Category Archives: Dinner

Deconstructed BLT

Chef Karen: The letters “BLT” in our house mean genuine happiness to my husband! Even when I suggested our blog recipe this week was a “Deconstructed BLT”, he was happy. After you read Chef Jonathan’s blog, you will see that he obviously has the more creative cooking mind in this blogging duo. My BLT looked different on the plate but I didn’t move far from the original. I changed my usual “sandwich” into an appetizer. I toasted my bread, cut it into little circles, and cut my bacon and lettuce to size. I cut my tomatoes into little pieces, mixed them with mayonnaise and white wine vinegar (one of my new favs), added some salt and pepper and put it on top of the circles. Although deconstructed, the outcome was a happy grin from my husband. A+ in my book! 🙂

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Chef Jonathan: My approach to this week’s deconstructed BLT was to turn it into something completely different. I wanted someone to eat this and not think “Oh, this reminds me of a BLT”, so I went with pasta. I cooked my pasta to ‘al dente’, then started on my bacon, cutting into 1/2 inch cubes, then sautéing with 1/2 and 1/2 butter and oil, seasoning as it cooks. Then I diced my tomatoes, adding to my prepared pasta sauce, adding minced garlic, my favourite herbs, and salt & pepper to taste. Tossing it all together, with some shredded cheese of course (it wouldn’t be pasta without) I put it in the oven for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, I did a classic chiffonade with my lettuce for a garnish, and voila a BLT pasta!



Tortilla Soup

Chef Karen:I must be living under a rock. I’d never heard of Tortilla Soup before.  After I tried it at a church event, I knew we had to try it. It’s very easy to make! This is good news for anyone that’s prone to the “I HATE making soups” mentality. When I made it,  I left out the jalapeno rings. I just wasn’t “feeling” that kind of taste.  I crushed tortilla chips in the bottom of my bowl before pouring the soup into it.  I liked how the soup softened them up.  I also added some hot pepper cheese to the top; just because everything tastes better with either cheese or chocolate on it and this calls for cheese, not chocolate. I paired it with a cucumber salsa.  A recipe for another time 🙂  Enjoy your soup!

tortilla soup

Chef Jonathan: I was excited to make this soup because I’d never made a tortilla soup before, and I was pleasantly surprised. I expected it to be a bit more ‘Tex-Mex’, but I like all of the fresh ingredients in this recipe. I did however spice it up a bit and make chili-flavoured tortilla strips, by drizzling some EVOO to the sliced strips, and sprinkling some chili powder on top, followed by toasting in the oven. All in all, a great soup for a cold day, or just whenever.



Here is the recipe:


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Parmesan Bubble Loaf

Chef Karen: If you like garlic bread, this is one step up from that. It’s an easy bread that you use frozen dough for – you can make your own but why? 🙂 Be prepared to make yourself stop eating it……… it’s THAT good!

Parmesan Bubble Loaf

Chef Jonathan: One word: Parmesan! This Parmesan Bubbleloaf is everything that butter, garlic and Parmesan were made for. This goes perfectly with pretty much anything. I made a cheese capellini with a rose sauce, and it was a perfect addition. Definitely try this at home, and do what I did: pour the excess butter mixture over the Bubbleloaf, and add more parm on top, enjoy!


Here is the recipe:

1 loaf of frozen bread dough
1/2 C of melted butter
1/2 C of parmesan cheese
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Thaw the bread dough on the counter by putting it on a plate sprayed with cooking oil. Spray the top of the bread, lightly, and then cover with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.
Once the bread is thawed, do the following:
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the melted butter, cheese and garlic all together.
Spray an 8″x8″ pan.
Rip the dough into little balls.
Roll the balls into the butter mixture.
Place the balls in the pan.
Cover and let rise until double.
Then, bake for 25- 30 minutes.



Irish Beef Hand Pies

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, we wanted to do something Irish. Everyone cooks corned beef and cabbage so we went with Irish Beef Hand Pies. Here are the results:

Chef Karen: I found the recipe very easy to make. I did, though, feel that it needed to be made a bit more interesting so instead of pie crust for the pastry I opted for a puff pastry bundle. I thawed my pastry as directed. I then took 1 sheet, cut it in half, spread olive oil on them and put two together. I put a spoonful of meat mixture in the centre and then proceeded to make a bundle. I folded the sides in, brought the bottom half across the top and then brought the top half over to cover it up. I then lifted it up to put it on the baking tray. It fell apart! So, I tried, again, with 3 sheets cut in half (making it 6 layers of pastry) to give it more strength. It worked but it was really hard to cut through. I brushed each one with olive oil on the top instead of on each sheet. I found this recipe to be a bit bland. But as my husband said, “It is meat and potatoes.” I wished I had had some gravy to go with it.

beef pie 1


beef pie 2


Chef Jonathan: I attempted to use the store bought pastry crust, as opposed my usual Pâté Brisee, and I was thoroughly disappointed. The dough was very uneven, and so to salvage the recipe, I decided to make Beef Pot Pies instead, filling ramekins with the beef mixture, and layering some pastry crust on top, brushed with egg wash. I very much enjoyed the beef/potato mixture, and the addition of green cabbage was a surprisingly nice addition. I did find though that I added too much tomato paste, and had to over season to compensate for that taste. All in all, a nice recipe for St. Patty’s Day, if you want to go classical Irish cuisine. Enjoy!



Here is the recipe:


Timpano di Maccheroni: The “Mythic Pasta Dome”

This week’s recipe was inspired from a movie called “Big Night” starring Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub. As I searched how to make it, I found that there are as many ways to create it as there are cooks. Therefore, I chose a recipe that looked fairly do-able for everyone and looked awesome, at the same time. Because of the inadequacy of the original recipe we followed, we decided to create our own. Thus, there is another Timpano di Maccheroni recipe now out there – this one created by non-Italians.

Your oven will be 350 degrees.

Here are the ingredients that you’ll need for the inside:

Pasta Dome 001

3 C pasta sauce – make your own or buy your favourite. (Chef Karen bought her fav.)

1/2 Box of frozen meatballs, if you wish

125 g of penne or your favourite pasta

8 oz. salami or pepperoni (divided into 2 )

Bechamel sauce (which is: 2T butter, 2T flour, 1 1/4 C milk, salt and pepper, dash of nutmeg and 1/4C Parmesan cheese) in medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook until starting to brown. Stir in milk and whisk to smooth until bubbly and thickened. Whisk in cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

3 hard boiled eggs cut into quarters

6-8 black olives – pitted

2C mozzarella cheese

Pasta base:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 egg yolks

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp cream or half and half

Either by hand, In food processor or big mixer with dough hook, mix flour, salt, egg, and cream together and process or hand knead until dough is smooth and shiny. Check dough for wet/dry consistency, adding a bit of water or flour to achieve ball of dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for at least one hour to allow protein bonds to form and elasticize the dough.)

In the meantime, cook your pasta and divide it in half. 1/2 goes with the bechamel sauce, 1/2 goes with the meatballs. When your dough is ready, put it together.

Spray your casserole dish and scatter it with bread crumbs

Spray your casserole dish and scatter it with bread crumbs

Then, roll out your dough and put it in your dish.

Add your salami or pepperoni

Add your salami or pepperoni
Put in the bechamel sauce with the pasta

Put in the bechamel sauce with the pasta

add your eggs

add your eggs

Now, add your pasta with meatballs.  layer on your olives and add the rest of the pepperoni

Now, add your pasta with meatballs. layer on your olives and add the rest of the pepperoni

add the yummy mozzarella cheese

add the yummy mozzarella cheese

cover over with the dough.  (I obviously had a little hole)

cover over with the dough. (I obviously had a little hole)

Cover the whole thing with tin foil and bake for 1 hour in the oven.

Here is what it looks like out and cut. A nice addition is some more pasta sauce over the whole top.

Pretty cool looking piece of supper

Pretty cool looking piece of supper

And here it is on a plate

And here it is on a plate

Chef Jonathan:

Spray your casserole dish with baking spray and fit in the Pâté Brisee to cover bottom and run up the sides of the pan, with enough overlap to cover the pasta. Then, layer in pancetta or pepperoni.

Layer in the long pasta, mixed with the bechamel (in this case, I used linguine). I also topped with mozzarella cheese.

Layer in the short pasta, mixed with the meat sauce, then top with mozzarella.

Then, finish with layering in the rest of the pancetta/ pepperoni.

Pull up the Pâté Brisee, stretching if needed, until enough is yielded to overlap the entire dish, and crease. Wet a pastry brush with water, if desired, to ensure it’s sealed.

Cut a slice, or two………

…..and enjoy!


Hawaiian Luau

It’s mid-winter in Ontario and that starts to get people down. A Hawaiian Luau is a fun way to help cure those winter blahs. This week’s post is our menu and some pictures to go with it. We started with ordering in Hawaiian pizza – we concentrated on more interesting things to actually make.

Our menu was as follows:

Pizza, tropical fruit salad, mango salsa, virgin margarita, virgin piña colada, and a mango agua fresca.

Chef Karen: I made a tropical salad. I started with fresh pineapple (is there any other kind???), chopped it up into small pieces and added fresh mango and orange to it. To add some colour, I added kiwi. Just before serving I cut up some banana and put it in and also added some chopped, sweetened coconut. It was quite tasty as the sweetness went well with the salty pizza.

Hawaiin Luau 018

Jonathan: I made the mango salsa and the tropical drinks. For the salsa, I chopped up: cucumber, mangoes, jalapeño pepper, red onion, tomato and I squeezed some fresh lime juice for a zesty spin. These go perfect with lightly salted tortilla chips. For the virgin margarita: I blended 1 can of frozen limeade concentrate, the juice of: 1 orange, 1 lemon and 1 lime, and tons of ice (this is for a slushed margarita, for on-the-rocks, stir in the ingredients and chill with ice). I then rimmed the glass with sugar, garnished with a fresh lime wedge and tropical umbrella. For the virgin piña colada: I blended pineapple juice, coconut milk and ice. For the garnish: place a maraschino cherry on the tropical umbrella. For the mango agua fresca: I chopped up 2 mangoes, blended with 3 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar, fresh lime juice and ice. Add more sugar or lime depending on taste.







Creamy Roasted Garlic Soup

Chef Karen: I LOVE garlic. This garlic soup recipe caught my eye and I wanted to try it and subsequently share it with our readers. This soup hit a home-run in my kitchen! Besides the fact that it takes FOREVER to peel 40 cloves of garlic, the rest of the prep for the soup is standard. I followed the recipe to the letter and found it very successful. It’s very creamy and garlicky tasting but not over-garlicky. It was a simple and light Sunday evening supper served with Asiago bread.

Chef Jonathan: This is a fairly easy recipe, if you do all your prep at the beginning. Since there’s peeling, chopping, more peeling and dicing, it makes it very worthwhile to get your prep out of the way. Create your Mise en Place early to ensure a smooth and steady method. I only used about half the garlic cloves as stated, as I felt 40 was a bit excessive, and the taste was very enjoyable. I also like the finishing of the soup with cream, this is a very common and easy way to finish a soup, and it really creates a nice finish. Enjoy!

The recipe is from The Dairy Farmers of Canada and you can find it here: