Month: September 2014

Feed a family for $13 – Simple Spaghetti

Some times in the world of cooking, less is more.  I love making different pasta dishes and experimenting with various flavours that work well together.  Over the years, I’ve discovered that sometimes the most delicious meals are the ones with the least amount of ingredients.  This is one of my favourite comfort foods and it’s simple and easy for those nights where time gets the best of us.


A container of cherry tomatoes- $2.00

A package of spaghetti- $ 1.50

2 cloves of garlic- .50

1/2 cup of olive oil- $2.00

Fresh parsley- $2.00

Grated parmesan cheese- $5.00


-Finely chop garlic and combine with oil and salt and pepper on medium heat

(cover with a lid to avoid a mess)

– Boil salted water and add in spaghetti, cook until al dente

-Once the garlic has browned, add in the whole cherry tomatoes and cover.  Stir occasionally and continue to heat until the tomatoes burst.

-Strain spaghetti (do not rinse)

-Add the spaghetti to the pan and toss with the tomato and garlic mixture.

-Chop fresh parsley and add it to the mixture and stir (the more the merrier)

-Portion and plate and top with grated parmesan, more fresh parsley and cracked black pepper (optional)



The Scoop on… Almonds


Almonds are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, and are associated with a number of health benefits. Just a handful of almonds, approximately one ounce, contains one-eighth of our necessary daily protein

Wonderfully delicious, almonds have long been revered as the epitome of wellness and health. The nuts are among the richest sources of health-benefiting nutrients essential for optimum health.

Botanically, they are the fruits from medium size tree belonging in the family of Rosaceae, in genus: Prunus. The plant is a deciduous tree, native to mineral-rich West-Asian mountain ranges that provide fertile conditions favorable for their growth. In recent years, it is being cultivated in many regions of the world as an important commercial crop.


Health benefits of Almonds

Almond nuts are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and packed with numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals. These nuts compose of well-balanced food principles that are essential for optimum health and wellness.

Almonds are the complete source of energy as well as nutrients. The nuts, especially, are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic, and palmitoleic acids that help in lowering LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increasing HDL or “good cholesterol” in the human body. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is excellent in monounsaturated fatty acids, help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

The nuts are an excellent source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining cell membrane integrity of mucus membranes and skin by protecting from harmful oxygen-free radicals.

Almonds are free in gluten, and therefore, are one of the popular ingredients in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas. Such formula preparations are, in fact, healthy alternatives in people with wheat food allergy, and celiac disease.

The nuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. Altogether, these vitamins work as co-factors for enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism.

Furthermore, almonds are also an incredible source of minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

Almond oil, extracted from the nuts, can be employed as an emollient. Applied regularly, it helps keep skin well protected from dryness. Additionally, the oil is used in cooking in Iran, and Turkey. It is also used as “carrier or base oil” in traditional medicines in aromatherapy, in pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries.


Cooking with Almonds…

Have a look below at a few my my favourite almond recipes.


Almond & Bacon Brussel Sprouts

6 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used turkey bacon)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 pounds large Brussel sprouts, trimmed and quartered
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Salt and ground pepper

-Place the bacon in a large skillet and fry over medium heat until the fat renders and the bacon is crisp.

-Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.

-Pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from the skillet. Add the olive oil, garlic, and almonds to the skillet.

-Saute over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant, about one minute.  Add in the trimmed and quartered Brussel sprouts and the soy sauce.

-Cook, stirring frequently, until the sprouts are tender – about 6-8 minutes.

-Stir in the bacon; season with salt and pepper to taste.

-Serve warm.

Hot-Spiked-Apple-Cider-10 Hot-Spiked-Apple-Cider-Recipe

Spicy Almond Cider

This spiked hot apple cider recipe combines Mediterranean spices like cloves, allspice and cinnamon along with Disaronno Italian Liqueur. It’s the perfect flavour for fall.  Delicious.

Author: The Mediterranean Dish

4 cups apple cider
½ cup orange juice
8 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp ground allspice
pinch nutmeg
Disaronno Italian Liqueur

Place all ingredients except the liqueur in a heavy saucepan or pot. Heat on medium-high until cider begins to bubble. Now lower heat and let simmer on low for about 10 minutes or so. Stir occasionally.
Prepare four serving cups. Pour 1 to 1.5 ounces into each cup. Top with the hot cider. Stir briefly.
Let spices settle into the bottom. Enjoy!



Almond Crusted Mac & Cheese


12 oz. (350g) elbow macaroni or other small, short-cut pasta
2 cups (475 ml) milk
3 tablespoons (55g) butter, plus extra for greasing the baking dish.
3 tablespoons (23g) flour
1 3/4 cups (about 150g) shredded cheese (preferably aged cheddar)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
a handful of ground almonds


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until it’s just underdone (not quite al dente). Drain and run the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk until it just comes to a simmer, turn off the heat, and set aside. In a large pot set over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the flour is cooked and the resulting roux is a light brown color. Whisk in the heated milk and stir constantly for about 3 minutes, until thick and smooth.

Stir in the cheese and the mustard until it’s all melted together and well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the pasta into the pot and stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with the ground almonds.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until bubbly.

Product Review: CORALista by Benefit


I purchased Benefit’s CORALista last week… I’ve had my eye on it for a while, but I was waiting until my Chanel blush bit the dust.  When you spend $40 dollars on blush, you want to get every last morsel out of that darn compact.  It’s a lightly warmed up coral-pink powder blush that works well to give you a soft, summery flush.  I’m always drawn to the packaging of Benefit products and this one stood out to me.  It comes complete with a brush, my only complaint is that the brush is sitting on top of the blush and tends to leave indentations in the product so I store mine separately.

What’s really fantastic about this shade of blush is it goes on extremely natural–you get a soft, glowy sheen with just a touch of coral color. It’ll instantly brighten up your complexion, and it is such a great product for summer when less is definitely more. There is a bit of a floral fragrance that’ll sneak out of the box each time you open it, so if you’re sensitive to fragrance, that might be a reason to check it out before you purchase.



Artist to watch: Jacqueline Poirier


It was sometime last year, that I noticed these fabulous plates while visiting my sister-in-law at The Ritz-Carlton in Toronto.  I later learned that these beautiful creations were individually hand painted by Jacqueline Poirier, a toronto based artist.  She paints everything from food and pets to people and city street signs.  Her attention to detail is incredible as she transforms a simple dinner plate into a one of a kind treasure.  Custom orders are available.  Contact Jacqueline for a quote.

About the artist:

Jacqueline Poirier offers unique hand-painted charger plates, inspired by her love of art and penchant for individuality. Choose from her current collection, or custom-order your own personalized designs and portraits. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, corporate and special events – plate art is the perfect gift for any occasion! The colourful and eye-catching designs are also a unique and decorative addition to any restaurant interior or formal table setting.

Poirier is currently on display and in collaboration with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in downtown Toronto, in one of the city’s newest fine dining establishments, TOCA Restaurant. Her work can also be seen in various locations throughout Toronto and New York City, and has been featured in publications such as The National Post, the Globe and Mail, and Now Magazine. A graduate of the esteemed Ontario College of Art and Design, Poirier specializes in custom and commissioned art works – and she shares her love of “plArt” with you!

Instagram: @thecrazyplatelady
Twitter: @jacquelineap
iPhone APP: Jacqueline Poirier

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