Monday, October 31, 2016

The Pie Pantry, Aylmer ON

Apparently my friends have been keeping this little gem a big secret.  I'm so excited, telling them about this wonderful bakery I just found and they all seem to know about it already.  That is awful, keeping deliciousness secret from me.

Image result for the pie pantry, AylmerImage result for the pie pantry, Aylmer

Hubby and I are were out on a little road trip, checking on some of our letterboxes and doing a little TLC wherever necessary.  As we were driving through Aylmer we passed the The Pie Pantry sign on John St., found a place to turn around, and went in.

Just standing in the doorway and smelling the deliciousness was heavenly.  It was near the end of the day but they still had a reasonable selection of treats.  Hubby purchased two pumpkin tarts and I purchased a half dozen mixed cookies.  They were all delicious but my personal favourite was the melting moments shortbread, hands down the best shortbread I've ever had in my life.  (Sorry Nanna!)

I'm now looking for excuses to drive back to Aylmer every week . . . LOL.

Here is their website,, but the address is incorrect on the site.  Their correct address is 157 John St N, Aylmer, ON.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Baby in Balloon

Baby in Balloon

2.75" x 5.5"



May not be exactly as shown because each piecing is individually made.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Philadelphia 3-Step Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake

PHILADELPHIA 3-Step Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake Image 1

2 pkg. (250 g each) Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter
2 eggs
1 9 inch prepared graham pie crust
4 Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate squares, chopped
1 tsp oil
1/3 cup unsalted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350F.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and peanut butter.  Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition.

Pour batter into prepared crust.

Bake for 30 minutes or until centre of cake is firm, let cool thoroughly.

Melt chocolate and oil over hot water or in microwave on medium power for 1-2 minutes.  Stir until completely smooth.  Pour chocolate over cheesecake; spread evenly.  Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

I found this recipe on the Philadelphia Cream Cheese website.  The filling is FABULOUS!!!  I think I would have put less chocolate on or used a different kind of chocolate because the chocolate topping was hard and difficult to break through.

1 Photo 1 Page Sketch

Monday, October 24, 2016

4 photos 1 page sketch

Stir-fried Okra

I picked up some okra at the Horton Market on the weekend. I've never tried okra before so I was curious. I found a stir-fried okra recipe on and decided to give it a try.

Here is the original recipe:

2 cups fresh okra, washed, trimmed, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, peeled and sliced into 8 thin wedges
1/4 cup green onions, sliced, white and green
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon leaf thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter

Prepare all vegetables as indicated and have ready for cooking. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Heat oil and butter in a wok or large skillet. Add vegetables and seasoning mixture all at once. Toss and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Serves 4

Now here is what I did:

I prepared the okra as directed. I didn't peel the tomato. I used diced red onion. I have all kinds of herbs and spices but couldn't find thyme anywhere. I have a funny feeling if I go back and look now it will be in the front row of my spice shelf . . . LOL . . . I added a handful of shitake mushrooms and a sliced red pepper to the pan as well. The shitake mushrooms were an excellent idea. The red pepper (which I love) ended up on the side of the plate because they made the dish too sweet. I served the stir fry with low-sodium soy sauce and rice noodles and really enjoyed it (minus the peppers).

I will definitely make this recipe again.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Caramel Custard

6 servings
Preparation 15 minutes
Cooking time 40 minutes
Standing time 2 hours
190 calories per serving

3 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups milk, partly skimmed, 2%
2 tsp vanilla extract
salt, about one pinch
6 servings Microwaved Caramel (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Prepare the caramel. Divide it among the ramekins, then tilt and rotate each ramekin to thinly coat it. The caramel may not initially cover bottoms and sides completely, but it will spread and even out after the hot cream mixture is poured in.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly with a fork. Add sugar and 1 pinch of salt, then mix well.

Warm up the milk in a saucepan until hot but not boiling and pour it slowly into the egg mixture. Stir constantly but lightly, in order not to create too many air bubbles. Add the vanilla, then portion out into the caramel-covered ramekins.

Put a towel or piece of cloth into a large baking-pan (either a rectangular cake-mould or a roasting pan). Place the ramekins on the cloth and fill the pan with enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. (I didn't put a cloth in the bottom of the pan)

Bake in the middle of the oven 35-40 minutes or until the outside is set but the centre still trembles slightly when moved. The custard will continue to set as it cools. Check with a toothpick or knife to see if it is cooked through. (The knife should come out clean)

Take the ramekins out of the water bath right away to avoid overcooking. Let cool and then chill a few hours in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Run a thin knife around the edges to help remove the custards, then turn upside down onto serving plates and serve cold.

Microwaved Caramel

6 servings
Preparation 5 minutes
Cooking 5 minutes

1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp warm water
1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Be careful:  melted caramel is extremely hot!!!

Mix all the ingredients in a glass or Pyrex container of average size.  Cook in a microwave oven at maximum power until the syrup starts boiling.

Consider the suggested time as a reference only, since the precise cooking time depends on your oven's power.  Continue to cook using 10 seconds:  the syrup is ready when it turns golden-brown.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The House on Willow Street by Cathy Kelly

The House on Willow Street

Truth be told, I can't quite remember what I liked about this book but the fact that is on the shelf to review and not in a basket on the way to a second hand store suggests I really liked it.

I just read this review from Goodreads and it reminded me of all the twists and turns and excellent characters.  That's why I like this book.

The Irish seaside town of Avalon is a tourist’s dream of quaint shops and welcoming cafés. Avalon House, perched at the end of Willow Street, was in Tess Power’s family for generations. Now Tess ekes out a living from her antiques shop while the crumbling mansion awaits a new owner. Her marriage and business may be floundering, but her affection for Avalon is undimmed. The same can’t be said of her glamorous sister. Suki left without a backward glance and married into an American political dynasty. Only a muckraking biographer could send her slinking back to Ireland to escape a scandal.

Postmistress Danae watches from the sidelines, doling out gentle advice while locking away her own secrets. Then her unconventional niece Mara comes to stay and draws her lonely aunt back into the world. As autumn gives way to winter, the four women encounter old loves, embrace new friendships, and begin to look beyond the past to the possibilities just beginning to unfold.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tofu Ratatouille

I made this recipe up the other night. It is supposed to make 4 servings but it actually seems to be enough to feed a small banquet. Hal didn't like it, but Hal doesn't like zucchini or eggplant. I loved it. The recipe won't freeze well and I didn't want it to go to waste, so I took the leftover ratatouille and some red quinoa to Ladies Day Out. All the ladies seemed to enjoy it. So, here goes . . . 

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup green beans, cut into 2 cm pieces
2 zucchini, diced into 1.5 cm squares
1 eggplant, small, diced into 1.5 cm squares
1 yellow or red pepper, cut into 1.5 cm squares
1 carrot, cut into 1.5 cm squares
salt and pepper to taste
300 g firm tofu, cubed
1-1/4 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 tsp Herbs aux Provence
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Saute the crushed garlic and chopped onion, taking care not to burn. Cook 4-5 minutes until the onion is translucent.

Boil or steam green beans, drain and set aside.

Prepare the remaining vegetables (except tomatoes and green beans) and add them to the saucepan with the garlic and onion. Salt and pepper. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add tofu, tomatoes, herbs and cayenne pepper. Cover and simmer ten minutes, until vegetables are tender but still slightly al dente. Add the cooked green beans and heat through 2-3 minutes. Check the seasoning and serve.

This dish can be cooked in advance and reheated, but it is not advisable to freeze. 

Serve the ratatouille with rice or quinoa.

Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick

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Amity Doncaster is a world traveller who is used to adventure and risk . . . until she becomes prey of the notorious killer, the Bridegroom.  I am not going to say too much about this book.  That does not mean I didn't like it.  Actually the opposite.  It was a lot of fun and very suspenseful . . . and I'm afraid to give away too much of the story.  So in this case all I will say is if you are looking for a good read this book may be for you.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pot Luck Pasta Salad

Image result for pasta salad

A fellow letterboxer brought a delicious pasta salad to our meet up in May 2016. I begged for the recipe and she sent it to me.

Whole package of tricolor spiral pasta
Whole cucumber, sliced up and cut in half
Whole plastic container of grape tomatoes, tomatoes cut in half
Whole jar of pitted kalamata olives (make sure to drain the brine well before using)
Whole yellow or orange pepper, diced
Whole red onion, diced
Bunch of green onions, diced
Whole package of Kraft crumbled feta cheese (I like the one with oregano)
Whole small bottle of balsamic salad dressing (for the picnic, I used the real olive oil Kraft version with fig - I like the sweetness of it)

Cook the noodles and then mix everything together. It's nice warm, too - but let it chill in the fridge if you like it cold. If you're making it the night before (like I did), it's better to leave out the salad dressing until the day of then mix it in - the noodles suck up the dressing like crazy and it dries out a bit if you put it in early.

Surfacing by Margaret Atwood


Surfacing was Margaret Atwood's second novel and was published in 1972.  I actually have a 1972 copy of the novel.  The pages are browned and getting brittle.  Hard for someone my age to understand that 1972 was a long time ago because it doesn't feel that way to me.  But it was a long time ago.

I read Surfacing by Margaret Atwood a while back but I still remember it well.  Yes, I know, you either love or hate Atwood.  I prefer to judge on individual books and this one was exciting and stressful and very real to me.  

The main character, who remains nameless, is summoned to her home town in northern Quebec to find her missing father.  She travels with her lover and another couple.  Atwood dealt with issues of mental health, the environment and nationalism through her characters.

I think this is an excellent read.  Not an easy read.  But worth it.

Baked Tofu with Braised Baby Bok Choy -- DELICIOUS AND SIMPLE

Image result for tofu bok choy

1 lb (454 g) firm tofu, drained

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 Asian chili paste or hot pepper sauce
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 cups sliced shitake mushroom caps or cremini mushrooms
1 green onion, sliced
1 tbsp gingerroot, minced
4 baby bok choy
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper

Place tofu on large plate. Cover with second plate and weigh down with 2 large, heavy cans. Let stand for 10 minutes; drain. Cut in half horizontally.

Meanwhile, in shallow baking dish large enough to hold tofu in single layer, whisk together soy and hoisin sauces, garlic, sesame oil and chili paste. Add tofu; turn to coat. (This can be done up to 8 hours in advance and refrigerated until you are ready to complete the meal.) Bake in 350F oven, turning once, until golden, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush large nonstick skillet with vegetable oil; heat over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms, green onion and ginger until golden, about 5 minutes. Cut bok choy in half lengthwise. Add to skillet along with red pepper, stock, salt and pepper; bring to boil. Cover and steam until bok choy is tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.

Cut each piece of tofu in half diagonally. (I cut the tofu into little squares which is what I prefer.) Arrange on warmed plates and serve with bok choy mixture and basmati rice (or I like rice vermicelli).

Serves 4.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Carrot and Leeks with Fresh Mint

Image result for carrots and leeks

2 servings
Preparation 10 minutes
Cooking 50 minutes
170 calories per serving

2 carrots, cut into 1 cm rounds
1 leek, cut into 2 cm pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp ginger root, grated
2 tbsp fresh mint
salt and ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Prepare the carrots and cut them into rounds about 1 cm thick.  Prepare the leeks, remove about 1/4 of the dark green part, and cut them into 2 cm pieces.

Transfer the vegetables to a baking sheet or dish.  Add the oil, minced ginger, salt and pepper.  Mix well to coat thoroughly with oil, then put in the oven and bake about 35 minutes.

Finely chop half of the mint leaves then add them to the dish, mix and continue baking for about 15 minutes more.  Garnish with the remaining mint leaves and serve.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Italian Meatballs

Image result for italian meatballs

4 servings

1 tsp canola oil
1-1/2 slices whole wheat bread, stale or day-old
2 cups My Mother's Tomato Sauce (below)
40 g mortadella sausage or ham, finely chopped
1 tbsp marjoram, fresh, finely chopped
1 large egg
400 g lean ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp bread crumbs

These meatballs can be either baked in the oven or fried. If using baking method preheat the oven to 400F and lightly oil a baking dish. If frying, preheat peanut oil to 350F in an electric fryer or large skillet.

Put the bread slices in a small bowl then cover them with water. Let soak 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make tomato sauce.

Drain the bread well in a sieve, then squeeze it to remove most of the liquid. Finely chop the bread and add it to a bowl. Finely chop the mortadella and marjoram, then add them to the bowl. Add the egg and ground beef, followed by salt and pepper.

Using your hands, blend the mixture together until it is just combined well. Form the mixture into small balls (about the size of golf balls), then flatten them slightly and coat them with the bread crumbs. Plan on about 3-4 meatballs per serving.

Baking: Transfer the meatballs to the previously oiled dish, then cook in the middle of the oven 12-15 minutes until they are golden-brown, turning them once. Deep-frying: Working in batches, deep-fry the meatballs about 4-5 minutes per side until they are golden-brown, then set them on paper towels to drain.

Transfer the meatballs ot the pan with the tomato sauce then continue to cook 15-20 minutes over medium-low heat, turning them once. Serve the meatballs with the sauce.

I served these yummy meatballs with pasta . . . of course . . . 

These meatballs may be served at room temperature. They are ideal for a picnic, served with a few slices of bread. 

My Mother's Tomato Sauce

makes 2-1/2 cups

1-2/3 cup canned tomatoes (diced or chopped)
1 clove garlic
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 carrot, finely chopped
1/4 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 tbsp butter, unsalted
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

A food processor to chop the vegetables and a pressure cooker to reduce the cooking time would make things easier with this recipe.

Finely chop the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.

Heat the oil and butter in the pressure cooker or in a saucepan over low heat. Add the chopped vegetables. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring a few times; the vegetables must soften without burning. Add the diced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste.

If you are using a pressure cooker, cover, close and bring to high pressure. Cook 15 minutes from the time it starts to spatter (Follow the manufacturer's directions to determine when high pressure has been reached. If you are not using a pressure cooker, simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.

This sauce can be stored up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Freeze larger quantities.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pasta with Salmon and Cheese

Image result for salmon

About 1 pm I realized I was starving and opened the fridge to figure out something to eat.  I spotted the tin of salmon and little container of cream cheese and went hmmmmmmmmmm . . . 

I wish now I had measured everything before I threw it in the pan because the result was soooooooo delicious.  I'll try to recreate the project as best I can . . . 

I had some brown rice pasta which I threw in a pot of boiling water and cooked.

In a frying pan I added a little olive oil, chopped celery, chopped shallot, chopped carrot and cooked until soft.  I then added garlic and some dill.  I then added a little container of spreadable cream cheese, the tin of salmon (drained), 1/2 a handful of sun dried tomatoes and a giant tbsp of sour cream to the mix.  When the cheese was melted, I tossed in the pasta and mixed.  

I sprinkled a little Parmesan on top.  Oh my goodness, it was so rich and so good.  I have some leftover in the fridge of course and it will probably be lunch or supper tod

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Edge of the Fall by Kate Williams

Image result for the edge of the fall

The saga of the de Witt family began with The Storms of War which I reviewed a few months ago at

In The Edge of the Fall, the saga continues.  The de Witt families is broken, unable to cope with their losses and all the changes that came with the end of WWI.  It is an excellent story of love, murder, betrayal and heart break.  I highly recommend this book.

I can't wait for the next book in the series.  Spoiler alert:  the de Witts go to America.

It is International Day of the Girl Child so reviewing The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is rather appropriate today.

The author, a former ABC News reporter, spent years researching this story, traveling between Kabul, London and Washington. That is how she met Kamila Sidiqi, a young, educated Afghani woman whose life, and the lives of her sisters, was put on hold the day the Taliban siezed control of Kabul. Their father and elder brother were forced to flee to avoid arrest or conscription.

The Taliban did not allow women to work, go to school, or even leave their homes unattended. Under these conditions the family quickly went through their available resources and had to find a way to make a living that would not bring the Taliban or morality squads to their door. Kamila learned how to sew beaded dresses. With her young brother as her protection, she found customers in the markets willing to take her products. The whole family joined in the business and soon they were taking in employees and students. In this way they were able to survive.

Although I felt the writing was geared more towards a younger reader, I did enjoy reading it. I recommend The Dressmaker of Khair Khana as a good book and a chance to learn more about the Afghani women and their culture and resilience.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Haddock with Almonds

Haddock with Almonds

2 servings
Preparation 10 min 
Cooking 10 min
270 calories per serving 


300 ghaddock fillet, or sole
1/4 cupslivered almonds18 g
2 tbspwhite wine30 mL
2 tbspbutter, unsalted28 g
1/2 tbspcanola oil8 mL
1 pinchsalt [optional]0.1 g
ground pepper to taste

Before you start

Keep the individual serving plates in the oven at the lowest setting so they are warm when you serve.


  1. Pat-dry the haddock fillet then set aside.
  2. Heat the oil and half of the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the slivered almonds and sauté until they are golden, paying attention not to let them burn. Take the almonds out of the pan and keep them warm on a plate in the oven.
  3. Add the remaining butter to the pan, then add the haddock and sauté over fairly high heat, 2-3 min on each side. Pour in the wine, then lower the heat, cover, and cook 7-10 min, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Check with a fork to see if it is cooked through.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, then cover the fish with the almonds and serve on the warmed plates.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Tomato and Endive Salad with Tuna

Tomato and Endive Salad with Tuna

2 servings
Preparation 10 min 
Cooking 5 min
370 calories per serving 


1 3/4 cupcurly endive, torn 70 g
1tomatoes, cut into wedges or slices120 g
2 tbspolive oil30 mL
1 clovegarlic, minced 
1/2 tbspwine vinegar 8 mL
1 tspDijon mustard5 mL
1 pinchsalt [optional] 0.1 g
 ground pepper to taste  
170 gtuna, canned 
6black olives2 1/2 tbsp
60 gfeta cheese, diced 


  1. Tear the lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces and put them in a salad bowl. Cut the tomatoes into wedges or slices, then add them to the bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Mince the garlic and add it to the pan. Cook 1 min, with stirring, then pour in the vinegar and mustard. Warm through and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad, then add the tuna, olives, and Feta cheese. Toss well and serve.
I made a couple of changes to the recipe.  I used romaine lettuce and didn't dress the salad.  Dear hubby is a fussy eater.  He used ranch dressing and I used spicy Italian.  DELICIOUS!