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Category Archives: Appetizers

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

Every once in a while I get the biggest craving for biscuits – last weekend was one such time. The itch needed to be scratched and this was the recipe to do it! From what I hear they’re reminiscent of Red Lobster’s biscuits. To rack up even more comparisons (and the saturated fat content) I melted some butter and added garlic powder, then drizzled it on top of the biscuits before serving. *drool* This unassuming recipe from Canadian Living Magazine actually beat out Ina Garten’s biscuits for top spot on my all-star recipes list. They’re so fluffy and flavorful! And a bonus – you don’t need buttermilk or extra large eggs.

These biscuits can accompany just about anything. I made some wicked breakfast sandwiches with them and ate an extra couple as-is! They would also go well with soup, and of course sea food! Dangerous my friends. East coast cook-out here we come!


Quick Cheddar Biscuits


1-3/4 cups (425 mL) all-purpose flour

4 tsp (18 mL) baking powder

1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar

1 tbsp (15 mL) dried parsley

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1/2 tsp (2 mL) garlic powder

1/4 cup (60 mL) butter, cubed

1 cup (250 mL) shredded old Cheddar cheese

1 cup (250 mL) milk

In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, parsley, salt and garlic powder. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add Cheddar cheese and milk, mixing with fork until ragged moist dough forms. Drop by 1/4 (50 mL)cupfuls, 1-1/2 inches (4 cm) apart, onto greased baking sheet.

Bake in centre of 425°F (220°C) oven until lightly browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Makes 12.

Garlic Butter Topping

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Whisk together ingredients, then brush on top of the biscuits right after you take them out of the oven. Sooo good!


Quick Chicken and Mushroom Chowder

I’ve been busy with my job hunting and preparing for Valentine’s Day so I haven’t posted much as of late. I did a couple of cute desserts that I’ll post later, but in the meantime here’s a lovely  soup to warm your soul this winter. We definitely need it here in Ottawa after the record breaking snowfall we received yesterday. 47 centimetres! (18 1/2 inches) The soup was inspired by Their site was down so I used just the ingredients as listed on Pinterest, with some tweaks to suit my tastes. I fried up 4 slices of bacon to render the grease and use the meat as a garnish. I also added a couple of potatoes. It turned out wonderfully! My guy Steve is a mushroom fanatic and his favourite soups are chowders so he wolfed this down. It’s also super simple and quick to make, especially if you have leftovers from a Sunday roast chicken. You could also use leftover turkey from a holiday celebration, or use precooked like I did. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 🙂


Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Soup


4 slices of bacon
1 large package of precooked chicken breast or approx 2 cups of chopped rotisserie chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used a can of mushrooms)
1 onion, diced
2 handfuls of thinly sliced carrots (like the packaged kind for coleslaw)
2 stalks celery, diced

2 potatoes, diced
2-3 pinches or so of dried thyme
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock (1 litre low sodium prepackaged chicken stock)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup half and half, or more, as needed*
1 tsp dried parsley leaves
2 or 3 pinches of dried rosemary


Cook the bacon to your liking in a large pot or dutch oven or medium heat. Remove from pot and crumble. Pour off all but one tablespoon of the bacon fat. Add butter, garlic, mushrooms, onion, carrots and celery to the fat in the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaf and chicken thighs, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.Whisk together 2 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp of the half and half to make a slurry. Stir in remaining half and half into soup until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil and add the slurry to thicken the soup. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and rosemary, if desired.

Notes: *Half and half is equal parts of whole milk and cream. For 1 cup half and half, you can substitute 3/4 cup whole milk + 1/4 cup heavy cream or 2/3 cup skim or low-fat milk + 1/3 cup heavy cream.

Candied Nuts

This is my first year making little gifts for my daughter’s teachers and babysitter. Her babysitter is Muslim (but she takes part in some Christmas traditions) so I needed to find something I could make with Halal ingredients and I thought these nuts would be great for everyone. I added some almonds and cashews to the pecans for a little variety. It’s really simple, and it first bite it doesn’t seem like much, but the more you eat, the more you want, they’re so addictive!  These would be great to have on hand when the holiday visits start. They’re also a lovely topping to sweeten up salads or coarsely chopped on top of oatmeal. With the nuts I included a little satchel of “Holiday Scent” and threw it all inside a festive gift bag. My daughter had fun helping to stuff the bags so it’s a win-win all around!

Candied Nuts

Candied Pecans


  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 pound pecan halves (about 4 cups)


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).
  2. Mix sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Whisk egg white and water together in a separate bowl until frothy. Toss pecans in the egg white mixture. Mix sugar mixture into pecan mixture until pecans are evenly coated. Spread coated pecans onto a baking sheet.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, until pecans are evenly browned, 1 hour.

Holiday Scent

2 cinnamon sticks

10 whole cloves

5 allspice berries

the zest of an orange

Add ingredients to a small saucepan, along with about 1 cup of water. Simmer on the stove top to release scent. Add water as needed. (Watch carefully because you definitely do not want to scorch your pan!)

Crab Cakes – Barefoot Contessa

I don’t know what my deal was last week – I had the weirdest craving for crab cakes and I don’t normally like sea food. (And NO I’m definitely NOT pregnant!!!!) I recently checked out the book by Glamour Magazine editors called “100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know” and A&K had reviewed it on their show, stating the crab cakes were some of the best they ever had. But …the dipping and dredging thing didn’t appeal to me, so I thought I’d go for another time tested favourite – the crab cakes by Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa). I don’t know if I should review this recipe or not because I didn’t follow it to a T. I just used two peppers instead of measuring out the amount, and I didn’t have fresh parsley so I used dried. As I result, I think the mixture was a bit too wet. The vegetable mixture seemed to have a lot of oil and butter in it that pooled at the bottom of the bowl. The cakes still cooked well and tasted delicious! Next time I will really take my time with it and I have a feeling they will be even better.


Crab Cakes


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup small diced red onion (1 small onion)
1 1/2 cups small diced celery (4 stalks)
1/2 cup small diced red bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/2 cup small diced yellow bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons crab boil seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, drained and picked to remove shells
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
For frying
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup olive oil


Place the 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons oil, onion, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, parsley, capers, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, crab boil seasoning, salt, and pepper in a large saute pan over medium-low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, break the lump crabmeat into small pieces and toss with the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, and eggs. Add the cooked mixture and mix well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Shape into bite-sized crab cakes.

Heat the butter and olive oil for frying over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the crab cakes and fry for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until browned. Drain on paper towels; keep them warm in a 250 degree oven and serve hot.

Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup is a staple in Newfoundland and Labrador. I love mine super thick and salty with bits of salt beef (cured navel beef). You can only buy the beef in family sized buckets so I wanted to find a soup recipe that I could make with something more practical for a two person household. The smoked pork hock caught my eye at Farm Boy grocer and I thought “eureka”! But I don’t think my ham hock was two pounds because the soup wasn’t as salt as I like it. It’s a good idea to taste and season as you go, which I should remember for next time. This recipe makes a TON of soup. I gave some to a friend of mine and I still had way too much cluttering up my fridge. I think I’ll try halving the recipe next time. With the addition of salt, it was super yummy! I forgot to take a pic, but I don’t think there’s a way to make pea soup pretty anyway! lol

Split Pea Soup

Makes 8 servings

8 cups water (more for later if the soup gets too thick)
1 package (16 ounces) dried split peas (2 1/4 cups), sorted and rinsed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices (1 1/2 cups)
2 medium stalks celery, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 ham bone, 2 pounds ham shanks or 2 pounds smoked pork hocks


Heat peas and water to boiling in 4-quart Dutch oven. Stir in onion, celery and pepper. Add ham bone. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 1 hour to 1 hr 30 minutes or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally. Add more water if needed.
Remove ham bone; remove ham from bone. Trim excess fat from ham; cut ham into 1/2-inch pieces.
Stir ham and carrots into soup. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes or until carrots are tender and soup is desired consistency.

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.


Baked Garlic Home Fries / Hash Browns

Saturday I invited Mr. M. over for brunch and served breakfast sandwiches, sausages, and home fries. Truthfully, I was inspired by the new Tim Horton’s cheddar biscuits. After watching those darn commercials I couldn’t stop thinking about biscuits! Instead of going to Timmy’s I made Ina Garten’s Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits. The home fries recipe is adapted from the garlic fries recipe in “The New Way to Cook Light”, which I reviewed in the last post. I simply cut the potatoes into small cubes before baking. The result was nothing short of miraculous! Although they are baked, you finish them by tossing them in melted garlic butter and topping with parmesan cheese. Absolutely delish! Probably one of the best potato recipes EVER. Just looking at this picture again is giving me a craving.

I think I need to create a special folder for all the recipes that have totally blown my mind. Hmmmm….what should I call it?


Garlic Fries

1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick strips
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons butter
8 garlic cloves, minced (about 5 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Combine potatoes and oil in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal bag, and toss well to coat.

3. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 450° for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning after 20 minutes.

4. Heat a large – skillet over low heat. Add butter and garlic to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add potatoes and parsley to butter mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.


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