Family Cook Off on Food Network Canada


I really should have mentioned this upcoming event earlier, but my head hasn’t exactly been in the game lately. Unless the game is B-A-B-Y. We’re anticipating her arrival literally any day.

But let’s backtrack in the pregnancy a bit, say, all the way to last August, where I was just two months along and exhausted as heck.

My sister, Miranda and I were flown out to Vancouver to meet up with my mother and older sister Haidi at the very posh Hotel Fairmount Vancouver.


We were there to film an episode for an fun new show called Family Cook Off for Food Network Canada.

Just being together was a incredibly special. We laughed, we cried, we goofed, we ATE fabulously around town, and oh yeah, we filmed a reality cooking show. It was a gas.


So this is a head’s up to tune in! Family Cook Off airs this Thursday, March 1st at both 4PM and 9PM on Food Network Canada. It is also supposed to be available online a day or two after it airs.

Watch the promo! And yes, that is my huge mouth at a mere 33 seconds in…

Hope you tune in and in the meantime, go like Family Cook Off on Facebook for all the updates.

Mince Pie and a video demo


When Danny walked in the door Friday afternoon, he leaned on the door frame, and was completely overcome by an enormous yawn. While his mouth gaped, I laughed at him, because the yawn said it all. It was the end of a long week, a long couple of months, and the beginning of holidays!

It’s Christmas vacation!! Well, for Danny, anyway. I’m still hard at work, one of the downsides of working from home. One doesn’t just tidy a desk, flip the answering machine to ‘away’ and take off for two weeks.

I took last night off though. Once two exhausted little kiddos were asleep, Danny made lattes and I baked off a mince pie, (a total cinch, thanks to jars of homemade mincemeat in the fridge and chilled pie crust) and we retreated to our cozy loft to chill and chat about the whole two weeks ahead.

We’re looking at a surprisingly relaxed holiday season, mostly because we haven’t just moved (one year ago) and I’m not attempting to invite every single person we know over AND attend every event on the calendar.

Sometimes, I do the right thing.

Let’s talk about this mincemeat, though.

You may recall I made a Canadian version of this traditional holiday pie filling last year, which I went rather ape over. Seriously, the homemade stuff cannot compare with store bought. Shocking, I know.

This year, I was planning on making more, but hadn’t picked up all the ingredients. In fact, a few days of serious snow had me put off grocery shopping altogether and I avoided exiting the house as much as possible. (Thanks goodness for Skype and *high-five* to all work-at-home peeps!)

So here I am one recent morning, with very few groceries, entertaining a Montreal Gazette reporter and photographer in my home for an interview/photo shoot (for a future feature, not out yet) when the photog mentions that his editor wants him to shoot a cooking demo video as well.

Oh. OK. A little notice would have been nice. I scrambled together ingredients for mincemeat and we shot the clip below in one take. A few hours later it was up on the Gazette website, and my mincemeat was stashed in the refrigerator for the holidays. Not a bad morning!

A few notes from the impromptu cooking demo:

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup is too much. I should have said 1/4. But then again, I like my mince on the tart side and not too sweet.
  • I listed cognac as an option for the alcoholic ingredient. I meant brandy. Please don’t use cognac! Rum, whiskey or port are also great options.
  • I prefer currants to raisins, but didn’t have any in the house.
  • You can grate the apple if you like a finer mincemeat.

Head here for the full recipe.

Do give the recipe a go, then tuck it between two flaky layers of pastry and enjoy the best pie of the season.

Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving…many ways.


Last week I was probably more excited about having Noah home for four whole days than I was about Thanksgiving. For some crazy reason, I had decided not to cook my own turkey dinner, perhaps because an entire week (OK, make that a month) of functioning on five or six hours of sleep had taken it’s toll.

Besides, I knew we would have turkey dinner with all the trimmings at my in-laws, so it wasn’t like I was skipping Thanksgiving entirely.


Then I developed this recipe for Whole Wheat Buttermilk Rolls and invented their adorable presentation…and got all excited about cooking again. And setting a fine table. And hosting. There was no way I could not cook a Thanksgiving dinner, I mean, just look at this festive inspiration outside my patio doors.


So I was pumped; I found a fresh local turkey, TONS of brussels sprouts – which Mateo helped carry – and proceeded to spend half of Saturday in the kitchen.


Turns out that was just what I needed. It no joke that cooking is my therapy of choice, and I relaxed, rejoiced, and found rejuvenation in preparing a simple turkey dinner for my family and a few close loved ones.


You’ve seen a few of these recipes before…Fruit & Herb Stuffing, Perfect Mashed Potatoes, and a few more are coming soon on Simple Bites. One in particular, the butternut squash gratin (Wednesday), was a huge hit, leaving me with zero leftovers. I should probably be happy about that, but dang, I wanted some for the reheat!

So that was Saturday. Sunday was the wonderfully homey traditional dinner with my in-laws. There were pies, Maple, Pumpkin and Cherry. I had some of all three, then we beetled off home because I had an early morning date with these guys:


The folks from Daybreak had invited me to come talk turkey in studio at 8 AM. So I drove downtown and tried to put cohesive sentences together on only one cup of coffee.
You decide if I succeeded or not; you can listen to the radio clip HERE.

I did discover, however, that I have a lot to say on the subject of turkey and could probably go on all day. Mercifully, the news had to be shared eventually and I got shut down.

Our afternoon today was lazily spent, well, eating. Friends came over and we shared a most excellent Turkey Shepherd’s Pie (loosely based on this one, but with sauteed leeks and cheese curd in the mashed potatoes), with more brussels sprouts.


Then we headed outside, went for a walk, hung around the campfire and toasted cinnamon marshmallows, and enjoyed the very best weather of the season.

Late afternoon brought tea on the patio as well as this beautiful pie that my friend brought over.


Yes, there was even homemade vanilla bean ice cream to top it off with. Now you see why my Thanksgiving weekend is shaping up to be one of the best ever.


Incidentally, this pie was also my late dinner, and now that I’m writing about it…I’m thinking I need a snack. So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to enjoy the last few hours of my Thanksgiving – with a slice of apple pie.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers….

Strawberries and stuff


I completely forgot about Meatless Monday this week. We were squeezing in a last-minute Ikea grab before my family arrives (tonight!) and I realized our impromptu supper of soft tacos with shredded cold chicken had been decidedly carnivorous.

Oh well, no one is checking up on me, are they?

This morning was spent setting up sleeping arrangements for 15 in my three-bedroom house and a final blitz to the market for decent bread, cheese and a bottle of gin, for my brother. He will be on holidays, after all.

I also picked up another flat of strawberries (my fourth in 2 weeks). My New Mexican sister is supposed to be bringing good tequila and strawberry margaritas will be consumed.

Speaking of strawberries, the kind Susan Schwartz from the Gazette interviewed me last week for an article she was writing on strawberries. What was intended as a few quotes for her article, turned into another, shorter article about Simple Bites, strawberries and me.

You can read the full article online here, or grab the paper today and check out the Arts & Life section.

If you’re in the mood for a little baking, be sure to check out our recipe for Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie with Whole Wheat Crust on Simple Bites today. My contributor, Elizabeth, actually submitted the post to me while in labor with her daughter. Such is the dedication of my writers–and it tells you how excited she was to bring us this pie recipe!

I am admittedly going to be fairly M.I.A. for the next few weeks, what with hosting our family reunion and all. I am looking forward to playing with my nieces and nephews and rubbing shoulders in the kitchen with my siblings–all of whom are great cooks.

Undoubtedly, our house is going to be the best place to eat in town.

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