Category Archives: cooking


I know exactly what you’re thinking.

“I can’t wait to read what this woman has to say about coleslaw.” Well. I’ll get right to it.

I heart coleslaw. Particularly healthy varieties. Healthy coleslaw? That’s usually an oxymoron. However, not the coleslaw recipe my mother-in-law makes.

Without further ado, I give you the recipe for deliciousness in a bowl. I hope you like it, too.

Asian Coleslaw

3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp peanut butter
1 1/2 tbsp soya sauce
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp minced ginger root
1 tbsp minced garlic
5 c. cabbage, shredded
1 bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups carrots, shredded
3 green onions, diced
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

Combine first (7) ingredients and pour over remaining ingredients just before serving. Mix. Serve. Enjoy. Mmmmm.

Not a fan of cilantro? Omit it. And, let me know what you think!

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Larry, Larry Quite Contrary

I will give you one guess as to what my husband’s newest hobby is. Just one.

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Cooking with quinoa

It might not be much to look at, but quinoa is quite the powerhouse. Once cooked, of course.

What’s this? Another recipe? I know what you’re thinking: Where is Jill and why did she go all Food Network on us?

First of all, I love the Food Network. Second, I’ve had some extra time on my hands. Why not make something delicious to eat?

Which brings me to quinoa. Pronounced Keen*wa.

If you’ve never had quinoa, but are interested in jazzing up current dishes that use rice or couscous, you may want to try it. Considered an ancient grain, quinoa cooks in much the same manner as rice and is gluten-free (easily digestible), crazy-high in protein and quite versatile.

I found this particular quinoa recipe in the September/October 2010 issue of Clean Eating magazine (pg. 58). I’ve already made it twice and both times Husband raved of its wonderfulness.

Perhaps you will, too.

The Loaded Bowl

3 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 – 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and well drained
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 c. cilantro chopped (add more or less depending on your tastes)
2 avocado, pitted and peeled
Fresh lemon juice to keep avocados from turning brown
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Juice of 4 limes
Zest 1 lime

1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. white vinegar
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or more, optional
1/2 tsp. chili powder or more, optional

Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Cover and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add beans, tomatoes and cilantro, tossing to combine.

Add all dressing ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until garlic is blended and dressing appears creamy. Set aside in fridge.

Fluff quinoa with a fork and add bean mixture. Season with salt and pepper and add lime juice and zest; toss to combine. Serve in bowls. Top with avocado slices (cut avocado last, or mix with lemon juice to keep from browning). Drizzle with dressing. If desired, garnish with a few more sprigs of cilantro.

Storage: This grain salad keeps well, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. You can make the leftovers last longer by slicing the avocado fresh and add to the mix just before serving. Without the avocado, the dish will last up to 5 or 6 days. Freezes well.

Just a note: This recipe serves 12. I cut the amount of quinoa and lime juice in half, as well as the dressing ingredients. You may simply decide to freeze your extras. Also, I like to add chopped red onion and top with pieces of grilled chicken breast. You can’t go wrong with extra protein.


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Pumpkin season is here

Well hello, Pumpkin, Cranberry & Pecan Loaf. Let me introduce you to my belly.

OK, I admit it; I’ve been on a bit of a baking spree. Granola. Granola bars. And now, pumpkin bread.

Nothing says “autumn” like pumpkins. Pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin Spice Lattes. You can’t really go wrong. So, when I spied a Pumpkin, Cranberry & Pecan Loaf in Sobeys’ Fall 2010 Inspired (pg. 35), I felt inspired.

I hope you do, too.

Pumpkin, Cranberry & Pecan Loaf

1 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 c. canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin-pie filling)
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. pecan pieces, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, cover cranberries with warm water; set aside. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan well; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar at medium speed until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the pumpkin. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger and salt. Carefully add dry ingredients with mixer on low, just until blended. Add nuts and well-drained cranberries, mixing until just distributed.

Spread batter evenly in loaf pan and bake on centre rack for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan then remove loaf and cool completely. Slice and serve or wrap in plastic wrap and store up to 5 days.

I substituted whole-wheat flour for all-purpose flour. This can be a bit of a gamble when it comes to baking breads. However, I had much success. I think next time I’ll substitute unsweetened applesauce for butter and see how that goes. Regardless, be sure to pay attention to the baking time. My loaf was done after 57 minutes.

Thank you, Sobeys, for another fabulous recipe! Happy autumn, everyone!

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More than granola

Who knew that one day I'd make granola bars from scratch? Tissue, Mom?

OK, so I love granola. Also, I love granola bars. In college, my roommate Erin subsisted on Quaker Oats Chewy Granola Bars. All varieties. I suspect she still does.

Husband recently scored a copy of Food & Drink magazine, courtesy of LCBO, and it came with a Sobeys supplement. LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) is Ontario’s scam government-owned liquor chain. Sobeys is a Canadian grocer and one at which I rarely shop. Because, there are other choices closer.

However, its magazine, Inspired, is quite nice, and I came across a recipe in the Fall 2010 issue (pg. 35) that I had to try: Chocolate & Cherry Granola Bars.

Maybe you should try it, too.

Chocolate & Cherry Granola Bars

2/3 c. liquid honey
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. quick oats
1/2 c. pecans, chopped
1/2 c. almonds, chopped
1/2 c. dried cherries, roughly chopped
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F and line an 8-inch square cake pan with two criss-crossing pieces of parchment paper that overhang the pan slightly to create handles; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk honey, butter, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until smooth. Fold in remaining ingredients, mixing well to coat evenly.

Press mixture firmly into prepared pan and bake on the centre rack for 22 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool before lifting from pan with paper handles. Cut into 18 bars and serve or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Happy snacking!

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Mmmm, granola!

Granola is delicious. Yours can be this delicious, too.

I have a thing for granola. I’ve always had a thing for granola. Unfortunately, I’ve never had a thing for all the sugar that accompanies typical granola.

When my friend Mary posted “Secret Family Recipe Revealed” on her blog, I knew I had the makings of a granola winner. It had been her family’s go-to recipe for years, and after trying it, I’m happy to report that it may well become mine.

In her post, Mary notes that she tweaked the recipe to suit her tastes, and I’ve tweaked it as well. So, here’s her secret family recipe—which is not much of a secret anymore—with a few changes of my own.


1/4 c. safflower or canola oil
1/2 to 3/4 c. honey (Mary uses 1/2 c.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 c. rolled oats
1 c. wheat germ
1 c. sliced almonds
1 c. sunflower seeds
1/2 c. whole-wheat bran
1/2 c. flaxseeds

Heat first three ingredients. Add to remaining ingredients and stir (mix well). Spread on oiled cookie sheets or baking pans. Bake at 325 F for 20-25 minutes. Stir twice during baking. Be sure to watch closely toward the end to prevent burning. Store in tightly-closed containers.

By the way, I added the second-to-last sentence. Trial and error, you might say.

Thanks for the recipe, Mary!

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Shrimp, pasta and lemons?

Life handing you lemons? Make Easy, Spicy, Shrimp Pasta! It's delish!

I love shrimp. I love pasta. I love lemons. Shrimp, pasta and lemons together? Questionable at first, dynamite in the end. I found this recipe on and tweaked it accommodate our tastes. You can do the same.

Easy, Spicy, Shrimp Pasta

1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined (uncooked)
8 ounces pasta, any kind
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, chopped
1 lemon, juice and zest of (about 2 Tbsp.)
2 tsp. red pepper flakes, diced
1 tsp. dried basil, crushed
1 tsp. salt
4 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tomato, chopped*
Salt, fresh cracked pepper

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 c. pasta water.

While pasta water is heating, zest and juice lemon and prepare all ingredients. After adding pasta to boiling water, sprinkle a small amount of olive oil in a cold, non-stick skillet. Turn heat to medium high, and let pan warm for a few minutes. Add shrimp, garlic, onion, lemon rind and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Shrimp will just start to turn opaque but not yet pink. Add tomatoes, salt, basil, lemon juice and white wine. Stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in reserved pasta water. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings to your taste. Spoon over drained pasta and garnish with fresh black pepper or additional pepper flakes, if desired.

*Substitute one 15 or 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (depending on your love of tomatoes) with liquid. If you use the liquid, discard the reserved pasta water.

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Here’s the thing about peaches. I could eat them every day, all day. Back to back to back. Because they are THAT good.

Yesterday, I stumbled across a tweet by Canadian House and Home magazine.

Don’t mind if I do! I immediately scouted out the Healthy Oat Peaches And Cream Muffins recipe because, really, who doesn’t love muffins? And, I tried them out this morning. Delicious! Don’t believe me? Try them for yourself.

Also, try the other recipes. Because, you can’t go wrong with peaches.

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Crumbly rhubarb goodness

Mmmm. rhubarb. Not so delicious when raw. Terribly delicious when made into this dessert.

OK, so apparently I’m on a recipe kick this week, because I also gave this one a shot.

Knowing that Husband and I are huge fans, my in-laws were generous with their rhubarb distribution this year. Our freezer has been holding 9 pounds of it for the past three months. What better opportunity to experiment with different rhubarb crunches, crisps and crumbles?

This recipe is also from Clean Eating magazine. What can I say? I like the magazine and appreciate its healthy-eating principles. This particular dessert is a combination of sweet and tart. The sweetness is more from the strawberries than sugar, which is a good thing.

Here’s the recipe. Continue reading below it for some modifications.

Sweet-Sour Crumbly Dessert*
(8 servings)

2 stalks rhubarb, sliced (2 cups)
18-21 medium strawberries, sliced (3 cups)
1 tsp. cinnamon, ground
3 Tbsp. organic evaporated cane juice
Juice ½ lemon
3 Tbsp. spelt flour

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup Sucanat (natural cane sugar)
¼ cup coconut oil
2 Tbsp. spelt flour
2 tsp. flaxseed, ground
1 tsp. cinnamon, ground

Preheat oven to 350 F. In an 8 x 8-inch baking pan, combine rhubarb, strawberries, 1 tsp. cinnamon, evaporated cane juice and lemon juice. Sprinkle with 3 Tbsp. flour and gently toss to coat. Prepare topping: In a medium bowl, add all topping ingredients. Using your hands, mix until well combined (will be very crumbly). Spread over fruit mixture in baking pan. Place pan in oven and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until topping is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Now for some modifications.

I haven’t found organic evaporated cane juice anywhere. Either I live in a small area or can’t navigate a grocery store properly. Or, maybe it’s just hard to find. Anyway, I replaced it with an equal amount of Sucanat. What’s Sucanat? It’s non-refined (natural) cane sugar. It’s not a processed sugar, which means it ranks higher on the nutritional scale, as it contains a smaller amount of sucrose than white sugar. It’s typically available wherever you find sugar.

Never used coconut oil before? Me either. Here’s your chance. I found a 31.5 oz. container of it at Meijer (in the U.S.) for $4.99. That’s a steal compared to the prices I’ve seen around here. I suspect you could probably swap it out for equal parts canola oil. Or vegetable oil. I’ve read mixed reviews on coconut oil. Some applaud it. Some caution its use. I’m leaning toward the latter, but taking the “all things in moderation” approach.

And, spelt flour? Spelt is kinda like wheat. With a tougher husk. It has a nuttier and slightly sweeter flavour than whole-wheat flour. And, it contains more protein. Bonus!

So, why make this recipe if I ended up switching up some of the ingredients? Because it’s delicious. And, that’s the point of baking. To create something you like eating. Plus, I’m a fan of trial and error.

Try it, and let me know what you think.

*Recipe taken from the May/June 2010 Clean Eating magazine, pg. 98.

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Orzo and fennel, say what?

Don't let the fennel bulb scare you. It's actually fairly easy to use.

If you had told me a few years back that I would one day prepare a dish with orzo and fennel, I would’ve said, “But, I don’t eat a lot of organic foods.”

It turns out that I knew little about either.

I was leafing through the March/April 2010 issue of Clean Eating magazine last Thursday when I spotted a recipe for Orzo with Citrus & Fennel. I knew orzo (Italian for “barley”) to be a type of pasta shaped like rice, but I had never eaten it, much less cooked with it. I also knew I could find fennel in the produce aisle. Judging from the recipe’s accompanying picture, I suspected the odd-sounding ingredients would transform themselves into a pasta-salad-like side dish (what a sleuth I am!). I could only hope that it would taste good, too. After all, would a recipe call for fennel if it tasted horrible?

Ingredients in hand, including a crazy-looking fennel bulb, I churned out the recipe and tried it out on Husband for dinner on Friday. His response? Excellent! So, I tripled the recipe and brought the dish to a barbecue at the in-laws on Saturday. Their response? Excellent!

You know you’re doing something right when even the teenagers ask for more.

So, if you’re looking to try something different, something refreshing and something amazingly easy, give this recipe a shot.

Orzo with Fennel & Citrus*
(4 servings)

5 oz. orzo (found in the pasta aisle)
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 orange
1/4 medium bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced, plus 1 Tbsp. feathery fennel fronds, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup crumbled feta OR goat cheese

Cook orzo according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Zest orange and add zest to bowl with vinaigrette. Peel orange (over same bowl to catch drippings) and cut sections from orange. Place orange sections in separate bowl. Squeeze any remaining orange juice into vinaigrette and discard membrane.

Drain orzo; add to large bowl with vinaigrette and toss. Set aside to cool slightly.

Add orange sections to orzo. Stir in fennel, fennel fronds and onions. Top with feta or goat cheese and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Oh, and fennel? It tastes a little bit like licorice. Really!

*Recipe taken from the March/April 2010 Clean Eating magazine, pg. 69.

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