OK, Kraft know’s what’s cooking

Kraft Foods has a free quarterly cooking magazine called What’s Cooking that features their products in an array of seasonal recipes for every meal of the day.

If you are looking for some extra food inspiration in your mailbox every few months, then check out this magazine. I have been on their mailing list for years, so I can say with honesty that it is a good freebie – especially if you already like Kraft products.

I love it when What’s Cooking arrives in the mail each season, and although it is a fun read I dont always make the recipes. But this latest issue has some rocking salad recipes and hit the mark for me. This one I am having for lunch tomorrow: Bulgar & Beans.

Beans & Bulgar salad

Beans & Bulgar salad: I made this earlier tonight, easy-peasy on American Idol commercial breaks. Yup.

What's Cooking magazine

What's Cooking magazine

Beans & Bulgar salad, page 35

Beans & Bulgar salad, page 35

Here is the recipe link: click here. Note: I swapped chickpeas for extra kidney beans, which is the great thing about these recipes – their flexibility.

Let me know if you try any other recipes from this issue?!

Oscar Moment Snacking: Ready in one commercial break!

So, the OSCARS are back, airing tomorrow night and some of you may be planning parties for many or simply a few.  Here is another EASY snack idea to add to your menu, and its healthy too.

This is the quickest and most healthy way I know to make popcorn at home, and it like air popped and cheaper than standard microwave popcorn products. Other than this method, I enjoy stove-top method, but that can be tricky sometimes so I recommend my Microwave @ Home Personalized Popcorn Recipe!

Three ingredients: popcorn seeds, brown paper lunch bag, and seasoning of choice.

Three ingredients: popcorn seeds, brown paper lunch bag, and seasoning of choice.

Line the bottom of the paper bag with a single layer of popcorn seeds

Line the bottom of the paper bag with a single layer of popcorn seeds

Fold the bag closed and pop in the microwave for 2:00 minutes, or until popping slows down.

Fold the bag closed and pop in the microwave for 2:00 minutes, or until popping slows down.

Season as you like! I'm using Epicure Selections' White Chedder popcorn seasoning, low sodium and tasty!

Season as you like, close the bag and give it a good shake! I'm using Epicure Selections' White Chedder popcorn seasoning, low sodium and tasty!

But if the white cheddar doesn’t float your boat, you can season with ANYTHING you want really! Because these are individual serving sizes, each guest can choose their preferred flavour, maybe they would like to try:

  • Salt and butter is clearly a classic, but add in a little Parmesan or
  • Rosemary and salt (this one is yummy) or maybe
  • Chili powder (for the spicy folks)
  • Curry flavours
  • Salt & Pepper even…
  • What do you like on your popcorn?
Some of my spice selection... This site above my stove and adds colour to my kitchen all the time!

Endless spice possibilities!

Oscar Moment Popcorn! Voila! Ready in 2:00 minutes or one commercial break!

Oscar Moment Popcorn! Voila! Ready in 2:00 minutes or one commercial break!


Tortilla and Black Bean Pie

Recently I had a craving for something Mexican and cheesy. So I pulled out my trusty cookbook collection and went with Everyday Food’s Great Food Fast – one of my favourites for quick meal ideas.

This recipe was easy to make, its vegetarian, includes beer – which may be the first selling point for some, and the layered look is a crowd pleaser too! I enjoyed it, even as leftovers, simply reheated in the oven to toast up the layers and melt the cheese – yum!

RECIPE: Tortilla and Black Bean Pie – Serves 6

Tortilla and black bean pie

Tortilla and black bean pie


  • 4 flour tortillas (10-inch)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno chile, minced (remove seeds and ribs for less heat)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 ounces beer or 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)

Follow the method from Martha Stewarts recipe link above, I followed it verbatum. Here is what the process looked like… Enjoy!


Onions and spice makes many things nice

Onions and spice makes many things nice

Continue to caramelize and add jalepeno

Continue to caramelize and add jalapeno

Add some beans and beer!

Add some beans and beer!

While the beans simmer, prepare your corn and green onions.

While the beans simmer, prepare your corn and green onions.

Prepare to your assembly line...

Prepare your assembly line...

I used small tortillas, and modified the recipe ingredients accordingly. But large works too.

I used small tortillas, and modified the recipe ingredients accordingly, but large ones work too.

The finished product, easy to serve, and full of flavour!

The finished product, easy to serve, and full of flavour!

Have you ever made a tortilla pie? What did your version look like?

Mmmm Breakfast…

Breakfast Sandwhich

Breakfast Sandwhich

I have to say, breakfast is one of my favourite meals of the day. I could eat breakfast three times a day, and sometimes I do. Cereal for dinner? Yes. It happens… But this morning I added some extra effort to my breakfast routine with a quality breakfast sandwhich.

Lightly toasted whole wheat english muffin + Canadian back bacon + a basted free range egg + little bit of cheese; and a side of sliced Gala apple + a hot cup of coffee + milk + sugar = = = Mmmm breakfast…

Lady J’s Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

My recent craving for pumpkin, something a bit cheesy, nutty, oaty, and flavours of the fall like ginger and cinnamon, lead me on a hunt for the perfect pumpkin pie cheesecake recipe. I was soon overwhelmed with recipes online and in my own cookbook collection.

But for the love of a good crust I ended up with this recipe, which has a thicker crust and thinner filling ratio than your typical cheesecake; and it combines the traditional New York style cheesecake with an Italian twist from the Ricotta cheese.

The following is a marriage of my health conscious brain with my indulgent stomach, inspired by finds on Crisco is Cooking recipe and Martha Stewart Food, combined with several tweaks of my own to make my own!

TIME: 30 minutes prep. 60 minutes baking. 6 – 7 hours cooling / refrigeration. Best baked day before serving, due to cooling time, and cake-set time in fridge.

1/2 cup margarine
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 + 2 Tbsp rolled oats
1/4 + 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts

Cream together margarine, water, spices, and brown sugar. Slowly add flour, oats and walnuts. Mix well. Press mixture into the bottom of a greased 9-inch spring-form pan, with a 1-inch crust wall.  Press dough to outer edges of pan, and form a mini-crust-edge. Bake in 325F oven for 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.


Walnut oat cheesecake crust

Walnut oat cheesecake crust in spring-form pan


FILLING: (room temperature ingredients)
1-250g package of light cream cheese
3/4 c. Italian ricotta cheese
1/2 c. granulated sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 c. pumpkin puree (canned is fine!)

In a larger mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar until fully combined.


Cheese filling

Cheese filling


Add flour, spices, and combine. Add the eggs in one at a time, careful not to over mix – just enough to combine.

Cheese and eggs

Fold in pumpkin gently, and pour mixture into prepared crust. Prepare your pan with lined foil on the outside, and set inside a large shallow roasting pan. The foil protects the spring-form pan from the boiling water you will add carefully, to half way up the spring-form pan. The boiling water helps moderate the cooking of the filling, so the eggs don’t bake too quickly.


Cheesecake ready to bake

Cheesecake ready to bake


I never trust that spring-form pans are leak proof, so here is a technique to fold the foil in a way that seals out the water during baking. While the boiling water helps keep the cake moist, you do not want water seeping into your lovely cheesecake after all the preparation work. Simply fold two pieces of foil together as if to make a foil-packet for steaming, and flatten by setting pan on top.



Foil folded to protect cake during baking. This photo was taken after cake had cooled completely, so water you see here was condensation post-baking.


Bake the cheesecake until it is set but still slightly wobbly in the centre, approximately 50-60 minutes. Once the cake is done, turn off your oven and let the cake cool in the oven with the door ajar slightly, for 60 more minutes.


Oven door ajar

Oven door ajar


Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack from there. And then refrigerate at least 6 hours / overnight.  Run a knife around sides of the cake to help unmold if necessary.


Cheesecake make pull away from edges of pan.

Cheesecake make pull away from edges of pan.

I garnished with some toasted caramelized walnuts, but you could leave them out if you like and top with some light whipped-cream or ice vanilla ice cream. Serve and enjoy!



Lady J's Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Lady J's Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Slice with a hot knife to serve easily

Slice with a hot knife to serve easily



Chocolate Moussey-Moussey!

The other night I made my very first chocolate mousse. We devoured the rich chocolate pudding-like goodness so fast my camera didn’t stand a chance to document the successful recipe attempt! I plan to make it many times again in the future because it turned out so well. It was basically a chocolate custard with whipped cream folded in – how can one go wrong!?  So I want to switch it up and see if I can make my lemon curd into a mousse using a similar method.

In the meantime, here is the recipe, I recommend trying it because it was super easy and it was a very rich chocolate dessert that would be a fine-dining-experience in any restaurant; why not try to recreate it at home. Fine Dining at Home:

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE! Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Living’s Fresh Flavour Fast (one of my many favourite cookbooks – with a photo of each recipe and easy instructions with simple ingredients).

Chocolate Mousse: Fresh Flavour Fast cookbook

Chocolate Mousse: Fresh Flavour Fast cookbook

Serves 6 | Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Total time including chilling – 2 hours


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

TIP: you have to use real heavy cream or at minimum whipping cream – you can’t go light on the dairy as this is what gives it the light fluffy texture!


1. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove from heat.

2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 3/4 cup of heavy cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until mixture coats the back of a spoon, 3-4 minutes (do not let it boil though). Remove from heat; whisk in melted chocolate and vanilla until completely smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl (this is an important step because it discards any solids from the process of cooking the yolks). Refrigerate, covered, until cool.

3. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat remaining 1 1/4 cups heavy cream and 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form. Stir one-third of whipped cream into cooled custard mixture, then use a flexible spatula to gently but thoroughly fold in the rest.

4. Spoon into the serving dishes; chill, covered, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.

Top with a little seasonal fruit, whipped cream, crumbled cookies, or just eat and enjoy as is! Simply smooth and decadent chocolatey goodness; a.k.a. heaven in a dessert cup!

Watermelon Ginger Ale Cooler

Courtesy of the Art Institute of Vancouver, I received an insider copy of the culinary school’s newsletter and this is one of the recipes they are sharing for the summer – so I am sharing with you before summer escapes us!

Great for apartment size patio dining; and although this is a virgin cocktail recipe, you could certainly make your own non-virgin-version!

Servings: 4 (8 oz. servings)

1/4 c. water
1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ginger root chopped
3 cups mini watermelon pieces cubed (any kind)
1/2 cup lime juice freshly squeezed (~4 limes)
16 oz. ginger ale
ice cubes as needed

Place water and sugar in a sauce pot and bring to a low simmer to dissolve sugar. Set aside. In batches, puree watermelon and fresh ginger and strain through a fine sieve into a large pitcher [you could make it mojito style though, and crush with a fork for a more rustic look]. When cooled, add sugar water. Stir in lime juice and ginger ale. Pour over fresh ice and serve.

Summer in a glass – Enjoy!

2010 Summer Wine List

Courtesy of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival’s 2010 Top 25 Under 25 event – that I attended earlier this year. On arrival, the staff handed out wallet sized cards, as a takeaway, which listed all 25 wines.

Because summer time is a great time to try new wines, here is the list:

From 2010 Buyer’s Guide: 25 under $25, PlayhouseWineFest.com

1. Argentina: Bodega Catana Zapata Alamos Malbec ’08, $15.99
2. Argentina: Bodegas Francois Lurton Pinot Gris Reserve ’08, $18.99
3. Argentina: Familia Zuccardi Santa Julia Reserva Cab Sauv ’08, $15.99

4. Australia: d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache ’07, $23.00
5. Australia: Evans & Tate Margaret River Chard., ’08 $19.99
6. Australia: Hardys, The Chronicles Butchers Gold Shiraz Sangiovese ’08, $15.95
7. Australia: Peter Lehmann Wines Clancy’s Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc, ’08 $16.99

8. BC: Gray Monk Estate Winery Pinot Auxerrois, ’09, $15.99
9. BC: Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Cab. Franc ’07 $17.99

10. Chile: Vina Cliterra Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon ’09, $12.99
11. Chile: Miguel Torres Cordillera Chardonnay, ’08, $21.99

12. France: Blason de Bourgogen/ La Chablisienne Cremant De Bourgogne NV, $24.99
13. France: Reutenauer les Vins du Sud Quest Chateau Croix du Mayne ’07, $19.99

14. Schloss Reinhartshausen Estate Riesling QBA Troken ’07 $19.99
15. Italy: Altesino Rosso di Toscana IGT ’06, $21.99
16. Italy: Santa Margherita Prosecco Brut Valdobbiadene, DOC NV $21.99

17. New Zealand: Allan Scott Family Winemakers Marlborough Pinot Noir, $24.00
18. New Zealand: Stoneleigh Riesling ’09 $19.99
19. New Zealand: Sacred Hill Marlborough Sauv. Blanc ’09 $19.99

20. South Africa: Nederberg Winemaster’s Reserve Riesling ’08, $22.99
21. Spain: Grupo Faustino Fortius Tempranillo ’07 $13.99
22. Spain: Freixenet Cordon Rosado NV, $14.99
23. LJ. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay ’08 $22.99

24. US: MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, ’07 $24.99
25. US: Stonehedge Winery Cab. Sauv. ’06 $19.99

At the tasting event, I tried almost all of the wines and all were enjoyable. Most liquor stores or wine stores should carry these.

But if you can’t find them, sometimes, I confess, it is simply fun to pick a new wine purely based on the label… Regardless, happy patio dining!

Glorious Morning Muffins

This is a wonderful way to start the day, and perfect for a small breakfast. You don’t always have to make 12 muffins!  Simply leave the unused muffin cups dry, and if you accidentally grease add a little water so the pan does not burn during baking.

YIELD about 6-8 muffins (depending on the size you like!)
PREP preheat oven to 350F & prepare muffin tin

Glorious Morning Muffins

Glorious Morning Muffins


1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

In separate bowl, WHISK:

1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla

MIX all together and ADD:

1/2 cup grated carrot
1 cup grated apple, peeled
1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/4 cup chopped nuts

Stir just until flour is blended, be careful not to over mix. Evenly distribute into prepared muffin tin and bake for about 25 minutes or until nice and golden brown.

Breakfast muffins

Breakfast muffins perfect for just a few muffins...