Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Tomato and Feta Phyllo Tart

One day long ago, I was watching a cooking show about some sort of fancy phyllo pastry involving spicy soppressata, an Italian salami that I love. I bought the phyllo and then never made the pastry. (Typical procrastinate-y me.) The phyllo has been sitting in my freezer for months.

I knew if I waited until I found that recipe again and then went and got whatever ingredients I needed in order to make it, I'd probably never get around to using the phyllo. We had lots of grape and cherry tomatoes from our garden sitting around, so I decided to make a tart with those tomatoes and some delicious feta instead. You can't go wrong with that combination!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chicken Stew

Hello everyone! I apologize (again) for yet another long absence. I am now the proud mother of a two-and-a-half-month-old baby boy. I had all these grand visions of trying great recipes and blogging away after maternity leave started but before the baby came, but instead I mostly nested and tried to sleep. Since the baby came, life has been more hectic (but in the best possible way) so there hasn't been much time for blogging, hence the absence of recent posts.

Now that things are starting to settle into more of a routine (though I probably just jinxed myself), I'm hoping I will have more time to get back to blogging again. I want to try out more recipes involving short cooking times and/or my slow cooker, since most of the time whatever I am doing gets sidelined by a crying baby. It would be great to be able to just toss things into a pot and let it simmer away rather than making something that requires a lot of preparation time or having to stick close by the stove and hoping that the baby stays asleep until dinner is ready, because that doesn't work most of the time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Blueberry Banana Muffins

It's always nice to have something that I can bring to work to have for breakfast, especially since I've always been a bit lazy about breakfast. If I have something quick and easy to eat though, I have less of an excuse to skip breakfast. Now that blueberries are in season, I thought it would be nice to make a tasty blueberry muffin, but I wanted to make sure that it would come out nice and moist. I hate dry, crumbly muffins!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

A Blog Comment PSA

I love receiving comments, and I think most (if not all) bloggers would agree. However, Blogger has a feature that just drives me absolutely bonkers and makes me want to leave the page before trying to comment, and that is the word verification feature.

If you've visited your fair share of Blogger blogs, you've probably come across this feature. It's the terribly annoying thing that makes you type out two (usually fake) words before you can post your comment. It sounds simple enough, but they've managed to make this into the most aggravating exercise possible! Usually the word is a completely illegible squiggle. Plus, now they make you type in two words. At least now one of the two words is an image so it's usually more or less legible, but still. What a pain.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Greek Chicken Wraps

Our weekends have been really hectic lately. We have been preparing for the baby, who is due in about a month and a half, so our weekends have been taken up with things like prenatal class and shopping for baby stuff. As fun as it has been, it's also been pretty tiring, so cooking has fallen by the wayside a bit. You can probably tell from the decline in recipes that I've posted lately!

This past weekend, we still had some errands to run, but it wasn't nearly as busy. It was nice to have some downtime, which also meant that we were able to cook a delicious dinner instead of just popping a frozen pizza in the oven or boiling pasta to have with some simple sauce.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Tomato and Herb Quinoa Salad

I'm a big fan of quinoa. It's a grain that is apparently quite high in protein. I find it similar to couscous. It's great to make as a side because it's quick to prepare and is tasty served hot like rice, or cold like pasta salad. I recently made a simple version with cherry tomatoes, herbs and garlic. It was fresh and delicious - perfect for summertime!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

I only heard of brown butter once I started watching cooking shows - namely Chef Michael Smith's show - my favourite one! Brown butter is one of the most delicious things ever. You may never go back to plain ol' melted butter again. To make it, all you do is melt butter, then heat it further until the milk solids get all nice and brown. It has a very rich, toasty taste that is so much fuller than melted butter. It's a must-try!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Quick and Easy Spanish Rice

We are well into barbecue season, which is great. When the sun is out, we tend to grill our dinner rather than cook something inside. As much as I love having steak or chicken on the barbecue, I haven't been very creative with the sides that we have with the meat. Usually we just toss some potatoes on the grill, or some sort of rice dish that is usually (and unfortunately) rather boring - usually just some veggies and herbs without much pizzazz.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bacon and Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I love grilled cheese sandwiches. I've posted about a couple of different grilled cheese sandwiches (a bruschetta version and a guacamole version) and decided to try another version - this time with bacon. You can't go wrong with cheese and bacon! I added some tomato for freshness and it turned out as delicious as I thought it would.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Back at Home

I'm sorry I've been so delinquent with blogging! We were on vacation last week visiting some family and I didn't have my act together enough to do a blog post mentioning that before I left. As much as I was looking forward to getting away, and as much as it was nice to see family and friends and get some rest, it's also good to be home, get back to our normal routines, and hang out with our dog again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm Featured on the BBC Today!


Being a relatively new blogger can be a challenge. I remember when I first started this blog, I was a bit intimidated by all the other blogs out there that looked so polished and professional. I saw all of these linky parties and things that I thought looked neat, but didn't seem targeted to the things I would write about since most of them were for impressive DIY projects that I didn't have on the go at the time. I couldn't imagine ever getting the number of followers that some blogs have (and still can't!). I didn't even really know what I wanted to blog about. It looked like fun, though, so I thought I would give it a try - and that it would be a good way for me to document all of the new recipes and projects I wanted to try.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

They Grow Up So Fast

I may have started my vegetables from seed a tad too early. I got a bit antsy for spring to come not thinking about the fact that the last frost doesn't really happen here until May. Some of the plants are still small, like my chili peppers and tomatoes, but the pole beans took off from the moment that I planted them. I put a few bamboo stakes in the container and they've grown all the way up to the top and then some. The plants are taller than me, and the beans have already started to grow!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Italian Sausage and Artichoke Stuffed Shells

I realized the other day that I had a half a box of jumbo pasta shells that had been sitting around for a while, so I thought I should use them up. The first time I made stuffed shells, I used ground turkey (and unfortunately they came out a little dry for my taste), but this time I decided to use some spicy Italian sausage, which I love. We are currently obsessed with using ricotta in our pasta (it started when I made baked ziti) so the love affair continued with this dish. I also added some artichokes to give the shells a bit more taste and texture. They turned out really great - I'll definitely make them again!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Pastries

This a simple but delicious pastry. They're crispy and sugary on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and the hint of cinnamon is really nice. I found a recipe for them on and couldn't wait to make them. They are so yummy, and you can eat them with other toppings too, like Nutella. They go well with coffee, tea or milk or, if you're feeling particularly sweet-toothy, hot chocolate. Mmm, sugar overload.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Snapshots

Dirt around his mouth means Oscar's been exploring the yard.

We've really been enjoying spring over the last few weeks, so I thought I would share a few pictures that I've taken. I hope spring has sprung where you are, too!

Monday, April 09, 2012


Tabouleh is a fresh, easy salad that is perfect for a snack or as a side. I like to have it for lunch when I want something tasty but not too heavy. There are many versions to this recipe. I don't claim that this one is at all traditional, but rather it's pretty much thrown together in the proportions that I like. I think my version has a bigger bulgur to parsley ratio than usual. Also, a lot of these ingredients are not measured out very well because I eyeball them (sorry!). The nice thing about tabouleh is that you can fiddle with the proportions (and even the ingredients somewhat) until you find the combination that you like best. I have also read that mint leaves should be added, but I've never tried it with mint - maybe one day soon!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Lasagna Rolls

Lasagna is one of my favourite meals. These lasagna rolls are a neat-looking spin on the usual dish. I think I first saw them on one of Giada de Laurentiis' cooking shows. I find the rolls stay together a bit better when you cut into them than plain lasagna, though they're probably a bit messier to make - but that's part of the fun!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Calling All Beginner Bloggers!

If you haven't heard already, Kristin at A Simply Klassic Home is putting on a month-long feature called the Beginner Blogger's Club (affectionately known as the BBC). She is featuring new bloggers (including me!) and will also be providing information and tips from other experienced bloggers. It started yesterday, so if you haven't already, stop by and join in the fun, whether you're a new blogger or a pro!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Oreo Brownies

I'm not much of a dessert person. There are a few things that I have a weakness for, like ice cream and shortbread, but my sweet tooth isn't that developed. I do love brownies too, though, and when I saw this recipe for these brownies on What's Gaby Cooking, I knew I had to try them.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Lazy Saturday...With Awards!

I am so happy it's the weekend. Life has been busy and I'm in need of some downtime. I plan on getting a good nap in this weekend...kind of like Oscar.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Grilled cheese sandwiches are so tasty and it's so easy to add new ingredients to them to change them up. I saw this recipe for guacamole grilled cheese sandwiches on Two Peas and their Pod and thought it would be good to give them a try, since I love avocado. What an easy way to jazz up a grilled cheese sandwich! I was a bit worried they would be too rich, but the cheese and the avocado actually complement each other very nicely. I'll definitely make these again!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Salmon, Asparagus and Lemon Risotto

I have to confess that I had never made risotto before this - that's how much of an amateur chef I am. I've always wanted to try it, though. I saw a mention of salmon risotto somewhere on Pinterest and thought that sounded amazing, so I went hunting for a good recipe.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Strawberry Mousse

There was this bakery that we always went to when I was young. I would always get a slice of strawberry mousse cake. It was essentially a big slice of strawberry mousse, with a layer of strawberry gelatin on top - not much cake involved, except its shape. I absolutely loved it, but I haven't had it since that bakery closed down years and years ago.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli means "pasta and beans." It is a hearty tomato-based soup with - you guessed it - pasta and beans. The versions I have had have also always had Italian sausage in it. Yummy! I first came across it at the Olive Garden and it was one of my favourite things there.

Becoming a Better Photographer

For me, this blog is not only about the things I love, like cooking or gardening. It's also about becoming better at the things I love, documenting my learning experiences, and sharing them with other readers who are interested in the same things. When I started blogging, I read about the importance of photography. I quickly realized how valuable that advice was, especially when it came to taking pictures of the food that I made from the new recipes that I tried. No one wants to make or eat something that doesn't look delicious.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I Heart Tulips!

They've arrived! My lovely tulips have started to sprout because of all of the gorgeous warm weather we've been having. This is one of my favourite signs that spring is here. I'm a bit worried that it will get cold again (as it inevitably does at least once or twice more) and that my tulips may freeze, but I'm hoping for the best.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Summer in March

It is beautiful out there right now. I'm not kidding when I say it feels like summer in March. The temperature has been in the 20s, the sun is out, and plants are growing. I'm a realistic enough Canadian to know that this won't last - in fact, the temperatures are set to dip to around 6 degrees this weekend - so I'm trying to enjoy this warm weather as much as I can while it sticks around.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring is Here!

Finally! Less than a week ago, there was snow on the ground, even though you could see it had started melting. That's when I took the first picture. Now, the snow is almost completely gone, though in my neck of the woods, we still get snow into April so it's probably not totally gone for good. But it was unbelievably warm yesterday, and sunny too, so I can't complain. The second picture was taken yesterday.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Salmon Potato Cakes

These salmon potato cakes are tasty, filling, and best of all, pretty easy and quick to make. I adapted these from Chef Michael Smith's recipe. You could use other types of fish in this as well, but I like salmon best because it doesn't make the cake too fishy-tasting or heavy.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Baked Ziti

I love baked ziti. Back in high school when I worked in retail, I'd always get baked ziti on my lunch breaks from this Italian place in the food court. Baked ziti is delicious comfort food. It's pasta tubes mixed with tomato sauce and three kinds of cheese, then topped with more sauce and cheese and baked. It's very simple to make, and creamy and tomatoey at the same time. Can't complain about that! This is the recipe that I adapted from the one I found on

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Easy Shortbread Cookies

I absolutely love shortbread cookies, especially with English Breakfast tea. I've never even thought about making them, but then I saw Koko's blog post on Koko Likes about making shortbread cookies and had to try making them myself.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hello, My Pretties!

A couple of weeks ago, I got really excited for spring to get here and decided to start some plants from seed indoors early, rather than heading to the garden centre right before planting in the spring the way we usually do. Since I never tried it before, I wasn't sure how well it would work out.

The plants did really well. It's only been two weeks, and all except a couple of pods of them have germinated. I've taken the top off of the little plastic greenhouse so that no fungus develops with all the moisture that was in there.

The zucchini and green beans have really taken off. The other plants are a bit slower to grow, especially the flowers, but they're not doing too badly. The zucchini and green beans were doing so well that I actually had to repot them, because their roots were invading the other pods.

I realized that I was out of potting soil, so I had to improvise and mixed what little potting soil I had with some Perlite and sphagnum moss. 

The zucchini were pretty tilted from leaning towards the sun. I had rotated the greenhouse, but I guess not quite enough! I used some straws and twist ties to give them some support so they'd grow straight.

I'll add more potting soil to the pots this weekend (you can see that the bean pots are still a little empty), and will probably repot the pods of the other plants that are getting bigger, like the cucumbers. I was kind of worried at first that the plants wouldn't grow, and now I'm worried they'll be too big when it's time to plant them! I'll just have to make sure that I get containers that are big enough so they don't get root bound before we can put them in the ground. We are thinking about leaving the tomatoes in big containers, because our patio gets most of the backyard's sun, so they may live in pots for the summer anyway. I can't wait to get out there and grow some delicious veggies!


    Days of Chalk and Chocolate

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Spaghetti alla puttanesca is a recipe I originally heard of on Nadia G's cooking show, Bitchin' Kitchen. It's a spicy, salty, delicious dish that is quick to put together and has become my go-to dish when I want something made from scratch but don't have a ton of time to do it. I've made it so much since I first heard about it that I've made the recipe my own. I just looked up Nadia G's actual recipe and it's very different. Funny how things evolve the more that you make them!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spaghetti al Forno

Spaghetti al forno is a delicious pasta and cheese frittata. Breadcrumbs, pasta, eggs, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and prosciutto are layered together and then baked. It's hearty, cheesy and so good with a side of marinara sauce. I adapted this recipe from Giada de Laurentiis' recipe for capellini al forno. This would make three to four servings because I cut some of the ingredients down so that my husband and I wouldn't have tons of leftovers. If you want to make more, there would be plenty of room in the springform pan for an extra layer if you follow this recipe, so you can increase the amount of pasta, prosciutto and mozzarella if you need to.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tomato Braised Chicken with Broccoli and Brown Rice

We came home late from work a few nights ago and I didn't feel like having something frozen for dinner (again) so I made chicken braised in tomatoes and chicken broth with broccoli and brown rice. It was very good - especially for something that I threw together without using a recipe. We both really liked it so I think we'll add it to our dinner rotation.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Blog Tag!

Christy at Sane Simplicity was lovely enough to tag me in this excellent game of tag - probably the only form of tag I have energy for these days. What a great way to get to know other bloggers, and to discover blogs that aren't already on my blogroll. Take a moment to visit Christy at Sane Simplicity if you haven't already - I think you'll thank me for it later!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

I love finding new slow cooker recipes. It's so convenient being able to toss things into the slow cooker and just set it to do the work for you all day. This recipe is adapted from the recipe for chicken enchilada soup on Chef in Training. There's a bit of prep work to do in the beginning, but it's well worth it. It's hearty and full of delicious flavours.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Vanilla Whipped Cream

Sometimes the simplest things are the most delicious. I don't have too much of a sweet tooth, but when I get a sugar craving, one of my favourite things to indulge in is a little whipped cream on my latte or on fresh berries. I don't like the stuff you get from a can - the taste and texture aren't as rich as the real thing. I like my whipped cream with a touch of vanilla. Simple and so good.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Panel Window Makeover

When we bought our house, it came with the old homeowner's blinds and curtains. Some of them were pretty dated, but changing them wasn't the highest thing on our priority list. That changed, at least for the panel window by the front door, when our dog decided to try to eat the blinds.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Avocado and Tomato Pasta

This is a quick and easy recipe for a creamy avocado pasta that I first saw on Two Peas and their Pod. I thought it was kind of odd-sounding, but I love avocado and I love pasta, so I figured, why not give them a try together? The avocado actually goes well with the pasta - it's very rich and creamy. I added some tomato and Tabasco sauce to the original recipe, because I like my avocado with a bit of zing.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Getting Ready for Spring

I'm so sick of winter! I've been looking at all sorts of lovely pictures of flower and vegetable gardens online and getting very impatient for spring to get here. I was at Home Depot a while back and noticed that they already have all their seeds in stock, ready for spring. We usually get our vegetables and our flowers from garden centres and farmers' markets, but this year, I need something to do in the (many) weeks before spring gets here, so I decided to start some seeds indoors rather than buying the plants in the spring. Not only does it give me something to do, but it's much cheaper.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Improving Indoor Photos: An Epiphany

I wrote not too long about some blogging tips that I had recently picked up, which included the importance of taking good-quality pictures. I'm kind of ashamed to say how long I went without knowing basic things about photography, like how much better pictures look when taken in natural light as opposed to indoors.

Unfortunately, the only time I really can take pictures in natural light is during the weekend. I work full time during the week, so by the time I get home, it's pretty much dark out (though spring is coming and I can tell because the days are getting longer - hooray!) so anything I want to take pictures of on the weekdays are taken in poor lighting and come out yellow-tinged.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Not Just for Coffee...

Who needs fancy plant pots? Not me. I picked up this big coffee mug for $2 at the grocery store because I wanted something more interesting to use to pot the plants left over from my terrarium project. It was cheap and I think it looks cute with the little succulent in it!
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