Archive for ‘Last Night’s Dinner’


Tomato Sauce Challenge 4 & 5: Sloppy Joe & Chili

by marilynk

Hi guys! Long time, no writing. Let’s just say life got away from me a bit. But I’m back and have a few posts queued up!

I actually thought these two had posted before I took my little break. Sorry about that! I’ve combined them into one post so we can move on to current things more quickly. Enjoy!

Sloppy Joe

For the Sloppy Joe, I combined the rest of my sauce with browned ground beef, some shredded carrot and a can of tomato paste. I ate it on a bun (toasted) from Tree Stone Bakery, topped with shredded cheddar cheese. A simple side salad rounded out the meal.



I am not a traditionalist when it comes to chili. My Texan relatives would never acknowledge what I make as chili. That being said, I like mine better. To me, chili should have lots of veggies and beans in it. Meat in sauce is just…boring.

So. My chili consisted of the Sloppy Joe mix from the night before with the following additions: pre-soaked red kidney beans (1 cup dried) that had been soaked overnight (a can of any kind of bean would work just as well), diced tomatoes (3), and a diced orange pepper. I also added chili powder, garlic powder, and some cumin. I had the chili with Tabasco sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, and a nice thick slice of Prairie Mill sourdough.

Again, I’m sorry for the gap between posts. But as you can see, a jar of pasta sauce can generate a number of different meals and sometimes leftovers don’t have to just be reheated and served. I hope this week’s worth of meal ideas inspires some of you to experiment with your ingredients. If you have another idea for a food challenge, please send it my way!


Tomato Sauce Challenge 3: Poached Egg on Hash

by marilynk

My first post from my iPhone…I hope this works. Last night I made one of my go-to simple and quick dinners: an egg poached in sauce. It’s a great because you can serve it on top of anything. A piece of cheese toast with tomato? Sure! Leftover stir fried veggies? Perfect! Or, one of my favourites, shoestring potatoes pan fried with veggies.

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Tomato Sauce Challenge 1: Pasta & Sauce and Spinach & Pomegranate Salad

by marilynk

Ok, so this is the expected way to use the sauce, but I do love my pasta. And this is a great Meatless Monday option if you do that at your house. I did round-out the meal with a salad, so I did do some recipe-writing for all of you!

I took it easy for the first one.

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Recipe Challenge: Five Ways to Use Tomato Sauce

by marilynk

I live on my own and most recipes are designed for families of four, so I end up with a lot of leftovers. This usually isn’t a bad thing, since I like taking leftovers as lunch the next day and you already know how much I like to cook batches and then freeze some of it. But sometimes it’s not leftovers of a full meal, it’s leftover ingredients. I like the challenge of finding different ways to use extra ingredients in different ways so I don’t end up eating the same meal multiple days in a week. So I’ve given myself a little challenge: 5 dinners in 5 days using one 1L jar of homemade tomato sauce.

Everyone uses pasta sauce.  I love pasta and prepared sauces (from the store or homemade) are a great way to get a meal on the table quickly, but a jar of sauce can be jazzed up and used as a base for a lot more than just noodles. Your family also probably uses a litre of sauce at one meal – any of these recipes can be made individually for a larger group.

I hope you’ll follow along this week to see what I come up with. The recipes will run Tuesday-Saturday. My sauce is defrosting in the fridge as you read this!


October is Soup Month

by marilynk

When autumn hits I crave cozy, warm foods and soup is one of my favourites. There’s just something so appealing about a big bowl of goodness on a blustery day. Soup is also a great way to process some of your harvest bounty for the coming cold months. I generally make big batches and freeze the bulk of it – I’m a big fan of cooking once to eat for a bunch of meals. All of the recipes are basically doubled so there’s enough to freeze. Adjust your amounts accordingly!

This month I made 3 different soups: Roasted Corn and Scallop Chowder, Roasted Tomato and Roasted Garlic Soup, and Quick and Easy Borscht. Everything was made with at least some ingredients from EOGG and the tomatoes came from my parents’ garden. There’s a lot of recipe in this post, so I’ll just get to it:

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Last Night’s Dinner: Roasted Eggplant with Warm Chorizo Chickpea Salad

by marilynk

A few weeks ago, Adam posted photos of his dinner that had me salivating they looked so good. He kindly passed on the link for the recipe he’d used and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Yesterday I finally had all the ingredients together, so I made it for dinner and it was delicious! I’m not good at following recipes exactly to the letter, so I made a few minor modifications. This is a seriously delicious, one-dish, hearty autumn meal that I think you should try at your earliest convenience. Thanks Adam and France for this great recipe!

Roasted Eggplant with Warm Chorizo Chickpea Salad (adapted from Beyond The Peel)

  • 1 eggplant (from the farmer’s market – will update with the stall name next week)
  • 4 small chorizo sausages
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced (from EOGG)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, quartered (from M&D’s garden)
  • 5 tiny potatoes (from EOGG)
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme (from EOGG)
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (from The Jam Lady)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Slice the eggplant in half, salt the cut sides, and set aside. Remove the sausages from their casings and break up into the bottom of a casserole dish. Add the onion, garlic, tomatoes, and potatoes to the casserole (distributed evenly). Place the rosemary and thyme in the dish. Squeeze the eggplant out over the sink, rinse off the excess salt, and pat dry. Lay the eggplant, cut side down, over the mixture in the casserole dish. Bake for 40 minutes or until the eggplant starts to collapse – stir the mixture once, halfway through the cooking time.

While the salad is baking, put together the vinaigrette by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard. When the salad has finished baking, remove the eggplant and set aside. Add the chickpeas and the vinaigrette and toss everything together until well coated.

I eat 90% of my meals at home out of bowls, so I served this by scooping out half the eggplant and topping it with about a quarter of the salad mixture. So good!


Last Night’s Dinner: Barley Salad & Pear and Cheese Tart

by marilynk

Ok, I’m getting caught up on my October posts still, but I had to throw this one in. This really was last night’s dinner and it is an excellent example of my cooking techniques: kinda inspired and kinda haphazard. I really like both of these recipes and I’ll make both again. One is a super easy, flexible salad that I made up (kinda inspired) and the other is a slightly finicky tart that I wanted to try ’cause I had puff pastry and a pear to use up, but I was missing one of the key ingredients so I substituted and reduced the recipe without a real plan (kinda haphazard).

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Last Night’s Dinner: Zucchini, Tomato, and Potato Bake

by marilynk

This is one of the best local-focused recipes I’ve made recently. I made it up in an effort to use up some of the ingredients in my kitchen that were getting to that “Must Eat Now” stage. It’s super easy and could easily be adapted with other vegetables that need to be used up. It is also somewhat inspired by this recipe from Smitten Kitchen (I seem to be working my way through her blog…I think it’s the pictures. They always make me hungry).

I promised to post this recipe two weeks ago, but better late than never! 🙂

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Last Night’s Dinner: Onion Bhaji and Chili Pea Puffs

by marilynk

Ok, so these were more appetizers or sides, but they were still delicious, so I’m sharing the recipes.

I really like the nutty flavour of buckwheat flour, but haven’t found much variety in the recipes that use it. I wanted to see what else was out there and with a little Googling, I came across this recipe for a baked Onion Bhaji. My family loves Indian food (my parents met and married while working in Hyderabad in the 70’s), but I’ve only ever had deep-fried bhaji that, while always delicious, can be very greasy. I was intrigued by how these baked ones would work and how switching out the channa (chickpea) flour for buckwheat would affect the taste.

The other recipe came from my playing around on Pinterest*. I’m finding it’s becoming a major distraction when I’m on the computer, but I love that I can easily pin pretty or delicious-looking things wherever I happen to be online. Muttar Paneer (peas with cheese) is one of my favourite Indian dishes, so when I saw these bite-size pea and paneer bites, I knew I would like them. I also really liked the modern take on a classic dish.

With recipes in hand, my sister and I did some shopping on Monday, then got together yesterday afternoon to cook. I was surprised at how quickly both these recipes came together – we were finished in about 2 and a half hours, including prep and cooling time to pack everything up.

Onion Bhaji (adapted from Jeena’s Kitchen) – Yields 12 Bhaji

  • 5 small onions
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (this is NOT mexican chili powder – use cayenne or another ground red chili)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 5 Tbs buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 2 Tbs water
  • olive or canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the onions in half then cut into slices about 1/4 inch wide. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the onions on medium approximately 10 minutes, until they start turning soft and translucent – do not brown them. Take the onions off the heat, add the chili powder, tumeric, coriander, cumin, and ginger. Mix well.

The fixin's for onion bhaji

1/4" slices...give or take

The Spice!

The spices make it so good!

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour, salt, cumin, and coriander. Add the onion mixture to the flour and stir to coat the onions in the batter. In a small glass, mix the tomato puree with a bit of water to thin it out (I used about 2 Tbs). Stir the tomato paste and water into the onion mixture. The mixture should be wet and easy to stir, but not watery. You can adjust the flour and water to get the right consistency, but be careful not to add too much extra batter or the bhaji will become cake-like.

Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper (or drizzle some oil onto your  pan). Place 2 Tbs of the onion mixture onto the pan per bhaji and flatten a little with the back of your spoon. Bake for 10 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and drizzle a little oil over the tops of the bhaji. Bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot with your favourite chutney.

Waiting to be baked

2 Tbs per bhaji

Finished Onion Bhaji

Finished Onion Bhaji

Chili Pea Puffs (adapted from 101 Cookbooks) – Yields 32 Puffs

  • olive oil
  • 1 cup cooked green peas, lightly mashed
  • 1/4 cup paneer, cut into pea-sized pieces (the original recipe says to crumble, but…paneer just doesn’t crumble!)
  • 2 small green chilis, minced (remove seeds to reduce heat) (I used jalapenos, the original recipe calls for serranos)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder or red chili flakes (less to reduce heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 32 wonton wrappers
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper (or lightly grease with olive oil).

In a bowl combine the peas, paneer, green chiles, salt, chile powder, and garlic. Mix well.

Chili Pea Puffs

All the fixin's for Chili Pea Puffs

Place one teaspoon of the mixture onto the center of a wonton wrapper. Lightly brush the sides of the wrapper with egg white. Fold one corner of the wrapper over the filling, fold the ends in and roll to the opposite corner (think burrito wrapping – this led to a few minutes of hysterical laughter over the fact that we were making tiny Chinese-Indian burritos…I think you had to be there).

Making the Puffs

1 tsp on a wonton wrapper

Rolling the burritos

The beginning of the roll

Puffs ready to be baked

One layer on the baking sheet

Place the puffs in a single layer on the baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil. Bake for 6 minutes or until they begin to brown. Remove the pan, turn the puffs and bake for another 5 minutes until golden brown (Note: I’ve increased the baking time significantly from the original recipe. We followed the times from the original, but the puffs were barely baked. You may need to just watch them and turn them when they’ve browned). Serve immediately with chutney or raita.

Bite-sized Chinese-Indian Burritos!

Finished Chili Pea Puffs

Michelle and I actually made a double batch of the puffs. We baked half, put the other half in a single layer on a baking sheet, then froze them unbaked. Once frozen, I packed them into a plastic container and threw them back in the freezer. They’ll be quick to bake from frozen when I’m ready to have them, but I’ll likely increase the baking time again.

Indian dinner

Masala dosa, onion bhaji, and chili pea puffs.

We decided to share our treats with Mom and Dad, so we let everything cool, then packed them up and picked up Masala Dosa for four at one of our favourite local places, Savoy’s Health Cafe. The onion bhaji, even reheated, tasted exactly like fried bhaji (I think the nuttiness of the buckwheat helps get that fried flavour), but without the super greasy feel. I will definitely be making these again. The chili pea puffs were the standout though. Light, crispy, fresh tasting, and the heat of the chilis was balanced very well with the paneer – even people who don’t like spicy would like these little guys, I think. They’ll definitely make an appearance at my next party. It was a pretty spectacular dinner, if I do say so myself.

*If you’d like an invite to Pinterest, let me know in the comments.


Last Night’s Dinner: Cauliflower Parmesan Cake & Green Beans with Bacon

by marilynk

Last night I had my first dinner party! Well, had a couple of dear friends over for dinner anyway. I’ve been slowly setting up my apartment since moving back in in 2009 and until recently didn’t have chairs on which people could sit for dinner. Now that I have chairs I’m trying to have people over often to use them!

I had a beautiful orange cauliflower from the market that I wanted to use, so I did a little internet searching and found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen. I’ve included my slightly modified version below. With the nice yellow cake, I decided green beans would make a good side and was happy I’d pinned* a recipe with bacon since the main ended up being vegetarian (and Mack is decidedly not vegetarian!). The cake was very filling and went nicely with the green bean side dish. Sharon brought a delicious blueberry buckle for dessert which was a lovely summery finish for the meal.

Cauliflower Parmesan Cake (adapted from Smitten Kitchen):

  • 1 medium cauliflower (from Riverbend Gardens)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 5 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 8 large eggs
  • Handful basil, chopped (I used lemon basil from Gull Valley Greenhouses)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups finely grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Butter, for greasing pan
  • 4 Tbs black sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) degrees. Break cauliflower into medium florets. Place floret in a pot with a teaspoon of salt, cover them with water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until quite soft. Strain and let drip in the colander for a few minutes so they dry and cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the batter. Coarsely chop the onion. Heat all of your olive oil in a saucepan (I followed Smitten Kitchen’s suggestion and used the same pan as I did for the cauliflower) and saute the chopped red onion and rosemary together until soft, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Whisk eggs and olive oil and onion mixture together. Stir in basil. Whisk flour, baking powder, cheese, 1 tsp salt, and many, many grinds of black pepper together in a separate bowl and add to egg mixture, whisking to remove lumps. Stir in cauliflower gently, so most pieces remain intact.

Smitten Kitchen recommends lining the bottom of your springform pan with parchment paper, but I didn’t have any so I used butter and black sesame seeds for the bottom as well as the sides. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round springform pan generously. Put the sesame seeds in the pan and toss them around so that they stick to the sides and bottom. Pour in the cauliflower batter and bake cake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Before you serve the cake, be sure to run a knife around the pan.

Green Beans with Bacon (modified from Savoury Sweet Life)

  • 3 Tbs maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (I used Sundried Tomato Mustard from The Jam Lady)
  • 1/2 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed (I used frozen…it’s ok, they’re just as healthy!)
  • 3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • salt and pepper

Put maple syrup, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and mustard into a jar and shake it to emulsify, then set aside. Blanch the beans by placing in a microwave-safe container (I prefer to use glass) with a little water and cooking on high for about 3 minutes. Drain the beans immediately and transfer them to your serving dish. Toss the beans in the dressing and top them off with the crumbled bacon. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

*If you’d like an invite to Pinterest, let me know.