If you're a fan of spaghetti and meatballs (and really who isn't?) then I can bet that you will be a fan of this recipe. This has all of the same flavour notes as spaghetti and meatballs, but it is the addition of olives and spinach that make this dish different. The olives add a nice salty briny bite to the dish without being overpowering. This is a beautiful easy weeknight dish that you can serve to the whole family. I think that even your kids will eat the spinach in this recipe.

Serves 2 generously


  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp vegetable blend seasoning
  • pinch of crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 (14 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water or stock
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olives, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small bag of spinach
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked orzo
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (to serve)

1. Take the ground beef and make 1 inch sized meatballs, then place them onto a plate until you're ready to use. Preheat a medium sized shallow pot, on medium heat. Drizzle 3 tbsps of oil, then add in the garlic, onion, salt, pepper, dried basil, veggie seasoning, and the red chili flakes. Saute the ingredients for about 3 minutes.

2. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Add in the can of crushed tomatoes, water, balsamic vinegar and the olives. Give it a good stir to mix the sauce through, then place in the prepared meatballs to start cooking through. Let it cook for a good 8-10 minutes with lid on. The meatballs should be cook through at this point.

3. Add in the chopped yellow bell pepper, and the whole bag of spinach. Don't worry the spinach will wilt down in no time at all. Let it cook for 2 minutes or so. Make sure to stir occassionally.

4. Once the sauce has thickened and the spinach and yellow pepper have cooked down a bit, add in the cooked orzo. Once the orzo is covered in the sauce turn the heat off and serve immediately. Sprinkle a generous amount of Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Cook's Suggestion: You can use another small shaped pasta like macaroni if you like to substitute.
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Here is a recipe for faux cappuccino. If you're wondering what is meant by "faux" I mean it looks like cappuccino but it really isn't one. This look alike capp is actually made with walnuts and tofu! This is a recipe by California Walnuts. I would suggest if you're planning to make this, use good quality walnuts. Since it is a predominate flavour for this recipe you don't want to use poor quality walnuts. Poor quality ingredients usually create a poor quality dish. Fool your guests today with this faux cappuccino. Enjoy!

Recipe by California Walnuts (Note: This recipe and photo are being posted with full consent by the owner/representatives of the company)

Serves 6

  • 1 cup California walnut pieces
  • 10 oz. soft or silken tofu
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 oz. milk chocolate, melted
  • 2 oz. dark chocolate, melted
  • 1/4 cup whipped cream
  • cinnamon

With a hand blender or food processor, puree walnuts, tofu, honey and chocolate until smooth. Divide among 6 cappuccino cups and refrigerate to set. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.

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Tarragon is one of those flavours that you either hate or love. When you initially smell tarragon it smells quite licorice-like, and it may turn some people off but you know when you pair it with another bold flavour like orange the dish turns out quite nice! Salmon, which has it's own unique flavour, is the perfect type of fish to serve with this flavour pairing. The salmon flavour itself is quite bold so the tarragon and orange really enhance the natural flavour of the salmon. Serve it along side nice creamy tzatziki sauce and this broccoli side dish.

Serves 2

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small salmon fillets
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1 tsp seasoning blend
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (no pulp)
  • tzatziki sauce (to serve on the side)
  • Naan or pita bread (to serve on the side)

Broccoli side dish:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced finely
  • 1 head broccoli, florets only
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • pinch of vegetable seasoning mix
  • 3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tbsp chicken stock
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved

1. Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium high heat, and drizzle 2 tbsp of oil. Season the salmon fillets with salt, pepper, fresh tarragon and seasoning blend; then place it into the preheated pan to sear on both sides. This should take about 5-7 minutes per side.

2. Then pour in the orange juice and let the orange juice cook until it becomes syrupy in texture. Make sure to flip the salmon half way through; so both sides can be coated with the orange syrup. Serve immediately with tzatziki sauce and naan bread.

3. Broccoli side dish: While the salmon is cooking start the side dish. Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium heat, drizzle olive oil. Add in the onion and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add in the broccoli florets, salt, pepper, and veggie seasoning. Let it cook for about 1 minute or so. Add in the sundried tomatoes and the chicken stock; then cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the broccoli is tender-crisp. Serve warm with shaved Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

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Hey...hey you. Ya you. Remember me? Remember these little nickel and dime wine posts I used to do? Recall how I know virtually nothing about the finer nuances of wine, and how I frankly don't really give a damn? Did you miss these posts?

HEY I wanted a positive answer, not the truth! But here we go, the return of Matt's Wine Not! I honestly have missed writing these little posts and writing about wine in a fun, easy to understand manner that everyday people can appreciate and relate to...no freshly ground chalk, no earthy undertones - just straight up how does it taste, does it taste good, and do I like it.

So! That being said, my first of several reviews that are to come are inspired by wine suggestions from my good buddy at work, who worked for years in the restaurant biz and knows a thing or ten about wine, so I bring you Wine Not! brought to you by Thomas' Terrific Tested Tipples ("Quadruple T" for short).

The first in this series of price friendly wines personally given the thumbs up by my friend is from France, and is pretty damn nice! This wine is named for and I presume is also owned by Christian Moueix, who is a famed winemaker from France, and, according to my other friends (wow I have a lot of friends!) at Wikipedia, Mr. Moueix was awarded the title "Man of the Year" (how sexist! *gasp*) by Decanter magazine.

...I doubt they read this column. Anyway! Wine time!

Naturally corked like any good wine is (caps are fine though, and more convenient actually!), this wine pours a nice cherry red colour, which isn't too deep, and when sloshed around merrily in the glass, only produces slight glass coating. I wonder if that actually means anything? I shall have to ask around...(note to self: ask around).

Sniffing this wine with one's nose (I don't recommend using your feet), this wine is light-to-medium in strength, with a fruity nose of cherry and perhaps berries, of the straw or rasp varieties. It is fresh and fruity, and very lively, and inviting, as if it was saying, "Come on, have a drink!"
Okay, I will!! This is a definite dry and medium bodied red, with more tastes of cherry and darker fruits, and a decent boozy kick at 13%. The acidity is well balanced and not overpowering whatsoever, and is tamed very nicely. The aftertaste is dry as well, and a dry cherry taste really comes through in the end.

This wine was a tasty affair, but perhaps one better to pair with food, such as a nice piece of beef, or even some nice cheese. Mmm. Cheese. It's still very good though, and at under $15, why not pour a glass tonight?

*** out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$14.95 (US$15.25) (Check out that exchange rate baby! Woo!)

From LCBO.com:

LCBO/Vintages #961227
Wine, Red Wine
13% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: XD
Made in: France
By: Jean-Pierre Moueix, Negoc.
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Hello, Food Tastes Yummy readers! Here is a guest post by Cindy Cullen. She is a professional Chef, and with fellow Chef Joseph Morris runs a non-profit site called Culinary Arts College. The site is about, "elevating American cuisine by encouraging a new generation of chefs to attend a culinary arts college." If you wish to contact Cindy personally, she welcomes your comments at her email: cindycullen84@gmail.com.

The art of cooking involves much more than just knowing how to throw together the right ingredients in the right amounts - in fact, there's much you can do to improve your cooking skills by knowing your way around a kitchen, and being completely at home in it. You can kick off your kitchen campaign by:

1. Knowing where all the ingredients and pots and pans are - This makes your work easier and you don't have to waste time looking for the right utensils or worse, starting a dish only find you don't have the necessary ingredients or the right vessels to cook them.

2. Setting out all the ingredients on your countertop before you begin - This not only ensures that you have all that you need to make the dish, but also that you don't have to waste time in raiding the refrigerator or pantry cupboard when the water is already boiling, or the pan is heated up and ready for the next item to be added.

3. Keeping your workspace clean and tidy at all times - The most efficient cooks are also the ones who value hygiene and a clear cooking area. They put away ingredients once they've used them, they move dirty dishes, knives and spoons to the sink, and they wipe up anything that spills onto the countertop immediately. When your workspace is clear of clutter and grime, you feel better and get the job done more efficiently.

4. Stocking your kitchen regularly - To do this most efficiently, you must know what you have and what you need. You must also know the right amounts to buy so you neither run out of essentials nor have too much of anything that you don't use regularly..

5. Keeping towels handy - If you value hygiene, you're definitely going to wash your hands regularly during the course of cooking a meal. Keep towels handy, not just to wipe your hands, but also to wipe off any spills before you dirty your floor, your countertop, and yourself. A set of kitchen towels for designated purposes is a must for every aspiring cook.

6. Not letting the sink overflow - If you leave behind a messy and cluttered kitchen with the sink overflowing with dirty dishes, even the tastiest meal you've cooked leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Use the waiting time when cooking to clear up your sink and not let the dishes fester and grow mould. you could also reuse spoons, knives and bowls with a single rinse instead of taking a clean one out every time you cook a dish.

7. Knowing when ingredients are rotten - A good cook knows by just the sight or smell that an ingredient has gone bad and cannot be used in the recipe. You don't want to taste the finished dish and then wrinkle your nose in disgust and wonder what went wrong.

8. Knowing how to salvage disasters - There are times when you make mistakes and end up adding too much salt or forget to put in an ingredient. Any cook worth their salt should have disaster management recipes too up their sleeve, just as they have their regular ones on the boil in their minds.

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As I mentioned in a previous post dear readers, my hubby Matt went to the farmers market not long ago and brought home a bag full of goodies! One of the "goodies" he brought home was yummy smoked turkey chorizo sausage. It got my mouth watering, quite literally! I knew the best thing to do with something as yummy as this was to let the ingredient shine for itself and cook a mean pasta dish. That is exactly what I did! Have a taste won't you?

Serves 4


  • 3 cups rotini pasta, uncooked
  • 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of hot chili flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 smoked turkey chorizo sausage, cut into half moons
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock or water
  • 7 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 8 large cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • handful of fresh basil, torn

1. Preheat a large shallow pot on medium high heat, drizzle the olive oil, then add in the chili flakes, garlic, chopped onion, salt, pepper and the chorizo sausage. Saute for 5 minutes. Put on a large pot of water on boil for the pasta.

2. Deglaze the pan by pouring in the chicken stock. Scrap all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add in the sundried tomatoes, the can of whole tomatoes, and 1 tsp of sugar. Take a potato masher and mash the whole tomatoes to break them down a bit. Stir all the ingredients together, and turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Let the sauce cook down for a good 7-10 minutes until it has thickened slightly. Make sure to stir occassionally. This would be a good time to start cooking the pasta. Follow the package instructions.

3. Add in the sliced mushrooms and the fresh basil and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes; stirring occasionally. Once the sauce has come together nicely add in the cooked rotini pasta. If you find the sauce is a bit too thick, add in a ladle or two of the pasta water. Serve warm with more torn basil.

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Lately, I've been making quite a bit of sweet potato baby food for my little one and I always seem to have sweet potatoes on hand because of it. I decided this particular night I was going to make a nice sweet potato hash with turkey kielbasa sausage. The sweetness of the potato and the smokey flavour of the turkey sausage was a winning combination! This is a dish that you can serve for breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner. If you like you can also serve this as a delicious side dish for your family. I'm sure even your kids will love it! I'll be making this for my little one some day down the road for sure!

Serves 2

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced and cubed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water (use a little more if needed)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 3/4 cup turkey kielbasa sausage, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp vegetable seasoning mix
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter, unsalted

1. Preheat a large non-stick skillet on medium high heat, add in the sweet potatoes, small onion, salt and pepper. Pour in the water and the oil; then give the ingredients a quick stir. With no lid on, let the sweet potato mix simmer for 10-15 minutes; stirring occassionally. The sweet potato should be cooked through pretty much. If you find the water dries up quickly for you, then add a 1/4 cup more as needed.

2. Lower the heat to medium low. Add in the turkey sausage pieces and let it cook for 2 minutes. The turkey sausage should brown slightly. Then add in the chopped green pepper, veggie seasoning, chopped green onion, and the butter. Cook for a good 3-5 minutes or until the sweet potato cubes start to brown slightly. Serve warm.

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I just love making huge salads to serve as a meal. It's a great dinner option if you're in a hurry like me, but you still want to please the palates of all of your guests or family members. Here is a combination of flavours that is sure to please! You have the roasted smokey flavour of the chicken, the sweetness from the plums, and the salty bite from the cheese; and of course the mustardy flavour from the vinaigrette. Give this one a try! It's a real looker on the plate.

Serves 2


  • 1 red leaf lettuce bunch, washed and chopped
  • 1-1/2 cup roasted chicken, shredded
  • small red onion, sliced thin
  • 3 red plums, sliced thin
  • half a cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • manchego cheese, shaved
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 3 tsps white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp liquid honey
  • 1 tsp fresh basil, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp water
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1. Take 2 large plates and assemble the salad onto each plate. Assemble in this order of ingredients: red leaf lettuce, shredded roasted chicken, red onion slices, red plum slices, cucumber slices, toasted walnuts and shaved manchego cheese.

2. Make the dressing: Take a small bowl, and add in the olive oil, mustard, white wine vinegar, liquid honey, basil, water, pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Whisk all of the ingredients together until the vinaigrette starts to thicken slightly.

3. Pour it over the plates of salad and serve immediately. I recommend spooning the dressing on the salad and then taste as you go along. You may find you need a little less dressing. I suggest serving this salad with a warm toasted baquette to make a complete meal.

Cook's Tip: Don't have manchego cheese on hand? Then go ahead and use a nice quality Parmesan cheese to substitute.

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Whenever I see smoked salmon my head starts thinking of a hundred different things I can do with this delicate fish, but my favourite thing with smoked salmon is a simple sandwich with cheese. There's just something about cheese and smoked salmon that's irresistible to me. So, I took a good quality brie cheese, creamy avocado, and thinly sliced smoked salmon and made a delicious baquette sandwich. Needless to say, it put a huge smile on my face.

Makes 1 sandwich


  • 1 small baguette, lightly toasted
  • 3 slices of brie cheese (choose your fav)
  • 4 smoked salmon slices
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • half a avocado, thinly sliced
  • cucumber slices
  • light mayonnaise
  • grainy mustard
  • 2 olives (with toothpick for presentation)

Open up the lightly toasted baguette, and layer the sandwich with the following ingredients: brie slices, smoked salmon slices, pinch of freshly cracked black pepper, red onion slices, avocado, and cucumber. Then spread some light mayo and grainy mustard on the top part of the baguette; and then place it right on top of the sandwich. Place two olives on a toothpick and poke it through the top of the sandwich and serve.

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