cheese noodles & roast broccoli

This is usually how the conversation with myself goes as I'm driving home:

"Uggh...I don't know what to make for dinner.  I can't remember what's in the fridge....Was there a plan for tonight?  No, probably not.  Sooo, what can I make that's easy, fast and that Hannah will probably eat?....Noodles, yes, she'll probably eat noodles....With what?  Ummm, sauce?  And we need some sort of veggie.  She likes broccoli.  I think there's some in the fridge.  Ok, broccoli, noodles and sauce....Protein?  I'll figure that out when I get home."

So that's basically how I arrived at cheese noodles with roasted broccoli and sliced porchetta (deli meat ham).  This meal came together so quickly - a win in my book!  While the pasta was cooking I made the sauce and roasted the broccoli and everything was ready at roughly the same time.  Making your own cheese sauce is super easy, and then you know exactly whats in it (rather than using something like Cheese Whiz).  I looove roasted veggies - I think it's the texture variation that roasting gives; some tender parts, some crispy parts.  Anyhow, I'd take roasted broccoli over steamed broccoli almost any day, so that's why I decided to roast it this time.  I had some porchetta from the Italian Centre in the fridge and I figured that broccoli, ham and cheese was a good combo, so I sliced it up and added it on top.   

Cheese Sauce

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used whole milk)
  • 1 cup grated cheese

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and spices and stir to combine.  Gradually pour in the milk, whisking until no lumps remain.  Turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce is smooth and thick.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.  Serve immediately.  Leftover cheese sauce freezes nicely in a Ziploc bag.  

Roasted Broccoli

  • 1 head broccoli, cut into large florettes
  • drizzle of olive oil (about 2 tbsp)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Toss broccoli with olive oil and lemon juice either in a large bowl, or directly on a baking sheet (like I do).  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges start to get brown and crispy.  

la marca white peach bellinis

A bellini is the perfect cocktail for brunch or a lovely warm afternoon on the patio.  Refreshing, light and not overly sweet.  This recipe, with white peach puree, is inspired by the original bellini - invented at Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy.  

We enjoyed a bellini at Harry's Bar while we were in Venice on our honeymoon.  It was our last night in Italy, we had already had dinner and after-dinner cocktails, but our suitcases were packed and we didn't want to go to bed yet.  We set out for a late night walk to Harry's Bar.  We grabbed some seats at the bar and had fun chatting with the bartender and munching olives while enjoying our delicious (and very expensive) bellinis.  The atmosphere was great and we were likely surrounded by Italian celebrities (because we weren't allowed to take photos) - all in all, a spontaneous and fun end to our honeymoon.  After tasting the original bellini I just can't go back to the bright orange, slushy, overly sweet concoctions many bars serve up.  Especially since it's so easy (and delicious) to make my own!  

I made these bellinis with La Marca Prosecco from Northern Italy.  I loved the light, crisp flavour and soft bubbles.  I didn't find it to be overly sweet, which kept it refreshing.  I thought it was the perfect choice for these bellinis.  Check your local liquor store for La Marca - it's an excellent price point for a top quality prosecco.  

White Peach Bellinis

  • 4 white peaches
  • 1 chilled bottle of La Marca Prosecco
  • simple syrup (if your peaches aren't sweet enough)

Peel the peaches and puree until smooth.  Add about 20 ml (1 1/2 tbsp) of peach puree to the bottom of each champagne flute.  Fill the glass with prosecco, then mix together just before serving.  Enjoy!

Thank you to La Marca Prosecco for providing me with a bottle to sample!

chickpea cookie dough

I know, I know... you probably read the title of the post and thought 'gross'.  BUT hear me out!  This stuff is delicious, addictive AND healthy (ta-da!)  Chickpeas are loaded with protein, fibre and iron, plus there's added goodness from the oatmeal and peanut butter.  I love being able to eat something that tastes like a treat, but is actually keeping my healthy eating on track.  

Another thing I love about this recipe is that it's adaptable: you can use various nut butters or milks.  You could use white beans instead of chickpeas.  The recipe could easily be made gluten-free (a big plus in my family) or even vegan.  I use 1/4 cup brown sugar, but you could add more or less.  You could also use alternative sweeteners, like agave or maple syrup.  This is the framework, but you can adjust it to your taste.  

Ok, so maybe now you're thinking that you'll give it a try, but you're wondering what you do with it.  Personally, I'm all for eating it by the spoonful, but it also makes a great fruit dip/spread.  It's really yummy with apple slices or with strawberries.  I also like to put some with in a container with vanilla yogurt and bring it along to work as a mid-morning snack.  

A quick note about equipment.  You really should use a food processor (or super-blender like  Vitamix) for this recipe.  A regular blender isn't going to be able to make the cookie dough smooth enough while keeping the consistency nice and thick, so you might be disappointed with the results.  I use a Cuisinart food processor and it makes easy work of this recipe.  

Chickpea Cookie Dough

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well 
  • 1/4 cup nut butter (I use unsweetened peanut butter)
  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (other types of milk would be fine too)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Add all of the ingredients, except the chocolate chips, to the bowl of the food processor.  Blend for about 5 minutes, until it's smooth.  There will be a few tiny lumps from the oatmeal.  Stir in the chocolate chips afterwards and transfer to a bowl or container.  It keeps well in the fridge for up to a week.  

recipe adapted from

slow cooker pork tacos

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  What better way to celebrate than a round of tacos and margaritas for dinner - yum!  Really, I would use any excuse to eat tacos - they're one of my favourite foods.  

This is a super easy meal.  You could even prepare the pork the night before, then just get it going in the morning before you head out for the day.  If your pork loin is bigger than you need, no worries - the cooked meat freezes beautifully!  

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos

  • Sorry, there aren't any specific measurements for this one - just mix the spices together according to your taste and what you have on hand. 
  • pork loin
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Mix together the spices in a small bowl.  Cut the pork loin into 4 pieces, then rub the spices all over the meat.  Place into the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours.  Use two forks to shred the pork.  At this point you can package some up for the freezer.  

When you're ready to make tacos heat up 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat.  Put the pork into the heated pan.  Let it cook on one side for a few minutes before flipping it over so that it gets little crispy, browned bits on it.  

Serve on warmed corn or flour tortillas.  Top however you like!  (I like a bit of pico de gallo and a drizzle of Valentina)

thai chicken salad

This salad is sooo easy and sooo delicious - I'm going to be making it all summer long!  The flavours are crisp and bright.  The dressing is the perfect blend of spicy, sweet, savoury and salty.  This one definitely brings back strong memories of Thailand - the combo of toasted peanuts, mint and fish sauce I think.  Anyhow - this is definitely one to add to your meal plan, you won't regret it!

Thai Chicken Salad

  • 1 bag of broccoli slaw (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup cucumber, sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 cups baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 1/2 cup toasted peanuts
  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • juice from 2 limes
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes 

Start by cooking the chicken breasts however you like (pan fried, grilled, roasted, etc.).  While the chicken is cooking prep the salad.  Add the broccoli slaw, cucumber, baby bok choy, chili pepper, mint and toasted peanuts in a large bowl and toss together.  Add all of the remain salad dressing ingredients together into a small jar or container with a lid.  Give it a shake to mix it up, then pour over the salad and toss to combine.  Once the chicken is cooked allow it to rest for a minute or two, then slice it against the grain.  Serve the chicken on top of the salad and voilΓ !  Dinner is ready!

Recipe adapted from Jo Cooks