Leftover Ham Skillet

img_1036Hello everyone,

John and I made a marvellous discovery … next to the roasted chicken, Safeway sells cooked ham. With the delicious maple scent overpowering the chicken it was sitting next too, John and I had to grab one for dinner.

It was a pretty big hunk of meat, too much for two people, so I took the leftover ham, wrapped it in foil and threw it in a freezer.

A couple weeks later, I needed a quick dinner. So with my precious ham in mind, I pre-cooked some barley the night before in preparation for a quick skillet dish the next day.

Inspired by what I had hanging around in my fridge, sweet potatoes, peas, barley ham and cheddar cheese came together in a quick and delicious dish.

So next time you have some leftover ham, this is a great way to use it up for a quick and delicious dinner.

Bon appetit,


Click here for printable Word version of recipe:


Leftover Ham Skillet



Leftover ham, cut into bite sized pieces
2-3 cups cooked barley, pearl or pot
1 small onion, sliced
1 small orange fleshed sweet potato, peeled and diced
6-8 mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 cup frozen peas
Grated cheddar cheese, between ½ to 1 cup


  1. Heat oil in a large pan on medium-high
  2. Sauté onions for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sweet potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add mushrooms, garlic and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until sweet potatoes are nearly cooked.
  5. Add ham and peas and cook for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add barely and cook until barley is heated.
  7. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Cover and cook until cheese is melted.

Jamie Oliver’s Rainbow Salad with Tarragon Dressing

img_2369Hello everyone,

Often, my friend Jackie comes over for dinner, and when she asks what she can bring, my answer is usually wine or salad, depending on my stock of wine or salad.

Whereas I am typically stuck in a salad rut (lettuce/spinach, tomato, cucumber, avocado and dressing) Jackie always brings something different and creative. Last time was no exception.

She found a Jamie Oliver recipe for a fresh, colourful salad, featuring greens, beets, zucchini and carrot, all chopped in a food processor. The dressing is made with fresh tarragon and greek yogurt, a little bit creamy but not too rich.

Given all the beautiful colours in the salad, and the fact that it was delicious, I thought that this week I would share this Jamie Oliver salad recipe with you!

Thanks to Jackie for a great salad and a lovely evening!

Bon appetit,


Click here for the printable Word version of recipe:


Rainbow Salad with Tarragon Dressing
By Jamie Oliver


1/2 fresh red chile
1 clove garlic
A small bunch of fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

To make the salad dressing add all ingredients together into a blender. Whiz until combined. Have a taste – you want the salt and acid to be slightly over the top, so adjust if needed and whiz again. Pour into small pitcher and take to table.

For the salad:
1 large zucchini
2-3 carrots
2 fresh red or golden beets
1 cup of sprouted alfalfa or pea shoots

Wash and trim the zucchini and carrots. Quickly peel the beets. Using the course grater attachment, grate the vegetables one at a time, all in a food processor. Tip out onto a platter or salad bowl so it looks like a rainbow and scatter pea shoots over the top. Dress at the last minute when about to eat.

Best of 2016

Hello everyone,

Happy new year to all! To celebrate, I have assembled a list of my favourite posts of 2016. Some make the list because they have an interesting story, and others because they are simply an awesome recipe. Enjoy the tasty memories!

  1. splitEurope Part 5: Croatia and Pasticada

For our honeymoon, John and I visited Europe and traveled to Barcelona, Italy and Croatia. I did 5 posts in this series and had a hard time picking a favourite. But in the end, the leg in Croatia will always hold a special place in my heart, and therefore top spot on this list!

  1. buffalo-chicken-pizzaJohn’s Buffalo Chicken Pizza

No best of list could be complete without one of John’s recipes. This buffalo chicken pizza is a household favourite and a crowd pleaser everytime. Be sure to use John’s Buffalo Sauce Recipe (one of my favs from 2015) for this pizza and other buffalo sauce needs.


  1. photo-4Best Brownie Recipe Ever

Brownies are beautiful, brownies are fine
I love brownies I eat them all the time
I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch
If I had a hundred brownies I’d eat them all at once!

After much experimenting and tweaking, this is the brownie recipe I have come up with! .



  1. img_20160129_184605Dill Pickle Soup

If you’ve never tried dill pickle soup, the whole concept may sound crazy to you. If you’ve tried it before, you will clearly understand why it makes my best of 2016 list. Give this one a chance!





  1. img_0583Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry)

Another recipe that I think I have perfected. I have been making this recipe for years, and it warms my soul every time I eat it! So spicy and delicious.



  1. photo-2Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup

This is just a damn good soup. Hearty, meaty, carb-y, vegetable-y and a killer broth to boot. Try it out, you’ll see!




Wishing you a fantastically fun and food-filled 2017,


Eggnog Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

eggnog-cheesecakeHello everyone,

I’m sure everyone is busy planning for the holiday season; Christmas parties , battling traffic, staying warm, decorating trees, Christmas shopping survival strategies, and of course bountiful festive meals. I’m here to help with that last one.

You see this beautiful cake I made in this wonderful picture I took? After days of painstaking trial and error, I finally got this recipe just right. I slaved over the oven for hours and hours as I crafted this cheesecake masterpiece for my beloved family, and my culinary genius became apparent to all. They fawned over both my inner and outer beauty as they feasted on the fruits of my labour, then all agreed how impressive of a baker and human being I am, and unanimously elected me their benevolent overlord.

Ok I lied. I totally lied. I had NOTHING to do with this recipe, apart from the fact that I helped eat it and it was awesome. The part about the fawning and benevolent leader stuff is a lie too. The recipe is by some lady named Diane on food.com and my dear friend Micheline was the one who slaved over the oven to bring this magnificent cheesecake to a family gathering.

It really is a win-win for me … a post in which I didn’t do any actual cooking and a crazy good cheese cake I got to help eat!

After having a piece of this cheesecake, I decided it would be a hit at any holiday party, so thought I would share it with you in case you need some help with dessert planning for an upcoming festive gathering.


  1. Use room temperature ingredients
  2. Mix well until ingredients have just combined and are smooth, do not over-mix: air bubbles cause cracks!
  3. Always use a spring-form pan
  4. Be sure to evenly grease your spring-form pan
  5. Leave the cake in the oven with the door open for an hour after baking
  6. Remember to chill 6-8 hours before serving
  7. For this particular cheesecake, decorate with whipped cream right before serving, or whipped cream will fall flat.


Click here for the original post by Rose Bakes

Special thanks to Micheline (who possesses both great inner and outer beauty) for finding the recipe, making the cheesecake, taking the pictures, and sharing this great dessert experience with me. All I did was write a couple of paragraphs and put my name on the whole thing!

Sometimes, the fox lucks out and gets to eat whatever it is the little red hen is baking.

Your Benevolent Overlord,


Click here for the printable MS Word version of recipe:


Eggnog Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
By Diane

Total Time: 2 hrs 30 minutes


For the Crust

12 ounces gingersnaps, crushed to fine crumbs
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp salted butter, melted

For the Filling

32 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ cups eggnog
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp rum extract
1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Start by preheating your oven to 325°F and then making the crust. I used my blender to crush the gingersnaps, then poured them into a bowl and added the sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Mix it all up until the crust is all soaked with butter!Pour the crushed cookies into a 10″ spring-form pan and up the sides at least an inch.
  2. in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until very light and fluffy. Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition and scraping down the sides as needed.
  3. Next you’ll need to add in the eggnog and mix until smooth. After that, add the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. And yes… mix again until smooth and creamy.
  4. Pour mixture into your crust and bake it for 1 hour, then turn the oven off and crack the oven door. Leave the cheesecake there for another hour. After that, you can move it to a cooling rack to come to room temp or cover it and move it directly to the fridge.
  5. Cool and chill for 6-8 hours before serving.


Christmas Baking: Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

img_20161127_133824Hello everyone,

Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year. There are even Christmas decorations in stores before Halloween these days! As November comes to a close, it seems that everyone has already started getting ready for Christmas. Something about Christmas planning in November seems wrong to me but I confess, I’m totally guilty of this early Christmas trend. I have already completed about 90% of my Christmas shopping, and today just finished my annual Christmas baking.

This is the 11th year my cousin Lori and I have done Christmas baking together. She brought to my attention that we have been doing this for over 1/3 of our lives. Freaky or impressive? As time goes by this fraction will only get larger and larger.

This year we made 5 different varieties of cookies for a total 418 cookies. We accomplished this feat in 4.5 hours, a time period that included clean up, putting our cookies into tins, and a lunch break. We credit this unusually quick pace to the fact that this was the first time in as long as we could remember that neither one of us was either sick or hungover.

We have baked today’s recipe, chocolate mint cookies, for 10 out of the 11 years, so it has become a classic for us. The mint flavour and the colourful M&Ms make it a great Christmas cookie. Additionally, it is an easy and forgiving recipe, one you can whip up pretty quickly with no stress.

Hopefully this recipe reaches you before you start your Christmas baking this year! Definitely a good cookie for Christmas!

Om nom nom nom,


Click here for the printable Word version of recipe:


Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 40 cookies

2 and 2 / 3 cups flour
1 / 2 tsp baking soda
1 / 4 tsp salt
1 / 2 cup cocoa powder
3 / 4 cup brown sugar
2 / 3 cup white sugar
1 cup butter
3 large eggs
1 tsp mint extract
1 and 3 / 4 cup mint chocolate chips – try splitting with mint M&Ms


  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda , salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter with sugars. Add eggs and mint. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
  4. Add flour mixture and chocolate chips. Mix on low speed until just combined, alternatively with a spoon by hand.
  5. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet 1 and 1 / 2 inches apart. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes at 350.



Cheesy Squash and Barley Bake


Hello everyone,

I decided one day that barley goes really nicely with melted cheese. Given that it’s fall and squash is in season, I thought it would be a nice idea to create a dish with squash and barley and cheese all together as one happy family!

This recipe is basically mac n’ cheese where the macaroni is replaced with high-fibre healthy goodness ie. squash, barley and red kidney beans. So at least you can feel a little less guilty when chowing down on the cheesy goodness.


  1. Freeze dish before baking if you want to eat it at a later date
  2. Try dividing into two smaller portions, one for the night of and one for later.
  3. Makes a great meal on its own, or a side dish.

Give this comfort dish a shot next time you want something warm and wholesome. You’d be surprised how satisfying all these healthy ingredients can be when you mix them with cheese!


Bon appetit,


Click here for printable Word version of recipe:


Cheesy Squash and Kidney Bean Bake

Serves 6


1 medium buttercup or butternut squash, cubed
1 can red kidney beans
2 cups cooked barley


2 tbsp butter
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cups milk
2 tbsp flour
½ cup ricotta – substitute for more grated cheese
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup for sauce, 1 cup for topping)
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup breadcrumbs


  1. Cook barley in advance
  2. Prepare squash. Peel, remove guts and seeds, and cut into bite sized pieces. Preheat oven to 375 F. Toss squash with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  3. Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add onions, cook until onions soften. Add garlic and thyme. Add the flour, mix well and then stir in milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Simmer sauce until it thickens. Add 1 cup grated cheese and ricotta.
  5. Combine the squash, kidney beans, barley, and cheese sauce. Mix well and transfer to a casserole dish or baking pan. Sprinkle the top with remaining grated cheese, parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
  6. At 350 F, bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for another 15 minutes.

Alternatively, you can make the dish and freeze before baking. I split the recipe in two, eating one and baking one portion the same day, and freezing the second for dinner at a later date.


Halloween, Jack-o-Lanterns and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

roasted-pumpkin-seedsHello everyone,

Like many Canadian families, we often carve a pumpkin or two for Halloween. Growing up, my dad always made sure that none of the pumpkin seeds made their way into the garbage. My brother and I would carefully pick each and every seed out of the pumpkin, sometimes grabbing handfuls, and other times painstakingly removing seeds trapped in the cobweb of pumpkin guts.

Our efforts would always pay off, as we would be rewarded with delicious roasted pumpkin seeds! My dad would marinade them overnight and then roast them in the oven the next day, a memorable Halloween treat.

I decided to keep this tradition going. When John and I carved up our pumpkins, we made sure that each and every precious seed was removed.

I always find that every pumpkin is different when it comes to seed production. Sometimes you will get a pumpkin that is practically barren, and other times you will strike gold with a pumpkin exploding with seeds! Last year we had one of each … it’s always a good idea to hedge your bet with a second pumpkin.

Roasting the seeds is really easy. Soak overnight in salty water, drain and dry, toss in olive oil and then roast in the oven at 300 degrees F for about 40 minutes.

If you’re carving pumpkins anyways this Halloween, try roasting some seeds. Who knows, maybe it will become a tradition for you too!

Bon appetit,


Click here for printable Word version of recipe:


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Fresh Pumpkin Seeds, right out of the pumpkin
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
Olive Oil


  • Seasoning salt
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Additional Salt


  1. Remove pumpkin seeds from pumpkin. Rinse and clean pumpkin seeds.
  2. Soak pumpkin seeds overnight in a solution consisting of 1 cup of water to 1 tsp salt
  3. Drain and let seeds dry for a few hours.
  4. Toss seeds with olive oil and seasoning of choice – careful not to over salt.
  5. On a baking sheet, bake seeds at 300 for 25 minutes

Please note: I usually soak my seeds overnight but this isn’t necessary. You can roast them the day of, just rinse, season and toss in some olive oil.

Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry)

img_0583Hi everyone,

Here in Edmonton, Alberta, we are currently experiencing some unfortunate weather. Yes, we get long winters here, but it is unusual for us to have snow this early in October. With freezing temperatures and several centimeters of snow on the ground, the future looks bleak for all.

The good news is that there is nothing that can lift you out of an early winter funk like a nice spicy warm dish! When the weather is snowy and chili, a nice curry is a good way to make life seem just a little brighter.

In comes the chana masala, or chickpea curry. This is my favourite chana masala recipe, and although I have been making it for years, it originally took me some time to get it just the way I wanted it. I found a combination of ingredients that in my opinion give the dish the right consistency and the perfect amount of spice. It is a recipe I hold quite dear to my heart.

In my opinion, the secret ingredient in this dish is the amchoor powder, or mango powder. It adds the nice tart flavour to the dish. It’s worth grabbing some if you can find it.

Chana Masala is a vegetarian favourite in our house. Some days, I will make it as a side with other Indian mains (such as butter chicken, or korma) but the dish can stand alone as a main course nicely. Healthy, hearty, and spicy, this is an easy recipe that will satisfy your hunger despite the lack of meat.

img_0582As fall turns to winter, make the cold weather a little warmer with a spicy bowl of chana masala!

Bon appetit,


Click here for the printable Word version of recipe:


Chana Masala
Serves 4

2 tsp corriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp mango/amchoor powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garem masala

1 chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 chopped green pepper
1 tsp salt
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
2 tsp brown sugar


  1. Combine all spices in a bowl in advance.
  2. Preheat oil in a medium pot. Saute onion until it starts to cook.Add garlic, and ginger. Add green pepper and cook for another minute or two. Add chickpeas.
  3. Add spices and mix will. After about a minute, add tomato sauce and water.
  4. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add brown sugar and simmer uncovered for 5 more minutes.

Serve as a side or as a meal.




Chicken and Mushroom Stroganoff

stroganoff-iiHello everyone,

One day I decided I wanted chicken stroganoff. So I made some and it was awesome.

I just love this recipe. Honestly, I can’t think of too much to stay about it, just that it is delicious.

The spices and seasonings are so simple and understated in this dish, but to me it’s a kind of dish that warms your soul.

It’s pretty quick so makes a nice dish to try on a weeknight after work or school.

I do love stroganoff!

Bon appetit,


Click here for the printable Word version of recipe:



Chicken and Mushroom Stroganoff


Boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
Salt and pepper
Cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp sweet paprika
½ cup white wine
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sour cream
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill, or 2 tsp dried
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley



  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil a dutch oven or large pan with a lid, sauté chicken until it is cooked through. Remove from pan.
  2. Add more oil to pan. Sauté onions for about three minutes. Add mushroom and continue to sauté until mushrooms are cooked.
  3. Add paprika, wine, tomato paste, butter and chicken stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken back to the pan. Add sour cream, mustard, dill and parsley. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Serve with noodles or rice

Europe Part 5: Croatia, The Dalmatian Coast and Pašticada

Hello everyone,
Croatia would be the third and final country on our Europe trip. Our plan was to start in Split and visit a few of the islands along the beautiful Dalmatian coast.

John is part Croatian and his dad is from Split, so we were very excited to visit the city. The thing to see in Split is Diocletian’s palace. The palace was built by the Roman Emperor in the fourth century AD as a retirement home. The palace is very large and made from brac stone, a type of marble only found on the island of Brac in Croatia (you can find brac stone souvenirs all around the country.)

Apart from the sheer size and splendor of the palace, there are two things that to me, make it so amazing. The first is that the palace remains very intact, especially compared to many of the runes of ancient Rome from around the same era we had seen earlier in our trip. The second is the fact that the palace is being used and lived in by the locals. The walls are lined with restaurants and shops for tourists, and there are people living inside the walls. The room we rented was in the section of the palace that was once reserved for the soldiers.

From Split we took a boat to Hvar. On the way to the island, we stopped at Blue Cave. What made blue cave this colour is an underwater tunnel that connects the dark cave to the bright outdoors, dispersing light through the water in the cave that lit up blue. The dim blue light in the dark cave was stunning.

Hvar is known as being quite the party town. It’s interesting that every town we visited in Croatia seemed to have some sort of city wall and/or castle. Hvar was no different. As we learned, everyone and their mom tried to take over the Dalmatian coast over the last couple thousand years so this may be why.


adriatic-seaFrom Hvar, our next stop was the town of Korcula, located on the island of the same name.. The town of Korcula is small and easy to walk around, surrounded by the sea on three of the four sides. In Korcula, we rented a small boat and traveled to some of the nearby small islands, while swimming in the beautiful water of the Adriatic Sea.

One of our favourite meals of the trip was at a restaurant on the island of Korcula, the family run restaurant Konoba Ranch Maha. To get there, we took a taxi into the island. Surrounded by acres of open land up in the hills, we were greeted with the most beautiful sight – an outdoor restaurant surrounded by lush greenery and large fiery cooking pits. Here we enjoyed one of our favourite dishes of the trip, Dalmatian peka. Peka is a stew consisting of your choice of meat or octopus (we had veal and lamb) and potatoes. What makes is so special is that it is cooked under a cast-iron bell on hot coals for several hours. John and I simply loved it!

The Recipe

Apart from peka, our favourite dish in Croatia had to be pašticada. Unfortunately, I am not equipped to make peka at home, so I thought I would give pašticada a go instead. Pašticada is a beef roast cooked in a sauce consisting of red wine, prosek (a Croatian dessert wine similar to port) and prunes. You can serve it with mashed potatoes, but traditionally it is served on gnocchi. We learned quickly that even throughout the Dalmatian coast, the recipes for pašticada varied, differing in sweetness and acidity. We got the distinct impression that a good pašticada was a source of pride for these restaurants.

At first, I found this recipe quite daunting but it was much easier then I thought it would be. The trick is to give yourself plenty of time as it takes three hours to cook in the oven. But it was worth the time. The beef was tender and the sauce was both sweet and acidic. To make matters better, we opted to fry our gnocchi instead of boiling it!

Pašticada is a wonderful way to bring some authentic Croatian cooking into your kitchen!

Bon appetit,


Other posts in this series:
Part 1: Barcelona, Spain and Chicken and Sausage Paella
Part 2: Montserrat, Spain and Patatas Bravas
Part 3: Rome, Italy and Pasta Carbonara
Part 4: Florence, Italy and Bistecca Fiorentina

Click here to view the printable Word version of recipe:




2 kg beef roast (I used flank, traditionally bottom rump roast is used)
6 garlic cloves, cut in half lengthwise
3-4 cloves
2 cups red wine vinegar
4 slices bacon, cut into pieces
2 onions, sliced
2 sticks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
10 prunes, chopped into smaller pieces
1 cup beef broth
2 cups red wine
1 cup Prosek, or other sweet dessert wine
1/2 can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste


  1. Using a thin knife, cut holes into the beef. Insert garlic and cloves throughout.
  2. In a large ziplock bag, marinade beef in red wine vinegar overnight, moving and flipping periodically.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Heat oil in an oven-safe dutch oven. If you don’t have one, use a stove top pot and transfer to a roasting pan for oven.
  5. Remove beef from bag and drain vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Dust with flower. Fry quickly on all sides to brown. Remove beef from dutch oven.
  6. Add bacon pieces, cook for a few minutes. Then add onion and garlic and cook.
  7. Add carrots and celery. Mix well and cook for a few minutes. Add 2 tsp salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Add prunes, red wine and beef broth. Put beef on top of vegetables and bring to a boil.
  9. Meanwhile, mix tomato paste with prosek. Add to pot. Add bay leaves.
  10. Once liquid is boiling, cover and bake at 350 for 2 hours, basting occasionally.
  11. When beef is done, remove from dutch oven and blend sauce with a hand blender.
  12. Serve sliced beef on a bed of gnocchi or mashed potatoes, with sauce.