Wednesday, December 26, 2018

New Years Eve Mezze Board

New Years Eve is often a night full of unfulfilled expectations. The stakes are always set unnecessarily high for a night that really should be like any other. While I used to stress and fret about New Years plans when I was younger, for the last few years I've set expectations aside, and changed my mindset to think of it as just a late night with friends. While no, I don't like to have high expectations in terms of social plans on New Years, I still can't help but want to send the previous year off and ring in the new one on a delicious note!

Like so many holidays that I celebrate, New Years Eve often ends up being a potluck amongst my friends. I always enjoy putting together a beautiful cheese and charcuterie board for potlucks, but this year I had a different idea brewing. If you haven't yet heard, 2018 was the year of the Mezze Board, giving people an opportunity to get a little more creative with their boards, as well as welcoming the chance to offer some healthier choices into the mix. A mezze board is really what you make it, but think of it as a spread that includes veggies, dips, pita bread, pickles, salads, and sometimes even more, inspired by Middleterranean cuisine.
I love mezze boards for so many reasons! The best thing about a mezze board, in my opinion, is that it really allows you to put in whatever amount of time, effort, and money that you feel comfortable with. If you're short on time, you can literally purchase anything and everything you'll need to build a beautiful mezze board right at the grocery store! Because the holidays are such a busy time, I built the board shown in the photos above from pre-made shortcuts from my local Metro grocery store. I picked up my favourite olives from the olive bar, bought packages of hummus and couscous, pre-made falafels ready to heat-and-eat, and quickly cut up some veg. If I find that I have more time on my hands closer to New Years Eve, it's likely I'll make my own hummus and couscous, but will still turn to the pre-made falafels, and olives from the olive bar. I love knowing that I have that flexibility if my schedule should change!

I also love that mezze boards allow you to offer different options for friends who may have dietary restrictions. A number of my friends have become vegetarian recently, and you can always count on a few dairy-free and gluten-free guests in the mix. With a mezze board you can have all sorts of options and variety that can work for pretty much anyone! Play around with different dishes and ingredients that work for you and your friends tastes, but keep in mind that you want variety in textures and colours to keep things interesting.

Mezze Board Ideas:
  • Olives
  • Taboulé
  • Couscous
  • Hummus
  • Babaganoush 
  • Vegetable crudité 
  • Tzatziki
  • Pita bread
  • Falafel balls
  • Fresh herbs 
  • Marinated vegetables 
  • Grilled lemons
  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Grape leaves
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:
Lola - The Raincoats

Friday, December 21, 2018

Roasted Maple Chilli Squash with Pumpkin Seeds

Every year time seems to fly a little faster, which means that Christmas always arrives at lighting, speed, prompting me to often ask aloud "wasn't it JUST Christmas?!" Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas dinner (adore it, even!), but with the hands of time spinning faster than a ballerina in the Nutcracker, it doesn't feel like Christmas dinner was all that long ago!

My family always does a big potluck for our Christmas dinner, which puts the opportunity for change in each of our hands. This year I decided to shake things up and make a Christmas side dish that's grounded in a classic Christmas flavour (roast squash), but given an exciting twist! While roast squash is a common vegetables found on the Christmas table, I roasted mine in a maple chilli glaze to give it a bit of a kick, and garnished it with roasted pumpkin seeds for a salty crunch; dried cranberries for their balance of sweet and tart, as well as chewiness; and finished the dish off with a light, cooling drizzle of a cumin-spiced yogurt.

I love the way this dish activates every taste bud, and think it will make a really exciting and delicious addition to my family Christmas table!

*You may roast the squash in advance, and reheat when ready to serve. Garnish just before serving.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish
1 acorn squash 
2 Tbsp Metro Irresistibles Amber Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 thai red chillies, sliced thin on a bias
1/4 cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Metro Irresistibles 2% Plain Yogurt
1/4 tsp ground cumin (fresh ground is best!)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to season

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  2. Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Cut squash into quarters and slice into 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch slices.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together maple syrup, butter, and chillies. In a large bowl toss together squash slices with maple syrup mixture and season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Lay squash in a single layer on a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 40-50 minutes or until tender when inserted with a fork.
  5. While squash is roasting, prepare the spiced yogurt. In a small bowl stir together yogurt with cumin and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Store in fridge until ready to use. 
  6. Place squash directly into a serving dish and garnish with pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and a drizzle of spiced yogurt. Serve Immediately.*

This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:
Christmas Time Is Here - Vince Guaraldi

Friday, December 14, 2018

Cranberry Orange Scones with Orange Honey Butter

Holiday baking isn't just about cookies over the holidays! I'm the kind of person who likes to find any excuse to eat treats all day long, so while I love dipping a cookie in some coffee, there's nothing like having dessert for breakfast! With that in mind, I took the classic flavour combination of orange and cranberry that I so often put in my holiday biscotti, and infused them into one of my favourite go-to scone recipes! I love this recipe because it's super easy to whip together, plus it's just as lovely to gift to a special someone as are cookies!

To take this recipe to the next level, I like to serve it with an Orange and Honey butter, to kick up that citrus flavour just a touch, while also adding another hint of sweetness, to otherwise not overly sweet scones.

Adapted slightly from Bon Appetit
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting surface)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 heaping tsp orange zest
1 tsp Metro Irresistibles Pure Vanilla Extract
1 cup fresh cranberries
Egg Wash
1 egg
2 Tbsp water
Orange Honey Butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-2 heaping Tbsp orange zest (use more or less depending on how punchy you want it)
2 Tbsp Metro Irresistibles Organics Pure Honey

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk sugar baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour to combine.
  3. Add the cubes of butter to the dry mixture and toss to coat.
  4. Using your fingers or pastry blender, work the butter into the flour, breaking it down until only pea-sized pieces of butter remain.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, and add the beaten egg, cream, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Mix the wet ingredients with a fork, incorporating dry ingredients a little at a time, until a shaggy dough is formed. Gently fold in the cranberries. Lightly knead until dough comes together. Don't over-mix the dough! Don't worry if it looks a little dry. 
  6. Flour your table and turn dough onto surface. Pat into a 1-inch thick round, and cut into 8 even wedges. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. In a small bowl, make the egg wash by whisking together 1 egg and 2 Tbsp water.
  8. Using a pastry brush, brush tops of scones with egg wash mixture.
  9. Bake scones until golden-brown, 25-30 minutes.
Honey Butter
  1. In a medium bowl, or bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together softened butter with orange zest and honey until light and fluffy. Serve at room temperature with Cranberry Orange Scones. 
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:
Earl Sweatshirt - Cold Summers

Friday, November 16, 2018

Holiday Decorations for the Food Obsessed

The first snowfall has arrived in Toronto, and with the Santa Clause Parade this weekend and the Distillery Christmas Market all set up for the masses, there's no better time to start planning your holiday decor! In my humble opinion, I think the best holiday decorations are the ones that have a personal touch to them. Whether your decorations evoke a memory or are homemade, there's something so much more charming about creating a holiday environment that really means something to YOU! Being the food obsessed person that I am, I like to find inspiration for my own holiday decor in my kitchen, creating centrepieces that incorporate some unexpected pantry items! 

Most of my favourite childhood holiday memories involve either holiday arts and crafts or holiday baking. Long before the days of Pinterest, my mom somehow managed to always have a craft or recipe up her sleeve to get my sister and I into the festive spirit. I have so many fond memories of us making ornaments out of dough, painting and stamping our own homemade wrapping paper, making pipe cleaner angels, and making Christmas cookies with my grandparents, that fill me with the warm and fuzzies, and bring a fond tear to my eye! I love the idea of incorporating both a DIY element as well as food into my holiday decor, as a nostalgic nod to my favourite holiday memories growing up. Take a peek at my three favourite ways of utilizing your kitchen pantry to create holiday candleholders that make for a striking centrepiece! 
Himalayan salt is known for its positive effects on the environment (it detoxifies the air, and releases positive ions into the environment), but also for its beautiful colour! I saved some leftover glass yogurt jars (I use the Maison Riviera Petit Pot jars) to act as a vessel for little tea lights. Pop the tea lights into the cleaned jars, and carefully spoon Himalayan salt around the candle to hold it in place. The light of the candle emits the most beautiful and romantic pink glow that looks stunning next to silver elements! This is also a cute idea to make DIY holiday gifts for those on a budget. Have someone on your gifting list looking for a Himalayan salt lamp? Why not make them their own Himalayan salt candles!
When looking for inspiration for this post, I wandered through literally every single aisle of my local Metro grocery store, looking for innovative ideas that I may not have thought of for holiday decor. In the bulk aisle I came across some wasabi peas that, to me, looked like they were dusted in freshly-fallen snow! It was too cute not to try out! I used the same glass yogurt jars and simply popped the tea lights inside. I nestled the jars into a decorative tray and spooned the snowy-looking peas around the jars to hold them in place. 
My final idea for you is one that I came up with a few years ago. Struck by the beauty of vibrant pink peppercorns (that actually appear more red than pink!) I yet another foodie candleholder, this time incorporating those beautiful dried berries! I took a small white serving platter and arranged some tea lights on it and then spooned in my pink peppercorns. Et voila! So simple and lovely! 

Do you have a clever holiday decor idea involving food? I want to know ALL about it! Tell me about it in the comments below! 

This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario. 

Listening To:

Monday, September 10, 2018

Red Curry with Butternut Squash & Chickpeas

I never gave my mom enough credit with being able to put beautiful, delicious, and varying meals on our table every night of the week, in the midst of her crazy busy schedule. Now that I'm an adult and the primary cook in my little family of two (just Chris and I right now), I'm already feeling the struggle of finding the time to grocery shop and get a tasty and satisfying meal on the table each night of the week. I definitely have a few go-to meals that I turn to, and a new one that I've added into the rotation this year has been weeknight curries!

Curries are so incredible for weeknight meals for so many reasons. First of which, I love that most curry ingredients are items I already have kicking around my kitchen, which means not having to run to the grocery store before mealtime. I also love the ease and speed in getting a beautiful, restaurant-worthy curry on the table, not to mention how forgiving they are once reheated. Curries reheat beautifully, making them a fantastic option for weekend meal planning, as well as using the leftovers for lunches throughout the week, and freezing for future emergency dinners. Last but not least, they are so delicious and are a great excuse for enjoying a meatless meal. While curries are fantastic with chicken, beef, seafood, goat, and more, I tend to mostly make protein-packed vegetarian and often even vegan curries so that I don't have to go to the store to buy any additional meat.
I often draw inspiration for my curries from some of my favourite restaurant curries that I've enjoyed around the city. One of my favourites is the red curry from Sukhothai, which includes tender and sweet cubes of squash immersed in the flavourful sauce. With this curry on my mind, and local squash in abundance in the grocery store, I came up with a delicious and feel-good weeknight curry to add to my collection of homemade curry recipes. I often make curries on Monday's before our evening yoga class, so to give this dish a hit of extra protein to give me the energy to get through the class, I also added some chickpeas, that added a bit of texture to the dish as well. I know chickpeas are not traditional in a Thai curry, but for a weeknight meal it's more about creating a delicious and satisfying dish that works for me than going for authenticity.

I hope you enjoy this curry and add it into your own weeknight meal rotation! Let me know what you thought in the comments below.

4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, minced
1 - 6 chillies (depending on your heat tolerance)
1/2 Tbsp cilantro stems, finely chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp whole cumin seed
1 tsp whole coriander seed
vegetable oil for sautéing
4 large shallots, diced
pinch of baking soda
5 - 6 Tbsp red curry paste
2 - 2 1/2 cups butternut squash, cubed (you may sub in other types of squash if you wish!)
1 can (540mL) Metro Irresistibles Life Smart Chick Peas with no salt added, drained and rinsed
handful of kefir lime leaves (optional, if you can't get your hands on them, just add a squeeze of lime juice)
400mL coconut milk
1 cup vegetable broth
1 Tbsp lime juice
1-2 Tbsp fish sauce
pinch of brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped plus more for garnish
jasmine rice to serve

  1. In a mortar and pestle grind together garlic, ginger, chillies, cilantro stems, lemon juice and salt until you form a paste. 
  2. Heat a large pot to medium heat. Add a glug of vegetable oil and add in the cumin and coriander seeds. Once the seeds become fragrant, add the shallots and pinch of baking soda. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently. Every two-minutes or so, deglaze the bottom of the pot with a small splash of water, using a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Continue this process for 7-10 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a deep brown colour. 
  3. Add in the prepared garlic paste, along with the red curry paste and butternut squash. Stir to coat and cook for 1-min. 
  4. Add the coconut milk, vegetable broth, chickpeas, and kefir lime leaves and bring to a boil. Season with salt and reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until squash is tender. 
  5. Add the lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, and cilantro and taste for seasoning. Season as needed with additional fish sauce, salt, chillies, and brown sugar to balance flavours. 
  6. Serve with jasmine rice, garnished with lime wedges and cilantro sprigs. Serve immediately or keep in fridge for 1-week, or freeze for future use. 
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario. 

Listening To:
Roll (Burbank Funk) - The Internet

Sausage & Apple Phyllo Bites

Pies, crumbles, muffins, cakes; It's easy to come up with plenty of delicious sweet dishes using apples, but with apples so abundant this time of year in Ontario, I was itching to move away from familiar sweet flavours and create a savoury dish using local apples. While it's still pretty early, I'm always looking for new dishes to add to my potluck repertoire to bring for my family's Thanksgiving. We always do a potluck format for our big family holiday dinners, so that everyone can contribute to the work and celebration. While a lot of family members have their favourites that they like to stick to each time, I tend to get bored easily and am always looking to switch things up with something new and exciting!

With savoury apples on the brain, I kept swimming around the idea of creating my own version of a sausage roll, but this time with apples as well! I love the combination of pork and apples together, and with sausage rolls as a popular Thanksgiving appetizer (it's such a delicious and comforting way to kick off a meal!) I knew I could create something special that I would be proud to serve to my family!
To make my own sausage rolls a little bit different, I first added sweet and sour Granny Smith apples to aid in rounding out the flavour of the sausage meat. I also added some fresh rosemary still kicking around in my garden, and chose to wrap my rolls in phyllo dough as opposed to the traditional puff pastry, to give them more of a crunchy exterior. I also spread two different types of mustard (one dijon and one with lots of texture) right on the interior of the phyllo to allow the flavours to blend during baking. I love mustard, but I find that sometimes sausage rolls can be a bit bland, and when dipped in mustard, the flavour is improved, but can overpower the roll all together. Adding the mustard right into the roll avoids this, and gives a much more rich and well-balanced flavour.

I was so happy with how these sausage rolls turned out, and cannot wait for my family to try them! These will be so easy to transport to my aunts house that we are hosting Thanksgiving at, as well as reheat without losing their texture or flavour.
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, small dice
1 large Granny Smith apple, small dice
1 lb. fresh Italian sausages, casings removed
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
Metro Irresistibles Frozen Phyllo Pastry, thawed
about 1/2 cup Kozliks Triple Crunch Mustard
about 1/2 cup Metro Irresistibles Traditional Prepared Dijon Mustard
about 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Maldon Salt, for garnish (optional)
salt and pepper to season


  1. Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Heat olive oil and add onion, apple, and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. 
  2. Add sausage meat and break up with a spatula, and cook until browned. Add rosemary and stir to combine. Taste and season as needed with additional salt and pepper. Set aside to cool. Filling may be made in advance.
  3. Preheat oven to 375ºF. 
  4. Stir together both mustards in a medium bowl. Lay out your phyllo pastry and cut into four even strips widthwise. Take one stack of phyllo strips and place them on a work surface. Cover both stacks of phyllo with damp cloths. 
  5. Working one at a time, lightly brush one sheet of pastry with butter and layer another sheet on top. Brush lightly with butter once again, and lay a third sheet of pastry on top. Leaving a 1/2-inch border from the end of the strip, spread about 1 tsp of the mustard mixture. Top with about 1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp sausage and apple mixture. Roll in the half-inch border on the end and both sides, like you're wrapping a present, and carefully roll up. Place on a greased baking sheet, and continue this process with the remaining pastry and filling. Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter and score with a knife. Sprinkle a little Maldon Salt on top of each one for garnish (optional). 
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Serve immediately or refrigerate. To reheat, place in a 200ºF oven for about 10-20 minutes, covering with aluminum foil if they start to get too dark. 
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario. 

Listening To:
Darling - Real Estate

Thursday, August 9, 2018

How To Build A Pantry Snack Station

Confession: I am a ravenous snacker. All day, every day, I'm a woman who loves her snacks! For someone who works at home a lot, this can be a dangerous thing. When the urge to snack hits me, and boy, oh boy, does that ever happen often, I will turn to the first snack that I can find that interests me, which can often mean some less than healthy choices. It was a few years ago, while working on my Food Hacks campaign with Kraft Canada that I came up with the idea of creating a snack station in my home. A snack station is a dedicated area for purely snacks that I fill with a variety of different options, so that when my urge to snack hits, I have somewhere to turn for quick, easy, and healthy ways to satiate me and curb any naughty food cravings. 
While a snack station has been incredibly helpful for Chris and I to help steer us away from the candy, ice cream, and other junk that's way too convenient for us to snack on, I also love the idea of making a snack station for kids! A few years ago I was taking care of two amazing young girls after school, and while they rarely ever fought or even disagreed, the one thing that they would sometimes tiff over was their after-school snacks. They would occasionally disagree about which items they were allowed to eat after school, creating an unnecessary heated moment in the midst of what was usually a lovely afternoon. This type of disagreement can be totally avoided with the help of a snack station. A snack station allows parents to curate exactly which snacks they would like their kids to eat after school, while also giving the kids the opportunity to have variety and begin making choices for themselves. 
The key word in creating a successful snack station is "variety." It's important to have variety in a snack station that covers all forms of different cravings so that there is always at least one option in the station that you could be in the mood for. This means including different types of dried fruit, nuts (both raw and salted), crackers or melba toast (I like the individually wrapped ones to control portion size and preserve freshness), granola bars, and fruit. Having variety like this means having different flavours (both salty and sweet) as well as textures, which is particularly important for kids who may be finicky with certain flavours and textures on any given day. 

If a parent wants to give their kids a special treat one day, it would be a cute surprise to have that in the snack station when they get home. I like turning to treats that are on the healthier side such as chocolate dipped dried cranberries, so you're still giving kids something special (hello, chocolate!) without spoiling their appetite or giving them junk. This can also be useful to use as a check-in spot for your kids. Leave notes for them at the snack station on things you would like done (homework, clean room, set the table, etc.), or to give guidance on other snacks that may be available in the fridge. 
How To Build A Pantry Snack Station - What To Include:
All items/ingredients listed are a guideline for you to use to create your own, but, as usual, I encourage you to use your imagination and your own tastes to create your own with what you and your kids like.
  • Nuts, both salted and raw - ex. almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit - ex. apples, peaches, pears, plums, cherries
  • Apple sauce - I like the Metro Irresistibles Life Smart Fruit Snacks for reduced sugar and portion control
  • Crackers or Melba Toast - I love the Metro Irresistibles Melba Toast as a vehicle for dips, spreads, or topping with fruits or veg. I love their versatility, crunch, and the fact that they are individually wrapped.
  • Dried Fruit - ex. cranberries, cherries, apricots, figs, apples
  • Metro Irresistibles Dark Chocolate Covered Cranberries (my new favourite sweet treat! All it takes is a small handful of these to curb my sweet cravings).
Tip: Make a salad building station too to help you make quick and delicious, restaurant-worthy salads for weeknight meals!

This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario. 

Listening To:
Lemon Glow - Beach House

Back To School Essential: Sandwich Kabob Packed Lunch

Once you've said it, there's no turning back. It's out there. So here I go, about to say those fateful words that I used to curse my Oma for saying that first week of August every year growing's almost back to school time. There. I said it! It doesn't feel good, but I said it! Even though I'm not preparing to go back to school this September, and as much as I love the Fall season, I really do dread the end of Summer. Though I'm not looking forward to scarves, boots, and the constant feeling of shivering, I do like looking at September as a fresh start, and one of the best fresh starts the Fall season brings is reinforcing good habits.

There are a lot of good habits that I try and commit to all year long, but there's nothing like taking advantage of a fresh season to jumpstart good patterns and routines. A habit that I am always looking to improve on is to commit to doing a daily fridge dive and clean to make use of any and all ingredients that need to be used up to reduce food waste in our home. For Chris, I know a habit that he wants to improve on is committing to bringing a homemade lunch into work every day. With these two goals in mind, I came up with a solution that allows me to use up different types of ingredients that need to get eaten, as well as give Chris tasty packed lunch ideas that he can rotate and customize every day.
Introducing the Sandwich Kabob! Essentially a charcuterie board on a stick, sandwich kabobs are a quick and tasty way to use up any leftover deli meat, cheese, vegetables, bread, pickles, and more to create an easy to transport and eat lunch, that your co-workers will be envious of! I like to lay out all of my ingredients that need to be used up, and pair them up as though I was building flavours in a sandwich. From there, simply skewer them on your kabob stick or spear and pack them up. While we're sure to be seeing a lot of Sandwich Kabobs in our very adult household over the coming months, I also love this idea for parents preparing lunches for their kids!

Sandwich Kabobs are a fantastic way to provide your kids with variety in their lunches, as well as giving them an opportunity to get involved to help mom and dad make their lunch, and start playing around with creating their own flavour combinations. More than that, I also think this welcomes a great opportunity to introduce new flavours to your kids palate. Try skewering on new types of meats, cheeses, and vegetables that they may have previously shied away from. While a pickle may ruin an entire sandwich for a kid who may not like pickles, if you try skewering a pickle on a Sandwich Kabob, they have the opportunity to try it, and if they don't like it, it can be easily removed without impacting the other ingredients.
As I often say with my recipes, I encourage you to play around with this one! As you can see in the photos, I used an assortment of different types of meats, as well as skewering on some simple sliced wraps. This is a particularly good idea for kids who tend to like having options in their lunch, and may get sick of any one particular flavour, as I often did growing up. You can also play around with creating more fancy sandwich kabobs, using more gourmet ingredients and serving them at your next gathering with friends and family as an appetizer or hors d'oeuvre. I'd love to know what types of flavour combinations you and your kids create in your own home! Tell me about it in the comments, or share a photo with me on social media! You can find me on Instagram @gingerrosefood.

All ingredients listed are merely suggestions to inspire you to create your own!
Metro Irresistibles Artisan Seasoned Angus Roast Beef, sliced
Metro Irresistibles Artisan German Salami, sliced
Metro Irresistibles Artisan Oven Roasted Seasoned Turkey Breast, sliced
Metro Irresistibles Canadian Lactose Free Swiss Cheese, cut into chunks
multigrain bread, cut into large chunks
aged cheddar cheese, cut into large chunks
Metro Irresistibles Traditional Prepared Dijon Mustard
flour tortillas
cherry tomatoes
cucumber, sliced or peeled into ribbons
kabob sticks or other form of spears

  1. Lay out all of your ingredients that you intent to use (I prioritize ingredients that I know need to get eaten up first) and start building flavour combinations.
  2. Skewer your ingredients on your kabob sticks or other form of spears and pack up for lunch!
  3. Prepare small containers on the side for dips such as mustard, mayo, or aioli. 
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario. 

Listening To:
Ben's My Friend - Sun Kil Moon

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Honey Vanilla Peach Freezer Jam

There is no better season in Ontario than peach season! It's hands-down the best ever, and I'm willing to fight anyone who says otherwise. I go peach crazy as soon as the first local peaches appear, and find myself buying baskets of peaches every few days to keep up with my consumption. It's such a short season, so you really can't blame me for wanting to take advantage as much as possible, as well as extend the season in any way I can.

My trick for extending peach season this year is to turn those fresh and juicy wonders into jam that I can enjoy well into the fall and winter. Every single morning I start my day with an egg and toast, and being able to make peaches apart of that breakfast every day for the next eight months makes me giddy!

The freedom of playing around with different flavours was also what drew me to making jam. I wanted to infuse some other flavours into my peach jam to make it a little more complex and unique. When I think of some of my favourite ways to enjoy fresh peaches in the summer, they almost always involve honey and vanilla. I love making simple desserts with fresh peaches, by grilling them up and topping with a drizzle of honey and either fresh vanilla cream or French vanilla ice cream. To mimic those flavours in my jam, I substituted some of the white sugar for organic honey, as well as adding some pure vanilla extract.

While this jam is certainly sweet when trying straight from the jar, its perfect on top of buttery toast! Play around with different ways of serving this jam to make it your own! Think of glazing tarts, topping plain yogurt, or stirring into smoothies! Let me know how you play around with this jam in the comments below.

1 lb fresh peaches (about 2 cups chopped, or about 3 medium peaches), peeled, pitted and chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 package (57g) Original Certo Pectin Crystals
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup Metro Irresistibles Organics Pure Honey
1/2 tsp Metro Irresistibles Pure Vanilla Extract

  1. Thoroughly wash enough jars/containers and lids that will hold approximately 1 1/4-pints of jam (most canning jars come in 1-pint, 1/2-pint, and 1/4-pint sizes) with very hot water, and dry thoroughly. Set aside. 
  2. In a medium saucepan set to medium-low heat, add peaches. Cook and crush using a potato masher. Mash until peaches have reached desired consistency (about 10-15 minutes).
  3. Add lemon juice and pectin crystals and stir to combine. Bring to a boil at high heat.
  4. Stir in sugar, honey, and vanilla and return to a boil. Cook for 1-minute. 
  5. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5-minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Pour into warm, sterilized jars, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top to allow for expansion. Cover with lids and let stand at room temperature for 24-hours or until set. Keep jars in freezer for 8 months, or until ready to enjoy! Jam will hold in the fridge for about 3-weeks. 
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario. 

Listening To:
Kanye West - Ghost Town

Peanut Butter Banana Energy Balls

My schedule is all over the place, and often means eating meals at odd times of the day (think lunch at 3:00 and often dinner at midnight...I know, it's not good!). With so much running around between commitments, it's so important to have quick and easy snack options on hand that can keep me satiated and energized throughout the day. I always like to keep nuts, yogurt, fruits, and veg on hand for that purpose, but a new healthy snack that has become a prominent feature in my kitchen is energy balls!

I have to admit, when I first tried making energy balls a couple years ago, they did not go successfully. I focused too much on health instead of flavour, which resulted in dry and flavourless balls of chia and coconut oil, that ultimately ended up in the garbage. The trick to making energy balls is striking that perfect balance between healthy and delicious! Inspired by the flavours in banana bread (another snack I love!), I created my Peanut Butter Banana Energy Balls that are just sweet enough to trick me into feeling like I'm enjoying a treat, but are packed with ingredients that will keep my body and mind feeling energized and alive!

Keep these energy balls on hand to enjoy for a midday pick me up, or a pre-workout energy boost that won't leave you feeling bogged down and sluggish.
1 overripe banana*
1/2 cup Metro Irresistibles Organics Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup ground flax
2 Tbsp chia seeds
2-4 dates, pitted and softened (adjust the amount depending on your sweetness preferences)
1 - 1 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, frozen (freezing your chocolate chips allows them to hold their shape, giving the energy balls some texture)

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add banana, peanut butter, coconut, flax, chia seeds, dates and 1-cup oats. Pulse until just combined, stopping to scrape down the bowl several times. Pinch the mixture between your fingers to test consistency. You want the mixture to be able to form into balls without being too sticky. If mixture is still very sticky and wet, add more oats as needed.
  2. Stir in frozen chocolate chips. 
  3. Using clean hands, form into 2 Tbsp balls and place in an airtight container. You should be left with 12-14 energy balls. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy throughout the week! 
*To quickly ripen bananas, separate individual bananas from the bunch and place on a baking sheet. Cook in a 300ºF oven for 25-30 minutes, or until black and shiny. Cool.

This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:
Pusha T - Santeria

Layered Mango-Strawberry Lassi-Inspired Smoothie

As the heat rises in the summertime, so does the heat level in the food I make, and I'm not talking temperature! There's something about a hot day that has me craving spicy food. While my tolerance for spice is pretty good, I've been known to push my own limits from time to time, resulting in me turning to shots of milk or yogurt to fan the flames on my tongue. Whenever I order in Indian food I'm reminded of how soothing a cold lassi can be after a hot-as-fire bite of curry. With that in mind, and my tendency for putting hot chilli oil on my morning eggs, I wanted to create a lassi-inspired smoothie that could aid in keeping my tastebuds happy and cool when enjoying my spicy morning eggs. With Ontario strawberries still in the markets, I wanted to combine the mango-flavoured lassi that I'm most familiar with, with a strawberry one in a unique way that would allow the flavours of each to shine individually.

I adore the flavour of honey that always shines through in the lassi's that I've tried, so I kept that consistent, using it as my sweetener. To switch things up a little bit, I also chose to use a lighter Greek yogurt to give the drink that same rich taste that I love in a lassi, but with a more viscous consistency that's easier to drink in the morning. While I had previously never tried any myself, I had read that there are some lassi's that can be infused with rose water, turmeric, or saffron. I loved the idea of really making that yellow colour pop against the pink strawberry smoothie, so I infused the honey with some saffron to give it that extra intensity.

Not only does this layered lassi-inspired smoothie look gorgeous, it's also delicious and cooling! I love the idea of serving this smoothie for an elegant outdoor summer brunch for friends and family. Let me know how you enjoyed this layered lassi-inspired smoothie in the comments below!

Tip: If you're shot on time, forget about layering and just toss all the ingredients together!

For the Mango Lassi Smoothie
2 cups Metro Irresistibles Frozen Mango Chunks, thawed
2 tsp Metro Irresistibles Organics Pure Honey
pinch of saffron threads
1/2 cup Metro Irresistibles 0º Plain Greek Yogurt
handful of ice

For the Strawberry Lassi Smoothie
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, sliced
3 tsp Metro Irresistibles Organics Pure Honey
1/2 cup Metro Irresistibles 0º Plain Greek Yogurt
handful of ice

  1. In a blender or food processor, add mango chunks and blend until relatively smooth.
  2. In a small bowl add the honey and saffron threads and stir to combine. Add to blender with Greek yogurt. Blend until very smooth. Add a handful of ice, blend, and transfer to a container and set aside in fridge. Clean blender or food processor bowl.
  3. In a clean blender, add strawberries and blend until relatively smooth. 
  4. Add honey and Greek yogurt and blend until very smooth. Add a handful of ice and blend.
  5. Divide the Mango Lassi Smoothie between 2-4 cups (depending on the serving size you prefer). Using a large spoon to avoid the two smoothies from mixing, carefully spoon the Strawberry Lassi Smoothie over the Mango Lassi Smoothie. Serve immediately!
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:
Snail Mail - Pristine

Fish Tacos with Ontario Corn Salsa

Summertime is the season for food festivals, and I don't think there's any other dish that I associate with food festivals more than a delicious fried fish taco! Some of the best fish tacos I've consumed have been in the summertime, with friends and loved ones, enjoying a Toronto food festival. While food festivals are less my jam these days (or maybe just the long lines and lack of shaded spaces for my poor fair skin), I still love to enjoy a great fish taco in the summer inspired by my festival-going days, but now I make my own! Combining crispy fried fish with one of my favourite summer flavours in Ontario, fresh corn, my fish tacos are a great balance of flavour and texture, and are perfect for a hot summer night!

The corn salsa is key in this recipe, providing that much-needed hit of sweetness, freshness, acidity, spice, and texture to counteract the heaviness of the fried fish. The sweetness is found in those sweet and juicy Ontario corn kernels (there's nothing like them, is there?!) that are really the star of this salsa, and maybe even the whole dish! To dress my fresh grilled corn I like to add a pop of freshness from cilantro and tomatoes, some acidity and heat thanks to pickled jalapeños and their pickling brine, as well as lime, chilli powder, and red onion.

To balance out the rest of the flavours for our final taco, we turn to our toppings! Chipotle-Lime Aioli is a condiment that has become just as essential in my fridge as mustard and pickles, and it also works incredible in this taco to add a smokey and creamy element that ties the whole dish together. The remainder of the toppings can be adjusted based on your own personal preferences, but I enjoy the crunch from thinly sliced red cabbage, as well as lots of fresh cilantro, and of course hot sauce!

Make your corn salsa in advance to speed this dish up. Your tacos will come together so quickly you can even make them on a weeknight to give yourself a special mid-week treat! I hope you enjoy them as much as Chris and I did!

For the Ontario Corn Salsa
3 ears Ontario corn, husks and silks removed
1/4 - 1/2 cup pickled jalapeños, finely chopped (adjust the amount depending on the level of heat you prefer)
1 Tbsp pickling brine from pickled jalapeños
juice from 3/4 of a medium lime
1/4 cup red onion
1 small tomato, small dice
1/2 tsp chilli powder
light drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

For the Fried Fish
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 Tbsp paprika
1/2 Tbsp chilli powder
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
kosher salt
3/4 cup beer (lager works great!)
1 large egg
peanut oil, for frying 
1 lb cod, cut into 8 even pieces (may substitute other white fish)

To Dress Your Tacos
6-8 corn tortillas
Metro Irresistibles Chipotle-Lime Aioli
fresh cilantro
red cabbage, thinly sliced
hot sauce

Ontario Corn Salsa
  1. Preheat BBQ or grill pan and lightly oil. Place corn directly on grill and cook about 2 min per side. Cool.
  2. Cut corn niblets from cob and place in a medium bowl. Reserve your corn cobs for another use (how about making corn broth for a chowder!).
  3. Add pickled jalapeños and pickling brine, lime juice, red onion, tomato, chilli powder, and a drizzle of olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Cover and transfer to fridge until ready to dress tacos.
Fried Fish
  1. In a medium bowl, combine cake flour, paprika, chilli powder, black pepper, and kosher salt. Transfer half of the mixture to a large bowl.
  2. Add the beer and egg to the mixture in the large bowl, and whisk until smooth.
  3. In a large pot (I used a dutch oven) or wok, add peanut oil so it reaches 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up the pot. Heat oil to 350ºF. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 250ºF, and line 2 baking sheets with paper towel and a wire rack. Place one in the oven or toaster oven and the other at the stove.
  4. Place all of the fish pieces in the large bowl with the beer batter and stir to coat.
  5. Working one at a time, pick up a piece of fish and allow any excess batter to drain off. Place into the medium bowl with the dry mixture, and toss to lightly coat. Carefully place in the hot oil (letting the fish fall away from you) and fry until evenly golden, about 3-4 minutes. Place on the stovetop wire rack to drain, and lightly salt. Transfer to the prepared pan in the oven to keep warm. Continue with remaining fish, making sure to not crowd the oil.*
* I like to work with two pieces of fish frying in the oil at a time. Crowding the oil will drop the temperature, resulting in an oily batter.

  1. To assemble your tacos, heat tortillas (one at a time) for 1-2 min per side in a medium pan at high heat. 
  2. Squeeze about 1-2 Tbsp Irresistibles Chipotle-Lime Aioli on top of tortilla, and top with fried fish, corn salsa, cilantro, cabbage, and hot sauce. Enjoy!
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario. 

Listening To:
Let's Eat Grandma - Falling Into Me

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Ontario Black Cherry, Feta, & Arugula Salad

The time for Summer salads is here! One of my favourite ways to utilize the abundance of fresh fruits over the summer months in Ontario is with beautiful summer salads, and I'm not just talking about fruit salads! I adore the way the flavours of fresh and juicy Ontario fruits play against the peppery heat from arugula, and either a salty bite of feta cheese, or a creamy taste of fresh mozzarella or burrata. These types of salads are uncomplicated, while still being interesting, beautiful (both visually and in it's flavour!), and are just so damn delicious you'll want to enjoy one every day!

I'm not including an exact recipe here, instead choosing to give you a guideline, as summer salads are all about utilizing what you already have on hand. This recipe was inspired by a big ol' bag of fresh Ontario cherries that I wanted to eat for more than just dessert and snack. While mixed greens are an easy option to have on hand in the summer months, I opt for keeping arugula in my crisper, as I find that peppery hit to be a more exciting contrast from the sweet flavours from the fruit. With sunflower seeds already on hand in my cupboard, I chose to sprinkle a few of those over for some crunch, but I actually think pumpkin seeds (sometimes labelled as pepitas) would be an ideal seed for this dish. Play around with whatever fruits, produce, nuts, and seeds you have in your kitchen or in your garden and find a summer salad that suits your tastebuds! Let me know what creation you've made by telling me about it in the comments, or sending me a pic through Instagram (you can find me @gingerrosefood). Looking forward to seeing your summer salad creations!

Note: I have not included specific measurements, as I encourage you to work with what works for you!
pea shoots
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
Ontario black cherries, pitted and cut in half
feta cheese
salted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
fresh ground pepper
Maldon Salt


  1. In a small bowl lightly drizzle the arugula and pea shoots with olive oil and balsamic. Toss together gently with your fingertips. Place along serving dish (I like to use a platter as opposed to a bowl so the other ingredients don't fall to the bottom).
  2. Top the dressed greens with cherries, feta cheese, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, fresh ground pepper, and Maldon Salt. Serve immediately.
Listening To:
Summer Games - Drake

Friday, June 15, 2018

Back to Blogging - My year of Shame, Self-Doubt & Transition

My last blog post was on July 14th, 2017, which makes this almost an entire year without blogging. Just writing that forces me to let out a long, aggressive sigh. I've been writing my blog for almost ten years now (!!) and this is the longest break in blogging I've ever had in that time.

I'll admit, I feel a sense of shame having not blogged in such a long time, but truthfully, shame was one of the predominant reasons why I stopped blogging in the first place. At first I just kept finding excuses not to blog. Just a few months prior to my blogging hiatus, I had accepted a new role at the company that I was working for, and was determined to excel at it. I kept using this new (very part-time position) as an excuse for not blogging. Every time the thought occurred to me to write again, it felt like there were so many other "things" that I had to prioritize, and taking the time for myself to write again just kept getting pushed farther and farther down my to-do list. First were the excuses, then came the shame, and with those two negative forces working together as a unit, it wasn't easy to rise above it and block out my head to listen to my heart.
Why the shame, you ask? *I exhale another long, aggressive sigh* I was ashamed of the almost ten years of blogging without reaching my goal. Instead of looking at my most recent work and feeling proud of it, I kept looking at all of my almost ten years of work combined, and felt so ashamed of the early yellow and grainy photos, the long and rambling self-indulgent posts (which this just may be as well!), the lack of design in terms of the layout and look of my blog, the past embarrassing and sometimes even offensive things I have written, and so much more. It felt overwhelming. I wanted to overhaul everything and start fresh, but I didn't know where to begin, who to ask for help, and if this was even worth my time anymore. The more time that went by without a blog post, the harder it became to jump back in, or even dip a toe in.

I also mentioned that I was ashamed of not reaching my goal after all this time. Even just saying my goal aloud made the wave of shame envelope me, because I was worried it would sound stupid or egotistical to other people. My goal was to have my own food show. I know you might be chuckling over the audacity of me having that as a goal, or maybe that's just my shame kicking in once again, but I feel deep down that it's my calling and will lead me to a larger purpose in life. Chuckle away! I'm ready to say it aloud with conviction! This is what I want, and this is what I feel I am on the path for deep down in my gut.
Despite me feeling like I've failed by not having reached my goal yet, I've come to realize (thanks to the help of an awesome psychotherapist) that I actually have reached some pretty incredible goals and milestones that I should be proud of. Guess what, folks? You can have more than one goal at a time! Just because you haven't reached one goal, doesn't mean you haven't accomplished others! Getting the job that I previously mentioned as my excuse for not blogging was a major accomplishment for me, among many others. For years I've been searching for "my people", the people who have the same interests, thoughts, beliefs, and passions as me, and who who I felt I could work with as a true collaborative team. It's in my current job that I am so grateful to have found those people, the people who I now know as my work family.

No, I don't have a perfect job. I'm always seeking out additional opportunities that will allow me to grow and reach my many other goals, but I really do love my job, and I absolutely adore the outstanding group of passionate, talented, smart, kind, generous, encouraging, and hilarious women I get to do it with. You know who you are, and I admire you all more than I could ever express.

So here I am again, almost one year later. Here I am writing again, being vulnerable again, and writing another very long and self-indulgent post once again. I'm back in the water, wading in the shallow end, and getting up the courage to walk further into the deep end. I'll get there, but I'm not going to beat myself up about not being there yet. I'm proud of who I am and what I've accomplished, and am ready to kick shame to the curb. Easier said than done, I know it'll take a lot of time and effort, but I really do want to get there and I know that this is step one in that journey.

The above Images were created in collaboration with Registered Dietitian and one of my Dish Cooking Studio team members, Olivia Cupido. 

Listening To:
Lykke Li - Last Piece