MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN SUMMER SPAGHETTI


I was in a rut in terms of what to make for dinner one night and looked through the fridge to see what I could make. I always know that pasta or spaghetti dinners are a standby for most families but I wanted to make and eat something more fresh for the hot summer days. The best part about this dish is that you can add or take away any veggies you want. It's a very flavourful dish without being heavy or spicy. It's definitely a refreshing way to have spaghetti.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup deli ham (your fav!)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata black olives (or green olives if you prefer)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine or pasta water
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tsp vegetable seasoning blend
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil or use fresh if you have it
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup red peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup tomatoes, diced (one medium sized tomato usually yields 1 cup)
  • 2 green onions, chopped diagonally
  • Cooked Spaghetti

First put a huge pot of boiling water and cook the spaghetti, following the instructions on the back of the package. Note that when you are measuring how much spaghetti to cook think that 1.5 cm to 2 cm thickness when gripping the spaghetti is enough spaghetti for one person. Cook until al dente, drain and leave it aside until you're ready with the sauce.

In a deep large skillet, on medium high heat, add in the olive oil and the garlic and after 30 seconds once you start smelling the garlic add in the red onion, ham, and the kalamata olives. Saute for about 2 minutes then add in the herbs and seasoning. Throw in the mushrooms and add the white wine or pasta water and the chicken stock and let the sauce reduce for about 5 minutes. Then squeeze the lime juice and add back the spaghetti dropping the heat back to low. Using tongs mix the spaghetti with the vegetables thoroughly and then quickly add in the diced tomatoes and the green onions. If you find it the spaghetti too dry cause you have reduced the sauce too much then add a bit more chicken stock or olive oil. Serve immediately.


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PEACH CRUMBLE TOP MUFFINS

I was inspired to make this muffin recipe when flipping through a cooking magazine and seeing a recipe for peach cobbler. I thought why not make a breakfast or brunch muffin with all of the same flavour notes as a cobbler, which I may add is one of my favourite desserts. The topping just adds a nice crunch while the peaches help keep the muffins moist and delicious.

Makes 12 muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Baking time: 25-30 minutes

Ingredients for Muffins:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 eggs (or you can use egg substitute)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 cup peaches, chopped (use about 2 peaches)

Ingredient for the Crumble topping:

  • about 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp cold butter or use margarine
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1) Firstly, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Either grease the muffin pan or line the muffin pan with paper cups. In a small bowl, put all of the crumble topping ingredients in and if you're using butter crumble the mixture with your fingers otherwise, if using margarine use a spoon to do the same. I suggest this because margarine is naturally not a firm fat like butter and it will quickly melt in your hands. 2) In a large mixing bowl, add in all of the muffin dry ingredients and mix. In a separate bowl, whisk in the eggs and then the milk and slowly add in the melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry mix and stir until just moistened. Stir in the chopped peaches. 3) Spoon in the muffins in to the muffin pan using an ice cream scoop to ensure even scoops. Then sprinkle the crumble topping on top of each muffin and bake it into a 400F oven for around 25-30 minutes. Insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean the muffins are done to perfection and serve.

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This is a dish that looks like it took all day to make and it will be sure to impress your guests or your special someone. The chicken is nice and tender and the creamy texture and tang from the cheese is balanced with the light citrus taste from the lemon. Try this one out and you will not be disappointed.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied open to make a pocket inside the chicken
  • 2 slices of honey ham
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 slices of provolone cheese (or any other white cheese like mozzarella)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • toothpicks (about 4-6)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional)

1. On your cutting board, with a paring knife butterfly the chicken breasts to create a pocket in each. In each pocket, layer in a slice of ham, 2 whole sage leaves, and the slice of cheese, and seal the pocket with the toothpicks. You do not have to seal every inch of the chicken just make sure it doesn't open back up.

2. On medium high heat, take your non-stick frying pan and drizzle in the 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add in the chicken, and sear each side for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Then put the seared chicken breasts on a plate. Note: here that the chicken should not be completely finished cooking yet.

3. Quickly add in the chicken stock and white wine and scrap the brown bits from the pan to create the sauce. Simmer for a minute, then add the chicken back in to finish cooking. Squeeze the lemon juice on top of the chicken, turn the heat down to a simmer, cover, and keep cooking for another 5-7 minutes.

4. Check the chicken for doneness, the sauce should have reduced. The juices of the chicken should run clear then you will know it has completely cooked through. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve.

Red Pepper and Mushroom Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4-6 white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup red pepper, diced

Pour the chicken stock into a small sauce pot, put in the chopped onions and put the lid on the pot and bring the stock to a boil on medium high heat. The onions will add even more flavour into the stock. Then add in the salt, white rice and the mushroom slices and stir. Put the lid back on and simmer for about 12-15 minutes. Open the lid every few minutes and give it a stir to make sure the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Once it has finished cooking stir in the red pepper and set it aside until you are ready to serve with the sliced chicken.

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RAVIOLI WITH SPINACH PESTO SAUCE


The traditional pesto is made with fresh basil but I found basil to be quite expensive at the supermarket especially if you want to make a large amount of pesto. Sometimes I like to change it up and make a different version of this classic Italian favourite. Plus more spinach equals more iron in the diet so that can't be a bad thing right? This is a delicious dish that you will come back to making again and again.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 4 large handfuls of spinach, washed and chopped (about 4 cups or so)
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted in a pan for 2 minutes
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock (or more if you want to thin the sauce out a bit)
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • grated lemon zest
  • juice of half a lemon
  • red pepper, chopped into thick square pieces
  • 1 bundle of asparagus, cut into thirds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (to oven bake the vegetables)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable blend seasoning
  • 2 packages of frozen or fresh beef or cheese ravioli

First to get things going preheat the oven at 425 degrees F. and in a casserole or baking dish put in the asparagus and red pepper pieces and drizzle the 2 tbsp of olive oil. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and pop it into the oven for 20 minutes until just tender.

In a food processor or a blender, add in all of the ingredients for the sauce except the olive oil. Turn on the food processor and blix it altogether then slowly drizzle in the 1/4 cup of olive oil and you should know when it is ready when you see the sauce emulsify together. Pour the sauce in a large bowl and leave it there until the ravioli has cooked.

Cook the ravioli in a big pot of boiling water. Make sure to salt the water as well since that is the only chance you get to season the pasta itself. Follow the directions on the package. Once the ravioli is done drain and put it into the large bowl with the spinach pesto and add in the oven roasted veggies and slowly mix it altogether then serve.

Additions: really this is recipe that you can add any veggies you want like mushrooms, eggplant, cherry tomatoes. The list is endless use your imagination.

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GRILLED FISH TACOS WITH COLESLAW AND GUACAMOLE


This is quite a spread and you will impress your guests without standing too much in the kitchen. The great thing about this meal is that you do not necessarily have to serve it as a taco but you can use the coleslaw as a sidedish and the guacomole with the tomatoes as your fish sauce. However you want to serve this you will not be disappointed.

Serves 2 generously

Fish Skewers Ingredients:
  • 4 small Haddock or cod fish fillets, cut fish into chunks (if the fillets happen to be large then use only 2)
  • 1 red pepper, cut into large cubes around the same size as the fish chunks
  • 1 green pepper, cut into large cubes around the same size as the fish chunks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup of brown sauce (HP Sauce is good for this)
  • 2 limes, sliced into wedges (to squeeze on top of the fish when you serve)
  • 4-6 skewers, soaked in water prior to using them
  • Package of soft small tortillas (warm them up before serving)

Cut the fish fillets into thick sized chunks and make sure that you cut each chunk the same size in order to make sure that the fish cooks evenly. Then do the same with the red and green peppers. Then skewer the fish and the peppers, making sure that they alternate. Drizzle the olive oil and season the fish with the salt, pepper and the thyme. Then brush on the brown sauce on top of the fish and peppers. Heat either your home griddle pan or your BBQ and cook the fish skewers about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Coleslaw Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1/4 cup red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 3 tbsp light mayo
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp seasoning blend
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

In a large salad bowl, to make the dressing add in the mayo, mustard, seasoning, white wine vinegar and the olive oil. Whisk this together and then add the rest of the coleslaw ingredients and using tongs mix it all together. Put it right into the fridge until ready to serve.

Quick Guacomole Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe avocados, mashed using a potato masher
  • juice of a lime
  • 1 ripe tomato, diced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a medium sized bowl, take the avocados, peel and scoop the flesh out with a spoon and mash it with a potato masher. Squeeze the lime and add in the paprika and salt and mix altogether. Chop the tomato and slowly mix it into the avocado mixture.

Serve all of these dishes on the table and let people help themselves. You can pile as much or as little as you like on top of the tortilla and enjoy!

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WATERMELON GREEK SALAD

This is the perfect easy summer salad. When watermelons are in season they're incredibly refreshing to have on a hot summer day. This is definitely an unusual salad but it just works great together with the briny flavour of the olives, and the tang from the feta cheese. Try it at your next picnic or BBQ!

Serves 2

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup watermelon, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup red onions, sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp mint or parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable seasoning blend
  • sprinkle of oregano
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

In a salad bowl add and whisk in the olive oil, black pepper, seasoning blend, oregano and the white wine vinegar. After you have finished whisking put in the rest of the ingredients and slowly mix to combine. Put the salad back into the fridge to serve cold. The longer it sits the better it gets.

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CREAMY ORZO WITH MUSHROOMS


I consider this to be a play on risotto a very sophisticated side dish but without all of that constant stirring. It has a nice creamy texture but without the use of actual cream. If you haven't used orzo before it is a miniature pasta that looks and feels more like rice. Definitely try this recipe as your next side dish or a light lunch.

Serves 2 (if you're serving this as a side dish)

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • a pot of boiling water (use a medium sized pot for this)
  • 1 tsp of salt

Put the pot of boiling water on medium high heat and make sure the lid is on the pot. Wait until the water has come to a boil and add in the salt. This is the only chance you get to season the pasta itself. Add and stir in the orzo and cook the orzo just shy of el dente. It should still have a little bite to it. Once it get's to this stage drain the pasta in a colander and put the orzo back into the same pot. Don't rinse the pasta!

Ingredients for the mushroom cream sauce:

  • 1 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 6 white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 green onions, chopped diagonally
  • 1/4 cup milk (add more if needed)

When you put the pot with the orzo back on the heat, drop the heat back to low and add in the butter and oil. The little bit of butter is to help add the creamy flavour. Once the butter has melted add in the chicken stock, red wine vinegar, black pepper, and the mushrooms. Stir this for 2 minutes and then add in the milk and the green onions. Stir another minute and take it right off the heat once you see the creamy texture come through and serve right away.

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CHERRY TOMATO AND GUACAMOLE PIZZA

I always love to do a play on an old favourite. When people go out to dinner you usually see tomato bruschetta on the first course part of the menu. Although I agree the traditional tomato bruschetta is absolutely delicious I think adding guacamole is a nice twist. This cold pizza is really fresh and tastes like an open faced wrap.

Serves 1 (double it up if you plan on serving one tortilla per person)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup honey ham, sliced in small thin strips
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumbers
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of feta cheese crumbles
  • Tortilla flat bread (don't use the small soft tortilla use the larger ones)

Quick Guacamole Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado, mashed (use a potato masher or a fork to make it easier)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (optional)

In a large bowl, add and mix the cherry tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, ham, lemon juice, the olive oil, and the feta cheese crumbles. Slice the cucumbers and set aside for now in a small bowl. Take your tortilla bread and cut it into quarters and put it on a baking sheet and put it into the preheated oven until it has lightly toasted. This should take about 3 minutes. While you're toasting the tortilla, mash the avocado and add in the another guacamole ingredients and mix.

Take out the tortilla from the oven and place it on a plate. Take the guacamole and spoon the mix on each quartered tortilla (be generous here you want to use this as your glue to stick the rest of the ingredients). Then take the cucumbers and layer it on top of the avocado mixture. Spoon the cherry tomato mixture on top of the cucumbers and it is ready to serve.

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MATT'S WINE NOT! VELLETRI CENTURIO ITALIAN RED WINE

Well dear reader, with the good comes the bad. But wait! I am not going out and calling this a "bad" wine...but I've definitely had better.

This 2006 vintage comes with a synthetic cork (which is more blasphemous dare I say than having a screw-top cap?!) and is easy to open, and easy to drink - which isn't necessarily a good thing.

A basic, dyrish winey-grapey taste greets the taster, and is a light-medium bodied drink, despite its being 12.5% alcohol. I could not detect many nuances in the taste (that could be my infamous non-educated pallet talking; the LCBO.com website has professional tasting notes), and I was left thinking it was not terribly flavourful, whose taste faded quite fast, almost to the point of feeling watered down.

This wine by far did not blow me away, in any respects. It is non-offensive, very simple, and isn't something you'd go out of your way to buy, unless you really just felt like having wine. I "velle-tried" to like this, but at the end of the day, wasn't my cup of tea - or wine.

** out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$7.60 (US$7.00).

From LCBO.com:

VELLETRI CENTURIO, 750 mL bottle
LCBO #602474
Wine, Red Wine
12.5% Alcohol/Vol
Made in: Lazio, Italy
By: Consorizio Prod. Vin Di Velletri
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WHOLE WHEAT PANCAKES WITH APPLE AND PEACH TOPPING

I think we can all agree pancakes are definitely a breakfast comfort food. I love pancakes so I just knew I had to put my pancake recipe on my blog. If you love the smell and tastes of apple pie I think you will like the topping recipe with the pancakes. Also, I feel that the whole wheat flour in the pancake batter adds a more deeper baked type flavour that goes great with the apples.

Makes about 12 pancakes

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar (white sugar)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl, put the dry ingredients and mix gently and then add the wet ingredients and whisk it in slowly. The batter should feel thin. It should not be lumpy or thick in any way which makes it easier to scoop and pour into the hot griddle. You can either use a plug in flat griddle or a large non-stick frying pan. Once your pan has come up to medium heat ladle in about 1/2 cup of batter per pancake. Make sure not to crowd the pancakes to ensure that the pancakes will not stick to each other. You should be able to make about 12 pancakes.

Apple and Peach Topping Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp butter or margarine
  • 2 ripe peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 2 golden delicious apples (or any firm apple of your choice), sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • squeeze of half a lemon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon

In a medium sized sauce pot, on medium high heat, melt the butter and add in both the peach and apple slices. Add in the the brown sugar, 1 tbsp of water, lemon juice, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir all of the ingredients together and simmer for about 3 minutes until the apples and peaches have cooked down a bit. Once it all starts to smell like apple pie turn off the heat. Serve it along side the whole wheat pancakes and enjoy.

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FISH FILLETS WITH OVEN ROASTED VEGGIES

If you're a person that is hesitate to cook fish because of it's delicate nature this recipe is a good one for you. I found that the fish will keep it's shape if you bake it and the flavours only get better in the oven. This is a great recipe to entertain with since it takes little effort to get this to the table. You definitely do not need to be an expert cook to make this. Hope you all like it.

2-3 Servings (if you're entertaining with this dish than double it!)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Ingredients:
  • 4 small white fish fillets (this will work well with any white fish like cod or halibut even if you buy the frozen fish at the grocery store, just thaw the frozen fish before you start to cook with it)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (plus 2 tbsp to drizzle on top of the dish before baking)
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 small onion, sliced thinly
  • 3-4 sage leaves, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup of zucchini, sliced in half moon shapes
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/4 cup mild blue cheese crumbles (you can use up to 1/2 cup if you like)

In a medium sized casserole dish, combine 2 tbsp of olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper then add the rest of the ingredients including the fish and gently mix using your clean hands. Put the blue cheese crumbles on top on the fish, drizzle the rest of the olive oil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes without covering the casserole dish. After 15 minutes cover the dish with foil for the last 10 minutes to keep the juices in. Serve over rice or with roasted potatoes.

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TURKEY CHILI

Making chili is a great way to bump up the nutrition in your diet. This turkey chili is really flavourful without being overpowering with spices. If you want more heat you can always add it in later. This is not like the traditional thick chili instead I made it a bit more like soup it's a nice change from what you're used to.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lb lean ground turkey (this is usually half of your regular grocery packaged ground turkey meant)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp each of paprika, dried basil, chili flakes, cumin, dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 cup fresh corn, off the cob
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 (28 oz.) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 (19 oz.) can of white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • juice of 1 lemon

In a large pot, on medium high heat, drizzle in your olive oil and put in your ground turkey. Salt and pepper the meat and brown the meat for about 3 minutes. Add in the chopped onion and add all of the dried herbs and spices along with the minced garlic. Stir for another minute to develop the flavour from the seasonings and add in the red wine and with your wooden spoon pick up all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. This will add even more flavour. Add in the canned diced tomatoes and then drop down the heat to low. Add in the carrots, zucchini, and corn and let it simmer for a few minutes to cook the vegetables. In the meantime, open your can of kidney beans and drain and rinse them. Add in the kidney beans and squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir it all in to combine and simmer another 15 minutes with the lid on. Then once the chili has slightly thickened serve immediately.

Suggestions: This recipe is great with warm garlic bread. This will help pick up all of that delicious juice in the bottom of the bowl. For garnish sprinkle chopped green onion on top.

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CHERRY VODKA SAUCE ON CHICKEN

I consider this to be a very sophisticated but easy dish. The sauce is not too sweet and the cherries when they're in season are absolutely delicious in this recipe. Try making this recipe for someone special in your life.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 chicken thighs or 2 chicken breasts (don't use the ones that are too big. If you plan to use the big chicken breasts cut it in half)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup cherries, pitted and sliced in half
  • 1 tbsp raspberry jam
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sage, chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper

In a large skillet, on medium high heat, season the chicken and then brown the chicken pieces for 2-3 minutes on each side. Take the chicken out and place it on a plate for now. Pour in the chicken stock first and take the skillet off the heat and then pour in the vodka. This part is very important because you don't want the vodka to flame up in your face. Place the skillet back on the heat and with a wooden spoon pick up all of the browned chicken bits from the pan to develop the flavour. Then add the raspberry jam and balsamic vinegar. Put down the heat to simmer and reduce the sauce for about 3 minutes then put in the cherries and add the chicken pieces back in. Reduce the sauce further for another couple of minutes until the sauce has slightly thickened and the chicken has cooked through. Plate the chicken and serve with a nice salad or sauteed veggies.


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MATT'S WINE NOT! NIAGARA PENINSULA OPEN MERLOT

I must say, wine must be perhaps the most enjoyable thing to write about, because you get to sample copious amounts of the product in question! And to my delight, the next wine I have had the pleasure to review is a Canadian merlot from the Niagara Peninsula, brought to you by the folks at Open Wines, made by Vincor International Inc. Open is a VQA - Vintners Quality Alliance - member, meaning that under provincial Ontario legislation, the wine has to meet certain guidelines and standards. What else is new! In Ontario, everything liquor-based is government regulated!

This 2007 vintage is a screw-top opener, and promotes itself with, "fruit-forward berry character"and, "a velvety finish."

Hmmm. I almost have to agree with this label, and despite my earlier proclamation of having an uneducated pallet, I did (honestly!) tastes berries! Perhaps I am learning (?). The body is medium, not heavy, with a very grapey, dry aftertaste.

It has a deep, ruby red colour which is hard to pierce even with light, but when light does hit, you get that wonderful rich hue.

When I first began my adventures in wine, I was weary to step outside the box of cabernet sauvignons (probably my favourite genre), but I have come to appreciate merlots and pinot noirs, and this Open merlot is no exception. A good solid wine, well worth keeping on hand.

*** out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$11.95 (US$10.95)

From LCBO.com:

OPEN MERLOT VQA, 750 mL bottle
LCBO #140129
Wine, Still Table Wine, Red Still Table Wine
12.1% Alcohol/Vol
Sugar Content: 1
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GRANOLA SQUARES WITH CHOCOLATE TOPPING

I consider this to be a sophisticated version of your normal store bought granola bars. It still has that chewy texture that we all like about granola bars but I bumped up the fibre content using whole wheat flour and the bran cereal. The chocolate of course only makes it better.

Servings 9-12 pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 bran cereal (with or without raisins)
  • 1/2 cup cashews, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup liquid honey
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coffee granules
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients except the chocolate chips (if you're planning to use chocolate). In another small bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients and then pour it into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly until the mixture has all moistened. In a parchment lined large square baking pan (larger than the typical 9" square pan) put the granola mixture in and with wet fingers push the mixture to the corners. Put it into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. When it has finished baking take it out of the oven and pour the1 cup of chocolate chips on top and let it sit for a minute. The chocolate should be melted a bit and that is when you take the back of a spoon and spread the melted chocolate to the corners of the baking pan. Let the granola squares cool completely and then cut it into 9-12 pieces and enjoy.

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ZUCCHINI AND TOMATO SIDE DISH

I know that most people don't like to eat zucchini partly because it has hardly no flavour and secondly, the texture when cooked is all mush. I decided to make a side dish using zucchini to show people that zucchini can be enjoyed if cooked the right way. I feel that oven roasting is the best way to cook zucchini because that toasted flavour comes through. I hope you will try this it is very good with pretty much any grilled meat.

Serves 2-3

Preheat oven at 375 Degrees F.

Ingredients:
  • 2 zucchini, sliced length ways about 1/2"
  • 2-1/2 tsp vegetable seasoning (your favourite blend)
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced thick
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp of lemon juice
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 tsp butter or margarine (optional)

In a casserole dish put in the sliced zucchini and all of the seasoning, and the olive oil and with your hands lightly coat the mixture unto the zucchini slices. Then put the slices of tomato on top
of the zucchini and zest the lemon on top. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze 2 tbsp and sprinkle the parm cheese right on top of the whole dish. If you so wish put 3 tsp of butter on top of the dish. This is really to ensure that the tops become browned in the oven. Put the dish into the oven for about 30 minutes and serve.

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CHICKEN BLUE CHEESE STRAWBERRY SPINACH SALAD

This salad has everything I love in it. Think about making this if you feel like having salad with an elegant twist. This has the sweetness from the strawberries, crunchiness from the cucumbers, a creamy texture and a nice zing from the blue cheese and of course we can't go without putting in shredded roasted chicken. Think of serving this at your next dinner party.

Ingredients:
  • Danish blue cheese crumbles (get the mild flavour you don't want the cheese too strong in this salad)
  • bag of baby spinach
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of shredded roasted chicken per person
  • 1/2 cup of iceberg lettuce for some more crunch
  • cucumber slices
  • strawberry slices (use quite a bit you want a lot in this salad)

In a large bowl, add in all of the ingredients (except the blue cheese crumbles) and mix with tongs. Crumble the blue cheese on top of the salad and remember a little goes a long way with this cheese. Please see below for the vinaigrette recipe.

Red Wine Vinaigrette (Yields enough for 4 people)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tsp liquid honey
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of coarse salt
  • 4 tbsp of vegetable oil or good extra virgin olive oil

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl with the oil being whisked in last to emulsify the dressing. Serve the salad right away.

Reminder: Please note that if you want to make this salad ahead of time I suggest not mixing in the shredded chicken until you're ready to serve. Keep the vinaigrette in another bowl as well as the chicken and mix when you're just about to serve.

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QUICK PORK PARMIGIANA



I don't think the kids will be complaining about this particular dinner. Get ready they'll be asking for seconds!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 thin pork cutlets, breaded (note: that I buy this from the grocery store already done for me but if you cannot find the pork breaded buy regular pork chops without the bone and pound it thin, then get Italian style bread crumbs to coat)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup mozzerella cheese, grated (optional)

In a large skillet, on medium high heat, drizzle the olive oil then put in your breaded pork cutlets in. Cook 2 minutes on both sides then when the pork looks golden brown spoon a generous amount of the tomato sauce on top of each piece of pork. Bring down the heat to low and sprinkle the parmesan cheese and/or mozzerella cheese. Wait until the cheese melts then serve warm with some nice greens and oven fries.

Additional meal idea: Warm a kaiser bun and serve this with a nice helping of creamy coleslaw on top.

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SPINACH AND APPLE SALAD WITH CREAMY GARLIC BALSAMIC DRESSING

The sweetness of the crisp apple slices is a nice addition to a salad. I used spinach here to bump up the iron in my daily diet but really if you don't like spinach you could use any other dark green you like. I would suggest watercress or baby arugula leaves or even mixed baby greens. The creamy garlic balsamic dressing on this site is a nice accompaniment to this salad. Stayed tuned for that below.

Please note that I don't like to necessary write measurements for salad just because I assume pretty much everybody knows how much salad to make in accordance to the number of people you're serving.

Ingredients:
  • package of baby spinach
  • apple slices (use 1 apple per 2 people you're serving)
  • carrots, shredded (use roughly 1 carrot shredded per 2 people you're serving)

Here is the link to the creamy garlic balsamic dressing to finish the salad...

www.foodtastesyummy.com/2009/07/creamy-garlic-balsamic-dressing.html

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LEMONY COUSCOUS


If you're looking for a super easy side dish this one is a good one. I consider couscous to be a cross between a pasta and rice, at least that's what it feels like to me while I'm eating it. Couscous is actually tiny little pieces of pasta. What makes this great is that really it takes about 10 minutes to make so if you're in a hurry this is the recipe for you.

Serves 4
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup water or low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp cumin (optional)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • large handful of chopped parsley or another herb of your choice i.e. basil, coriander
  • juice of 1 whole lemon

In a small pot pour in 1 cup of water or chicken stock, salt and cumin and let it come up to a boil. Once it comes to a boil put in the couscous and turn off the heat completely and put the lid on. Let the couscous sit in the pot with the lid on for about 5-6 minutes. Note: if you plan to use just water another easy way is to just get a pyrex bowl put in the couscous and the seasoning and in a kettle boil the water and pour in the couscous and cover the bowl with foil for the same amount of time. After the couscous is finished cooking open the lid and fluff the couscous with a fork. Then add the olive oil, chopped parsley and lemon juice. Fluff it one more time with the fork and serve.

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CREAMY GARLIC BALSAMIC DRESSING


This dressing happens to be one of my husband's favourites! Try it on a nice spinach salad I know your family and friends will be pleasantly surprised that it isn't the regular balsamic dressing that I'm sure they're usually used to eating.

Yields about 1 cup
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp liquid honey
  • 3 tbsp light mayo
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a medium sized mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil and whisk it together. Then slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil to slightly thicken the dressing. By the time it all comes together the dressing should look like melted milk chocolate. It is ready to be put on a nice salad.

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MATT'S WINE NOT! MCWILLIAM'S AUSTRALIAN CHARDONNAY

The debut wine here on Matt's Wine Not! is a chardonnay from South Eastern Australia from McWilliam's of Australia (how appropriate). Named after the Vineyard's patriarch (John James "JJ"McWilliam), this nearly apple juice in colour wine features (hurrah!) a screw-top cap for ease of opening (although this one damn near broke my wrist - and I lift weights people!) and closing - and then opening, and more opening, and opening some more.

As an aside, I'm of mixed opinions about this screw-top business; there's something about a cork which just is quintessential, part of a wine's charm, be it the satisfying "pop"upon opening, the feel of the cork, the odors and flavours it absorbs, and even the print and messages inscribed on it. The again, it's a pain to try and re-use, which you pretty much can't so why the hell bother.

Back to business! Now, I don't know about you, but almost every white white - at least to me - seems to taste very, very similar, but that's for a simple reason: my pallet is uneducated. Upon opening and tasting, it strikes one as light and fruity, and as most other whites, is crisp, clean, and refreshing (especially as it is chilled).

Aftertaste struck me as lingering, with slight bitterness or sourness. After sitting in the glass for a bit, this wine definitely has some zing and kick.

It's an enjoyable wine with good strong flavours. A definite repeat buy if you want a satisfying, full flavoured, not overly dry white wine.

***1/2 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$9.95 (US$8.98).

From LCBO.com:

J.J. MCWILLIAM CHARDONNAY, 750 mL bottle
LCBO #91744
Wine, Still Table Wine, White Still Table Wine
14.0% Alcohol/Vol
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DEEP FLAVOURED RED PASTA SAUCE

If you have been serving your family the same tomato sauce on your pasta dinners for some time now and you're in a rut you will love this recipe. The flavour is rich and the sauce is thick and not greasy that your family will think that you all went out to some fancy restaurant. Serve this with a nice side salad.

Yields enough for 4 people

Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef (usually this is about half of the grocery packaged ground beef)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped into half moons
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 c ketchup or 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine (the kind that you would want to drink - pick your fav)
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1-1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes (usually a small can)
  • handful of parsley, chopped
  • whole wheat penne pasta or use whole wheat fettucine (follow the instructions on the back of the pasta box)
In a large pot, on medium heat, add in the olive oil, onion, carrots, garlic and salt and pepper. Saute this for about 2 minutes or until the onion turns translucent. Add in the ground beef and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the meat has browned. Add in the sliced mushrooms and the ketchup or tomato paste and stir for a minute. Pour in the red wine and scrape all of the brown bits off the bottom of the pot. This is where all of the good flavour is so don't miss this step. Add and stir in the diced tomatoes, chopped spinach and the parsley. Once the whole thing comes to a bubble drop the heat back to low, put the lid back on and simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened.

When the sauce is about 10 minutes away from being done start cooking the pasta of your choice. Follow the instructions on the back of the pasta box/packaging. Cook the pasta to al dente and then mix the pasta with the sauce then serve.

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MATT'S WINE NOT! AN UNSOPHISTICATED LOOK AT A GRAPE'S BEST FRIEND

Hi, my name is Matt, Nancy's husband, and I'll be handling the liquor (i.e. BOOZE!) side of things here on foodtastesyummy.com. Now first, for the important disclaimer: I know VERY LITTLE about the technical side of alcohol. Searching for hints of vanilla, deep notes of oak, the way a wine rolls off your front taste buds to the back and then spitting it into a silver bucket...if you're searching for this, I suggest you look elsewhere, dammit! My mission is to merely write about wines, beers, and the odd spirit which I have found to be one thing: YUMMY (or the odd time I buy something I later dislike, crummy). You may agree with me, you may disagree, but if you happen to buy a bottle I suggest, feel free to write back and let me know how it was. I hope you enjoy this small little corner of this site.

Sincerely,
Matthew
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NECTARINE & BRIE SANDWICH


I find typical sandwiches sometimes quite boring, especially if you have the same type of sandwich with turkey meat, lettuce and mustard. My tummy starts telling me "no more sandwiches!" at every lunch hour. I find the best way to spice up an old boring sandwich is to make the sandwich with something you don't normally use i.e. fruits. This sandwich has both creamy and crunchy textures and definitely the sweetness from the fruit only seem to enhance the other ingredients.

Ingredients:
  • Baguette or kaiser rolls, lightly toasted in the oven
  • Brie Cheese, sliced
  • Nectarines, sliced thinly (make sure that the nectarine isn't too ripe, it should still be a little crisp)
  • Red or white Onions, thinly sliced
  • light mayo (to spread)
  • spinach, washed
  • Rosemary ham slices (2-3 slices per sandwich)

Slice the baguette or kaiser roll in half. If you're using a baguette make sure not to cut right through the bread because you want all of the sandwich ingredients to be able to stay in the sandwich when eating. Put the slices of brie on one side and let it toast in the oven at 350 degrees F until it lightly toasts. Once out of the oven start layering the rest of the ingredients with the spinach going last. Put a generous helping of mayo on top and enjoy. I like to serve this with a handful of potato chips and a crunchy pickle.

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MOIST TURKEY BURGERS


Whether you grill these or just cook them on a non-stick frying pan these burgers stay moist for every bite. These burgers are not only moist but they have a nice earthy flavour in the background from the dried thyme and the sliced cremini mushrooms.

Serves 4-6 (Depending on the size of your burger patties)

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound of lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (or you can use the regular paprika if you don't have smoked)
  • generous 1 tbsp light mayo
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • 1-1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 4-6 Kaiser or burger buns, lightly toasted

In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients until just mixed through. I don't have a special utensil for this I just use the best tools in the kitchen - my hands. Don't over mix the meat otherwise your burgers will be tough. Either on a non-stick pan or a grill cook the turkey burgers for about 4-5 minutes on each side (depending on the size of the patties). Please check to see doneness the turkey should not be served rare! Serve the burgers on a warm bun and use your favourite burger toppings to finish, then eat!

Additions: Try using my sage mayo as your main condiment for this burger. Here is the link

www.foodtastesyummy.com/2009/07/sage-mayo.html

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SAGE MAYO


Use this as your next condiment on burgers or use this as your next spread on your favourite sandwich. If you like to dip french fries in mayo try this recipe at your next party.

Yields about 3/4 cup

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup light mayo
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 tsp fresh sage, chopped finely

In a small mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and it's ready to use. Note that if you wish to thin this out a bit more to use as a dip add a little milk about 2-3 tbsp.

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MUSTARD SEARED SALMON


I can do this recipe with my eyes closed it is just too easy. It goes great with the rice pilaf recipe on this website. The mustard gives the salmon a little zing. If you love mustard and fish you will love this dish!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 4 portions of salmon (do not use salmon steaks)
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • yellow mustard (enough to cover all of the salmon)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon

In a large bowl put in all of the salmon and season the fish with salt and pepper. Add in tons of yellow mustard to cover the fish. I recommend not using your bare hands because the yellow mustard will stain them. I just use tongs and swish it around in the bowl. In a non-stick frying pan, on medium heat, add in the 2 tbsp of olive oil and slowly add in the mustard covered salmon. Sear each side for a few minutes and once the salmon has finished cooking turn off the heat and squeeze the juice of one lemon then serve.

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BANANA BREAD

This is again one of my favourite go-to snacking treats! I don't know a single person that doesn't like a yummy banana bread. One of my fondest memories is making this for my husband's Grandparents. Grandpa enjoyed the bread so much he had two big pieces. This recipe comes from "The New Canadian Basics Cookbook" written by Carol Ferguson with Murray McMillan. Try it you'll love it!

Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup each: granulated sugar, packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup mashed overripe bananas (about 3)
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp each: baking soda, salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, on top before baking (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, oil, and the sugars and mix it well. Add in the mashed bananas and mix it for another minute. Add in all of the dry ingredients in the same bowl and slowly blend it in until you see no more flour. As you probably can tell I don't like to separate the dry from the wet ingredients that often I find sometimes it is a waste of time! Pour the wet batter into a greased and floured or parchment paper lined 9" square cake pan and put it into the oven to bake for about 40-45 minutes.

Substitutions: Instead of the mashed bananas you can add the equivalent amount of pureed pumpkin from a can or 3/4 cup of smooth applesauce. If you use one of the substitutions add 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of nutmeg. Add chocolate chips to this recipe if you would like as well for a nice sweet treat!
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CHOCOLATE SNACKING CAKE

This is probably one of the most satisfying chocolate cakes that I've had in a long time. I've been making this recipe for a few years now and I find myself going back to it over and over again just because of how easy and satisfying it is. What makes this also great is that it is low in fat and kid-friendly. However, I cannot take the credit for this recipe. It comes from one of my favourite cookbooks called "The New Canadian Basics Cookbook" written by Carol Ferguson with Murray McMillan. Please try this you will love it! My whole family does.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Baking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp each: baking powder, baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) OR use 3/4 cup chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (except the nuts) then add the wet ingredients. Mix it thoroughly until just moistened. Add the nuts now if you are using it. Please note that I never have put in the nuts I find it satisfying enough without it. I instead use the chocolate chips for an extra chocolatety touch. Pour the batter into a greased 9" square cake pan and bake it in the oven for 30 minutes. Check with a toothpick to see if the cake is done. Cut the cake into 9 portions once cooled and serve.

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BLUEBERRY UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

This goes really well with a nice cup of warm coffee. If you don't have blueberries than you could add sliced apples or blackberries.

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.

Baking time: 40-45 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (if you don't wish to use whole wheat flour then just omit this and add the equivalent amount of all-purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup soft margarine or butter
  • 1 egg (or egg substitute)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Upside down - topping ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
In a large bowl, combine mix all of the dry ingredients. Then slowly add the wet ingredients and mix until just moistened. You can use an electric mixer if you like but I prefer to just do it by hand. In a round cake pan or a 9" square pan spread the 3 tbsp of melted butter, sprinkle the brown sugar, and add the whole pint of blueberries. This will be the top of your cake after baking. Then add the batter on top and bake it in the oven for about 40-45 minutes or until your toothpick comes out clean from the centre of the cake. Let it cool and then put a large plate on top of the baking pan and flip quickly. The cake should come out easily and you should see the blueberries nicely sticking to your cake.
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GUACOMOLE


Serve this with crunchy tortilla chips or with warm flat bread it is absolutely delicious! If you for some reason end up with some extra try putting it as your spread on your next sandwich.

Ingredients:
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp cilantro or parsley, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp red onions, chopped (optional)
  • sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of paprika on top (optional)

In a bowl put in the avocados and mash it with a potato masher or a fork. Make sure to keep some texture and not mash it to a pulp. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a spoon then serve.

Additions: If you want to make another version of this you can add 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, 1/2 tsp of paprika, and 1 tsp dijon mustard. This version has also been a hit everytime I make it.

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RICE PILAF

Do you ever get sick of just eating plain white rice? Let me tell you I do sometimes so I try to jazz up rice whenever I can. This recipe is a good one I hope you all enjoy.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp each of cumin and paprika
  • 1 lime juice
  • 1/2 cup of white rice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • handful of frozen green peas
  • 1 lime juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional)

In a pot on medium heat add the oil and put the onion, salt, pepper, cumin and paprika to saute. After a minute add in the rice and toast the rice in the oil stirring constantly for about 1 minute. After a minute pour in the chicken stock wait until it comes to a bubble then drop the heat back to low. Cook with the lid on for about 15 minutes and stir occasionally. After the rice has finished cooking add in the frozen peas and put the lid back on for a couple of minutes. When ready to serve squeeze the lime juice and sprinkle the parsley for garnish then eat.

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TZATZIKI SAUCE (CUCUMBER YOGURT SAUCE)


This is most definitely a multi-purpose yogurt sauce. I use this as a dip, spread or a sauce on any meat dish. If you can master this simple sauce I can pretty much guarantee that if you have last minute guests you will have an easy time preparing a dinner meal.

Serves 2-3 (double the recipe if needs be)

Ingredients:
  • Natural/Plain yogurt (175 g container)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of half a lemon
  • small clove of garlic, grated
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • sprinkle of paprika on top
  • drizzle of olive oil (optional)
  • 1 tbsp of fresh dill, chopped (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients except the the paprika, oil and dill. Stir to combine then pour it into a serving dish. For garnish and to add to the taste sprinkle some paprika, drizzle extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle fresh dill then serve.

Serving Suggestions: You can always add olives on top for a nice garnish. However, I like to serve this with warm flat bread and tons of veggie sticks enjoy.
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QUICK SANDWICH PIZZA FOR KIDS


This is a kid-friendly recipe that is fun and easy to make. What is great about this is that the toppings of the pizza can be whatever you want it to be. If you're in a rush to make a quick little lunch for your kids here is a way to satisfy their hunger fast!

Serves 1
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Ingredients:

  • Drizzle of olive oil (for the baking dish to prevent sticking)
  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread, cut diagonally
  • tomato sauce
  • deli meat or pepperoni, cut into pieces
  • tomato and green onion, sliced
  • handful of grated cheese (any kind of melting cheese)

Grease a small baking dish and in it place the diagonal pieces of bread to fit. Put it into the oven for around 30 seconds to lightly toast the bread. Then take a spoonful of sauce and spread it on the bread and add your toppings with the cheese last. Put it back into the oven for about 10 minutes and serve.

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SIMPLE SALAD WITH SWEET MUSTARD DRESSING



This is only my suggestion as to what to put in the simple salad but really you can put whatever vegetables your heart desires. I really recommend putting avocados in salads because not only are the avocado oils good for your health but also it adds a nice creamy texture to the salad.

If you want to read more about avocados and what they do for you check out this article online:
www.avocado.org/healthy-living/nutrition

Salad Ingredients:
  • Romaine Lettuce or whatever leafy greens you want to use
  • Tomato slices
  • Cucumber slices
  • Green Peppers
  • Avocado slices (you might want to squeeze a lemon or lime to prevent them from browning)
  • Red or white onion, thinly sliced

Sweet Mustard Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Substitutions: This dressing has the mix of sweet and sour. Try this on your next potato salad!
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Dillicious Salad with Light creamy garlic dressing


This is a yummy salad that really pairs well with the quiche recipe on this site. I feel that radish and dill are not really put in salads all that much so I figured why not try it. When I first made this I was so pleased with myself it turned out to be a keeper!

Dillicious Salad Ingredients:
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Apple Slices
  • Radishes, sliced
  • Red Onions, sliced thinly
  • Fresh dill, chopped at least 2 tbsp

Please note that I have not put down any measurements for this salad because I figure the person making this could probably figure out how much they plan to make. I always think that the dressing should be served on the side so people can choose how much they would like on the salad.

Light Creamy Garlic Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp low fat mayo
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • grate half of a garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and in another bowl mix all of the dressing ingredients with a whisk. Then Serve and enjoy.

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NO CRUST, CRUST QUICHE

The reason why I call this the no crust, crust quiche is because I do not use the traditional pastry crust. Instead I substituted that for soft tortilla wraps. Although I do love the traditional quiche I find this one quite satisfying. This is great if you're planning to have a little brunch get together. I hope you enjoy this one.

Serves 4-6
Preheat oven to 400 Degrees F.

Ingredients:
  • 6-8 small white or whole wheat soft tortilla bread - cut into half.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese is your fav!)
  • 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup smoked breakfast ham, diced
  • 1/4 cup of diced broccoli or mushrooms

The crust of the quiche: Take a pie plate and put parchment paper on it to prevent sticking and like a puzzle fit the tortilla bread in the pie plate until you see none of the plate exposed. That should take about 3-4 tortillas. Then sprinkle the cheese down on top of the tortilla bread then sandwich it with the rest of the tortilla just like your would if you're making a quesadilla. Put the pie plate into the oven until the cheese starts to melt.

In a saute pan put in the smoked ham, onions and the broccoli and cook for about 2 minutes and then cool it down. While this is cooling mix in a bowl the eggs, milk, salt and pepper then combine the ham mixture to the egg mixture. Pour this mix on top of the tortilla crust and put it into the oven for 25-30 minutes until the eggs are just firm to the touch. Do not overbake this! You don't want your quiche tasting like rubber. Slice and serve with a light salad. Stay tuned for the salad recipe.

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BAKED OVEN HOME FRIES

This is a healthier version of the traditional fries that you normally get and trust me these are really delicious. These are great on their own or as a side dish to any one of your favourite dinner meals. These are definitely a go to side dish for me since I can change it up so many different ways to keep it interesting.

Serves 2

Preheat oven at 425 degrees F.

Ingredients

  • 3 yukon gold potatoes (or any starchy potato that you like), sliced into wedges or fries
  • a sprinkling of coarse salt and pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp or one or more of the following: chili spice, paprika, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried rosemary etc. There are endless choices here but if you like it plain than you can omit this part.

Put all of the ingredients on a baking sheet and mix it around to make sure that the olive oil and spices have covered each potato piece. I strongly recommend that you use parchment paper on your baking sheet to prevent sticking. Put it in the oven for 30-40 minutes on the middle rack. Half way through baking make sure to take your tongs and move the fries around so they don't end up burning on one side of the potato. Once done then serve. Enjoy!

Additionals: After it finishes baking you can squeeze a bit of lemon juice for a little zing or you can sprinkle a huge handful of parmesan cheese yum!

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EASY CHICKEN BBQ MARINADE

This is a simple chicken marinade. This recipe is written as if you would be baking the chicken in the oven but this marinade is also good as a barbeque dish. I also recommend using chicken breasts or turkey to substitute if you don't want to use the legs or thighs.

Serves 2

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees F.

Ingredients:
  • 6 Chicken Legs/thighs
  • 1/2 tsp of coarse salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Squeeze of lime juice (optional)
Combine all of the ingredients into a large bowl (except the lime juice) and then put the chicken pieces in and massage the chicken. I recommend leaving the chicken in the fridge for an hour or so but really if you're in a rush you could cook it right away. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and cover it with foil to create a bit of steam. Bake it for about 45 minutes - check the doneness. When done squeeze the juice of 1 lime on top of the chicken then serve with rice.
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CHUNKY PASTA TOMATO SAUCE

This is one of my easiest pasta sauce recipes. What's great about this recipe is that you can feed a big crowd and not worry about how it turns out. Honestly I can say I've had this pasta sauce turn out the same way everytime. My husband really likes this recipe. You can serve it like this or with a nice side salad.

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 425 Degrees F.


Ingredients

  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with herbs (28 oz. can)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced finely
  • 1 can of tuna in water (optional)

Put all of the ingredients into a deep casserole dish and mix the ingredients to combine. Bake it in the oven at 425 degrees F. for about 40 minutes. By the end you should notice that some of the liquid from the tomatoes have evaporated which help thicken the sauce. When you have about 10 minutes left until the pasta sauce is ready start cooking the pasta in a large pot until it is cooked to al dente. This really means the pasta should have a little bite to it. I like to use penne but really you could use whatever you like. Please do not overcook the pasta! Nobody likes mushy pasta. Pour the sauce over the pasta, sprinkle a little parm cheese and enjoy.

Substitutions: you could definitely substitute the tuna for some leftover chicken. You could add chopped olives or mushrooms to bulk up the flavour. If you don't feel like pasta make this sauce as a warm bruschetta mixture and put the chunky sauce on some nice crusty bread.
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WELCOME TO MY FOOD TASTES YUMMY RECIPE BLOG

The first thing I would like to say is welcome to my Food Tastes Yummy blog! I am so pleased to be starting this new website about the one thing we all have in common THE LOVE OF FOOD! I have a real passion for food and everything dealing with food. For most of my life my parents have worked long hours at our family business and there were many a night when there were no home cooked meals at the end of the day. We had so much take out food (with no fault of my parents of course as they were seriously overworked) that my sister and I became used to the sweet, salty and grease filled taste of fast food. At the ripe age of 12 I began to take a keen interest in cooking only because we had little money and I was really super hungry after a long school day. I felt I needed to learn so I could help out at home. Needless to say I made tons of mistakes i.e. burned a lot of pots and pans. I didn't have a particular preference as to the type of cuisine I wanted to cook so I tried pretty much every recipe that I could get my hands on. I don't want to babble but I will say I felt liberated from cooking my own meals. Since I learned how to cook I was able to make meals for my hard working parents and soon began to cater food to people in my area.

I have always been an active person being on the basketball team at school and doing Tae Kwon Do as a teen and always thought of myself as a healthy person however, once I learned more about the foods that we were putting in our mouths everyday I soon began to realize that exercise was only part of the equation to living a healthy balanced lifestyle. I soon changed my ways and only ate take out food as a treat to myself. That did not mean however, that I had it once a year. I don't want to lie to you all...I do eat "junk"food but only once in a while. I try instead to savour that type of flavour by making more figure friendly home cooked meals that mimic the foods that I love without compromising the taste. I have been writing my own recipes or versions of my favs for some time now and have tested them out successfully with a lot of my customers, friends, family members and now my wonderful husband. This website is intended to share those recipes and others. My goal is to ultimately get more people cooking at home (whether you are as passionate about cooking as I am or not). One of my goals is to keep the recipes short and easy. I encourage all of you to write to me and share your easy recipes on this website. Let me know what you think of my recipes and rate them if you wish! If you happen to have a better suggestion I am definitely all ears! Please know that this blog is not intended to have strictly healthy nutritional recipes 100% of the time. Really my intentions are to get more people cooking flavourful meals at home.

I believe all people should learn how to cook and make time to cook. I really feel that once you get going and start you will have your wallets and bodies thanking you in the end as well as your family. I plan to write daily and put photos of all of the complete recipes so you can see how the finished product looks like. I will say that one of my pet peeves are cookbook authors that do not put pictures of the finished product beside all of the recipes that are in the book. I feel that that is one of the reasons why most people are deterred from cooking their own meals at home. The long list of ingredients and simply not having a picture only further intimidate most potential cooks. Anyways, I will just leave it at that for today but I hope that you will come back frequently and check this website out! Cheers!

Most Sincerely,
Nancy Shields
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