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Linda’s Mango-Cilantro Salad Dressing

22 Aug

Let’s talk family. I’ve got a big one. 5 younger siblings. I know, huge in modern-day standards right? As we are all getting older our family is getting larger.  The great thing is, just when you thought you’re fantastically large family couldn’t get any better one of your siblings brings in a new family member (I’m talking significant others here). This is where Linda comes in. He is my sister’s boyfriend. Ya, his name isn’t actually Linda. It’s Linn. But Linda has such a nicer ring to it doesn’t it?

Linda recently moved back out east (he hails from there). And on Friday my sister moved there too….sad. The good news is Linda still sends me recipes….and the even better news, the recipes are delicious (he has actually only sent me one – this one – Linda, get on it!).

This is fresh and the mango dressing is a really great alternative to the vinegar, oil and dijon salad dressing that I usually turn to!

Linda’s Salad

Serves 4


1 box of mixed greens

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 shallots, sliced

1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 a red pepper, sliced

1/2 a green pepper, sliced

Feta for garnish

Mango-Cilantro Salad Dressing:

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup honey

zest and juice of 1 lemon

zest and juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango chunks

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

In a large bowl combine all the salad ingredients.

Linda’s exact wording for how to make the dressing: “throw all those dressing into a food processor and watch the mess turn into deliciousness.” He also very correctly informed me that this dressing made enough to feed a small army (however, I did discover it keeps beautifully in the fridge).

Dress and toss the salad. Sprinkle a little bit of feta over top and enjoy!

Linda says and I quote…..”as we say in the east coast, it’s “off the chainz””


Ahi Tuna Nicoise Salad

5 Jul

A little late….but Happy Birthday Canada and Happy Pride Toronto!!! What a great country we live in, and this city, providing equal rights to all! What a weekend to celebrate! And celebrate we did!!!!!

Looking for something light and refreshing after a long weekend of over-indulging? I’ve got the ticket.

A fresh new take on Salad Nicoise that is elegant enough to serve to company as the main event! Who knew?

By swapping out canned tuna for ahi tuna and adding a few extra “touches” this dish will get you some fans.

Ahi Tuna Nicoise Salad

(serves 4)


1 large ahi tuna steak (be sure to buy sushi grade)

1 recipe of mayonnaise free potato salad (however, make twice the dressing and set the additional amount aside)

2 cups of green beans (ignore my photos – the stupid food store only had yellow beans – I am starting to think I shop at the wrong store as this sort of thing is beginning to become a theme)

1 cup of black olives (whatever kind you like best)

4 hard boiled eggs, quartered*(see below for a tip to boil the perfect egg. read: no weird green around the yolk)

4 perfectly ripe tomatoes, quartered

1 box of baby arugula

Season your ahi tuna with olive oil and black pepper. Heat a grill pan on high heat. Sear the tuna for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. The idea here is to have a very rare centre (this is sushi grade fish so raw centre is perfectly acceptable – just be sure to buy sushi grade). Move to a cutting board and thinly slice into strips.

Trim the green beans and steam them for 3 minutes – rinse under cold water to ensure that nice green colour and crispness.

The glory of this meal is in the presentation. You can either do this on a large platter and let guests help themselves or arrange each plate. I usually do a platter.

Cover the platter with a layer of arugula. Then place the green beans in one area, the potato salad in another, the tomatoes in another, the egg in another, the olives in another and the slices tuna in another.

Drizzle the entire thing with your remaining dressing.

I made this for father’s day (as it is a real favourite of my dad’s). Always a hit. And always a nice light alternative dinner following a weekend full of Canada pride and gay pride!!!!!!

Fiddleheads with Edamame and Feta

14 Jun

Before fiddlehead season is over it is imparitive that you all know about this recipe. I LOVE fiddleheads. I usually just steam them and eat them straight up. I guess Mark was getting a bit sick of this. When we got the newest Food & Drink from the LCBO he pointed out this recipe and insisted I make it.

This really adds to fiddleheads. Since we tried it the first time I can’t stop!

As I am writing this Vancouver is down 4 – 0. Lame. I was hoping for a more exciting evening. Thank god I still have you fiddleheads!

If you’re a fiddlehead lover – or dare I say it, a fiddlehead virgin, try this recipe! It’ll hook you.

Fiddleheads with Edamame and Feta (from LCBO Food & Drink, early summer 2011)

Serves 4


8 oz (250 g) fresh fiddleheads

2 1/2 cups of shelled edamame

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Steam the fiddleheads until fork tender (3 to 5 minutes). Allow to cool. I buy frozen shelled edamame so I steam them according to the package directions – I suggest you go this route as well (big hint – it’s the EASIEST!). Allow to cool.

In a large bowl toss the fiddleheads and edamame with lemon juice, olive oil and feta.

We are eating this on a bi-weekly basis. Not taking advantage of fiddlehead season would be a crime!

I think I am personally eating the majority of the baby ferns in Ontario. When I put it that way it doesn’t sound so great…..something about eating and baby in the same sentence. This isn’t the same as veal. Go for it!

Mayonnaise Free Potato Salad

13 Jun

I am not a mayonnaise hater, I just find sometimes it weighs things down. Potato salad doesn’t have to be terrible for you. It can be light and fresh and easy on the waist line. In the summer I eat a significant amount of potato salad and this recipe is my fail safe!

I make this to last for days so we can eat it all week. It’s the perfect accompaniment to some fall off the bone ribs, herb marinated chicken kebas, lemon pepper fish kebabs or blue cheese stuffed burgers. Basically, if you BBQ it, throw this on the side!

I’ve kinda got a thing for herbs. They really liven things up (geeze that statement makes my life sound thrilling…..)

mayonnaise Free Potato Salad

Serves 4 to 6


1.5 lb of mixed small potatoes (by mixed I mean purple, white and red – it looks prettier this way). If you live in Canada President’s Choice makes what I use – found here. If mixed aren’t available to you, simple small red or white potatoes will work just fine!

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

the juice of one lemon

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp whole grain dijon mustard

5 grinds of black pepper

5 green onions, diced

1/3 cup of chopped fresh cilantro (if you are a cilantro hater, totally fine, leave it out, or replace it with flat leaf italian parsley)

1/3 cup of chopped fresh basil

1/3 cup of chopped fresh dill

Bring a large pot of water to boil and boil the potatoes until they are fork tender. Strain and slice the hot potatoes in half, placing them in a large bowl. In another bowl, or a glass measuring cup whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, whole grain dijon mustard and pepper. Pour the dressing over the potatoes while they are still hot* and toss. Allow them to cool to room temperature.

*As a side note I want to talk about putting the dressing on while the potatoes are hot. I find they absorb the dressing very while they cool. I make sure to give them a toss every 15 minutes or so as they cool to ensure they are all getting enough dressing attention.

Once the dressed potatoes are room temperature I toss them with the fresh herbs and green onion. Now you can either serve or refrigerate until later.

If you refrigerate until later they may seem a tad dry when you take them out to serve. When I say dry I mean they may seem like there is very little dressing on them (b/c it has been absorbed by the potatoes). If this is the case I squeeze another lemon over them and toss with a few tbsp of olive oil.

This is such a versatile side dish.

Perfect to store in the fridge if you have large numbers at the cottage for the weekend. Or to keep you going all week-long with a side dish.

Seriously, purple potatoes are pretty cool.

Grilled Salmon Salad

7 Jun

Now that it’s finally starting to look and feel like summer outside I have taken up the wonderful habit of eating dinner in the back garden. Winter is such a distant memory. Bring on the BBQing!

This recipe is perfect for left over grilled salmon. It is also perfect for when you buy salmon for the BBQ but have no clever ideas of what to do with it. (this may have been me this week). I toyed with the idea of marinating it, then I remembered this amazing recipe!

The raspberry vinegar makes all the difference! And the celery and onion give you a nice crunch. It’s a great mixture of flavours while being nice, light and simple.

Grilled Salmon Salad (from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook )

Serves 4


2 lbs of salmon filet (no skin, no bones)

1 cup of celery, finely diced

1/2 cup red onion, finely diced

2 tbsp capers

2 tbsp raspberry vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp freshly chopped dill

ground black pepper

Coat your salmon in some olive oil and black pepper. Grill on the BBQ for a few minutes a side until cooked through. Let cool.

combine the celery, onion and capers in a bowl. Break the salmon by hand into bite-sized pieces (salmon flakes very easily) and add to the bowl.

Add the raspberry vinegar, olive oil and dill and toss to combine.

That Ina Garten really is clever. I love her and I love her recipes. This one does not disappoint!

We eat this for dinner in the summer time with a few other salads on the side. A great idea for this meal is if you have guests at the cottage, grill some extra salmon when doing your dinner grilling and then make this fantastic salmon salad for lunch the next day.

Happy Summer!

California Salad

2 Jun

I made up the name for this salad. Every time I am in a restaurant and there is a salad with strawberries and goats cheese it is called California salad. I’m trying to be fancy. I didn’t want to call this spinach salad with goats cheese. Bear with me. I promise I will lead you astray!

Normally I am not a huge fan of fruit in my food. Or fruit in general, but that’s probably a discussion for another day. I digress. There was a bit of a grocery shopping crisis at our house a few weeks back and all the fridge contained was strawberries, a box of baby spinach and some left over goats cheese. I think you see where I am headed…..

Since that fateful day I have been making this regularly. Funny b/c this is something I would typically completely avoid. Likely it’s the 7 years straight of rain we’ve had (this may be a slight exaggeration, I’m not sure). I’m craving summery food. CALIFORNIA food (I’ve never been to California…..see, I’m leading you astray already…)

California Salad

Serves 4 as a side dish


1 box baby spinach

6 strawberries, sliced

1/4 cup goats cheese

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or toasted sliced almonds (whichever you prefer – if neither you could always use pecans, or any nut you like)

1 shallot, finely sliced


1/4 cup olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

Combine the dressing in a cup or glass measuring cup and whisk together.

Combine all the other ingredients in a salad bowl and toss with the dressing.

Buying salad dressing is really a huge waste of money and it’s full of garbage. It takes 2 seconds to make your own – give it a go, you’ll never go back!

On this no-grocery day I picked up a rotisserie chicken at the end of the street, whipped up some oven sweet potato fries (don’t you love how long sweet potatoes can sit on your counter and not go bad), paired it with this salad in and we had a fantastic dinner! Who knew?

Crack a bottle from a California vineyard and pretend. Fake it till ya make it! California will come eventually….

Colourful Vegetable Quinoa with Tahini Dressing

31 May

I’m back! Sometimes I get a tad busy with work and, well, other things. Don’t be fooled. There’s still a stack of laundry yet to be touched, a list of rooms that MUST be cleaned last week, yet somehow remain untouched, and many other tidbits. What to do when you can’t squeak out more than 6 hours of sleep a night on a good night? why teach yourself to bake of course!! This rationale makes perfect sense when standing next to your sparkly new kitchenaid stand mixer. I haven’t posted any of these recipes yet b/c “teach yourself” are the key words here. As much as I love to cook I’ve never been a baker. I don’t like sweets (bitch about me later in private please), so I usually only bake twice a year. Once for Mark’s birthday and the other time for an annual Christmas party. Lately, that has changed. As soon as I figure out how to not add inappropriate amounts of salt I will share some sweet treats with you all! Until that time, back to quinoa.

We were gifted a wonderful cookbook by wonderful friends the other weekend. It came in very handy after an over the top long weekend at the cottage (spritzers and caesars? Yes please!). This was a great recipe that hit the spot as a much-needed light dinner. (Although, I would not be afraid to use it as a tasty side dish either). I obviously had to make a few changes to the recipe (this is where I fail at baking…).

Colourful Vegetable Quinoa with Tahini Dressing (adapted from Sophie Dhal’s cookbook, Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights)

Serves 4 as a dinner and many as a side dish


2 cups quinoa

1 cucumber quartered and sliced

4 green onions, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 orange bell pepper, chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

Tahini Dressing

3/4 cup olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce

3 tablespoons tahini

1 clove of garlic

Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions. Let cool to room temperature (it’s ok, I normally can’t wait that long either – I think I lasted 15 minutes. I just stirred it a lot so that the heat could escape faster).

In a food processor, or with an immersion blender combine the dressing.

In a large bowl combine the quinoa, chopped vegetables and dressing.

Geeze that was easy! Pat yourself on the back, it’s been a long day!

This keeps nicely in the fridge, so go on and make yourself a big batch.

After a few more weeknight dinner posts I’ll blow your minds with oreo cheesecake bars. BAM!

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