Category Archives: Food

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms, Eggplant & Sundried Tomato

While visiting our daughter Brianna at Valoroso Foods a few weeks ago, we were given a sample of this freshly cooked dish by Italian Chef Pietro. I’m very thankful he had the recipe printed out for clients to take. It is delicious and easy to prepare.

I have added a few notes  as he relayed them, and what I did different.

Porcini mushrooms are very “earthy”, and some consider them too strong. We really love the flavour and feel that they “make the dish”.

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms & Eggplant

Italian name: Paccheri Al Profumi Di Terra (Rough translation: Paccheri Pasta and Perfume of the Earth.

This recipe calls for Paccheri pasta, but any will do. I used leftover linguine noodles.


500g pasta
2 large eggplants
50g sundried tomato
100g fresh mushrooms
30g dried Porcini mushrooms (Soak them 20 min before –  I used fresh and did not soak them) 10g flour Salt & Pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic and Parsley
100g smoked Provolone (I used smoked Havarti)
100 ml warm milk


1. Dice the eggplant and put it into a pan with oil, garlic and parsley – light fry.
2. Add the sliced sundried tomato (I minced them) and both types of mushrooms. Let it cook for 15 minutes on low heat.
3. Add the flour and lastly the milk. Cook over low heat, sirring occasionaly until flour is cooked and milk has thickened into a nice sauce.
4. Add the cooked pasta and the smoked cheese, either grated or shredded, and stir in to melt. 5. Serve with a salad or vegi tray.

A Twist on Hot Turkey Sandwiches

Lunch today was made easy by prep that happened at Christmas time. We put an appropriate mix of leftover Christmas turkey and gravy in freezer bags to enjoy at a later time, and it sure came in handy today! I took the bag out of the freezer yesterday morning, and thawed it in the fridge overnight..

Extra ingredients needed for the “twist”:

– Loaf of garlic bread
– Sliced ham (we love porscuito, westphalean or some other smoked ham)
– Swiss or a smoke cheese


– Leaving or wrapping garlic bread in foil, place garlic bread in oven and heat to 350F. Turn off and let sit in oven while working on the rest of supper

– Reheat the turkey/gravy blend on the stove-top at medium-low heat, stirring now and then to prevent burning. Turn off burner when heated through. 

– Meanwhile, make a salad or vegi tray for a healthy side dish.

– When meat is heated through, remove garlic bread from oven, turn on broiler. Place bread on baking sheet. Open and spread on preferred mount of turkey/gravy mixture.

– Top with ham and cheese, then place under broiler for 2-3 minutes to melt cheese. Remove from oven, close up the bread to make sandwich, and slice as desired to serve.

Sorry there’s no picture, but I’m sure you get the picture. 🙂

Chocolate Chunk Brownies

I’ve had this recipe for close to 20 years now from recipe cards that came in the mail. It is a family and church favourite, and I don’t know what else to say about these other than, “YUMMY!” Enjoy!

Chocolate Chunk Brownies


I only use Dutch Cocoa, versus “Fry’s Cocoa”, as we find it is richer in flavour, and the darker colour is more appealing.

Chocolate Chunk Brownies

For One 8 by 8-inch pan of brownies you will need:

½ cup butter or margarine

½ cup all purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

½ tsp. baking powder

2 eggs

½ cup toasted almonds, pecans or walnuts

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. Vanilla

4 oz. sweet chocolate chips, or chocolate

1. Melt butter. Add the sugar, eggs, cocoa and vanilla. Combine the flour and baking powder. Stir into the chocolate mixture.

2. Toast the nuts by spreading in a single layer in a shallow pan. Bake at 325F for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Add the chips or coarsely chop the chocolate squares, keeping in large chunks. Stir in the nuts and chocolate to batter. Spread batter in an 8 by 8 inch baking pan that is lightly greased.

4. Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out barely moist. Cool in pan on a rack. Cut into squares and serve.

Apple & Skor Cream Cheese Dip

We tried this simply amazing dip at Arlo’s Honey Farm’s anual open house on May 26th, 2013. A big thanks to Ann for having the dip available to try, AND having the recipe all written out on recipe cards to hand out. When I make it in the next week, I will post the picture.

1 – 8 oz pkg – Cream cheese
1/2 to 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
Caramel Sundae Sauce
4 Skor Bars or Bits
4-6 Granny Smith apples

Beat cream cheese & sugra until smooth. Spread in 9″ pie plate.

Drizzle caramel sauce over that layer.

Top with chopped Skor bars. The easiest way to chop them is in a food processor set to “pulse”.

Slice and core Granny Smith apples to desire size to use for dippers.

Serve at room temperature.




Juicy Smoky Burgers

We’ve never finished burgers off in the oven before, but tried it tonight and it worked awesome. They turned out to be the most moist burgers we’ve ever had.

Makes 8 – 1/4 pound burgers

2 pounds ground beef
1 heaping Tbsp garlic powder
1 heaping Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
1/4 cup smoky BBQ sauce
1 small onion, finely minced
1 cup crumbled fresh bread crumbs
2 eggs

Whisk eggs, then combine all remaining ingredients, except meat. Next, add the meat to combine thoroughly.

Split meat into 8 patties. Cook on medium-high heat in oiled cast iron pan for 4 minutes per side. Put all burgers in one of the pans, and finish in preheated 350 oven (but with heat shut off when burgers are put in) for 10-15 minute till cooked through.

Mushroom-onion topping

In the mean time, on med-high heat, put a couple Tbsp more oil in second pan, and using a pancake flipper, scrape all the yummy bits from the bottom of the pan, and fry up some sliced mushrooms and onion – seasoned with salt and pepper – to your liking.

Serve with your favorite condiments and buns.

Sweet and Sour Deep Fried Pork Balls

We had some pork loin with which we wanted too do something different, and Lowell suggested the fried pork balls. I found a specific recipe for the sauce, but I was looking more for a principle on the pork, as I knew it had to be a different sort of batter than what I normally us for quick cooking items, like veggies, so it can’t brown/burn easily. It ended up being a simple dredge in plain flour, and a batter of self-raising flour (1 cup flour + 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder + 1/2 tsp. salt)

First, I just have too say, WOW! It was truly fantastic and as good as the best restaurant we’ve been to.

The following is from Mandy’s Munchies:


(This is her general directions for the batter, and it’s actually what I followed. She states that the full recipe further down her page ended up not working. Unfortunately, I didn’t accurately record my quantities, but will do so the next time I make this recipe. I do intend on trying it with the corn flour as well.)

Dry the meat and season with salt and pepper. Dust with plain flour. Make a batter by mixing self-raising flour (Green Dragon is the brand) with enough water until you get the consistency where it easily falls from the whisk. Dip the meat into the batter and then deep fry until pale golden brown and the ‘balls’ have formed their shape. In the take-away they will leave them like this until a customer makes their order and then the balls are re-fried until they are dark golden brown.

For frying, heat oil to 375F and drop pieces in hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes. Don’t put too many pieces into the fryer otherwise the temperature of the oil will drop too much, I fried about 10 at a time. Remove and drain on a paper towel and keep warm in a low oven while you fry the rest.

1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) white vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup (60ml) water
1/2 cup (100g) white sugar
1/4 cup (45g) brown sugar, packed
1 Tablespoon corn flour
1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) cold water

To make the sauce: in a small saucepan combine the first 6 ingredients and bring to a boil whisking constantly.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer stirring for 2 minutes.
In a small cup dissolve the corn flour in the cold water until smooth, then add to the simmering sauce stirring constantly.
Cook for another 3 minutes stirring until bubbly and thickened.
(She served this at room temperature. You can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for probably about a week.)


When pork balls are all fried and sauce is done, I added the pork balls to the sauce and simmered them together for a half hour or so to allow the wonderful sauce to soak into the pork coating. It was fabulous!

No-Fail White Bread & Cinnamon Rolls too.

No Fail White Bread (with Cinnamon Rolls listed near the bottom)

(This recipe may seem long, but most of it is just tips I got from Bakers)

5-6 Cups Unbleached White flour
(or substitute up to 2 cups Whole Wheat at the beginning)

2 Tbs. lard, shortening or butter (no margarine Especially not BECEL!)

2 Tbs. Sugar (or Honey – add honey with liquids)

¼ to 1/3 cup Dry Milk Powder 2 Tbsp (optional)

2 Tbsp. active dry yeast

2 tsp. Salt

2 Cups hottest tap water

1. In large bread bowl, by hand or stand up mixer, combine 2 cups flour (all white or 1 cup white, 1 cup WW) and all the dry ingredients.

2. Mix well, and add 2 cups hottest tap water, beating vigorously until well combined. (Don’t be afraid for the yeast, it’s well cushioned in the dry ingredients)

3. Add fat, beating until pretty well combined.

4. Add one more cup flour (White or WW) beat vigorously for 3 minutes.

5. Add remainder of flour, ½ cup at a time, incorporating well, until dough just starts to clump in the middle of the bowl.

(Contrary to popular recipes, if your dough completely cleans sides of bowl, you have added too much flour – I got this tip from a Baker, and found it to be right on.) The amount of flour you use will vary greatly on the humidity in the air, thus on the time of year. Springtime, I may use the full 6 cups, whereas in Summer I may only use a scant 5 cups. To measure my flour, I just dig my cup in the barrel, then level off with a knife. This works well with this recipe, because I can quickly see the results and judge what I need by the feel and look of the dough. With a Bread Machine, you have to follow the old fashion way of spooning it in the cup and levelling off, or using sifted flour.

6. When the dough is still fairly tacky, but not gooey, transfer to needing board, or put kneading paddle on mixer, and kneed 8-10 minutes by machine, 8-15 minutes by hand, until smooth and elastic. Get a good rolling motion going, turning dough ¼ turn after each roll, and don’t be afraid to slam the dough down on the board on occasion. All this serves to activate the gluten in the dough, which is vital for good bread.

7. When it is smooth and elastic, form into ball, and roll in greased bowl turning greased side of dough up. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a fairly warm area until doubled in size.

8. Pan Prep:  I use a cooking spray on my pans as I find it works the best versus butter, oil, etc.

9. SHAPING: Once it doubles in size, resist the urge to punch it down – this will only reactivate the gluten too early and will make your dough harder to shape (Baker’s tip again). After you have gently put it on the work surface, cut into twelve pieces for buns; in half for two sandwich loaves; or take a third and cut into 8 pieces and place in greased angel food cake pan to create a really pretty roll ring, and cut the other third in 8 for nice sandwich buns.

When placing the twelve buns on a large greased cookie sheet, press each roll down firmly with the palm of your hand, but don’t squash them. This proper pressing will give more of a sandwich bun effect instead of a roll. (Don’t worry, they will still rise very nicely and will be nice and light) When these are laid out on a large cookie sheet, they don’t touch each other, and they create twelve nicely sealed buns that stay fresher, longer, and they freeze very well.

Whichever you choose, spray top with Pam Spray, cover lightly with plastic wrap or a bag, let rise in a warm spot until double and bake at 400F.

Buns 16-25 minutes

Bread 20-35 minutes (All depends on altitude above or below sea level).

After the first couple of times, you’ll have the proper time figured out, and it remains quite stable. Just watch them after the minimum time until they get nicely golden, and you get a hollow sound when you tap the tops.


1. This recipe can also be used to make 2 medium pizzas, or 2 medium pans of cinnamon rolls, or whatever else you might come up with.

2. Healthy: At the beginning, use 1 cup white and 1 cup whole wheat to start, plus ½ cup rolled oats, and 1/3 cup Red River, Sunny Boy Cereal, or mixed grains. Continue as listed, but reduce flour accordingly.

Favorite Variation:  Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe provides a less dense variation than traditional cinnamon rolls. I use 1/2-cup sugar , but honey is nicer, but keep the rest of the ingredients the same (You can; however, substitute 3-4 cups of the white flour for whole wheat. I just tried this and they turned out yummy too.) Cut the dough in half, then roll each half into roughly 6″ wide by however long pieces. The thickness should be about 1/4 to 3/8″. It will take about 1/2 cup of melted butter to brush over the entire surface to within 1/2 inch of edges. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon liberally over buttered surface, then if you’d like, roughly chopped pecans. Roll the dough on the long side to form the long roll, starting on one edge, then work your way back and forth till the roll is complete. Pinch the exposed, ungreased edge to the outside of the roll to seal. With a sharp knife, cut them about 1 inch wide, and place on cookie sheet that has either been grease or has baker’s parchment paper on it. This little trick saves HUGE amount of sticky clean up! Lay them on the sheet so they just barely touch. This makes almost 2 large cookie sheets.

Bake in over roughly 25 minutes, or until lightly golden.


6 tablespoons butter, softened

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Add enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Frost warm rolls.

Simpler (Cheaper) Frosting Variation:

I just use icing sugar and water to desired consistency and drizzle right out of the mixing bowl onto the warm rolls. It takes about 4 cups icing sugar and ½ to ¾ cup water.



On the Menu: leftovers – Pepper Steak & Pan Fried Potatoes

Just because it’s left-over night doesn’t mean it has to be boring! Often, left-overs are better than the first time around!

The Leftovers:

4 golden potatoes
4 pcs of steak – sliced

The Plan: Pepper Steak and Pan Fries.

Pepper Steak

I also grabbed the following from the fridge & pantry:

1 green pepper – julienned
1 small onion – sliced
6 mushrooms – sliced
beef soup base paste
corn starch

Along with, salt & pepper for seasoning, grape seed oil for frying.

Pepper Steak Prep

The Cooking:

I started by cooking the sliced mushrooms on high in hot grape seed oil till they were about 1/2 ways to how browned we like them, then added the onion, cooked that for 2 min. or so, added the peppers, and cooked them for 3-4 min and added the sliced steak. Meanwhile, I mixed about 1/2 Tbsp of beef soup base paste with about 1 1/2 cups water, mixed in 1 heaping Tbsp. of corn starch, then added that in gradually to the veggies & steak. I let the water mixture thicken and cook on med-low for a few minutes to make sure the steak was heated through.

Pepper Steak

 Pan-Fried Potatoes

Potatoes were cut about 1/4″ think and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Heat 1/8″ oil in fry pan on med-high heat till a drop of water dropped in pan spits back at you, and place sliced potatoes in pan to cook about 5 minutes each side or until desired color of doneness.

Pan-Fried Potatoes


From the garden:

BBQ’d Zucchini & Eggplant

Zucchini –  gutted and sliced lengthwise between 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick
Eggplant – gutted and sliced lengthwise 1/4″ thick
Favortie BBQ sauce (apple butter is really nice with this)

Baste zucchini and eggplant with grape seed oil & sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you have a special BBQ rack that’s meant for shishkabob or fish (it sandwiches the food between two metal racks, it is ideal for grilling these items too. Place one layer thick of either vegi in between the two metal racks, and place on BBQ grill at medium heat. Cook until just started to get transluscent, but still having a bit of resistance when pierced with fork. Baste with BBQ sauce and finish cooking till fork tender.

Non-Dairy White Sauce

Non-Dairy Almond Milk White Sauce

This post is quite exciting for me as I love white sauce, but since I’m allergic to dairy, cannot have it without nasty side-effects. I really wanted pasta with white sauce for lunch, so I started thinking of alternates. What can I used instead of cow’s milk? The rest of the family doesn’t like goat’s milk, so I had my work cut out for me. A few months ago, I tried using rice milk unsuccessfuly, but have been recently using Blue Diamons Almond – Almond Breeze – Original in my cereal and have been enjoying it. So I thought, why not white sauce???

It worked! Best part is, a basic dairy milk white sauce recipe works with just a bit more salt. I upped it from 1/4 tsp salt per 1 cup “milk”, to 3/8 tsp salt to 1 cup “milk”

So, here’s my variation, using almond milk & a more salt.

Non-Dairy White Sauce for Pasta

Thin White Sauce:

1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
3/8 tsp. salt
1 c. milk

Medium Thickness Sauce:

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
3/8 tsp. salt
1 c. milk

Other Ingredients:

Oregano and or spike
Parmesan cheese
Sour cream
Salt and pepper
Garlic salt or powder


In saucepan melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and dash pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more.
Make basic white sauce thin or medium. Add the other ingredients. Cook veggies like (mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, bell tomatoes, red peppers) etc. or cook seafood (in wok) works well.

Add to white sauce seafood or veggies and serve over pasta.