Chocolate raspberry birthday cake

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Our traditional family birthday cake is chalk-full of chocolate. But thrown in are other flavors like raspberry and coffee that make it a hit with young and old alike. I use healthy ingredients besides chocolate, like coconut palm sugar, coconut oil and eggs. More

Your key to using Stevia

earl grey tea(bag) cookies

Why stevia?

If you love sweets, this natural, no-cal sweetener from the leaf of the stevia plant is incredibly good for you. Unlike sugar, it doesn’t create an insulin response. Whereas sugar damages your pancreas, the organ that regulates blood sugar, stevia’s sterols and antioxidants actually nourish this essential organ. More

Banana ice cream desserts two ways

Strawberry banana ice cream

A nutritional bonanza from our friendly banana

This dessert is so good, people call it Nice Cream. The riper the banana, the sweeter the dessert.

Ripe bananas also have higher levels of antioxidants, which as any frequent reader of Vinny’s blog will know, fight chronic disease and inflammation.

One interesting thing about fully ripened bananas is that they also produce a substance called tumor necrosis factor (TNF).  TNF combats abnormal cells to help shrink cancer tumors.  The more dark patches a banana has, More

Cleaning silver, easily, once and for all

Gourmet dinner - red theme

Setting a nice table

I like to set a pretty table, especially for family celebrations. It adds to the festivities and sets off all the hard work in the kitchen. I have some silverware I inherited from my mother, which I love but rarely use. That’s because whenever I go to use it, I discover it has tarnished. Black silver tends to spoil the presentation.
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French toast sandwiches

Serving and eating French toast sandwiches

March madness!!!

March in Ontario has us all looking forward to spring. And along with that comes a welcome school break – a whole week of free time!

Let’s help Mom and Dad survive March madness by getting creative. We’ll make them lunch!

Start with a loaf of fresh whole-grain bread. Add eggs, low-fat milk and some nice seasonings. Then fill with fruit or low-sugar jams,  and cheese or nut butter. More

Oregano tea is good for what ails you

 

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Oregano grows like crazy in my garden. I use it as an ornamental ground cover. Then I discovered you can make a tea from it that is useful in curing sore, bothersome throats. Since that is what I have, I’ve given this drink a shot. I love herbal teas and this is a pleasant one. Only time will tell as to whether it heals my sore throat. More

New recipe for a delicious miso soup

Miso soup

Readers will know how much I’ve been struggling with miso. It’s been a challenge finding flavor combinations that compliment a miso soup base and are both healthy and delicious. But I think I’ve now got something that works for me. The health benefits of miso are worth the effort. Maybe you should give this a try? More

Apple Brown Betty Cake

Apple Brown Betty

Vinny suspected something was amiss when he began to smell a decidedly strong odor of apples, wafting from the cupboard whenever he opened the door. He pulled out his brand new bag of apples for inspection. Alas, three of the apples were  already beginning to, well, rot. Out they went into the compost. But what to do with all the rest? More

Making miso soup tastier

Miso soup

Another attempt at creating a delicious miso soup

Vinny and I have a lot in common. I’ve heard that kids often need to taste a food 10 times before they learn to like it. That’s me to a T with miso. More

Easy miso soup

Miso's Christmas toy

Miso’s Christmas toy

“Here, Miso,” called Vinny, holding out his hand to his fluffy caramel kitten, who gladly came over for a gentle rub behind the ears.

“Why did you call him Miso,” Isla asked as she threw a small toy mouse for the kitten to chase.

“I suppose it was because I like Asian food,” said Vinny, “and this little guy is the exact same color as miso, a food used in Asian cooking. More

Cook Up A Story for the Holidays

Cook Up A Story - craft fair

I enjoyed participating in a few holiday craft sales this year, showing off my book Cook Up A Story. I met many wonderful people who bought up most of my stock and all of my aprons and chef hats.

I only have a few copies left. In Canadian dollars I can offer a better price than that at the Blurb Book store, which quotes American dollars. Because of the current exchange rate,  Canadian prices are lower than those quoted on Blurb Bookstore on-line. And conversely prices are 33% lower yet if you are paying in US dollars. As of Dec 17, I’m down to my last three copies: More

Easy peanut butter cookies

Will makes peanut butter cookies - just 3 ingredients

Recipes from labels

Vinny and I had the greatest time at the cottage this summer. One of the things we did was experiment with recipes on the labels of foods we brought with us.

“Let’s try peanut butter cookies,” said Will, studying the label on the jar of one of his favorite foods. “There’s only three ingredients. And we have them all!” More

Holiday Open House, Sun Nov 27, 1-4pm

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‘Tis the season, whether we like it or not. I personally love it! So much fun getting together with old friends, sharing some sparkly, sampling baking made at special times of the year, remembering happy days from years past… and meeting new neighbors! I even love the whole shopping thing, searching out little baubles to put under the tree and surprising the people I love.

That’s why I happily agreed to help my daughter Kristina host an open house at her place this year to launch the holiday season. More

Five foods to cure a sore throat

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Despite what the Internet says, forget about tequila as a cure for a sore throat. Snopes says it’s wishful thinking.

If you want to boost your immune system and speed recovery from a sore throat, cough, or sinus congestion, think instead about honey, vinegar, green tea, sea salt  and fiery spices. More

Copper penny cooked carrot salad

Carrots

Turn carrots into a delicious, make-ahead party salad.

Pot luck party time

“What are you bringing to the pot luck picnic tomorrow, Vinny?”

Vinny looked at his super slim and very athletic friend. “Think I’ll bring a crunchy curried cauliflower salad, Val. It’s easy. I took it to a party on the weekend and it was a hit. I just added curly lettuce leaves and my own cabbage slaw to Farm Boy’s offering and I was done.”

“Crunchy?” asked Val. “Does that mean uncooked?”

“Why, yes,” said Vinny.

“Guess I won’t be eating any, then.” Val smiled.

“Oops, I forgot! You can’t eat uncooked fiber! Sorry!” said Vinny.

“No problem,” said Val. “There will be plenty of other things there I can eat.”

But Vinny loves a challenge and began to think how he could turn his salad into something his friend Val could eat too. Easy, he thought. Cooked carrots. Just peel, slice, and add a  dressing. More

Back in a bit

Hotel Mignon, Trieste

Malware is the high fructose corn syrup of our computer family.

Vinny took a breather over the summer to do some travelling. He’s been as far away as Slovenia and Italy, visiting with family in England en route. And back home he’s roamed as far as Saskatchewan in Western Canada and as near as White Lake in Ontario.

When he got home, he was in for a bit of a surprise. Vinny couldn’t load photos into Cook Up A Story any more. Even worse, he couldn’t load photos into his Facebook page. More

Dorothy’s amazing tomato salad

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Vinny pays homage to the tomato

Vinny has been remiss! That means he’s made a big mistake, has been careless, or both. For although he has featured tomatoes in many posts, especially those where he is extolling the virtues of a bunch of super foods, he’s never devoted a post solely to these delicious vegetables… er, fruits, actually. More

Bled cream cake makes dreams come true

Wedding at Bled castle

We just got home from a wonderful visit to Europe. One of our pleasures this trip was a leisurely tour of the small country of Slovenia. It’s a land where fairy tales come true. And to prove it, I’m posting a recipe for the heavenly Bled Cream Cake. More

Moroccan chicken stew

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Vinny’s summer vacation

Summer is in the air and Vinny and I are heading for the great outdoors. That means you won’t likely be hearing from us here again till September rolls around.

We leave you with a one-pot dinner idea that you can make for a crowd over the summer. More

Yoda soda summer punch bowl

Punch bowl

May the fourth be with you!

Enjoy a replay of a recipe we posted a few years back for a summertime drink that’s as good for you as it tastes. Fresh lime juice gives this cooler its Yoda color, and sparkling water adds the bubbles. For a gourmet touch, add some lime sorbet.

Click here for the recipe.

Vinny’s on Yum Goggle

Ile de Re: Fish market

Vinny’s been updating older posts recently and putting them up on Yum Goggle. Yum Goggle features food photography from contributors around the world. The photos whet your appetite for the recipes you can get simply by clicking on the pictures or the words GET THE RECIPE. It’s a great site and we’re proud to be a part of the team. More

Healthier Happy Birthday cake-pie

Chocolate cream pie with figs

It’s Sharon’s birthday today, so Vinny brings you a rich, chocolatey tart with no  flour in the filling, that you can stick candles in and sing happy birthday around, merrily. With this dessert, you can enjoy a slice and know that along with your birthday calories, you are also getting a decent helping of nutrition. More

Rhubarb and Ginger Fool for April 1st

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What is an April Fool?

The only surprise I was treated to on April Fool’s Day was Alex Trebek, walking onto his game show set without his pants! I did, however, write this post for you on April 1st, which should entitle me to name my fruit pudding recipe April Fool. It’s a tasty British fruit “Fool,” in the traditional sense.

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Shrimp gumbo rocks the year of the pulse

Shrimp gumbo with ancho chile spice rub

Year of the pulse…

In honor of this versatile food group, we present a dish starring beans, lentils and dried peas. We served our spicy shrimp gumbo as the opening course for our Spanish tapas gourmet dinner this year. But it works well in larger amounts as a main course, too. More

Vinegar, a great recipe for daily life

carafe vinegar

Carafe of white vinegar

My favorite use for vinegar is to make my own vinaigrette. No surprise! I’ve posted several versions over the years, as salad is now one of my favorite lunches.

But vinegar is good for so many things other than preserving or flavoring food. Here are five of my favorite nonfood uses for vinegar. More

Drink Agua de Valencia for some Spanish sparkle

Spanish tapas dinner party

Spanish tapas dinner party

It’s that wonderful time of year when we host our annual gourmet dinner, which has been going on for a very long time now. We never get tired of trying out new recipes for our friends.

This year we chose a Spanish tapas theme, with the hope that we could prepare many of the dishes ahead of time and just enjoy ourselves on the evening.

To welcome our guests, we served a cocktail originating from Valencia, where oranges reign supreme. More

Live it up with spicy ancho shrimp salad

Spice medley

Spice up your good health

I like to post on Tuesdays but this Tuesday I had nothing… nothing except a wonderful spice rub I put together on the weekend. It smokes! But I promise you, it doesn’t burn. More

Celebrate Pi day with this easy chocolate cake — only 3.14-ingredients

Pi day cake

A cake suitable for Pi day, photo by Tip Junkie

The story behind Pi day

Normally, I’d choose a pie to celebrate the math constant π (Pi = 3.14159…) on its special day, which is coming upon us soon. Scientists the world over will likely be tucking into a delicious slice of one, perhaps a banana cream or pecan pie, More

Watermelon cheers us up with coolers and salads

Watermelon

Watermelon is a mood food

As most of my friends fly south for the winter, I thought I’d inject a little sun into my own life with watermelon. Deep into February as we are, a food to lift our spirits seems in order.

I’ve covered some of this before, but for newer readers, are you surprised to learn that watermelon is a good source of  the mood vitamins B1 (thiamine) and B6 (pyridoxine)? I was. Turns out thiamine is important for maintaining electrolytes and transmitting nervous-system signals throughout the body. Pyridoxine works with enzymes that convert food into cellular energy.

Who needs warm weather… Let’s party!

Watermelon

Watermelon pepo

Watermelon is a berry

Another surprising fact about watermelon… its fruit is a pepo, a special kind of berry with a thick rind and fleshy center.

Watermelon pepos offer the most nutrition per calorie of any common food.

Red is the give-away. Bright colors signal a big pay-off in  lycopene, an antioxidant repeatedly studied in humans and found to protect  against a whole slew of cancers…  prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and colorectal, for starters.

Watermelon offers lots of  beta-carotene and another antioxidant, vitamin C. Besides helping lycopene to ward off cancer, these vitamins also battle heart disease, arthritis, and asthma.

Then there is the mineral potassium, guardian of our cardiovascular system, brain, and kidneys.

Finally, watermelon provides lots of the master mineral magnesium. Magnesium  is the big boss for over 300 cellular metabolic functions. Poor soils make magnesium scarce in today’s foods. Lack of magnesium is related to irritability, tension, sleep disorders, and muscular cramping, including the heart muscle (attack!).

How to enjoy watermelon

Watermelons retain most of their nutrition even after being cut and stored in the fridge. But watermelon is best eaten at room temperature when the flavor, plus the phytonutrient capacity, is at its best.

Watermelon

Eat plain

Just quarter a large watermelon berry and slice off slabs. Eat the flesh right off the rind and spit out the seeds.

Watermelon salad

 

Watermelon salad
Serves one

  • one cup watermelon cubes
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • one cup kale, ribs removed and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil
  • 1 ounce goat cheese
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Chop the flesh into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Drizzle them with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or vodka. Let them soak it up for a few minutes.
  3. Use them to top a plateful of greens, kale in my photo, which I drizzled with  avocado oil and massaged well.
  4. Top with crumbled feta cheese or, my favorite, goat cheese.

 

Watermelon fizz cocktail

Vinny’s pink watermelon cooler
Serves four

  • 2  cups watermelon cubes, frozen
  • 4 ice cubes
  • Juice of one fresh lemon (1/4 cup)
  • Juice of one fresh lime (2 tablespoons)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of any sugar syrup you have. I used home-made red-current couli, But any fruit syrup, even grenadine (from pomegranates) or maple syrup, will do. I use an equivalent amount of stevia unless it’s a special occasion.
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 2 pinches of black pepper
  • 3-4 ounces raspberry vodka (optional)
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup club soda, depending on whether you add alcohol or not and the size of your glass
  1. Blend the whole works except for the club soda for a few seconds.
  2. If you want to serve some of the cocktails without alcohol, leave the vodka out and add it back to the glasses of  the folks who want it.
  3. Fill each glass about halfway with the watermelon fizz. Add 1 ounce alcohol to each glass if you didn’t include it in the mix. Top up with club soda. Adjust flavor with more lemon juice if needed.
  4. Spoon some of the pink foam into each glass and top with a raspberry or a mint leaf to garnish.
Watermelon

Watermelon

When the winter blahs get you down, break out some watermelon and smile :).

 

 

 

Heart-smart sweet potato pancakes

 Luv U... B mine?
 Luv U… B mine?

Here’s a terrific treat for the family on a day that celebrates all things close to the heart. Whether it’s for your valentine, for your mom or dad on their special day, or just to say I love you to someone special in your life, these pancakes are terrific because rhey don’t involve candy, but they taste wonderful, anyway.

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Whipped goat cream, a tart cheese treat

Whipped goat cheese

Whipped goat cream

Once upon a time I came across a recipe that called for whipped goat cheese. So I took my basket and headed to the grocery store, where I eventually found a small tub of the stuff at three times the cost of regular, ordinary, every-day goat cheese.

When I finally had a minute to spare I sat down and examined the label. The ingredients were goat cheese and water… and a few chemicals. It seemed I’d bought a processed food fortified with who knows what. And I thought: why can’t I make that myself – and leave out the chemicals? More

Butternut Squash dressed in Ricotta

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This sad butternut squash needs a make-over. Dress her up in Ricotta.

“Who wants to eat an ugly thing like that?” asked Will, staring down a decidedly unpleasant-looking butternut squash.
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Pear and leek bake

Pear and leek bake (crustless quiche)

A crustless quiche with a difference

Vinny’s blogged about pearsleeks, and goat cheese before. But here they team up to give you something a bit different. Sweet and savory meld to make an unusual main course for lunch or a spectacular beginning to a fancy dinner. And except for the chopping, it’s easy! More

Gollum’s easy baked fish and green “seaweed” chili

Gollum's oven-baked haddock with bacon

Gollum’s oven-baked haddock with bacon

Gollum

This small, slimy hobbit lived on an island in the centre of an underground lake, in the story The Lord of the Rings. He was endowed with magic that extended his life well past the time when he should have left the building.

Gollum thought his staying power was due to a ring that he called My Precious. But I think  his regular meals of cave fish and seaweed was the most likely reason for his amazing, long life. More

Crab dip is tops in sustainable fish dishes

Crab is a safe bet

Crab is a safe bet

Everybody loves fish for its lean protein and its omega-3s that do wonders  for our brains. But these days our poor heads are so bombarded with info on which fish are facing extinction or which types are loaded with deadly mercury that we are almost afraid to try any fish at all.

I’m here to tell you though that plain steamed crab meat is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. More

Treat Christmas headaches with ginger tea

Mrs. Claus serves a soothing cup 'a tea

Mrs. Claus serves a soothing cup of tea.

Santa felt poorly. He was dead tired after his epic night’s ride around the world. Too many chimneys to climb. Too many sherries to gulp down. He sneezed into his cottony white hanky and sighed.

Mrs. Claus settled him by the fire and helped him get his dusty leather boots off his aching feet. By and by, she brought him a steaming-hot pot of tea and a warm cup. “Something to bring you around,” she said with a smile and gave him a gentle hug.

But as you can imagine it wasn’t a pot of English breakfast tea. Oh no. It had honey and lemon and ginger, oh my! More

Red Perogies for Christmas

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Sweet potato perogies are red inside and out

Christmas Perogies

It’s Christmas time again by golly, ’tis the season to be jolly!

It’s also the season to make our Christmas perogies. This week we got right at it. More

Zoë’s Perfect Christmas Borscht

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Borscht at Christmas

Continuing with my holiday plan this year, I bring you again a favorite family recipe we always make at Christmas, in one form or another. Festive, traditional and delicious, here’s the version we made last year, which we’ve christened: Zoë‘s borscht.  Merry Christmas, one and all!

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Candied nuts love coconut palm sugar

Candied nuts with coconut sugar

Crunchy sweet nuts are great for dressing up salads, cheese platters, and desserts at Christmas and for other special occasions. Plus, they’re easy!

Kids love to make them. Make lots and keep them on hand to use whenever you want some pizzazz. More

Cloud eggs send salads to seventh heaven

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Egg clouds crown your salads.

This is an easy and impressive dish if you prepare all your ingredients ahead and save making the eggs till the end.

I saw these clouds while surfing for egg dishes and meringues last week. Then I discovered that Rachael Ray herself had copied my take on this idea (haha).

Although most people might like to serve egg clouds for breakfast, my spin involves crowning a lunch-time salad with them. More

War-time treats from Redwall Abbey

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Redwall Abbey – A child’s delight

To honor the people who gave their all in the Great Wars, I’m reposting some recipes I first brought to you in 2012. These traditional recipes were in vogue during the scarce years of the Second World War… but many probably go back much farther than that, handed down by mothers and mother’s mothers in Britain ever since they began to grow potatoes and cabbages… and gooseberries! More

Adela’s Norwegian meatballs, WHO style

Adela's Norwegian meatballs

Traditional cooking, with a healthier outlook

The WHO’s stand on meat

The World Health Organization (WHO) has just sent shock waves through the earth’s stratosphere. What they said was something that anybody who has been following nutrition news in the past few years already knew.

WHO news:  Processed meats cause cancer. And red meats probably cause cancer.

But unless you are genetically predisposed to the disease, the increased risk according to most experts is relatively low. Nevertheless, it’s real. More

Meringue ghosts hone egg-cracking skills

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Here’s another easy recipe for small fingers. Kids learn how to separate eggs. Then they can make up these cute, tasty little Halloween ghosts and marvel at the mysteries of food chemistry.

Use eggs at room temperature for frothiest results. Or put eggs from fridge into warm water for 5 minutes or so to warm them up. More

1,2,3-Ingredient brownies with low-sugar, nutty spread

3-ingredient brownies

Low-sugar brownies have a secret ingredient

Kids, get your aprons on. We’re going to whip up some brownies that are as good for the body as they are for the soul. Including time to wash up the dishes, these treats should take no more than a half hour away from your Minecraft play time. More

The berry scary pie

Berry pie

“That’s scary!” Isla declared, her wide eyes shifting from the cooking pot to the finished product. I knew Halloween had been on her mind, now only a couple of weeks away.

“How so?” I asked. More

A hogbake from Redwall Abbey… and a little kale magic

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Crispy egg ‘N onion hogbake

This recipe, inspired by the Redwall Cookbook for kids, has nothing to do with pigs. For the life of me, I can’t come up with a reason that explains why they named it a hogbake. Perhaps it’s a typo, and they meant to call it a henbake.

Regardless, I loved its simple healthy ingredients. More

Help Mr. Pancreas do his job – try low-sugar cookie-candy

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Nuts and fruit slow down the release of glucose into the blood.

Sugar’s role in our health

Sugar is Will’s favorite food group.

“Maybe you can cut back on the sugary things, once in a while,” Vinny suggests.

“Sugar is in everything!” Will proclaims. “It gives us energy!”

“That’s true,” Vinny agrees. “What I don’t like, though, is when we add sugar to our food, over and above what nature puts there. Have you heard about your pancreas?” More

Chocolate-and-pear tart for Marie-Laure

Saint Malo

Saint Malo

A blind orphan threads her way through the streets of Saint Malo at the end of the World War II, with a fresh-baked loaf under her arm. Her name is Marie-Laure and dry bread is all she will have to eat for several days… .

Hidden in the loaf are coordinates destined for the Allied Forces, pin-pointing where the Nazis are headquartered in the town, where their supplies are stored, where their ammunition is kept. Marie-Laure’s uncle radios this vital information across the airwaves on a powerful set hidden in their attic. More

Cookie-candy: Will’s first original recipe

Will's cookie candy i8s great with milk to calm those pesky sugar spikes

Will’s cookie-candy is great with milk, which calms those pesky sugar spikes.

What’s your favorite sugary thing, Vinny?” Isla asked me one day at the cottage.

“That’s a tough one, Honey,” I said, scratching my head. “I try not to cook with sugar, remember?”

“Sugar’s in everything!” Isla’s brother Will said. “It gives us ENERGY,” he proclaimed, pumping the air with his fist.

“True,” said Vinny. “Sugar is the molecule the body breaks down to make energy. What I try to avoid is adding refined sugar. Too much of it does us damage.”

But sugar is Will’s favorite food group. More

Wilted warm seafood salad

Salad days... wilted in the heat

Salad days… wilted in the heat

“I’m wilting,” said Vinny as he plopped down in a lounger under the Japanese lilac. “Ottawa broke a 123-year-old record today when we scored a temperature of 34C.”

Will flapped his shirt, trying in vain to make a breeze for himself. “Ya, I’m WILL-ting, too. It feels like a steam bath out here. Let’s cool off with the hose.”

“Except I’m hungry,” said Vinny.  I’m going to whip up a warm salad first, with a little spice to heat it up even more.”

“That sounds crazy,” said Will. “Why would you want to make a warm salad when we’re boiling out here?” More

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