Warm Spinach Salad

Eating alone does not have to be take out or something boring. Big Pete is away at a conference and I still like to cook something delicious even if I am dining alone…because I am worth it!

This is a simple spinach salad with a half a chicken breast and the dressing is made right in the pan then poured over the salad while still warm.

You will need:

  • a few big handfuls of baby Spinach or Spinach and Arugula
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 small yellow onion – sliced into half rings
  • a few slices of red onion
  • great extra virgin olive oil (always!! I am using a beautiful Itrana from Quatrociocchi ) you will use some for cooking and some to finish
  • a dash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 chicken breast sliced -cooked then chopped
  • 6-7 white mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 small tomato chopped into small dice (approx 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp of mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of jalapeno jelly
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: cook a couple of slices of good quality bacon on a medium heat flipping it from time to time to get an even crispiness. I like mine just shy of cooked until it is crumbly but you cook it as you like. Once cooked remove from pan and place on paper towel to absorb excess fat and set aside to cool, then chop.

Step 2: toss a couple of big handfuls of baby spinach and arugula to a big bowl. There are lots of other ingredients here so don’t worry that this is not enough.

Step 3: slice up a half a yellow or white onion and saute on medium heat in a bit of your good olive oil (honestly don’t ever buy that junk stuff from the grocery store buy real oil of decent quality no matter what!) saute until browned. While your onions cook slice up a bit of red onion into half rings and toss along with a handful of blueberries into your bowl with the greens.

Chop up your tomato and set in a small bowl.

This salad is a combination of raw and cold and warm and spicy. The tartness of the blueberries along with the raw onion goes so nicely with the warm chicken covered in the sweet and spicy jalapeno jelly.

Step 4: add a splash of balsamic vinegar when the onions are just starting to brown. Cook for a minute or two more then add your chicken. Remember to add a bit of salt and pepper and cook chicken until browned and cooked through. Remove from heat and chop. You should have your chicken chopped, your tomato chopped and your bacon chopped.

Step 5: in the same pan saute the mushrooms until nicely golden around the edges and then add back the meat, your mustard, the jalapeno jelly and a dash of red wine vinegar. Stir until a simple sauce starts to form.

Step 6: add all remaining ingredients. Cook 1 more minute.

Toss the warm ingredients over the cold taste and adjust for salt and pepper once more. I also always add a little drizzle of my great olive oil for a perfect raw oil finish. Think of olive oil as a condiment here. Eat right away!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

This easy slab cake is delicious and moist and has zucchini and olive oil in it…don’t worry you would never know it was anything but chocolate cake!

You will need:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup) at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup mild extra virgin olive oil- I strongly encourage you to buy really good quality EVOO and use it lavishly!!
  • 1 tsp vanilla (or maybe 2 if you like!)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups finely grated zucchini
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips or 1 great 80 gram chocolate bar – chopped
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp good vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • 1 tsp gelatin (unflavoured)
  • 3 tbsp cold water
  • 4-5 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • fresh berries

I used a 3quart/2.8 Litre glass baking dish – its easy to cut on the glass and stores easily in the fridge because the toppping is whipped cream.

Heat oven to 325.

Butter and flour your glass baking dish. Set aside.

Step 1: add room temperature butter and sugars to a stand mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer you can use a hand mixer. Mix until it resembles wet sand.

Step 2: add 3 eggs and mix on medium high for 3 minutes until pale in color.

Step 3: add vanilla ( I make my own) and olive oil and mix until incorporated.

Step 4: add buttermilk and mix well, scrape down bowl at least once.

Step 5: add finely grated zucchini and any liquid that it has into mixer.

Step 6: add dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix with a whisk. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa. Whisk to blend and make sure cocoa doesn’t have any clumps.

Step 6: add dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix with a whisk. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa. Whisk to blend and make sure cocoa doesn’t have any clumps.

Step 7: chop chocolate (or just use good quality chips)

Step 8: add dry ingredients to wet and  mix on low speed until just incorporated.

Step 9: I like to mix in the chopped chocolate by hand. This also allows me to scrape the bowl a few more times.

Step 10:  spread and level batter in pan.

Step 11: bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Step 12:  Sprinkle gelatin over water and let bloom for 3-4 minutes then microwave for 10 seconds. Whip whipping cream with vanilla and sugar and slowly drizzle the gelatin in to the cream. This will stabilize your topping so this can last a day or 2 without getting runny.

Step 13: spread cream over cooled cake and arrange berries as you like and then cut yourself a big slab!!

and don’t forget to share with friends!! feed it to kids you will get some vegetables and olive oil in them and they wont even know it!

Chia Coconut Almond Pudding

Despite their tiny size Chia seeds are jammed packed full of good stuff. They are loaded with fibre, protein, Omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, manganese and other anti-oxidants. This is a super easy pudding that I first tried in Hawaii a few months ago for breakfast. All you do is soak the seeds overnight in almond milk and in the morning top this jelly like caviar pudding with fruit and granola. I like adding blueberries because they pop in your mouth like the Chia seeds. Try it you might just find a new breakfast option.

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1 3/4 cups almond/coconut milk (in the fridge with the milk)
  • 1 tsp real vanilla
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut
  • fresh blueberries
  • a  handful of your favorite granola – I like the crunch of some nuts as well

This is all you need to create a neat breakfast food that requires no cooking at all.

Step 1: pour your measured seeds in a container with a lid. I used a plastic container but feel free to use a glass jar or whatever you like.

Step 2: add almond-coconut milk (or any milk you like!) a bit of vanilla, a splash of maple syrup and a bit of shredded coconut and mix well. Cover the container and leave in the fridge overnight.

Step 3: in the morning the seeds will have absorbed much of the liquid and the mix will be gelatinous or similar to a tapioca pudding. Stir and place a few scoops in a bowl and top with your favorite fruit and some crunchy granola for a bit of crunch and texture

It is pretty neat and very delicious!!

Tropical Pavlova

Excuse the pictures folks! I just moved and couldn’t find my camera for a couple of days so I used a friend’s I-phone and it is clearly not as good as my small Sony camera! I will have to make this again and take better pictures sometime.

This is a super fresh and very delicious Tropical Fruit Pavlova (which is really just a chewy meringue!) This is easy to make and very impressive. You can use your favourite fruits or try this one with mango, blueberries and fresh passion fruit. I have even added a bit of coconut to the actual pavlova which makes it really yummy. Make one this weekend!

You will need:

  • 4 egg whites – room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp fine shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened whatever you like)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp Cointreau or your favorite liqueur
  • 1 tbsp pure Maple syrup (or sugar)
  • 1 ripe mango – sliced
  • 1 pint of fresh blueberries
  • 2 ripe passion fruit – cut in half and spoon over the seeds and pulp

Step 1: in a very clean bowl separate 4 room temperature eggs. You can use the yolks to make a nice lemon curd or something else but, for this recipe you just need the whites. I trace a 9 inch pie plate on parchment paper to get a nice circle and then flip over the paper so you can see the circle but it is not on the same side you are putting the pavlova (you don’t need to eat that ink!)

Step 2: with a hand held mixer whip the egg whites until you get soft peaks about 5 minutes. Add the salt and then the sugar 1/4 cup at a time until incorpoated approximately 2 more minutes.

Step 3: add the cornstarch and continue whipping until you get stiff peaks this might take 10 minutes just keep going until you get a stiff peak when you lift the beater.

Step 4: add vinegar, vanilla and coconut. Stir in with a whisk or quickly incorporate with the hand mixer.

Step 5: Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet and pile on the meringue in the middle of your circle. Place in a 300 degree F heated oven. As soon as you place it in the oven reduce heat to 250 degrees F and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn off oven and leave the pavlova to cool in the oven for 2 hours. Remove cooled pavlova from oven and slide off parchment onto a cutting board for easy serving. You may need to slide a spatula or run a knife under it to release it from the paper. If you get any cracks, don’t worry whipped cream will fix it!

You can leave it on the counter for a few hours before serving.

Step 6: Just before serving whip cream with maple syrup or sugar and a bit of booze until it is thick and between soft and firm peaks. Pile on the cream, add sliced mangoes, blueberries and drizzle/spoon the insides of 2 passion fruits.

Cut big fat wedges and enjoy the whole thing in one sitting!! 

Blueberry Olive Oil Coffee Cake


This is a simple little quick cake that can be made with fresh or frozen blueberries. I like to replace the butter with healthier olive oil which also adds to a nice moist cake. It is perfect for a weekend breakfast table or just to be enjoyed with an afternoon coffee.


You will need:



  • 1 1/2 cups of self rising cake flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk *if you don’t have any use 1/2 cup milk & 1 tbsp lemon juice instead
  • 1/2 cup fruity olive oil – I used Lucero Koroneiki Extra Virgin
  • 1 tsp real vanilla
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp butter (unsalted)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


Step 1: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9×9 baking pan. Tap out any excess flour.



Step 2: get two bowls, one for dry ingredients and the other for the wet. In one bowl add  the flour, the sugar, baking powder. Mix.




Step 3: in the other bowl add your wet ingredients. Add eggs, buttermilk (if you don’t have any take 1/2 cup of milk and add 1 tbsp of lemon juice and wait 5 minutes before using) olive oil, vanilla (or vanilla paste) and grated lemon zest.




Step 4: add the dry to the wet or the wet to the dry and stir until just combined. Add blueberries and mix again until just incorporated through dough.



Step 5: pour into your prepared baking pan and spread out evenly. In a small bowl add flour, melted butter (I microwave for 20-25 seconds to melt butter) and cinnamon. Mix with your fingers to resemble a crumble and sprinkle over top.



Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.



Moist and lovely and stays fresh for a few days.















Red Wine, Blueberry and Tea and White Wine, Orange, Peach and Tea Infused Granita


These are perfect for your next grown up party! They are made with fruit and wine and infused with tea. They can be made into a granita and scooped into a dish or you can make them into popsicles or even ice cubes which are perfect to add to your next pitcher of Sangria! Absolutely delicious.


When I was a kid there was this giant pyramid shaped frozen ice that came in a foil and paper wrapper and you would suck on it and take a spoon and carve holes in it and then drink the cherry, grape or orange (nobody bought the orange!) liquid left in the bottom. You got a “popsicle head” because it was so cold and you wore nice purple or pink lips for the rest of the day after. The red wine and blueberry tastes JUST LIKE THE GRAPE LOLA except better because it has wine in it! Try these you will love them!


You will need:

Red Wine, Blueberry and Tea Infused Granita/Popsicles

  • 1 cup your favorite red wine- I used a nice Malbec
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 berry zinger tea bag

White Wine, Orange, Peach and Tea Infused Granita/Posicles

  • 1 cup your favorite white wine- I used a PinotGrigio
  • 1 ripe peach- peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 small orange (zest 1 tsp) and then slice 2 slices with skin on and then remove peel and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon zinger tea bag


Red Wine, Blueberry and Tea Infused version



Step 1: place water and sugar in a small pot and let come to a boil, then remove from heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Add tea bag and let steep 5 minutes. Remove tea bag.


Step 2: place sugar water and blueberries (I used frozen) in blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a large measuring cup and add wine. You can strain out the blueberry pulp but I didn’t and it was such a small amount I didn’t even notice it.


Step 3: pour into ice cube trays, or mini muffin silicone trays(easy to remove) or you can think if these like a jello shot and put them in plastic or paper cups to freeze or you can pour it all into a single container to freeze like ice cream.


White Wine, Orange, Peach and tea infused version




Step 1: place water and sugar in a small pot and let come to a boil, then remove from heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Add tea bag and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bag.


Step 2: add peach and orange chunks. I also added a few slices of oranges with the peel attached to let some of the oils infuse the liquid. Then when I was ready to blend I removed those slices squeezing and juice back into the pot.



Step 3: blend the sugar water and fruit in a blender to puree. Add wine and pour into containers.



I made some in a silicone mini muffin tray and some in containers to be scooped out like ice cream or you can make into popsicles.





freeze for 1 hour then insert sticks or use a proper popsicle maker.



I love the way they don’t get super frozen and because of the alcohol they stay easy to scoop and have a nice flaky consistency.



Pretty nice on a hot day!! What is not to like…it’s frozen wine!


















Blueberry Pie

It is blueberry season and Big Pete has decided that he loves blueberry pie. Who knew!
The area we just moved from in British Columbia is the blueberry growing area. If you drive around the Fraser Valley you will see miles and miles of blueberry farms. 
This is an all butter crust, fresh blueberry pie. Serve with a big blob of great quality vanilla ice cream and you are all set!

You will need:

  • 5 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 tbsp minute tapioca 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp butter in small chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 stick butter chopped in small chunks and frozen
  • 6-8 tbsp ice cold water  (I used 1 tbsp vodka and the rest water)
  • egg (for egg wash)
  • sprinkle of course sugar for top
*optional 1 tbsp blueberry jam
Step 1: in a food processor (you can do this by hand also) add stick of butter that had been cubed and frozen for at least 20 minutes to flour, salt and sugar. Pulse 10 -12 times. 

Step 2: add the ice cold water and pulse again 4-5 times until it almost starts to come together. I like to use some cold vodka in place of some of the water (it makes a nice flaky dough) if you prefer all water that is the traditional way. You can also use half shortening and half butter but, I prefer all butter. Butter will give you good flavour and shortening or lard provides flakiness in a crust. I just would rather eat butter than shortening or lard. I divide the dough into two and quickly form into a disc with the plastic wrap so I don’t melt the butter. Put in fridge for 30 minutes before rolling out.

Step 3: mix your blueberries with sugar, minute tapioca (which will thicken your blueberry juices so it is not so runny) cinnamon, lemon zest, juice and a bit of blueberry jam (optional)

Step 4: roll out each disc of dough. Place one on the bottom and fill with blueberry mixture. I like to roll out the top and cut out holes with cookie cutters, then place on top. Make sure to fold over edges and crimp to keep top and bottom crusts together during baking.

Step 5: brush with egg wash and sprinkle top with some sugar. Freeze 30 minutes before baking at 375 degrees F  for 60- 70 minutes. I always put on a tray with some foil or parchment which makes for easy clean up if there is any leakage.

Step 6: this part is the hardest. Wait at least 2-3 hours before cutting into it. This will allow the pie to cool so you can slice it. If you cut it when it just comes out if will fall apart and the blueberry  juices will run all over your plate.

serve with ice cream or whipped cream. I couldn’t even get a picture with ice cream the wild dogs were all over this!