Asparagus With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Spring is in the air…that means asparagus season in Ontario is just around the corner.

Asparagus growing in my vegetable garden

I planted a line of asparagus crowns in our vegetable garden last season…so exciting to see some of it survived!

Here is a recipe to have on hand when your local asparagus arrives.

Asparagus With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Asparagus with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce on an asparagus platter

Beautiful in colour, texture and taste.

My mother reminded me of this recipe when I was visiting her this past weekend. She was invited to her friends for Sunday dinner…the vegetable and dessert were her contribution.

Saturday, she made the roasted red pepper sauce…Sunday she simply needed to cook the asparagus and serve with the re-heated roasted red pepper sauce. A simple fresh fruit salad marinated in 2 capfuls of Cointreau was easy to assemble, transport and enjoy at the end of the meal. How decadent!

This recipe comes from Canadian Cookbook Author, Anne Lindsay’s Smart Cooking Cookbook. I have Anne Lindsay’s cookbook, Anne Lindsay’s Light Kitchen.

On the back cover it states, “Anne Lindsay’s first cookbook, Smart Cooking, changed the way we thought about eating:  suddenly, healthy food was fun to make, delicious to eat and easy on the budget! Canadian families have never looked back.”

I have to agree…I have enjoyed many a recipe from Anne Lindsay’s cookbooks…this recipe being one of them.

Asparagus With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Asparagus with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce on an asparagus platter

2 large red peppers
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp crushed dried thyme leaves
Freshly ground pepper
2 lb asparagus (I used one bunch)

Roast red peppers on a baking sheet at 375 F for 18 minutes.
Turn over and roast a further 18-20 minutes…or until the peppers are blistered and soft. Let cool.
Peel outer skin…it should slip off easily…discarding seeds and any liquid.
Combine roasted peppers, oil, thyme and pepper in a food processor and puree.
Set aside. (may be stored in the refrigerator and re-heated at a later time)
Wash asparagus and break off the tough ends.
Bring a pot of water to the boil…add asparagus and simmer 5-8 minutes or until asparagus is tender/crisp…drain. (I steamed mine)
Arrange asparagus on a plate and drizzle with heated Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Tip: Any leftover Roasted Red Pepper Sauce may be stored in the refrigerator.

Reserved Roasted Red Pepper Sauce served over green beans

I enjoyed some of the reserved sauce over my steamed green beans tonight with my rainbow trout and quinoa.


Two Recipes From The Toronto Star Cookbook by Jennifer Bain

Jennifer Bain, Food Editor of the Toronto Star, just launched her new cookbook…Toronto Star Cookbook.

Toronto Star Cookbook by Jennifer Bain

I had the pleasure of being one of the guests at the event. Click here for the post.

After reading the book from front to back…I was eager to try out some of the recipes. I thought I would start with a couple of recipes that were featured in the Toronto Star, March 30, 2013 Saturday edition, in anticipation of the big event.

The first…my ultimate favourite dish that can easily be adapted to a meal…a salad. Not just any salad, mind you…Jennifer titles this one, “Salad a magical creation”

Crawford Street Salad

Crawford Street Salad from Jennifer Bain's Toronto Star Cookbook

Jennifer’s description of the salad, “This creation, with its salty, lemon-lime-soaked onions, is loved by all who drop by for dinner.” She explains that it was “inspired by a Chilean dish served by Jumbo Empanadas restaurant in Toronto’s Kensington Market.”  Click here for the original recipe.

I decided to be adventurous with the recipe…something Jennifer encourages us all to be at the end of her introduction in the Toronto Star Cookbook…”Cooking is for all who try, too. Please be adventurous.”

I thought the lemon-lime-cilantro dressing, along with the rest of the ingredients, would pair well with the addition of some flaked tuna, quinoa and kidney beans. As I didn’t have a white onion…I replaced it with a red onion and used spinach and arugula in place of green leaf lettuce.

My adaption of Jennifer Bain's Crawford Street Salad from the Toronto Star Cookbook

Now it is more of a meal…perfect!

The second recipe was more to the liking of the boys/men in my family…potatoes!

Garlic-Basil Smashed Potatoes

Garlic-Basil Smashed Potatoes from Jennifer Bain's Toronto Star Cookbook

This potato dish is in Jennifer’s words, “my favourite way to eat spuds.”  Click here for the original recipe.

The recipe is from 2005 when food writer Susan Sampson adapted the original recipe by Bob Blumer…Food Network star and cookbook author himself.

In Jennifer’s version…”I amp up the garlic and basil, slash the oil and make flaky salt key.”

Well…the garlic was definitely ‘ampted up’ in this recipe…a whole head of minced garlic…raw! Yes, you read that right…a whole head…raw!

Now, I must say I was concerned…so I cut back…twice. I refrained from mincing the whole head and then refrained again at mixing in all the minced garlic. Even still, it was a bit too much for my guys.

My husband’s reaction…”A whole head…she must have meant a clove.”

Matthew’s reaction…”Are they meant to look so beat up?” “Mmmm…I like them…the insides are yummy.”

Michael’s reaction…”The vampires won’t be coming around.”

I loved the concept of the recipe…roasted whole little potatoes with a bit of olive oil dusted in salt and them ‘smashed’ with a fork.

I felt they deserved a second chance…the next night I offered them again. The boys requested them without garlic…not even a clove! I think they were ‘garlic’d out’!

Roasted little potatoes with olive oil and salt

These were more my boys’ style.

This is what I love about the Toronto Star Cookbook…all the stories, personal accounts, the history of how a recipe transpired…Jennifer’s journey of discovering new and exciting flavours throughout Ontario is educational.

With a reference section at the back of the book where all of Jennifer’s favourite places to shop are listed…she calls them her “go-to stores for the best and most diverse ingredients”.

It makes me want to get out and explore all the great venues in and around Toronto…to be just as Jennifer intended us to all be…adventurous!

P.S. Did you notice? Both of these recipes happened to be allergy friendly for our family. Hopefully they will be for your family too.


My Favourite Winter Soup…Roasted Vegetable Soup

I have to say…one of my favourite winter-time soups has to be a bowl of this thick’n rich, delicious soup.

Roasted Vegetable Soup

A bowl of Roasted Vegetable Soup

Full of the rich flavour of roasted carrots, sweet potatoes and onions…all I can say is ..”Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!”

Roasted Vegetable Soup paired with Hearty Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Wholewheat Irish Soda Bread is the perfect meal to bring when you have been invited away for the weekend.

A bowl of Roasted Vegetable Soup with a slice of Hearty Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Wholewheat Irish Soda Bread

The soup can easily be made ahead and frozen…only to be reheated upon arrival or when ready to feed a hungry crowd.

I like to prep the Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Wholewheat Irish Soda Bread ahead of time too…just package up all the dry ingredients and bring along the Natur-a Soy Beverage or Natur-a Rice Beverage, canola oil and white vinegar (hosts may have them on hand, but if concerned about any cross-contamination it is always safer to bring your own)…combine together, knead and bake.

So easy to put together…you will delight your hosts…surprise any other guests and amaze everyone with your delicious, nutritious, homecooked meal.

The original recipe comes from the February 2004 issue of Canadian Living Magazine. Click here for the original recipe.

Roasted Vegetable Soup

I have made a few adaptions for my own personal tastes…I replaced the baking potatoes with sweet potatoes, the shallots with white onions and I used vegetable broth.

I just recently enjoyed the above picutured bowl of Roasted Vegetable Soup and Hearty Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Wholewheat Irish Soda Bread in my rush to get out the door for 5:45 p.m.
I was in a hurry to pick up my two friends, Linda and Leslie, enroute to PENNY & CO.’s ‘meet and greet’ with Cobi Ladner. Click here to view Michael Penney’s post on the event.
I was soooo excited to attend the event! I have always loved perusing through my mother’s Canadian decorating magazinesHouse and HomeStyle At Home…just as much as I have loved pouring over my mother’s Canadian cooking magazinesCanadian LivingChatelaine. Like mother, like daughter…I come by my love of magazines quite honestly.  It was just too bad that my mother was unable to attend herself.
Creating beautiful food and surrounding myself with the things I love are ‘two of my most favourite things’. After listening to Cobi speak about decorating one’s home…I think I am on the right track! Click here for more cobistyle.
I was ‘super excited’ to actually get to ‘meet and greet’ Cobi!
Cobi Ladner and me at  Penney & Co.
Very exciting!
I was thrilled to be able to ask Cobi about some of my family’s tartan wool…Ancient MacBeth…leftover from my wedding…my father brought it back from Scotland so it is very special to me.
Ancient MacBeth tartan
Pillows for my living room…tartan on the front with a soft velvet on the back surrounded with black trim. I just need to pick a colour for the velvet…Black? Cream/White? Emerald Green? Orange? Any suggestions?
How do you express your creative side?

Tuscan Chicken With Parsley Orzo…one of my husband’s favourite meals

Tuscan Chicken with Parsley Orzo has been one of my husband’s favourites meals since the first time I made it back in March 2001.

Andy's plate of Tuscan Chicken with Parsley Orzo

Easy to prepare, great for entertaining and any leftovers can be frozen for a later date.

Saturday night is the one night of the week that Andy and I set aside the time to prepare something special for dinner. Even in the midst of the boys’ crazy hockey schedules…we work hard at trying to come up with a ‘tasty solution’ for dinner. (The boys still enjoy their barbecued ribs, rice and corn night)

Unfortunately, this past week, has been a difficult one for me health-wise…the bit of running I added to my power walks has backfired…it aggravated my pinched nerve.

As a result, Andy took charge of Saturday night’s dinner…of course, he chose one of his all-time favourite dishes…Tuscan Chicken with Parsley Orzo…yeah!

This recipe originates from a Canadian Living magazine…Diane Clement’s Tuscan Baked Chicken with Orzo recipe was highlighted. Click here for an adapted version of Canadian Living’s recipe printed in the Vancouver Sun newspaper.

Andy and I like to make this meal together…as he barbecues the chicken breasts, I prepare the sun-dried tomato topping and prep the orzo. Once the chicken is in the oven, the fresh vegetable (usually broccoli) is put on to steam and the orzo dish is assembled. (Andy did a great job of prepping and preparing the entire meal as I sat on the sidelines…thank you, thank you!)

I have taken the liberty of adapting the original Canadian Living version to suit our personal tastes and dairy allergy…omitting the parmesan cheese in the orzo, allows Michael to enjoy a sample.

Michael's ribs, rice and corn with a sample of Parsley Orzo

Tuscan Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 package of sun-dried tomatoes, not packaged in oil, thinly sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
cracked pepper to taste
fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, for garnish

Barbecue chicken breasts, 5-6 minutes a in a 9 by 13 casserole dish.
While chicken is barbecuing…in a saucepan, saute onion in olive oil until softened.
Add white wine, balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes and a few grinds of black pepper.

Sun-dried tomato topping for chickenPour over chicken breasts, arranging sun-dried tomatoes and onion mixture evenly over the chicken breasts.

Barbecued chicken breasts with sun-dried tomato topping ready for the ovenCover with foil.
Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.

Baked chicken with sun-dried tomato toppingGarnish with slivers of sliced fresh basil.

Parsley Orzo

Parsley Orzo in a saucepan

1 cup orzo (I use Seme di melone by De Cecco)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
half a bunch of parsley, rinsed, dried and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a pot of boiling salted water, cook orzo according to package instructions.
In a large pan, heat olive oil on medium heat.
Add drained orzo, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Tuscan Chicken and Parsley Orzo ready to be served


Tuscan Chicken, Parsley Orzo and steamed brocolli


Tip 1: By not adding the parmesan cheese to the Parsley Orzo, as in the original recipe…Michael is able to enjoy this meal with us.

Tip 2: This dish can easily be made ahead of time…just pop it in the oven for easy entertaining!

P.S. Andy loves to grind fresh parmesan over his Parsley Orzo, as seen in the first picture at top.

Do you have a favourite meal you enjoy as a couple?

Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I love Fall’s abundance of the many varieties of squash and apples, the crisp fresh weather, the layering of comfy clothing, snuggling up in blankets, the roar of a gas fireplace (on my wish list as we don’t build real fires in the house due to our asthma), and hearty, ‘stick to your ribs’ soups.

Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup garnished with quinoa, chickpeas and roasted squash seeds

I have heard it said, “What grows together generally pairs well together”…therefore, I thought I would pair squash and apples in a soup for a heart warming fall supper.

I referred to a recipe I had tried last year from the Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa Parties! Cookbook. Click here for the original recipe.

I adapted her recipe by roasting the squash and apples tossed in olive oil, pure maple syrup and a crackling of sea salt. I think roasting brings out the best flavours in veggies. I omitted the butter, used a couple of Spartan apples, added in some extra spices and made sure to use pure apple cider. 

The final result…just what I was craving…it was amazing!

Even my husband, who was not so keen on the soup last year, enjoyed a bowl. Michael dipped in with some crackers and deemed it, “Not bad.” and Matthew, well, he steered clear of it…orange veggies never did appeal to him.

The soup is so versatile… simply garnish with a sprinkling of roasted butternut squash seeds…

Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup garnished with roasted squash seeds

…or jazz it up with baby spinach leaves, quinoa, and chickpeas. Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup garnished with quinoa, chickpeas, spinach and roasted squash seeds

The possibilities are endless…have fun switching up the flavour combinations!

Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

1 large butternut Squash
2 spartan apples
2-3 tbsp of olive oil
2-3 tbsp of pure maple syrup
2 onions, chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup pure apple cider

Peel and cube butternut squash. (see tip below for roasting seeds)
Peel and slice spartan apples.
Toss butternut squash and apples with olive oil and maple syrup. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Roast at 450F, tossing every 10 min for 50-60 minutes or until tender and browned.

Maple roasted butternut squash and apple on baking sheetIn a large pot, saute the onion and spices in a tablespoon of olive oil until softened.
Stir in roasted squash and apples.
Add water, apple cider and salt and pepper.
Using a hand blender, puree the mixture until smooth…add more water if the consistency is too thick…adjust to your liking. (I love it thick)

Pureed Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup in potBring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes.


Enjoying a bowl of Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup garnished with quinoa, spinach, chickpeas and roasted squash seeds

Tip 1: Save the seeds for roasting…rinse and dry on paper towel lined plate. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on parchment lined baking sheet at 350 minutes tossing occasionally until browned.

Tip 2: I love to freeze any leftover soup in batches for easy go-to meals in a pinch.

Cooler Weather Calls For…Pasta/Quinoa/Rice Figioli

Seems like every day, Fall is creeping ever so much closer…one day it is gloriously warm, the next there is a bitter chill to the air! Time to start thinking about some heartier fare for these cooler days…first dish I can think of is a nice bowl of steaming, stick to your ribs soup…

Pasta Figioli!

A bowl of Pasta Figioli

Add some fresh Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free French Stick for dunking…perfect!

I have been making my version of Pasta Figioli for years now…not quite sure of the original recipe’s origin. I remember watching a program on television and then quickly writing down what I could remember of it…over the years, I have fiddled with the measurements to create a ‘classic’ recipe for our family.

All the veggies in the Pasta Figioli has been a bit off-putting for the boys. However, the smell of the soup simmering on the stove top has always been very alluring! Just a few years ago, Michael decided he had had enough of smelling the soup…he was ready for a bowl of his very own!

As I was not completely sure of his safety with legumes…specifically the white and red kidney beans in the Pasta Figioli…I simmered a separate pot of Pasta Figioli without the beans in it for him to try. He loved it!

Just this week, I felt it was time for our first batch of Pasta Figioli of the season. Upon hearing that Pasta Figioli was on the menu, Michael inquired, “Do you think I could try the soup with the beans?”

As he tested negative at the allergists for kidney beans, followed by a taste with no reaction…I decided it was the perfect time for Michael sample kidney beans in the Pasta Figioli.

What better way to try them? I think kidney beans are the best part of Pasta Figioli!Unfortunately, Michael did not agree…”They’re gritty!”, he grumbled, as he proceeded to pick out the few beans that were in his Pasta Figioli. “I like it better without the beans.” Texture can still be an issue with Michael…his limited diet growing up was very bland with little exposure to different textures.

Oh, well…at least he isn’t allergic to kidney beans. I offered to puree them into a dip…he just looked at me with that…‘ya, that is just what I would love to try next’…look in his eyes! Whenever  I suggest trying beans or tofu or sunflower seeds, his reply is always, “That is not what I want to be eating! I want to try eggs, cheese, shrimp!  All the stuff I can’t eat is what I want to try…it all looks so good!”

The teenage years are a whole new ballgame! I think I should write a post on that topic…although, being a teenager, Michael may not approve of such an idea!

Pasta Figioli

A bowl of Pasta Figioli topped with quinoa

1 head of garlic
3 tbsp canola oil
a few shakes of hot pepper flakes or more to your liking
3 cups of diced carrots (approx. 5-6)
2 cups of diced celery (approx. 4-5)
1 onion diced
2 1/2 cups of homemade chicken stock or 1 carton (1L) of vegetable broth/chicken broth
1 can (796 mL) of diced tomatoes
1 can (540 mL) of red kidney beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 can (540 mL) of white kidney beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed

In a small pot, cover the head of garlic with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Drain water and let cool. Peel off outer skin on each garlic clove and set aside.
In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat. Saute garlic and red pepper flakes, tossing until garlic is starting to brown.
Add onions, saute until softened.
Add carrots and celery, saute until softened.
Pour in tomatoes with juices, chicken/vegetable broth and both kinds of kidney beans.
Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer at least an hour, stirring occasionally.
Ladle soup in soup bowls and top with our favourite short pasta, rice or quinoa.


Enjoying a bowl of Pasta Figioli

I love mixing my Pasta Figioli with quinoa, (see picture under heading) while all the boys in my family prefer Tubetti pasta by De Cecco (seen in picture above).

Tip 1: The longer the Pasta Figioli simmers, the longer the flavours have to mingle. I will sometimes make my Pasta Figioli in the morning and let it simmer throughout the day.

Tip 2: Pasta Figioli is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day reheated to take to work for lunch, dinner a second night or frozen for a quick go-to meal on those days when you need some comfort food!

Tip: 3: As the pasta tends to soak up all the liquid if left in the soup, I tend to let everyone dish their own amount of pasta/quinoa/rice with their soup.

Question: Do you have a favourite soup for the cooler days of Fall?

Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Parsley and Chive Pesto Dressed Potatoes and Shrimp Potato Salad

Saturday was ‘herb harvest day’!Parsley and Chives growing in my herb garden

I had lots of fun picking basil, parsley, chives and oregano to create some flavourful Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Pesto Sauces. Click here for my post on Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Basil Pesto Spaghetinni.

Today’s post focuses on parsley and chives.

Parsley, Chives, Garlic and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Thinking about parsley and chives together as a pesto…little new potatoes came to mind.

The combined flavours of boiled little potatoes tossed with Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Parsley and Chive Pesto complimented each other beautifully.

Boiled little potatoes tossed with Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Parsley and Chive Pesto

Michael loved it!

I decided to set aside some to enjoy cold the next day with the leftover roasted shrimp from the night before.

With the addition of some local ‘corn on the cob’ kernals tossed with leftover cold peas and beans with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice…

Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Potato Salad with Roasted Shrimp

…I had myself a delicious Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Parsley and Chive Pesto Shrimp Potato Salad. It was soooo good!

Parsley and Chive Pesto

Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Parsely Chive Pesto

1 cup parsley,stems and leaves rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup chives, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Measure above ingredients (except oil) into a food processor. Pulse a few times to blend.
While the food processor is running, slowly pour the extra virgin olive oil in. Stop to scrape down the sides and continue to run the food processor until a smooth consistency is obtained.


A serving of Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Potato Salad with Roasted Shrimp

Tip: Other ideas…a few tablespoons tossed with just boiled little potatoes/pasta, as a condiment for roasted fish, as a spread on toasted Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free French Stick or brushed over a fresh cob of corn.

P.S. How do you save your garden parsley and chives?

Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Fresh Garden Herb Pesto: Basil Pesto Spaghetinni

As our summer season is coming to a an end, it’s time to think about what to do with my basil, parsley, chives and oregano growing in the garden.

Herbs growing in my garden

It’s so hard to say goodbye to fresh herbs at my ‘fingertips’, but I know if I don’t use them up…Dear Mr. Frost will be here before I know it.

What does one do with it all?

Pesto! Pesto! Pesto!

Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Basil Pesto

Fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper…

Fresly picked basil, garlic and extra virgin olive oil

A winning combination!

I have yet to find a store-bought pesto that does not contain either dairy/tree nuts. The combination of my boys’ food allergies…dairy/peanut/tree nut allergies…purchasing a pesto has never been an option. Luckily, creating a pesto is a breeze.

This post is dedicated to basil. I have both green and purple basil growing in my garden. I love to decorate with the purple basil…it looks so pretty tossed amongst the ‘greens’ in a salad.

Basil and pasta seem to compliment each other, therefore, I paired my basil pesto with spaghetinni…yummy!

This weekend, the boys, along with their friend William, volunteered their Saturday (8 am- 3:30 pm) at our church’s ‘2012 Taste Festival’. They were in charge of setting up, manning the drinks table, and clean-up. They each earned 7 1/2 hrs towards their 40 hr volunteer requirement, required by the time they graduate from high school! Perfect!

As the boys would not be able to sample any of the wonderful food that was represented by the many cultures that make up our church…Africa, India, West Indian, Latin America, Italian, Trinidad and the PhilippinesI brought over their lunch.  Michael literally ‘wolfed down’ the Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Basil Pesto Spaghetinni and Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Parsley and Chive Pesto Baby Potatoes I packaged in his thermos…declaring them both delicious. He barely had any room for his slice of Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Banana Cake and pear.

Basil Pesto Spaghetinni

A bowl of Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Basil Pesto

2 1/2 cups fresh basil, rinsed and dried in paper towels
3 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
a box of Smart Catelli Spaghettini

Measure above ingredients (except oil and pasta) into a food processor. Pulse a few times to blend.
While the food processor is running, slowly pour the extra virgin olive oil  in. Stop to scrape down the sides and continue to run the food processor until a smooth consistency is obtained.

Boil spaghettini until al dente (check box for directions). Drain…do not rinse.
Immediately, a tablespoon at a time, add the Basil Pesto and toss to coat. The amount of Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Basil Pesto will depend upon your preferred taste.
Divide between bowls.



Saturday night, Andy and I enjoyed our Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Basil Pesto Spaghetinni with some roasted shrimp with hot pepper flakes. Yummy!

Tip 1: My neighbour likes to dip his basil leaves in olive oil, stack them and freeze. Has anyone tried that method? How do you save your garden basil?

Tip 2: Store any leftover Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Basil Pesto in a covered container in the fridge or freeze in an ice-cube tray to defrost for a quick ‘hit of summer’ during the winter season.

P.S. I am thinking a slice of toasted Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free French Stick spread with some Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Basil Pesto topped with a cherry tomato would be worth a try! Any other ideas?

P.P.S. I will be posting my recipe for Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Parsley and Chive Pesto Potatoes on Wednesday.

Bruschetta Pasta

Bruschetta Pasta is one of our family summer favourites!

Bruschetta Pasta

So simple to put together…it has become one of my top travel side dishes!

On our recent trip, to the rented cottage, I had the boys, William included, picking all the cherry tomatoes they could find in our garden. (I think, overall, we had 4 cherry tomato plants)

Cherry Tomato plants are awesome! If you are going to plant a tomato plant next year, I highly recommend choosing one of the many varieties of cherry tomatoes. My personal favourite is the Chocolate Cherry…it actually grows a purpley brown colour…the taste is ‘out of this world’!

Eating cherry tomatoes, in my mind, is like eating candy!

Bruschetta Pasta always tastes better the next day. Of course, in our family, it barely survives. Once prepared, everyone, including myself, wants to eat it!

In order to maximize the marinating, I always make the tomato bruschetta mixture in the morning to let all the flavours meld together before I add the pasta…about 1/2 hour before we sit down.

This week, I was in a panic thinking of a side for dinner. I noticed a few leftover garden tomatoes on the counter…within a couple minutes I had the tomatoes cubed, garlic minced, salt and pepper grinded, extra virgin olive oil drizzled in and fresh basil from the garden quickly torn apart and tossed in. Done! With only a couple of hours to sit…it still tasted divine!

This is the perfect dish to make or bring along when visiting friends/family. There are few ingredients and not a lot of prep in order to create the most delicious multipurpose dish that just ‘screams summer!’

Bruschetta Pasta can also be considered a meal unto its own.

Bruschetta Pasta topped with tuna and a side or roasted brocolli and cauliflower

With the addition of some canned tuna, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes and a side of roasted broccoli and cauliflower…it was my dinner the other night.  Canned beans would be another nice option.

Bruschetta Pasta

Tomato Bruschetta Sauce

2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved (chopped tomatoes can be substituted)
4 cloves garlic, minced
package of fresh basil, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 375 g pkg of Smart Catelli Fusilli pasta

In a bowl with a lid, combine all the above ingredients. (I generally ad lib my measurements.  Add more or less of the garlic/basil/extra virgin olive oil as you feel needed)
Cover and let rest on the counter for the day.
Boil pasta and cook till al dente. (see directions on box)
Drain pasta. Do not rinse pasta!
Immediately toss pasta with bruschetta mixture. Let rest for at least a 1/2 an hour to let the pasta absorb all the mouth-watering flavours of the tomato bruschetta mixture.


Bruschetta Pasta served with Barbecued Lemon Chicken and Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas

One of the meals my family enjoyed at the rented cottage… Bruschetta Pasta with Barbecued Lemon Chicken and sugar snap peas sautéed with mushrooms, onions, garlic and hot pepper flakes. Yummy!

Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Summertime Peach Crisp

Peaches are in season!

Bowl full of fresh summer peaches

Sweet and juicy…enjoying them straight from the basket…summertime at it’s best!

One of my favourite peach desserts to make for a family gathering is Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Peach Crisp.

Adapting my all-time favourite recipe to be dairy, soy and peanut/tree nut free that all family members can enjoy is easy…believe me…no one will miss the butter!

In fact, a butterless crisp makes for a lighter version…one that I have received many compliments!

The recipe I like to adapt is my childhood favourite by Mme Benoit. The recipe comes from a well-worn page from a newspaper article with peach recipes by Mme Benoit.

Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Summertime Peach Crisp

Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Summertime Peach Crisp

14 peaches
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon
2 cups Demerara Brown Sugar
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
8 tbsp canola oil

In a very large bowl, place the peaches and pour boiling water to cover. Let sit for 5 minutes. Peel the skin off the peaches, slice into wedges and place in a flan dish.
Pour over lemon and orange juices and stir to cover.
In another large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Add in the canola oil and using your fingers, combine well.

Peaches and crumble all ready to assemble Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Summertime Peach CrispSprinkle crumble over top of peaches…do not press down…let the crumble sit loosely on top.
Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes or until the top is browned and bubbling.
Let cool on cooling rack.

Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Summertime Peach Crisp cooling


Tip: This makes a very large peach crisp…I doubled the recipe…half of the recipe will fit in an 8 inch baking dish.

P.S. This lovely Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Summertime Peach Crisp was enjoyed after a delicious ‘Allergy Friendly Summertime Dinner’

Perfect Allergy Friendly Summertime Dinner of Barbecued Lemon Chicken, Roasted Cauliflower and Brocolli and Bruschetta Pasta

Barbecued Lemon Chicken, click here for the recipe, roasted cauliflower and broccoli and Bruschetta Pasta. (basically cherry tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh basil tossed with pasta…delicious cold the next day!) Click here for my Bruschetta recipe.

Tip: I Marinated the chicken breasts ahead of time and froze them. I made the bruschetta the morning of the dinner, covered it and left it on the side. Dinner was simply barbecuing the chicken, cooking some pasta and tossing with the bruschetta, (I also had some plain pasta tossed with extra virgin olive oil) then roasting the cauliflower and brocolli…perfect for a crowd of 12…free of all my boys’ food allergens…I can relax and enjoy!

In fact, as Michael was serving himself firstly he commented, “Mom, can I eat everything that is out?” “Yes Michael”, I replied. “I just love these meals”, he answered smiling at me…”Yes, so do I!” So very worth it…in fact, priceless!

P.P.S. This will be my last post for awhile…I am taking a break!  My next adventure with the family will be heading up into the woods to stay at my brother’s cottage with my Scottish relatives. I hope to write about our experience…stay tuned!

Hope you are all enjoying your summertime with friends and family!