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Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

It’s a miracle! My daughter, who’s almost 4, actually liked this soup. I had to nag her but she finally tried it and proclaimed it was “Yum!” This is a major triumph for Mom’s everywhere :) I have to send a thank-you note to her daycare teachers who have been vigilant about getting her to try new things. It’s actually working and I’m beyond pleased. And a big thank-you to Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) :)

With regards to the recipe, I halved it but forgot that I was supposed to halve it and added the full can of tomatoes, but it’s still quite lovely. I don’t have a food mill so I just smooshed everything with a potato masher until there were small chunks left. For Miss M.’s bowl of soup (featured in the photo) I whirred it with an immersion blender to pulverize any evidence of green and ultimately averting a major meltdown. I found that with just mashing the soup, there were lots of fibrous tomato skins left but pureeing the soup got rid of it. I couldn’t find fresh plum tomatos so I used on the vine regular tomatoes so maybe that had something to do with it? I am so not a tomato expert as I detest them raw. Anyone have an tips on what went wrong (with the soup, not my aversion to tomatoes)?


Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Total Time: 1 hr 50 min Prep:15 min Cook: 1 hr 35 min Yield:6 to 8 servings

3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 quart chicken stock or water


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade. Taste for seasonings. Serve hot or cold.


Tex-Mex Chickpea Tortilla Bake

I had been meaning to make this dish for quite a while and finally got around to it. It seemed a little daunting at first because of the two fillings and the process of layering everything, but once I got started it really wasn’t a big deal. It’s so much easier than lasagna because you don’t have to cook noodles or brown any meat. And a bonus, the whole meal is much cheaper! Taste wise it was quite good. I wouldn’t make this every week but perhaps every month or so to change things up. I might cheat and add a little more cheddar next time. ;)


Layered Tortilla, Chickpea, Tomato and Cheese Lasagna

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes    Serves 8


1 cup canned corn, drained
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper 2 cups tomato sauce (can be store-bought spaghetti sauce)
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup light ricotta (5%)
1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded light cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp low-fat milk pinch of salt and pepper
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
5 large flour tortillas

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

2. Lightly coat a nonstick saucepan with vegetable oil and set over medium heat. Add the corn and sauté, stirring often, for about 8 minutes or until slightly charred. Set aside.

3. Add the oil to the saucepan and keep over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the red and green peppers. Cook for 3 minutes, stir¬ring occasionally. Stir in the tomato sauce, charred corn, basil, chili powder and cumin. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat.

4. Place the chickpeas in a bowl and mash them roughly with a fork. Add to the vegetable mixture and stir to combine.

5. In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses (but reserve 1/4 cup of the cheddar for garnish). Add the milk and salt and pepper and stir until well combined.

6. Place a tortilla in the prepared springform pan. Spread with one-quarter of the vegetable-chickpea mixture. Sprinkle with one-quarter of the cheese mixture. Repeat the layers 3 times. Top with the final tortilla and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Cover the pan tightly with foil.

7. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, then uncovered for 10 minutes or until it is completely heated through and the cheese has melted. Cut into 8 wedges with a sharp knife.

Make Ahead: Can be baked up to a day in advance. Reheat in 350°F oven for 10 minutes.

Nutritional Analysis per Serving:

Calories 280
Protein 14 g
Fat 8.5 g
Saturated Fat 3.1 g
Carbohydrates 39 g
Cholesterol 22 mg
Sodium 710 mg
Fiber 5 g


Nutrition Watch: Choose lower-fat cheddar cheese more often (1 oz of regular fat cheddar cheese has 6 g of saturated fat; 1 oz of lighter cheese has less than 4 g of saturated fat).

Pork Medallions with Grainy Mustard Sauce

The last two weeks were crazy busy as I was preparing for four art events – printmaking workshops, an arts festival, an aboriginal art showcase, and a summer solstice/pow wow where I was showing some of my work and doing face painting. I was running around getting last minute art supplies and trying to find a babysitter for Miss M. I had to help set up the art show at 8:00 am, then head half way across town to the library for the workshop, cab it to a second workshop, then bus it back down to the festival. But Westfest is always a lot of fun. It’s one of the opportunities to catch up with a lot of artists and community members I haven’t seen in months. I didn’t find a babysitter but my friend Steve tagged along to give me a hand with my daughter and traipsed about trying to find her beloved chicken fingers and fries. :D  So now I’m catching up on some food blogging that I didn’t make the time to post last week. Enjoy!

A quick and healthy recipe for dinner was definitely welcome after all that bustling about. I had all the ingredients on hand, it took no time to put together, and the result was delicious! I could probably make this every week and not get sick of it. The grainy mustard is tangy and sweet and really compliments the pork. Love it!


Pork Medallions with Grainy Mustard Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 8 slices
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard (such as Maille)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour


1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Gently flatten pork slices using the palm of your hand. Sprinkle pork with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add pork to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

2. Add mustard and butter to pan, stirring until butter melts. Add stock and flour to pan, stirring with a whisk. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Serve sauce over pork.

Nutritional Information
Calories 200
Fat 9.5 g
Satfat 3.1 g
Monofat 4.1 g
Polyfat 0.9 g
Protein 26 g
Carbohydrate 2 g
Fiber 0.0 g
Cholesterol 81 mg
Iron 1 mg
Sodium 464 mg
Calcium 10 mg

And if you’re interested in seeing some of my artwork you can visit my website:

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Muffins – Cooking Light

Sometimes when I’m particularly busy and running around town via public transit, it’s difficult to find a healthy snack. I can’t exactly bring a smoothie with me, and I find the acid in apples or oranges irritates my stomach and makes me feel hungrier. Protein bars are so expensive, so what’s left is whatever you can find at a coffee shop. Café muffins can be over 400 calories! That’s why I decided to make this little treat that could be either breakfast, snack, or dessert. A word of caution – because the oven is quite hot and they only bake for 15 minutes, every minute counts. I accidentally left them in for about an extra minute and the chocolate chips on top were just starting to scorch. They weren’t as moist as I would have liked, but they still conquered a chocolate craving. It’s a new family favourite. Little Miss M. loved them and I turned one into a cupcake with some whipped topping and sprinkles so she was a happy camper!


Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Muffins


7.9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate minichips, divided
Cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine 1 cup water and next 4 ingredients (through egg) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in 1/4 cup minichips. Add oil mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

3. Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups, and coat liners with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup minichips evenly over batter. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

Nutritional Information
Calories 191
Fat 7.6 g
Satfat 1.9 g
Monofat 3.9 g
Polyfat 1.5 g
Protein 3.1 g
Carbohydrate 29 g
Fiber 1.5 g
Cholesterol 15 mg
Iron 1.5 mg
Sodium 197 mg
Calcium 37 mg


Just making sure I’ve un-linked my twitter account. It will now be used to showcase my other passion – art. :)


Weekend Excursion

Well my healthy eating kind of fell to the wayside this weekend. We were out and about on Saturday so Miss M wanted her A&W chicken and fries so I had just a Mozzaburger without a drink or side, which wasn’t too bad I suppose. Sunday was a total write-off though. Mr. M came over and we went for a road trip to Merrickville and then South to Brockville (just across from Morristown NY.) We stopped first at the Kemptville Family Restaurant for brunch where I had a Nutella and fruit topped waffle and Miss M had surprisingly good pancakes. In Merrickville we had ice cream at the quaint little shop Downtowne Ice Cream and Candy Shoppe. It’s a great little place if you’re ever in the neighbourhood. Apparently Merrickville has been officially “dubbed Canada’s Most Beautiful Village by Communities in Bloom.” I have no idea what “communities in bloom” is but it sounds prestigious. :)

The stone ruins and the museum were a lot of fun and we got to see the canal locks in action. Miss M was more interested in watching the family of geese! For me, visiting the museum and seeing how people lived a couple of hundred years ago makes me appreciate how easy we have it today, that’s for sure. I like my electric washer and dryer thank-you very much! In Brockville we just hung out on the dock and watched the power boats, sailboats and jet ski’s go by. Miss M was asleep for most of that but had great fun waving at the Sea-doo guy when she woke up. :) I was planning out making pork and roasted garlic burgers for dinner but realized I didn’t roast the garlic and we were too hungry to wait so we just stopped and got some chicken/bacon/mushroom pizza. All and all it was a relaxing, late spring day. I’m daydreaming a little too much about buying a house in the country. Maybe someday, you never know I’ll pack it all up and run away. ;)

View of Morristown from Brockville.

Lighter Chicken Shawarmas

Yet another recipe on my road to healthy eating – a lower fat take on the chicken shawarma from Rose Reisman. I had a family pack of chicken thighs defrosted in the fridge so I had to find a way to use them since you shouldn’t refreeze thawed chicken. This recipe was quick and easy. While mixing up the sauce I forgot I was halving the recipe and put in two cloves of garlic. Holy smoke it was so garlicky that it nearly burnt my tongue! Luckily I love garlic so it didn’t phase me much. lol Shawarma’s are usually made with aioli (aka toum) which is basically garlic mayonnaise and has 90 cal and 10g of fat per Tbsp. Here Rose mixes low fat sour cream with the hummus and garlic which mimics the creaminess and delivers on big garlic taste. I will definitely make this again.

They were so good I forgot to take a pic so I snatched one from the interwebs ;)

Healthy Chicken Shawarmas



• 3/4 cup store-bought or home-made hummus
• 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
• 2 tbsp low-fat sour cream
• 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
• Pinch of salt and pepper


• 12 oz skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 3 breasts)
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 tsp vegetable oil
• 1 1/2 cups sliced onion


• 4 large pitas
• 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
• 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. Combine the hummus, lemon juice, sour cream, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the chicken between 2 pieces of waxed paper, pound it flat and cut into thin strips. Coat the chicken strips with the flour. Lightly coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Add the oil and onion and sauté for 5 minutes or just until browned. Add the chicken and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the chicken is no longer pink. Respray the pan if necessary.

Slice each pita in half. Divide the chicken and onion mixture among the half-pitas. Sprinkle with tomatoes, cucumber and cilantro and spoon the hummus sauce over the pitas.

Nutritional information:

Per serving (1/2 pita): 212 calories, 25 g carbohydrates, 3.8 g fibre, 14 g protein, 6.7 g total fat, 1.3 saturated fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium


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