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.



Breakfast · How To...

Brown Sugar Syrup

Brown sugar syrup


1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 orange slice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer or boil slowly until slightly reduced and thickened. About 10 minutes. Remove from heat, take out the orange slice with tongs, transfer to serving container and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve with pancakes or anywhere else you want a hit of sweetness.

Breads · Breakfast

Health(ier) Pancakes

I love pancakes, but hey are not the healthiest meal choice. All that flour, fried and covered in a sugary sauce… really, I don’t see a problem with this at all! Alas, my waistline, doctor, nutritionist and work-out guru all tell me that as far as breakfast choices go, pancakes suck.

But every few months, I get such a craving for them that I can think of nothing else, so they must be made!! And consumed . With great gusto!! Sunday was that day!

I had recently seen my nutritionist, causing me to have a twinge of guilt as I considered pancakes for breakfast. So, I decided to compromise. Isn’t that what life is all about, anyway? I had a recipe for normal pancakes, and started adding and subtracting ingredients until I came up with what I feel is a healthier option than plain old white flour pancakes.

I think these are flavourful, filling and hey, I’m no nutritionist, but I believe in my heart that they are the healthier pancake I was looking for. I would never turn down a regular pancake, but if given a choice, I would choose these.

Health(ier) Pancakes with Brown Sugar Syrup and Oranges

Pancake day only happens about once every 6 months, so naturally, a store bought version of Pancake Syrup is missing from our pantry. Not to worry. I grew up on a farm and my Mom used to make, a brown sugar syrup whenever we ran out of Rogers Golden Syrup. Its very good, and really, the same ingredients as any name brand syrup, minus any chemicals or preservatives.

These take a bit longer to cook than regular white flour ones so if you find them burning before they are ready to flip, reduce the heat and put a lid on the pan. Cook as you normally would, flipping after the top becomes less shiny and bubbles start to push their way to the surface. This will keep them fluffy and prevent burning.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup quick cooking oats (see cooks notes)
1 Tablespoon ground flax
3 Tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons plain greek yogurt
3/4 cup sour milk (or just regular milk)
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 Tablespoons Sunflower, canola or safflower oil
Additional oil for frying
Diced orange sections for serving
Butter for serving

Whisk flour, oats, flax, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in centre.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the egg, yogurt, milk, orange zest, cinnamon and oil until well blended. Pour into the flour mixture and stir gently until just combined. There will be some lumps, that is okay. Let mixture stand for 10 minutes, while you assemble the syrup. See below.

Heat pan over medium high heat, lightly brush with oil. For 4″ pancakes pour 1/3 cup batter into pan for each pancake (you should be able to fit 2 per batch into your pan) and cook until bubbles form on top & bottom is lightly browned (reduce heat and see paragraph 4 above if they are burning on the bottom). {For larger pancakes, use 1/2 – 2/3c of batter and make only 1 at a time} Flip and continue cooking until pancake springs back when lightly touched. About 1 minute. Transfer to plate in oven to keep warm. Continue with remaining batter. You should end up with 7 or 8 of the 4″ pancakes and about 4 of the larger ones. Serve with Brown Sugar Syrup and butter.


Brown Sugar Syrup

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 orange slice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer or boil slowly while you cook the pancakes. Remove from heat, take out the orange slice with tongs, transfer to serving container and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

COOKS NOTES: to make quick cooking oats from whole old-fashioned, pulse a couple of times in the food processor.


Tomato Vinaigrette

I make this dressing right in the bowl that I am going to serve the salad in. It helps save on clean up. The size of the tomato dictates how much dressing you will get out of this. For two of us, I like a medium Roma.

1  medium tomato
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
pinch sugar
pinch salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
Coarsely grate the tomato, using the large holes on your box grater.  Add remaining ingredients and whisk until well blended.  Add salad greens and use your hands or tongs to toss gently.  Serve.


Avocado, Mint and Lime Popsicles

Avocado, Mint and Lime Popsicles

As unlikely as frozen avocado may sound, this does work.

It is an easy way to sneak a little nutrition into your afternoon snack.

-The original recipe was frustratingly thick so I made some adjustments to get this to a pour-able state so it goes into the popsicle molds easily.

This makes about 1 cup, enough to fill 4 x 1/4 cup popsicle molds.

Avocado, Mint & Lime Popsicles

1/2 cup (gently packed) mint leaves

1/2 avocado

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup simple syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

Roughly chop the mint leaves and place into the blender first.  Add the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.  Divide among popsicle molds, insert sticks and freeze until solid.  These will keep frozen up to a week – if they last that long.

Salads · Sides · Uncategorized

Jicama, Cucumber and Carrot Slaw


You have probably all seen those things that look sort of like potatoes, but not really sitting in the produce section at your local grocer. Understandably, you avoid them because you are not sure what they are, or how to use them. At least that’s what I always did…

Then we moved to Mexico, and these things were everywhere! Not only in the markets, but we saw pick up trucks with their boxes full of these potato-like things. They even sold them by the bagful at street corners. Eventually, we tasted one and discovered that this dull, boring looking root vegetable was actually quite good. Just peel, slice and eat plain or with a little salt. YUMMM. As they get older, they get drier and a bit starchy but they are still tasty. This salad is a nice introduction to an unfamiliar veggie.

1/2 long English's cucumber, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
1/2 medium jicama, peeled
2 medium carrots
2 1/2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon canola or sunflower oil
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Using a box grater, shred cucumber, jicama and carrots into large bowl. Toss with remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Serves 2 – 4

Beef · Main Courses

Tri-Tip with Smoked Paprika-Sesame Seed Rub and Chimichurri Sauce

Tri-Tip with Smoked Paprika-Sesame Seed Rub and Chimichurri Sauce

Until a couple of years ago, I had never heard of Tri-tip.  Maybe I live under a rock, or maybe it is an American cut that we don’t often see in Canada?  It started showing up in  many of the food magazines and cooking blogs I read, so I started to look for it in stores.   Turns out, is always available at our local Costco now that I know to look for it.  It is a flavourful cut and I am glad we finally discovered it.

Tri-tip is a triangular cut of meat, with a fairly decent fat cap, from near the sirloin part of the cow.  Like flank steak, it needs to be sliced thinly, across the grain in order for it to be tender.  The grain can change throughout the cut, so watch for that, and change the direction of your slicing accordingly.

These cooking instructions will give you a nice rare – medium rare finish, and we find that is the best cook for this cut.

Do not skip the resting part!  Make your salad, warm your garlic bread, have another glass of wine…whatever you need to do to keep yourself from cutting into that meat before it has properly rested!!   Resting gives the meat time to absorb its juices back into itself.   Ignore this step, and all those flavourful juices will end up on the plate, instead of the meat, where they belong.   Unless of course, you enjoy your a tasteless steak with a dry, grainy texture.

Tri-Tip with Smoked Paprika-Sesame Seed Rub and Chimichurri

For the steak

1 Tablespoon sesame seeds

1 Tablespoon smoked paprika

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 lb piece of tri-tip

For the Chimichurri

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 cups parsley, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon liquid honey

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Prepare gas grill for indirect heat (leave one  or two burners off).  Place steak on one of the un-lit burners,  cover and grill, turning only once, 20 – 30 minutes.  An instant read thermometer, inserted into thickest part should read 115 F.

Move steak to direct heat and grill until lightly charred, about 2 minutes per side.  Temperature will increase to 120 F.  Transfer to cutting board and let rest 15 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain.

While the steak is resting, toss the vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley, oil and salt to taste together and mix well.

Serve sliced steak with chimichurri.

Original recipe can be found here.


Appetizers and Snacks

Oven-baked Hot Wings

I had difficulty with the salt in the original recipe. My source gives the measurements for 2 types of kosher salt, neither of which I have. So, it was a guessing game. I guessed wrong and suffered the result. Which is why I have cut the salt in this WAY back for this version. You can always salt after the wings are cooked, but you cannot un-salt them.

Oven Baked Hot Wings

2 lbs chicken wings
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 cup Franks Red Hot sauce
2 Tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup whole milk yogurt

fresh veggies for dipping

Place rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 250.  Spray a rimmed
baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set a wire rack in the
baking sheet.  The rack will help with getting the wings crispy,
but if you dont have one, just put the wings directly into
the baking pan.  

Cut wings at their joints, separating them into flats and drumettes
and pat dry with paper towels.   Dry them as well as you can.
Mix salt, garlic powder, pepper and onion powder together in
a large bowl.  Toss wings in mixture until evenly coated and arrange
in single layer on prepared rack.  Try to be sure there is some space
between each piece.  They need that space to help them to crisp up.

Bake at 250F for 25 – 30 minutes.  This will help to render
out the fat.

Increase oven temperature to 500F and cook until bubbly and golden,  
about 25 – 30 minutes, turning halfway through.

Remove from oven and allow to stand 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prepare the hot sauce and dip.

HOT SAUCE:  In small saucepan, over medium heat bring
Franks Red Hot, butter and brown sugar to a simmer in a
small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until
slightly reduced and thickened, 6–8 minutes.

BLUE CHEESE DIP:  Combine yogurt and crumbled blue cheese together
in small ball.  Stir to combine. 

Transfer wings into large bowl, pour hot sauce over top and toss
to coat.

Serve with fresh veggies and Blue Cheese dip.

Be careful no t to overcrowd your wings for maximum crispiness.