Category Archives: Appetizers

Bonnie’s Marinated Mushrooms

Comfort food from my second mother, Bonnie.  These were *such* a treat when we would be out sailing together!  I’ve never had it with fresh mushrooms, as they just didn’t keep while out cruising on Lake of the Woods.

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar(2/3 c)
  • 1/3 cup peanut oil(2/3 c)
  • 1 small onion, sliced in thin rings(2)
  • 1 tsp salt(2 tsp)
  • 2 tsp parsley flakes(4 tsp)
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard(2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar(2 tsp)
  • 2 tins whole mushrooms, drained(4) 

Boil and simmer, all together, for 5 min.  Store marinade and mushrooms overnight.  You can sterilize jars and preserve, but keep refrigerated.


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Feta Dill Dip

A great ATK recipe.

  • 3/4 cup good mayo
  • 3/4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1T fresh dill (1 1/2 t dried)

Mix all together.  Tastes best when allowed to sit for a few hours for flavours to blend.

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Filed under Appetizers, Salad Dressing, Vegetables

Avocado Dip

This is a cousin of guacamole, but tastes quite different; one benefit of using avocado this way, is that the dip stays bright green.  Adapted from a recipe by Ingrid Hoffmann.

  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted and scooped out
  • 1/3 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green onions, white and light green part only, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


Place all ingredients, except for salt and pepper, into a blender or small food processor.  Blend for about 1 minute, or until very smooth. Taste, and add salt and pepper.  Serve as a dip for sweet potato fries, or anything else you like.

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Marinated Goat Cheese

  • 8 oz creamy goat cheese log


  • 3⁄4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1⁄4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1⁄2 cup sundried tomatoes, julienned (soak dried ones in hot water or can use a combination of dried and jarred ones in oil)
  • 1⁄4 cup black olives, pitted, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of thyme (or can use fresh thyme)
  • Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (1/2 c oil, about as much as provided by the jar of oil- packed tomatoes, is adequate)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl and let stand to let flavours blend.
  2. Spoon over the cheese, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Serve on large platter with crisp toasts,crackers, and/or fresh sliced baguette.

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Filed under Appetizers, food, Marinade, Vegetarian (lacto/ovo)

Pickled Beets in 24 hours

pickled beets

Slice the Beets and the Red Onion

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups cooked, sliced fresh beets (roast or boil them, then remove skins)
  • 1 small sweet red onion, sliced and separated into rings
  1. Layer beets and onion rings into a lidded container (the large Ziplock screw-top containers work well); you could also just toss everything into a bowl.
  2. In saucepan, combine the sugar, mustard, salt, cloves, garlic, vinegar and water; bring to a boil and pour over the beets and onion rings.
  3. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 day.
  4. Every once in a while, when you think of it, give the container a little toss so that the marinade ingredients move around amongst the vegetables.

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Filed under Appetizers, Marinade, Salads, Vegetables, Vegetarian (lacto/ovo)

Candied Pecans

  • ½ large egg white
  • ¼ cup granulated white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¾ teaspoon sea, or kosher, salt
  • Large pinch to 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons water
  • 2 to 3 ½ cups raw pecan halves
  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.Using an electric mixer, or a whisk, beat egg white until foamy, about 1 minute with the mixer.Add sugar, brown sugar, spices, salt, vanilla and water.  Whisk until well combined – it will get thick-ish – about 45 seconds with the mixer.Gently stir in pecans until well coated. The original recipe calls for 2 cups of pecans for this amount of “candy”, but it will coat almost 4 cups very nicely.Pour nuts onto baking sheet, and spread out so that they are in a single layer.Bake for a total of 40 minutes, taking out and stirring/flipping the nuts after the first 20 minutes.Remove from oven and cool completely.
  3. Break apart into single nuts.
  4. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

These are great on a spinach salad dressed with citrus vinaigrette.  For nuts that are great “out of hand”, try Maple Roasted Almonds.

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Dipping Sauce for Dumplings, Spring Rolls, etc.

  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar (rice vinegar is good)
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon pureed or finely minced garlic (you could use ginger instead)
  • ½ teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon sesame oil (start with ½ tsp, taste, and adjust)

Whisk all ingredients together thoroughly.



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Filed under Appetizers, Main Course, Sauce, Vegetarian (lacto/ovo)

Cheese Straws

From The Smitten Kitchen.  These addictive cheese straws are the best recipe EVER.  EVER.

1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon half-and-half, cream, or milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a food processor, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and red pepper in five 5-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the half-and-half and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds. (it never forms a ball for me, but when it holds together when squeezed between finger and thumb, I remove it then knead by hand for a moment until it forms a nice ball).

3. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8- by 10-inch rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife (or a pizza or pastry wheel; both worked great), cut the dough into thin 8-inch strips, each 1/4- to 1/3-inch wide (dipping the knife in flour after every few inches ensures a clean cut). Gently transfer the strips to an ungreased cookie sheet (though I lined mine with parchment), leaving at least 1/4-inch between them. The dough may sag or may break occasionally in the transfer, but don’t be concerned — just do your best. The straws can be any length, from 2 to 10 inches.

4. Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned; these taste bad if they brown all over. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.

5. Serve at room temperature.

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Habeeb Salloum’s Falafel

This is Habeeb Salloum’s recipe, with a tweak or two.  Please note that this is a BIG recipe, and serves 8 to 10 people!  To halve an egg, just whisk it up, then pour out half.  It is truly delicious, as are all of the recipes that I have used from his beautiful history/cook book.

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight OR cover generously with water, bring to a boil for two minutes, then sit for at least 2 hours
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • oil for frying

Place soaked chickpeas in a food processor (they do not get cooked until soft, just soaked), then process until a semi-dough is formed.  Add the remaining ingredients, except oil, then process further until a smooth dough is formed.  I need to add water until it’s the correct consistency. Form into small flat patties,  then set aside.

Heat oil in a saucepan/frying pan then fry patties over medium heat until golden brown.  Remove and drain on paper towels, then serve hot.

I like to make a diced “salad” of cucumber, tomato, and sweet onion and toss it with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and Tabasco – wrap up the falafel in a good pita with the salad, lettuce, and tahini sauce.  Try to avoid “westernized” pita at all costs! 😉

NOTE: I recently tried freezing uncooked falafel mixture, as I just had too much for the meal.  This week, we thawed and then cooked up the falafel mixture as usual, and it was just fine!  So, freeze extra — uncooked — mixture if the recipe makes too much.


Filed under Appetizers, food, Main Course, Protein, Salads, Vegetarian (lacto/ovo)


  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
  • 1 19 oz can of chickpeas, drained and liquid reserved
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • a few twists of black pepper
  • salt, about 1/2 tsp or to taste

In a blender or food processor, puree with some of the reserved liquid (or water), until creamy. To serve, sprinkle with olive oil, or make a well in the centre to hold a puddle of olive oil.

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Niall’s Cheese Quesadillas

  • Whole-wheat flour, or soft corn tortillas
  • Shredded cheese of choice
  • Oil to coat frying pan

Other fillings:

  • Red or green pepper, small dice
  • Sliced green onions
  • Red or sweet white onion, small dice
  • Tomatoes, chopped
  • Jalapeno pepper, finely diced
  • Chopped cilantro

Serve with:

  • Sour cream
  • Salsa

1.     In a frying pan, pour enough oil to coat bottom; set heat to medium-high

2.     When oil is hot, place a tortilla on it.  Sprinkle one half with cheese, and fillings of choice.

3.     Fold the tortilla in half to make a half-moon shape.

4.     Brown the quesadilla on one side, and then carefully flip to brown other side.  The cheese should melt nicely during this time.

5.     Cut into wedges.

6.     Serve with sour cream, salsa.


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Meatballs that are Easier

  • 1 ¼ pounds ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup dry breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp basil
  • pinch of red chilli flakes

Preheat oven to 425F.

Gently mix all ingredients together.  Form meat mixture into 1 ½” balls and place onto a greased, foil-lined or parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet.  Bake the meatballs for 10-12 minutes, until no longer pink inside.

Use with pasta and tomato sauce, in a sandwich, or just by themselves with a chutney or dipping sauce.

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Three-cheese Spinach Dip

Allegedly, this is the “real” recipe from Kelsey’s Restaurant:

  • 750g cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ¼  cups jarred alfredo sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 Tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 Tbsp cajun spice*
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 500 grams chopped, frozen spinach


  • 1/4 cup finely diced red pepper
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp finely diced red onion
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp sharp cheddar, grated

Thoroughly mix all ingredients — except for garnish — together in a bowl.  Spoon into a shallow, oven-proof serving dish; sprinkle with the sharp cheddar.  Bake in a hot oven (~350F – 375F) until completely piping hot.  Sprinkle with red pepper and onion before serving with pita crisps, pita bread, or whatever you like.

*Cajun dry Spice rub recipe is here

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Baked Multi-purpose Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef, or .5 lb ground beef plus .5 lb ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespooon chopped fresh parsley (or 1.5 teaspoons dried, if absolutely necessary)
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, or wheat germ
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or less

With a fork, mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Shape meat mixture into balls, about 1″ in diameter.  Arrange on a greased baking sheet about 1″ apart from each other.  Place baking sheet in centre of oven, and bake for 25 minutes, until meatballs are no longer pink in middle.

Eat as is, with pasta and sauce, in a sandwich, or however you want.

Makes about 30 to 40 meatballs

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Ruby’s Lumpia

No matter what I do, mine never taste as good as my dear friend Ruby’s, even though I’ve had lessons from her!  I’m the luckiest woman in the world that she brings me treats when she makes them…when I eat Ruby’s Filipino spring rolls, it’s like I’ve died and gone to heaven.   Here’s the recipe that she wrote out (but she doesn’t follow it, she just cooks “off the top of her head”):

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1/2 lb minced pork
  • 1 Tablespoon patis (fish sauce)
  • 1 medium  potato, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup julienned green beans
  • 1 cup finely shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 package spring roll wrappers (the thin kind, not egg roll wrappers)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, for frying

In a wok or large frying pan, sauté garlic until brown.  Add onions and sauté until transparent.  Mix in pork and stir-fry until meat is opaque and loses its colour.  Add the fish sauce and potato cubes; cook until potatoes are tender.  Add green beans and cabbage.  When vegetables are cooked, mix in the bean sprouts.  Let cool before wrapping mixture.

Follow the instructions on wrapper package on how to wrap spring rolls.  When ready, fry in hot oil until wrapper is brown and crispy.  turn over and fry the other side.  Serve warm with *dipping sauce.  We also like these served with Asian sweet chilli sauce, available at Asian grocers and in the Asian section at grocery stores.  YIELD:  20 to 25 spring rolls.


  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all sauce ingredients together in small bowl.

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Curried Chicken Salad

For two Chicken breasts plus two chicken thighs, or equivalent amount of meat:

1 stalk celery, diced
2 green onions, chopped
1 cup very good mayonnaise
1 heaping Tablespoon mango chutney*
2 Tablespoons very good curry powder
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

In a bowl, gently mix together all ingredients with cold diced or torn chicken until blended. Serve in a sandwich or on lettuce or use as a filling or topping for any number of appetizers.

*I love the Mango Chutney (and Swazi Fire Sauce) from Eswatini Kitchen! I get mine from my local Ten Thousand Villages‘ brick and mortar store.

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Spinach-Artichoke Dip

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
2 (13 3/4-ounce) cans artichoke hearts
1 to 2  jalapeno peppers, minced
1/4 teaspoon tabasco sauce
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1/2 cup good sour cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated old cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Heat the spinach in a microwave oven on high for 5 minutes and squeeze dry. Drain the artichoke hearts and coarsely chop in a food processor.
Combine all the ingredients except the cheddar cheese in a large bowl. Stir well. Scrape into the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with crispy crackers, pita chips, bagel chips, etc.

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Filed under Appetizers, Vegetarian (lacto/ovo)

Marinade for Pork Tenderloin

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil

Combine ingredients, pour into ziplock bag. This is enough marinade to do two pork tenderloins. Marinate tenderloins for three hours in the refrigerator. Drain and reserve the marinade; pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer for ten minutes and serve as a sauce for the cooked tenderloin.

To cook the tenderloin, we like to barbecue it. In the winter time we roast it in the oven for about 45 minute at 375F. Slice into very thin pieces and pour cooked marinade over top, or serve cooked marinade as a “side” to the sliced meat.

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Grandma Ruth’s Nuts & Bolts

Mix together in a large roaster:

  • 5 cups Cheerios
  • 8 cups Shreddies
  • 4 cups whole grain pretzels
  • 2 ¼ cups Spanish peanuts

Mix together in a small bowl or spice shaker:

  • 2 Tbsp EACH of: celery salt, onion salt, garlic salt (I usually cut down the amount)

Whisk together:

  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (Lee and Perrins’)


Pour oil over cereal mixture and toss to coat well. Shake spice mixture over coated cereal mixture and mix well. This process is made much easier if you just use your hands. Put in a 200F oven for 1.5 hours, stir a few times while baking.

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Niall’s Favourite Onion Dip

  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (we use “Western” brand, natural)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (kosher tastes best…we use “Western” brand)
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise (make sure it’s the good stuff!)

Cut the onions into halves, and then halve again.  Place in food processor and pulse until onions are in very tiny pieces (almost a puréed consistency).

Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and sauté  until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.  Clean out the food processor, as it will be needed in the next step.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise into the food processor. Add the cooled onions and pulse only until everything is well blended. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.

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Filed under Appetizers, Vegetarian (lacto/ovo)