31 December 2007

New Years Countdown....Top 10, 9, 8........HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!

Here it is the last day of 2007. It is hard to believe that 11 months of More Than Burnt Toast have gone by let alone another year. Blogging has become a small part of my life which I thoroughly enjoy. Through these months I have met a good many interesting and warm individuals from all over the world. I have appreciated all your comments, encouragement and little tidbits each and every day. It always starts my day off right.

Now how does one commemorate the end of another year? There is always partying and booze!!! I haven't ruled it out...hic!!!

I started this post with high expectations of myself to post about the 10 best for the year of 2007. I could do a post about the 10 best recipes I have found out there in the blogosphere..but how does a person do that with so many choices. The 10 best Blogs? Too many choices once again. The choice was easy really and just count the number of comments and choose the 10 posts that had the most.

The votes are in...not that anyone really voted...but these are the top 10 recipes that generated the most interest in 2007 on More Than Burnt Toast. Not necessarily in order.... there even seems to be a lot of garlic lovers out there!!!

I wish you all the best in 2008. Health...happiness... LOVE... contentment. I hope that the new year is all that you hope for and more!!!!!! Keep all those creative and delicious posts coming!!!!! It really does make my day!!!
Oh..and in case you're wondering about the photo it was taken in Greece of course on the island of Naxos. The restaurant/bars along the waterfront all served their drinks with sparklers. I thought it to be a great advertising ploy....it got us in...but my daughter and I are gullible....

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30 December 2007

Seasoned Eatings-Round 2

I had such a wonderful time participating in the Seasoned Eatings event which was the inspiration and brainchild of Lindsay at Country Girl City Living and Katie at Thyme for Cooking . We had to choose a spice that our area of the world was known for; or a spice that was something that reflected our way of cooking. I received a beautiful box (it even smelled good) and some Roof Top Honey from the bee hives of David Graves on the rooftops of New York City from Lindsay one of our illustrious hosts. It states in the article that the honey tastes of laurel trees. He has 12 rooftops in different areas of New York City that are home for his bees. There is a little more about the event here or here .

It was such a treat to recieve a "pressie" from another country at Christmas time. It put me right into the Christmas spirit. As part of the package you also recieved a recipe using the spice or flavouring that you recieved. I have made my Honey-Glazed Pear Upside Down Cake and it was delicious for my breakfast...believe me. Tender and light. The recipe Lindsay added is a legend at the Gramercy Tavern and she also read that it was a star in the restaurants cookbook.

With the overabundance of sweets over the holiday season it took me more than my alotted time to post the recipe, so I must apologize for that. My daughter and I enjoyed our treat immensely this morning. Thank you ladies for this wonderful event and I'll look forward to it annually!!!

**Honey-Glazed Pear Upside Down Cake**

1/4 cup chestnut or other intense honey
4 small or 3 large Bosc pears, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cored
3 sprigs fresh thyme (optional) -I ended up not using it because any grocery store I went to was out
1 cup sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
1 T vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350F. In a 9-inch ovenproof skillet (not nonstick) simmer honey until it begins to reduce, caramelize and darken in colour, 6 - 10 minutes. Do not let honey burn; if it starts to smell burnt, turn off heat.

Arrange pears, close together and cut-side down, in a circular pattern in skillet, stem ends pointing toward centre. Simmer over medium heat, turning them from one cut side to the other, until they begin to turn golden, about 10 minutes.

Flip pears over to their curved side and scatter with thyme sprigs if using. Transfer skillet to oven and roast, uncovered, until very tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together sugar and lemon zest. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Fold in flour and salt; stir in 1/2 cup butter.

When pears are soft, remove skillet from oven, discard thyme sprigs and brush edges of pears with remaining 1 T melted butter. Pour batter on roasted pears and scatter almonds over batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean, 25 - 30 minutes. Let cake cool for 30 minutes in pan. Run an offset spatula along edges of pan to loosen cake, carefully invert cake onto a serving platter. Serve warm or cooled.

Serves 6 - 8
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29 December 2007

101 Ways to Cook Leftover Turkey...Greek Avgolemono Soup

I wanted to do something different with our leftover turkey this year. I think we have feasted on an overabundance of heavy foods over these past few holiday weeks. I was "hankering" for something light and flavourful.

What came to mind.. my mind was drifting (yet again) to warmer, sun drenched climates... was a light and flavourful soup at a taverna on the Agean Sea. I had the opportunity to sample several Avgolemono soups while I was in Greece. Some were light and delicate and some simply were not. I had Cabbage Rolls in Avgolemono, Dolmades in Avgolemono...you name it! I do LOVE this lemony sauce, so, that is probably why I gravitated towards it so often.

Traditionally this soup is made from chicken or lamb stock...but I had a turkey carcass taking up too much room in the refrigerator. I cooked the rice in the remaining broth as the recipe suggested, added a little turkey meat, a little dill and Greek oregano and I had a light and flavourful soup....needed a little salt though...which I added afterwards.

I have no Greek Ya Ya (Yiayia) or grandmother from whose elbows I have watched prepare this delicious soup since I was a child, therefore, I hope my rendition of this classic Greek soup is at least acceptable...but it is my first attempt and open to interpretation.

**Turkey Avgolemono Soup**

8 cups flavourful chicken broth (in this case turkey broth)
3 medium eggs
1/2 cup rice
juice from 1 - 2 lemons
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp dried Greek oregano
coarsely ground black pepper
Garnish with whipped plain yogurt

In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil, reduce heat, add the rice, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. Add chopped leftover tureky to soup and let simmer while preparing the avgolemono sauce.

In a blender, beat the eggs. Slowly add the lemon juice to the eggs. Add dill, oregano and freshly ground pepper. Add one cup of turkey or chicken broth, do not stop blending. The constant blending is the secret to prevent curdling of this delcious soup.

When the eggs and broth are well mixed, pour this mixture back into the remaining broth and rice.

Stir well and serve. Do not allow to boil. Best Blogger Tips

Baked Salmon Tarator and the Royal Foodie Joust

My photos from this dish were definetely lacking. For some reason the photos turned out blurry so only the tiniest glimpse of this dish is available from a version of the original recipe. It was devoured pretty quickly though I must say. Despite my camera problems I decided to still enter the monthy Royal Foodie Joust over at Jenn's site Leftover Queen . Jenn is our talented and industrious mentor who initiated the Foodie Blog Roll. Each month the previous month's winner chooses 3 ingredients for the Royal Foodie Joust. This month was : pistachios, mint and pomegranate.
Tarator , taratur or tartor is a cold soup (or a liquid salad), popular in the summertime in Bulgaria acoording to Wikopedia. It is made of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, walnuts, dill, and oil. Local variations may replace the yogurt with water and vinegar, omit the nuts or dill, or add bread.

In Greece, a similar meze is the familiar and popular tzatziki which usually contains olive oil, parsley and/or mint and sometimes the addition of the ingredients listed above.

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28 December 2007

Betta' Bruschetta

Betta' Bruschetta
Today is the beginning of a good day. My header came back in all it's glory... Revenue Canada adjusted last years income tax and they owe me money with interest. What could be better! Well maybe some comforting home cooked meals. Tonight I'll be making Yemista and attacking that turkey carcass.

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27 December 2007

They Asked for the Recipe Punch.....

They Asked for the Recipe Punch
This is a delicious make-ahead recipe for an open house. Stir in the ginger ale when the guests arrive. Serve in goblets, high ball glasses, or any pretty clear glasses to show off the festive colours.

I had friends over a few nights ago and my friend Neil asked for the recipe. If a guy who is not particularly interested in cooking asks...then I am flattered. This punch served 12 with only 1 glass each..it needs to be in multiples.

They also know of my obsession with blogging and didn't even bat an eye when I was taking photos of my food.

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26 December 2007

My Brother Neil's Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread Cookies
Well the verdict is in....these are the best shortbread cookies I personally have made to date. We love shortbread around here, but it is one of those things that makes me cringe at the mere thought of making it. Usually my shortbread attempts have been frustratingly crumbly messes that I usually just end up plopping into a pan to make old-fashioned Scottish-type shortbread in one piece...and then slice. I have tried to make whipped shortbread and broke my spritz cookie press in the process.

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25 December 2007

Blueberry Croissant Puffs & Happy Holidays to All!!!!

Christmas morning has come and gone. The stockings and presents have all been opened. The thank you's, hugs and kisses added to a long line of tradition and cherished memories. Christmas Day is a long drawn out affair for us. We start with Cranberry or Orange Juice Mimosas...the only day I allow myself champagne and juice for breakfast. What's up with that?? We have our individual Blueberry Croissant Puff which is both my daughters favourite and then we open our stockings. Then... we have the rest of breakfast which usually consists of Roesti potatoes, bacon, Canadian Back bacon, sausage rounds, "tattie scones" (sent by mom & dad from Ontario), eggs of our choosing and fruit salad with vanilla yogurt, walnuts and honey. Is this is a large breakfast...admittedly so!!!! But it stays with us till dinner! Then the unwrapping of presents begins.

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**Joyeux Noel**

A joyous and wonderful holiday season wherever you are in the blogosphere!! It has been exciting to get to know each and every one of you over the past 11 months. I have learned of so many new and interesting ingredients and spices: and have a list of evergrowing recipes to try.. as many as there are days in the year!! Thank you all for enriching my life, for your support and comments. I hope that 2008 is everything you hope for and more!!

Joyeux Noel & Happy New Year !!!!!

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24 December 2007

A Night of Tradition and Cheese Fondue...and Chocolate Fondue

My mom always told me it would be this way..that my life would pass before my eyes and one day I would turn around and wonder how I got there. Of course when you are young and living at home you can't wait to get to the next hurdle in life and always want to be older than you are, get a job, etc. Now that I am older I have complete understanding of what she was saying about life and children. My mom has always been a wise woman, but, when I was young it is not something I even comprehended. The young have not a care in the world...but then they do not see that either. Here it is Christmas Eve and the year has almost passed by. My mom was right of course and 2007 has gone by in a flash. Was 2007 a good year..you bet...did I learn anything over the course of a year?..you bet..will 2008 be a great year?...YOU BET!!!!

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22 December 2007

My Inititiation & First Daring Baker Challenge

Buche Noel
Why would a "baking challenged" person who shakes with fear when she has to make pastry join the industrious and acclaimed group over at the Daring Bakers? Well...two reasons. Firstly to belong to such a supportive group of men and women. Over the past months I have seen "newbie" and seasoned bakers alike struggle with making caramel, mousse, etc. Always in the comments section these same people have such support from their fellow DB's that I wanted to become a part of the collective. The second reason to join, when I am "oven challenged," is for the challenge itself. It forces me to delve into the unexpected and think outside my comfort zone..."where no man (or woman) has gone before!!!! At least not this woman.

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21 December 2007

Seasoned Eatings

Every day we read blogs from our our fellow bloggers from all over the world. We hear about foods and spices that we have either not heard of in our every day cooking or that we can't find readily. I have discovered a little Italian grocers not far from here that seems to have everything that the others do not. They have all manner of cheese, meat and spices. I found Greek oregano and even corn flour which I had previously been unable to find anywhere at all in our fair city.

Katie from Thyme for Cooking in collaboration with Lindsay at Country Girl City Living came up with a brainwave of an event called Seasoned Eatings. We were given the name and address of a fellow blogger and were instructed to send a spice that is local and we are renowned for, or, a spice that reflects our style of cooking. To use Country Girl City Living's exact words, " Your task is to find one spice, that is either local to your area or is representative of your cooking style". We needed to include a recipe using that spice and then the recipient would blog about it.

This was a perfect event for the holiday season! It was like receiving a Christmas present from a good friend. As luck would have it my partner was Lindsay who had the inspiration to start this event in the first place after visiting the farmers markets of New York City. My "Seasonal Eating" only just arrived today so there is only time to take its photo, but, not enough time to prepare the delicious recipe for "Honey Glazed Pear Upside-Down Cake". I can't wait to try it and it will come in a later post.

Lindsay says that when she discovered this honey at the farmers markets of New York City it gave her the inspiration for the Seasonal Eating event! As she says, "How fun it is to know that it comes from the rooftops of NYC".!!

The recipe for the upside-down cake is a legend at the Gramercy Tavern and is also a star in the restaurant's cookbook!! What a special treat it will be to make this delicious dessert with it's succulent honey and pears. Too bad we had to wait for the "snail mail" to have my parcel arrive or else you would be looking at photos of this luscious dessert right now...and of course I would be savouring every mouthful! Instead I give you a photo of the honey itself and thebeautiful box it came in, with a card and a write up about the honey. There is even a photo of my favourite actor Tom Hanks signing an autograph saying he can't wait to try the roof top honey!

The honey comes from David Graves of "New York City Rooftop Honey". Grave's raw honey is made from beehives kept on twelve New York City rooftops, from the Bronx to the Upper East Side and from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn. Graves set up his first rooftop beehive at his fathers Chevrolet dealership in 1985. That is just so cool!!

Thank you very much for the beautiful box Lindsay, the interesting articles and the lovely card. Thank you also for making my day with this event. I truly enjoyed participating and I hope that the event continues and becomes an annual thing!
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20 December 2007

Taking Out All the Stops with Spanakopita

My daughter is coming home today!!! It's time to take out all the stops and make all her favourite treats.
We will be doing some baking over the next few days, but, for her first night here we will relish one of her favourite all time dinners. From the time my daughter was 2 years old there has never been a time when she wouldn't devour spanakopita. (Spa-na-KO-pe-ta). Many children, of all ages, are picky eaters. My daughter has been exposed to my experiments from day one, therefore the blend of spinach, onions, dill, and feta cheese in layers of flaky filo pastry was right up her alley. I am sure she was Greek in a past life! Not to say that she wasn't a picky eater most of the time, but, she would always eat this dish so I knew I would not have to worry and she would be an adventurous eater. Just like mom!

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19 December 2007

Upside Down Shepherd's Pie

Upside Down Shepherd's Pie
The countdown to the final days of Christmas have arrived! Five days...18 hours...left to go. With all the holiday preparation , parties and get togethers there seems to be no time for everyday cooking. This is when I fall upon quick and easy meals or what I have languishing in the freezer for days such as these. I always have some of this Shepherd's Pie in my freezer, and, if not, it is quick to prepare. It is comforting as well, so, makes a perfect work day meal!

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17 December 2007

Cerys Well Done Angel Award.......

David Hall is a talented British "bloke" over at Book the Cook. He was a finalist on BBC's "Master Chef at Large", is a writer and an entrepeneur. He has awarded me "Cerys Well Done Angel Award" for which I am completely grateful. Cery is his daughter (isn't she the sweetest thing; look at that little face!!!) My recipe for Strawberries & Cream Cheese Tart has met with Cery's approval and is what caught their attention.
The fact that anyone at all reads my ramblings here on my blog is always an inspiration to me. The fact that someone would try my recipes is also flattery at it's best. David has truly captured the essence of blogging for me here. Thank you David from the bottom of my heart. You have made my day... my week.. my year!! I hope you and Cery have a special holiday season together!!!!
Tonight the "girls" and I are headed to Joeys for our monthly Bellini night. It is always really special when we can all get together, chat and catch up..and of course consume Bellini's by the pitcher! With all of us working for different companies these days our Bellini nights have become even more precious to us. I'll have a Bellini for you too!!!
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16 December 2007

The Simplest, Decadent Treat Ever.....

Do you have a favourite holiday treat that requires little or no effort? This Almond Roca is one such treat. Not only is it easy, but, it is foolproof and over the top on flavour. This is one of those treats that the ladies have passed down from group to group...caramel, nuts, chocolate...you can't go wrong!!

I spoke with my daughter over the phone this morning and she wants me to leave the rest of the baking until she arrives on the 20th. That gives us several days before Christmas to bake a few special traditional treats. What a pleasure it will be to work on projects together and prepare a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. When I think about it we have not made a turkey dinner together. These past Christmas' have been spent at the homes of family and friends. Therefore the preparing of the feast has fallen in someone else's lap for years now. I hope I remember how to cook a traditional feast...wink..wink...

**Almond Roca**

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 package graham wafers (if you can't find them digestive disciuts might work if they are square?)
1 package shaved almonds
1 package milk chocolate chips

In saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat (or in glass bowl, microwave at HIGH for 1 - 2 minutes).
Whisk in brown sugar just until combined (Do not boil).
Remove from heat; stir in almonds. Place graham crackers on a lightly greased cookie sheet very close together (in fact butted up together). Spread almond/butter mixture over crackers . Bake in 375F oven for approximately 10 minutes. Sprinkle generously with chocolate chips. Cool in refrigerator.
Break into pieces and ENJOY!! Best Blogger Tips

Sylvia Jurys Creme Brulee

Sylvia Jurys Creme Brûlée
Christmas is the time for special desserts to be presented at the table for guests and family. This recipe comes from Sylvia Jurys....thank you Sylvia!

Sylvia is the founder of Wine and Thyme cooking school on Lake Okanagan. She shares her experience and love of cooking with all of us who are willing. She is also the pastry and dessert chef at Quail's Gate Winery which is listed as one of the top 4 restaurants in this area.

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14 December 2007

Apple Shortbread Pie

Strange things are a brewing today. Looks like my banner has shrunk to almost nothing. Oh well... the thought is still there. I get to look at that view at least once a week anyway and can travel there in my mind.

Another one of my Christmas angels to
brighten my days in the photo.

I made this pie a few weeks ago with it's tender shortbread crust. It is a favourite of mine winter, spring, summer or fall.

**Apple Shortbread Pie**

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup white sugar
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup chilled butter, diced
2 egg yolks, beaten

1-1/4 lbs. Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ -inch slices
1 T. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift flour, ½ cup sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Fold in egg yolks (mixture will be crumbly). Remove ¼ of the mixture and set aside. Press remainder onto bottom and sides of a pie pan.

1n a large bowl, combine apples, brown sugar, 1 T. flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Place apples into crust, and sprinkle reserved crumb mixture evenly over top.

Place pie on a baking sheet, and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown and filling is bubbling.

Makes 1 – 8 inch pie. Best Blogger Tips

13 December 2007

Curried Chicken Mini Pitas

Since I was 15 years old I have collected angels for my Christmas tree. I have angels in all sizes and varieties, cherished gifts from family members and friends. This particular one is a collection I have of about 4 that I found at a huge craft fair in Toronto. I moved away from Toronto so no longer attended, otherwise I would probably have a great deal more angelic faces in my collection. The artist was from Montreal and she would come down to Toronto each year to be a part of the show.

Now that the tree and all the holiday decorations are up it is time for some entertaining. One of the snacks I like to serve uses the mini pitas found at our local grocers. They are filled with a light curry-flavoured chicken filling or sometimes tuna salad at our house. Of course you can fill them with whatever you desire.

**Curried Chicken Mini Pitas**

2 cooked, boneless chicken breasts
1/3 cup diced sweet pepper
1/3 cup diced celery
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 apple
24 mini pitas
leaf lettuce


1/3 cup light mayonnaise
3 T. chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. minced ginger root
½ tsp. mild curry paste
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. salt
Pinch pepper

In large bowl and using fingers, shred chicken finely to make 2 cups; add red pepper, celery and onions.

Dressing: In small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, coriander, lemon juice, ginger, curry paste, cumin, salt and pepper; add to chicken mixture and stir to combine. (Make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours).

Halve and core apple; cut each half into 12 slices. Cut off top third of each pita; open and place inverted piece in bottom. Line with lettuce, spoon in chicken salad and top with apple slice.

Makes 24 pieces Best Blogger Tips

12 December 2007

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

I joined a hiking club here in the city last night. I do love to walk and definitely need the motivation of walking with a group to forget about the "exercuses" I have for not walking after work. The group walks about 3 times a week even in the winter with the culmination being a major hike on the weekends. I had given up walking for the season as my enjoyment is usually dependant upon the weather. It was an opportunity to meet some new faces and talk about travel and kids. One of the ladies just came back from a hiking trip for 3 weeks in Cuba. I love that country and she has inspired me to add it to my list of places to visit again.

These scalloped potatoes are a favourite of mine and worked well with the tourtiere served on the weekend. Great as leftovers too! Another "ode" to the lovely potato.....for those of you that read my blog on a regular basis you will know that I love potatoes!!! Never met one I didn't like!!

**Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes**

Saute 5 minutes:

1 onion, chopped
4 T. butter

Blend in:

4 T. flour
2 tsp. salt


½ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. pepper

Add: 2 cups milk

Cook until thick.

Add: 2 cups or more grated Cheddar cheese and 2 diced pimientos (optional)

Peel and slice 8 medium potatoes and layer in a 9 x 12 inch baking pan. Spoon cheese and onion sauce over top.

8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes covered with aluminum foil. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes until golden brown. Best Blogger Tips

11 December 2007

Cranberry Bark a Festive Treat...

Cranberry Bark
Years ago I discovered this recipe (if it can be called that because it is so simple to put together) in Canadian Living magazine. The dried red cranberries and the green shelled pistachios make this a very festive bark. This is still one of our favourite and quick treats to make during the holidays.

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10 December 2007

Chicken Piccata & Presto Pasta Nights

With the busy holiday season upon us it is nice to have quick and easy recipes to prepare for those weeknight dinners. As the years move on I make fewer and fewer "figure-altering" sweets for the holiday season. I have a few tried and true, quick and easy sweets that I always make..a must is shortbread. Sometimes I make Chocolate Chunk Shortbread and sometimes my brothers recipe (that will come in a later post).
In the mean time meals need to be quick, easy, flavourful and nutritious! This is my submission for this weeks Presto Pasta Nights put on by the industrious and talented Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast. What marries the chicken and the pasta together is the addition of a lemon/caper sauce over all. The ingredients are fresh and reminiscent of warm summer days!!

**Chicken Piccata**

Olive oil-flavored cooking spray
1 cup (1/4-inch) strips red bell pepper (about 1 medium)
3/4 cup thinly sliced onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1 1/2 cups matchstick-cut zucchini (about 1 medium)
1 1/4 cups matchstick-cut yellow squash (about 1 medium)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved object
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces uncooked whole wheat blend spaghetti
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 -1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon butter

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add bell pepper and onion; sauté 8 minutes or until tender and beginning to brown. Place onion mixture in a large bowl; keep warm. Return pan to medium-high heat. Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add zucchini and yellow squash; sauté 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add tomatoes and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add squash mixture to reserved onion mixture. Keep warm.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Add pasta and reserved cooking liquid to vegetable mixture, stirring to combine. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and basil; toss to combine. Keep warm.

Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Dredge chicken in flour, turning to coat; shake off excess flour.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add olive oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add chicken, and cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Add broth, juice, and capers to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add green onions, butter, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; stir until butter melts.

Arrange about 1 cup pasta mixture on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 chicken breast half, 1/4 cup sauce, and 1 tablespoon remaining cheese. Serve immediately.

 4 servings
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9 December 2007

Going Traditional French Canadian with Tourtiere...

It is a blissfully quiet Sunday afternoon. The sun is shining and all is well with the world... I am indoors making some holidays treats and putting up the tree. The Christmas tunes are blaring and I am getting into the holiday mood!

My tree is an eclectic mixture of old and new. I still add all the decorations my daughter has made over the years at elementary school, along with my collection of angels I started when I was 15, and all the amber coloured decorations I can find. I had a mishap twice this morning with my tree toppling, so, finally decided to tie it up. It seems to be fine now and is in its place of honour in the living room.

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7 December 2007

Nanaimo Bars

After my post yesterday about a traditional Canadian treat of butter tart squares I had a few requests for another Canadian bar recipe... Nanaimo Bars. They are also pictured in the photo below.

According to local legend about 35 years ago, a housewife from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island entered her recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest. In a burst of civic pride, she chose to dub the entry "Nanaimo Bars". The entry won a prize, thereby putting nanaimo on the map. The official Nanaimo Bar recipe was available as a handout as well as on quality tea towel and apron souvenirs. In 1986, Nanaimo Mayor Graeme Roberts, in conjunction with Harbour Park Mall, initiated a contest to find the ultimate Nanaimo Bar Recipe. During the four-week long contest, almost 100 different variations of the famous confectionery were submitted. The winner: Joyce Hardcastle. This is her recipe.

The photo is of the very first decoration I ever put on my tree when I was 15.

**Nanaimo Bar **

Bottom Layer

½ cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
¼ cup sugar
5 T. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Second Layer

½ cup unsalted butter
2 T. and 2 tsp. cream
2 T. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 T. unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

Try these variations.
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6 December 2007

Butter Tart Squares..Happy St. Nicholas Day!!!!

The countdown to Christmas has begun....only 18 days, 18 hours, 27 minutes and 43 seconds left as we speak...42, 41, 40......

It is my favourite holiday season with all its overabundance. I love everything about the holidays with each of us having our own traditions.

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5 December 2007

Mediterranean Turkey Wrap

Well..the snow seems to be gone for the moment and we seem to be back to more seasonal temperatures. It's like living on the west coast with it's rainy winters. As long as I am here in the city and working though ..rain is preferable to snow. Yay!!!It's on days like these that my mind tends to wander to warmer climates once again...there I have had my moment in the sun...now back to reality. Rain and all.

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3 December 2007

Carrot Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese-White Chocolate Icing

For the few of you who read my blog on a regular basis you are aware that I am not a vegetarian. I did however grow up with a vegetarian dad. (I have to say pseudo-vegetarian because he does eat fish on occasion). While other families served up roast beef and ham for Sunday dinners we had baked salmon and nut cakes. Vegetarian cuisine has been around for centuries in Meditteranean cooking, but, in my dad's day it consisted of some pretty boring foods...at least in our household. I suppose his diet was limited by his taste buds mostly and his need to have everything REALLY well done. He was not a new food trier then and is not now.

There are some really exciting and flavourful vegetarian dishes I have discovered out there through other blogs and cookbooks. My daughter, "The Thai Queen" turned me on to this cookbook from Rebar Restaurant on Vancouver Island. Rebar has been "serving up the freshest, funkiest, and healthiest food on the West Coast" since 1989. They have been located in Victoria, British Columbia on Bastion Square since their conception.

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2 December 2007

Butternut Squash Risotto

All across Canada today they are having winter storms. It is the perfect day to stay inside, stay off the roads and cook up a storm! Creating a storm in the kitchen is preferable to take away the edge of the icy conditions outside. Comfort at it's best!

When we were at the Hills Health Ranch I had the opportunity to indulge in Butternut Squash Risotto. I have seen it in many different versions on other blogs by experienced risotto makers. You know who you are. I love risotto, but, have never attempted to make it outside of the classroom. I found a recipe for making it in a rice cooker but wanted to try my hand at preparing it in the traditional way. What I did enjoy about the rice cooker recipe was that it had the addition of mushrooms and feta cheese. LOVE that feta cheese!!!!!

**Butternut Squash Risotto**

1 small butternut squash

olive oil

salt and pepper

2T butter

1 small leek, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 handfuls of thickly sliced mushrooms

1-1/2 cups arborio rice

1 small cup white wine

1L (about 4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese


Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut into wedges and arrange on a baking tray or roasting pan. Sprinkle generously with freshly ground pepper and salt. Drizzle with olive oil; get in there with your hands. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until tender. When squash has cooled enough to handle take about half of the squash, remove the peel and add it to a bowl. Gently mash. Set aside.

Start the risotto. Heat the stock in a sauce pan over low heat. In a heavy saucepan or Dutch Oven add 1T butter and leeks. Saute over medium low heat for about 4 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms in last few moments (be careful not to allow the garlic to brown). Increase the heat to medium. Add the arborio rice and cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Add the white wine and cook stirring often until almost absorbed. Start to add the stock a ladle or two at a time; stirring often while it absorbs. For every ladle of stock add a few spoonfuls of squash. Continue until your rice is just lightly al dente. Peel and roughly chop the remaining squash and add to rice. Stir in the Parmesan, feta cheese and remaining butter. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serves 4

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