through. I added a dash of stock at this point. Add the peppers, garlic, thyme, paprika and tomato paste and mix well. Add the chicken and another dash of stock and place into the oven to finish for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Garnish with the remaining torn basil leaves, minced scallions and chopped fresh parsley, toss together and place on a serving platter. Serve over greens (I only had one smallish potato but if you use the recipe as is, you will not need a side with it).

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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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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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I know, my super bowl menu listed Honey Garlic Chicken Wings, but while I was grazing my reading list of blogs, I saw that Kay over at Pure Complex recently made Grilled Maple Mustard Chicken Wings and I just knew I had to revise my Honey Garlic CW to Maple Garlic Chicken Wings – yet another tip of the hat to the New England Patriots! Unfortunately, my photos just did not turn out well, so I trashed them. You’ll have to use your imagination on how yummy they were.

Maple Garlic Chicken Wings


  • whole mess of wings (I like them separated so they bake more evenly)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • non-fat cooking spray


  1. Dry off the wings and add to a zip lock bag.
  2. Mix all of the remaining ingredients and pour into the bag and close. Rub this mixture into the wings — you can leave in the fridge over night, if you wish.
  3. Pre heat oven to 200° C / 400° F
  4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment (will save a lot of time cleaning up). Spray a bit with the non-stick spray.
  5. Pour wings onto the sheet and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning once when the fist side has a nice golden colour to it.
  6. Enjoy with Blue Cheese dipping sauce.

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Although it has been unseasonably warm this past week in the big smoke, it’s been crazy rainy and windy. It’s a perfect time to stay in and make some healthy comforting food that is great for lunch the next day. I posted this recipe in 2009 because it is an incredibly tasty and easy dish for a week night, but I find myself craving to repost as I really hated the old photo! This is still JTs signature dish so I won’t alter his recipe other than how it has morphed over the years, and it has morphed a touch over the years. But I will say, please make this, it is really, really, really good!

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway! I’m really excited about the give away and what creative things you will make with it and blog about. I did forget to detail the time the draw closes: 12pm Eastern Standard Time, that will give me some time to get the correct entries together and have JT do the draw! As well, the Just a Pinch salts were purchased entirely by ME! It is not linked to any other promo! Time is a tickin’ people, better enter soon!

And did I mention that a couple of the answers are found in more than one post? Oops! Good luck!

A hearty but healthy dinner on a cold winters night

JTs Chicken Cacciatore

Adapted from Fannie Farmer, December 1984 (originally published in 1896!).
Serves 4 (2 dinners and 2 lunches in our case)


  • 400g chicken breasts, skinless, boneless
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 28g dried mushrooms rehydrated in about 1 cup warm water, set liquid aside (make sure you strain through coffee filter to ensure no sand gets into it)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or low sodium chicken stock)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced (we used green this time because that is what we had)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (put remaining tomato paste into an extra ice cube tray and freeze, remove from tray into a resealable container and voila, tomato paste as required!)
  • 2 cups canned Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • Chili peppers to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Grated Parmesan, if you wish


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (or you could just cook the entire dish stove top with the lid on)
  2. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven and cook the chicken until lightly browned on all sides.
  3. Add the onion and sauté a minute or two and then add the wine and allow to boil up.
  4. Lower the temperature and add the garlic, tomato paste, tomatoes, pepper and the mushrooms.
  5. Add the seasonings, bay leaves and the mushroom liquid.
  6. Cover and bake in the hot oven for about 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked through. If you like a dryer cacciatore, leave the cover off so that some of the liquid evaporates; I prefer mine a bit wet so that it makes a tasty ‘dressing’ for the greens.
  7. Remove bay leaves, taste and season if required.
  8. Serve on a bed of mixed baby spinach and baby arugula leaves. You can also serve with grated Parmesan and a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, but we’re reducing our intake this week, so we omitted it.

Tips: You can also add black olives (chop in half) and crumble some sheeps milk feta on top instead of the Parmesan for a slightly Greek version of the dish.

I had to update this post with a photo I recently took with my iPhone at work. I just loved how rich the sauce looks and how luminous this photos is.

Our studio has amazing light. And yes, that surely is cayenne pepper on the chicken.

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My friend, Barb (Profiteroles and Ponytails) went to Australia several years ago and shortly after we visited her in Vancouver; for our premier dinner she made us the Thai Coconut Soup that is so famous in restaurants and it was delicious! I had no experience cooking Thai food at home and as a gift she bought me a Thai cookbook called Australian Woman’s Weekly, Easy Thai-Style Cookery. It is really my ‘go to’ cookbook for Thai food, my favourite being Lemongrass Soup. It has great step-by-step instructions on how to with very clear photos. You really can’t go wrong. I have made this soup so often I don’t even look at the recipe anymore and basically just eyeball and taste it, so you’ll have to excuse my loosey-goosey measurements! I have served this soup at several dinner parties and I am told by some of my Thai food-lover friends that it is very delicious!

Thai cooking is about balancing salty, sweet, spicy and sour so you really have to taste, taste, taste and adjust as you go along. My Lemongrass soup is my favourite to the restaurant variety as I find some too salty and too sweet. Most restaurant versions also don’t include fettuccine-sized rice noodles (half centimetre wide) in the soup, but there was one place across from the Eaton Centre on Yonge Street that always had the noodles in the soup and I really enjoyed it, so I usually include them!

This soup comes together very quickly, the hard part is waiting for the rice noodles to soften up. You can also substitute shrimp for the chicken.

Comforting lemongrass chicken soup

I always make an extra huge batch so I can take some to work for my lunch the next day.

A mouthwatering delicious balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy; can I get you a bowl?

Thai Inspired Lemongrass Chicken Soup

Serves 3 in large bowls


  • 1 tbsp flavourless vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3oog boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups thinly sliced plain white mushrooms (I like a lot of mushrooms in my soup)
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ginger (ground is fine, fresh is better)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped lemon grass
  • 4 kafir lime leaves
  • 2 small bits of dry galangal (Thai ginger)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2-4 tbsp sugar (or I used agave nectar)
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 4-6 cup water or low sodium chicken stock (I did a mix of the two to mitigate calories)
  • a good handful of fettuccine-sized rice noodles


  • 1/4 cup finely sliced green onion (forgot to add for the photo)
  • 2-4 Thai basil leaves, chiffonade (did not have this, nor did I miss it)
  • handful of chopped cilantro (did not have this, but I surely missed it)


  1. Heat the water in your kettle until boiling. Pour over the rice noodles and allow to sit until they are totally reconstituted, 10-15 minutes. Do not over soak, you want a bit of a bite to it.
  2. In a large soup pan, heat the two oils until hot but not smoky (the sesame oil has a very low smoke point). Add the onions and stir until slightly translucent. Add the chicken and brown a bit. Turn the heat down to a simmer.
  3. Mix the cumin, coriandre, ginger and lemon grass together, sprinkle on the chicken and stir until you can really smell it. Add the garlic and stir once. Add all of the chicken stock, kafir leaves, galangal, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chili flakes. Stir well. Heat so that the chicken cooks through. Once the chicken is cooked, taste for salty, sweet, spicy and sour balance and adjust accordingly. Remove the galangal and kafir lime leaves, discard.
  4. Put one third of the cold noodles into a large decorative white bowl. Add ladle-fulls of the chicken soup with bits of chicken, onion and mushrooms. Garnish with the green onion, chopped basil leaves and cilantro leaves. Enjoy.

Cooks tips:

  • Store your fresh ginger knobs in the freezer in a resealable container; grate on a fine micro-plane grater when required, you need not peel it! Keeps indefinitely.
  • I usually buy a large quantity of lemongrass and chop them finely in my food processor, and then I freeze them in a reusable container. I can usually break off what I need.
  • If you are taking the left overs to work, I recommend storing the cooked noodles in a separate container to the soup so that they don’t absorb any more liquid. When you reheat the soup, do so to just before boiling (so the chicken doesn’t cook further) and that way when you put the chilled noodles in, they will cool it down to a palatable level.
  • Fish sauce is used in thai cooking instead of salt.
  • To save time, I have sometimes used Rosa’s Lime Cordial instead of lime juice, but you have to remember NOT to add the sugar.

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Sunday we drove down to Niagara to chop down our Christmas tree. We started this tradition last year for something new to do; we found this family tree farm close to two restaurants we love and decided to make a day of it — tree chopping and lunch! We decided to go to Treadwells in Port Dalhousie, a lovely restaurant where the Dad is the Chef and the son is the Sommelier. We’ve been several times and we’re never disappointed; I had the French Onion Soup which I would highly recommend, JT had the lobster club — very decadent with the duck fat fried bread! My good fried Barb recommended the restaurant about 4-5 years ago — which is a perfect segway to the Crock Pot Chili we just made because it’s Barb’s recipe!

Our New Christmas Tree

Barb  just started blogging and her latest blog post was of the Crock Pot Chili; what a perfect meal  — the wonderful aroma wafting through the house, welcoming us upon our return with our tree! Please check out Barb’s blog Profiteroles and Ponytails. I’ve know barb for almost 20 years now, we met at my very first job, KPMG in their National Marketing department. Barb was a writer and I was the Senior Manager in the Design Department. We’ve not worked for KPMG for many years now, but we’ve been good friends ever since. Barb has always loved cooking and this blog is the perfect succession to her passion. Please do pay her a visit, she knows all about my blogging ‘friends’ and is excited to hopefully meet you!

The chili is pretty much to Barb’s recipe, with a few minor alterations as I didn’t have some of the ingredients on hand. I only had 300g of ground beef and turkey, so I added chopped Chorizo so that we could get 4-6 meals out of it (I’ll freeze it in batches of single servings so we can have a quick lunch on the weekends we’re too busy to cook). I also didn’t have canned beans, so I used 1 cup of dried Navy Beans; and because they had to reconstitute while cooking, I added 2 additional cups of stock to the pot. I also used home made tomato sauce, made with the tomatoes from our generous neighbours to the north. I added some mushrooms because I had them and they needed to be used up. The chili turned out quite delicious, richly flavoured with all spice, cocoa and chili powder. We served them in our little single serve Le Creuset casserole pans, topped with the delicious cornbread topping. I dolloped some non-fat Greek Yogurt with the chopped green onions on top. YUM! Thanks Barbie!

Barb's delicoius Crock Pot Chili

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February 10, 2013: I have updated this post with additional instruction for the nokedli and a new photo.

It’s the eve of Halloween and we’re getting really excited about our fast approaching trip to Morocco. There are so many things still to do, like packing, for example!

Our House Decked out for Halloween

Pumpkin Lights in the Planters

Not withstanding, I promised a scary story, the final installment. So here it is… Sadly, my dear Dad was jaundiced from owning a home because the Russians had taken away his family home and he was afraid it would happen again, so we lived in a very nice newly built apartment in suburban Toronto. We had just visited Hungary the first time and both my brother and I were a little freaked out because we had seen museum after museum of archeological digs – mainly skulls (Hungary was the munitions centre of the Roman Empire and the country is littered with Roman Ruins). The skulls both fascinated us and freaked us out at the same time.
Upon our return to Canada we decided to share a room in our apartment, on his side the walls were decorated with Hot Wheels and on mine, Barbie wallpaper. Most nights were fine, but on occasion one of us would have a bad dream and crawl into Mom and Dad’s bed. On this night, it was my brother that ventured into Mom and Dad’s room for safety and my Dad came in and slept in my brother’s bed.
Waking up in the middle if the night is never fun when you’re little; everything is so dark and shadows seem alive! I should have felt safe because my Dad was in the room, but he was snoring away about 10 feet from me and unaware of the shadows. The head of my bed faced away from the window; we were on the second floor and plenty of street light poured in through the curtains — plenty to make evil shadows come alive, that is. I awoke with a start! There is a HUGE man in a cowboy hat standing at the foot of my bed; I see only the silhouette, there are no features, but he looks mean. I can’t speak, I can hardly breathe. I blink, oh my god, he’s still there. I blink even harder, damn, still there. I hide my head under the covers and count to ten. There is no man in the room and my Dad is right there not more than 10 feet from me. I know it’s in my head, but crap, it seems so real. I peak out one last time, and HE’S STILL THERE. Now, I really can’t breathe. I hide my head under the covers and I stay there; I imagine the lack of oxygen caused me to fall asleep, and when I woke up in the morning, with the sun pouring in, the shadow man was gone! Or the entire episode was a dream that seemed so real.

Year’s later, as an adult, I read about the Shadow People, and now wonder if it had been real!

Ready for the recipe? I have perfected this recipe over the years trying to make it healthier (Hungarians cook with a lot of lard and although it is flavourful, it is definitely not good for you).

Healthy Chicken Paprikas


  • 4 x 100g skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 roughly chopped medium sweet onion (I used vidalia)
  • 1 cup cubed celery root
  • 3 ripe red peppers
  • 2 tbsp Hungarian Sweet Papkria
  • 1-2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup + 4 tbsp non fat Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Roast the peppers in the oven until the skins are black. Set into a bowl with a plate covering it to allow the peppers to steam.
  2. Once peppers are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off.
  3. Purée the peppers using an immersion blender until smooth.
  4. In a large dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp oil and add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the Hungarian paprika, but be careful not to burn, this isn’t like Indian spices, paprika will burn quickly.
  5. To the onions, add the celery root and 1 cup chicken stock. Add the puréed roasted red peppers, and a little more chicken stock. Cook for 1/2 hour on medium heat, until the celery root is soft.
  6. Remove from the heat and purée until smooth. Pass through a fine seive.
  7. Before returning the sauce to the heat, add 1 tbsp oil to the dutch oven. Chop the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and brown in the hot oil. Add the paprika sauce back into the pan with the chicken and cook for 1/2 hour on medium heat or until the chicken is cooked through. You can remove from the heat and freeze for future use, or use right away.
  8. Add 1 tsp flour to the yogurt and mix well (this will prevent the yogurt from separating when adding to the paprika sauce). Add the yogurt to the chicken paprikas and mix well.
  9. To serve, pour into a large decorative dish and drizzle with the remaining yogurt, garnish with flat leaf parsley.

Ingredients for the Nokedli (dumplings):

Hungarian Paprika and the Nokedli Szagato (dumpling tool)

General rule of thumb for this recipe is 1 cup flour and 1 egg per person. In my efforts to make this a healthier meal, I generally use 1 egg for the pot and 4 tbsp egg whites and 1/2 cup flour per person. The nokedli are lighter and not as yellow as using full eggs, but the flavour is still there. You make the nokedli by hand using a small cutting board and a knife and just cutting off small bits of the dough right into the boiling water (Hungarians call this Csipetke) or you can use a nokedli maker.

  • 2 cups flour (you can substitute whole wheat but it changes the texture a bit, so I would only recommend 1/4 cup ww and 1 3/4 white flour)
  • 1 egg
  • 12 tbsp egg whites
  • salt and pepper to taste

The dough should be loose enough to press through the Nokedli maker without much effort, but it should not be wet.

The dough should be loose enough to press through the Nokedli maker without much effort, but it should not be wet.


  1. Beat egg and egg white until slightly frothy. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Mix in the flour until it form a soft dough (I usually do this in the food processor). Add little bits of water if necessary to make a loose pasta-like dough (don’t worry if it’s too thick, you can add bits of the hot water to it as you are pressing it through the nokedli press.
  3. In a large soup pot, boil water with salt.
  4. Once the water is on a hard boil, start making the nokedli. You can make the entire batch in this one pot, they won’t stick together if you stir them once in a while. When you are done they should all float to the top. Pour into a colander and rinse with cold water.
  5. Add the nokedli to a bowl and drizzle with oil so they don’t stick together.
  6. When ready to serve, heat 3 tbsp butter in a large dutch oven. Add nokedli and reheat, crisping up the edges a bit (we like them crisped).
  7. Serve family style in a large serving vessel.

Egéségedre! (to your health!)


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I blogged about this a couple of years ago for a Super bowl Party, but inadvertantly forgot to post the recipe, so here it is. Better late than never. The herbes en provence gave the wings a delicious flavour which paired very well with the blue cheese dip I previously made.

Herbes en Provence Chicken Wings


  • 1/4 cup Herbs en Province
  • 3 tablespoons granulated garlic (this is so the mix remains a dry rub)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 chicken wings


  1. Pre heat oven to 375°F
  2. Prepare a large cookie sheet by lining with parchment paper (fold down the raw ends so they don’t burn).
  3. Clean up chicken wings, removing the wing tip (discard), cutting the wing into two pieces.
  4. Rub olive oil all over each wing piece.
  5. Mix the Herbs en Province, granulated garlic, sea salt and Panko in a clean zip lock bag.
  6. Placing 4-6 wings into the baggy and shake until each wing is well coated.
  7. Continue until all the wings are coated. Lay each wing individually on the prepared cookie sheet so they don’t touch.
  8. Bake in a hot oven for 60 minutes or until wings are 165° F Internal temperature. Turn each wing so each side is crispy!

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Jt cooks dinner most week-nights because he works from home and has a bit more time than I do. I know I am very fortunate to have this, but I miss it particularly since The Big Reno 4+ years ago! He’s a great cook, and I keep telling him to start a “guy’s cooking class” — I mean his food is really good! JT whipped up this recipe last night. It was amazing. The flavours so fresh and creamy…I’m having left-overs as I type this — oh sorry, I dazed out for a second!

The original recipe is from Food Network US’s Tyler Florence, and is very good in its own right, but we made it a bit healthier, of course! I love this dish with either left over BBQ’d Chicken or Salmon. Both are extremely delicious! The photo is a little blurry, I took it with my lowly iPhone 3Gs, but you can see all the flavours (I tried to sharpen it up in Photoshop, it’s a wee bit better). This dish is very good either hot or cold.

JTs Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

Serves 4


  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienne
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Carnation Fat Free Evaporated Milk
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts in water, drained and quartered
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced into halves
  • 6 ounces goats milk feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pasta (we like fussili with this dish) enough for 4 (we like to use Catelli Smart, which is high fibre but NOT whole wheat pasta)
  • 400 g left over BBQ’d chicken or Salmon, cut into small chunks


  1. Boil water for pasta in a pasta pot, fitted with a strainer. Spray your skillet with non-stick spray. Add sun-dried tomatoes and garlic to skillet and sauté for 2 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, add the fresh pasta to boiling water, cook until al dente, about 5 minutes.
  3. Now add the artichoke hearts, and olives to the skillet. Saute 1 minute then stir in the Carnation Fat Free Evaporated Milk. When this has heated through, add the chicken or the salmon.
  4. Strain the pasta and transfer to a large pasta bowl. Add the chicken mixture to the pasta and toss. Season with oregano, fresh basil, salt and pepper, and then add the crumbled feta just before serving. We like the feta just a little melty, not too melted.

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The heat wave in Toronto continues and since we ate heavily on the weekend with our good friends Rae and Mon, tonight seemed like a good night for lighter fare: Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps. We use Boston Bibb or Butter Lettuce for the wraps, and ground turkey for the meat, the rest is what ever your heart desires. We adapted this recipe from Epicurious, click here for the original. Serves 4.

For the meat

  • 1 quick spray of Pam
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped finely
  • 400 g lean ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp peanut sauce (you can use peanut butter, if you don’t have the sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce


  • 1 English cucumber, shreaded
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh thai basil
  • 1/3 cup green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small jalopeño pepper, finely diced
  • 12 large butter lettuce leaves, cleaned and dried
  • Lime wedges

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp peanut butter or peanut sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar


  1. Heat a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat and spray with Pam. Add onion and sauté until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add turkey and sauté until brown and cooked through, breaking up with back of spoon, about 7 minutes. Add garlic.
  3. Add peanut sauce, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce; heat through. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat in microwave or skillet, adding water by tablespoonfuls to moisten if necessary, before continuing.)
  4. Transfer turkey mixture to medium bowl. Serve with individual bowls of each of the garnishes.
  5. Make dipping sauce by mixing all three ingredients well.

To make wraps, spoon turkey mixture onto a lettuce leaf, add garnishes as desired, fold in sides over filling, and roll up. Either dip lettuce wrap into the dipping sauce, or spoon a little spoonful into onto the meat before rolling. Note: I usually mix the chopped cilantro, basil and mint all together. The green onion and jalopeño are also mixed in one bowl, as JT eats neither, but I love them! This dish is wonderful either hot or cold.

Dinner in our back yard.


This is my lettuce wrap before I wrapped it! So tasty!


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Last night we took our dear friend’s Dave and MiMi out to the Fifth Grill on Richmond as a thank you for a mortgage referral that just closed. Needless to say we had wine (ooops!) I am really hoping I didn’t jeopardize my success with one night. Tomorrow will tell. We are back right on track today!
To mitigate the damage, we planned an activity-filled day with a trip down to the Toronto Islands. We walked over 10km from one end of the island to the other. It was great. We even packed a picnic lunch as these places have few healthy choices. We ate our lunch at a lovely picnic table about 10 feet from the water and a great view or Toronto! We are bushed; we had planned to BBQ a whole chicken with herbes en Provence for dinner.
Strip the skin off the bird; sprinkle generously with herbes en Provence and garlic. I have a chicken BBQ stand with a reservoir but you can also roast in a pan or rotisserie. I put chicken stock in the reservoir with a clove or two of garlic (this evaporates into the bird – it’s all about flavour). BBQ for 2-3 hours on 350F (depending on the size of your bird).
The slaw: 3 cups finely grated red cabbage, 1 cup finely grated radishes, 1 cup finely grated fennel bulb, 1 cup finely grated cucumber, 1/4 cup finely chopped green onion, 1/2 cup finely chopped dill. Toss all in a large bowl until mixed well. Set in the fridge.
The dressing: 2tbsp low fat mayo, 2tbsp Dijon mustard, 1tbsp horseradish (not sauce) 1tsp splenda, 1/4-1/2cup lemon juice. Mix well. Toss slaw with dressing when you are ready to serve. This makes enough for four meals. We’ll have chicken leftovers!




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This is a piquant sauce, made from carrots, parsnips and celery root. Original recipe from this link. All of the recipes on-line indicate that if you are cooking with beef, to begin this recipe a couple of days in advance so that the beef has time to tenderize in the marinade. I did this batch with turkey scallopini, so I marinated for a few hours.  Also, for poultry, I would strongly suggest that you allow the marinade to cool to at least room temperature before you immerse the poultry in it. Also, the original recipe called for a roux to thicken the sauce, I omitted this as I felt the sauce was thick enough with the cooked vegetables.


  • 1 trimmed whole beef tenderloin, 5-6 lbs (my mom used to make this with eye of round — tenderloin is way too expensive, plus, it has 2-3 days to marinate, and soften up).
  • 1/4 cup pancetta, cut in to little strips
  • 1 cup grated celery root
  • 1 cup grated parsnips
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • grated rind of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup minced sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (I did add this but strongly recommend not to, it was too sweet; the carrots make this sauce sweet enough)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt


  1. Start this recipe 2 or 3 days before you plan to serve it.
  2. Combine 1  1/2 cups water and the vinegars in a dutch oven (not aluminum), add the vegetables and bring to a boil. This step is simply to blend the flavours, not cook the vegetables. If making this dish with poultry, allow this mix to cool completely before the next step. I also transferred this mix into a glass container with a lid, large enough to hold the liquid and the meat.
  3. Add the beef, grated lemon rind and bay leaves so that the mixture covers the meat. Marinate for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.
  4. When you are ready to cook, pre-heat the oven at 350°F.
  5. In a large dutch oven (large enough to hold the vegetables and the meat) over  heat wilt the onion in 1 teaspoon EVOO; do not allow the onions brown.
  6. Remove beef from marinade and place it on top of onions. Cook meat for 2 or 3 minutes on each side.
  7. Pour marinade over meat and place into pre-heated oven, covered until meat is almost cooked, for 2 hours.
  8. Remove the meat and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices, set aside.
  9. Remove bay leaves and discard. Using an immersion blender, blend vegetables until very smooth (you may wish to press this through a fine sieve to get the creamiest texture, as I did).
  10. I omitted this step: Brown the sugar in a small frying pan until caramelized. Add 3 tablespoons cold water and cook for a few minutes till sugar melts. Whip in the mustard. Pour the caramel and mustard into the puréed sauce.
  11. Instead, I whipped the mustard into the smooth sauce. Return the sauce to the dutch oven.
  12. Add sliced meat; keeping the slices whole. Cook at a slow simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes to allow sauce to permeate the meat (this can be done on the stove).
  13. Just before serving, combine the lemon juice and sour cream and whisk into the sauce. Serve with bread dumplings.

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Our nephew Brian and girlfriend Adrienne were over for dinner at The Upper Deck this past weekend and we made Paella! This recipe is a condensed version without the clams and mussells (because of transport time and number of days before we had them!).

  • 1 cup brown rice (because it is gluten free)
  • 4 small chicken thighs (skinless, boneless is good)
  • 2 gluten free sausages
  • 1 cup calamari rings
  • 12 shrimp (I like to peel and remove tails so you are not having to dive into the food with hands and feet to eat!)
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt
  • 3 finely minced cloves garlic
  • 1/2 frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper (into 1/2″ cubes)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (low sodium)
  • 1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
  • 2-3 tbsp EV olive oil
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon and lime slices for garnish

Steps 1-4 may be done 2-4 hours in advance.

  1. Make a paste out of 1 clove garlic and 1 tsp smoked paprika and salt and spread it over the chicken thighs; set aside.
  2. Soak saffron in 2 cups chicken stock for about 10 minutes (or any stock for that matter).
  3. Cook rice in saffron soaked chicken stock to about 70% doneness and set aside.
  4. BBQ Chicken thighs and Sausage until fully cooked. Set aside in refrigerator. Cut into slightly larger than bite-sized pieces.
  5. Just before you wish to serve, preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté onions until translucent. Add remaining garlic and stir just until you can smell its aroma.
  7. Add already cooked chicken and sausage.
  8. Add rice, peppers, peas and canned tomatoes. Stir well, if too dry, add a bit of the remaining 1 cup chicken stock until a desired wetness is achieved.
  9. Add shrimp and calamari and stir well and place into oven for about 10-12 minutes until shrimp is no longer translucent.
  10. Stir in chopped parsley and serve with lemon and lime wedges. Serve hot.
  11. Enjoy!

Cottage Paella on FoodistaCottage Paella

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We made this soup for a dinner party about a month or so ago, and tonight we pulled out the left overs and enhanced the already amazing soup!

I call it my kitchen sink soup as you can use any vegetables you have in the refrigerator!

Original recipe has been modified from here (soup Nazi version!)

Enhanced Mulligatawny Soup

  • 8 cups water
  • 6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium potato, peeled &, diced (all vegetables should be diced the same size)
  • 1 carrot, peeled & diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 large eggplant, peeled & diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2/3 cup roasted red pepper, diced
  • 796 mL low sodium stewed tomatoes (I use PC blue menu)
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews (I will often omit this to mitigate calories)
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 3 teaspoons garam masala (this is an indian spice mix which I have modified from an old cookbook – here is a link, but use spices that you like to make it your own)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 dash marjoram
  • 1 dash nutmeg
  • 1 dash of cayenne (or to taste)
  1. Heat oil in a very large pot. Add onion and cook until golden brown.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 4-5 hours or until soup has reduced by more than half.
  3. Stir occasionally for the first few hours, but stir often in the last hour to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  4. The edges of the potatoes should become more rounded, and the nuts will soften.

This will freeze very well. To enhance the soup, just before serving, add:

  • 3 shrimps per serving
  • 1 cup sliced smoked chorizo sausage
  • 1 cup cooked diced chicken
  1. Defrost and reheat.
  2. Add Shrimp and Chorizo and cook for about 4 minutes.

Note: You may also purée this soup (without the chicken, sausage or shrimp) to make it a creamed version, but always run it through a fine sieve, it is worth the extra effort and makes an amazingly smooth and silky soup!

  1. Add cooked chicken and stir until reheated.
  2. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt! Enjoy!

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This is by far the best butter chicken recipe I have made so far. It is adapted from a Bombay Palace Cookbook recipe I found on line. Although this dish is wonderful eaten the day it is made, it is far better a day or two later.

Butter Chicken-Murgh Makhani

Serving Size : 4-6

  • 3 pounds chicken, skinned, boned, and cut into 8 pieces marinated in tandoori paste — or 3 pounds leftover tandoori chicken
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed and 1 piece of fresh ginger, size of walnut, minced finely
  • juice of 1 lemon


  • 2 pounds tomatoes, peeled seeded and pulped
  • 1 medium onion, browned in olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces carnation evaporated milk
  • 1 green chili, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves for garnish
  • 2 tsp meat masala
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  1. If you have leftover tandoori chicken, bone and cut into small chunks, and go on to step 3. Otherwise begin from scratch. Prepare chicken pieces and rub with tandoori paste. Marinate at least 10 hours or overnight.
  2. Grill chicken on BBQ until done. Cut into bite-sized pieces when cooled. Set aside.
  3. In a skillet simmer the tomatoes and browned onions gently until their liquid evaporates, leaving a thick paste – this will take 15-20 minutes. Add the masalas, garlic, ginger and lemon juice and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add the butter, and season to taste.
  5. Add the evaporated milk and chili and simmer gently 5 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Press through a fine sieve to create a smooth gravy.
  6. Return to pan and add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes until thoroughly heated through. Transfer to a warm serving dish and garnish with coriander leaves.
  7. Serve with basmati rice and naan.

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We’re had Gordon and Angela over for dinner this past Saturday and of course, I am still on this Tapas kick so we’re doing Tapas Around the World Part III. Recently a dear friend’s mother reached out asking about tips and tricks to serve a successful tapas dinner (at least, in my own little mind, they have been successful!!), so this post will focus on my tips and tricks! Hope it helps, Noni!

  1. 4-6 (including yourselves) is an ideal grouping for tapas, more than 6 is a cocktail party!
  2. Mix it up – serve cold, room temperature and hot dishes so that you’re not standing in the kitchen the entire time.
  3. Mix up sharing portions and mini individual portions (this allows some who are hungrier to help themselves to a second helping).
  4. Prepare in advance and make notes on what’s next (there will always be distractions when you entertain, so I find the notes extremely helpful to make sure I don’t forget something!)
  5. KIS – keep it simple. Don’t plan to make something complicated that will take you away from your guests for more than 5-10 minutes at a time.
  6. Plan your plating. I generally take out all the dishes I am planning to use and have them ready in the order of the courses. This way you’re not scrambling to find something last minute (check out Tap Phong on Spadina in Toronto, the most amazing store for unique, inexpensive plates!).
  7. Plan to have things your spouse can do (such as grilling), that way you can share the cooking time and alternate being with your guests.
  8. Use prepared sauces adjusting to your specific taste; you don’t have to make everything from scratch!
  9. Multi purpose for example, two out of the three desserts will have Crème Anglais, one I will heat, the other will be served cold.
  10. Determine where courses will be eaten (we like to begin the kitchen on our soapstone island and end up in the living room in front of a roaring fire, but you can also move around, depending on what you are serving).
  11. Wrap necessary cutlery in a napkin per person and have it ready in the living room (or where ever you plan to eat your tapas).

I have had good success with four rounds of three (four stages, each with three small portions or sharing portions). I will often try to incorporate a portion of something that I have made in bulk and frozen sometime previously and just have to cook/bake – that takes off some pressure of creating everything from scratch just for that meal. You can also mix it up with store-bought items and some home-made to help with the work load.

This is the menu for last Saturday night, my notes for pre-preparation (to do the day or days in advance) are below and the order of preparation (during the dinner party) are below that. It’s a lot more prep work ahead of time, but it does give you a lot more time to enjoy your guests.

Round 1: Thai

  • Lemongrass soup (May be prepared 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat in microwave when ready to serve). I left out the shrimp this time, due to an aversion to seafood.
  • Pork Saté and peanut sauce (Prepare morning of, soak wooden skewers, marinate pork and refrigerate until ready to grill; Prepare peanut sauce in advance or use store bought, refrigerate).
  • 10-ingredient slaw (Prepare the morning of, keeping the wetter ingredients separate from the drier ones (such as cucumbers are wet, cabbage is dry) so the slaw stays crunchy. Combine and dress just before serving).

Round 2: Spain

  • Chorizo and Tomato Sausage (Prepare raw ingredients and combine, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, ready for a quick fry).
  • Onion and Orange Salad (Prepare in advance so the onions have time to mellow). Store covered in refrigerator, I store in serving dish to save time later.
  • Bacon wrapped dates (I generally make these in bulk, so all I have to do is pulled out the required quantity from the freezer and bake when ready to serve).

Round 3: India

  • Onion Bhaji with mango sauce (I prepared a bulk quantity of onion bhaja’s in advance and froze them – you can buy ready made bhaja’s to simplify. Now I have onion bhaja’s for another couple tapas dinners; Mango sauce was Sensations from Sobeys with a minor adjustment)
  • Mini Naan with Butter Chicken (I made butter chicken for dinner on Wednesday night and made too much on purpose; you can do this virtually with anything!)
  • Carrot Pickle (I made this a couple of days in advance, but you can buy ready made condiments just as easily).

Round 4: France

  • Madeleine’s with Crème Anglais (I generally make Madeleine’s in bulk and freeze, so I just pull out the number I need). I made Crème Anglais the night before for another dinner party, so I just made too much and refrigerated)
  • Crêpe Suzette (I made Crèpes for breakfast the day before, and as usual, I made too much batter so I decided to make the crèpes for the tapas in advance and refrigerate. Remember that these are small portions so the crèpes are only 5″ in diameter!).
  • Ile Flottante (Crème Anglais from night before; I made the Ile the morning of).

Below is an example of what my notes would be a few days prior to the event:

Prepare a couple of days in advance:

  1. Cook lemongrass soup, cool and refrigerate.
  2. Create onion bhajas and freeze (I ran out of my stash, so I had to make them again).
  3. Create Bacon wrapped dates and freeze (I ran out of my stash, so I had to make them again).
  4. Butter Chicken (I planned to make this for dinner during the week and reserve a small portion for Saturday night – about one to two chicken chunks per person).
  5. Prepare Carrot pickle (this needs to sit in the dressing a few days to allow it to pickle). Refrigerate.
  6. Make crèpes, cover and refrigerate.
  7. Make Crème Anglais, cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Prepare the day of (this takes about 3 hours or so):

  1. Marinate pork with a store bought peanut marinate (I altered mine to my taste) and skewer on soaked wooden sticks, wrap in cello and refrigerate.
  2. Prepare the ingredients for the 10-ingredient slaw; keep wet ingredients such as mango and cucumber separate to the drier ones such as radish and cabbage. Do not dress until 10 minutes before serving (doing so will wilt the slaw and it will become too sloppy).
  3. Prepare the onion and orange salad (chop a few extra onions for the chorizo, this saves time). This salad needs to be dressed in advance so that the citrus can mellow the onion. Cover well and refrigerate (not covering will make your fridge smell like onions!)
  4. Crêpe Suzette: prepare the orange liquor sauce and reserve (no need to refrigerate).
  5. Prepare the Ile Flottante and allow to cool, refrigerate. (I put the ile into the individual dishes, covered and refrigerated so all I had to do was pour the Crème Anglais on top, and one of my three dessert courses was complete!).

The Main Event. My actual notes are not nearly as detailed, but since I am giving pointers, I thought I would add as much detail and thought behind my madness!

  1. Guests arrive and beverages are served in the kitchen. I asked JT to grill pork satays, so the men do that outdoors while the women chat in the kitchen. We continued to chat and eat pork satay with peanut sauce in the kitchen.
  2. JT had prepared a fire in the fireplace in advance, so all he had to do was light it. We moved to the living room and JT lit the fire. This gave me a moment to clean up the kitchen a bit and heat up the soup in the microwave. While the soup is heating, I assembled the slaw and dressed it. On a large tray, we served the individual soup cups, and small plates for the sharing portion of the slaw. The lovely thing about tapas is that you can pace yourselves, so if one coarse is heavier, take a few extra minutes before serving the next round!
  3. We cleared the dishes and JT cut the bread, and brought out plates for the Spanish tapas, which were all sharing portions. The onion and orange salad was prepared in advance so all I did was pour it into the previously chosen serving bowl. The bacon wrapped dates take about 10 minutes on 375•F and the chorizo and tomato takes about 6 minutes. I cooked the chorizo while the dates were baking. We served it all at once. Because this course was sharing, it took a bit longer to eat particularly with the great conversations we were having!
  4. Because the courses are getting heavier, I waited for the Spanish course to be 1/2 finished before I put the rice on for the butter chicken. It takes 20 minutes and I wanted about 10-15 minutes between courses.
  5. When we cleared the dishes from the Spanish course, I started heating the butter chicken in the microwave (sauce and chicken heating separately, to keep the chicken whole and not mushy). The onion bhaji’s go into the oven for about 10 minutes on 350•F to heat through (they are already cooked from deep frying previously, I just need to reheat). The sauce for the bhaji was prepared in advance and was ready waiting on the serving platter. The pickle was also prepared in advance and already in the serving dish.
  6. The Indian course was served at once.
  7. Dessert had a bit more time between. I had previously plated the Ile Flottante so I just had to pour the Crème Anglais over it. Then I heated the remainder Crème Anglais for the Madeleine’s. The mini crépes had been prepared in advance, as had the orange sauce for the Crépes Suzettes. I heated the sauce in a pan, added the crépes and heated them through. Once the crépes were done, I plated and added the finishing touches and served. In the meantime, JT made espressos and dessert was enjoyed by the fire.

Tapas seem like a lot of work, but it really is a well orchestrated symphony of courses. I’d love to hear your comments about your tapas dinner. Please let me know how it works out.

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Adapted from Once Upon a Feast blog. This is the closest one to restaurant butter chicken, no doubt a lot healthier.

  • Boneless chicken, cut up into 1-2” cubes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Water to make 1/2 cup when mixed with tomato paste
  • 2 tsp grated  fresh ginger
  • 150 mL Carnation Evaporated Milk
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Splenda Brown Sugar
  • 1 fresh green chili, seeded & finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/8  tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp toasted cumin seeds, ground
  • 50g unsalted butter or ghee (Indian clarified butter)
  • 1/2 cup no fat yogurt with 1 tsp flour, mix well

  1. In a large measuring cup, add tomato paste and add enough water to make 1/2 cup, mixing as you go. Add everything except the chicken and yogurt to blend the sauce well.
  2. In a large sauté pan or skillet, melt the ghee/butter and add the sauce. Bring to a simmer and stir until butter is well incorporated in the sauce. Heat for one minute or so.
  3. Add the chicken and stir until they chicken is cooked through.
  4. Add the yogurt and stir well.
  5. Serve with naan bread and basmati rice.

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JT made this with the Naan for dinner last night. This is quite tasty but it’s not the ‘butter chicken’ I know. What’s different about it is that it has almonds and raisins in the recipe. It’s a lot of work, and not really worth it, so I won’t bother posting the recipe, but it looks pretty good, so here is the photo. Recipe came from Simply Indian by Tahera Rawji and Hamida Suleman, published 2003 by Whitecap books, page 51.

This is what we did differently than the recipe: substitute Carnation Evaporated Milk for the Cream and we also puréed the sauce so that it is more creamy and added about 1 tbsp of tomato purée and about 2 tbsp tandoori paste instead of 1 tbsp tandoori powder. In my opinion is that this is too sweet (too many raisins when puréed) and it needs about 1/2 cup to 1 cup plain yogurt for the tang.


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February 10, 2013: I have updated this post with clearer instructions for the Nokedli as well as a photo of the loose dough.

Adapted from my mother’s recipe

Check out my recipe on Foodista

  • 1 kg chicken breasts, no skin, no bones
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large Vidalia onion about 1 cup (Mayan onion will work too), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp paprika paste (or home made roasted red peppers, skins removed) or 1 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika powder
  • 1 green cubano pepper, thinly sliced (not hot peppers)
  • 1 medium chopped tomato (or 1/4 cup tomato paste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (no fat) or no fat yogurt + couple of tbsp for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (low sodium)


  1. Cook onions in 1 tsp olive oil until soft, add chicken stock (the onions will help thicken the sauce). Add chopped tomato and cook 2 minutes longer.
  2. Remove from heat and add paprika.
  3. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, blend the onion mixture until smooth.
  4. Strain through a fine sieve (this will help discard the tomato skins and seeds which would ruin the creamy texture of the sauce). Reserve.
  5. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and brown in 1 tsp olive oil.
  6. When the chicken is almost done, add the sauce back to the pan, and simmer until the chicken is entirely cooked.
  7. Just before serving, add the thinly sliced green peppers (I like them a bit crunchy as garnish)
  8. Add 1 tsp flour to the sour cream or plain yogurt and stir well. Stir the sour cream into the sauce and heat through (do not boil).
  9. Dollop fresh sour cream or plain yogurt just before serving.

Serve with noodles or nokedli (dumplings).

Nokedli (dumplings)
I usually eyeball this. General rule is 1 egg, 1/2 cup flour + bit of water
per person.

I use 1 whole egg per lot, then the remainder I use the egg whites only (this makes it a bit healthier and the 1 egg yolk adds a bit of colour).

To make 4 servings:

  • 1 egg
  • 9 tbsp egg whites
  • 2 cups flour
  • water to soften dough as needed
  • 3-4 L water for boiling
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter + 1 tsp olive oil

The dough should be loose enough to press through the Nokedli maker without much effort, but it should not be wet.

The dough should be loose enough to press through the Nokedli maker without much effort, but it should not be wet.


  1. In a large pot, bring 3-4 L water and olive oil to a boil (you need a large pot because the dumplings will sink and then rise to the top when done). Don’t salt the water because it will make the dumplings too soft – don’t know if that is true, but I have never done it to try!
  2. In a food processor, blend eggs, flour and add water to make a dough resembling loose bread or pasta dough, and it should be able to be pressed through a dumpling maker easily.
  3. Using the dumpling maker, press batter through, stir dumplings occasionally so they don?t stick together. I generally make the entire batter, stirring occasionally – no need to remove the done ones!
  4. Strain well. You can lightly coat in olive oil and let stand until required.
  5. In an enamel Dutch oven, melt butter with olive oil. Heat to high.
  6. Add dumplings and stir well. You will want the dumplings to become crispy and brown…they are really tasty that way.
  7. Salt and Pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with Chicken Paprikas on top.

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Adapted from my mother’s recipe

Check out my recipe on Foodista

  • 1 kg chicken breasts, no skin, no bones
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large Vidalia onion about 1 cup (Mayan onion will work too), finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp paprika paste (or home made roasted red peppers, skins removed)
  • 1 green cubano pepper, thinly sliced (not hot peppers)
  • 1 medium chopped tomato (or 1/4 cup tomato paste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (no fat) or no fat yogurt + couple of tbsp for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (low sodium)


  1. Cook onions in 1 tsp olive oil until soft, add chicken stock (the onions will help thicken the sauce). Add chopped tomato and cook 2 minutes longer.
  2. Remove from heat and add paprika.
  3. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, blend the onion mixture until smooth.
  4. Strain through a fine sieve (this will help discard the tomato skins and seeds which would ruin the creamy texture of the sauce). Reserve.
  5. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and brown in 1 tsp olive oil.
  6. When the chicken is almost done, add the sauce back to the pan, and simmer until the chicken is entirely cooked.
  7. Just before serving, add the thinly sliced green peppers (I like them a bit crunchy as garnish)
  8. Add 1 tsp flour to the sour cream or plain yogurt and stir well. Stir the sour cream into the sauce and heat through (do not boil).
  9. Dollop fresh sour cream or plain yogurt just before serving.

Serve with noodles or nokedli (dumplings).

Nokedli (dumplings)
I usually eyeball this. General rule is 1 egg, 1/2 cup flour + bit of water
per person.

I use 1 whole egg per lot, then the remainder I use the egg whites only (this makes it a bit healthier and the 1 egg yolk adds a bit of colour).

To make 4 servings:

  • 1 egg
  • 9 tbsp egg whites
  • 2 cups flour
  • water to soften dough as needed
  • 3-4 L water for boiling
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter + 1 tsp olive oil


  1. In a large pot, bring 3-4 L water and olive oil to a boil (you need a large pot because the dumplings will sink and then rise to the top when done). Don’t salt the water because it will make the dumplings too soft – don’t know if that is true, but I have never done it to try!
  2. In a food processor, blend eggs, flour and add water to make a dough a bit thicker than pancake batter ? it should be able to be pressed through a dumpling maker easily.
  3. Using the dumpling maker, press batter through, stir dumplings occasionally so they don?t stick together. I generally make the entire batter, stirring occasionally – no need to remove the done ones!
  4. Strain well. You can lightly coat in olive oil and let stand until required.
  5. In an enamel Dutch oven, melt butter with olive oil. Heat to high.
  6. Add dumplings and stir well. You will want the dumplings to become crispy and brown…they are really tasty that way.
  7. Salt and Pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with Chicken Paprikas on top.

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Adapted from Fannie Farmer, December 1984 (originally published in 1896!)


  • 4 6oz chicken breasts, skinless, boneless
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ounce dried mushroom rehydrated in about 1 cup warm water, set liquid aside (make sure you strain through coffee filter to ensure no sand gets into it)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 dry white wine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (put remaining tomato paste into an extra ice cube tray and freeze, remove from tray into a zip lock baggy and voila, tomato paste as required!)
  • 2 cups canned Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • Chili peppers to taste
  • Salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven and cook the chicken until lightly browned on all sides.
  3. Add the onion and sauté a minute or two and then add the wine and allow to boil up.
  4. Lower the temperature and add the garlic, tomato paste, tomatoes, red pepper and the mushrooms.
  5. Add the seasonings, bay leaves and the mushroom liquid.
  6. Cover and bake in the hot oven for about 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked through.
  7. Remove bay leaves, taste and season if required.
  8. Serve on a bed of mixed baby spinach and baby arugula leaves and no knead bread. Dallop with yogurt or sour cream.


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