nana’s meltaways

wire rack
Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean that baking needs to come to an end. The cold of winter with its howling winds and powerful storms has had me hiding indoors. I find a nice way to get the apartment extra warm is to turn on the oven and bake something. A perfect excuse to make something sweet.

This recipe comes from my Nana. She was an expert baker, and this cookie is one of my favourites that she would make. It’s simple and buttery, and not too sweet. As the name suggests, it melts in your mouth! I made them recently with a girlfriend, then when I was home for the holidays, my mom said she had found a bag of the little silver ball candies that my Nana would used to top her Meltaways with, so of course, I had to make them again.

I have cut this recipe in half, and it still makes an outrageous amount of cookies. I counted 76. If you are attending a cookie exchange, or baking for lots of friends and family, then feel free to double this recipe and you’ll get about 150 cookies– they’ll be sure to please.


1/2 lb butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
dragées (silver ball candy), optional

butter cubes
Preheat oven to 325 F, then begin by cubing room temperature butter, and placing it in a large bowl.

cream butter
Using beaters, cream the butter.

butter sugar
Add icing sugar to butter and beat 1 minute.

finished dough
Add vanilla and flour, beating all for 3 minutes. This time, I used whole wheat flour, but the original recipe calls for white all purpose flour, and it really does taste better– well more authentic ‘Nana’, anyway.

parchment uncooked
Drop small balls of dough onto a cookie sheet, and space evenly. Dough balls should be very small– these cookies are meant to be a one-bite treat. If desired, top the balls with dragées before baking. Between batches, keep the dough in the fridge.

For Christmas, I got a silicone baking mat and thought I’d test it out for this recipe. Since I wasn’t sure how the cookies would turn out using the mat, I decided to bake half the cookies on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, just in case. Both methods worked well! I was pleased with the results of the mat, and was happy with the easy clean-up. Since the mat is reusable, there was also zero waste.

Place in oven for 12-15 minutes. The trick is to make sure the bottom of the cookies are a delicate golden colour. The tops of the Meltaways should not be browned.

delicate golden

the thigh who loved me

This recipe comes from Alastair’s mom, though I’m not quite sure where she originally found it. It is delicious, and very easy to prepare. The only part that is at all time-consuming is cutting the fat off the chicken thighs. You could even save time by buying skinless thighs; prep would take no time at all!

This meal is a hit, because it covers all the bases: it’s sweet, tangy, and has a bit of a kick to it, but is still quite mild. It’s a nice substitute for BBQ chicken, and it’s nice and saucy. Extra sauce is great on potatoes, if you’re serving that on the side.


6 chicken thighs, skinned
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp grainy, old style mustard
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp Parmesan
1 tbsp mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, add ketchup, salsa, honey, mustard, cumin, and chili powder.

Stir well.

Arrange chicken in a baking dish, and make sure pieces are not overlapping.

Pour sauce over the chicken, and use tongs to flip over, ensuring each piece is well-coated. Place in preheated oven, uncovered, for 55 minutes.

Remove from oven, top with cheeses, then return to oven and broil until cheese starts to brown slightly. Serve hot!

parchment-baked lemon & basil trout

parchment-baked lemon & basil trout.jpg
This is a no-fail recipe. IT IS SUPER EASY TO MAKE. I have made this dish with both salmon and trout (upwards of 20 times) and it’s always a hit; packed with flavour and never dried out. If you’re looking to make an impressive meal, but don’t necessarily have the time for something extravagant with a ton of steps, then look no further! Ready in 20 minutes, with about 5 minutes of prep? Yes, please.

Oh, and leftover trout (or salmon) is great in a sandwich with sliced cucumber and cream cheese. Sometimes I don’t even wait for leftovers, and make the sandwiches right away.

This recipe serves two, but is very easy to adapt for serving more people.


2 trout fillets
2 tbsp julienne basil
2 full basil leaves
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
6 thinly sliced lemon rounds
lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 400°F, then start by making two deep slits in each fillet.

Stuff the slits with julienne basil.

before oven

Place trout on a piece of parchment paper, then rub with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Top fish with lemon slices, then a whole basil leaf.

Wrap the parchment paper around the fish to create a packet. Alternatively, you can use kitchen twine, and tie up the parchment as a bundle. Place the packets on a baking sheet, and bake at 400°F for 20 minutes.

Remove from parchment paper, and serve with lemon wedges.

maple bourbon cocktail


This might be one of the best ways to warm up this fall! The Maple Bourbon Cocktail is the perfect balance of sweet, tangy, and refreshing.


ice cubes
3 lime wheels
1.5 oz bourbon
2-3 dashes of orange bitters
.5 oz maple syrup
juice from two lime wedges
soda water
1 sprig of mint

Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in bourbon, bitters, lime juice, and maple syrup. Stir well. Add in lime wheels, and top with soda. Garnish and a sprig of mint.

cheesy spinach frittata

Here is a tasty breakfast that is quick, healthy, and very easy to make. There is no flipping required, and once the ingredients are in the pan, there’s no stirring or mixing. Now THAT’S easy.


3 large eggs
splash of milk
salt and pepper
a handful of washed baby spinach
1/2 a shallot, diced
2 sprigs of thyme, plus extra for garnish (optional)
2 tbsp grated mozzarella
1 1/2tbsp ricotta
1 tsp grated Parmesan
1 tsp butter

eggs bowl
In a small bowl, crack the eggs, add ricotta, and a splash of milk. Using a small whisk or a fork, whisk together the milk, ricotta, and eggs. Add the spinach, shallot, 1/2 the mozzarella, thyme, salt and pepper. Give the mixture a bit of a stir so that all ingredients are coated in egg.

butter pan
In a small frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once completely melted, make sure the inside of the pan and its sides are evenly coated in butter. Let it bubble for a moment.

Immediately pour the egg and spinach mixture into the pan. Occasionally, use a heat-safe rubber scraper to get under the edges of the frittata. While doing so, tilt the frying pan slightly; this will get rid of some of the runny egg that sits on top, and help to ensure that the bottom won’t burn or stick.

top with cheese
Once the egg starts to solidify, add the rest of the mozzarella and the Parmesan. Lower heat, and cover with a lid for 1 minute.

fritata plated other
Transfer to a plate with the help of the rubber scraper. Add some more cracked pepper, garnish with extra thyme if desired, and serve with toast and your favourite breakfast sides, like fruit, bacon, or potatoes.

potato salad with mustard vinagrette

For me, nothing says comfort food like potatoes! The other day, I picked up some local sausages and fresh buns, and decided that a potato salad would make a lovely side dish.

I have never been a huge fan of creamy, mayo-based potato salads. I have had an intolerance to eggs for years now, so I’m sure that’s had a lot to do with it. This recipe is tangy, has a nice kick to it, and is egg-free.


8-12 medium sized potatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tbsp old style whole grain mustard
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
juice from half a lemon
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, finely sliced
1/4 cup mixture flat-leaf parsley and chives, chopped
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper

Start by peeling, cleaning, and quartering your potatoes. Fill your pot with cold water, and add a cup of vegetable broth. This helps to flavour the potatoes, and the cold water helps to cook the potatoes evenly. Add the potatoes, then bring to a boil, uncovered. After about 5-6 minutes of boiling, start to check if the potatoes are done by poking them with a fork. They will be done once you can easily poke through without any resistance. Once cooked, drain, and place potatoes in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, add mustard, rice wine vinegar, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, shallots, herbs, cheese, salt, and pepper. Mix together.

Add the mustard mixture to the potatoes, and stir so that potatoes are well-coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, then serve.

lemon, leek & cremini mushroom risotto

With fall’s cold weather seemingly here to stay, I still find myself craving some of the light-tasting, citrusy flavours of summer. This dish is perfect for a transition to the cooler months.  It is simple, yet bursting with flavour, and rich and creamy without being too heavy.


3 leeks, trimmed and chopped
10-12 cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 tbps extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
6 tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 3/4 cups arborio rice
1 generous glass of white wine*
4 1/2 cups hot vegetable broth
juice of 1/2 a lemon
zest of a whole lemon
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mixed chopped chives and flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
garnish with lemon wedges and parsley, if desired

slice leek
Start by cleaning your leeks. The best way to get all the dirt and grit out is to cut off the tops and bottoms of the leeks, then make a lengthwise slice, as pictured above. You will be able to spread the layers apart, and really open up the leeks to get them nice and clean. Next, chop them up.

peel mush
Equally as important to clean are the mushrooms. Mushrooms act as sponges, so it is a good idea to peel them before rinsing them off with water. Otherwise, all the dirt from the outside will just get sucked to the inside, and despite your best effort to clean them, you will end up with an equally as dirty mushroom. Peel the skin off the mushrooms, as pictured above, then rinse with water, and slice.

leeks mush2

Next, add oil to a large pan, and cook the garlic. Garlic will burn quickly, so make sure the heat is not set too high. After about 1 minute, add the leeks and mushrooms, and coat them with the oil and garlic.

set aside
After about 10 minutes on medium heat, the leeks will become soft and start to brown slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.

melt butter
Using the same pan, add about 1/2 the butter, and let melt.

butter onions2
Add the chopped onion and salt to the buttered pan, and cook until onion becomes translucent, very soft, and slightly browned (about 15 minutes on medium heat).

add rice
Add the rice to the onion, and give it a good stir so that it is well-coated in butter. Then, add that generous glass of white wine, and make sure you have a glass yourself.  Continue to stir until the liquid has been absorbed.

*The wine that I used for this recipe was Cono Sur Viognier 2012 from Chile. It worked well in this recipe because it is quite aromatic and not too sweet; it complemented the creaminess and zest of the dish very nicely.

add stock
Stir in about 3/4 cup of veg stock at a time, until it has been absorbed. Stir constantly so that it doesn’t burn. I like to use a heat-safe rubber scraper so that I can make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Keep adding stock and keep stirring constantly until finally all liquid has been absorbed and rice is cooked through. It should be a creamy consistency, without being gluey or mushy. Remove from heat.

add herbs leeks
Add the rest of the butter and the Parmesan cheese to the rice, and stir until melted. Next, mix in the pepper, lemon juice, zest, leek mixture, and fresh herbs. Stir until combined.

plated header
Garnish with parsely, lemon wedge (and/or zest) and Parmesan.

Though I have made a few minor tweaks, the original recipe can be found at So Good and Tasty.

baked beef stew

beef stew3.jpg

If you’re looking to whip up an impressive, flavourful, easy-to-make meal, definitely give this one a try. Baked beef stew is a must for meat and potato lovers. It is simple to make, and while it’s cooking, it’ll have your whole house smelling incredible. My parents suggested I give this recipe a try, and it is now one of my go-to winter meals.

This recipe is courtesy of Noob Cook. I have stayed pretty close to original recipe with only a few minor differences. Be sure to make your way over to for some other great meal ideas!

My dutch ovens are not big enough to cook the whole stew in one batch, so for this recipe, I divided the ingredients and essentially made two half-batches at once.


800g stew beef cubes
sea salt and cracked pepper
olive oil
4 stalks of celery, diced
1 large white/yellow onion
2 glasses of red wine
2 tbsp flour
2 cups of beef stock
1 garlic bulb, separated into cloves and peeled, then crushed with flat end of knife
4 carrots, peeled and cubed
4 parsnips, peeled and cubed
1.5 tbsp Worcester (Worcestershire) sauce
6 sprigs of thyme
2 tsp dried rosemary
3 dried bay leaves
1/2 tbsp slightly crushed black peppercorns
6 medium-sized hard potatoes, cubed
1 cup frozen vegetables(peas, corns, beans, and carrots), thawed


Place your dutch oven on the stovetop, and coat the inside with olive oil. Once heated, add salt and pepper seasoned beef cubes (and make sure they are not overcrowded in the pot– do a layer at a time if necessary). Brown the beef on one side, then flip with tongs. Browning the beef first is essential, because it will add a ton of flavour to the rest of the dish early on. Set the cubes aside, and do not discard the little bits that are left at the bottom of the pot.


Add some more oil to the dutch oven, then toss in the onion and celery, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes on medium-low heat.


Then, add red wine and simmer for a few more minutes. Once you can smell the nice aroma of wine, add flour and stir to thicken the mixture. Immediately after, add the beef stock. When it comes to a simmer, add carrots, parsnip, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, garlic, and Worcester sauce.


Return the stew to a simmer, then add the potatoes and the browned beef. Once the stew comes to a simmer again, remove from heat, cover, and bake in oven at 350°F for 1 hour 20 minutes.

Remove from oven. If you find the stew is too watery, add more flour and stir. If the stew could use more liquid, add more broth or hot water.


Add the thawed frozen vegetables, stir, and serve!

creamy gorgonzola risotto


One of the best presents I have ever received is a cookbook from my dear friend, Dana. It is called ‘Cheese: Sumptuous Cheese Recipes for all Occasions’. Oh, she knows me so well.

This is my take on the cookbook’s ‘Sage and Gorgonzola Risotto’ recipe.


scant 4 tbsp unsalted butter
150 g pancetta
1 sm onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
scant 1 1/2 cups risotto rice
1/2 white wine
4 cups reduced sodium hot vegetable stock
200g Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup fresh red grapes, halved (or sub. 1/4 cup crisp pear, diced)
2 tbsp minced fresh sage, plus extra, whole, to garnish
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
pepper to taste

Start by adding half the butter in a large pan or skillet and cook the pancetta over medium high heat, stirring frequently until the fat melts, and the pancetta begins to brown and get slightly crispy.

I used a pack of President’s Choice pancetta. It was pretty inexpensive, and contained exactly 150g which was perfect for the recipe. I was happy with the quality, too. If you do not have any pancetta on hand, a thick-cut bacon will do trick (just add 1 tbsp of butter instead of 2).

Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.

Add the rice and stir to coat the pancetta mixture. Pour in the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. Start to add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next. Continue adding the stock until it is all absorbed, and the rice is creamy but still firm to the bite.

Remove from heat, then add the Gorgonzola and sage. Stir mixture until the Gorgonzola has melted, then add remaining butter. Then, fold in the nuts and grapes.


Serve immediately, garnished with sage and Parmesan.

Bon appétit!

spicy tortilla soup


After a day out in the cold, there’s nothing quite like a hot bowl of soup to warm up even the chilliest winter-enthusiast. This spicy soup is a favourite year-round, but it’s that much more satisfying to have on a snowy day. It is well-seasoned and hearty. Doesn’t get much better.

For this meal, I used two medium sized pots to cook all of the soup, but 1 large soup pot is ideal*.

This recipe is based on Harvest Chicken Tortilla Soup from TasteFood.


2 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper
1 sweet red pepper, stemmed and seeded, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, medium-fine chopped
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 zucchini, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
6 cups chicken stock
1 – 28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes, with juice
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp cloves
2  1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 cup canned peaches and cream corn kernels
1 cup canned black beans
1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
tortilla chips, broken in pieces (garnish)
grated cheddar or monterey jack (garnish)
Astro Balkan Style yogourt (garnish)
sliced avocado (garnish)

To start, create a quick dry rub for the chicken with 1/4 tsp of the ancho, 1/2 tsp of the chili powder, a generous dash of each salt & pepper. Once the chicken breasts are seasoned, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in your soup pot (in my case, i used one of my two  medium seized cast-alluminum dutch ovens*), then sear the chicken until it is cooked through and you get a nice dark crust on the outer layer of chicken. Set aside.
Using the oil and juices from the chicken, add your chopped onion to the pot, and pour in the remaining tbsp of oil.
Once onions become slightly translucent (about 2-3 minutes), add all of the peppers and sauté with the pinch of red pepper flakes (2 minutes).
Stir in the garlic and zucchini. After a minute, add chicken broth, canned plum tomatoes with their juices, tomato paste, cumin, Italian seasoning, cloves, remaining chili powder and remaining ancho chili powder. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 20-25 minutes.I ended up fishing out the cloves with a slotted spoon at this point, because i don’t like getting an unexpected bite of this powerful spice while having my meal. Putting the cloves in a piece of cheesecloth and tying it off would also do the trick, and could stay in the soup until the meal is ready to be served.
Chop up the cooked chicken into small bite-sized pieces, and add to the soup with the beans and corn. Toss in most of the cilantro, reserving some for garnish, and stir.
Per serving, add about 1/2 tbsp of cheese, followed by a dollop of yogourt, broken tortilla chips, and cilantro. When I have made this in the past, I have also topped the soup with sliced fresh avocado. Unfortunately I didn’t have any on hand this time around, but it is a great addition. Do not skip the garnish for this meal. The garnishes aren’t just there for decoration; the chips offer a crunchy texture, while the cheese, yogourt, and avocado help to cool some of the spice. Oh, and cilantro just tastes great, so bring it on.