Pasta · Main Courses · Fish and Seafood

Mussels in White Wine with Linguine & Fresh Herbs

I spent a summer in PEI when I was (much) younger.  Our cabin overlooked the very water from which we dug the mussels for our dinner almost daily.

Even now, some 30 years later, (oh, wait, I’m sure its only been 3 years!) whenever I see a package of mussels, I am, briefly, transported back there.  Its good to have such memories.

Of course, because of Kevin’s  allergy, I rarely cook shellfish anymore.   Since I was dining alone last week, I could not pass up that package of mussels I found in Costco!

Bonus:  I put this all together in 35 minutes!  It is quick enough for a weeknight meal, yet impressive enough to serve guests.  If you do your prep work in advance, you will be able enjoy cocktails with your guests and whip this up in the time it takes to cook the spaghetti !


This will serve 2 and can easily be doubled.


Mussels in White Wine with Linguine & Fresh Herbs

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

1 cup white wine (I used a Barefoot Pinot Grigio, but any white you like to drink will work here)

1 pound mussels, rinsed, scrubbed & beards removed

250 grams linguine

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (I had mint, cilantro, parsley & basil on hand, but toss in whatever you happen to have)

1 small tomato, diced

Bring large pot of salted water to boil.

Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy pan over medium heat.  Once foam subsides, cook garlic, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper until garlic is softened and begins to brown,  3 – 4 minutes.

Add wine and boil about 4 minutes, until liquid is reduced by half.  Add mussels, give the pan a good shake, cover and cook, shaking occasionally, until mussels open wide.  5 -8 minutes.    Turn heat off.  Remove mussels from the broth, discarding any that have not opened.

While mussels are cooking, add linguine to the pot of boiling salted water and cook until just slightly underdone.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.

Add 1/4 cup pasta water to the mussel broth and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium, add drained linguine, tossing with tongs until linguine is coated in sauce. About 1 minute.  Thin sauce with additional pasta water if needed.

Divide linguine and mussels between 2 plates.  Sprinkle chopped herbs and tomatoes over top and serve immediately.







Beef · Main Courses · Pasta · Pork

Bolognese Sauce

BologneseA family favourite in our house, and so easy to put together.  It does take time, so its a good ‘Sunday afternoon when there is nothing much to do’ project.  The good news is that the flavours are even better the next day, so make on Sunday to enjoy later in the week.  After a long day at the office, dinner will be a snap!  Just boil your favourite pasta and you have a quick and easy mid-week dinner.  This serves 8 generously, and freezes very well.


Bolognese Sauce


3 Tablespoons oil

2 yellow onions, diced

5 celery ribs, diced

3 medium carrots, shredded

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 lb bacon finely chopped

1 lb lean ground beef

1 lb lean ground pork

1 can tomato paste (6 oz)

14 oz can tomato puree

1 cup dry red wine

1/2 cup water

1 cup milk (whole milk is best, but skim will work too, if that’s what you have)

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Get your big pot out… not that one, the bigger one – 6 – 8 quarts.   There is lots of stirring and simmering involved here and you will want the extra room a larger pot gives you.

Heat oil in pot over medium heat.   Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until onion is translucent and vegetables are slightly soft.  Do not let them brown.  About 15 minutes.

Increase heat to medium- high, add bacon, beef and pork and cook, stirring to break up  any chunks until meat is no longer pink.  About 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and stir in tomato paste  until well combined with meat and vegetables.  About 2 minutes.

Stir in tomato puree, wine, water, milk, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered until liquids reduce and sauce is thickened.  About 2 hours.  Remember to stir occasionally while sauce simmers.

Spoon over cooked pasta and serve immediately or cool sauce uncovered, at room temperature.  Once sauce has cooled, cover and refrigerate.  Will keep  3 days in the fridge or frozen up to 3 months.




Welcome to Heathers Fresh Cooking!

I love food, and you do too, if you are reading this.  I especially love food that is prepared from scratch using fresh ingredients and few processed foods.

My recipes have all been tested in my own kitchen by me.  My “support team” and hardest critic is my husband Kevin.   He is my board to bounce ideas off of, he helps me research recipes, he tests and tastes along the way and encourages me every step of the way.

I hope you enjoy my offerings!

Appetizers and Snacks · Soups and Stews


If you want to bring Summer to your table, make Gazpacho.

Aside from being stupid simple to prepare, it’s a great way to bring the freshness of your garden (or Farmers Market) to the table.   I like to serve this with grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for a perfect (and fast) summer meal.

My photo doesn’t do the dish justice, you will just have to take my word, that it does taste better than the photo would lead you to believe.

Serves 4

Gazpacho with Grilled Ham and  Cheese on Dark Rye


1 lb fresh, ripe tomatoes

1/2 English cucumber, or use a regular cucumber, just scoop the seeds out

1/2 red bell pepper

1 clove garlic

3 Tablespoons olive oil (plus additional for drizzling)

1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar

1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper

capers, for garnish

Roughly chop the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper and garlic.  Toss into a blender, along with the vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper.  Puree until there are no more large chunks of of veggies, but mixture still has some texture.  Refrigerate while you grill the sandwiches.  Divide between 4 bowls, drizzle each with olive oil and add a few capers for garnish and serve.


Chicken · Main Courses

Black Pepper Chicken


I like this recipe because, its easy to put together, and with rice, its  a complete meal.  Its a great weeknight dish because it can be ready in the time it takes to cook the rice.

The veggies can be changed to match the season, or whatever you have on hand.  You can add Bok Choy or Napa Cabbage, radishes, those little baby corns… use your imagination.   If you don’t have chicken thighs, sub in a couple of chicken breasts.

Best of all,  you probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen.

The one exception might be Hoisin sauce, but these days, that can be found nearly everywhere, even here in Mexico, so its not like you will have to tromp all over town looking for it.  If you are not familiar with its flavour, give it a try.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised and will find all sorts of dishes to try it in.  Like that Pho you have been dying to try…


Black Pepper Chicken


For the Sauce

1/4 cup water

Pinch of chicken OXO or 1/4 bullion cube

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Tablespoons Hoisin sauce

1 Tablespoon honey

Mix all above ingredients together in small bowl and set aside.

The Rest of the Dish

1 -2 Tablespoons canola or peanut oil

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2″ strips

2 carrots, sliced into rounds 1/8″ thick

1 medium onion, quartered, then each quarter cut in half lengthwise

4 mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon peeled fresh ginger, minced

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

salt to taste

1 green onion, thinly sliced, for garnish

Sesame seeds, for garnish

Cooked white rice

Heat wok over medium- high heat until hot. 

Lightly season chicken thighs with salt, add to wok and stir-fry until almost cooked thru.  About 4 minutes.

Add the carrots,  stir fry for 1 minute.  Add the other 1 Tablespoon of oil, if needed.

Toss in the onion, mushrooms, garlic, ginger and black pepper and stir fry another minute or 2, until onion begins to soften and mushrooms just begin to release their juices. 

Add that cornstarch mixture you set aside earlier and stir until thickened and stir fry ingredients are coated. 

Remove to serving bowl, garnish with sesame seeds and green onions and serve with rice.

Serves 4






Appetizers and Snacks · Salads

Grilled Romaine Hearts with Anchovy Dressing

Grilling Romaine lettuce is nothing new.   in fact, it has been going on so long, I think I think I  might actually be one of the last people to try it!!

Anyway, I had an opportunity this week to give it a try, and you know what?  I really liked it!   Romaine is a strong lettuce, and stands up nicely to a little heat from the grill.

It only takes a couple of minutes to get enough char on the lettuce, so you can easily put this together while the meat you just grilled for the main course is resting.

The instructions are for a gas grill.  If you are using charcoal, you  may want to do this with the lid off.  Watch closely as you may not need the full 2 minutes. ( I know our Charcoal grill tends to be hotter than our gas grill.)

This salad is similar to a Caesar salad, but without the raw egg.

Serves 6

Grilled Romaine Hearts with Anchovy Dressing, Grilled Lemony Potatoes, Chipotle Lime Chicken Thighs

Grilled Romaine Hearts with Anchovy Dressing

2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

3 Romaine Lettuce hearts

12 slices of baguette 1/2 ” thick

Pre-heat gas grill to 350F.

Puree anchovies, garlic, oil, in blender until smooth.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Brush both sides of baguette slices with some of this mixture and grill both sides until toasted.

Add the lemon juice and zest to the anchovy oil and blend until emulsified.   Taste for seasoning add more salt if needed and set aside.

Cut romaine hearts in half lengthwise.  Place over direct heat on grill grates and close lid.  Grill about 2 minutes, just until char marks from the grill start to appear.  (You want to grill them, just until grill marks appear, and you need the lid closed to get the heat to do this.  Otherwise, you and up with a wilty mess of greens no one wants to eat. )

Transfer cooked greens to large platter, spoon dressing over, arrange baguette slices on top and serve.

Alternately, you can slice the grilled lettuce into 2″ pieces transfer to bowl and toss with dressing, serving baguette slices on the side.

DO AHEAD – Bread can be brushed with anchovy dressing. and the dressing can be completed 4 hours ahead.  Lettuce hearts can be cut in half and kept refrigerated in advance as well.





Chicken · Main Courses

Chipotle-Lime Chicken

In this dish, the chipotles are quite mild, adding just the tiniest amount of heat.   To those of you who might pass on this dish because its too spicy… think again.  I think it will surprise you.

Serves 4 -6

Grilled Romaine Hearts with Anchovy Dressing, Grilled Lemony Potatoes, Chipotle Lime Chicken Thighs


Chipotle-Lime Chicken

1/4 cup lime juice – from about 2 limes

1/4 cup canola oil

2 Tablespoons chipotles in adobo, finely chopped and mashed into a paste

6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in

salt and pepper

2 teaspoons honey

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Stir together lime juice, oil and chipotles.  Place chicken thighs and 1/4 cup of marinade into a ziplock bag.  Squish out as much air as possible, seal bag and massage to be sure marinade is evenly coating all the pieces.

Let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, while you pre-heat your gas grill to 350F.

To the marinade left in the bowl, add the honey and stir until dissolved.  Set aside.

Lightly oil grill and place chicken, skin side down, over direct heat.  Close lid and cook for about 3 minutes, just until chicken releases from grill.  Discard marinade in bag.

Turn heat off of one side of the grill and move the thighs over to that side.  Grill, turning occasionally until cooked through, about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the thighs.

Just before removing thighs from grill, brush both sides with some of the reserved sauce, and continue to grill, turning once to set the glaze.

Remove from heat, tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes.  Serve with remaining sauce.


Inspiration for this from Gourmet Grilling, Summer 2011


Lemony Grilled Potatoes

We really do love our plain old baked potatoes in this house.  Plus, they are so easy, right?  Why bother with anything new?

Because, sometimes it is good to get out of our comfort zone and try something different, even if it means a little extra effort.

These potatoes are not that difficult and if you are worried about having to wash that extra pot, just partially cook them in your microwave to save a dish.

This recipe comes from the last issue of Gourmet Magazine I bought, Summer 2011,and perhaps the last issue they ever published.  I still miss that publication.  Fortunately, I am a bit of a packrat when it comes to recipes and I still have some old issues that I can pour over.

Lemony Grilled Potatoes


Lemony-Grilled Potatoes

2 lbs Yukon gold or other waxy potato

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 Tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup olive oil

1 lemon, cut into wedges, divided

Mix parsley, rosemary, lemon zest, garlic and olive oil together in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Cut potatoes into 1′ thick slices and cook them in a large pot of salted boiling water for 8 -10minutes.  Potatoes will not be cooked through.  Drain potatoes and toss with the olive oil mixture.

Preheat gas grill to medium high.  Transfer potato slices to hot grill, letting excess oil drip from potatoes back into the bowl.  Reserve oil mixture.

Grill potatoes, in a single layer, with grill covered, turning once until tender.  About 5 -7 minutes in total.  Return cooked potatoes to oil in bowl and toss to coat.  Squeeze a lemon wedge over top and serve with additional wedges on the side.

Helpful Tip – if you are concerned about the potato slices slipping through the grill racks, place a perforated grill pan on the rack when preparing the grill.

Main Courses · Pork · Soups and Stews

Thai Noodle Bowl with Ground Pork

What can I say, flavours from this part of the world fascinate us!

Considering how quickly this dish comes together, we were surprised at how much flavour it has.  It is a great weeknight dish.

If you have pickled ginger on hand, be sure to include it.  It adds a nice spark of flavour to the finished dish.

Thai Noodle Bowl with Ground Pork

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger (be sure to peel it before mincing)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 red onion, finely diced, divided

1 lb lean ground pork

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon Sambal Olek** (or to taste)

salt & pepper

1 cup water

4 cups chicken stock or broth

1 bunch fresh spinach, tough stems removed and leaves chopped or torn

6 oz rice noodles


1/4 cup finely chopped pickled ginger (optional)

chopped salted peanuts

fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Add the fresh ginger, garlic and all but 2 Tablespoons red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the ground pork, turmeric, chili-garlic sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and a few turns of freshly ground pepper.  Cook the meat, breaking up most of the lumps, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup water, the chicken broth and spinach (the pot will be very full, but the spinach will wilt quickly). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the broth has reduced slightly and the spinach is tender, about  minutes. Taste and season with more salt & pepper if needed.

Meanwhile, in separate pot, cook rice noodles according to package directions, stirring to separate the noodles.   Drain noodles well, shake dry and divide among 4 bowls.

Ladle pork-broth mixture over noodles.  Top with peanuts, cilantro, pickled ginger and the reserved red onion.

Serves 4


** COOKS NOTES :   Sambal Olek- a chili garlic paste found in most supermarkets