Simply Refreshing: Watermelon Basil Salad

One of my most favorite salads that I love to make on a hot summer day is this watermelon basil salad. The ingredients of watermelon, basil, fresh figs, feta, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar, make it the perfect combination of sweet and tart. Bright, colourful, easy, refreshing and super light, what more could you ask for. Every time I make this salad, it take me back to my trip to Spain, where I first had this delicious combination and I have been making it ever since. If I can’t find fresh figs, I will just omit them from the recipe and it still taste wonderful. Try it and you will see why this has become one of my favorite go to salads in the summer.


Here is what you will need:

  • 1/2 watermelon cut into chunks
  • 6 purple figs cut into quarters (optional)
  • 1 cup of cubed or crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup nine nuts
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Fresh cracked pepper

Here is how to make the salad:

  • Cut the watermelon into cubes and add it to a large bowl.
  • Cut the figs (if using) into quarters and add to the large bowl.
  • Cut the feta and add it and the pine nuts to the large bowl.
  • Add the basil leaves to the large bowl.
  • Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and fresh cracked pepper, toss the salad and serve.

I hope this recipe inspires you in your kitchen – enjoy!

Baked Mozzarella Ball

Paul and I love ordering baked mozzarella when we go out to our favorite local Italian restaurant Scaddabush. Without fail, it is always the first thing we ask them to bring to the table even before we have has a chance to order our drinks. We like it so much I decided to make it at home for us and our friends to enjoy. It is so easy and full of flavour, you will impress anyone you make it for.


Here is what you will need:

  • 1 oven proof skillet (I used a 3 inch cast iron skillet)
  • 1 mozzarella ball
  • Olive Oil
  • Hot peppers
  • Sun dried tomatoes diced
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Pepper
  • Panchetta diced
  • Hot sauce (optional)

Here is how to make it:

  • Heat the over to 350°
  • In a mini skillet drizzle a little bit of olive oil
  • Place the mozzarella ball in the pan
  • Add, hot peppers, sun dried tomatoes, cherry or grape tomatoes and the pancetta if using to the skillet
  • Drizzle with hot sauce and pepper


  • Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes
  • Sever with Garlic toast


I hope this recipe inspires you to be creative in your kitchen – enjoy!

Summertime Sangria

When entertaining, I like to serve one main cocktail and then have some basic alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages on hand for those who don’t wish to partake in the beverage I have chosen to serve.  A few weeks ago I had some of Paul’s family here for food and cocktails and given that it was the start of the warm weather in Toronto, I decided to make a huge pitcher of sangria.

Sangria is one of those beverages that is perfect for summertime entertaining. On a hot summer day, there’s nothing more refreshing than an ice-cold glass of sangria filled to the brim.


Little is known about the origins of this flavourful Spanish drink but it has become a popular summertime beverage. It is generally believed that the word Sangria is taken from the Spanish word sangre meaning blood, in reference to the red color of this wonderful beverage.

You will find many versions of how to make sangria on the internet but the one I like the best is the one that I had when I was in Spain last year.

Here is what you will need:

  • One bottle of red wine (preferable Spanish)
  • 1/4 cup of brandy
  • 1/4 cup of Triple Sec or Quantro
  • 2 cups of orange juice (non pulp)
  • 2 cups of cranberry juice (like Tropicana)
  • Fresh cut fruit such as strawberries, blackberries, orange slices

Here is how to make it:

  • Add the sliced fruit to the bottom of a pitcher
  • Add the wine, brandy, Triple Sec, orange and cranberry juice to a pitcher
  • Let merry for a minimum of 30 minutes before serving

I hope this recipe inspires you to be creative in your kitchen – enjoy!

BBQ Pizza Sauce

There is nothing like the summertime and cooking outdoors. As soon as the warm weather hits, Paul and I are outside cooking up a storm with the smoker and BBQ. Using the BBQ like a stove or oven is great especially during the warm weeks of summer when it is so hot, the last thing you want to do is heat up your kitchen cooking.

One of my favorite things to do on the BBQ is roasting tomatoes to make pizza sauce. The hint of smoke flavour you naturally get from roasting the ingredients on the BBQ is out of this world and creates such a unique taste to your pizzas or pizzettes.

BBQ Pizza Saoce

brischetta pizzette


Here is what you will need:

  • Vine Tomatoes
  • Whole garlic cloves
  • Fresh Basil leaves
  • Whole onion cut into wedges
  • Fresh Oregano
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive Oil


Here is how to make it:

  • Heat your BBQ to 425 (one burner on and one burner off. (If you have 4 burners, put the two outer burners on and the center ones off) this will create an oven like effect when cooking.
  • On a baking sheet fitted with parchment paper add your tomatoes, garlic, basil, onion, thyme, oregano.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss.



  • Once your BBQ is at the right temperature, place the baking sheet on the off burners and close the BBQ lid. Cook for 25 minutes until the ingredients get soft and easily mashed with a fork.
  • Take the ingredients off the BBQ and let cool slightly.
  • Place the ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork for a more rustic sauce or place in a food processor and blend until desired consistency.

I hope this recipe inspires you to be creative in your kitchen – enjoy!

Crispy Chicken Taquitos

Entertaining and making food for kids can be a tricky business at the best of times, especially if any of them are picky eaters. I am always looking for fast and fun recipes for Emma particularly if she is entertaining friends. Luckily I have found plenty of simple and delicious recipes that work for even the pickiest eaters and don’t take a lot of time to prepare. Crispy chicken taquitos has become one of my go to recipes. It is easy, fun to eat and has become one of Emma’s favorites to share with her friends. 

Crispy Chicken Taquitos


Here is what you will need:

  • 2 cups of shredded chicken (I like to use rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 cup shredded mild white Cheddar cheese 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of chunk salsa plus more for serving
  • Eight 6-inch flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream plus more for serving
  •  Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Toothpicks
  • guacamole (optional)

Here is how to make the Crispy Chicken Taquitos

  • Add enough oil to a heavy bottom pan to come 2 inches up the sides and heat over medium heat.
  • Mix together the chicken, Cheddar, salsa and the cumin in a medium bowl.
  • Spoon about a 1/4 cup of the mixture into the center of each tortilla, add the guacamole if using. Roll the tortillas tightly around the filling and secure with a toothpick.
  • Place the taquitos in the hot oil and fry, flipping as needed to brown evenly, until crispy and golden brown, about 3 minutes.Only fry 2 or 3 at a time making sure not to overcrowd the pan.
  • Remove the taquitos and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.
  • Serve with salsa and/or sour cream for dipping.

I hope this recipe inspires you to be creative in your kitchen – enjoy!

Bacon Jam

Bacon is one of the most loved pieces of meat in my house. Even our dog Clarence salivates when it is cooking. It is a great compliment to so many dishes and can be added to any meal regardless if it is breakfast, lunch or dinner. Bacon is something that we use a lot in our home and I am always trying different things with it. For example, bacon jam. Bacon jam is really just a relish that is slow cooked with onions, vinegar, brown sugar and spices. There are many different version of this recipe that you can find on the internet or even Pinterest, that include altering the cooking time between 2 and 6 hours and adding other ingredients such as a variety of spices, bourbon and even coffee.
I love serving this bacon jam as a topping for hamburgers or on a crostini with a piece of brie and then topped with the bacon jam.

Bacon Jam


Here is what you will need:

  • 1 lb good-quality bacon
  • 2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee (hot or cold)

How to make the bacon Jam:

  • In a large skillet, cook bacon. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.
  • Coarsely chop bacon.
  • Add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes.
  • Add balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, and coffee and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet with a wooden spoon, about 2 minutes.
  • Add bacon and stir to combine.
  • Transfer to a slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered, until liquid is syrupy, 3 – 4 hours.
  • Let cool, then refrigerate in airtight containers, up to 4 weeks.

I hope this recipe inspires you to be creative in your kitchen – enjoy!

Candied Prosciutto – A.K.A. Meat Treats!

If you have been following my blog, you know that Friday nights is girls night for me, usually at my place. Paul is out playing hockey with the boys, Em is usually doing her own thing,  so it is a great time for me to kick back with the girls, try new appy recipes and of course have a lovely glass of vino.
Every now and then, Paul has some of  his buddies come by the house after hockey for a quick beer, so on those nights I like to include something different in my appies for them to eat when they get home.
One of the best all time hits, guaranteed to be a crowed pleaser are candied prosciutto. I first came across this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis and I thought to myself that this is a must try. I did alter some of the spices to match my own preferred flavoured profile so the recipe below reflects what I did but use whatever you like.
Sometimes I serve these on their own and sometimes I like to serve the with home made guacamole or hummus. On their own or with dip these meat treats are so good, they are a little pieces of meat candy heaven!

Candied Prosciutto


Here is what you will need:

  • 5 to 10 pieces of thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp of chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp of paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Drizzle of olive oil

Here is how to make the candied prosciutto:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Lay the prosciutto slices on the parchment lined baking sheet without touching.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, chili powder, paprika and cayenne.
  • Brush each slice of prosciutto with some olive oil and sprinkle with the spice mix.
  • Bake until the prosciutto  is beginning to crisp and the sugar is caramelized, 16 to 18 minutes.
  • Transfer  to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Blot with a paper towel if beads of oil form.


I hope this inspires you to be creative in your kitchen – enjoy!

If you would like to view Giada’s original recipe go to


Jalapeño Poppers – Hot! Hot! Hot!

Jalapeno poppers is one of those appies that you either love or you hate because you can’t handle the heat. My better half (Paul) loves all spicy food, so jalapeno poppers are a food that he requests often when I am making appies for guests. Everyone tends to make the usual jalapeno popper (jalapeno smeared with cream cheese wrapped in bacon). I guess because I find myself making it so often, I get board of the same old, same old. This recipe for jalapeno poppers is a bit different because it incorporate my love for bread.

L-A’s Jalapeno Poppers


Here is what you will need:

  • diced jalapenos with the seeds removed, cream cheese, diced cooked bacon, grated cheddar cheese, sriracha sauce (optional), crescent roll dough

How to make the jalapeno poppers:

  • For the dough:
    • 1 cup of warm milk
    • 2 1/4 tsp of yeast
    • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
    • 1/3 cup of margarine
    • 1 tsp of salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 4 cups of flour
    • Mix together warm milk, yeast and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer and let rest for 5 minutes until yeast mixture begins to foam. Add remaining ingredients and mix until a dough forms. Place dough on a very lightly floured surface and kneed until a smooth dough forms. Place in a butter greased bowl and let rise until it doubles in bulk (1 1/2 – 2 hours). Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 16×12 rectangle.
  • To Prepare the jalapeno poppers
    • Spread cream cheese over dough, sprinkle with diced jalapenos, diced bacon and grated cheddar cheese.
    • Roll the dough into a tight fitting log and cut into 9 – 12 pieces.
    • Place on a baking sheet lined with a silo pad or parchment paper.
    • Bake a t 350 for 20 – 25 minutes (until the dough begins to turn golden.
    • Take out of the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
    • Drizzle with sriracha sauce if using and serve.


I hope this recipe inspires you to be creative in your kitchen – enjoy and don’t forget to check out my next post on Monday March 19!

All Wrap Up

I am always trying to find ways to eat healthier. If anyone is following my blog, you would know about my menu board in my Saving money momma post, where I plan out our dinner meals for the week, not only to save money but also to try and eat a bit healthier. One of my favorite meals on the healthier side of things is shrimp lettuce wraps. We usually make these when we find shrimp on sale. They are like a healthier versions of tacos – easy to prepare, fun to eat and surprisingly filling.

Shrimp lettuce wraps


Here is what you will need:

  • Iceberg lettuce leaves
  • Cooked shrimp (peeled, cleaned and deveined)
  • Cooked vermicelli noodle tossed in sesame oil
  • Shredded carrot
  • Bean sprouts
  • Finely chopped green onion
  • Peanut sauce

How to make the lettuce wraps

  •  For the shrimp: Melt 1 tbsp of butter, 1tbsp of EVOO in a frying pan over medium low heat and add the shrimp. Cook shrimp until they start to turn pink, turning them over once. Add 1 clove of minced garlic and cook until the shrimp are pink on both sides (be careful not to overcook the shrimp or they will taste rubbery).
  • For the vermicelli noodle: Cook noodles to package directions. Drain the noodles and while the noodles are still hot, toss in 1 tbsp of sesame oil and set aside.
  • For the peanut sauce: Place 3 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1-2 tsp lime juice
    1 tbsp sesame oil, 1minced garlic clove and crushed red chili flakes to taste in a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of water, and whisk until a loose sauce forms.
  • To assemble: Set out the lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Fill lettuce leaves starting with the noodle, then layer the carrot, bean sprouts, shrimp, green onions. Drizzle with peanut sauce and serve.

I hope this recipe inspires you to be creative in your kitchen – enjoy!

Twisted in knots

There are several varieties of pretzels, including soft pretzels, which should be eaten shortly after they are baked and hard-baked pretzels, which obviously have a longer shelf life. For me soft pretzels are the ultimate beet snack. Paul (my better half) would argue that point because he loves buffalo wings with his beer but every Super Bowl Sunday, he always requests that I make soft pretzels with mustard for dipping.
There are many different dough recipes you can use to make your pretzels, I like to use a smaller version of my pizza dough recipe but if you are not comfortable making your own dough, you can even buy store bought pizza dough to make your pretzels. I guarantee once you make these,  you will ask yourself why you hadn’t done this before.

My Super Bowl Sunday soft pretzel


Here is what you will need:

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbs EVOO
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour + up to 1/2 cup more if needed
  • 6 cups of warm water
  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • Course salt for sprinkling

How to make the pretzels:

  • In a large bowl of an electric mixer add the warm water, yeast and sugar. Mix and let proof until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Fitted with a dough hook and on speed 2, add the EVOO and slowly add in the flour and salt until well combined and forms a dough. Kneed until the dough forms a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Cover the baking sheets with parchment paper and one baking sheet with a wire rack. Once dough has doubled in size, divide into 12 equal portions. Work with one portion at a time and place the other portions of dough back into the greased bowl and cover with the damp cloth until ready to use.
  • Roll and stretch a portion of dough into a 18-inch rope with your hands, working from the center to the ends. Twist the rope into a pretzel shape.
  • In a large pot, bring 6 cups water and ⅓ cup baking soda to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and  place the pretzels into the hot baking soda (you will have to work in batches), for about 30 seconds each side, and then transfer to the wire rack. Repeat process until all your pretzels have been placed in the baking soda water. Transfer all the pretzels to the parchment-lined baking sheets.
  • Whisk together the egg and a splash water. Brush the egg wash on the tops and sides of the pretzels and sprinkle with coarse salt.
  • Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the pretzels are a beautiful golden brown.
  • Serve with a variety of mustard’s such as regular, whole grain, dijon or even wasabi mustard.

I hope this recipe inspires you to be creative in your kitchen – enjoy!