Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

5 Jun muffin

If your eyebrow is raised archly at the prospect of zucchini in a muffin as mine initially was, let me assure you that it’s delicious. Or, perhaps more accurately, it makes the muffin delicious. The actual flavour disappears entirely because the zucchini is so finely grated. Instead, you get wonderfully moist muffins that have a punch of goodness and just a handful of chocolate chips. This is my current favourite muffin recipe – I make it nearly every other week and always eat one before I put them away for breakfast the next morning.

These would be good with half a cup of chopped walnuts if you were so inclined!

Makes 12.


1 1/2c all-purpose flour
2/3c white sugar
1 ts baking soda
1 ts cinnamon
1/2 ts salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/4 c milk
1 ts vanilla
1 c zucchini, finely grated
1 handful chocolate chips – feel free to be as stingy or as generous as you like


1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line or grease muffin cups.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine the egg, oil, milk and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and then toss in the grated carrot.
3. Stir everything together until just combined and then spoon into the muffin cups.
4. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean. Leave for 5 minutes then pop onto a rack to cool off completely.


Slow Cooker French Toast

14 Apr

What else needs to be said? Those are four beautiful words when combined. This recipe makes something akin to bread pudding, but without the sogginess that sometimes accompanies it. This is a glorious, sweet, luscious, calorie-laden treat that I made for dinner on the weekend. (Should you so desire, you could add sliced apples into the mix or top with bananas or berries.) While it was undeniably decadent, it didn’t feel especially heavy or overly filling – I didn’t desperately want a nap post-dinner. It fed four adults and a very happy toddler and took almost no time to throw together.

You probably already have most of these ingredients kicking around your kitchen, so why not treat yourselves to a yummy breakfast for dinner this week?

Serves 4.


1 loaf of bread, cubed

Egg mixture
2 1/2 c milk
7 eggs
2 ts cinnamon
pinch of salt

3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
1 ts cinnamon


1. Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray.
2. Toss in one layer of the bread, a little less than half the loaf.
3. In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients until they’re mixed together really well. Spread half across the bread in the cooker. (Don’t worry about it being perfect. Just try to get a fairly even coating.)
4. Add in the rest of the bread and the topping.
5. Combine the egg mixture ingredients and pour evenly over the top of the bread and filler.
6. Set your slow cooker to low and cook 6 hours. If you have a bit of extra time, remove the lid and cook another 30 minutes so you get even more crispy bits on top.

Chocolate Chip Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

27 Feb

I love cookies. I love chewy cookies, I love crunchy cookies. I love cookies with stuff in the middle. I love cookies in/on top of of other things. You get the drift. Oatmeal cookies are a particular favourite, but if they have raisins in them they must also have chocolate chips. No going for the fake out here: I firmly believe you can’t JUST do raisins but that’s me. It’s your prerogative to do only raisins, but know that I think you’re crazy. At the very least, toss in a couple of chips, for goodness sake.

This recipe makes a pretty big batch, roughly two dozen. Make sure you don’t skip the flatten step, otherwise the cookies spend too long in the oven and can dry out. You’ll want to cook them in two batches, but they only take about 10 minutes in the oven.

Makes about 24.


1/2 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tb vanilla
1 ts salt
1 ts baking powder
1/2 ts cinnamon
1 c (heaping) all-purpose flour
1 c raisins
1/2 c chocolate/peanut butter chips
1 1/2 c rolled oats


1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add in the egg, vanilla and baking powder and incorporate into the creamed mixture.
3. Stir in the flour, then the raisins and chips until everything is mixed together.
4. Drop spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Take a fork and gently flatten the dough. Bake for 12 minutes et voila!



Crazy Healthy Quinoa and White Bean Soup

10 Feb soup

It’s cold out there in the big city. There’s snow on the ground, icicles hanging from eavestroughs and lots of grumpy, bundled up people. By the time you get home from a long day and maybe long commute, you want to get warm and eat something good. And quickly. I came across something perfect for just this scenario that has the added bonus of being really healthy. Vegan, even! It only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish and is full of flavour, textures and fantastic ingredients. Give it a try and I think you’ll quite enjoy it.

Serves 4


1b vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 ts cumin
1 ts coriander
1 ts salt
1 ts pepper
1/3 c quinoa, rinsed
2c vegetable broth (you could use chicken broth if that’s what you’ve got)
2c water
1 can white kidneybeans, drained and rinsed
2c baby spinach or 1c frozen spinach (thawed and drained)


1. In a medium pot, heat the oil to medium. Add in the onion and carrot, cooking til the onion becomes translucent (3-4 minutes).
2. Add in the garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and quinoa. Stir to combine, cooking for 2 minutes. Pour in the broth and water, bringing everything to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook partially covered for 15 minutes.
3. Stir in beans and spinach until heated through, just a couple more minutes and you’re done!


Braised Pork Stew

27 Jan

Because I just can’t stop buying cookbooks, Michael Smith’s latest, Family Meals, has appeared on my shelf. I’ve always liked Smith: he was my gateway into cooking fish for the first time and his recipes (while sometimes a bit short on the salt for my taste) never fail me. I like his philosophy that a recipe is simply somewhere to start, a thing to be played with, an idea upon which to expound. I feel the same way: when I come across a new recipe, I’ll generally leave the fundamentals alone but will alter things like seasoning and heat levels to suit my taste.

This particular book has some fantastic slow cooker recipes and quite a few vegetarian recipes that look enticing. I tried out the slow-cooked pork shoulder stew this weekend it’s a keeper. We added a few dashes of hot sauce to our bowls but kept it out of the main pot to avoid burning foodNURDling’s little tongue. It’s a simple recipe that doesn’t have a ton of ingredients. It’s hearty, filling and healthy. This recipe also makes a TON so you will definitely have leftovers. Cook once, eat many times. Works for me.

Serves 4


3lb pork shoulder, halved
salt & pepper
2 tb vegetable oil
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 potatoes, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 ts dried thyme and/or rosemary
2 ts salt
7c water
1c white wine (or, if you don’t want to use alcohol, skip it and add 8 cups of water instead of splitting it)


1. Preheat your oven to 300F.
2. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pan (a Dutch oven is perfect) to medium-high heat. Add the oil and watch for it become shimmery. Season the pork generously with salt & pepper and the two pieces of pork to the pan, searing on all sides until nicely browned.
3. Add in the celery, potatoes, carrots, onions, herbs, salt and liquid. Bring to a simmer. Cover with  a tightly-fitting lid and place in the oven for 3-4 hours.
4. Remove the pot from the oven. The pork will now be fork-tender; shred or cube the meat. Serve and enjoy!

Cheddar Cheese Ball in Everything Bagel Spice

6 Jan

Sometimes, ya just gotta throw a party and I did exactly that. An appetizer party, specifically. What inspired this? Mostly, the party issue of Bon Appetit. I vacillated wildly between wanting to host a huge shindig for everyone I know to having just a few people over for something fancy. I’ve done both and enjoy them equally, if differently. Eventually, I settled on a not-too-big appetizer party based on a couple of recipes from the BA magazine. The runaway hit of the dishes I made was the giant, creamy cheese ball coated in salty, savoury everything bagel spice. I doubled the original recipe – a good call considering how little was left at the end of the night. Because it was such a large ball o’ cheese, I found it was a lot easier to make a dome than a ball but with the original recipe, it should be much easier to shape. Also, I skipped the pancetta step for two reasons: 1. there were vegetarians coming to the party and I wanted them to be able to try this out and, 2. I had enough to do already, thank you very much. I have no doubt the pancetta is fantastic when included, but I was a busy girl.


2 oz pancetta, finely chopped
1⅓finely grated extra sharp cheddar
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tb unsalted butter, room temperature
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 ts Worcestershire sauce
2 ts black pepper
kosher salt
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 ts poppy seeds
1 ts sesame seeds, toasted


1. Crisp pancetta in a sauce pan over medium heat for roughly 5-8 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
2. Blend together (in a food processor, with beaters, whatever you’ve got) the cheddar, cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the green onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper.
3. Scrape the mixture into a small, plastic-lined bowl. Form into a ball and chill in the fridge until it’s firm. (3-12 hours)
4. Just before you are ready to serve, cook the garlic in a small pan over medium, stirring often, until crisp and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
5. Add the shallots to the pan and, like the garlic, cook until golden brown, which will take 5-8 minutes. Make sure you stir often. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool.
6. Mix the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, shallots & garlic in shallow dish and roll the cheese ball until it’s coated. Serve with crackers and eat too much!



24 Nov

This is one of my absolute favourite Belizean dishes to make. I first tried them years ago when J’s mom made them for dinner. Instantly hooked. As with many local specialties, everyone makes them just a bit differently and everyone claims their (or their mom’s) way is best. The basics, though: crunchy fried tortillas topped with shredded chicken or pork. The toppings and sauces are totally up to the cook: pickled onions, salsa verde, avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, green onion, sliced jalapeno, and cilantro are all popular options. We do ours with thinly sliced avocado, shredded chicken simmered in salsa verde, sour cream, green onion, cilantro and a bit of hot sauce. You can include or omit just about any of the ingredients listed above: it’s truly about your own personal taste. We usually roast a whole chicken so we have leftovers for the rest of the week and shred both wings, a thigh and a breast. (Tip: take the skin off and save it to add when you’re dressing the tortillas. You want it to be crispy.) You could also poach chicken breasts in spice-tinged water – salt, pepper and oregano would be a nice combo.

This recipe makes 10. Two of us can polish that off but we are very full afterward.


10 tostadas (or 10 tortillas, fried)
2 chicken breasts or equivalent, cooked & shredded
1 c salsa verde
2 avocados, sliced
salt & pepper
lime juice
3 green onions, sliced
1 handful cilantro, finely chopped
sour cream
hot sauce, optional


1. Warm up your tostadas in the oven at a low temp. They have a high oil content, so make sure you keep an eye on them ensuring they don’t burn.
2. Heat up the salsa in a sauce pan til it simmers. Add in the chicken and stir. Allow chicken to warm through, 5-8 minutes.
3. Divide the avocado slices evenly among the warmed tostadas then season with salt, pepper and lime juice. Layer on the chicken, sprinkle with green onions and cilantro. Top with dollops of sour cream and, if you wish, dabs of hot sauce.


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