Tomato Salad In A Snap!

There is no better time than tomato season to enjoy tomatoes. Everywhere I look, my friends and family are harvesting their crop and bragging about how good their tomatoes taste. My father started a vegetable garden last year and is growing all sorts of tomato varieties. He planted so many he doesn’t even know what to do with them all! And so, of course, I have a never-ending supply of sweet, ripe tomatoes coming to me. I have to say, these homegrown tomatoes are the best I’ve ever had!

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Take advantage of the delicious tomatoes in season and enjoy them in a simple salad! Tomato salads have always been a staple in my home, and I have my father to thank for it. He is the man always on a quest for the freshest, ripest, sweetest tomatoes, and was the one who first showed me this recipe. (I’m sure this is how I developed my love for balsamic vinegar.)

This is the easiest salad to make. It uses only a few ingredients, and takes minutes to make. Continue reading

Lobster Linguine With Saffron & Cream

I almost jump at every opportunity to use saffron in my cooking. I have an unexplained love for it’s delicate strands, gorgeous colour, and subtle earthy flavour. Saffron is harvested from the Crocus sativus flower, a member of the Iris family. Cultivated for thousands of years in Asia Minor, it is used in perfumes, dyes, medicine and, of course, for its wonderful flavour in food and drinks. There’s something so beautiful about the deep maroon shade of the strands and the rich golden yellow that comes from the tip of the thread (from which the saffron spice is derived.) It makes me smile from the inside out. 🙂

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“According to Greek mythology, handsome mortal Crocos fell in love with the beautiful nymph Smilax. But alas, his favors were rebuffed by Smilax, and he was turned into a beautiful purple crocus flower.” (about.com)

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Here is the crocus flower that saffron comes from. So pretty!

This dinner all began with a request for lobster tagliatelle. I didn’t know where to begin, so I began where I always do…the recipe hunt. I was looking for simple recipes that required ingredients I already had at home. (Minus the lobster of course.) I found a few seafood tagliatelle recipes that I liked, but stuck with this one as a guideline, making my own alterations here and there based on what I wanted to make and the ingredients I had available at home. The result was a lobster linguine in a light creamy sauce. Delicious! Continue reading

Keep It Simple, Silly! Simple Crepes For Any Occasion

Since I was a child, crepes have been one of my favourite desserts. I loved how sweet and egg-y my mother used to make them. I’d eat them faster than she could make them, and I wouldn’t stop eating until she stopped flipping them off the pan onto my plate. I’ve now come to realize, after having tried so many savoury crepes, that they don’t always have to be sweet. These delicate pancakes are simple, easy to make and extremely versatile. You can use any toppings you like! Sweet or savoury!

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I had a crepe craving last night and now that I don’t live with the legendary crepe-making mama, I decided to figure out how to make them (or something like them) on my own. I discovered that they are easier than I thought! The beauty of a crepe is in its simplicity. Simple ingredients and simple preparation. Sometimes enjoying something as simple as a plain sweet crepe is just what you need.  Continue reading

Rolo Chocolate Pretzel Sammies. You’re welcome.

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This post is going to be short and SWEET.

I don’t eat sweets very often, but I know a yummy treat when I see one, smell one or wolf down a serving meant for ten people without even noticing. I’ve never been a huge fan of chocolate covered pretzels. The ones I’ve had always seem dry, and stale, and boring. BUTTT, these little Rolo pretzel sandwiches are the complete opposite. They create the perfect salty-sweet balance and the caramel Rolo centres add a beautiful sticky sweetness to them. The best chocolate pretzels I’ve ever had! Continue reading

Oyster Fest Niagara!

We took a little drive down to Niagara on Sunday for Oyster Fest Niagara! The event started at two, but we couldn’t make it until later on. I would have liked to have seen the shucking competition. 😦 After a bit less than an hour of driving in the GORGEOUS weather, we finally arrived at Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery in Beamsville, Ontario. Stepping out of the car onto a gravel road and taking a big breath of way-fresher-than-Toronto air instantly put a smile on my face. The sun was shining and, even though my hair was all tangled from the drive (windows down, sunroof open), I was happy.

But of course I got even happier after taking a few steps closer. With a plate of freshly shucked oysters in one hand, and a spicy caesar in the other, I stood taking in the sights and sounds around me. Talking, laughing, slurping, munching, drinking and dancing to the sound of the funkiest funk.

When I found out about the oyster festival, I got a little (a lot) excited. Continue reading

Wrap & Roll! Learn To Rice-Paper-Wrap Anything And Everything.

I get a lot of requests for easy, quick and healthy recipes. Here’s a recipe that can’t get any easier or quicker, and can be super duper healthy! These were inspired by Vietnamese rice paper spring rolls and can be 100% vegan or vegetarian-friendly if you want them to be. If you’ve ever tried Vietnamese food, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.

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Rice paper wraps are my best friend. They’re so quick and easy to use and they don’t cost much at all! Rice paper is like thin, steamed rice crepes that have been dried out into thin, hard, round sheets. You dampen the sheets, one by one, in warm water and you’re ready for wrapping! They get nice and sticky and adhere to themselves to make a gorgeous fresh roll in one step. They’re also much healthier than fried spring rolls. Continue reading

Oatmeal Chocolate Cranberry Cookies!

Oatmeal cookies have always been a favourite of mine. But what’s better than oatmeal cookies? Oatmeal, chocolate chip, craisin cookies!

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I thought I’d post this recipe because these cookies have become a staple in our home. I’ve been making them non-stop for a few years now. There’s always a jar full of oatmeal cookies. I often get a friendly reminder that we’re down to the last two or three cookies. That means: make more, cookie maker!

Oats are also good for you! Click here to check out some of the health benefits of eating oats. 🙂

I think this started out as just an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe. It was one of those recipes you scribble down on a piece of paper and stuff into a cookbook for safe-keeping. It’s a classic, and I’ve used it time and time again. I started playing around with the chocolate chips, replacing them with other ingredients. My usual mix is chocolate chips, raisins and craisins, but it all works. Make these your own! You can try to incorporate other dried fruits or different chips. Semi-sweet chocolate chips work best though, I think.

Oatmeal cookies are nice and easy to make too! This recipe is great for all my first-time bakers. There’s absolutely nothing to fear! The worst thing you could do is burn them, so just keep an eye out and you’ll be fine! Continue reading

Ceili Cottage: My Kind Of Pub

I think I’ve fallen in love again…with Ceili Cottage. It’s my favourite pub in the city, located in Leslieville on Queen Street. Actually, it’s the only pub I’ve ever loved. This Irish local, owned by world champion oyster shucker Patrick McMurray (also the owner of Starfish Oyster Bed & Grill), exudes Irish authenticity, from the food, to the drinks, to the decor, to the live music. I love restaurants with personality. If you take the time to look around inside, you’ll start to notice all the little details. Almost everything in this place has something to do with oysters or Celtic culture, including photos, awards, shucking tools, books, and boardgames. The building, once an old garage , consists of two rooms: the cottage room and the bar room. The patio out front is also REALLY GREAT (with oyster shells embedded into the concrete floor). Definitely a good summertime spot to visit if you’re looking to enjoy good food, drinks, and the gorgeous Toronto weather. They’ve got a great selection of beers to choose from…it wouldn’t be a good pub without good beer, right? They have twelve taps offering a mixed selection of beers from Ireland, Ontario, and Quebec.

“Ceili (pronounced Kay-lee) is an Irish word for a social get-together of music and dance. With that come the food and drink. Our “Irish Local” is a place for friends and families in the neighbourhood to convene for conversation and good “craic” (Irish for good fun).”
I took that bit from the Ceili Cottage website, because I thought it was pretty wonderful. You can find a full menu and more info by clicking on the link.

They serve amazing oysters, which is another reason I absolutely love this place (you must know by now that I’m an oyster lover). Their selection usually includes an oyster from the east coast and Clarenbridge Bay oysters from Ireland. I don’t get the chance to eat Irish oysters very often so this excites me. If you’re an oyster lover, this is your kind of pub.

If you’re lucky you’ll walk in on a flute and fiddle session, which adds some wonderfully lively Irish folk-sound to the experience. Continue reading

Pizza Done Right At Falasca SPQR, An Authentic Roman-Style Pizzeria

I have finally found the best pizza in the city! Falasca SPQR serves some of the most authentic pizza I’ve ever had. This pizzeria specializes in their award-winning (world and Italian competitions) traditional Roman-style pizza. The crust is perfection. Chef Falasca clearly knows the secret to making delicious pizza dough. The golden pizza crusts are thin, but not too thin (about a centimetre thick) and crispy, but not too crispy. (Perfection). You hear the crunch when you bite into your slice, and then you smile as you swallow it.

SPQR stands for Specialita Pizza Quadrata Rotonda, which in Italian means specialty pizza square and round. (Don’t worry, I was a bit stumped too when I first tried to figure out what the four letters stood for.) The square pizzas are served at lunch al taglio (meaning that it is sold by weight). I walked in for the first time on a Thursday afternoon right after the lunch rush, I’ve heard the place gets pretty busy. They have different rectangular pizzas to choose from. Continue reading

All You Need Is Love…And Taco Nights.

Nothing cures a…well, ANYTHING…better than a taco night! If you’re looking for an easy, quick and fun meal, tacos are a great idea. Meat (or meat alternative), shells, toppings, DONE! They’re quick to make and probably even quicker to eat, if you get as hungry and excited as I do.

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Taco nights have always been a guilty pleasure of mine…until I started realizing there was no reason for me to feel guilty. I had the idea, for years, that tacos were unhealthy. Totally not the case! What is a concern is the trans-fats that some store-bought taco shells contain. Many are made using hydrogenated soybean oil. There are ways around this! Some brands are better than others, check out the labels at your grocery store or try visiting your local health food store or organic grocery aisle for healthier options. You can even use soft tortillas or wraps. Continue reading