Cook the cover: March

Back in March during our never-ending winter, I tackled Bon Appetit’s March cover recipe, Short Rib Pot Pie.

This recipe sounded intense: pounds of short ribs, onion and wine filling a flaky classic pie crust. I decided cooking such a beast should be celebrated. I invited over two of my dearest friends, for whom a month later I’d travel to Ireland to see  married, for a pre-wedding feast.

I’m not going to lie, making the recipe was just as much fun as eating it was. Hunting down the short ribs, cooking the filling the night before and filling my house with a heavenly smell made me excited to finally eat it. The recipe certainly isn’t difficult, just a wee bit time-consuming.

The eating of the pie, on the other hand, took way too little time. Although extremely rich, both my guests and I devoured our slices. We washed the rib filling, sweetened with slowly cooked onion and enveloped in a salty crust, down with a strong Beaujolais.

The pot pie was just as good eaten cold, straight out of the fridge, the next day.

I wouldn’t have cooked this recipe without the cook the cover challenge, but boy am I glad I did. My mouth is just watering, months later, thinking about that meal.

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On an enchanted evening

Late last month, on one of the last warm and hazy days of August, Meg and I wandered to a local museum.

And played.

We threw some cava and extravagant heels in the car.

We wandered through fields and over ponds.

Some night you just need pretty dresses, girlfriends and laughter. A little sparkling wine never hurt anyone either…

paint dress and shoes

paint dress and field

paint dress

cava close-up

Cava and glass

Drinking cava

opening the bottle

Mini bottles of champagne are awesome – but have screw caps and not corks. No fancy openings to see here.

Photos by Megpie Photography


The invited guest

I’m tired of bringing a bottle of wine as a hostess gift.

Even with a myriad of options out there, I still tend to use vino as my lazy go-to.

Why? It’s hard sometimes to decide what to bring as a guest.

For me, perishable food and flowers are a no-no. They often require extra work and stress for the host or hostess – gifting flowers in a vase would be the exception to this rule.

So what would I like to give or get? I have come up with few ideas that I’m sure will ensure that I’m asked back again.


Paper or fabric? The choice is up to you, but I love receiving beautiful napkins. They’re a simple accessory that adds a lot of dash to a table, but aren’t often something people think to spend money on for themselves.

I’m currently loving these fabric napkins from Indigo.

Navy fabric napkins

Scented candles

Candles are one of my all-time favourite gifts to give and receive. I always have a candle burning in my home.

I adore bold scents and tend to change the candles I’m burning depending on my mood and the season. Voluspa candles are one of my favourites for their range and depth of scents,

Candles can be a more personal gift. When in doubt, I like to go for a neutral scent like french vanilla.

Ice cube trays

I adore a good cocktail pre-dinner. You will have a place in my heart forever if you make me a good negroni.

After drinking far too many watery cocktails, I can admit that a slow-melting ice-cube is a must for most cocktails.

I’ve got my eye on some large ice-cube trays for the fall.

Large ice cube tray

Local spirits

So I know that I said that I don’t want to bring wine anymore. A thoughtful locally distilled spirit however?  That raises the bar.

I’m looking forward to gifting (and hopefully receiving) some spirits from Niagara Region’s Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers.


A Girls’ Night In

Every so often I like to pamper my girlfriends. While going out for drinks, dinner or movies is always fun, sometimes you need a great night in to catch up, have a dance party and laugh out loud without bothering anyone.

This upcoming weekend I’m planning a night to celebrate sweet friends who’ve been with me through thick and thin.

Girls night requirements include good food, icy drinks, and sweet treats. Comfy clothes, fun manicures and lots of chatter complete the night. And will continue the next morning over hot coffee.

For this weekend I’m craving:

Bon Appetit nachos

Bon Appetit nachos. I’m going to make a dairy free version.

Grapefruit Negroni

A zesty version of my favourite drink.

Pink sprinkled cupcakes

Girly cupcakes inspired by one of my favourite blogs.

And for fun, I may just throw this in:

Bacon popcorn

Because bacon+popcorn+cashews = the perfect nightcap.

What do you do for a fun girl’s night?


Soups’s On: The Deep Freeze Remedy

I don’t know about you, but frigid weather always means soup. And I don’t mean soup out of a can. I’m talking about real, homemade soup.

Winter soup at home

I don’t use a recipe. I make my “kitchen sink soup” based on whatever I have in the house. I promise you this soup is so easy you’ll wonder why you ever would buy soup again. Make it vegetarian with vegetable stock and seasonal veggies. Change up the spices to dramatically alter the flavour. Add different meats, add different grains. It’s really, really hard to mess up soup. Use flavours you love and you will always have a winner.

Here’s my recipe from today’s meal:

As I haven’t done groceries in a couple of weeks (oops) I grabbed chickpeas, quinoa, and frozen veggies. At the last minute I subbed roasted chicken for the quinoa.

Soup Ingredients

I cooked the veggies in a couple teaspoons of vegetable oil for about five minutes. Then I added my broth and water. I use three cups of broth and two cups of water. At this point I also added my chickpeas and seasoning of choice. For today’s soup I used two teaspoons chile flakes, ginger and coriander, and one teaspoon rosemary and chile powder. I wanted something spicy to warm me up! I also tossed in a tablespoon of soy sauce for colour and zing.

Simmering soup

The I let the stove do the work. It needed to simmer for half an hour. This is the time I get antsy and ready to eat. I recommend you open a bottle of wine, pour yourself a glass and paint your nails.

When my nails were dry I threw in my chicken and simmered for ten minutes more.

Cooked chicken for soup

Then I added freshly ground pepper and devour. See? Easy peasy. This batch made me about four servings. The other three are in my fridge, and will act as meals for the weekend, although it can just as easily be put in the freezer.

Finished soup


Something’s Cooking

Being in my new place for a little over a month now, has reminded me how much pleasure I can find in feeding myself in the fall. The produce is abundant, and flavourable, and nothing takes a lot of prep to make amazing; my kitchen is sparkly new and a pleasure to cook in. I putter around, and find myself calling friends to come over to eat, as I inevitably make far too much food. Example number 1: tonight’s dinner.

Easy weeknight dinner

I call it: throw it in a pan dinner. It’s pretty much impossible to screw up. All it is pan-warmed veggies (with olive oil and chile sauce) served over mixed greens and goat cheese. I normally throw in whatever I have on hand. This version stars roasted brussels sprouts, baby heirloom tomatoes, bacon (!) and olives. The delicious side is pumpkin ravioli from President’s Choice. So good, inexpensive, and simple to make that I may try all the flavours. Anyone else tried them?

A bold red wine is all it takes to finish the meal. I’m currently loving Yellow Tail’s Shiraz/ Grenache blend, but any Shiraz or Cab Sauv would also work well.

The perfect soundtrack for this meal was Alicia Keys’ ‘As I Am’ – because a Chopin inspired R&B album is perfect on a fall night.
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