Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Spinach Ricotta Pie

We usually have lunch at my mothers every Sunday, and it always includes a pasta and some sort of meat (usually meatballs in sauce) but since she has become a snowbird this year, sadly we have to fend for ourselves. Can you believe that?! Hahaha! Just kidding.

So for this Sunday's lunch I decided to make a spinach pie.  Well actually, we had to have it for dinner because I forgot you have to thaw phyllo dough for a few hours.

I usually make this pie with an olive oil based pie crust but I didn't feel like a doughy crust so I decided to use phyllo instead. I only used 3 sheets, so if you're trying to cut back on carbs, this is perfect but you can use more if you want a flakier crust. And a tip I got from my Greek friend, Lena, who got it from her grandmother, sprinkle a few droplets of water on the phyllo before baking. It makes it a little crispier. Thanks Lena!

The leftovers were great for breakfast.

Spinach Ricotta Pie

8 oz. bag of spinach (more or less)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
475g ricotta
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
zest and juice of a lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
nutmeg to taste
1 tablespoon bread crumbs
3 sheets phyllo dough
olive oil to drizzle on the phyllo dough

Preheat oven to 350F.  On medium heat put the spinach in a pan with a splash of water. Don't worry if the pan doesn't seem big enough, as the spinach wilts down, just add more spinach. Transfer to a cutting board, let cool and chop.

In the same pan, sauté garlic and shallot in olive oil until soft. Let cool.
In a bowl, combine spinach, sautéed onion and garlic, eggs, ricotta, parmesan cheese, zest and juice of lemon, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

In an 11inch tart pan with a removable bottom, place a sheet of phyllo and brush with olive oil. The phyllo will probably hang over the pan. Repeat with another 2 sheets. After brushing the 3rd sheet of phyllo, sprinkle with the breadcrumbs. Spoon in the filling and fold over the hanging phyllo all around the pie. Sprinkle some water and drizzle the dough with a little olive oil. Bake for 50 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and remove the ring around the pie.

m xo

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Just Imagine...Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad

Ok, so here's the thing. I really, really wanted to share this salad that I made with the leftover roasted cauliflower because it was that good! There is only one problem. I forgot to take a photo of it. Haha! I'm still getting used to this whole blogging thing. So sorry.

I love these kinds of salads and I rarely recreate the same one again because it depends entirely on what is in my pantry.

I like to include a grain of some sort, in this case quinoa, a vegetable, nuts or seeds for crunch, cheese for some saltiness, chopped herd or two and a little sweetness from dried fruit. Everything is to taste. You can sub the quinoa with any grain you have on hand really. If you don't like cilantro, sub in parsley or dill. Not a fan of almonds? Use pistachios or walnuts instead. Whatever floats your boat. Quantities are not even that important here.

I don't even make a dressing. A squeeze of lemon and oil of your choice.

I really hope you make this salad. It was yummy!

Quinoa with Roasted Cauliflower Salad

1/2 head of roasted cauliflower
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/3 cup marcona or toasted almonds, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
4-5 pitted chopped dates
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sumac
juice and zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons walnut oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and serve.

m xo

Monday, 24 February 2014

Roasted Cauliflower and Zucchini

Tonight was one of those nights where we really didn't want a big meal for dinner so I decided to make it a "veggie only" meal.

I simply roasted cauliflower and zucchini(separately) and made a couple of sauces for them based on what I had in the refrigerator. Dill and mint.

These would make wonderful side dishes to serve with anything really.

Roasted Cauliflower with Yogurt Dill Sauce

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
Olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450F. Place cauliflower on a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned.
In the meantime make the yogurt sauce.

Yogurt Dill Sauce

1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir all the ingredients until combined. Serve with the roasted cauliflower.

Roasted Zucchini with Mint Pesto

4-5 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450F. Place zucchini on a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
In the meantime make the mint pesto.

Mint Pesto

1 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup marcona almonds, (you can sub regular almonds)
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined. Drizzle over the roasted zucchini.


m xo

Saturday, 22 February 2014


Shakshuka! What a fabulous word! I love saying it. Shakshuka!

I also love the word Schenectady…but I digress.

What is shakshuka, you ask?  Shakshuka is a dish of eggs baked in a tomato sauce.

Mexicans have their huevos rancheros. Italians have eggs in purgatory. North Africans have shakshuka.

This is a perfect brunch dish. Be sure to serve it with lots of crusty bread to sop up the flavourful sauce.

Now I have to be honest here. I didn't have feta so I subbed with queso fresco. It was just as fab!


3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cups of crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
6 eggs
crumbled feta cheese
cilantro to garnish

Place a large pan over medium-high heat and toast the cumin seeds until fragrant. Add the olive oil,
onion, garlic and chill flakes and cook until onion is soft. Add the cherry and crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. Make a little well in the sauce and crack an egg in it. Continue with the remaining eggs. Sprinkle a little salt on each egg and cover the pan with lid. Cook on low heat 10-12 minutes. Remove the lid and sprinkle with some feta and cover again a couple minutes until the feta has melted. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

m xo

Thursday, 20 February 2014


Isn't paella amazing?! You have everything in one dish. A little sausage, some poultry, a bit of seafood and of course rice. What more can you ask for? I love it!

There are many recipes for this Spanish national dish depending on the region and the cook. This recipe is very loosely based on The Dean and DeLuca cookbook by David Rosengarten that I have had many years. It's my go-to paella recipe. It's a pretty simple and forgiving recipe. Please don't be intimidated by it.

I like taking out my paella pan that a friend gave me many years ago from Spain but you can use a wide, oven proof skillet.


olive oil
6 oz chorizo, sliced
2 chicken thighs, skinless with bone in
2 chicken legs, skinless with bone in
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
saffron threads
5-6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon sambuca
1 lb. raw shrimp, shelled
lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil in pan over high heat. Cook the chorizo slices until brown.
Remove and set aside. Salt and pepper the chicken and add to skillet. Sear on both sides. Remove and set aside.
Lower heat to medium and put the rice in the same pan and stir around for a few minutes. Add the onion, garlic, fennel and pepper flakes and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Add the wine, saffron threads and 5 cups of chicken stock. Season with salt if you have to (depending on your chicken stock). Bring to a boil and nestle the chorizo and the chicken in the rice and add the sambuca. Place the pan in the oven for 30 minutes. Bury the shrimp in the rice 20 minutes into the cooking time. You might have to add more stock if the rice had soaked it all up. It is ready when the rice is tender. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon.

Buen apetito!
m xo

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Surprising Meatloaf

When I first tried this meatloaf recipe, I have to admit I wasn't that impressed. John claimed it was one of the best so far.  It reminded him of his childhood and his mother made one for him whenever he came home for a visit from the army.

The ingredients are pretty simple: ground beef, bread, eggs and cheese.

The next day when I made a sandwich with the leftovers for lunch, wow was it ever great! It was even better than the first day I served it. This could definitely be a great make ahead meal.

A little tip I stole from my niece Jennifer when she makes meatloaf; she lines the pan with carrots and potatoes so it doesn't stick to the pan and it adds a little more flavour. I love the idea but I only had carrots.


2 lbs. ground beef
4 slices of bread
1 cup of milk (I used almond milk because that's all I had)
2 eggs
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 carrots, peeled, cut lengthwise
1/2 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl soak the bread with the milk for a few minutes. Add the ground beef, eggs and parmesan cheese. Also add salt and pepper but be careful with the salt because the parmesan adds a lot of saltiness.

Mix all the ingredients together. I find the best way to do this is with my hands. Really get in there.

Place the carrots side by side on the pan and shape the meat into a loaf on the carrots.

Glaze with the ketchup and bake for 1 hour. Let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Sorry I don't have a photo of the sliced meatloaf. I forgot to take a picture and just served it :-0

m xo

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Caesar Salad with Chicken

I really like caesar salad, especially for dinner with the addition of chicken. And once you see how much better it is when you make your own dressing, you'll be hooked.
Just a couple of pet peeves regarding caesar salad I need to get out.

I HATE when there is too much garlic in the dressing ( I know, hate is a pretty strong word but it really makes me angry). In my opinion, the garlic should be noticeable but subtle. Nobody needs to know you had caesar salad for the next THREE days. Gross!
I guess because I've always worked in a close proximity to my clients, I'm always conscious of what I eat : ) So I only use 1 or 2 cloves of garlic.

Another thing I really dislike are the packaged croutons. They're way too salty and most of the time they taste stale. I just cube or tear whatever bread I happen to have. Heck, even sliced bread (that's toast bread for all you Anglo-Italian people). Lightly coat with olive oil and a little salt and toast in oven. Easy peasey.
Whenever you have leftover bread and don't know what to do with it, make croutons and store in a zip lock bag for future use. Warning though, you will  be snacking on these all the time! So put them where you don't have easy access to them. Hahaha, but that could just be me!

I'm also not a fan of chicken breast. If it's up to me, I will always choose thighs and legs. When I do cook chicken breast, I cut it on the bias so I get 3-4 pieces. Place each piece between cling film and pound it out a bit. Because they are thin, they cook a few minutes on each side and therefore they are not dry. But you can use whatever cut you want.

Caesar Salad with Chicken


3 tablespoons mayo
1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 2 small anchovies, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
a splash of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil, I used a combo of olive oil and veggie oil
pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Romaine lettuce
Grilled chicken( breast or thighs)

In a bowl combine mayo, anchovy paste, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Gradually start whisking the oil in drop by drop. You don't want to dump it all in otherwise it won't emulsify and will separate. It should be thick and glossy. Stir in the parmesan cheese and season with pepper. You can definitely make the dressing a day ahead.
Dress your romaine leaves and croutons. Top with chicken.

m xo

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Zucchini Butter

When I see recipes that have less than 5 ingredients, I'm intrigued! I don't why. Maybe I'm lazy, hahaha! No seriously, I figure it has to be really good because there aren't a lot of ingredients to mask the taste.
This comes from food52, a site that has some amazing recipes that people share and contribute to. It's a wonderful site that I would definitely recommend.
It suggested to make this in the summer, when there is an abundance of zucchini, but I couldn't resist. I used baby zucchini. I feel they have more flavour when not in season. I also added ground coriander seed to brighten it up a bit.
Really nice on crunchy, toasted bread. It makes a nice appetizer or snack.

Jennie Cook's Zucchini Butter
(adapted from

2 lbs zucchini, about 5-6 baby zucchini
1/4 olive oil or butter, I used a combination of both
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
salt and pepper

Grate the zucchini and place in a colander for a few minutes. Saute the shallots and garlic in the oil/butter until soft. Wring out as much liquid as you can from the zucchini and add to the pan. Continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. You want to caramelize the zucchini until soft. The original recipe says 15 minutes but I cooked it for 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve on toast.

m xo

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Valentine's Day Dates for My ❤️

I know! I know! There are a lot of cynics out there when it comes to Valentine's Day…it's commercialized, someone else is dictating when you should buy flowers, jewelry and cards, go out to dinner and even declare your affection or love. Bah, humbug!! But I love it! I never say no to flowers, cards and definitely NOT jewelry! Bring it on!
What I don't like is, going out for dinner that night. Too crowded. The food is not that great and too expensive. Why not use that money for jewelry. Ha! I like to stay in and cook a nice meal. My husband usually surprises me with dessert but I thought I'd make a little treat that doesn't break the calorie bank and keep it healthy but still include some sort of chocolate. Another bonus…no baking involved!
If you are anything like me and need something sweet after dinner, these are perfect.

Coconut Date Bites

1 cup medjol dates, pitted
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup shredded coconut, toasted

Place all the ingredients, except the shredded coconut, in a food processor. Pulse until crumbly. Roll teaspoonfuls in your hands to form balls. Press the balls in toasted coconut. Refridgerate for a few minutes. Voila! Ready to eat!

Happy Valentine's Day
m xo

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Not Really a Recipe #1... Avocado on Toast

This is not a recipe, just something I wanted to share.

Toast some wholegrain bread. With a fork, mash avocado, place on toast. Top with a poached or sunny side-up egg. Salt and pepper. I sprinkled a little sumac on it to give it some brightness.

If you don't know what sumac is, it's the berry of a bush that grows in the Mediterranean and Middle East. It has a tart, fruity flavour and is used in the same way as lemons. It comes in ground form.

Makes a nice breakfast or light lunch.

m xo

Monday, 10 February 2014

Marcella's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

As you may or may not have heard, Marcella Hazan, who first properly introduced Italian cooking to Americans, died last year. She was for Italian cooking what Julia Child was for French cooking. They both inspired many professional and amateur cooks, me being one of them.

I kind of came late to the party when it comes to this recipe. People have been praising it for years! One my clients used to and still does rave about a tomato sauce but I didn't know it was THIS tomato sauce. It's from "The Essentials Of Italian Cooking" by Marcella Hazan. So this past weekend I had the opportunity to make it.

The secret to this sauce is very simple: 1 onion and butter. That's it! No fancy ingredients. And you most likely have these in your pantry already.

Just put everything in a pot and simmer. The only word I can think of to describe this sauce is, lush. It tastes lush. It just melts in your mouth. Please give this tomato sauce a try.

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
(from Marcella Hazan's "The Essentials of Italian Cooking")

28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, halved
salt to taste

Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and keep simmering for 45 minutes. Stirring occasionally. I simmered mine for an hour and a half because I had the time. Season with salt. Serve with your choice of pasta

m xo

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Pork Meatballs

I love when I got to my local grocery store and there is a big selection of organic or natural meats. There are always the usual cuts of chicken like thighs and breast, but when I find beef and pork cuts, I stock up! There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to make beef stew, going to the grocery and not finding it. So I buy as much I can to fit in my little freezer.
These little meatballs were really tasty and tender. I used grated zucchini and because of that they do give off some water when they are baking. I just drained the tray halfway through and continued baking.
I served these with a yogurt sauce I threw together with what I had on hand.

Pork Meatballs

1 lb. ground pork
2 slices whole grain bread
1/4 cup almond milk
1 small zucchini, grated
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeño, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 egg
2 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 400F.
Soak the bread in the almond milk. Wring out the grated zucchini to extract most of the water. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix. Form into 2 inch balls and place on a lightly greased pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Yogurt Sauce

1/2 cup yogurt
a splash of lemon juice
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

Mix everything and serve!

m xo

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Johnny's Granola

My husband John's go-to breakfast on the weekend is yogurt and granola. During the week it's a granola bar. No exceptions! He has been having a granola bar for breakfast for as long as I've known him. Only recently has he switched up his weekend breakfast to YOGURT and granola. Not a far stretch, I know. Ahhh, you gotta love him!
Granola is pretty easy to make. It's basically oats, whatever nuts and  dried fruit you like and some spices. I add shredded coconut because John likes it.
The dried fruit and coconut doesn't go in until the granola comes out of the oven, otherwise it would burn.
Just keep on eye on the granola because it could easily burn (or you could forget it) as I learned the hard way one summer. I put a batch in the oven and went out and sat on my stoop right outside the kitchen, chatting with my nieces. As I'm sitting there, I could smell something burning but thought it MUST be one of the neighbours. And I just kept talking and talking. Finally it hit me!! OMG!! My granola! Well needless to say I don't think I made granola for the next year. I was pissed…at myself of course. Hahaha!

Granola with Coconut and Cranberries

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slices almonds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup wheatgerm
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 300F.
Throw all the ingredients except the cranberries and coconut in a bowl and mix until combined. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 45- 55 minutes. Give it a stir after 30 minutes. When it is golden brown and your house smells amazing, it's ready. Take out of the oven and add the dried cranberries and coconut. Cool and store in air tight containers. I store mine in mason jars.

m xo