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Back home…

Wow, summer is just flying by!  I’m having way too much fun.  I’m very happy to be home though, as fun as my trip was, there really is no place like home.  Seeing all my family and friends is always a good time, and, of course, I’m always just so well fed when I come back for a visit!

This time around, I’ve been spending mornings with Gretchen.  She is a fabulous cook (she gets it from her mom), and my breakfasts have been really something.  I went to her place on Friday and she fed me a delicious gourmet breakfast (no, it was not all made that morning, some of it was leftover from the dinner her mom cooked the night before.)  I had a salad with homemade dressing, gourmet mac and cheese, French onion soup, roast lamb, apple and cheese puff pastry, coffee, and leche flan.  DELICIOUS!!!  We chatted for a few hours while I ate my way through all that food.  And after that breakfast I didn’t need to eat lunch!

I got to leave with some mac and cheese, and her recipe!

Gourmet Mac and Cheese

*recipe adapted from The Best of the Best in the Best of Bridge Series

  • 2 1/2 cups shell pasta
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 cups any semi-firm to firm cheese, grated
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/3 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups soft breadcrumbs or panko
  • handful of potato chips, crushed (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • paprika to taste


Cook and drain pasta. Melt butter over medium heat in a sauce pan. Stir in flour, and mix well. Add milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens.  Add salt, sugar and cheese. Mix well. Mix sour cream, cottage cheese, and paprika into sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Pour pasta into the sauce pan, mix thoroughly with the sauce, and then place in a casserole dish. At this point, you can serve it, bake it, or freeze it for later.


If you’re baking it, you can sprinkle it with the bread crumbs or the panko, then bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes.


If you’re freezing it, then don’t add the bread crumbs or the panko right away. Instead, store in individual Tupperware containers. Thaw in the microwave for 3-4 minutes, pop it into a ovenproof bowl, and then sprinkle with the bread crumbs or panko. Broil for about five minutes, until the crust is crunchy and golden brown.  Note that for the crust, Gretchen used a combination of panko crumbs and crushed salt and pepper thick-cut Kettle Chips for extra crunch.

Also a note about cheese: The quality of mac and cheese depends on the quality of the cheese.  You can use a combination of whatever you have on hand.  However, higher quality cheeses obviously means it’s more expensive.  If you don’t indulge in gourmet cheeses, use a large amount of ordinary cheddar or mozza and then spice it up with small amounts of higher-end cheese.

This recipe was so delicious, I can’t wait to have more sometime!



Phoenix Cooking Adventures-Part II-Jamie Oliver Cookbook

As mentioned previously, I was (and still am) really excited about my new cookbook.  Laura and I promptly flipped through it and found a few things to try.  One of them is a favourite of her’s, penne carbonara.  Super tasty and easy to make.

Penne Carbonara

  • 1 lb penne (we used one bag, no idea how much was in it)
  • 10 slices of bacon
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 7 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4  1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until done to your liking (I like mine al dente).  In the meantime, fry up the bacon until nice and crispy-drain on paper towels.  Mix the yolks, half the cheese, and the cream together (this is the sauce.)  Once the pasta is done, drain it and immediately add your sauce to the pasta and stir well-the residual heat will cook up your sauce.  Add in the bacon and serve.  Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

To go with our delicious pasta, we tried a drink from the cookbook, and then made another version based on the original.

Ginger Beer

  • 5 oz fresh ginger, grated (I just eyed it and used a decent sized knob since I like ginger)
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 4 cups soda water or sparkling mineral water
  • fresh mint

Zest the lemons.  Mix the ginger, zest, and brown sugar in the bottom of a pitcher.  Add the juice from the lemons and then pour in the water.  Let it sit for 10 minutes to allow flavours to blend.  Taste it and add more sugar or lemon juice as needed.  You can adjust the amount of zest to your taste: I love lemons so we used a lot of zest, but you can start with the zest from one lemon and go from there.  You can strain out the ginger and zest before serving.  Garnish with the mint.

Grapefruit and Raspberry Punch

  • 2 grapefruits
  • handful of raspberries
  • 4 cups of soda water or sparkling mineral water
  • sugar
  • fresh mint

Zest the grapefruit.  Mix the zest and raspberries in the bottom of a pitcher.  Add the water.  Add sugar to taste if necessary.  Garnish with mint when serving.

A note about the grapefruit: we picked it from Adam’s mom’s backyard!!! That was so awesome, there is NOTHING like picking fresh fruit.  Especially when it’s January.  It was so delicious, and we didn’t even need to add sugar to our punch!  I also devoured a few of those grapefruit before I left.  Our evening of cooking was a big success!


Back to School, Back to Blogging

Hello all!  I had way too much fun this summer with friends and family-lots of breakfasts (with Jan), dinners, hot pot gatherings, potlucks, BBQs.  In short, I was so busy eating, I never got the chance to blog about it!  So I am going to play catch up.  Starting now, while I should be paying (more) attention in class.

Being back at school means that I have to really plan my meals.  I usually like to cook a batch of something that will last me a week for several lunches or dinners.  One of my favorites is the pulled pork recipe for sandwiches.  Right before I left for school however, I visited my friend Gretchen, and she had made me Chicken Cheese Lasagna!  (she knew I was visiting and made sure to have good food around-all the more reason why I love her so much!)  This is a fairly simple recipe and I think I could make it.  I have yet to attempt it, but I thought I’d put the recipe up because it was so good (I had two giant portions of it…along with some sort of fruit tart dessert).

Chicken Cheese Lasagna

  • 2 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 gloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms (or 2 cups spinach)
  • 2-3 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or other cheese)
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 8 ounces uncooked lasagna noodles (9-10 noodles)
  • 2 cups creamed cottage cheese OR 1 container ricotta cheese (425 g)
  • another 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan or mozzarella

Heat margarine in 2 qt saucepan over low heat until melted. Add garlic, onions, and mushrooms, then chicken.

Stir in flour and salt. Stir in ½ cup chicken broth until mixture thickens. Keep adding remaining broth slowly, and then milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.

Stir in mozzarella, 1/2 cup parmesan, basil, oregano, and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until cheese is melted so that it makes a thick sauce. Let it sit for a while, to continue thickening.

Make three layers: pasta, ricotta, and sauce, then top with the rest of the mozzarella / parmesan.

Cook uncovered in 350°F degree oven until noodles are done, 35-40 minutes (with noodles already cooked,  cook it for 20-30 minutes until nice and bubbly). Let stand 10-15 minutes before cutting (to firm up a bit). Makes 12 servings.

DELICIOUS.  Thanks Gretchen!!!


Chicken with Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese Sauce

A couple weeks ago Jan and I had dinner together (he cooked the entire thing and I sat nearby diligently taking notes and photos), and we had chicken with butternut squash and blue cheese sauce, steamed broccoli with butter and lemon juice, and white rice.  The sauce stole the limelight-it was so easy to make and so tasty!  The blue cheese really adds a nice flavour to the squash.

For the chicken, we had chicken breast with bone and skin on-this adds more flavour.  Saute half a yellow onion in olive oil and add the chicken and brown it in a pan.  Season with some salt and pepper.  After browning, add some vegetable stock, cover, and let the chicken finish cooking.  But of course, the feature of this dinner was the SAUCE for the chicken, so here it is!

Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese Sauce

  • about 1/2 of a butter nut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 a yellow onion
  • a cup or so of vegetable stock (just eye it)
  • salt and pepper to season
  • tablespoon of blue cheese

Fry the squash in olive oil until tender.  Add the onion and fry until tender…at this point the squash will start to get even softer.  Add the vegetable stock and season everything with salt and pepper.  Here’s a pic:

Cook a bit longer and mash everything up.  Add the cheese (you can use more or less according to your taste); we used a Danish blue cheese.  Melt it in, and then you’re done!  Serve over the chicken.

I also want to show a pic of the steamer “basket” that was used for the broccoli:

This is one neat kitchen gadget.  The basket folds up to fit whatever pot you use, so if you use a smaller pot, it just folds upwards.  I thought it was cool!  Apparently also very inexpensive and available at Superstore.  Love it!

All in all, a great night and great dinner.  Thanks Jan!