Serve Pulled Pork on a Bun for Super Bowl Sunday

Big games = big appetites!

Excelling at spectator sports is hard work! Armchair athletes can work up a hearty appetite cheering on their team. Chili, sub sandwiches, pizza, wings and nachos are fan favourites for noshing while coaching from the sidelines, analyzing plays and critiquing the refs’ calls.

Bring your A game and score a touchdown this Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 7th) by serving Pulled Pork on a Bun. Pork roast bathed in a rich barbecue-style sauce cooks lazily in the slow cooker freeing you up to catch all the antics on the big screen, from the singing of the National Anthem through to the final whistle.

Once the pork has cooked, the tender meat is easily shredded by pulling it apart with two forks (hence the name!). Serve it and the flavourful sauce piled high in warmed buns.

You’ll want to put the recipe for Pulled Pork in your play book.  It’s a crowd pleaser no matter which Bowl or Cup your armchair quarterbacks are watching!

Sports Speak! Want to sound like a sports commentator, coach, player or just a die-hard fan? Learn all the lingo by checking out this great list of sports cliches!

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Pantry staples for cottage kitchens; Best ways to store steak

Restocking bare cottage kitchen cupboards…..

The first holiday weekend of the warm weather season is almost here. For cottage owners opening up their seasonal homes this weekend that means it’s time to restock the kitchen. You will first want to check any dry goods left on the kitchen shelves over the winter for signs of mice or bugs. Toss any stale spices or dry food products. Then restock the shelves and cupboards with this list of pantry staples courtesy of Cottage Life.

How to store steaks for best flavour and texture…..

If you’re taking steaks up to the cottage and are wondering how to keep them in peak condition until you plan to grill them later in the weekend, Cottage Life has tested five storage options. Find out what they recommend as the best way to store steak for a few days to preserve taste and tenderness.

Enjoy a chili cheese dog in honour of Corner Gas series finale

Chili Cheese Dog

Chili Cheese Dog

A chili cheese dog would have been the appropriate thing to munch on tonight while watching the series finale of Corner Gas and the conclusion of the show’s successful six year run. Instead I sipped on Darjeeling tea and the last slice of lemon meringue pie left over from Easter dinner.

Much of the zany activities of the quirky characters on this beloved Canadian sit com took place at Corner Gas (the gas station in the small fictional town of Dog River in the not so fictional province of Saskatchewan) or at The Ruby Cafe next door. Brent, one of the main characters in the show, ate a whack of chili cheese dogs at The Ruby over the six years. (The Ruby was the kind of place that would also have served lemon meringue pie!)

A chili cheese dog is simply a hot dog doused in chili (from a can or made from your favourite chili recipe) and topped with grated cheese.

We’re not talking gourmet dining here. Just plain good food. Or so Brent would tell you.

If you’ve never had one, it’s pretty simple to make. And, Brent would likely also tell you, a chili cheese dog is no doubt well worth whatever effort you put in to make the chili – whether from scratch or a can.

If you want to make your own chili, you have some options….
* use tomato sauce, canned pureed tomatoes, canned condensed tomato soup or chili sauce instead of ketchup
* omit garlic and/or onions
* add canned or cooked kidney beans
* add cumin or sauteed green peppers

Chili Cheese Dogs

(Makes 4 servings)

2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound (450 g) lean ground beef
1 cup (250 mL) ketchup
1 teaspoon (5 mL) chili powder
2 tablespoons (30 mL) yellow mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 all-beef wieners
8 hot dog buns
1 cup (250 mL) grated Cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add garlic. Continue cooking until onion is soft and translucent, another 2 or 3 minutes.

Add ground beef, breaking it up with the back of a spoon; cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 10 minutes.

Stir in ketchup, chili powder and mustard; simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. (Add more ketchup or a little water to thin, if desired.) Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, grill or cook wieners as desired. Grill or toast hot dog buns, if desired.

To serve, place a wiener in each bun. Top with chili and Cheddar cheese. Open mouth wide and enjoy!

Spaghetti and snow: a match made in spring?

It’s spring in Ontario, not that you can tell by the weather we had today.

The snow is back!! It’s been gone for three or four weeks already but I’m sure it’s returned because this past weekend I mentioned to Murray it was time to switch the snowflake-patterned Corelle plates we use in winter with the plain white “rest-of-the-year” plates. (I was talking to myself when I told him this. Apparently the type of dishes we use is of absolutely no interest to him!)

Now yesterday was a beautiful day! We even hauled some of the patio furniture out of hibernation and sat on the front deck for a while enjoying the warm weather.

Then today – snow! Sure it’s not going to last, but c’mon! It’s spring already.

Yes, those are little icicles hanging off the bottom of the chairs!


So, tonight’s spaghetti and meatball supper was appropriately served on the “winter plates” that were still in the cupboard.


The amount of effort one can put into making spaghetti and meatballs can really vary. The general “recipe” is simple. Heat home-made or store-bought spaghetti sauce with home-made or store-bought meatballs. Spoon over cooked multigrain or whole wheat spaghetti. Grate Parmesan cheese over top, if desired.

Serve in any season, and on any plate you choose (or that’s handy)!

Easy Spaghetti Sauce

(Makes 4 cups/1 L)

2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) sliced cremini mushrooms (6 oz/175 g)
1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried basil
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) pureed tomatoes
1/4 cup (60 mL) tomato paste

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil and salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes.

Crepes Galore!


I’ve been eating a lot of crepes lately.

Last night we dined with friends at the Village Creperie on Belmont Avenue in Kitchener. I’d eaten at this lovely, intimate restaurant awhile ago and really should have been back sooner.

On the menu are a variety of appetizers, salads, and galettes (savoury crepes made with buckwheat). The restaurant uses only organic flours, fish, meat, vegetables, fruits and dairy.

I chose the galette special of the day – a fajita crepe with seasoned chicken, sauteed peppers, guacamole and sour cream. It was a winner as were the galettes enjoyed by my fellow diners (Very veggie – spinach, roasted red pepper, caramelized onion, portabello mushroom, goat cheese and pesto; Saumon et salsa – marinated salmon and salsa; and Le Complete – sunny side up or flat egg, aged white Cheddar, mozarella, green onion and ham).

Although everything on the dessert menu (including flambed crepes) sounded very tempting, we opted to share the dessert special of the day – a waffle crowned with strawberries, blueberries, syrup and creme fraiche.

I look forward to returning to the Village Creperie again soon, perhaps on a Saturday morning for a brunch crepe.

For a good assessment of the restaurant, read the review written by Andrew Coppolino, Restaurant Critic for the Waterloo Region Record.

A few weeks ago, work took me to the Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket where I happened upon Crepe Delicious, a kiosk-style restaurant that sells crepes and paninis. I enjoyed a Popeye crepe with its filling of spinach, cheese and tomato. I expected the crepe to be served to me either filled and folded or rolled over like an omelette. Instead, the large crepe was folded in half, filled, rolled into a cone shape, and tucked into a pointed cone cup. The whole thing was then wrapped in foil. The result? A crepe that could be eaten out of hand, on the go, with any juices falling into the cup instead of dripping through your fingers. Genius!

Crepe Delicious has locations throughout Toronto and according to its website, is looking for individuals interested in franchise opportunities.

Back to the crepe marathon…. One night last week we enjoyed crepes with maple syrup and sauteed bananas for dinner. Yes, probably more a dessert than dinner entree, but oh well! They were very good.

The picture above is of the crepes we made when I visited my sister Loreen on Long Island last summer. These crepes were made from a Bisquick recipe. (Stir together or process in a blender 1 cup Bisquick mix, 3/4 cup milk and 2 eggs. Use about 2 tablespoons batter per crepe.) We let the mixture stand for about 30 minutes so the dry ingedients had a chance to absorb the liquid ingredients. This makes the batter less lumpy.

Here’s the recipe for the crepes I made last week.

Basic Crepes

(Makes 16 crepes)

1-1/3 cups (325 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) milk
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter, melted
Additional butter for crepe pan

In a bowl, stir together flour and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the butter; pour over dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to let the flour expand.

Heat an 8-inch (20 cm) crepe pan or skillet over medium heat; brush lightly with butter. For each crepe, pour about 1/4 cup (60 mL) batter into the centre of the pan; immediately swirl pan to coat bottom with batter. Cook until top is no longer shiny and bottom is lightly browned, about 45 seconds to a minute. Flip crepe over and cook briefly on the other side, 25 to 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing pan with butter between crepes as needed.

* Buckwheat Crepes: Replace half of the flour with light buckwheat flour.
* Herbed Crepes: Just before cooking crepes, stir in 2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped fresh herbs (e.g. any combination of parsley, chives and tarragon)
* Chocolate Crepes: Replace 1/3 cup (75 mL) of the flour with 1/4 cup (60 mL) cocoa powder, sifted. Stir in 3 tbsp (45 mL) granulated sugar.

* Crepe batter can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
* Batter should be the thickness of whipping cream. If it is too thick, thin with a little milk.
* Crepes can be made ahead. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before using.

St. Patrick’s Day recipe ideas. Green food colouring required for some!

istock_000005210471xsmall-4-leaf-cloverCount yourself lucky to find these great recipes to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Have fun being Irish for a day!

Cooking Quarters blog:

Kraft Canada’s website:

McCormick’s website:

When it rains, it pours…..and we eat mac and cheese

vacuuming up water in the crawl space

How I spent my evening: vacuuming up water in the crawl space

Last night around 11 p.m., between vacuuming up the melting snow and rain leaking into our basement, and emptying the Shop Vac too many times to count, I found myself cooking macaroni and cheese.

Murray and I had been sharing clean-up duty all evening. He’d been home sick with the flu during the day so he wasn’t feeling at full strength. With the rain still falling outside and the snow melting in the balmy 7F weather (that’s warm for February in Ontario!), we knew it would be a long night – and most of it would be spent in the damp crawl space.

The crack where the water was draining into the crawl space

The crack where the water was draining into the crawl space

At one point we calculated that 5 gallons of melting snow and rain was seeping into our crawl space every 5 minutes.

This little bit of water was nothing compared to the serious reports of flooding others in our area were experiencing requiring them to evacuate their homes as swollen rivers overflowed their banks.

But still, the crack in our home’s foundation was an inconvenient situation that required some effort and vigilance in order to prevent damage to our laundry and family rooms.

As luck would have it, the Shop Vac died at about 9 p.m., requiring a trip to Walmart (the only store open at that hour of the night that would have had a Shop Vac on its shelves) to buy another one.

Mac and cheese - the anytime food!

Mac and cheese - the anytime fuel, I mean food!

But back to the mac and cheese! All that hard work meant by 11 p.m., Murray’s appetite had begun to return. He was feeling hungry enough for some comfort food for his not-quite-back-to-normal stomach. Plain mac and cheese with a squirt of ketchup would hit the spot, he thought.

Good thing we both fueled up on some energy-boosting carbs because we had to keep a vigil all night, setting the alarm clock to wake us every 1-1/2 hours to vaccuum up the water that just kept finding its way into our house.

By morning, thankfully, the little waterfall had diminished to a trickle. We agreed that a sump pump would be a wise investment. And so would more mac and cheese in case we don’t get the sump pump installed before the next ‘heat wave’ hits southern Ontario.

Have you got a favourite time, place or way you enjoy mac and cheese? Plain? With ketchup? Before or after tackling a big project? As a midnight snack? With canned tuna or ham and peas mixed in?

Kraft Foods has lots of recipes and suggestions for using mac and cheese.

(As delicious as Kraft Dinner mac and cheese is, I’ll confess our brand of choice is Presidents Choice White Cheddar, sold at the Loblaws family of stores.)

World Junior Hockey and Pizza Frittata – a winning combination

If you’re a hockey fan, you probably know the annual World Junior Championship (WJC) is in full swing in Ottawa. It started on Boxing Day (Dec. 26) and the gold medal game will be played on Jan. 5.

So far, Canada’s team has fared very well. Fingers are crossed that the streak will continue tonight with the highly anticipated match between Canada and the U.S.

I wouldn’t count myself as a true hockey fan, however I’ve been known to watch the occasional game. With a husband who scouts for the Kitchener Rangers, sometimes I don’t have a choice!

Modelling the Get Cracking Canada! tattoos we gave out at the World Junior Championship game on Dec. 28 in Ottawa

Modelling the Get Cracking Canada! tattoos we gave out at the Dec. 28th game of the World Junior Championships

Since Egg Farmers of Canada and Egg Farmers of Ontario are sponsors of the WJC, I attended Sunday’s game at Scotiabank Place – Canada vs Kazakhstan. It was egg promo night so a few colleagues and I handed out “Get Cracking Canada!” thundersticks and tattoos, as well as recipe cards for Pizza Frittata.

To get into the spirit of the game, we decided we should wear the tattoos we were giving out. The tattoos proved to be quite “permanent”! The one I put on my hand didn’t wash off easily after the game, so I decided to leave the tattoo on my face alone instead of trying to scrub it off. I did get a few comments and curious stares as I waited at the Ottawa airport for my flight back to Toronto. Once home, the tattoo came off with a little effort and a washcloth!

The Pizza Frittata recipe cards proved to be a popular giveaway. Most people like pizza, and a frittata (an open-faced omelette) is an easy thing to make. The cool thing about the cards is that they have a small packet of seasonings (containing mostly dried herbs) stapled to them.


We give out these cards at many of the events Egg Farmers of Ontario attends. (I mentioned them and provided the recipe in my April 28th post, but I didn’t show what the cards look like. For convenience, I’ll provide the recipe again below.)

At first people are curious about the card, or more accurately, they’re curious about what’s in the packet. Sometimes the contents get mistaken for seeds….or for something illegal that can be smoked!! We had numerous comments about the latter at the game. Not so sure about that hockey crowd!?!

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Tabbouli-style Salad a quick meal when life is busy

This recipe is one of my fallback favourites. (Rather fitting, given the season.) It’s one of those treasured recipes or meal solutions I turn to when in need of (make that desperate for!) something quick and easy and I’m too rushed for time or lacking energy to be super creative about what’s going on my plate. September is an exceptionally busy time of year for me so I’m always on the look-out for ways to save precious minutes in the kitchen. This salad is one of those time and energy savers for me.

Tabbouli-style Egg and Vegetable Salad is made by cooking beaten eggs in broth, then adding couscous. While the couscous cooks for a few minutes, I chop up whatever vegetables I have on hand and whip up a simple dressing. Everything then gets combined along with fresh herbs, if I have some on hand.

This salad can be served as a main dish or a side, and either warm or chilled. I make it frequently, especially when life is busy (like these days!), or when I need a fast, easy contribution to a potluck. It’s simple and it tastes good, and after making it so often, the method and ingredient proportions are etched in my brain.

Tabbouli-style Egg and Vegetable Salad

Tabbouli-style Egg and Vegetable Salad

Tabbouli-style Egg and Vegetable Salad
(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

1-1/4 cups (300 mL) chicken OR vegetable broth
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/4 cups (300 mL) couscous
2/3 cup (150 mL) regular OR low-fat Italian salad dressing
2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh lemon OR lime juice
1 teaspoon (5 mL) chili powder
2 cups (500 mL) diced fresh vegetables (e.g. cucumber, carrot, sweet pepper, celery, zucchini or seeded tomato)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped fresh cilantro, mint OR parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Slowly add eggs in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Cook for a minute or two, whisking constantly, just until eggs are set. (They will look curdled.) Remove saucepan from heat and stir in couscous. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl or cup, combine salad dressing, lemon juice and chili powder, stirring well to break up any lumps of chili powder.

When couscous has stood for 5 minutes, stir it to separate grains and break up any clumps. Stir in vegetables and cilantro. Pour dressing over couscous mixture; toss until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve warm or cover and chill until ready to serve.

* Try substituting another vinaigrette-style dressing for the Italian dressing.
* Couscous can be found in most grocery stores and bulk food stores. If desired, instant rice can be substituted.

Grilled pizzas with pita bread crust

Grilled Pita Pizzas

Grilled pizza on the barbecue is one of our favourite ways to prepare pizza.

Although you can grill a pizza made with a homemade pizza dough, store-bought frozen pizza dough (thawed to room temperature, of course), flatbread or even tortillas, our preference is to use whole wheat pita bread for the crust.

For a variety of good reasons. Or so we like to think.

* A pita pizza cooks quickly.

* Depending on how hungry you are, one or two pita pizzas (or more if you’re a lumberjack!) make a perfect lunch – or served with a green salad, a filling supper.

* A pita pizza is a convenient size to cut into small wedges to serve as an appetizer.

* It’s also a perfect size for making individual pizzas to suit personal tastes. In fact, we often have grilled pizza on the menu when we’re entertaining during the summer. We put out the toppings and have our guests make their own pizzas. Sure, we might be shirking our hosting responsibilities by making our company prepare their own meal. But this way, no one can complain that they don’t like their pizza. Or if they do, no one can blame the irresponsible hosts!

To make a grilled pizza, start by heating the barbecue on High. Brush one side of the pita bread with olive oil. This will help crisp and flavour the crust. Then spread on the sauce of your choice – pizza sauce, pasta sauce, sun-dried tomato pesto, a flavoured olive oil, roasted red pepper dip, a combo of hoisin and barbecue sauce (very nice when you’re putting chicken on your pizza), or vegetable-flavoured cream cheese (goes well with a veggie pizza). Think outside the pizza box a little, and use whatever “sauce” you like!

Then add the toppings of your choice. Keep in mind that the cooking time for this pizza will be short, so it’s best to slightly pre-cook hard vegetables (e.g broccoli, asparagus, sweet peppers), or at least cut them into small pieces. Unless you want a crunchy pizza, that is. Hey, you’re the pizza chef! You can make this pizza however you prefer!

Once the pizza is loaded with ingredients and the barbecue has been preheated on High, turn the heat down to medium-low. Slip the pizza on to the grill, close the barbecue and heat until the toppings are warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 5 or 6 minutes.

Pizza is served!