Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Over the weekend, I was seriously channeling my domesticated side. Not only did I complete some “Pinterest Projects” that I have had flagged for a while, but I also spent some time in the kitchen trying out a few new recipes. By far, the best creation from the weekend were Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries.

New York Style Cheesecake has been a baked good that I’ve always wanted to perfect, but have been nervous to attempt. One of my all-time favourite desserts, I know that it can be a finicky recipe and it will definitely take some practice. For now, these miniature versions are a more than suitable substitute!

What you’ll need:

-Large strawberries (I used 2 pints)
-1 container of cream cheese (I used the low fat variety)
-3-4 tbsp. of Icing Sugar
-1 tsp. of Vanilla


1. Cut the tops of strawberries and core the middles. Set aside.
2. Mix together softened Cream Cheese, Icing Sugar and Vanilla. Beat until smooth.

3. Put stuffing mixture into a ziplock bag and cut the tip off to create a piping tool.
4. Squeeze a dollop of the stuffing into each strawberry.
5. Dip the top of each strawberry in Graham Cracker Crumble.

In a nutshell, these stuffed strawberries were definitely a hit when I brought them to my bookclub on Sunday evening. A cute and simple dessert that tastes like a little bite of heaven!

Summer Loving These

Happy Hump Day! In order to get us over the mound and into weekend bliss – two days that may or may not be filled with shopping, reading, listening and more – I thought I would highlight a few of the items I’ve been loving lately. Similar to Kaylee’s midday musings or Meghan’s must-have cosmetics, here is a glimpse into six things that I’ve pondered greatly, and happily indulged in, throughout the blazing heat wave:

JOE FRESH’s NEW LINE: Shockingly, most of the line isn’t for sale online yet – but if you head to the freshest Joe Fresh near you, you’re bound to get a glimpse of the delicious work/play clothing combinations stacked on the affordable yet trendy racks. Unfortunately (but not really), good ol’ Mr. Fresh is my corner store (sigh) along with an LCBO parked next to it (sigh) and one of the city’s largest Loblaws below – making it incredibly difficult to pick up a bag of grapefruits…without grabbing a bottle of Cab-Sauvignon…without pitching for a flirty new work skirt. It’s a problem, but I’ve come to terms with it. Right now at Joe Fresh, this August’s silky blouses, skinny and vibrant Audrey Hepburn slacks and imitation leather bits spattered throughout the collection have made it increasingly impossible to walk out empty-handed.

Joe Fresh Fall 2012 runway show

GLUTEN-FREE VEGAN ALMOND THUMBPRINT COOKIES: I’ve been a gluten-free and soy-free (as well as many other uncategorized “frees”) vegan for the past three months in light of some testing, and although I likely won’t be that combination for much longer, I’ve learned to love cooking more than I already did. The common (and exhausting) question is, of course, what can I eat? My answer – just about anything I want. For instance, this past week I had “mac” (brown rice pasta) and “cheese” (cashew cream sauce), lasagna (using zucchini, squash, homemade marinara sauce and almond milk/nutritional yeast “cheese”), countless savoury stir fries and tasty desserts – all mimicking the real deal and leaving me oh-so-satisfied. As for these comfort cookies, Kaylee can attest to the very best part of the recipe being the finger-licking homemade jam. You can find the jist of the recipe here (I played around a bit with my own ingredients).

THE LUMINEERS: If you’ve yet to hop on this friendly folk-rock collective‘s ramblin’ train, do so immediately. This summer has been an eclectic one, since both the indie, hip-hop and electro genres have been heating up with tastes of new releases – however, their romantic front-porch Americana takes the (gluten-free) cake as one of the most played albums of the month. Nights parked on breezy balconies with these stomping folk stories are just about as lovely as it gets. Two other fun facts: the threesome is currently touring with another favourite band of mine, The Civil Wars, overseas – and someone I know will be playing the below (favourite) tune of mine during their wedding first dance with her new husband. Precious.

The Lumineers get a lot of play out here.

2012 POLARIS MUSIC PRIZE SHORT LIST:  I’m pretty pleased with the ten artists who made the coveted Polaris Prize short list this year, and like every other year, even more excited to hear which act takes the cake for best full-length Canadian album of the year. Featuring Canuck music veterans like Drake, Feist and Kathleen Edwards, the list also includes a few stand-up rookies, including Cold Specks, Grimes and Japanroids. I can’t wait to be there on September 24th when the notable jurors decide this year’s lucky winner. Who do you want to see take it?

Arcade Fire accepting last year’s 2011 Polaris Prize

NIKE SPORTBAND When I purchased the new Nike Sportband, the salesperson fulfilled his duty in thoroughly explaining the limitless funky features of the running gadget. But what I remember most in the blur of information overload was what he called out to me as I exited the store. “You’re going to have so much fun,” he exclaimed. I figured I might, of course, or else I wouldn’t have bought it. But, wow – I had no idea what I was in for. This multifaceted little bracelet connects to a chip I slide into my Nike shoe, tracking my distance, pace, calories, time and more throughout the jog. When I come home, I unhinge the face of the watch, plug it in the USB port in my computer and read all about my mileage, splits, and progress from other dashes – before gathering suggestions for routes in my area, competitions with other runners and goals I might want to set. I’m addicted to both the online and offline experience already, and highly recommend it for anyone looking to measure themselves accurately or have a more social running experience. It knows me better than I know myself at this point.

My favourite toys.

THIS NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE (Elissa Gootman’s “Maternity Leave? It’s more like a pause“): I thought this was an incredibly interesting piece inspired by Marissa Mayer, a lady who’s the talk of the town these days for a number of reasons. Firstly, the blonde 37 year-old powerhouse was named CEO of Yahoo last week, which came before her promptly announcing she would be giving birth in October and only taking a few weeks of “working” maternity leave. “I like to stay in the rhythm of things,” she told Fortune. This NYT article is in response to dueling internet reactions of scorn and praise for the young executive – referencing the recently written Atlantic article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” and arguing whether short or “working” maternity leaves are empowering or frowned-upon in our hyper-connected, overworked society. Although this is no reflection of what my own approach would be, I, personally, think Mayer is fabulous – and who are we to judge how good of a Mother she’ll be? Strong women are worked to the bone everyday to juggle overwhelming commitments – whether you’re a single mother working in retail with no option of maternity “leave” or the CEO of a multinational internet company who is prepared to stick her nose to the grind. What do you think?

Yahoo’s Newest Queen of the Crop

What would be on your summer favourites list? Leave us a comment below or tweet it at @inanutshellca!

Summer Salad: Tabouleh

When my mom asked me what I wanted her to bring me once I returned from my 50 day canoe trip, my answer wasn’t Skittles or Starbucks coffee or my blackberry, it was her Tabouleh salad. I craved the fresh taste of this salad so much that I wanted it to be my first meal upon return to reality. Hence why I’ve decided to share my mom’s sacred recipe with you today, because it’s my absolute favorite and it’s ideal as a summer sidekick or an easy, scrumptious lunch…not to mention, a no brainer for potlucks.

– 1 cup bulgar wheat
– 1 cup water
– 1/3 cup oil
– 1/2 cup lemon juice
– 4 plum tomatoes
– 1/2 english cucumber
– 4 green onions
– 1/2 cup chopped parsley
– Rind of 1 lemon
– 1 avocado
– 3/4 crumbled feta

1. Combine bulgar wheat, oil, water and lemon juice in a glass bowl, cover with saran wrap and let sit on counter for 45 minutes. The bulgar will absorb all the liquid.

2. Chop plum tomatoes and squeeze out liquid using paper towel.

3. Cut cucumbers length-wise and remove seeds, then finely chop.

4. Chop green onions and parsley.

5. Fluff the bulgar wheat with a fork and add produce.

6. Crumble feta, add the rind of one lemon and an avocado or two (feta and avocado are optional, but in my eyes, necessary).

7. Mix and enjoy! Note: This salad is at its best after an overnight stay in the fridge.

Images by

The key to the heart? Through the stomach.

As the saying goes, the key to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But, I think it’s safe to say that most women can also be won over with a delicious meal. Enter, my latest specialty. A meal that is not only mouth-wateringly delcious, but that also looks much more intricate and fancy than it actually is. You will wow any guests with this meal and it’s not going to take you hours of preparation or time spent slaving over the stove.

The Meal: Cream cheese stuffed, bacon-wrapped chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus.


The seasoning that I use for this recipe.

  • Chicken breasts
  • Bacon
  • Herb & garlic cream cheese
  • Butter or margarine
  • Milk
  • Seasoning
  • Red potatoes
  • Green onions
  • Asparagus


1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Wash and chop potatoes, leaving skins on. Put in a pot filled with water and set aside.
3. Prepare asparagus for steaming and set aside.
4. Butterfly chicken breasts and spread apart. Make sure that you don’t cut all the way through.
5. ‘Stuff’ each breast with a spoonful of herb and garlic cream cheese.
6. Wrap each breast with 2 pieces of uncooked bacon and secure with a toothpick
7. Put chicken on a baking sheet covered with alumnum foil.
8. Brush each breast with melted butter or margarine.
9. Sprinkle seasoning onto each breast and rub it in evenly. (I use Pampered Chef’s Garlic Parmesan Seasoning for this step, but feel free to add whatever spices you prefer).
10. Bake for 25 minutes.
11. Once the chicken is in the oven, boil your potatoes and steam asparagus.
12. Dice 5-6 green onions and set aside.
13. Once the potatoes are soft, remove them from the heat and strain out the water. (If they require longer than 25 minutes to boil, turn down the chicken to 150 degrees, until your sides are ready).
14. Mash potatoes with margarine, milk and two generous spoonfuls of herb and garlic cream cheese. Add in green onions, and stir until they are evenly dispersed.
15. Serve each plate, quickly brushing asparagus with butter or margarine.

There you have it. A step-by-step guide to a decadent meal that your guests are sure to remember. It’s restaurant quality cooking, done at home! Bon appetit!


**all photos courtesy of

Boring Breakfast Be Gone!

If you’re someone like me and you get to the office in the wee hours of the morning (seriously, 7 a.m? Is that even allowed?) then you have probably had the same issues that I have with breakfast – it’s limited. Breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day; the fuel that takes you through. And while most communal office kitchens are equipped with a variety of appliances to make toast, porridge and keep milk cold for cereal, what to do if you’re trying to keep down your carb in-take?

Eggs, and specifically, egg-whites are known as a super food because they are uber healthy, filling and can be made in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, when I think of egg-whites, I think of them sizzling on the stove top, making fresh to order omelettes. Not exactly ideal for the office…Until now! Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Egg-White ‘Muffins’, an office worker’s dream…


What you'll need..

  • 1 carton of Egg Whites
  • Red Onion
  • Mushrooms
  • Shallots
  • Monterey Jack Cheese

This recipe is something I crafted to my own liking, but you can play around with it. You can try different veggies, different cheese, etc.


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Dice up fresh veggies and grate fresh cheese.
3. Mix together egg whites and veggies the best you can. (The veggies will most likely sit at the top of the mixture – this is okay!)
4. Grease a cupcake/muffin tin with margarine or spray with cooking oil.
5. Fill each spot 3/4 way full, trying to evenly disperse the veggies. (You can even this out at the end!)
6. Top with shredded cheese.
7. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.
8. Carefully remove each muffin from it’s tin and store!

Muffin mix with and without cheese.

Et voila! Now you can enjoy the goodness of an omelette, even if you don’t have a stove. I usually have 3 muffins for breakfast and serve them with hot sauce. They’re easily stored, easily re-heated and quickly gobbled up before my co-workers can steal them!
Bon appetit!

Finished Product - Yum!

**All photos courtesy of

Spring Forward Food

I’m all for being overexcited at the thought of spring and summer weather fast approaching, but I’ll also be the first to scoff at the pack of pre-teens wandering (and shivering) in short-shorts and sleeveless tops at the first sight of a melted snowbank. As much as I completely understand dressing for unseasonal spikes in temperatures like the ones we experienced two weeks ago, hitting patios on a surprisingly balmy day and even unfolding your packed away summer gear in anticipation of the coming months – I suppose that 23 years of living in Canada has taught me to keep one eye on Mother Nature, because she’s historically proven to be a sassy little firecracker who will pull a fast one (blizzard in April) on us when we’re least expecting.

Attire and false hopes aside, there’s one area that I start to beef tofu up on (for lack of a better phrase) around mid-March – and for this ever-hungry vegan, I can tell you that preparation for summer salad and potluck season is in full bloom.

Just like regular human beings, my dinners are quite well-rounded (contrary to popular belief), while lunches, snacks and appetizers are generally lighter. People often think that because vegans don’t eat meat or dairy, they eat salads around the clock, don’t get proper protein or load up on every carbohydrate in sight. This is certainly not the case for most vegans, although I can understand the misconception. There are plenty of other things – good carbs, grains, nuts and other sources of protein – as well as meat and dairy substitutes, that make up a vegan diet. But that being said, I think both the meat and non-meat eating nuts can agree that when backyard, bikini, buffet and overall busy summer times roll around – a healthy salad or appetizer using the season’s freshest and most nutritious produce can still be one of our best friends, without relying on a boring old head of lettuce and bottle of store-bought dressing. So, to kick off the warm weather season with two savoury, filling and nutrient-packed dishes – one which also includes a protein-packed snack that can be served separately—here are a few great seasonal recipes to get you springing into action.

They may look light, but when I’ve eaten both before exercising and can vouch for them really, really packing a punch. Enjoy!

Zucchini and Carrot Muffins (Amazing mid-afternoon/pre-workout snack or even buffet table item)
1. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees. Brush a 12-hold muffin tin with butter (or Earth Balance vegan butter). Grate 2 zucchinis and 2 carrots into a bowl. In a separate bowl, sift together 2 cups of Bob’s Red Mill whole grain flour (or all-purpose), 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Add the carrot and zucchini to the dry mix with 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.
2. Combine two eggs (I used flax eggs – 1 teaspoon water and 2 teaspoon ground flax = one “egg”), 1 cup almond or rice milk and 1/4 cup of melted vegan butter in a separate bowl and whisk.
3. Make a well in the middle of the flour bowl and add the wet egg mixture. Mix together, spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes – checking regularly. Let cool and harden a little before serving.

Kale and Dill Crunch Salad with Salt ‘N Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas: This is a three-part meal (you can multi-task, right?) via a favourite vegan blog of mine. The best part is that whatever chickpeas you don’t toss into the salad, you can snack on during a movie instead of the go-to bag of chips. Super de-lish when served hot off the tray.

1. To make the salt ‘n vinegar chickpeas first: Preheat oven to 425 degrees and in a pot, bring 2 cups of white vinegar to a boil, adding a pinch of salt. Add in drained and rinsed chickpeas and bring to a boil for 1 minute before turning off the heat and leaving for half hour or so in the vinegar. Drain the chickpeas, light coat with a tiny bit of oil (optional) and some sea salt before placing on your baking sheet in the oven for about 30 minutes. Careful when you pull the tray out, anything roasted in vinegar is like an eclipse – don’t look directly at it, or else your eyes will sting!
2. Dill dressing: This is one of my favourite dressings.  In a mini chopper or food processor, mince 2 cloves of garlic. Then add in 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup tahini, 2 tablespoons of water,1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and 1.5 tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Process that mixture before adding in 1.5 cups of chopped dill.
3. Salad: In a large bowl, combine 2 small bunches of kale (remove the hard stem from the leaves), 1 chopped English cucumber, 1 chopped tomato, 1/2 red onion, 2 chopped celery stocks and your tahini dressing. Add the chickpeas and voila! Bon appetite.

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On The Menu: Did You Know?
Kale is one of the most nutritious leafy greens out there, with only one cup providing 100% of the daily value of vitamins A, K and C. As a part of the cabbage family, kale is packed with antioxidants, is believed to reduce risk of certain cancer and contains lutein – an organic pigment that assists with healthy eyesight.
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are an excellent source of fiber, protein and iron – assisting in lowering cholesterol and stabilizing blood sugar levels. With 15g of protein per cooked cup, these little beans are a vegetarian’s dream.

I’d be humbled if you’d try this crumble…

Our little blog that could has taught me so many things since its inception, but one thing that has proven to be invaluable is the fact that apparently, I can bake. (Who knew? See here and here for examples!) When I started undertaking baking tasks in the kitchen, both my mother and grandmother laughed at me/each other, asking each other where I could have possibly gotten this knack from…since it clearly wasn’t from either of them. Nonetheless, my dabbling in the kitchen has once again paid off, with a desert that has gotten rave reviews from the lucky nuts who were around to try it, and some valuable nutshell correspondents.. A blackberry-apply crumble. YUM.


  • 10 average size Apples (I used McIntosh)
  • 1 pint of Blackberries (I used Driscoll’s which came by the half pint)
  • Butter or Margerine
  • Cinnamon
  • Brown Sugar
  • Oats (I used Robin Hood’s ‘easy oats’ brand)

The best part about this recipe is that you don’t have  to be too prudent with the measurements. You can use these as a starting point and add more depending on how the mixture is looking!


1. Peel apples, de-core, and chop into small pieces. (This is the most tedious part of  the recipe! After this, it’s so easy, I promise!)
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together 1 cup of oats, 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.
3. Mix in chopped apples and whole blackberries.
4. Add 1/4 cup of butter or margerine and mix everything together until you get an evenly dispersed mixture.
5. Scoop mixture into a pyrex dish and evenely disperse it.
6. Add a light layer of oats on the top for extra crispiness (if desired).
7. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Crumble mix, pre-baking.

Post-baking deliciousness!

The perfect serving. YUM.

Voila! This recipe is actually so delicious and toward the healthy side of the spectrum (the desert spectrum, that is). The blackberries add the perfect amount of tartness to this sweet treat and since it’s so simple to make, it makes the perfect desert for your next dinner party, potluck, or in our case, Bachelor viewing party! Happy baking nuts!

Super Snacks for a SuperBowl

For football fans, this weekend marks the biggest day of the year. The New York Giants take on the New England Patriots in a Superbowl that is calling the “Super Rematch”. To give you some context/all you need to know going into the game, the same two teams faced off four years ago in Superbowl 42, a game that is considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history. The Giants, the wildcard team won 17-14 over the previously undefeated Patriots. And so, this Sunday’s game has ‘high stakes’ written all over it.

Even if you’re not a football fan, the best thing about the Superbowl, are definitely the parties that come with it. Known as the second biggest day for food consumption in North America (only second to Thanksgiving!) the Superbowl is all about (over)indulging in delicious snacks and ice cold beer. Pizza delivery is definitely an option, but it’s nice to have a bigger variety, don’t you think? Whether your hosting a party or going to one, here are some simple recipes that are sure to keep all of the football fanatics in your life satisfied this Superbowl!

Homemade Chili:
Serves 10-12

Chili is one of those foods that is basically a pre-requisite of any Superbowl party. I’ve posted this recipe before, but it’s too perfect to leave out! It’s easy to make, SO delicious and makes for a great leftover.
1. Pan-fry the ground beef on medium heat until brown.
2. In a large slow-cooker, combine all ingredients and stir together.
3. Set to cook on low for at least 6 hours.
4. Garnish each individual bowl with mozerella or tex-mex cheese (if desired).
5. Serve with your choice of bread or tortilla chips.

With & Without Cheese

Taco Dip:

This dip is my go-to anytime I’m entertaining or part of a potluck. It’s the easiest thing to prepare and everyone that I’ve served it to has fallen head over heals for it! 
1. Spread cream cheese in a thick layer along the bottom of your serving dish.
3. Pour salsa in a thick layer covering the cream cheese.
4. Add shredded cheese on top of the salsa.
5. Sprinkle southewest seasoning (I use this one) on top of the cheese for a little extra zest!

This dip is delicious as is, but I’ve seen many varieties where extra layers like guacamole, beans and sour cream are added. Rachel Ray’s 7 layer dip is a good option if you want to up the ante!

Spinach Dip:

Everyone loves a good Spinache Dip and this is the best recipe I’ve found! It goes well with pumpernickle bread and with veggies. After all, you need to sneak healthy snacks in somewhere, right?
1. Thaw, drain and finely chop the spinach.
2. In a bowl, combine the spinache with the onion, soup mix, sour cream and mayonnaise. Mix thoroughly.
3. Refrigerate the mixture for approximately 2 hours.
4. Hollow out a loaf of pumpernickle bread, to form a bowl and tear the centre into bite-size pieces for dipping, along with the veggies.

Chicken Wings in BBQ Sauce:
Makes 12 wings

One of my co-workers/friends swears by this chicken wing recipe, calling it “a real crowd pleaser”. The sauce is slightly runny, so the wings can be served over Angel Hair pasta (strange, but delicious!), or served on their own with sour cream/blue cheese!
1. Clip off tips of chicken wings and discard.
2. Heat oil in a pan and brown the wings slowly, until both sides are golden.
3. Add the onion and garlic; fry until transparent.
4. Drain excess fat, put wings into a casserole dish and set aside.
5. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients needed for the sauce.
6. Pour the sauce into the casserole  dish, covering the wings.
7. Bake the wings and sauce at 325 for about 2 hours. (Adjust your time, if needed, to ensure the wings are cooked through.)
8. Baste the wings occasionally with the sauce and add a little bit more water if needed.

In a nutshell, these recipes are sure to make your Superbowl Sunday one for the books! Whatever you end up doing, I hope that you have a wonderful afternoon and evening filled with good eats, cold beer, great friends…and even some football if you have time to squeeze it in.

Dinner for . . . ten?

I’ve always wanted to host fancy dinner parties for my friends. It’s something my parents did when I was young, and I’ve since adopted my mom and dad’s adoration of being the hosts with the most.

I love to entertain. I love to prepare good food and choose great wine and I love to put those things together to make a memorable evening. But, I’ve never really had the opportunity to hold an elaborate dinner -a 5 course meal- until now. A few weeks ago I was discussing my desire to hold such an event with my boyfriend’s good friend and, to my delight, he expressed a passion to cook up a storm and impress his buds with his culinary prowess. So we paired up, him bringing the heat in the kitchen and me plotting the perfect wines for his 5 course menu.

Cooking for ten people is no easy feat, so if you plan to attempt a dinner for ten make sure you take your menu for a dry run before the main event.

With the right chef in the kitchen and the perfect pairings, this kind of affair can make for a sensory stimulating dinner as well as a great conversation piece to get the table talk rolling.

People love to be catered to, so when planning a dinner party make sure you take into consideration your crowd. Are they the “meat and potatoes” kind of group? Are they wine aficionados? Are your guests budding foodies? Fortunately, most of my friends take some sort of interest in great food and wine pairings so Danny and I were able to have a bit of fun with our menu.

Below is the menu and a few tips on how to make the right choice of wines to accompany an eclectic menu. . . and crowd.

Each course was allotted a different wine- 5 wines in total- to enhace the various flavours. Each guest received a small portion of food and about 2 ounces of wine with each dish, keeping the cost down to 5 bottles ( spread between 10 people).

Course 1:

With prosciutto or any fatty meat, you always want to opt for a sharp, high acid type of wine. In this instance I chose Cuvee Catharine Henry of Pelham. This sparkling wine was able to cut through the fat of the prosciutto without overwhelming the other delicate flavours.

Course 2:

The dressing and cheese on your salad are the best indicators as to what kind of wine should act as the accompaniment. In this case, we had feta with a, tart citrus dressing. To stand up to a fatty cheese like feta, we needed a high acid wine; however, the dressing really called for something sweet to counter balance the citrus.To compromise, I chose a Pillitteri Gewurztraminer Riesling which has the sweetness of a traditional Gewurztraminer, but the racy acidity of a riesling.

Course 3:

When it comes to scallops, seared in buttery goodness, you can always have more of a good thing. So I paired these buttery delicacies ( and the favourite dish of the night!) with a Macon Verze White Burgundy. White Burgundy (chardonnay) are known for executing that style of buttery richness typical to Chardonnay but with a dash of elegance. Instead of an unctuous mouthful, White Burgundy tends to be delicate and fresh, yet creamy and delicious. With scallops, this pairing didn’t overpower the light flavours of the fruits de mer, but enriched the butter.

Course 4:

Following some very delicate and fresh whites, I felt it was about time to take the pairings to the next level. With the steak, which had bold flavours in the reduction and the rub, we served a highly tannic, full blown mama. The Pirramimma Petit Verdot, despite its name,is a BIG red and was up to the challenge of a juicy steak. It was more so the wine that needed a knife to cut through, than the tender steak in front of us!

Course 5:

To finish we noshed on an acclaimed pairing. In the Loire Valley, a traditional pairing of wine and cheese is chevre with the regional Sauvignon Blanc “Sancerre”. With the tangy, creamy flavours of the cheese, Sancerre  seemed like the perfect choice with its crisp, grapefruit flavours and high natural acidity.

The next time you’re hosting a dinner party for 10, be sure that you work out any kinks in your menu and have a good handle on the wines that will best compliment each dish. All it takes is a splash of the wrong wine to throw the slaved-over-dinner to the curb.

Bon appetit & bon chance nuts, if this hasn’t made you drool already, I’m not sure what will. . . in a nutshell.

Weekend Delicacies

Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend. I know that – as well as Loverboy knew that when they wrote that cheesy 80s dance track – because it’s Monday and I’m already excited for Friday. Don’t get me wrong, I actually love my work weeks; they’re productive and absolutely insane enough to make the serenity of a few days off that much more appreciated. But that being said, TGIF is certainly one of my favourite acronyms, and one of my many favourite things to do on a weekend is to take a break from the quick fix meals, salads and grabs on the go and actually cook a decent few dishes for myself and friends. I wouldn’t say that anything in my cookbook is extravagant or difficult – but we all know that an extra few ingredients, and the extra few minutes to actually enjoy the cooking process, are truly wonderful things.

I usually start my Saturday morning with a quick jaunt to the grocery store for the week’s grocery essentials, some vino for any upcoming occasion (naturally), as well as a few other new ingredients for whatever fun things I plan to make. The two dishes I chose to whip up this weekend, which resulted in a little scour of my neighbourhood Herb and Spice shop and grocery store aisles, were fabulous. They’re also evidence that the five days of boring lunches and quick dinners are worth it, if it means the light at the end of the tunnel are little treats like these.

SAVOURY SATURDAY: Zucchini Lasagna with Quinoa and Herbed “Cheesy” Marinara Sauce

Note: This is, of course, a vegan dish – but you could absolutely make it with real butter, cream cheese and cheese. I chose the vegan substitutes and it was one of the more delicious things I’ve ever tasted. As well, it’s the kind of healthy lasagna you could eat a whole quarter of and not feel overly bad about!
Time: Approx. 1.5 hours or less
How?: Preheat your oven to 400. Thinly slice two zucchinis the long way into “noodles” – which should amount to 12 noodles. Layer noodles between pieces of paper towel, sprinkling each layer with salt, and set aside to absorb moisture. Combine 1 cup of quinoa, 1.5 cups of vegetable broth, 1/2 cup of passada or tomato sauce, 1/4 of an onion chopped and a little oregano in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover the saucepan and lower heat, simmering for 20 minutes or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid. When it has, add in 2 tbsp of cream cheese (I used Toffuti “Better than Cream Cheese”), 1/4 cup of basil and 1/4 cup fresh parsley, both finely chopped. Stir, adding salt and pepper to taste. This WILL be the most delicious thing you’ve ever made in a pot. Set aside before you eat it all, and layer the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish with  the organic marinara sauce. I had to use a quiche dish because I had fresh baking cooling in my 8×8 (poor planning on my part). Blot the remaining moisture from the zucchini noodles and add four noodle strips to the top of the marinara sauce, before spreading on a layer of the quinoa sauce and then a 1/3 cup of the marinara sauce on top of that. Add another layer of noodles, quinoa and marinara. Repeat with the final layer before sprinkling on shredded cheese. I used Daiya soy “cheese,” which is equally as delicious and gooey when baked! Put in the oven for 40 minutes or until crispy and golden. Be prepared to faint after savouring your first bite. This one was a hit and I will be making it again, and again, for many years.

SAVOURY SUNDAY: Sweet Ginger Glazed Potatoes, Parsnip and Carrot served with Smoked Tofu in an Eggplant and Bok Choy Stirfry

Time: 1 Hour
How?: Preheat the oven to 230 degrees. Slice your veggies in 5 cm long sticks. Brush a baking sheet with a little oil and layer in the veggies so they are all flat. Brush them with a little oil as well. Put the tray in the oven for 45 minutes, or until your veggies look golden. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt three tablespoons of butter (I used Earth Balance soy “butter”) on medium heat. Fold in 1 tbsp of Stevia or sugar while stirring, before adding in 2 tbsp of freshly grated ginger and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until glaze thickens. When veggies are done, remove them from the oven and toss with the glaze to coat, before returning them to the oven for 5 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of the veggies baking, squeeze a few slices of smoked tofu (a friend gave me a delicious supply from Vancouver) in a paper towel to remove moisture. Toss into your frying pan on medium heat and throw in any veggies you’d like; I chose bok choy, eggplant and chive. Add 1 tbsp of reduced sodium soy sauce, a little agave nectar or honey, sea salt to taste and any sriracha or chili sauce you have. Stirfry on low to medium heat for 5 or ten minutes, and add both dishes to a plate with a little chili sauce for extra dipping. Voila! Second night of delicious and hearty vegan meals.



Recipe 1 via