Comforting Winter Dinner Ideas

Perfect winter day

Hello friends.

Here are some links to some comforting dinner ideas from some other blogs/cooks that I think have a good handle on cooking.  I haven’t had time lately for recipe development and blogging so I’m sending you all some links that I hope you will find useful.

Don’t forget to check the ‘soup’ section of this blog – all of my recipes are very soothing and easy to follow with minimal fuss and ingredients.

I hope these soothe your soul, and warm you up. Remember when you are cooking to use your instincts and add some love and positive energy as you go.

Chicken Pot Pie

Louisiana Chicken Pasta

Meditteranean Orzo Chicken Bake

Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry

Italian Chicken, Bean and Tomato Soup

Beef and Green Bean Stirfry

Bean and Pasta Stew

Tandoori Chicken

Ginger with her snow suit on

Smashed Baby Taters

smashed baby potatoes with ketchup

Here’s a simple way to cook potatoes that everyone loves. Great on their own, or as a side with practically anything.  Excellent with breakfast too.

Smashed Baby Taters

makes about 4 servings

3 lbs baby white and red potatoes, cleaned and trimmed

1/4 cup butter

sea salt


In a large saucepan,  place potatoes. Cover with water and a generous teaspoon of salt. Cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and cool for a few minutes until they are  easy to handle.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Between both palms, ‘smash’ potatoes gently until their skins break and the potatoes are flattened slightly. Place them in the pan without crowding them too much. Sprinkle very liberally with salt.  Let smashed potatoes cook until browned, then flip and repeat. Add more butter if necessary, bearing in mind that butter is good for you. Remove from pan when brown and crispy. Serve and enjoy.

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender, about 8 minutes.

when cool enough, gently smash those babies

Saute over medium heat, don't foget to be liberal with the salt. Potatoes need salt.


Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate Thumbprint

It’s cookie season– a.k.a. weigh- gain season – at least for me, as I simply cannot control myself when it comes to home baked cookies.  These are my favourite -a  not too sweet shortbread base with an excellent dense texture – then a pop of dark chocolate. Oh my. Love it. Easy too.

Chocolate Thumbprints

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

makes 3 1/2  dozen

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temp.

1 cup icing sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup  (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

2 tsp corn syrup

2 (additional) Tbsp butter


Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment or silpats.

In bowl of electric mixer, beat 1 cup of butter, icing sugar, salt and vanilla on medium speed until smooth, scraping down sides.  Beat in flour. Start at a low speed, gradually increasing to medium as the flour becomes incorporated. Mix only until all flour is mixed in.

Form balls of dough with cookie scoop or your hands (about 2 tsp each). Dough will be a little crumbly so press it together.  Place balls one inch apart on baking sheets.  Bake 10 minutes, remove from oven, and using the end of a wooden spoon, make an indent in each cookie.  Continue baking until light brown on the edges. (about 7 minutes more). Remove from oven, and use the end of the spoon to press your indents once more.

Combine chocolate, 2 tablespoons of butter and corn syrup in a small metal bowl over a saucepan with an inch of simmering water. Mix and remove from heat after chocolate is melted and smooth.Cool slightly, then fill indents with chocolate. (I use a baby spoon).  Set aside to for chocolate to firm up.  Store in airtight container for 3 days at room temperature, or freeze in layers in containers. They freeze really well.

dough will have a crumbly texture, but will come together when pressed with hands

after 10 minutes of baking, make indent, then return to oven

re-indent the cookies after they come back out of oven

melt butter, corn syrup and chocolate in top of double boiler


Glazed Mini Pumpkin Scones

pumpkin mini scones

see how hard I work for you guys?

Oh, ma gah. I had some leftover canned pumpkin and wanted to make some pumpkin pie flavoured scones.  I was thinking about the pumpkin spiced latte at Starbucks.  I also made them ‘mini’ instead of huge.  They turned out tender and delicious and actually too good– I’ll be giving them away to avoid eating any more. (although I’ve eaten another one while writing this post – awesome with a cup of tea).

If you’ve never made biscuits or scones, you will quickly realize how easy they are to make.  A gentle hand and not overworking your dough is key.

I would use leftover butternut squash or sweet potatoes in this recipe as well.  Feel free to add pecans to your batter…make them your own.

From start to finish (taking the scones out of the oven) – 30 minutes….that’s pretty fast.  Wait for them to cool before glazing, then allow glaze to harden.

Pumpkin Spice Scones

makes 18 mini scones

adapted from Baking: From My House to Yours

2  1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

4 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into about 16 pieces

1/2 cup pureed pumpkin

1/4 cup cold heavy cream

1 large egg


1 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2-3 tbsp milk

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds, optional


Preheat oven to 425F.  Line a baking sheet with parchement or a silpat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, spices, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Drop in butter cubes and toss to coat. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the flour until the butter is pea-sized and smaller (various sizes).  I squeeze the butter with my fingertips, and as soon as I feel the greasiness of the butter, I drop it back in the flour, and look for another piece to squeeze. Do that until you can’t really pick up any pieces and that should be fine.

In a smaller bowl, mix together pumpkin, cream and egg. Whisk until well blended.  Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and gently stir with a spatula until it is combined and forms a dough. If it seems quite sticky, add a little more flour.  It should be a nice soft dough.

Place dough on a floured counter and split into 3 equal pieces.  Form into discs approximately 1 inch thick. Cut each disc into 6 wedges. Place wedges on baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until bottoms are slightly browned and tops seem just firm. Cool.

Mix up glaze and spread onto scones. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Allow glaze to harden. ENJOY.

mix flour, spices, salt and sugar together

toss butter cubes in flour mixture

mix wet ingredients together, add to flour mixture

form dough into 3 discs, cut into wedges

place wedges on baking sheet


Dining in Vancouver- Part 1 “Vij’s”

outside Vij's restaurant

Hello, readers! Sorry so long with no new post — I was visiting family in Vancouver and while we were there we had some fabulous meals.  I did do a bit of research – mostly through Tripadvisor prior to our trip — but not all of our meals were based on reviews.  Overall, we were pleased with the quality and flavours of our food and the service we received.  The venues we chose were not bargain prices; for example, on average a meal for 4 adults would be $150-$175 plus tip.  My personal attitude is — regardless of the price of the food (even a $5 sandwich),  I resent paying for it if it is crap.  We used to own  a restaurant and  our philosophy was to make the customer happier when they left than when they arrived and pleased to pay their bill.  On this trip, much more so than many others, we were pleased with our food and level of service.

Our first evening we went to Vij’s Indian restaurant in Vancouver. You may be familiar with Vij – having seen him on television promoting his cookbooks or doing a cooking spot on local tv.  He and his wife are both from India and they have become well known for their restaurants, cookbooks, spice mixes and ready-made foods.   Having noticed that Vij’s  was rated the #2 restaurant in Vancouver, I knew we should try it.

We arrived 15 minutes before opening and were welcomed in to the first seating of the night (no reservations).  We were immediately served cold water as we sat down, and within a minute, offered a cup of hot chai. So soothing and delicious after a long day of flying.  As we reviewed the menu, serving staff continually circulated throughout the restaurant, offering us complimentary delicious nibbles and appetizers.  I loved the concept!  Very welcoming.  I was further delighted as Vij himself approached our table to ask if we had any questions and to take our order.  Cool, eh? How many famous chefs come up to your table and take your order? It was great to discuss the various dishes and their ingredients with Vij. Our order consisted of a chick pea appetizer, followed by three curries -Prawns in coconut and fenugreek masala,  Goat curry with lightly spiced vegetables and Chicken with roasted garlic and cashews in a tangy tomato curry – all different sauces with distinct flavours. Further happiness ensued.  The curries started out mild and built to a crescendo of intense heat as the meal progressed.   This is how curry is meant to be –beautifully spiced, perfect (hot!) spiciness, balanced flavours.  The naan bread was hot, thin and maleable.

I had a delicious ginger-lemon beverage which was so refreshing– it tied in nicely with my meal. I will try to recreate that drink.  When it was time to leave, after a traditional Indian dessert of fried dough in a sugar syrup flavoured with cardamom,  our server graciously packed up our leftover curries and put in some extra rice. Believe me, the next day for lunch – we had another pleasure-fest slurping this down.

I can confidently say Vij’s was an excellent eating experience.  In today’s world of food snobbery and pretentiousness in restaurants,  Vij’s emphasis on making guests feel welcome and comfortable added greatly to our enjoyment of the experience.  One of their cookbooks is definitely on my wish list.

chickpea curry appetizer with naan

Prawn curry with coconut

goat curry with spiced vegetables

Chicken curry with cashews

Turkey Apple Meatloaf

turkey apple meatloaf

I love turkey burgers…so thought I’d try this recipe when I saw it in the Kingston-Whig Standard while I was waiting for my oil change.  I’m not the type who would ever make a ground beef meatloaf, it just doesn’t turn me on at all….but I’m all about the turkey so… Give this a try, it’s easy and it’s seasonal with finely diced apples in it.  The recipe calls for 2 pounds of ground turkey, so I divided it into two 8 x 4 aluminum loaf pans, instead of one large loaf (but go ahead if that’s the size loaf pan you have on hand)-one for dinner, one for sandwiches the next day. I enjoyed both, but let’s face it, a meatloaf sandwich is special and this one does not disappoint.

Turkey Apple Meatloaf

adapted from Foodland Ontario

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium apple, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 small or 1 large firm apple, finely diced

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (if you have it, I didn’t use it)

2 lb ground turkey

1 egg yolk

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tsp worcestershire sauce

1.5 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp bbq sauce (I used PC Louisiana style mustard based bbq sauce)


In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, stirring occasionally.

Stir in garlic and apples; cook for about 3 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove from heat. Stir in bread crumbs and parsley, if using.

In large bowl, combine ground turkey, egg, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper; stir in apple mixture until well combined.

Press turkey mixture lightly into two 8 x 4 aluminum loaf pans sprayed with cooking spray.  Spread bbq sauce over top of loaf (loaves).  Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for about 40 minutes to  1 hour or until digital rapid-read thermometer registers 165°F (74°C).

saute onion, add garlic and apples and continue to cook until tender.

mix turkey with mustard, spices, egg, bread crumbs...

press into pans, top with bbq sauce


Walnut Recall and New Index

Hi Y’all – just thought I’d post a link to the walnut recall – since I posted a walnut recipe yesterday (sheesh!)…so check yer walnuts, will ya?

Walnut Recall

Also, I wanted to point out that I have put a new index on my blog for those who were finding it annoying to locate recipes…sorry, I had to figure out how to do that…it’s all good now, check it out at the top of the page beside “About Me”.

Alright, that’s all…hope you are all well!  I will post about some late fall classes to be held in Crow Lake soon.