Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

A few recipes to remember

January 6, 2016

I’ll try to properly post something at some point, but saving these so I don’t forget them..

Gingerbread cake:
So so much messier than she made it, but so so tasty. And I had leftover candied cranberries, so made these for New Years:

Cranberry Moscow Mule:


Antipasto Mushrooms:
Simple, tasty, easy. A keeper!


Traditional Lasagna

July 22, 2015

A recipe from my dad – – he made this at our family Chrismas last year, and we immediately asked for the recipe. It freezes well, so we’ve made it in double or triple batches. Need to get a photo next time we make it, but wanted to put it up here so we don’t have to search through emails every time we want to make it!

Traditional Lasagna:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3/4 lb Bulk Pork Sausage
  • 24 oz tomato sauce
  • 12 oz Tomato Paste
  • 2 pieces Cloves Garlic (Minced)
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 3 Eggs
  • 3 Tbsp Minced parsley
  • 24 oz Small curd cottage cheese
  • 8 oz Ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 9 pieces Lasagna noodles cooked and drained (or buy the ready-to-bake kind, like we always do)
  • 6 pieces Slices provolone cheese
  • 3 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. In large skillet, cook beef and sausage over medium heat until no longer pink: drain.
  2. add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, garlic, sugar, seasonings, salt-and-pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for one hour stirring occasionally.
  3. In large bowl combine the eggs and the parsley. Stir in the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and Parmesan cheese
  4. Spread 1 cup meat sauce in ungreased 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Layer with three noodles, provolone cheese, 2 cups cottage, 1 cup mozzarella, three noodles, 2 cups meat sauce, remaining cheese mixture and one cup mozzarella. Top with the remaining noodles meat sauce and mozzarella.
  5. Cover and bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 20 minutes longer or until heated through. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

Spaghetti Pomodoro

August 14, 2013


It’s tomato season, which means you really have no excuse to turn to canned or jarred tomato sauce when you can create something much fresher and tastier out of your garden or local fruit & vegetable market.

This recipe is one of several that Cari and I have stolen from a cookbook my mother-in-law has at home.  Its greatness lies in its simplicity… fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, a little bit of seasoning and that’s it.  We’ve made it with spaghetti and linguini, both of which are immensely satisfying.  Generally Cari and I both prefer tomato sauces that are chunky and resemble real tomatoes, rather than the liquefied form.

Here’s the recipe:

Spaghetti Pomodoro

1 lb dried, store-bought spaghetti (though we have also made it from scratch for this recipe)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic
2 lbs fresh ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn by hand into 1/2 inch pieces
pinch of red pepper flakes

1. Put all but 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and all the garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until the garlic begins to sizzle.

2. Add the tomatoes as soon as the garlic begins to change colour.  When the liquid begins to reduce, season with salt.  Continue cooking over a medium-high heat until the tomatoes have reduced and separated from the oil: 10-20 minutes depending on the size of the skillet.

3. While the sauce is cooking, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan or pot.

4. When the sauce has reduced, add the torn basil leaves and the pinch of red pepper flakes.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside.

5. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the boiling water in the saucepan.  Drop in the pasta, stirring until the strands are submerged.  When cooking al dente, drain and toss with the sauce in the skillet, adding the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Taste for salt and serve at once.

Mediterranean Pepper Salad, two ways

July 22, 2013

Mediterranean Pepper Salad

Well, it’s barbecue season and Cari and I are always looking for alternatives to the standard summer salads.  This refreshing take on a Greek Salad comes to us by way of the brilliant Smitten Kitchen.  It uses many of the ingredients common to your everyday Greek salad (feta, red onion, cucumbers, kalamata olives), but because it uses an assortment of bell peppers in place of tomatoes, it won’t get soggy!  The brilliance of this dish is not only it’s deliciousness, but also the fact that you can make a relatively large batch and keep it for several days.  We’ll often make it to have with barbecue and then use it as a side for future dinners, or even as a standalone lunch.

When planning out a barbecue menu for my father’s birthday, we found ourselves in a bit of a conundrum.  We really wanted to serve this, but my Dad keeps kosher.  That means no mixing of meat and dairy.  We felt we needed something to replace the feta, but weren’t sure what.  That’s when we remembered a trick we learned from our collection of Moosewood cookbooks.  A lemon-herb tofu actually pairs quite nicely with the flavours of Greek salad!  So, either make the Smitten Kitchen version or our dairy-free take on the recipe.  Both are delicious.

Mediterranean Pepper Salad (recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 a red onion, diced
3 bell peppers (the more colours you use, the nicer it looks – we once made a double batch and used green, red, orange, yellow and purple.  It looked glorious)
1 english cucumber
1/4-pound firm feta cheese (of lemon-herb tofu, see recipe below)
1/4 to 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives (save yourself the grief and buy them pre-pitted)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

First, marinate the red onion.  Mix the red wine vinegar, water, kosher salt and sugar in a small bowl until the salt and sugar are dissolved.  Add the red onion and set it aside.

Next, chop the vegetables.  Core and seed your bell peppers and chop them into 1/2-inch pieces. Chop the cucumber and feta (or tofu) into similarly-sized chunks. Put your peppers, cucumber, feta (or tofu) and olives in a large bowl.

By now, your onions will have lightly pickled, which makes for a unique and nice flavour. Drain them and add them to the other vegetables in the large bowl, but reserve the vinegar mixture. Pour a quarter cup of the vinegar mixture over the salad, then drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste. Toss evenly and serve at once, or let the flavors muddle together in the fridge for a few hours.  Like I said earlier, this salad can even keep for a few days.

Lemon-Herb Tofu (adapted from Moosewood Collective’s Simple Suppers)

1 cake firm tofu
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)

Preheat the oven 400.  Cube the tofu as you would have the feta, and spread them into a lightly oiled baking pan large enough to hold them in a single layer.

Whisk together the other ingredients and pour over the tofu.  Bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes, stirring often.  For best results, cool completely before adding to the salad.

Tortilla Pie

August 25, 2012

Tortilla Pie

We first had this with some family friends, and after we insisted they email us the recipe. It’s since become one of our staple dinners – make once and we easily get two meals out of it. We haven’t tried, but I bet it would even freeze well.

This is basically a Mexican style lasagna using tortillas instead of pasta and beans instead of meat or ricotta. The original recipe calls for a prepared tomato sauce typically used for pasta, but we’ve actually found we prefer it with just canned tomatoes as most prepared sauces are a bit too seasoned for this.

Tortila Pie
Serves 8

Preheat oven to 350.

Use a springform pan, oiled.


  • 2 tbspn. Oil
  • 2 tspns. Minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onions
  • 1 cup chopped red peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped green peppers
  • 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes (canned is easy)
  • 1 cup canned corn
  • 1 tspn. Dried basil
  • 1 tspn. Chili powder
  • ½ tspn. Ground cumin
  • 1.5 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1.5 cups canned chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1. 5 cup shredded cheese (you pick flavours; feel free to mix 2 or more)
  • 2 tbspn. Grated parmesan
  • 5 x 10 inch tortillas
  1. Heat oil in frypan- medium heat. Cook garlic and onions 4 minutes, stir some. Add peppers and cook for 3 minutes, stir some. Stir in tomato sauce, corn, basil, chili powder and cumin; cover and cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  2. In bowl combine beans. Mash roughly, stir into veg. mixture.
  3. In small bowl, combine all cheeses.
  4. Place tortilla in pan. Spread with1/3 of sauce. Sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese. Repeat layers twice; top with final tortilla. Cover pan tightly with foil.
  5. Bake 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese has melted. Cut into wedges with sharp knife.

Tortilla Pie

Deep Dishin’

March 27, 2012

Photo courtesy of the awesome Anklewicz

There’s nothing quite like Chicago style deep dish pizza.  So when our friend Adam A. discovered a delivery-only deep dish pizza restaurant in Toronto, we thought we’d give it a try.  Then, after coming across some negative reviews, we thought better of it and decided to try making deep dish pizza ourselves.

Adam, Emily, Cari and I took our inspiration from this Emeril Lagasse recipe, and we didn’t stray too far from his formula.  We purchased two deep pans and our mouths collectively drooled with anticipation as our pizzas baked in the oven.

The result?  Delicious.  The crust was perfect; just as much a crispy pie shell as what most of us would identify as a pizza crust.  The toppings – hot Italian salami, sausage, olives, peppers and mushrooms – delicious.  But where’d all the cheese go? Admittedly it seemed like we were using a lot, but I would guess you’d need twice as much to truly resemble the Chicago-style pizza Cari and know from our visits to Giordano’s in Chicago.  I would have probably also opted for a sauce that was smooth rather than the chunky sauce Emeril’s recipe suggests.  Some of the commenters on Emeril’s recipe suggested that this pie was as good as the pizzas they remembered from Chicago.  With a few modifications, it very well may be.

What would we change for next time?

Double or triple the cheese. Double or triple the sauce, and then puree it with an immersion blender. I think that would just about do the trick… we’ll post an update when we give it a try!

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Pastitsio

October 3, 2011


In case you hadn’t noticed, Cari and I have started to get back into the kitchen more and more.  Predictable nap/bed times for Violet have not only given us a lot more uninterrupted free time, we’ve also had a lot more energy for all things food.

That’s not to say our enthusiasm for food ever wavered.  Flipping through the March 2011 issue of Bon Appetit, the baked pasta feature especially caught my eye.  And since the weather has started to cool down and we were having some good friends over for dinner, we decided to take a crack at the Moroccan-Spiced Pastitsio with Lamb and Feta.

So what is pastitsio?  It’s effectively a Greek/Mediterranean version of a meat lasagna, with ground meat, pasta and bechamel sauce.  This particular recipe uses ground lamb, which – as it turns out – is hard to find in Canadian grocery stores.  Thankfully, the butcher at Longo’s was very helpful and provided me with a nice piece of boneless lamb that Cari and I ground with our Kitchen-Aid mixer’s meatgrinder attachment.

The other unusual ingredient is a Moroccan spice blend called ras-el-hanout.  Rather than seek it out, I decided to make it myself after learning that ras-el-hanout is made from a whole bunch of spices already located in our pantry.

Apart from that, the dish was somewhat time consuming but relatively easy to assemble and bake.  And considering the amount of awesome flavours loaded in to the dish, it was a big hit at our dinner and made for some delicious leftovers the next day.

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Pastitsio (courtesy of Bon Appetit)

Makes 10 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped red onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 tablespoons dried mint
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ras-el-hanout (see below for recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups whole milk, divided
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided


1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until onion softens, about 5 minutes.

2. Add lamb; cook until brown, breaking into small pieces, about 8 minutes.

3. Stir in tomatoes with juice, mint, ras-el-hanout, tomato paste, 2 1/2 teaspoons cumin, and cinnamon. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until lamb mixture is thick, stirring often, 15 to 18 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Meanwhile, bring 2 cups milk to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.

5. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; whisk until smooth. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until roux is pale golden, whisking often, 3 to 4 minutes.

6. Gradually add warm milk to roux, whisking until sauce is smooth. Whisk 1 cup milk and 3 egg yolks in medium bowl; whisk into sauce. Whisk in feta and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Bring sauce to boil, whisking often.

7. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until slightly thickened, mashing with potato masher to break up cheese, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

8. Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter deep 14-cup baking dish. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta; return to same pot. Mix 2 tablespoons butter into pasta. Add egg whites and 1/4 cup Parmesan; stir to blend.

9. Spread 4 cups pasta in dish. Spread lamb mixture over. Top with remaining pasta. Spoon sauce over; sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Place dish on rimmed baking sheet.

10. Bake pastitsio until heated through, about 40 minutes. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

Ras-El-Hanout (courtesy of Epicurious commenter AliceAC)

Mix the following (you’ll get much more than you need, so save the rest for later):

  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

New & Improved: Vanilla Peach Custard Pie

September 4, 2011

Two years ago around this time, I posted a recipe for Peach Custard Pie. It was quite good. In the time since then I’ve tinkered with this recipe a few times and have improved it enough that I think it’s worth a new post. It’s now a Vanilla Peach Custard Pie, and it’s damn tasty.

First of all – ignore any pie crust recipe you see on this blog (or elsewhere, really), and just make this one. Always. I screwed it up in my most recent attempt and it still turned out awesome. Trust me – just listen to Deb at Smitten Kitchen, make that pie crust, and (perhaps with a little practice), you’ll be hailed as the best pie crust maker ever.

For this recipe you need half of the dough – so either make half, or make two pies!

Now, for the rest of the pie:

Vanilla Peach Custard Pie With Struesel Topping


  • See above


  • 4 medium size peaches (or more – extra filling is always good!)
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar*
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste (use extract if you have to -but paste makes it all that much better)

Streusel Topping

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup vanilla sugar*
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (Recipe says optional, but I disagree. Not optional.)


Preheat oven to 425°F.

1. Make crust, and line pan.

2. Make Filling:

  • Peel and slice peaches 1/4 inch thick and place in pie shell.
  • Whisk together yogurt, egg yokes, sugar, flour and vanilla until just blended and pour over top of the peaches. Bake for 30 minutes until custard is mostly set.

3. Streusel Topping:.

  • Combine butter, flour, sugar and cinnamon with your fingers until crumbly.
  • Sprinkle evenly over top of pie and bake for an additional 15 minutes until custard is set.

Let pie cool and serve cold or warm. Enjoy!

*Regular sugar works fine too – but if you haven’t already, make some vanilla sugar! Just throw a few vanilla beans into a jar of sugar and let it sit. Soon enough you’ll have fragrant vanilla sugar!

Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch

April 17, 2011


Cari and I had set our hearts on making steak burgers using our new KitchenAid meat grinder attachment, but when the skies opened and the rain poured down for most of the day, we decided something that didn’t involve the barbecue would make a lot more sense.

We had remembered the March 2011 issue of Bon Appetit and five indulgent recipes for baked pasta dishes.  After perusing them, we decided on the Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch.  Roast vegetables in the oven, toss them with cooked pasta and a tomato-cream sauce, sprinkle with a dry pesto crumble and a ton of mozzarella, throw it in the oven for half an hour and you are in for a serious treat of a dish. (more…)

Four-Grain Flapjacks

March 20, 2011


While our appreciation for food hasn’t wavered since the birth of our daughter, Violet, we have noticed that our choices about what we cook have become much different.  Unless Violet is asleep, one of us generally has to be holding her, which makes recipes that involve rigid timing hard to follow.  Elaborate breakfasts at home are another story altogether.  So often we find ourselves rushing out the door and unable to have a slow, relaxing morning.

Then it happened.  Sunday, March 20.  Violet slept for a huge chunk of the morning, and as a result so did Cari!  We celebrated with one of Dan & Liana’s favourite recipes from The Joy of Cooking.  They actually had us send them this recipe last night, so it was fresh in our minds and was something we already had the ingredients for.

There’s nothing wrong with old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes, but when you feel like something a bit richer in nutrients, this is a delicious and wholesome alternative.  We were surprised just how pronounced the flavours of oatmeal and cornmeal were in the finished product. (more…)