Monday, 6 June 2011


Potato leek soup (Chantal)
My grandmother's recipe

1 1/2 cups leeks, diced
1/2 cup celeri, diced
3/4 cup carrot, sliced
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp butter
4 cups potatoes, diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp tarragon
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups milk (optional)
1/2 cup cheddar (optional)

Saute first 4 ingredients in butter. Add to large pot. Add potatoes,stock, spices and herbs. Simmer. covered, for an hour. Add more water if needed. Add milk and cheese before serving if desired.

Ramadan Soup (Chantal)
One of my favourite soups and really easy to make!

large bunches of parsley and cilantro
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup whole dry lentils (you can also use a can of lentils. Just rinse them and skip the simmering)
2 cans tomatoes (drained and diced)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
2 onions, chopped
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin, ginger, turmeric, pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil

Chop 1/4 cup coriander (cilantro) and parsley leaves, stems removed. Tie the remaining bunches together. Boil, then simmer for 15min, discard bundle.
Add lentils, cover and simmer for 15 min.
Add chickpeas, tomatoes, onions and spices and simmer 30min
Cool and puree 3 cups and return to the pot. Add lemon juice and oil.
serve with lemon slices and dates.

Cream of lentil and vegetable soup (Chantal)
A recipe from Ricardo magazine. I freeze half the lentil pilaf recipe and make the soup a second time. 

Lentil Pilaf
2 shallots, finely chopped (can also use onion)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups dry green lentils, rinsed
~3 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf

Brown the shallots in the oil. Add the lentils and mix well. Add the broth and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender (~45min). Add broth as needed.

4 zucchini, diced in chunks
4 plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
2 large red peppers, cored and diced in chunks
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 lentil pilaf recipe or 2 cups cooked lentils

With the rack in the middle, preheat oven to 450F.
Toss the vegetables in vinegar, oil, S&P and roast until the veggies are tender (~20min).
In a saucepan over high heat, bring the broth, veggies and lentils to a boil, then simmer until the the veggies and lentils are very tender.
Puree, adding broth as needed.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Dainties (cause we be Manitobans...)

Peanut butter butterscotch treat (Chantal)

1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
350g package of butterscotch chips
1 package of colourful mini marshmallows

1. Heat until p.b., butter and chips are melted.
2. Allow to cool, then stir in marshmallows. Press into a lightly greased 9x13 pan.

Butter tarts (Chantal)

1/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar 
2 tbsp milk
1/2 cup currants 
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
Muffin tin sized pie crusts

Fill 3/4 full. Bake at 450F for 8min and then at 350F until lightly browned.  


Lentil Feta Salad (Chantal)
I am sure you have all tasted this as I bring it to every potluck I go to. I make the recipe every couple of weeks. It is a staple here. The recipe is in this cookbook from Pulse Canada.

Ceasar salad dressing (Chantal)

1 tbsp + 1 tsp freshly gated parmigiano reggiano
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp dijon mustard
2-3 medium anchovy fillets
2 medium cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp table salt
pinch of pepper
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 tbsp olive oil

Process all ingredients but the oil until well blended. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until creamy and blended. The vinaigrette will keep for a week refrigerated.

Jeff's mom always adds pickled artichoke hearts, capers and bacon to the romaine lettuce. We eat this as a meal.

Pear Salad (Cathy)


3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 small shallot or green onion-chopped
2 small garlic cloves-crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine dressing with mixed greens, Parmesan cheese (I use whatever is in the fridge), 1 sliced pear and 1/2 cup pecans heated with 3 tbsp white sugar-heat until sugar coats/melts the nuts.

Strawberry and Avocado Salad (Cathy)

2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups torn salad greens
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and sliced
10 strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup chopped pecans
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, olive oil, honey, vinegar, and lemon juice. Set aside.
  2. Place the salad greens in a bowl, and top with sliced avocado and strawberries. Drizzle dressing over everything, then sprinkle with pecans. Refrigerate for up to 2 hours before serving, or serve immediately.


Artichoke and goat cheese Pasta (Chantal)
This is one of my new favourite recipes. It is based on a recipe from Fine Cooking, but I make changes depending on what I have at home. Here is how I made it today:  
Pasta of choice
4 links of chicken sausage (from De Luca's), cut in small pieces
3 tbsp oil from marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
2 cups marinated artichoke hearts (from De Luca's)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I didn't add this today as I was hosting mom's group and some of the babes were going to eat the pasta)
Coarsely ground black pepper
1/3 cup thinly sliced chives
2 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh basil
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 small package of goat cheese
 1 tbsp lemon juice

Saute chicken sausage and remove from heat. Saute oil, onion and garlic until translucent. Add artichoke hearts and herbs/spices and saute until the artichokes are goldenbrown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cooked pasta and stir in cheeses, lemon juice and 1/4 cup of the water until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the remaining chives and additional parmesan.

Spaghetti & meatballs
We have been treated to this delicious recipe everytime Jeff's mom is in town. We quadruple the meatball recipe so we have enough for 6 months. No point in getting your hands dirty for making a dozen meatballs. When quadrupling the recipe, we use 1 pkg of costo's hamburger and pork ground meat (~13 lbs). We use a whole bulb of garlic, 2 loaves of whole-wheat bread (the GF variety for me), a bunch of parsley and basil. Chris also makes us a marina sauce to freeze. It is based on this recipe. Enjoy!

Main meat dishes

Slow cooked memphis rib (Chantal)
I love this fine cooking recipe. The only thing I do differently is I added some of the dropped spice rub into the BBQ sauce recipe instead of the requested spices. I also simmer the BBQ sauce until the onions are well cooked. This recipe makes enough BBQ sauce for two rib recipes, so I freeze it until needed again.  


Stacey's delicious and addictive recipe. I usually double it up when I make it. 

1 1/2 litres of cab sav red wine
1 cup sugar
4 oz brandy
Fruit (frozen berry mix, sliced oranges and limes)

Refrigerate for 24hrs. Serve with diet 7up. 


Stacey's delicious recipe

4 ripe avocadoes
2 fresh limes
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tomato, chopped
1/3 cup chopped green onions
tabasco sauce, chopped garlic, salt and pepper to taste

Mash everything together and serve with tortilla chips

Hot Crab Dip (Cathy)

1 –8 oz pkge cream cheese
1 -6 1/2 oz tin crab
2 T chopped green onion
1/2 tsp horseradish
1/3 c slivered almonds
1 T milk
1 T lemon jce
1/4 tsp salt
chopped green pepper ..optional
dash of pepper
Combine all ingredients, except almonds which are the garnish..I sprinkle curry powder on top as well. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. I made this dip for October 2010 book club.

Easy meal ideas

Side dishes

Bean Salad (Chantal)
Easy family favourite.

1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 - 15 oz can red kidney beans
1 - 15 oz can cut green beans
1 - 15 oz can cut yellow beans
3/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil

1. Drain water from cans and rinse. Mix onions and canned beans in a flat dish with lid.
2. Heat vinegar, sugar and oil until sugar is melted. Pour over the beans mix. Let stand for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

Hash brown Casserole (Cathy)

2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups sour cream
¾ cup butter, softened
¼ of a onion
ground black pepper to taste
1 (2 pound) package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed in fridge
1 ½ cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups crushed cornflakes cereal
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the soup, sour cream, ½ cup butter, onion, and pepper. Stir in the hash browns and 1/2 the cheese. Pour into the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and top with crushed cornflakes (coated with ¼ cup of butter).
  3. Bake 45 minutes-1 hr in the preheated oven, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.


Deviled Cauliflower (Chantal)
This is my mom's recipe. I have loved it since I was a kid. 

1 head of cauliflower 
1 1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 cup butter
3 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt

1. Wash and remove large outer leaves. Place whole head of cauliflowe in a saucepan with 1 inch of water and salt. 
2. Boil and check for tenderness with a fork.
3. Melt butter and remaining ingredients in a saucepan or in the microwave. Pour over cauliflower. 



Delightful desserts

Apples & Caramel dip  
Stacey's delicious recipe!

3/4 c brown sugar
1 block cream cheese (low fat or regular is fine)
1 container of caramel spread
1 pkg of skor bits

Bring cream cheese to room temperature. Cream with brown sugar. Spread the mixture on a dinner size plate. Top off with caramel spread and sprinkle skor bits on top. Serve with green apples slices. Enjoy!

Chocolate covered bananas (Chantal)
My friend Felicia made these for our mom's group and I am addicted. I will certainly make these the next time I host.

Chop bananas in chunks, coat them in melted milk chocolate then coat them in ground flaxseeds or sunflower seeds. Freeze. They taste best straight out of the freezer.

Cookies, Muffins and Bars

Gluten-free baking
If ever you are interested in doing some GF baking, I suggest you have a look at this GF recipe book from Pulse Canada. i have tried many of the recipes and they are very good. 

Granola Bars  (Chantal)
My friend Vera made these for a new year's party and I have been making them regulary ever since

Melt on low:
1 3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey

Mix in a bowl:
2 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup pumpkins seeds (you can also use almonds)
1/2 cup oat bran
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup sesame seeds
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup (ground) flax seed

Add dry to wet ingredients. Allow to cool enough before folding in a 1 cup chocolate chips (this takes a while!).

Press into a 9x12 pan. Cool and cut into small pieces. This freezes well. Enjoy!

Thick and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies  (Chantal)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup honey
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups peanut butter
4 1/2 cups rolled oats mixed with 2 tsp baking soda
1 cup nuts or coconut
1 cup raisins/craisins
1 cup chocolate chips

I recently doubled this recipe and replaced 1/4 cup butter with unsweetened applesauce to cut down on the fat content. I also cut down on the honey, as I find these cookies a tad too sweet. I also threw in some rice krispies and some flaxseed (of course!) and they are delicious.

1. Beat butter and honey until blended.
2. Beat in eggs, vanilla and p.b. until well mixed.
3. Stir in oats, then nuts/coconut/flaxseed, raisins and chocolate chips. Stir in rice krispies last if you are using them.
4. Drop by pressed teaspoon full, 3 inches apart on a cookie sheet
5. Bake at 350F for 8-10min.

Cracker Jack cookies (Chantal)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour (I make it with my gluten-free flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut
2 cups rice krispies
chocolate chips

Cream butter, applesauce and sugar. Beat eggs and vanillar and add to the butter mix.
Add flour, soda, powder and mix.
Add remaining ingredients. Drop by teaspoonful and bake at 350F for 10-12min.

Morning Glory muffins (Chantal)

2 cups flour (I use a gluten-free mix)
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups carrots, grated
1/2 cup raisins/craisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds)
1/2 cup unsweet. coconut
1 apple, grated
3 eggs
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup unsweet. applesauce

Mix first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.
Add the next 5 ingredients one at a time, while folding.
Beat the remaining ingredients in a seperate bowl. Add to the flour mix and stir until just moist.
Bake at 350F for 20min.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Books We've Read

The Devil Wears Prada  –  Lauren Weisberger  (Tracey)
The Red Tent  –  Anita Diamant  (Roxanne)
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter  –  Carson McCullers  (Kristina)
The Thornbirds  –  Colleen McCullough  (Erin)
The Linnet Bird  –  Linda Holeman  (Megan)
A Complicated Kindness  –  Miriam Toews  (Cathy)
Persepolis  –  Marjane Satrapi  (Angelique)
The Kite Runner  –  Khaled Hosseini  (Laura Dawn)
Wicked…The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West  –  Gregory Maquire  (Chantal)
The in between world of Vikram Lall  –  M.G. Vassanji  (Leah)
The Way the Crow Flies  –  Ann-Marie MacDonald  (Tracey)
Her Body Knows  –  David Grossmen  (Lindsay)
Prayer for Owen Meany  –  John Irving  (Katherine)
A Million Little Pieces  –  James Frey  (Roxanne)
The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe  –  C. S. Lewis  (Kristina)
We need to talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver  (Cathy)
Memories of my Melancholy whores – Gabriel Garcia Marquez  (Angelique)
Smilla's Sense of Snow  –  Peter Hoeg  (Laura Dawn)
Garlic and Saphires  –  Ruth Reichl  (Lindsay)
Suite Francaise  –  Irene Nemirovsky  (Chantal)
Sweetness in the Belly  –  Camilla Gibb  (Leah)
Larry’s Party  –  Carol Shields  (Megan)
Wild Orchid  –  Beverley Brenna  (Tracey)
The Weather Makers  –  Tim Flannery  (Katharine)
Robinson Crusoe  –  Daniel Defoe  (Stacey)
Never Let Me Go  –  Kazuo Ishiguro  (Orla)
Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral  –  Kris Radish  (Laura Dawn)
My Ishmael  – Daniel Quinn (Chantal)
The Road  –  Cormac McCarthy  (Kristina)
The Birth House  –  Ami McKay  (Leah)
Blindness  –  Jose Saramago  (Tracey)
Self-Made Man  –  Norah Vincent  (Megan)
Eat, Pray, Love  –  Elizabeth Gilbert  (Katharine)
Atonement  –  Ian McEwan  (Stacey)
Geek Love  –  Katherine Dunn  (Orla)
I am Hutterite  –  Mary-Ann Kirkby  (Laura Dawn)
Water for Elephants  –  Sara Gruen  (Angelique)
Skinny  –  Ibi Kaslik  (Kristina)
In Cold Blood  –  Truman Capote  (Chantal)
I Live Here  –  Mia Kirshner, J.B. Mackinnon, Paul Shoebridges, Michael Simons  (Lindsay)
History of Love  –  Nicole Krauss  (Sarah)
The Gargoyle  –  Andrew Davidson  (Cathy)
Three Cups of Tea  –  Greg Morterison and David Oliver Relic  (Tracey)
Power of One  –  Bryce Courtenay  (Stacey)
Shelter Me  –  Juliette Fay  (Megan)
Prodigal Summer  –  Barbara Kingsolver  (Orla)
The Book of Negroes  –  Lawrence Hill  (Laura Dawn)
The Art of Racing in the Rain  –  Garth Stein  (Kristina)
Her Fearful Symmetry  –  Audrey Niffenegger  (Angelique)
The Slap  –  Christos Tsiolkas  (Chantal)
The Pleasure of My Company  –  Steve Martin  (Lindsay)
The Bishop's Man  –  Linden MacIntyre  (Sarah)
Sarah’s Key  –  Tatiana De Rosnay (Cathy)
Cutting for Stone  –  Abraham Verghese (Tracey)
A thousand Acres  –  Jane Smiley (Stacey)
Pride and Prejudice  –  Jane Austin (Megan)
The Sh*t my dad says  –  Justin Halpern (Laura Dawn)
Three day road  –  Joseph Boyden (Kristina)
The Forgotten Garden  –  Kate Morton (Angelique)
Barney’s version  –  Mordecai Richler (Lindsay)
Pavilion of women  –  Pearl S Buck (Chantal)

Friday, 27 May 2011

Chris Bassett's home cooked Indian dishes

Pakoras (Bhajias) Makes 20-25

225g/8oz chickpea (channa) flour
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida (no worries if you don't have this)
salt, to taste
1/2 tsp each nigella, fennel, cumin and onion seeds, coarsely crushed (no worries if you don't have all of these)
2 large onions, finely sliced
2 green thin chilies, finely chopped
50g/2oz coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
cold water, to mix
vegetable oil, for deep-frying

You can also make pakoras with other vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli...).

1. In a bowl, mix together the flour, cayenne, turmeric, baking powder, asafoetida and salt to taste. Fluff with a fork or pass through a sieve.

2. Add the coarsely-crushed seeds. onion (or other vegetable), chilies and cilantro and toss together well. Very gradually mix in enough cold water to make a thick batter surrounding the vegetable.

3. Heat enough oil in a wok for deep-frying. Drop spoonfuls into the hot oil and fry until they are golden brown. Leave enough space to turn the fritters. Drain on paper towels. Serve with a mint chutney.

Lentil Dahl Serves 4

1 cup split red lentils
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt

Boil and simmer the above ingedients for 20-30 min. Stir occasionally. Add water to maintain a gravy consistency.

3 tbsp butter
1/2 large onion, thinly diced
2 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tbsp whole cumin seed
3 whole cloves
3 whole black peppers

Saute the above ingredients and add to the simmered lentils. Simmer together on low heat for an hour.

Chicken curry
3 large onions
1/2 bulb of garlic
3 inches ginger
2-3 skinny green chilies
4 tbsp olive oil

Process all of the above, then saute.

6 tbsp curry powder
6 tomatoes
2 cinnamon sticks
3 tsp kosher salt
~2kg (1 package from costco) skinless chicken thighs
1 lb of fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

Add curry powder. Then saute with the onion mixture until fragrant and the oil begins to pool on the surface.

Process tomatoes and add them as well as the cinnamon sticks and salt. Add chicken thighs and spinach. Cook ~1hr, covered, on low. Uncover for the last 20min to thicken the curry.

Vegetables Indian style
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cumin seed
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch ginger
1 large onion
1 tomato
2 tsp turmeric
3 tsp cumin powder
4 tsp coriander (cilantro) powder)
1 tsp kosher salt
Green beans (3/4 of 2lb bag from costco), cut into three pieces (Any other vegetable can do)
3 potatoes, peeled and cut in 1in cubes

Heat oil and lightly brown cumin seeds. Add garlic and ginger and saute slightly longer.

Process onion, then tomato, coarsely. Add to sauteed mixure. Add spices and vegetables. Cook until slightly tender.

Raita (yogourt sauce to serve with curries)
1 container of plain or greek style yogourt
1 lime (or lemon)
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 cucumber, peeled, grated and drained of liquid
~2-4 tbsp fresh mint
2 tbsp cilantro

Mix together.