May 22

Chinese Orange-Barbecue Cashew Chicken

Hello there!  Is this thing on??

We’re back. And with a fancy new cookbook.  Ange’s birthday was mid-April during our cooking and blogging extravaganza.  Her lovely sisters Chrissy and Kerri gifted her with Rachel Ray’s Look + Cook, a shiny new cookbook full of delicious looking recipes with lots of step-by-step pictures. One thing we’ve learned is that the more pictures a recipe book has the better.  At least you can tell if what you are cooking looks remotely like the author of the book intended!

As it turns out, our dish this evening looked exactly as it was intended. Check it out:

Chinese Orange-Barbecue Cashew Chicken (page 102)


3 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil

1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs, chopped into bite-size pieces

salt and pepper

1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch dice

1 onion,  chopped into 1/2-inch dice

2 or 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated

1 inch of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated or finely chopped

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1 Tbsp hot sauce

2 Tbsp tamari (aged soy sauce)

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup honey-roasted cashews (we could not find honey-roasted so we used just roasted)

4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

First 2 Tbsp of the oil was heated over high heat until the oil was very hot. In went the chicken which was seasoned with salt and pepper. The chicken was then stir fried until golden brown.

The recipe said this would take 4-5 minutes but it actually took 7-8. The golden chicken was removed from the skillet and set aside.

Next up the remaining Tbsp oil was poured into in the hot skillet and the bell pepper, onion, ginger and garlic until the veggies were stir fried until “crisp-tender”. That’s a bit confusing, Rachel. We let them stir fry for about 4 minutes.

While this was stir frying the following ingredients were mixed together in a bowl: hoisin sauce, orange marmalade, hot sauce, tamari and stock. We were going to take a photograph of the sauce but to be honest it just looked like muddy water.  Not so attractive.

Once the sauce was mixed the chicken was returned to the pan and the sauce poured over everything. The cashews were thrown in as well. All was tossed until coated with sauce.

This was all left to cook for about one minute. At this point we were hoping for some orange aroma.  Sadly there wasn’t really any orange smell. Just garlic and ginger.

The finished dish was sprinkled with some of the thinly sliced scallions and it was ready to go!

And then we chowed down:

What we thought: Tasty, for sure. The orange flavour was pretty subtle so we would have like a bit more orange-ness. Maybe more marmalade? The heat from the hot sauce was perfect, the chicken was tender and the sauce was very yummy.

Would we make it again: Yeah, for sure. It was a fairly quick and stress free dinner. And it really was satisfying to see our dish looking so much like the photos in the cookbook.

Stay tuned! There’s sure to be more Rachel Ray in the future.

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May 13

Deep Dish Beef Burgundy Pie

Day 30! We made it. Took us a little longer than a month do our 30 days, but we did them and that’s the important thing. We’ve learned a lot along the way, both in terms of cooking as well as how to get along while doing so. We’re closing out our month-long experiment with a tasty sounding number out of I’m in the Kitchen, Now What? Seems somehow appropriate. Let’s see how it goes.

Deep Dish Beef Burgundy Pie (page 104)

Ingredients (and as you can see, there are a lot of em):

1 Tbsp flour

1/2 tsp each salt and black pepper

2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp butter

2 onions, peeled and diced

2 tsp minced garlic

2 cups diced carrots

2 cups red potatoes

1 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard

1 cup red wine

1 cup canned beef broth

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp dried parsley

2 tsp dried thyme

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed and rolled in 1/4-inch thickness

See? We had an umm… “incident” with the puff pastry yesterday, but we are undaunted. The difference, here, though, is this time the puff pastry isn’t the bottom layer, it’s the top. Not quite as much in the risk factor column when you put it on the top. Or at least we assumed that before we cooked either dish and plotted our menu for the week.

Given that there are so many ingredients, it stands to reason there are a lot of steps to prepare it, too. Though, not as many as you might think. The first step is to make a coating mixture for the meat. And come on, who doesn’t like their meat coated in things? Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the beef and toss with a fork until all the pieces are thoroughly coated. Set the bowl aside.

Next, we heated the olive oil and 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the butter melted, added the onions and garlic and cooked for a couple minutes (2-3).

Then we transferred the veg to a plate using a slotted spoon and set it aside as well. Lots of things getting set aside already. But then we took the coated meat chunks and added them back into the skillet the onions just came out of and cooked until all pieces were browned on each side. The book mentioned that this may need to be done in shifts because, well, it’s 2 pounds of coated meat, People. That’s not a little. It took us 2 rounds.

Then we took a deep breath and added: the cooked onions and garlic, carrots, potatoes, mustard, red wine, broth, vinegar, parsley, thyme and brown sugar to the skillet.

Bring the mix to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered. Then we did some laundry, wrote some of this blog post and got some practice flying a helicopter because the concoction needed to simmer for 1 hour.


Just before the meat is done simmering, we melted the rest of the butter and added the mushrooms and cooked on medium-high for 2-3 minutes.

The last stove-top step is to add the mushrooms and peas to the beefy goodness, continuing to simmer for another 3 minutes or so.

Pour the beefy goodness into a 2 1/2-quart casserole dish.

Place the puff pastry on top. Trim the edges (leaving about an inch overhang) and get your crimp on. The book reminds you to “pinch in a pretty pattern”, so you better):

Then it’s off to a pre-heated 425 degree oven (but not before you vent it by cutting a few slits in the top. You do this so the beefy goodness inside doesn’t boil over.)

Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is light brown. Serve immediately. So we did.

And then we chowed down:

What we thought: The flavour was outstanding. Ange really enjoyed the meat taste mixing with the veggies and sauce (and the red wine she was guzzling). Jason agreed with most of that (less the wine, natch). However, it was really runny. Again. This is a consistent problem we seem to have with casserole-style dishes that we’ve cooked. Ange thinks it may be because our meat these days is processed with such high water content. Jason doesn’t know anything about that, but he doesn’t care for it watery. Now neither of us had any misconception that this was going to be a “casserole”, but it’s hardly a stew either. It’s really quite like a soup. Don’t let the photo fool you, we were selective with what we brought out of the dish and on to the plate. The pasty was great, though!

Would we make it again: Probably, yes. This is among those dishes that gets to be called a “classic”, and it plentiful and really tasty. We’d just have to have the right reason to do it again (like for guests or something.) We’ll be eating leftovers out of this for a few days, we think. It’s a lot of food.


Well, friends, that’s our month in the kitchen. We hope you’ve enjoyed being our absent guests as much as we’ve enjoyed cooking for you. We’ve gained some good skills and have every intention to continue cooking several nights a week, but it’s just too much to do the blog forever. But we will blog from time to time so keep an eye out. As a final reminder, you can subscribe by email and be alerted every time there is a new post.

Now if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got some over-ripe bananas and an extra bag of chocolate chips that are begging to be made into some chocolate chip banana bread…

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May 12

Summer Tomato Tart

Day 29. So we decided to go out for Indian last night and instead included cooking into the Day of Fun. So sue us. Oh, and also we didn’t read ahead far enough in the instructions for this recipe and realized we did not defrost the puff pastry as required  yesterday. So we couldn’t cook last night, really.

We’re back with one of our faves, The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper. Today we’re doing a few things we’ve never done before. Such as, this our first time cooking with puff pastry. Also, something else.

We’ve secretly replaced this couple’s usual oven temperature with a 500 degree one. Let’s see what happens…

Summer Tomato Tart (page 131/132)


1 or 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick

8 fresh basil leaves torn into small pieces

Shredded zest of 1/2 large leom

1 large garlic clove, fine chopped

Leaves from 5 fresh thyme sprigs

1 Tbsp good-tasting extra virgin olive oil

Generous 1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted (one 17.3-ounce package)

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup shredded Asiago cheese

The puff pastry was left in the fridge overnight to thaw.  Ange was nervous.  We were about to lose our puff pastry virginity.  Even detailed instructions were intimidating.  But here’s what happened: the pastry sheets were laid out over an ungreased cookie sheet side by side so that the edges overlapped about 1/4 inch or so. The overlapping edges were pressed together to seal them and then a rim was created by folding the pastry edges up and over themselves and pinched together.

You end up with this:

It looked so impressive!  At least to us. At this point the everything was laid or sprinkled or spread or zigzagged on the puff pastry in this order: tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, lemon zest, salt, pepper, olive oil and heavy cream. The only thing held back was the cheese.

It looked good:

So this delicious looking tart went into the 500 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Oh, and the cookbook also told us to put the oven wrack “as low as possible”. We are not experts but our spidey-senses were tingling that this was not going to be OK.  Oven at 500 and a cookie sheet essentially sitting directly on the element?  But Splendid had not let us down in the past so we forged on.

And we should have trusted our instincts.  It started to smell amazing about 8 minutes in and the crust was puffing up perfectly.  At about 13 minutes in the smell became a bit more “burnt-ish” but the tart still looked great. At about 14.5 minutes we knew all was not OK.  The fire alarm went off the second Ange opened the over and out poured a fair bit of smoke.  Jason took care of the fire alarm (twice in total).

But seriously, the tart still looked amazing! Check it out:

This was the point in the recipe where we added the cheese and the tart went back in the oven for another 4 minutes. Rebelling against The Splendid, we moved the rack back to the middle of the oven for the cheese melting.

This was the end result:

Looks good, no? We should have photographed the bottom crust.  It was fairly charred in places and kinda sorta OK in others.  Our oven definitely has hot spots but we still think the rack was way too low.

And then we chowed down:

What we thought: Burnt bits aside, Ange really loved the flavours of the basil, thyme, tomato, onion and goat cheese. Jason was only luke-warm on this tart. He said he was expecting a pizza-like lunch and this wasn’t it. Also, puff pastry is yummy! At least the parts that were not black.

Would we make it again: We definitely would use puff pastry again (perhaps even tomorrow…?) It was really quick and easy and if cooked properly could make a pretty fancy tart with minimal effort. We probably won’t make this specific tart again. This is the first real strike-out for The Splendid Table. Disappointing, yes. But we should have trusted our newly-developed chef instincts and raised the oven rack one notch. The simple fact that we have some fledgling chef instincts in amazing!

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May 10

Cowabunga Beef Burgers with Red, White and Yahoo!

Day 28. Look who’s back. Our punny ladies from Eat, Shrink & Be Merry. For those needing a translator, it’s burgers and salad for dins tonight. Before we get to all the madness, though, we have some ‘splaineen to do. We know many of you are all busted up that our little experiment here is coming to an end. We’re not really. It’s very time consuming, we’ve learned, doing dinner this way every night. However, just because our obligatory 30 days is set to be over in 2 days, doesn’t mean we’re never going to cook or blog again (it also doesn’t mean it’s over in 2 days. Ange has decreed Saturday an official Day of Fun, so we’re not cooking on Saturday. Sunday will officially be our last blog.) We still plan to cook on a regular basis. And we still plan to blog about it every now and then. Your best bet if you wish to keep up with us, knowing that it won’t be every day, is to subscribe to the blog by email. You can find a box on the right towards the bottom to do that if you like. That way you’ll get an email in your Inbox every time we do a post! Easy Peasy, as our cookbook authors would (probably) say. Anyway, here we go with tonight’s festivities.

Cowabunga Beef Burger (page 141)


1 1/4 lbs extra lean ground beef

3/4 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs, or 1/3 cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs (we went with the dry)

3 Tbsp hickory-flavoured barbecue sauce

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

2 Tbsp prepared horseradish

1 egg

1 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra barbecue sauce for basting burgers (optional) (<—- as if)

Another winner of a recipe: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix gently with your hands. Ange is not a fan at all of touching raw meat, but part of this experience was to learn new things. And that was one of them, so she soldiered up and mixed it all by herself.

The book suggests that if you want juicier burgers, you should handle the meat mixture as little as possible. We had some pretty juicy burgers.

Then you take this mixture and shape them into 4 patties about an inch thick. Like so:

Set the ‘cue to high and throw em down, cooking for about 5-6 minutes per side.

They should look something akin to that once flipped. Also, the book backs up Jason’s long-held belief right there in print: resist the temptation to press down on burgers with a spatula. “Every drop of juice and fat that you squeeze out makes the burgers that much drier.” Preach.

Red, White and Yahoo! (page 38)


1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (about 2 cups)

1 cup mini fresh mozzarella balls, halved (aka mini-bocconcini)

1/3 cup minced red onions

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 freshly ground black pepper.

Remember last night’s super simple salad recipe? This ain’t that. At least by ingredients. You probably got that already from the photo, though. But check it: Place all the ingredients in a bowl in the order listed…

… and mix well.

Serve immediately. And thassit.

And then we chowed down:

Just loogathat. (Dawn, we’ll stand by while you get a napkin for your keyboard).

What we thought: Listen, if you don’t like burgers from the grill, we’re done here. We don’t need to know ya (vegetarians excepted, of course. You have a passable excuse). But these burgers could convert even the most grisly burger-hater. For reals. This was so tender and juicy and smooth (I know, right? Smooth isn’t commonly a word we would put to burger meat, but it was, oddly.) Exceptionally flavourful and delish. The salad was a bold surprise. Not sure what either of us expected, having had all of these ingredients at least independently before, but it was top shelf, this salad. Paired with a vintage, chilled 2012 Coca-cola, and this was a winner of a summer meal. Oh, the bun selection is an important detail when dining a la burger, so don’t get cheap in this department. We chose some nice spongy D’Italiano ones. It matters. Just trying to help you out.

Would we make it again: Definitely. Both of them. The salad looks all complicated, but it was ridiculously easy. We haven’t ever really been known as “burger recipe” people (usually it’s pull some meat out, give it a pat-down and straight to the grill with it), so it’s nice to have one to count on. Aces all around.

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May 09

Corn Chowder and Simple Salad with Fresh Herb Dressing

Day 27.  We’re not going to lie. We are slightly tired of taking pictures and writing about our meals every single day.  Only three more meals to go! And we had tonight’s dinner done in record time.  It’s only 7:15pm and we are blogging already.  Tonight’s dinner was found in The Splendid Table and this cookbook is quickly becoming a favourite of ours.

Now on with the show….

Corn Chowder (page 63)


4 slices bacon, sliced into 1/8 inch wide pieces

2 Tbsp good tasting extra virgin olive oil

1 medium to large onion, chopped into 1/2 inch dice

2 bay leaves, broken (we weren’t sure what this meant, so we kinda roughed them up a bit and that was it)

4 to 5 springs fresh thyme

1/4 tsp salt, or to taste

1/8 tsp fresh-ground pepper, or to taste

1 medium red-skin potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice

4 large glove garlic, course chopped

28 oz chicken or vegetable broth (we used chicken)

1 pound frozen corn niblets

2 cups milk or cream, or a blend of both (we used half-n-half and skim milk)

1/8 to 1/4 tsp Tobasco sauce

2 Tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)

First up was to sauté the bacon, olive oil, onion, bay leaves, thyme springs, salt and pepper in a big pot for 5 minutes or until the onions colored.  This process smells pretty damn good and looks like this:

Then went in the potato, garlic and broth. A tight-fitting cover was applied to the pot and the whole thing simmered for about 10 minutes (or until potato is soft). Once the taters were ready, we dumped in the corn, milk and Tobasco sauce.  We opted for 1/4 tsp.  Jason was feeling particularly brave this evening!

The green things were removed – bay leaves and thyme sprigs out of the pot.  There work was complete for the evening. The pot was removed from heat.

At this point about 1/ 3 of the solids were removed from the pot with a slotted spoon. These solids went into The Cuisinart for a few seconds to crush them up a bit. We guessed to add some texture to the chowder and make it a bit thicker.

Once smashed up a little, these bits went back into the pot and the chowder was heated “to a bubble”.  Now, does that mean boiling? Simmering? We were quite unsure.  And we were starving. So we pulled that chowder off the stove at the first sight of a couple of bubbles.

The recipe book instructs to serve immediately to avoid over cooking the corn.  So we did.  But first we want to tell you about the salad we made while the corn chowder was doing it’s thing.

Simple Salad with Fresh Herb Dressing (page 63)


Now, before you say this looks like an insane amount of olive oil for one salad….you would be correct. Stay with us, though.

Basic Vinaigrette Dressing:

3/4 cup good tasting wine vinegar

11/2 to 2 cups good tasting extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 to 1/4 tsp Asian fish sauce

course salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

All of these 4 things were put in glass jar and are shaken together and you’ve got a great basic dressing.  This can be kept for up to 2 weeks in a cool dark place.

Fresh Herb Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup Basic Vinaigrette (that we had just made, see above)

1 minced garlic clove

6 to 7 torn fresh basil leaves

6 torn fresh oregano leaves

1/8 cup snipped chives or chopped scallion tops (we sadly did not have this ingredient, shame on us)

Shake this all up and you’ve got some amazing smelling salad dressing:

We chose simple mixed greens for the salad at the suggestion of the cookbook.

All was tossed together.  That’s it.

And then we chowed down.

What we thought: The chowder had an amazing flavour!  Cooking with fresh herbs is really a revelation for us and will definitely be one ingredient that we try our best to always have available. To make that a bit easier Ange has started sprouting her own oregano, thyme and rosemary in our condo! Her lovely sisters gave her an herb garden kit for her birthday and we have little tiny herbs growing.

But back to the meal – the chowder was really, really good. Jason thought it would have benefited from more cream and less skim milk. He was looking for a thicker chowder. But he was pleased with the flavours.  Ange loved it, and would change nothing.  After quite a few rich meals, Ange enjoyed something a little lighter.

As for the salad, Ange was definitely enjoying this one more than Jason. Ange likes an oily tart dressing, Jason favors a creamier savory dressing.  The great news is that there are all kinds of variations that use the Basic Vinaigrette Dressing as a base then add more creamy and savory ingredients.

Would we make it again: We would make the chowder again, this one may even be a fairy simple but tasty dish for entertaining guests. And as for the dressing, there will be more variations of that in the future for sure.  Over all this was a really yummy and light dinner.


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May 08

Plank-roasted Fish (with fried rice and Brussels sprouts)

Day 26. This one is going to be short and sweet. Not because we don’t love you, but because we’re awesome and picked a meal from The Joy that requires next to nothing to accomplish. And we’re off…

Plank-roasted Fish (page 406)


4 firm fish fillets or steaks (6 to 7 ounces each) – or, if you’re us, 2 pieces that accomplishes the same thing. We chose cod, fyi.

3 to 4 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and black pepper

Lemon wedges

And dassit. Ain’t it grand? Here’s how it goes. First you soak your plank for at least 4 hours. We did it while we were at work, so clearly it was much longer than that. You don’t want it self-combusting in your oven, after all. Then you rub a little olive oil into the wood and put the fish on it. You give the fish the same oil bath treatment.

You put the wood avec fish into a pre-heated oven (there was some contention on this part. The Joy will tell you to heat it to 450. But the wood told us not to heat over 350. Since it was the wood that was going to burn and not the book, we went with the wood.) You bake for 20 minutes or until the fish turns opaque. Remove from oven and plate nicely.

You put it together with your fried rice (that Ange whipped up half using a recipe half making it up as she went, which is why there is not recipe in this post about it) and store-bought Brussels sprouts.

And then we chowed down.

What we thought: Pretty awesome. Especially considering Jason didn’t get home from work until about 6 and it’s now about 7:45 and we’ve already eaten, cleaned up and wrote the blog to this point. Also, the fish was really good! Jason has declared an official taste for fish. Except salmon. That isn’t happening. Ever. There were hints of the cedar in it, but mainly Jason really thought it tasted buttery. Which is odd, given the ingredients. Ange also thought it was quite tasty. She also felt she tasted something “woody”. It was really filling, besides. We shared a whole fish between us and still have the bigger of the 2 fish for left-overs. The rice was good, too.

Would we make it again: Hells yeah. It’s so simple and tasty. Plus, you get to put your wood in the oven!

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May 07

Sticky Chicky and Pea Diddy

Day 25.  Before you say anything about skipping yesterday, we have a really good reason! There were so many leftovers in our fridge that we could not justify cooking another big meal without using those up.  So we dined on leftover pasta, chicken, carrots and meatloaf.  And it was delicious. (Almost as delicious as our all-you-can-eat sushi lunch.)

As you’ve probably guessed we are cooking from Eat, Shrink & Be Merry. And the recipe names just keep getting worse.  But the food has proven quite yummy in the past. Enjoy!

Sticky Chicky (page 81)


16 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or about 3 lbs)

1/2 cup BBQ sauce (the recipe suggested hickory flavored so that’s what we used)

1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup liquid honey

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp grated gingerroot

2 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp cumin

1 Tbsp cornstarch

The first step was to prep a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray, which we did.  Hopefully this keeps the Sticky Chicky from creating a sticky mess during the baking process. Next, the chicken thighs were placed in a single layer in the pan. Then the sauce ingredients were whisked together and poured over the chicken pieces.  The sauce ingredients would be everything but the cornstarch.  Hmmm….wish we would have read that before we dumped everything including the cornstarch together….ah well, this is about learning!

Here is the sauce with the misplaced cornstarch:

Looks pretty tasty, and there were lots of various smells that we weren’t sure worked together.  But we’ll see. The chicken pieces were flipped a couple of times to ensure they were all coated with this sauce.  Then it all went into a an oven preheated to 400 for 40 minutes.  Now, had we noticed the cornstarch error before the sauce was used we could have made a new sauce.  But we didn’t. The cornstarch was supposed to be used later, as you will see.

Once the chicken was cooked we removed it from the dish and covered it so it stayed warm.  The pan juices – which were already a little thick due to our cornstarch snafu – were poured into a sauce pan and brought to a boil. THIS is where the cornstarch really comes in. We mixed more cornstarch with an equal amount of water and mixed it with the sauce, cooking until bubbly and thick.  We were concerned that the extra cornstarch may ruin the sauce but the sauce was not exactly thick without it. But it looks pretty good, no?

The completed sauce was poured over the chicken like so:

While that was cooking we got started on the next dish.  I’m almost embarrassed to say it: next up was Pea Diddy

Pea Diddy (page 45)


1 Tbsp butter

1/2 cup chopped green onions (with white parts)

3 cups frozen, thawed

2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves (do not use dried mint, apparently your peas will suck if you do. And kittens will die.)

1/8 tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper

This was an easy one. While cooking we couldn’t help but wonder what the real P. Diddy, Sean “Puffy” Combs would think of this dish and it’s crazy name.  Then we thought…..really dude? Your name is P. Diddy Puffy.  You’ve got no room to make fun of some mint and peas.

Anyway.  The onions were cooked in the melted butter over medium heat until soft, about 3 minutes. Peas were added to the onions and cooked/stirred until heated through, about 3 more minutes. It was very green.

The the mint, salt and pepper were added. Everything was mixed thoroughly and served hot.

And then we chowed down.

What we thought: This was a tasty dish.  The chicken was tart, sweet, and BBQ-y all at the same time.  And the sauce was definitely sticky.  The peas were fantastic.  Crisp and minty.  Ange was slightly nervous about the mint addition.  Mint is for ice cream and patties, not vegetables.  But it was a surprisingly yummy combination.

Would we make it again: Yup. Despite the ridiculous names in this cookbook it has not let us down yet.  Simple instructions and lots of flavorful ingredients make these recipes some of our favourite. There will be many encore performances for Sticky Chicky and Pea Diddy in the future.  No one-hit wonders here!

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May 05

Mom’s Meatloaf and Lemon-Dill Carrots

Hello, Day 24. As we’ve mentioned, we had some friends in from Halifax the past few days. Last night, we all got together for a nice dinner out. And that means: no cooking yesterday and no blog post to go with it. But here we are in a new day. And with us, I’m in the Kitchen, Now What?. And a pure kitchen classic. Let’s roll.

Mom’s Meatloaf (page 144)


2 pounds lean ground beef

1/2 pound ground pork or veal

1 cup chopped onion

2 tsp minced garlic

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup ketchup or chili sauce (i know, right? Chili sauce? We didn’t have the nerve)

1/4 cup bread crumbs or 1 slice of bread torn into shreds (the latter)

1/4 cup plain, non-fat yogurt or skim milk (we opted for milk)

2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

Meatloaf is a classic. Many classics became that way because they are just that good. And others because you really can’t mess them up. Our attempt at a classic pretty much went off the rails from the word go. Turns out we didn’t have 2 pounds of beef and a 1/2 pound of pork. It was a shopping misstep. What we had was a pound of each. So that’s what we used. Let’s hope it doesn’t bite us in the ass…

This classic checks off the boxes of both categories I mentioned before. Here’s why: There are basically 2 steps (with a couple sub-steps here and there). You put all the ingredients in a bowl and hand mix it.

Why yes, that is Jason’s handprint you spy in the meat mixture. It’s a note of authenticity. A signature, if you will. Put it all in a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan and pour over some additional ketchup or chili sauce if you wish. We didn’t wish. We opted to pour hickory barbecue sauce over it instead.

Easy, kiddos. Stop licking the screen. It’s not baked yet, it just looks that way. After you toss it into a 350 degree pre-heated oven for an hour and 15 minutes, THEN it’s done.

And that’s it. Classic. You can’t mess it up. Right? I mean… RIGHT? We’ll see.

Anyway, while this baked, we turned our attention to the side dish.

Lemon-Dill Carrots (page 84)


10 medium-sized carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 cup water

1 1/4 tsp margarine (we don’t have that, it’s butter only in this house)

1 tsp dried dill, or 2 tsp chopped fresh dill (fresh, baby!)

1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp honey

Garnish (optional): fresh dill sprigs

Man, that’s a lot of ingredients for carrots, no? But as the book says, it’s a “sophisticated touch on a tried-and-true favorite” (the book isn’t Canadian or there’d a been a U in there. Now THAT’S sophisticated.) So you clean the carrots and steam them for what the book says should only be 2 minutes or so. That seemed low to us. We were proven correct. You strain them but don’t rinse them.


To make the sauce that goes on these beauties. you combine the cornstarch, lemon juice and water in a sauce pan and heat until it resembles a very thin pancake batter (a what now?), stirring constantly. Once it gets there, and this will take some time, the book failed to inform us, add the butter, dill, lemon zest, salt and pepper and honey. Cook until the butter is melted, again, stirring constantly.

The final step is to forget to take photos of that last step.

And then we chowed down.

What we thought: Surprisingly, the incorrect meat mixture turned out to be pretty good. It got a little fatty and liquidish on the top of the pan so we were worried that it was going to be runny inside. It wasn’t, really. In fact, it seems as though our faux pas may have played into the enhancement in flavour. It was really very delish. As were the carrots. Little bit of sweet, little bit herby. And, as we mentioned, just a bit undercooked.


Would we make it again: Dude. It’s meatloaf. Don’t ask stupid questions.

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May 04

Hollow Pasta with Greek Cinnamon-Tomato Sauce

Day 23.  And our post is a day late. We blame Air Canada and bad weather. As we had mentioned a couple of posts ago we had friends arriving to visit Toronto and we were going to be trying out our new cooking skills on them. Nance arrived on Wednesday and Dave was due to arrive last night at 6:40pm.  Lots of time to cook them a great dinner, right?

Well, after much delaying on Air Canada’s part Dave finally arrived last night at 10pm. After two delays from Halifax, 10 minutes to make his connecting flight in Montreal, almost an overnight stay in Montreal, bad weather closing the Toronto airports briefly while Dave was still inflight, some turbulence that landed passengers’ wine on the plane ceiling, Dave was finally able to sit down to the lovely dinner we made him at around 11pm. His luggage was not so lucky. Hopefully it will be joining Dave sometime today.

And it just got way too late to be blogging! So, here you are. This is the dinner we cooked for our guests from the Splendid Table. Which we all enjoyed, just at staggered times throughout the evening (Jason was also working way late so Nancy and I had dinner without him as well).

Hollow Pasta with Greek Cinnamon-Tomoto Sauce (page 166)


good tasting olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1/3 tight-packed cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, course chopped

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 heaping tsp tomato paste

6 large cloves garlic, minced

1 1/4 tsp dried oregano

2 Tbsp ground cinnamon (yup, cinnamon)

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 cup dry white or red wine (we used red)

1 28 oz can tomatoes with their juice

2 cups diced cooked chicken or lamb  (we used chicken)

1 lb hollow pasta (less than 2 inch pieces)

1 1/2 cups (6 oz) fresh goat cheese, crumbled

First things first we got the salted water boiling for the pasta. Then we filmed the bottom of our sauté pan with olive oil and in went the onions, parsley, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Voila:

Once the onions were golden brown the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, sugar and red pepper flakes were added and cooked for 1 minute at medium heat. Wine then went in and it cooked for another minute:

Oh and the smell! If you can imagine all of that garlic and spices and cinnamon! Yeah it sounded weird to us to have cinnamon in our pasta sauce.  Yeah we are all a bit concerned. But this recipe book seems to know what it’s doing so we forged ahead.

The tomatoes were next up and were crushed as we put them into the pot. We are enjoying the hand-crushing of the tomatoes. And it looks pretty:

This mixture cooked for another 8 minutes, was then removed from the heat and the chicken was stirred in.  Prior to the chicken going in the sauce was tasted for seasoning.  It tasted good.  It smelled a lot of cinnamon but it tasted amazing!

The pasta had been cooking during this process and was now dumped into the pot with the sauce and mixed well. It was starting to look good, but Ange resisted eating it from the pot.

But it was still missing one essential ingredient: the goat cheese. We love goat cheese. Half of the pasta was turned into a serving bowl. Half of the goat cheese was dotted on the pasta. The rest of that pasta went into the bowl along with the rest of the goat cheese.

Oh my!

And then we chowed down.  Well, Nancy and Ange chowed down. The men were still missing in action at this point.

What we thought: Who knew cinnamon would make the most delicious pasta sauce? Nancy and Ange were very tentative at first but actually loved it. Nancy mentioned how aromatic the dish was without being overwhelmed by cinnamon flavour. And the goat cheese rocked. It became so melty and yummy.

Jason had his dinner while Nancy and Ange made their way to the airport in hopes of retrieving an intact Dave.  There were rave reviews from Jason on this one as well.  And then when Dave finally got to have some dinner he also thought it was good and was able to pick out the mystery ingredient right away.  Dave must have a very sophisticated palate.

Would we make it again: Definitely.  But next time we may wait until we have everyone at the table before we start.  It really seems like a dish that is best hot and fresh.


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May 02

BBQ Pulled Pork Enchiladas (with refried beans)

Day 22 and Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve gone rogue. Observe:

One of Ange’s besties came to town today for the weekend, so it was decided that after picking her up from the airport, Ange and Nancy would go out for dinner to catch up. That left me alone in the kitchen with the Joy. And I went south of South of the Border for some Mexican. Wonder Twin powers activate in the form of: Enchiladas.

And here’s where the rogue-ness begins. First, the primary recipe calls for chicken as the protein. But, there are several variations on the theme to choose from. Oddly, barbecued pulled pork wasn’t one of them (I know, I’m thinking of sending a strongly-worded note to the publishers, too!) There is more rogue-itude coming up.

Enchiladas (page 104)


2 large onions, chopped

4 medium jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped (but I don’t like jalapeño peppers, so I omitted. How very rogue.)

2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic

2 Tbsp vegetable oil (canola here)

1/4 cup chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)

2-28 oz cans diced tomatoes, drained

2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (Nay! BBQ pulled pork, I say. Rogue!)

12 corn tortillas (I prefer flour torts. Rogue.)

1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (the latter)

Alright, let’s get this fiesta started. The first order of business, according to the book, is to make the enchilada sauce. Now, it gives you an out if “time is of the essence” that you can use 4-5 cups of store-bought sauce, but shum-owhn! We ain’t havin any of that. So here’s how we do it, Joy style.

Put the onions, garlic, imaginary jalapeños and canola oil in a skillet. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently until it starts to brown, about 7 minutes.

Though looking at that now, it looks a lot like rice, but trust the tears in my eyes, it’s onion.

Add the chili powder, cumin and red pepper. Cook for another minute, stirring constantly.

Now it looks like beef. But no, still onions. Much spicier onions.

Add your 2 cans of maters. And when it says drained, it’s probably a good idea to do that before you start cooking. Not that I’m admitting to forgetting to do that until the last minute. Hush up, you. Cook for 3 more minutes.

Now you remove from heat and sit a spell until it cools. After it’s cool, you get to my favourite part of any recipe these days: “thoroughly puree the mixture in a food processor”.

Let’s hear it for power tools in the kitchen!

Now you take 1/2 cup of this goo and mix it with the chicken BBQ pulled pork.

For some reason you now take another 1/2 cup and line the bottom of a 13×9 -inch baking dish. I’m still not really sure why that is, based on how much goes on later (you’ll see in a bit).

And the assembly begins. First you fill.

Then you roll.

Then you bury it in sauce and top with cheese.

Then you bake for 10 minutes in a pre-heated 400 degree oven. Whip up some refried beans, dollop a little sour cream atop, and you’re dancing.

And then I chowed down. Because I’m rogue.

What I thought: El-yummo. The sauce had a nice little kick, which is no surprise, really, based on all those spices that are in it. The barbecue sauce on the pulled pork added an interesting layer of complexity. If I’m being honest I was a little concerned how it might blend with the spicy enchilada sauce. But it was a nice pairing. My biggest beef (pig?) was that the pork I bought was a heat-n-serve variety in a 400g package. While I felt more authentic because I had to pull it myself using 2 forks, it wasn’t as much volume as I would have liked so the enchiladas were a little light on filling. Else, everything was grand.

Would I make it again: Sure, why not? It was super easy, filling (despite the filling) and a nice break from Thai or Korean as our primary ethnic interpretations. Maybe next time Ange would like a turn.

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