Mason Jar Rice Puddings with Caramelized Pineapple and Roasted Coconut


Serving dessert in Mason jars is on trend and makes for a fun presentation with a dash of nostalgia.  For my husband’s recent birthday I made him one of his favorite desserts, a creamy rice pudding.  To kick it up a notch and make it  festive, I  served it parfait-style with layers of caramelized pineapple and a topping of shaved coconut in Mason jars. Continue reading

Awaiting Easter: Front Porch Welcome


“Is the spring coming?” he said.  ” What’s it like?” “It is the sun shining on the rain, and  the rain falling on the sunshine.”  Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

One of the most wondrous discoveries when I left my childhood home in Northern Canada to study at university was how amazing spring could be.  Up north, spring was gray, cold and all about melting the snow accumulation.  Now living even further south in Pennsylvania, spring is just magical for me. Continue reading

Mediterranean Chicken Couscous Salad


Calling this dish a salad is a bit of a misnomer. It is more of a substantial meal in a bowl,  bursting  with flavors and textures.  I first enjoyed it at my friend Jodi’s, where every bite surprised and delighted,  prompting me  and to ask for the recipe.  Why did it take me several years then, to try making it?   Well, there are a lot of ingredients in the recipe and one has to plan accordingly before making it.   It can’t just be thrown together.  The lemony basil  dressing is marvellous and it makes the dish. Continue reading

Garlicky Oven-Braised Beef Ragu with Red Wine and Tomatoes


My favorite kind of cooking in winter is a slow braise that  literally cooks itself in the oven and fills the house with an enticing aroma.  This dish is an adaptation of an old Gourmet magazine favorite, using a cheaper cut of beef, a rump roast. Easy to assemble, it yields the most tender and flavorful ragu which can be served over pasta.  Like all braises, this is even better on the second day, a perfect entertaining dish that you can simply reheat.  Be prepared for the compliments to the chef! Continue reading

Dreaming of Spring: Front Door Basket and a Flower Show Tour


“That is one good thing about this world…there are always sure to be more springs.”

L.M. Montgomery, Ann of Avonlea

With another winter snow storm blanketing our area in white yet again today, I am longing for spring in a most impatient way. Continue reading

Charred Cauliflower Carbonara


For  more than 30 years I hardly went near cauliflower except for maybe a few times I made soup with it.  It was one of those vegetables that I grew up eating boiled, in rotation with other common vegetables of the era.  Then I went through phases where I thought the darker a vegetable, the better for you and just bypassed cauliflower’s pale hue.  Now cauliflower seems to be everywhere and we can’t get enough.  And we know it is a nutritional powerhouse. Cauliflower roasted at high temperature to bring out its flavor and char its edges becomes a revelation.  Yum!

When I came across Jessica Merchant’s  recipe for cauliflower carbonara last week, I knew I’d be making it.  It did not disappoint.   It is basically a classic carbonara with tons of cauliflower.  The cauliflower is roasted in bacon fat, an outrageous but  divine pairing!  We added balsamic and hot pepper flakes to the original recipe, doubled the cauliflower, and reduced the amount of bacon.  This was a perfect winter comfort dish, worthy of company.  Roasting  the cauliflower and frying the bacon ahead of time  would help ease some of the last minute assembly the dish requires. Mama Mia this is good!

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