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Category Archives: Sides

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!


Trisha Yearwood’s Speedy Baked Beans

I’ve been meaning to make baked beans for months now and have dried beans hiding out in my pantry, but I’m intimidated by the whole soaking thing. Last week I bit the bullet and decided to do a trial run of sorts using canned beans. A quick google search resulted in this little gem from Trisha Yearwood. I’ve only ever eaten the bottled version of baked beans so I have nothing to compare it to, but I must say I really like these. The sauce is like candy and bacon mixed together so how can you go wrong? And the best part – it was ready in about an hour.


Trisha Yearwood’s Baked Beans

1 lbs bacon
1 large vidalia onion; chopped
4 cans (15 oz) pork and beans
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup light brown sugar; (packed)
2 TBL prepared yellow mustard


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp.

3. Remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the drippings, and drain it on paper towels.

4. Crumble and set aside, if you didn’t already chop it.

5. Pour out and discard all but 4 tbsp. of the bacon dripping.

6. Add the onion to the pan and saute until softened, about 7 minutes.

7. Stir in the beans, molasses, sugar, mustard and bacon. Mix well.

8. Pour the beans into a 3-quart casserole dish and bake, uncovered for 45 minutes.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Last week fopr St. Patrick’s Day I finally got around to attempting to make Irish soda bread. Boy am I kicking myself for not trying this sooner. It couldn’t be any simpler to make and the payoff is ridiculous! In Indigenous cultures here in Canada and the U.S. we make something called bannock which is a dense, quick bread and I was thinking soda bread would be very similar. It is and it isn’t. It’s as easy to make but because it uses buttermilk or sour milk (1 cup of milk with a Tbsp of white vinegar to curdle it) the soda bread is more tender and cake-like. I love it! The dough may have been a little too soft at the beginning so I added two more spoonfuls of flour to keep it from sticking to my hands too much, kneaded it a few times and it made a lovely little lumpy mound of dough. And I have a feeling I could have left it in the oven for 5 more minutes as well or perhaps made my cuts deeper so that the centre cooked as much as the corners. I think the next time I make it, it will be even better! This quick bread isn’t destined for just St. Patrick’s Day, you can make it any day of the week!





Traditional Irish Soda Bread

4 cups (1 L) all purpose flour, (can substitute 1/2 the all purpose flour with whole wheat)

1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar

1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

2 cups (500 mL) buttermilk (I used sour milk as described above)

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, baking soda and salt. Make a well in middle of the flour, and add buttermilk all at once.

Use your hands to mix buttermilk into flour to form a soft dough.Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Lightly knead the dough a few times to make a smooth ball.

Place loaf onto parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. With sharp knife, score a large ‘X’ on the top of the dough. Bake in the centre of a 425 F (220 C) oven for about 35 minutes. The loaf is done when browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Serve warmed with butter and honey.

Additional information : Spotted Dog Variation:
Add 1 cup (250 mL) raisins or currants and 1 tsp (5 mL) caraway seeds (optional) to the flour

Cauliflower “Popcorn”

I’m quite excited about this new cookbook my Aunt Susan gave me for Christmas – The Family Cooks. It’s got some yummy looking recipes in it, but they’re actually good for you!  I’ve mentioned a few times that my 4 year old is a picky eater so I was pleased to see this book has a whole chapter on how to get kids out of that picky eater stage. It’s going to require a little tough love on my part, and to be completely honest, most of the time I don’t have the patience for it. I’m going to start slowly by inviting her to pick out food at the grocery store, and get her to help out a little in the kitchen. One of the few vegetables she likes is cauliflower so I made this as a side with some ribs mushrooms, onions I made last week. After much begging, and finally bribing her with bubblegum, she put a tiny piece in her mouth and promptly spit it out. 😦 Steve and I really liked it though. I thought 1 1/2 tsp of salt was a bit much so I added only 1 tsp and it was still a touch too salty. Next time I will add 3/4 tsp. And watch it really carefully or it will burn. I’d stay stir it every 7 minutes instead of 10. We took ours out early because we were starving!

If you’re interested, the cookbook is now on sale at Chapters-Indigo! I don’t remember exactly but it’s $10 or $15. (February 2016)


Roasted Cauliflower Popcorn

Makes 4 servings Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes


1 large head cauliflower, cored and florets pulled apart into popcorn-size pieces
3 TBSP olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
1 1/2 tsp salt


1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF with the rack in the middle. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with a thin coat of olive oil.

2. Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil and salt in a large bowl, making sure that every “kernel” is evenly coated. Taste the raw cauliflower. It’s already pretty good isn’t it?

3. Dump the cauliflower onto the baking sheet. Roast, shaking the pan every 10 minutes, until the “kernels” are evenly browned, about 30 minutes. Taste (the cook gets all the crispy golden bits) and season with more salt if you need to.


• Before roasting, add a little chopped rosemary or parsley, or toss with grated Parmesan cheese.

• After roasting, for an Asian flair, toss with fish sauce, garlic, mint, and lime juice.

Glazed Pork Tenderloin and Garlic Cream Cheese Smashed Potatoes

Glazed Pork Tenderloin and Garlic Cream Cheese Smashed Potatoes

This menu is a great example of how I eat most of the time – partly healthy, and partly horrible but delicious! The pork was delicately flavoured and melt in your mouth tender. I think it’s because you cook it at such high heat (500F) But the potatoes were so rich and sinful that Steve christened them “potatoes you wouldn’t take home to your Momma”! lol I do believe they have knocked my other garlic mashed potatoes out of the top spot. But, ya you don’t really want to be making these more than a couple of times a year. I might make them again for Valentine’s Day actually and then I have to cut myself off. I was supposed to make “cauliflower popcorn” from the Family Cooks cookbook I got for Christmas, but I kind of forgot about it until it was too late so I’m going to give them a try on Wednesday instead.

Note: The photos are a little wonky because Steve has lent me his camera and I’m still getting used to it. I forgot it on “cloudy” setting but we were under artificial light. And I only have one photo of the potatoes but it’s super washed out. They don’t look like much but they’re insanely delicious!


Sweet and Tangy Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Red Potato Mash

(Cooking Light Magazine, Sept. 2015)

Using jelly rather than preserves in the glaze helps maintain a smooth texture, but you can use either. Instead of grape, try strawberry, cherry, red currant, or even jellied cranberry sauce.

Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: 3 ounces)

1 pound small red potatoes
1/3 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 small garlic clove, grated
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons grape jelly
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallots

1. Preheat oven to 500°.

2. Place potatoes in a large saucepan; fill with water to 1 inch above potatoes. Bring to a boil; cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain; return to pan. Mash potatoes to desired consistency with a potato masher. Stir in milk, butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. {the Cook’s Illustrated recipe I used is below}

3. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon oil, thyme, and garlic; rub evenly over pork. Place pork on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray; bake at 500° for 10 minutes. Combine remaining 1 teaspoon oil, jelly, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Brush half of jelly mixture over pork; bake at 500° for 5 minutes. Turn pork; brush with remaining half of jelly mixture. Bake 5 to 8 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145°. Place pork on a cutting board; let stand 5 minutes. Cut across the grain into thin slices. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Nutritional Information
Amount per serving
Calories 327 Fat 9.9 g Satfat 4.1 g Monofat 3.9 g Polyfat 0.9 g Protein 27 g Carbohydrate 31 g Fiber 2 g Cholesterol 87 mg Iron 2 mg Sodium 482 mg Calcium 47 mg

Smashed Potatoes

Yields: 4 to 6 servings Prep time: 20 min Cook time: 45 min


2 pounds Red Bliss potatoes (about 2 inches in diameter), unpeeled and scrubbed*
1 bay leaf
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and warm
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
Freshly-ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (optional)

* New potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes may be substituted, but the red skins of the Red Bliss potatoes give a wonderful contrast. Try to purchase potato of equal size. If only large potatoes are available, increase the cooking time by approximately 10 minutes.


In a large pot, add whole potatoes and cover with 1-inch cold water; add 1 teaspoon salt and the bay leaf. Bring just to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until a paring knife can be inserted into the potatoes with no resistance, approximately 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and set aside. Then drain potatoes of remaining water; discard the water and bay leaf. Return cooked potatoes to the pot and allow potatoes to stay in the pot, uncovered, until surfaces are dry, about 5 minutes.

While potatoes are drying, whisk the melted butter and softened cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth and fully incorporated. Add the 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, chives (if using), and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using a rubber spatula or back of a wood spoon, smash potatoes just enough to break the skins. Fold in the butter/cream cheese mixture until most of the liquid has been absorbed and chunks of potatoes remain. NOTE: Add more reserved cooking water if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the potatoes are slightly looser than desired. The potatoes will thicken slightly with standing. Adjust salt and pepper, if desired.

Place in a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Variation: Garlic-Rosemary Smashed Potatoes 

Add 2 peeled garlic cloves to potatoes in saucepan along with salt and bay leaf in step 1. Melt 4 Tbs butter in 8″ skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary {I used a couple of pinches of dry} and 1 minced garlic clove and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Substitute butter-garlic mixture for melted butter, adding cooked garlic cloves to cream cheese along with butter-garlic mixture. Omit chives.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated cookbook.

Pork Tenderloin with Maple Pan Juices

Well you’ve probably heard me say this more than once, but I am trying even harder to eat better, not just for my weight but for my health. I have to get my blood work done again soon and I realized I kind of fell of the healthy cooking bandwagon again so I have to get back on with hopes of making a difference in my cholesterol numbers. I’ve been checking labels and recipes for saturated fat and sodium levels, and dipping into my Cooking Light Magazine recipe stash. I found this dish in the “Cooking Light Complete Cookbook”. It’s huge and has hundreds of recipes which I really need to tap into more often.We only marinaded it for 30 minutes and it still turned out great. In another review someone mentioned they had a hard time getting the sauce to thicken and so did I, so I took their recommendation and added a tsp or so of cornstarch which did the trick. Despite the hiccup, this one is a definite keeper. Sweet, savory, and so satisfying!

On the side was a recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine for Mustard and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes. I cut the Dijon in half and the potatoes were still crisp and flavourful. They also cooked a lot faster than 50 minutes – more like 40. Highly recommend them!



Pork Tenderloin with Maple Pan Juices

1/3 cup diced onion
1/4 cup fresh orange juice, divided
1/4 cup maple syrup, divided
2 tablespoons sake (rice wine) – I used white wine because that’s what I had on hand
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
Cooking spray
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

Combine onion, 2 tablespoons juice, 2 tablespoons syrup, sake, soy sauce, pepper and garlic in a large zip-top plasitc bag. Trim fat from pork. Add pork to bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a 9-inch heavy ovenproof skillet coated with a little cooking spray over medium-high heat. (I used a cast iron skillet because I think they work the best when browning and roasting meats, and I did use a little olive oil instead of the cooking spray, which I know added a some fat). Remove pork from bag, reserving marinade. Add pork to pan; cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Place pan in oven; bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees (slightly pink). Remove pork from pan. Set aside, and keep warm.

Combine 2 tablespoons juice, 2 tablespoons syrup, reserved marinade, and broth in a small bowl. Add syrup mixture to pan, and place over medium-high heat, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thick. (I could not get it to thicken; so, mixed a little cornstarch with cold water, and added to the mixture to thicken.) Serve sauce with pork. Yields 4 servings.

Serving size: 3 ounces pork and 2 tablespoons of sauce. Per serving: calories 204 (13% from fat); fat 3 g (sat 1g, mono 1.3g, poly 0.4g); protein 24.4g; carb 16.9g; fiber 0.3g; chol 74 mg; iron 1.8mg; sodium 293mg; calc 29mg. These stats are without any of my changes to the recipe.

Mustard and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

These potatoes start out looking very wet, but the mixture cooks down to leave the potatoes crisp, crusty, and tangy.

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs. dry vermouth or other dry white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lb. red-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch dice

Heat the oven to 400°F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil, vermouth, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Dump the potatoes onto a large rimmed baking sheet and spread them in a single layer. Roast, tossing with a spatula a few times, until the potatoes are crusty on the outside and tender throughout, 50 to 55 minutes. Serve hot.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on six servings; Calories (kcal): 220; Fat (g): fat g 11; Fat Calories (kcal): 100; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 1; Protein (g): protein g 4; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 30; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 730; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 0; Fiber (g): fiber g 3;

Copycat Restaurant Burgers and Poutine

My friend Steve and I went to the Big Rig Brewery back in May and I had the Killer Bee Burger (with onion rings and honey bbq sauce), then last month we went to the Bier Markt on Sparks Street and we had the Candied Bacon Poutine. (For our international friends, poutine is french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy). For this long weekend I wanted to make something special for Canadian Labour Day so I decided to try recreating these dishes.

It was the first time I fired up the grill I found at Loblaws – one sale for $10! The recipes in the Weber cookbooks are great but the guides to setting up a bbq are not as detailed. I could not find how to tell if your BBQ is at the correct temperature. For that I flipped through my trusty old Betty Crocker Big Red Book. It tells you how to set up a pyramid style charcoal grill or the chimney starter method and it gives guidelines for when the coals are ready. (These methods can also be easily found online but I like having my cookbook right there when I need it.) Once your coals are coated in a light grey ash, hold your hand over the grill and count how many seconds you can hold it there.

2 seconds = high heat         3 seconds = medium-high heat       4 seconds = medium heat       5 seconds = low heat

To grill 1/4 lb burgers, cook over medium heat for about 5-6 minutes on each side, until the internal temperature reaches at least 160F degrees.

To assemble the Killer Bee burger, use your favourite burger recipe, then add applewood cheddar, bacon, beer battered onion rings, and honey-bbq sauce. I used old cheddar and regular onion rings instead. For the honey-bbq sauce I was inspired by this recipe from The Kitchen Whisperer so I added 1 part honey to 2 parts of my favourite Kansas City BBQ Sauce and simmered for 5 minutes. It was awesome!

For basic poutine, deep-fry your favourite straight cut fries as usual, then top with fresh, white cheddar cheese curds and top with gravy.  For the candied bacon poutine, in addition to the cheese and gravy, add chopped candied bacon, a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream, and sprinkle with chopped green onion. The Bier Markt used gravy made with pan juices but I decided to try making classic poutine gravy. It ended up way too thick and I kept adding water to try to get the right consistency. I think next time I will reduce the cornstarch and water mixture to teaspoons instead of tablespoons. Maybe it’s because I used oxo instead of broth? I did halve the recipe because it was just two of us and 4 cups of gravy would have been a bit much! The taste was authentic diner gravy though. All and all the whole meal was soul satisfying my friends!




Cayenne-Candied Bacon


2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound thinly sliced bacon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil, and position broiler rack on top of pan. Lightly coat the rack with the vegetable oil.

Combine the brown sugar and cayenne in a shallow dish, stirring to mix well. Press 1 side of each slice of bacon firmly into the spiced sugar to coat well. Arrange the slices of bacon on top of the broiler rack in a single layer, sugared-side up. If there is any sugar remaining in the dish, sprinkle it on top of the bacon slices evenly. Bake until the bacon is crisp and the sugar is bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly, then to a plate or serving dish to cool. (Can be made several hours ahead) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, 2002

Ricardo’s Poutine Gravy


1 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cans 10 oz (284 ml) beef broth, undiluted (or 2 prepared oxo packets)

1/2 can 10 ounces (284 ml) chicken broth, undiluted ( or 1 prepared oxo packet)

Pepper to taste


In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Set aside.
In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring until the mixture turns golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
Add the broth and bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Stir in the cornstarch and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with pepper. Makes about 2 cups.


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