Sunday, April 10, 2016

1 fish, 2 fish, who knew I liked fish!

After a hiatus of a few years, I'm trying to come back to my blog!  It’s been a long time coming as many of you have requested more recipes and wondered when I will be back! I’ll try my best to write at least once a month and share with you my new recipes, tricks and everything else related to cooking, kitchen and having fun with food!

I feel I need to share with you my dislike of fish!  I didn't grow up with fish, never really ate it, unless it was the breaded pieces that my mom would deep fry… so basically, it didn't taste like fish!  Then I got older and started to travel.  One of my first destinations was Tunisia. I went there to visit my family and I knew I was in trouble because all they eat is fish (most of their meals).  Since I was raised to never complain about the food that my hosts would serve me, I ate the fish. I never really liked it, but I was being polite and respectful. But between you and I, I really wanted to eat a steak instead!

Fish was never my go-to food and then I met my husband.  His family L-O-V-E-S fish.  So being the smart cookie that I am, I had to adapt!  I would hide the taste of fish with dipping sauce or bread, until one day, none of those things were available for one dinner.  That's when I (finally) really tasted the fish and OMG it was sooooo good.  It was salmon filet with some salted herbs, fennel and lemon.  I was amazed, so I started cooking it myself and discovering new flavours to add to the fish!  But after six years of cooking salmon and only salmon, my husband asked me to buy white fish instead. I've tried to cook sole before and it turned out disgusting… I guess I over-cooked it. It completely turned me off, so I always stuck with salmon.  Anyway, as a new year rolled around, I made a new resolution that dictates that white fish will be the go-to fish!  So let me share with you my new recipe for white fish that I really really really love.  It’s so easy to make and so quick, you’ll be making it again and again!

For 4 portions, you will need:
-          4 pieces of fish of about 115g each (I use haddock or cod – I recommend a fish that is a little thick)
-          2/3 of a cup of Panko (bread crumbs)
-          Zest of 1 lime
-          Zest of 1 lemon
-          1 Tbsp of vegetable oil (may require more)
-          Salt and pepper to taste

-          Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
-          Mix the zest of lime and lemon with the panko, add some pepper and a little bit of oil (about half a Tbsp)
-          Brush the remaining oil onto the fish and add salt and pepper
-          Cook in the oven for 11 minutes
-          Once cooked, let it rest for 2-3 min

I usually serve it with a salad and a wedge of lemon

By the way, you can use the same directions with salmon if you prefer. Just brush it with Dijon mustard instead... It’s really good!

Picture by Sandra Najar

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Delicious Cheesy Gooey Bacon Mac and Cheese

As I stated in a previous post, I love cheese and I love pasta.  Although it sounds fairly simple to make mac and cheese, I could never find a really good recipe.  The ones that I tried were either too bland, or too salty.

Last year, my friend Caitlin had us over for dinner and she made a delicious mac and cheese. She recently shared the recipe with me, so as a foodie who loves cheese, I had to try it!  I realized that I didn’t have all the ingredients the recipe called for, so I made my version of it and it turned out pretty darn good, if I say so myself! Oh and before I forget, it has bacon… Who doesn’t love bacon?

This is what you’ll need:

  •  1 lb of Tortiglioni (twisted macaroni), but you can use any short pasta
  • 10 slices of bacon
  •  4 Tbsp of butter
  • 4 Tbsp of flour
  •  4 cups of half and half
  • 1 tsp of fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp of fresh thyme
  • 4 grated gloves of garlic
  •  ¼ tsp of cayenne
  • ¼ tsp of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups of sharp cheddar (I used Cracker Barrel strong cheddar)
  • 1 cup of parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 ½ cup of mozzarella
  •  2 green onions
  • Bread crumbs


  •  Cook the pasta according to the packaging
  • Cook the bacon in a 425 F oven for 18 min, or until crispy (or to your liking), once done chopped the bacon and put the oven to 400 F
  • Once the pasta is cooked and drained, use the same pot to melt the butter
  • Once melted, add the flour and stir for about 1 to 2 minutes, to cook out the “raw flavour” of the flour
  • Add the half and half gradually, while stirring constantly
  • Add the rosemary, thyme, garlic, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper
  • Taste it and adjust seasoning if need!
  •  Add the cheddar, parmigiano reggiano and half of the chopped bacon - stir.
  • Transfer half of the pasta and cheese mixture to a baking dish and add half of the mozzarella
  • Add the other half of the pasta and cheese mixture and add the remaining mozzarella
  • Sprinkle the bread crumps for a crispy topping and mix together the remaining chopped bacon and green onions and sprinkle on top
  • Bake for 20 to 25 min in the oven

 Enjoy this delicious Cheesy Gooey Bacon Mac and Cheese!

Photo by Sandra Najar
Affichage de IMG_3576.JPG en cours...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dip 'n Bread

So it's been awhile since I posted anything and with the Holidays around the corner, I figured I could share one of my favourite dips... Spinach dip! Now, don't freak out about the spinach part, this is a super quick and easy dip, but first, let me share my bread recipe (the dip will be served in it).

Crusty White Bread

This recipe is from Ricardo 

875 ml (3 ½ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
7.5 ml (1 ½ tsp) salt
2.5 ml (½ tsp) instant dry yeast
430 ml (1 ¾ cups) cold water
75 ml (1/3 cup) whole-wheat flour

1. In a large pot, combine the unbleached all-purpose flour, salt and yeast. Add the water. With a fork, stir until the flour is completely moistened, but not necessarily smooth. Cover and let rise at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours, or overnight.  I put my pot in the oven (but keep the oven off).

2. In a large bowl, place the whole-wheat flour. Set aside. With your hands, directly in the pot, fold the risen dough onto itself, about 6 times, or until it is smooth. Transfer the dough into the bowl with the whole-wheat flour and turn to coat the entire surface of the dough. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes at room temperature or until it has doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, with the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 225 °C (450 °F). Place a 3-liter (12 cup) Dutch oven or ovenproof pot with its lid (not glass) in the oven, and heat for about 30 minutes.

3. Remove the pot’s lid. Drop the floured bread dough in the centre of the hot pot. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for 30 minutes.

Let the bread cool on a wire rack or in the pot. Remove any excess flour.

Picture by Sandra's Fix

Spinach Dip

This is a really easy recipe, it’s actually the recipe from Knorr

  • 1 box (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, cooked, cooled and squeezed dry
  • 1 container (16 oz.) sour cream*
  • 1 cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
  • 1 package Knorr® Vegetable recipe mix
  • 1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained and chopped (optional)
  • 3 green onions, chopped (optional)

Combine all ingredients and chill for about 2 hours. Hollow out the top of the bread and use it to make bite-sized pieces. Serve with the bread bites and your favourite dippers (vegetables, etc.) to your favourite people.

*TIP: To lighten up dip, substitute 1 container (16 oz.) non-fat plain Greek yogurt.

Photo by Knor

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Eat, Drink and be Merry!

The Christmas Holidays, being the most joyful holiday of all, call for excellent food and special treats! I love cooking for Christmas and hosting parties. I feel like it's the best occasion to showcase chic and entertaining recipes that will wow everyone. If you haven't noticed yet, when it comes of my cooking, I love the attention! I take a lot of pride in what I do and I'm very thankful when people notice!

For Christmas dinner, I like to go the traditional route. But sometimes tradition has to be adapted when, for example, one of your guests does not eat poultry. So this year, I will be making a Mustard Rosemary Prime Rib Roast with Garlic Brie Mashed Potatoes and some Christmassy salad with pomegranate. Although this is not the traditional turkey dinner, Prime Rib is known to be the best substitute to turkey for the holiday season.

But in order to keep a little bit of tradition, I'm still going to make my meat pie (or tourtière) and this is the recipe I will be sharing with you today. It is inspired by Anna Olsen's recipe.

You will need:

·         2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
·         1/2 teaspoon fine salt
·         1/2 cup unsalted butter
·         1/2 cup vegetable shortening
·         2 tablespoons lemon juice
·         6 to 10 tablespoons cold water (as needed)

·         1 1/2 pounds ground pork, veal, beef or combination
·         2 onions, diced
·         1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
·         2 celery stalks, finely diced
·         2 cloves of garlic, minced
·         3/4 teaspoon fine salt
·         1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
·         1 tablespoon crushed celery seed (or as much as you want...I love celery seeds!)
·       Allspice - as much as you want!
·       Ground cloves - same as Allspice, as much as you want
·       1 1/2 cup or more of apple cider or blond beer
·       1 egg mixed with 2 tablespoons of water for glazing

What to do:

  1. Combine flour with salt. Cut in butter and shortening until mixture is a roughly even crumbly texture. Add lemon juice and water and blend until the dough comes together.
  2. Shape into a disc, wrap and chill for 30 minutes. While pastry is chilling, prepare filling.
  1.  In a large sauté pan or skillet, sauté beef, pork and/or veal over medium heat until no longer pink.  Drain off excess fat, add onions, carrots and seasonings and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add cider/beer and bring to a simmer. Let mixture simmer for about 15 minutes, until most of liquid is absorbed. If it does not completely evaporate, just drain the excess.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, cut dough in half, roll out to just less than ¼-inch (.5 cm) thickness and line an 8-inch (20 cm) springform pan. Fill with tourtière filling.
  5. Roll out remaining dough, cut a hole in center (for steam to escape) and place on top of filling. Pinch edges of crust together and brush with egg wash. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until pastry is a rich golden brown.
So in my version, I don't add any binding agent for the meat, but if you would like, you can add potatoes to bind the meat. For this you will need 1 1/2 cups diced, peeled potatoes that you will cook and mash to add the meat mixture.

Some people love their tourtière with ketchup, but my husband and I prefer to have it with homemade cranberry sauce. Simply follow the recipe on a package of fresh cranberries and you will have a great sauce that is also good with turkey.

This is a classic that I make every year, it's very easy to double, triple or even quadruple. I get together with some friends and we have Tourtière Day. We make a bunch of them and freeze some (uncooked)  so we have reserves for the entire year. That way, when I don't know what to make for dinner, I take one out of the freezer and cook it. That simple!

On that note, I wish you all the best for this Holiday Season and we shall all meet again in 2013 and share more fabulous recipes.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Spaghetti Sauce - Everyone has one!

Every family has one.  It's the "go-to" for a quick fix.  Often frozen or in a Mason jar, spaghetti sauce is always ready for a meal, especially when you don't know what to do for dinner.  For years I tried to make a good spaghetti sauce, but it turned out not as thick as I would have liked and tasted different every time. Well, that all changed two years ago!

It was a few weeks before Christmas and I went to my friend Annie's for dinner and she served me her spaghetti sauce.  OMG it was like a revelation.  It was what the foodie in me had been waiting for years.  It was sweet, savory and spicy, it was rich and thick.  A lot of flavour, but nothing too complex.  I had to have this recipe and being the great friend that she is, she gave it to me.  Since then, I've made this sauce many times and I even gave some to friends. I was able to consistently get it to taste the same and everyone always seems to enjoy it.  Annie confessed that she was stuck like me, without a great spaghetti sauce and that she had found this one online.  So I can't quote the primary source for the recipe, but I will share it with you since it would be a crime not to.  This will yield about 10 cups of sauce.  You can freeze it or store it in Mason jars.

You will need:

- 1/4 cup of vegetable oil (or any oil you want)
- 2 large onions, diced
- 1 large green bell pepper (I prefer red)
- 4 carrots, cut in small pieces
- 4 celery stalks, cut in small pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can of 284 ml of sliced mushrooms (you can use fresh)
- 2 lbs of ground beef
- 1 small can (156 ml) of tomato paste
- 2 cans (796 ml) of diced tomatoes
- 1 can (284 ml) of tomato soup (like Aylmer or Campbell's)
- 1 can (540 ml) of tomato juice
- 1/2 tsp of each of the following: rosemary, marjoram, thyme, oregano, nutmeg, ground cinnamon, clove, salt and pepper.
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar (this is the secret ingredient!)

What to do:

Heat up the oil and all the chopped vegetables and cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the meat.

Once the meat is brown, add all the tomatoes (paste, tomatoes, sauce and juice), one at a time, stirring between each addition. Add the spices, stir and then add the sugar.

If you are cooking the sauce on the stove, bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for four hours, stirring occasionally.  Keep the sauce uncovered.

I prefer to cook it in the oven at 250-300 F (125-150 C) for four hours and I stir every 30 to 45 minutes.  The first two hours, I keep the lid on the sauce, then remove it for the remaining two.

You will most definitely love this spaghetti sauce.  For a little kick, I add pepper flakes when I sauté the vegetables. In my house, we like it spicy!

Any time I serve spaghetti, I love to have a side of garlic bread to go with it. Here is my recipe, inspired by my husband's cousin Katelyn:

Melt some butter, then add minced garlic (as mush as you want, but one clove is generally enough!). Add black pepper and some dry parsley (optional).  Take a brush and brush the bread with the garlic butter mixture.  Before putting it in the oven, sprinkle a mix of Italian herbs on top of the bread.  Cook for 10 to 15 min in a 350 F (175 C) oven or until toasted to your liking.  You can add cheese halfway through the cooking if you like.  Let it melt for the remaining time.

So there you have it! Every family has a spaghetti sauce that is shared from generation to generation and this is mine that I am sharing with all of you.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Quick Fix with Cheese

I've always loved cheese!  Over the past two years I have discovered new cheeses that are so tasty that I wanted to share some quick cheese-tastic recipes.  In 2010, my husband and I went to Italy where I discovered Gorgonzola. This is a very creamy blue cheese. It is a perfect addition to pizza, stuffed chicken, salad dressings, sauces, steak and pasta. So I thought I would share my Gorgonzola Penne with Arugula with all of you.

You will need:
- 454g of penne or any short pasta
- 200g of Gorgonzola cheese
- 1 cup of cream
- 2 cups of Arugula or baby spinash
- 3/4 cups of tosted nuts (Pecans or Walnuts)

Cook the pasta according to the packaging, in the mean time, eat up the cream.  Once simmering, add the Gorgonzola in chunks and stir until melted.

When ready, drained the pasta, but keep about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Mix together the pasta and the cheese sauce, add a little bit of pasta water to thin it out and add the arugula and nuts. Add black pepper generously and serve immediatly.

Another cheese that I really love is Brie.  This is one of the most popular French cheese in the world.  Here are some quick recipes with Brie.

Baguette and Melted Brie
Cut a baguette lengthwise.  Cut thin slices of Brie to cover the bread. Add some chopped hazelnuts and drizzle a little bit of honey. Put in the oven until the cheese is melted, about 7 min at 350 degree oven. Cut in pieces and serve immediately.

Garlic Mash Potato with Brie
Use potatoes of your choise, I personnaly love yellow gold potatoes as they are more creamy. Boil the potatoes with 3 or 4 garlic cloves.  Mash the potatoes as you would normally and add some small pieces of Brie.  Taste your potatoes as you are adding the cheese, and add as much as you want. This will make your potatoes so creamy you will have to call them "Smashed potatoes"!

Fondant with Sweet Onions
This is one dish that I make very often. You will need a small wheel of Brie cheese, 1 onion and 1 table spoon of brown sugar. Preheat the oven to 350 degree.  Slice the onion thinly and sauté in butter in a skillet. Once the onions are translucide, add the sugar and stir until the onions are brown and the sugar makes a nice brown sauce in the bottom of the skillet.

Put the onion mixture on top of the Brie and cook in the oven for about 20 min. Keep an eye on it, as the cheese could expand and burst. Serve with bread and crackers. This will have your guests talking!

There are so many ways of enjoying cheese.  Sure it's always good on bread, but try new things and you won't regret it!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Other Man in my Kitchen

As some of you noticed, I did not post last week.  Things have been crazy around my kitchen and I just didn’t have one minute to myself.  But to make it up to you, I want to introduce you to THE other man in my life.  This affair  has been going on for over 10 years and my husband knows all about him.  Being the confident husband that he is, he is not jealous, in fact he encourages me to seek advice and comfort from my other man.  And I’m not the only woman that has this other man in her life.  He is loved by thousands of women and men and his name is: Ricardo Larrivée… I call him Ricardo.  He is the inspiration to so many recipes. He makes me discover new foods and ways of doing things…in the kitchen.  I will guarantee that any recipe of his, will become an instant favourite.  His familiar smile and his easy recipes (even the most complex) will make you feel like the Chef of all Chefs.  Most of the time, when I try a new recipe, my husband, mother-in-law or even friends will say: “Is this from Ricardo?" and I will be so proud to answer “YES!”. Even my cooking is giving him away!  Yesterday when I told my husband this weeks's post was about my “other man”, he replied “Oh, you’re writing about Ricardo”. You see? This could happen to you too!

The thing that I absolutely adore from Ricardo is that all of his recipes are good, easy to prepare and they give you room to grow.  You know sometimes a chef can have good, not-so-easy and/or bad recipes, but Ricardo’s are just simple, tasty and appetizing.  Ricardo gave me the confidence to try new things. Things like fish. I know it sounds silly, but I didn't grow up eating fish. But now, it's part of my life thanks to him.  And don't get me started on avocados! I think I bought my first avocado only four years ago!  My mother has a family recipe for Banana Bread that’s been passed on from mother to daughter for generations. And it was the most A-M-A-Z-I-N-G Banana Bread... until I decided to try Ricardo's double chocolate banana bread. Oh my, what have I done? I broke the family legacy because I’ll be passing down his recipes to my children! Don’t tell my mom, I haven't told her yet!  But head on over to Ricardo's website for that recipe.

Thanks to Ricardo, I also discovered ratatouille.  No, not the cute Disney movie, the recipe!  This dish with a funny name is a mix of vegetables generally served as a side dish.  I had tried to make it many times before, but it was just so mushy. It came out looking like a clear soup with a few chunks in it and didn't really taste like anything.  But after reading Ricardo's recipe, I recognized my error.  In order to have a good ratatouille, the vegetables need to be prepared and cooked separately so each will taste truly of itself. Then you combine them.  Ricardo explained it to me (well on his website - I suppose it wasn't just for me!) and since then, his recipe is my favourite.  I use it to top a low-calorie pizza where I just add chicken and cheese.  I use it instead of pasta sauce and I add feta cheese and Kalamata Olives. And of course I use it as a side dish.  You have to try this recipe you’ll love it!

Picture from Ricardo's Website
The last thing I want to mention is his website.  It is full of interesting and educational information, how-to videos, etc.  You can create a menu for a specific meal or gathering and save it in your account.  You can even produce a list of your favourite recipes and create your grocery list from it.  His website is just very user-friendly and has earned the number one spot in my food-related bookmarks.  What can I say? He is my go-to guy!  Also, all of his recipes are available in French and English, which makes them even easier to share. And to top it all off, you can sign up for Ricardo's weekly newsletter, with over 10 recipes (generally along the same "theme") and other useful information.

So, there you have it! The (not-so) secret ingredient in most of my recipes and the inspiration for all of my cooking.  I’m sharing my man with you and I honestly hope that you’ll enjoy him!