Thursday, January 12, 2017

Five-Ingredient Pasta Dishes You Will Love...

As a freelance writer & recipe developer for Huffington Post Canada, here is my latest contribution-- Five-Ingredient Pasta Dishes You Will Love for the Italian Trade CommissionPasta stars in these four Italian-inspired dishes made simple with just five ingredients aside from pantry staples olive oil, salt and pepper.  The recipes were created to be full on flavour to welcome hearty appetites at the table.

Five-Ingredient Pasta Dishes You Will Love

 |  By Huffington Post Canada 

There's nothing better than a plate of pasta. On second thought, there is -- a plate of pasta made with only five ingredients and whipped up in mere minutes. Each of these recipes are scrumptious, full of flavour and serve four to six people, making them the perfect weeknight meals.
Even better, each recipe is made with only the best Italian-made ingredients and in partnership with the Italian Trade Commission. You can be sure that each mouthful will be a blissful bite.

Lemon Shrimp And Artichoke Farfalle
The combo of marinated artichoke hearts and lemon gives a tangy dimension to this enticing one-skillet shrimp pasta enhanced with fresh basil. 
1 500 g package of authentic Italian farfalle
1 Tbsp. Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound uncooked medium-sized shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 artichokes cleaned and julienned 
1 lemon, zested and juiced 
Chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and then add salt. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until it’s just under al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid before draining pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.
In a skillet on medium-high heat, add oil and sauté shrimps until almost cooked. Add artichokes, 2 tsp. lemon zest, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, reserved water. After two minutes of cooking, add in the pasta. Cook for another minute while tossing well. Top with basil just before serving.
JAZZ IT UP: Toss pasta at the end with two or three Tbsp. of creamed horseradish for a spicy kick.

Fettucine With Chili And Blistered Tomatoes 

Parmigiano Reggiano PDO cheese and spicy olive oil create a light sauce that’s mixed with charred tomatoes and crispy bread crumbs for a restaurant-inspired pasta dish.

1 500 g package of authentic Italian fettuccine or linguine
1 tsp. chili flakes (crushed red pepper) 
3 Tbsp. Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cups Italian imported grape tomatoes
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano PDO or Asiago PDO cheese 
1/3 cup dry seasoned or regular bread crumbs
Ground black pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and then add salt. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until it’s just under al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid before draining pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.
In a skillet on medium heat, add crushed red pepper and Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Cook until sizzling for about a minute. Increase heat to medium-high, and add tomatoes, cooking until blistered in spots, about three minutes. Lightly crush tomatoes, and continue cooking until soft.
Add one cup reserved cooking liquid. Let simmer for two minutes and then add 1/4 cup cheese and the pasta. Cook and toss, adding more liquid if necessary, until sauce coats pasta, about one minute. Top pasta with remaining cheese and bread crumbs.
JAZZ IT UP: Garnish with chopped parsley. 

Bucatini With Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
A rich pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto. It’s an easy dish to make, perfect for busy weeknights. 
1 500 g package of authentic Italian bucatini
1 cup imported Italian sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano PDO cheese
1/4 cup Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves
Ground black pepper to taste
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.
Place sun-dried tomatoes, Parmigiano Reggiano PDO cheese, Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil and garlic in a food processor; blend until finely chopped and thoroughly combined.
Toss pasta with pesto until evenly coated. Add cooking liquid while tossing, if necessary.
JAZZ IT UP: Garnish with toasted pine nuts and chopped fresh basil leaves.

Lemon Parmigiano Reggiano PDO And Prosciutto di Parma PDO Pasta
1 500 g package of Italian imported Tagliatelle 
Zest of 2 lemons 
1/3 cup Italian extra virgin olive oil
150 g Parmigiano Reggiano PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), freshly grated 
150 g Prosciutto di Parma PDO slices, cut into thin strips 
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid before draining pasta. 
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat up the olive oil (medium/medium-low) and toss in the sliced prosciutto and the lemon zest. Remove from the heat. Add cooking liquid and Parmigiano Reggiano PDO until thick and creamy.
Add the mixture to the pasta and toss until well coated. Use extra cooking liquid (if needed), spoonfuls at a time to make mixing easier.
Finish with freshly ground black pepper.
JAZZ IT UP: Add a few leaves of fresh sage to the mixture.
Take your culinary skills to the next level with only the best Italian-made ingredients. Even the most simple pasta dishes become gastronomic gems with carefully chosen oils, pastas and cheeses made in Italy. Learn more at the Italian Trade Commission.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Food Revolution Toronto January's Cooking Contest...

To another amazing year ahead at Food Revolution... We hope that you all had a brilliant festive season and already leading the way with your New Year’s resolutions. Are you looking to improve your eating habits by cutting out the unhealthier ones and increasing the nutritiously delicious ones? Looking to cook more often, learning new cooking skills or getting the family involved with you in the kitchen? However small or big your goals are, I wish you success, fun and much happiness in the journey. 

Resharing from Food Revolution Toronto:

Happy New Year from the Food Revolution Toronto team! Our #bestnine2016 represents a wonderful year of home cooking from our Ambassadors, a visit from @jamieoliver himself and supporting great community organisations like @aplaceforfood . We're hoping 2017 brings more of all this! Vive la #foodrevolution !

Photo Credit: Food Revolution Toronto

For our January #CookWithFoodRevTO challenge, we're cooking up Jamie Oliver's Smoky Veggie Chilli from #FamilySuperFood - perfect for chilly January days! Starting January 2nd 2017 until January 31st 2017, cook up a batch of the chilli for your chance to win a Jamie Oliver cookbook thanks to HarperCollins Canada.

Photo Credit: Smoky Veggie Chilli

How To Enter:

Make Jamie's Smoky Veggie Chilli, snap a picture and share it on social media using the hashtag #CookwithFoodRevTO and tag us on FB, or at @FoodRevToronto on Twitter or Instagram and you'll be entered to win a cookbook!

Eligibility and Contest Rules:

– Contest begins on January 2nd 2017 at 9am EST on and closes January 31st 2017 at 6pm EST.
– Prize consists of one (1) Jamie Oliver cookbook
– Open to readers of the age of majority with a Canadian mailing address.
– No purchase of any product necessary for entry.
– Winners will be chosen randomly (using from all qualified entries on January 31st 2017 after 6pm EST.
– Winners will be notified via email February1st 2017 and will have 48 hours to respond to the email.
– Winners will be required to answer a skill testing question.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Reflections and Wishes For The New Year...

It was timely, starting the new year fresh off reading New York Times bestselling author Neil Pasricha's (The Book of AWESOME)-- The Happiness EquAtion. Glad I soaked it up, as much of the content aligns with my own perspectives on how to live a happier, meaningful, simpler and humble life. Things I have been reckoning, packaged into neat chapters with relatable real-life stories. As I reflect on the past and look into the new year and beyond, there are three true happiness-shaping takeaways that best resonated me which I want to share with you:  

1. Turn What You Have Into Enough
2. Always Be You and Own It
3. Slow Down, Breathe, Look and See

I read that for more than a hundred years, we have been living in the age of More instead of Enough. It is a consumerist culture ingrained in us. We have grown up in a world where more has always meant better, a shift from a needs to a desires culture. We want new things even before the old has been entirely consumed. We see that easily with the rapid market replacement of new versions of iphones and electronic gadgets-- we want the latest and the greatest. I don't own a smartphone. My friends often ask, how does a food blogger, a lover of all-things-food not own a smartphone just for snapping up food photos alone- whenever, whereever? I have a five-year old mobile phone (to make and answer calls, to text, and no fancy features), a standard decade-old Fujifilm camera and an old B brand laptop computer to organize my photos. Are they less convenient than an all-in-one? Much far less. But my time-honoured devices work and they work well. I am happy to keep them separate. And I don't feel I need anything more than what I have.  They may not be the latest but for what I need them to do, they are the greatest. I am talking about gadgets here, but this translates into everything. Nicer clothes and more of it, blingier jewelry and more of it, fancier or faster car, bigger house with an even bigger backyard... When you are not content with what you have, you will always seek and want more. When will enough ever be enough?

Train the brain to turn what you have into enough. And you may realize that what you have is already great and you don't need more. 

Photo Credit:

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, " To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." I so agree. Being you removes regrets from your life because you live the life true to yourself and not the life expected of you by others. Happiness is a choice, and there is nothing more authentic and gratifying than living a life where you are you, and be admired, respected and loved for who you are. I switched careers early on, into the world of food, and I have been following my passion since with abandon-- to be open to experience and embrace whatever opportune me. Was my parents on board learning I wanted to work in culinary after getting a degree in University, a diploma from College and then working at a well-paid, pension-covered government job? No, but my love and achievements in the culinary years that followed proved myself to them and defied my family's expectation of me. At the work front, had I always been forthright with my opinions, held my ground and debated my ideas to be heard and considered? Flat out, No. I look back and wish I was better at that, more confident in sharing even my quirkiest ideas during my corporate tenure. I second guessed speaking up and often settled with the majority because it was easier. I loved the work I was doing but I was not confident in being different. Only when I left, started my food blog and created projects on my own terms did I feel I was being, communicating and doing the real me. It was so freeing! As Gandhi famously says, "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." Absolutely- 360 honest being, through thoughts, words and actions. Hurray! I finally felt I was in the driver's seat, able to express myself authentically without the confines of family and work culture expectations. And with that I was able to savour my greatest ideas and turn my efforts into passionate accomplishments which I take deep pride in today. 

The feeling you get following your heart is not always comfortable at the beginning, but it's always comfortable at the end. Be You- wierd, warts and all, Own It and Be Cool with It.

Photo Credit:

Neil Pasricha says, "Creating space is the secret step to freeing yourself from the oppression of your busy life." I recall in my thirties, how I thrived on being busy. People asked me how I was doing, and I'll respond enthusiastically, "I'm so busy!" As though busyness defined my mood, indicating how important and productive my time/days were. My calendar was never chockful short of work and appointments-- I held a full-time job and part-time and stand-by ones, I was going to part-time culinary school, I volunteered at countless food events, I had endless meetings with friends at restaurants and coffee shops to discuss big ideas, sometimes about food, sometimes not, being there for anyone and everyone especially when they had problems... it was non-stop, it was go, go, go and go some more. Fast forward to getting older, having three kids, I now work as a freelance culinary consultant and food writer, I create my own projects and am a Food Revolution ambassador, part of a global fight for real food, and food education for all campaign (something I deeply believe in and champion). I am surely not any less busy than back when but the key now is that I know to prioritize my family demands while allowing myself time and mindful space to do the things I love. "Fuel your brain, and let it run wild by removing access points. Close the doors, and lock the windows, but answer the bell," exclaims Neil. Ding! The bell is my family. Ding! The bell is my closest friends. Ding! Ding! My passions and my work. It took a long time to learn the importance of guarding my brain, and energy from unnecessary distractions, but I'm definitely getting better at it. I will always continue to love giving random acts of kindness for people I know and to strangers. But because I am an empathetic person by nature, it is that much more crucial that I don't deplete my reserves by delving deep on just anything, with anyone and everyone. I risk myself of being drowned with nothing left for me. I make a point to regularly nourish my mind and restore my energy with conscious yoga and meditation. To be the best I could be for the people and things that matter, and to know when to walk away from people and things that don't. It takes a lot of courage yes, but your mind, body and soul, and your universe will thank you for it.

So slow down, breathe, look and really see. Take care of you-- your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship in your life. There is only one you, ever. Cherish your time and You! :)

Calvin and Hobbes

In the spotlight of all this, reflecting who I once was and the appreciation of who I have become, I am ever so grateful for my life right now with everyone and everything in it! I wouldn't have it any other way and I have my family, friends and readers to thank from the depths of my heart. Thank you always for your support from the moment we met and since the launch of Susan's Savour-It! Wishing you and your loved ones a HaPpY NeW YeAr with everlasting love, health, passion and happiness! Cheers and kudos to finding your own happiness equation! I'm looking forward to having more of these life conversations whether it's eating and living better, cooking healthier, and leading a life rich in experiences rather than in materials. Be well, Be happy and talk to you soon!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Holiday Eats and Treats...

Herb Garlic Dijon Prime Rib

May your festive holiday be a pinch of patience, 
a dash of kindness, 
a spoonful of laughter 
and a heap of love! 💗

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays From Ours To Yours...

WaNt NoTHing. (ノ>ω<)ノ :。・:*:・゚’★,。・:*:♪・゚’☆ 
Be content with what you have. Rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. -- Lao Tzu 

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Bright New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cherry-Hazelnut Cream Scones...

These classic bakery treats are a cinch to make at home and perfect for a casual morning goodie or an entertaining weekend brunch but also to gift. With the Christmas holidays in full swing, these have always been my favourite to bake up and share-- for my neighbours, my kids' teachers and school bus drivers. This fabulous base cream recipe allows you to dream up unlimited flavours and texture combinations. This year I've got hazelnuts for crunchy contrast to the soft yield of the scone and chewy tart dried cherries for the festive bling! And I have to say, has been a big hit with everyone so far!

Cherry-Hazelnut Cream Scones
Makes 8 scones

3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. cold 35% heavy cream (I know, but cream makes the scones real tender)
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for work surface
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and place in freezer for five to 10 minutes.
2/3 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped (or use dried cranberries)-- buy them at a bulk store
1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Coarse or sanding sugar
Optional: 1/4 tsp. lemon oil or 1 Tbsp. lemon zest

To Roast Hazelnuts: Preheat oven to 325F. Spread nuts out on a baking sheet. Toast until lightly golden and fragrant, 8 to 12 minutes. Stir halfway through. Leave oven on. Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and let steam for one minute. Then rub hazelnuts in towel to remove skin. When nuts are completely cool, coarsely chop.

Preheat oven to 400F. Whisk together 3/4 cup cream and egg, then lemon oil or zest if using. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Cut cold butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining (I use my fingers for this). Stir in cherries and hazelnuts. With a fork, stir in cream mixture until just combined. TIP: Cold butter makes the scones flaky!

The dough should be crumbly; do not overwork.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat into a 6-inch circle. Cut into eight wedges and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Bake until golden, 16 to 18 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through.

Cook's NOTE: Scones are best eaten the day they're baked. To work ahead, freeze unbaked scones in a single layer, then store in zip-top bag, up to two months; brush frozen scones with cream, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 375F for 25 minutes.

Love those bulging tart cherries!

And my favourite go-to scone-- Lemon Cream Scones with Currants

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Jools Oliver's Easy Oaty Fruit Cookies...

Not only do we all LOVE baking cookies this time of year, but this December, ambassadors at Food Revolution Toronto is hosting a fabulous cooking contest to win one of four @jamieoliver cookbooks! A great contest to gear up for the holidays with Jamie Oliver's wife Jools' Easy Oaty Fruit Cookies recipe to get you and/or your kids in the kitchen baking. I've got my husband's office Christmas potluck (a huge hit by the way), treats for my neighbours and of course rewards/goodies for my little helpers, so a double batch is in order to make plenty to go around! A healthy, delicious cookie you can feel good about giving and eating!

As Jamie Oliver's site says of this recipe: “A really delicious, simple, comforting cookie – porridge oats are a high-fibre carbohydrate, which means they’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer. Feel free to use whichever dried fruit you like in the mix – things like prunes, apricots, sour cherries and blueberries all work well. ”

Jools Oliver's Easy Oaty Fruity Cookies
Makes about two dozen (24) cookies

3/4 cup all purpose flour, spelt or wholemeal flour
1 tsp. ground mixed spice or cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup quick oats (not instant)
2/3 cup raisins, sultanas or whichever dried fruit you like (we used currants, cranberries and apricots)
1/4 cup mixed seeds, such as pumpkin, sunflower, flaxseed, sesame
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup golden caster sugar
1/4 cup soft brown sugar
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line two large baking trays with parchment paper. (I doubled the recipe to make a double batch, lining four baking sheets).

Tip the flour, mixed spice/cinnamon, baking soda, oats, dried fruit (roughly chop up any bigger pieces of fruit first) and seeds into a large bowl and mix together well.

In another large bowl, cream the soft butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Crack in the egg and beat to combine. Tip in all the dry ingredients and stir together – it should come together, but you might need to press it together with your hands to get everything properly combined.

Stirring and cracking eggs- my boys favourite cooking tasks!

"I like looking it whizz from here mom!"

At this stage, the mixture will be sticky, but if you wet your hands, you will be able to it roll into walnut-sized balls – you should get around 24 in total. As you roll them, place them onto the lined baking trays, squashing them down a little with the palm of your hand.

Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden and slightly soft in middle.
Once cooked, remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle transfer them to wire racks to cool a little – they’re delicious warm, but equally good cold. Keep in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.

TIP: If you prefer to bake two sheets, space racks so oven is divided into thirds and switch cookie sheets top to bottom and back to front halfway through baking. I was able to do this with four baking sheets, two on top and two on bottom. 

Ready for the ovenator!

Four dozen yummy cookies!!!

Give this recipe a try for the holidays-- how about for an cookies exchange, teachers' and hostess' gifts or a plate out for Santa on X-Mas Eve? Healthy, delicious and fun to make together! And while you're at it, why not also enter our December contest to win a Jamie Oliver cookbook? Just snap a photo and share it on social media as per below.
Hey #Canada -  Food Revolution Toronto want to get you BAKING! Starting December 1st 2016 until December 31st 2016, bake up a batch of Jools Oliver's Easy Oaty Fruity Cookies for your chance to win one of four Jamie Oliver cookbooks thanks to Harper Collins Canada!

How To Enter:

Bake Jools' Easy Oaty Fruity Cookies with your family, snap a picture and share it on social media using the hashtag #CookwithFoodRevTO and tag us on Facebook, or at @FoodRevToronto on Twitter or Instagram and you'll be entered to win a cookbook!

Eligibility and Contest Rules:

– Contest begins on December 1st 2016 at 10am EST on and closes December 31st 2016 at 6pm EST.
– Prize consists of one (1) Jamie Oliver cookbook (various titles).
– There are four (4) prizes in total.
– Open to readers or the age of majority with a Canadian mailing address.
– No purchase of any product necessary for entry.
– Winners will be chosen randomly (using from all qualified entries on Dec. 31st 2016 after 6pm EST.
– Winners will be notified via email January 1st 2017 and will have 48 hours to respond to the email.
– Winners will be required to answer a skill testing question.

***** Roll up your sleeves and Let's Get Baking! *****