Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Spinach and artichoke dip

Spinach dip makes the perfect appetizer for holiday parties.

The holidays, and winter months in general, are full of Christmas parties, potlucks, and other celebratory get togethers. This spinach and artichoke dip is my preferred go-to dish to bring along to parties. This warm, bubbly dish is always a welcome appetizer during the cold winter months. I got the recipe from a friend years ago and modified to its current version. People always ask me for the recipe, so what better time to share it?

It goes beautifully with pumpernickle bread, baguettes, cracker, pita or even vegetables.



  • 2 TBSP canola oil
  • 2 cups fresh, finely chopped spinach OR 1 package of frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 package of light cream cheese
  • 1 cup of light mayo (Miracle Whip works best)
  • 3/4 cup (6 0z) marinated artichokes, finely chopped
  • 2 TBSP of oil from artichoke jar
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 TBSP of parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Remove cream cheese from fridge to let it soften for about 1/2 hour.
  2. Heat oil in pan.
  3. Add the spinach and minced garlic and cook until spinach is soft about 3-4 minutes. Set aside to let cool. (If using frozen spinach skip this step.)
  4. In a ovenproof bowl, mix together cream cheese and mayo until well blended.
  5. Fold in the spinach and artichokes and mix.
  6. Add the oil from artichokes and lemon juice. Mix once more.
  7. Top with parmesan cheese and bake for 35-40 minutes. It done when bubbly on top.
  8. Serve warm with pumpernickle bread, crackers or veggies.


Easy, peasy pizza dough

Pizza Party!

easy-pizza-dough-recipeA while ago, I got an invitation for a Pizza Party and before I even knew the when or where I immediately signed up. It turned out to be at Benjamin’s and hosted by the Canola Growers. Benjamin’s is owned by Chef MJ Feeke and is famous for their brick oven pizzas (among a other things, such as their baked goods). I have been using this pizza dough and sauce recipe that I love for years but I didn’t dare miss an opportunity to learn from Chef MJ Feeke (remember my Christmas cookie adventure last year?)  Especially since I knew this may be my last opportunity. Chef MJ is closing down her bakery/restaurant/catering business, packing up and moving to Europe! This is sad news for us in Manitoba but an exciting time for her so I wish her and her family lots of luck.

Now, about that pizza. MJ started with some theory. We observed and learned hands-on the differences in various types of flour, yeast and got a lesson in gluten. We practiced kneading (I had no idea I was doing it wrong) and she answered all our questions about everything pizza, including: how to determine when your dough is ready, how to properly use a pizza stone, why we should saute our veggie toppings first and even what to do with the leftover dough (make foccocia and pretzels).

She also shared three reasons she prefers to use canola oil for pizza dough:

  1. It makes a good tenderizer.
  2. It keeps flour moist and helps in browning – try drizzling some on the outside edges before baking.
  3. Sauteing toppings in canola oil removes moisture to keep the dough nice and crispy.

We then got to make our own dough that we let sit and rise while we rolled out some dough MJ had made earlier and created our own pizzas that we cooked in her brick oven. We paired it with some wine and enjoyed our creations fresh out of the oven.

A gift from Chef MJ

The highlight of the evening was MJ gifting us some of her dough starter, also known as bread starter, mother dough pre-ferment or my favourite – pate fermentee. If you are not familiar with what dough starters are for, they are fermentation starters used to make bread. Essentially you save a piece of dough each time you make dough and add it to your next batch of dough, and so on. Why, you ask? This allows more time for the yeast, bacteria and enzymes in the dough to create greater complexities of flavour. The older the starter, the better. The one MJ gifted us has been in use for as long as she’s been making pizzas at Benjamin’s – 13 years! MJ was adamant that we not take the starter unless we were committed to the process, that being, keeping it “alive” by using it to make pizza dough at least every 4-6 weeks. So, I am happy to tell you I have committed to making pizza at least once a month for the rest of my life!

That won’t be difficult at all, as we already do this in my household. I’ve been pushing my friends and family on this recipe since I started using it. It actually takes longer to order a pizza than it does to make this dough. Plus, I like to explore my toppings.

Growing up, my mom used one of those Kraft pizza-in-a-box kits which they still sell at the store. Salvadorans aren’t known for their pizza making skills but that’s ok – what I cherish are the memories of homemade pizza that I am so happy to carry on.

Here are the steps MJ taught us to make pizza dough.

Pizza dough step one

Step one: make a well out of the flour.

easy pizza dough step dough

Step two: pour water into the well.


Step three: add yeast to the water.

easy pizza dough

Testing to see if the dough is ready by trying to open up a window. If there is a thing window, it is ready. If it rips apart like this, it is not ready.

easy pizza dough recipe

Adding our pizza toppings.


easy pizza dough recipe

My pizza cooking in the brick oven. It takes about eight minutes to cook.

easy pizza dough recipe

Chef MJ making pizza in the brick oven.

easy pizza dough recipe

Fresh out of the brick oven.

Pizza Dough & Quick Pizza Sauce

Recipe from CanolaEatWell.com


Pizza Dough

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour (250 mL)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups all-purpose flour (375-500 mL)
  • 2 Tbsp wheat germ (30 mL) *see note below
  • 1 pkg (7 g) quick rising instant yeast (1 pkg)
  • 1 cup warm water (250 mL)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil (15 mL)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (1 mL)

Quick Pizza Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil (30 mL)
  • 1 small onion, diced (1)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (3)
  • 3-4 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 2 Tbsp each of fresh oregano and basil (45-60 mL)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (1 mL)
  • 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) crushed tomatoes (1 can)
  • 1/2- 1 tsp sugar (optional- it helps to reduce the acidity of tomatoes) (2-5 mL)


Pizza Dough

  1. In a large bowl, mix whole-wheat flour, 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour, salt and yeast. Stir in warm water and canola oil.
  2. Gradually stir in enough of remaining all-purpose flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly-floured surface until smooth and elastic.
  3. Shape dough into ball. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes before rolling out.

Quick Pizza Sauce

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add canola oil.
  2. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, pepper and crushed tomatoes. Simmer sauce for 5-10 minutes.

*Adding wheat germ when using whole wheat flour, makes your recipe whole grain, making it good for you. If you don’t have any, omitting it won’t alter the dough, it just won’t be whole grain.


Slow Cooker Honey Pumpkin (Ayote en miel)

pumpkin-in-honeyIf you’re looking for a new, cozy, fall pumpkin recipe, this pumpkin in honey, ayote en miel, recipe is for you! Pumpkin gets steamed in a light, sweet syrup. This warm and sweet dish is perfect for this time of year when there is a chill in the air and pumpkins are aplenty. I used one of my pumpkins from my final CSA share and I also went to a pumpkin patch where I picked up more pumpkins, spaghetti squash, butternut squash and acorn squash. You can use any kind of pumpkin or squash for this recipe.

Sometimes when I make my mother’s recipes, I take shortcuts or modernize the recipes for convenience or health reasons (such as baking things instead of frying). Other times, it is because some ingredients are hard to find in this city. Such was the case last year when I first shared my ayote en miel recipe. I was missing panela for the syrup, which is an unrefined cane sugar in solid form. I ended up using a combination of honey and brown sugar and talked about the benefits of using 100% local honey (which I still stand by).

This time around, I picked up some panela at a Latin American store and made it the traditional way. Panela comes in a solid form either in pucks or in a larger piloncillo (loaf). I had fun using panela and when it was done, the ayote tasted just RIGHT. However, the honey substitute works just as well. Both give off an amazing aroma of pumpkin, cloves and cinnamon that pumpkin spice scented candles would envy. I took some to work and my coworkers all wondered where the pumpkin pie-in-the-oven smell was coming from.

This recipe is perfect for halloween parties! Just serve in small bowls with a spoon.

Start with washing your pumpkin. Scrub the outside well outside well as the pumpkin gets cooked, including the skin. Slice the top off, then cut the pumpkin in half.


Cut pumpkin in half, skin on.

Then cut each half of the pumpkin into smaller, two inch pieces. I like to have fun and do what my mo used to do – cut them into all kinds of shapes.

Cut pumpkin into 2 inch pieces.

Cut pumpkin into 2 inch pieces.

Panela is made of sugar cane juice. Sugar cane is popular in Central American countries so it is more commonly used in those countries.


This is how the panela comes packaged.

The panela comes wrapped in a corn husk.


And finally, after all those layers, the panela.


Slice the panela. Throw it on the ground to break it if need be (while wrapped in the corn husk). You will need a cup’s worth for this recipe.

The combination of panela, cinnamon and cloves release a sweet and spicy aroma.

The combination of panela, cinnamon and cloves release a sweet and spicy aroma.

Combine everything in the slow cooker and cook for 4-5 hours, or until the pumpkin is tender and browned.

Eat while hot!ayote-en-miel

 Slow Cooker Honey Pumpkin


  • One small pumpkin or squash (2-3 lbs), washed on the outside, chopped with the skin on
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of panela (or one puck)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks


  1. Combine water, brown sugar and honey in slow cooker. Mix to combine.
  2. Add the vanilla, cloves and cinnamon sticks.
  3. Add the pieces of pumpkin so that water covers most of the pieces.
  4. Cook on low for 5 hours or until tender.
  5. Remove the cloves and cinnamon sticks and enjoy while hot!

Buen provecho!


Thank a Farmer


pumpkinsI am currently suffering from fresh produce withdrawal. This summer, I bought a share in a Community Shared (or Supported) Agriculture (CSA) vegetable garden and I’ve accumulated my thoughts for this post for months. I meant to have them jotted down in time for thanksgiving but then I realized, it’s NEVER too late to thank a farmer.

CSAs have been around for years but have gained popularity where I live in the past five years or so. I think it’s because the way we think about food is evolving and we’re constantly looking for more ways to eat healthier, more fresh and locally produced foods. That was my reason anyways.

I bought a share from Hnatiuk Gardens who I found through at this website. I liked them for two reasons: I had purchased vegetables from them at a farmer’s market previously and the are conveniently located close to me. I paid my fee in April and then we waited.

aug-csa-1I picked up our first bag of veggies the last week in June and that became my weekly routine until last week, the week before thanksgiving. I loved this routine. We’d pack the kids in the car and drive to their farm located just 10 minutes from our house. I loved opening our bag and seeing what goodies were in it. I’d plan a week’s worth of meals based on its contents. Introducing new foods to my kids added to the excitement (beets, parsnips, and kale were a hit). When we got home I’d put everything on our deck and my kids gravitated to the veggies. Their curiosity made me so happy, even though they’re still very small I strongly believe it will positively influence their eating habits later in life. For example, they tried biting into carrots but not the chili peppers. Did they find the smell of the pepper off-putting or was it intuition? (Or do I have genius babies?)

july-csa-haulI was thoroughly enjoying our veggies, but every week we drove to pick it up, my husband and I got increasingly curious. Do they rent land elsewhere? Where else do they sell their vegetables? How long have they been doing this? How many shares do they sell? Then, about halfway through the growing season, the Winnipeg Free Press wrote this article and not did it answer my questions, it gave me a whole new appreciation for our vegetable farmers. The article gave me a glimpse into their family market gardening history as well the history of market gardening in my area. Martin, the farmer who provided my family with food all summer from his third-generation farm, is one of the last ones in our area which was due to its location along the river, used to be abundant with market gardeners. In fact, a lot of the streets I drive on everyday are named after market gardens long gone. It (literally) brought my connection and appreciation to our farmer closer to home.

I am fortunate that I have a father-in-law who is a farmer and whose farm we can visit anytime we want. I have the best conversations about our food, agriculture and even food policies with him. I am also fortunate to have a job where I get to know a lot of farmers, and some very smart people who work in the agriculture industry, such as agronomists, who can explain things to me. For example, one of my favourite colleagues to speak to is an apariarist – I’ve learned so much about bees and the bee keeping from him!


Our CSA was truly an enlightening experience. I learned so much about market gardening, my area’s history in agriculture, food waste and most importantly, the story of our third-generation farmer and his family farm. They farm (presumably) with pride, hard work and dedication. Market gardens aren’t usually large enough to qualify for crop insurance so they are at the mercy of mother nature. We had plenty to eat every week, despite some weather issues that affected some of Martin’s crops. We’re lucky in North America to have access to fresh, healthy food. My friend Jenn explains this well in her post about her CSA experience here that I highly recommend reading.

Here are the three main things I learned this summer and will continue to be conscious of:


Dedicate time for prepping and meal planning.

On the nights I picked up our share, I would dedicate the whole evening to washing, cleaning, chopping, and prepping veggies. Unlike the vegetables you buy at the grocery store, our veggies came directly from the garden. There was no middle man to wash and package them nicely. Some of those radishes and beets took a lot of work to scrub, which I actually found to be a therapeutic activity. I also discovered that if I didn’t chop or separate them into portions, they might end up going to waste so as I did that, I thought about what I would make. I also blanched and froze some veggies I had a lot of or I knew wouldn’t be used that week so that it wouldn’t go to waste.

I have a whole new appreciation for the people who work in the fields, no matter the size of the farm.


Chopping and roasting fall veggies for soup and other weekday meals.


There is nothing more I hate than wasting food. Especially fresh produce! This was ingrained into me during my childhood, my parents frowned upon wasting food. My dad was always replanting things and my mother would get creative in the kitchen.

This summer I realized how much leaves and other greenery that is conveniently removed for us when we buy our goods at the store. My favourite examples are radishes and carrots. The green tops are so bright, beautiful and green it seemed like a sin to throw out. My dad taught me to make omelettes with radish tops. I remember eating and enjoying them as a kid, so why not now? Another friend recently told me she makes pesto with carrot tops (so clever).

If you have any other suggestions for using the edible parts of produce that are usually discarded, please pass them on to me! This experience also encouraged me to start composting.

I had more tomatoes than I knew what to do with so I roasted them to use for pizza night.

I had more tomatoes than I knew what to do with so I roasted them to use for pizza night.


From farm to table, food brings us together. I thought of our farming family often as I put my family’s meals together. I also started noticing how much how much of a role food plays in our family. From picking up the vegetables from the farm together (or grocery shopping) to cooking and of course eating together, to going out to eat or taking the kids out for a treat – so much of our family activities revolve around food.

As a teenager, my family rarely ate together as my sisters and I got older because of our varied work/activities schedules. I don’t remember those meals, but what I do remember are the ones we did enjoy together. I’m trying to teach my kids good eating habits and it starts with us modelling that for them. For safety reasons, I used to scoot my kids out of the kitchen when I was cooking but now I let them watch and “help” (from the safety of their high chairs of course). I’ve always liked to pretend I’m on a cooking show when I cook, and now I have an audience! I believe this helps foster food and cooking skills at a young age.

Letting my kids satisfy their curiosity with veggies. They are drawn to the colours and textures.

Letting my kids satisfy their curiosity with veggies. They are drawn to the colours and textures.


My little pumpkins playing with pumpkins.


Our CSA concluded with the most wonderful array of produce just in time for thanksgiving dinner this past weekend. I didn’t plan our thanksgiving feast until I picked up our package and planned it around that. It’s only been one week and I am going through CSA withdrawal. I had to buy frozen vegetables for my kids for the first time this week and after eating only locally grown tomatoes all summer, the store bought ones just seemed to lack flavour. One thing that remains is my deep appreciation for our farmer. For all farmers, no matter where in the world, what they grow, how they do it, or the size of the farm. At the end of the day, they are all contributing to feeding the world, and so much of that happens right here in this wonderful prairie province I call home. Thank you farmers.

Our last CSA package coincided with thanksgiving.

Our last CSA package coincided with thanksgiving. Our entire feast was planned around these ingredients.

Arroz con pollo


Time flies! My last post coincides with when I went back to work after maternity leave. I knew being a working mom would have its challenges but now that I have been back at work for five months, one of the hardest parts was coming to the realization of just how fast time passes by. My babies have turned into toddlers and with that comes lots of new (and exhausting) stages, leaving less time to cook.

Luckily, my kids eat almost everything we eat. This makes week night suppers a little easier. I recently threw my Arroz con Pollo (chicken and rice) recipe into rotation and it was a hit.

Every Latin American country has their own variation of a chicken and rice dish. Mine isn’t based on any one in particular, I just modelled it after how my mom used to make it. Unfortunately I can’t seem to get the combo of spices just right to replicate it exactly. Don’t worry it’s still delicious and is done under an hour, perfect for busy weeknights. Double it to feed a crowd, or to get another meal out of it.

Arroz con pollo


  • 2 tbsp of canola oil
  • 2 lbs of boneless chicken (I like to use chicken thighs)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup of onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp of Mexican oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • one cup of brown rice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • one can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of black beans (recipe for beans here or drained if using canned beans)


  1. Heat oil in skillet. Brown chicken 1-2 minutes per side. Remove chicken and place on a plate.
  2. Add onion, garlic, pepper and celery. Cook until soft.
  3. Add cumin, paprika, salt, pepper,oregano, bay leaves and rice and stir for a minute for flavours to combine.
  4. Re-add chicken to skillet. (You can break chicken into smaller pieces with the back of a wooden spoon if you’d like).
  5. Add water and tomatoes including liquid and stir.
  6. Bring to a simmer, add black beans. Stir to combine.
  7. Cover and let simmer for 30-45 minutes or until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through.
  8. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Buen provecho!



Curtido, Salvadoran slaw

Salvadoran curtidoI’m really, really excited about curtido. Curtido, a Salvadoran coleslaw-like cabbage side dish, is having it’s time in the limelight. It’s now wonder it’s the most viewed recipe right here on Eat, Sip, Slurp.

Just under a year ago, I saw it listed on the menu at a local restaurant. At the time I had mixed feelings about it. I was excited to see the humble Salvadoran side on a menu, but as it is rarely paired with anything other than pupusas or yuca, it almost seemed like a tease to eat it served with anything else (in this case I believe it was a sandwich if I recall correctly). Of course, if you’ve never had curtido before, you are none the wiser.

I recently saw curtido on the menu at another local restaurant, Clementine. The very talented and popular chef has done his research well for the Spanish, Mexican and Japanse influenced, all-day brunch restaurant (source: CBC Manitoba). This time the curtido came on a tostada, which also included chorizo, avocado crema and topped with a fried egg. It was DIVINE and the tartiness of the curtido was just right, making it the perfect accompaniment to the chorizo. I use leftover curtido on tostadas, tacos nd huevos rancheros all the time, so I was pleased to see it used so well in a dish.

The little humble Salvadoran side is taking centre stage solo and I love it! So do a lot of other people it seems. This recipe is the most viewed post on my blog and my most pinned recipe on Pinterest. See my original post here or scroll down for the recipe.

And if you’re interested in eating in the traditional way alongside pupusas or yuca, click here and here for those recipes.

Salvadoran Curtido 


  • 1/2 head of a large cabbage, shredded
  • 3 medium sized carrots, cut into thin matchsticks,
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 cups boiling water
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar OR 1 cup of distilled vinegar plus 1 tsp of sugar
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Place cabbage and onion in a large bowl.
  2. Pour boiling water over cabbage and onion mixture (enough to cover). Let sit for ONE minute.
  3. Drain. Add the cold water (to stop mixture from cooking and getting too soggy). Let sit for five minutes.
  4. Drain the cold water. Add carrots and toss. Add the vinegar, oregano and salt. Toss again.

Refrigerate in bowl or in a sealable glass container. Let sit for a few hours or overnight before serving. Do not drain the vinegar before refrigerating.

It is ready to serve when cool. Keeps in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container or glass jar for a week.


Pickerel Ceviche

pickerel ceviche

Pickerel ceviche with a Manitoba twist.

If you liked my previous recipe for  Shrimp Cocktail Tostadas, my pickerel ceviche is like it’s cool older sister. I’ve been making this recipe for ceviche (with a North American twist) for a while now and am happy to finally share it.

I’m even more happy to have this post sponsored by Uncommon Goods because it’s a  company with a mission that I can feel good about supporting for various reasons. They provided me with this stunning reclaimed wood cookbook stand. It is made of salvaged timber from old buildings in Europe. In fact, one third of their products are made using recycled or upcycled materials. Who doesn’t love beautifully crafted goods with a good story (and conscience) behind them?

Cookbook stand from Uncommon Goods

Cookbook (or iPad) stand made using reclaimed wood from old European buildings.

cookbook stand made from reclaimed wood

The detail on the back of the stand. Looks good from every angle on my counter top.

This recipe requires your pickerel to marinate in the lime juice for a few hours, so while you do that, you have to see UnCommon Goods’ kitchen and bar collection – it is the kind of stuff foodies dream of. You can view the collection here. With Mother’s Day on the horizon, this is a fabulous place to find a gift.

I read that the lowest paid employees at the company start at above 50% the minimum wage (company CEO is passionate about fair minimum wage).  They also support organizations for causes in the environment, women, sexual violence and hunger. You know that feeling you get when you’ve done something good? That feeling comes with every purchase at Uncommon Goods.

As for the goods in this recipe, the star of the dish is pickerel. Pickerel (also known as walleye) is a small pike found abundantly in North America.

First, you’ll need to chop all your ingredients. I used to be content with my cutting boards until now. I absolutely love this cutting board which is perfect for chopping up all the ingredients for your this recipe.FullSizeRender

I adapted this recipe from here. I made it a lot in the winter so grilled worn was out of the question. Canned corn did the trick and because it’s softer, goes well in the ceviche. I also used pickerel cheeks which are the perfect size and thickness but you can use regular pickerel if cut into small chunks.

My favourite way to eat it is on its own or with tostadas. What would you eat them with?


Pickerel Ceviche


  • 1 lb pickerel cheeks or regular pickerel, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • fresh juice squeezed from 3-4 limes
  • 1 cup canned corn
  • 2/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • dash of salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, combine the pickerel cheeks and lime juice.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well.
  3. Refrigerate for one to two hours.
  4. Serve fresh while still cool with tortilla chips, on tostadas or on its own.






Jalapeño Beer


El Heffe from Banger Brewing

Today is National Beer Day making it the perfect day to tell you about an exotic little Hefeweizen I tried a while back.

A couple of months ago I visited my sister in Las Vegas. We went to Freemont specifically to check out Banger Brewing; and even more specifically because I was on a mission to try their infamous Jalapeño Hefeweizen aptly called El Heffe (which is Spanish means the boss). It did not disappoint.

El Heffe is infused with jalapeño and serrano peppers. It has a strong spicy aroma, but don’t let it that fool you. It is bold and flavourful, yet not spicy. It does have a subtle kick to it but it can easily be enjoyed by bohth chili beer lovers and non-chili beer fans alike.

The brewery offers 10 of their brews on tap and has some great specials. They also offer free tours. Like most good taprooms, it is quiant with a handful of tables and board games at your disposal. The bar is fun to sit at if you feel like chatting to others or the bartenders. Being on Freemont (450 Freemont Street), makes it a fun place to sit and people watch out on the patio. Speaking of the patio, they offer a small snack menu which includes perogies! Coming from Winnipeg, that certainly caught my eye.

El Heffe is a well-blanced beer that has me craving it this National Beer Day.

What are you drinking to celebrate? Cheers!



Cheese Pupusas

cheese pupusasLike a true Salvadoran, I love pupusas. Pupusa is a funny word but these round, stuffed tortillas are El Salvador’s national dish and probably it’s biggest claim to fame. They are traditionally stuffed with chicharron, cheese and beans. They are served with salsa and curtido, a coleslaw-like side.

To make them as authentic as can be, the chicharron, frijoles and queso (cheese) must all be prepared from scratch. I watched my mother make them numerous times over the years and she made it look so simple. As I grew up I realized how long of a process it really is.

That’s why I always  round up a group of friends and have a pupusa party. We’re getting better, but I’ve really wanted to make them on my own. So, I decided to play my first solo pupusa-making experience safe and start with only one ingredient – cheese!

If you’re looking for an authentic meatless dish, cheese pupusas are a good option for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. The same goes for cheese and bean pupusas.

These are easy to make, no wonder my mom made it look so easy! I remembered the ingredients she used and my Salvadoran instincts helped me come up with the perfect measurements.

BONUS: the bonus to this recipe is that you get to practice your tortilla making skills, since essentially, pupusas are stuffed tortillas.


Harina, (corn flour) is the corn flour masa is made of.

masa for tortillas

Roll masa into two (roughly) inch balls.

pupusas de queso 2

Cheese filling: feta, mozzarella, pepper and parsley.


cheese for pupusas

Combine ingredients.


pupusas de queso

Mix by hand until it is the consistency of play dough.

Cheese Pupusas

Yields 12 pupusas


For the masa

  • 1 1/2 cups of Maseca
  • 1 cup of water

Cheese filling

  • 1/2 crumbled feta
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella Note: shred your own, do not use pre-shredded mozzerela. Pizza mozzarella is best.
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil


For the masa

  1. Pour masa into a a bowl.
  2. Add half of the water. Mix to combine with your hands.
  3. Slowly pour the rest of the water in.
  4. Knead dough until it is the consistency of play dough. If it is too dry, add 1 tbsp of water. If it is too moist and sticks to your hands, add more maseca, 1 tbsp at a time.
  5. Let dough sit for 10 minutes.

Cheese filling

  1. Shred the mozzarella.
  2. Drain the feta cheese and crumble it into the smallest crumbs possible.
  3. In a bowl, combine both cheeses together.
  4. Add finely chopped pepper and parsley.
  5. Combine everything together using your hands. Squeeze the mixture together until you can roll it all into a ball.
  6. Add 1 tbsp of canola oil to pan or griddle and preheat over medium-high heat.
  7. Prepare your pupusas following the instructions below.
  8. Add pupuasas to grill, cooking for about 5 minutes or until browned. The cheese might start oozing out in some spots – that’s ok.
  9. Flip and finish cooking on the other side.
  10. Serve hot with salsa and curtido.



how to make a pupusa

how to make pupusas 2

Follow steps below for shaping your dough into pupusas.

  1. Take one of the balls and lightly flaten it onto your palm, but not completely flat. You want some thickness in it.
  2. Take two or three fingers and press into the dough, making a little “pocket.”
  3. Take 1 TBSP of the filling and place it into the “pocket.”
  4. Using your fingertips, bring the outer edges of the pupusa and fold over the filling. You don’t want to mess this up because at this stage (once the filling has been placed) it is too late to start over.
  5. Using your thumb and index finger, lightly round out the edge of the pupusas, all the way around until you have a nice round shape.
  6. Once rounded out to your liking, flaten the pupusas pressing them back and forth between your two palms.
  7. Add pupusas to a hot grill greased with canola oil. A griddle works best but a frying pan also works. Let cook until edges start getting crispy and the pupusa is lightly browned. Cheese might start oozing out – that’s good! The oozed out cheese is the BEST part!
  8. Serve warm with a side of salsa and curtido.



In El Salvador, pupusas are usually served on bamboo plates such as the ones pictured above.

cheese pupusas facebook.jpg



Abuela’s albondigas (meatballs)

cilantro meatballs

Cilalntro and mint packed albondigas.

They say “love” is the secret ingredient. That’s essentially what this blog is all about. The recipes I share may be simple but are always -just like my mother taught me- filled with lots of love. Today marks 10 years since she’s been gone and these recipes are all I have left of her and there is nothing that fills my heart more than seeing the reaction on my husband and children’s faces when they try and like a recipe for the first time.

This recipe for albondigas, (meatballs) is the perfect example.

My babies are now at an age where they almost always eat what the adults are eating at the table. This got me thinking about the foods and recipes that were my favourites as a child that I can pass on to them. Instantly my mom’s albondigas came to mind.

I have fed my babies food flavoured with herbs and spices since they began eating solids. After all, cinnamon, cumin, cilantro, parsley and mint are staples in mi casa. Fortunately, they seem to enjoy everything so far. These albondigas contain fresh cilantro and mint, which is what makes them so irresistible. In my family, they will be known as abuela’s (grandma’s) albondigas from now.

These are so easy to make, you’ll wonder why you don’t make meatballs more often. They’re simple, yet oh-so-flavourful! I changed one thing in the recipe and that was that I used ground turkey instead of beef, but you can use either (just make sure you adjust the cooking time). I’ve also omitted the sauce because I bake them in the oven instead of cooking them in a pan like my mother used to. Albondigas are usually served over rice, but you can eat them alone or with pasta.

With Valentine’s Day this weekend, it’s a good time to make these for a loved one. Also, check out these 10 Aphrodisiac Foods.

Abuela’s Albondigas


  • 1 TBSP Canola Oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 TBSP fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 lb ground turkey


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with some canola oil.
  2. Heat oil in pan. Add onion, garlic, salt pepper and red pepper flakes.
  3. Saute until onion is transluscent (about 5-6 minutes).
  4. Add the cilantro and mint. Stir until herbs are soft but not soggy (about one minute only). Allow onion mixture to cool.
  5. In a large bowl, place the ground turkey. Add the cooled onion mixture.
  6. Stir until cilantro and mint are evenly distributed in the turkey.
  7. With your hands, shape meat into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet. Be sure to leave about an inch in between each ball on the sheet. You should have about 20-24 balls.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until they have an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
  9. Serve on their own, with rice, or with your favourite pasta sauce.



valentine's day meatballs

Serve with your favourite sauce over rice or pasta.


Cilantro Margarita



I’ve always said combat the winter blahs with a festive spirit. Bring the tropics to yourself for a little motivation if only for a moment.

Try cooking up your favourite summer meal. Have a BBQ (or faux BBQ), or make a summery cocktail.

We all know the margarita is one of my favourites. I’m fortunate enough to spend some time in paradise this winter where I discovered this year’s margarita gem. The only catch is you must like cilantro!

Cilantro is one of the most used herbs in Latin American cooking. I am borderline obsessed with it and add it to EVERYTHING, especially this month where I have the fresh, fresh stuff at my disposal. You can make –chimol (chirmol?) and this year’s anti-January blahs remedy – a Cilantro Margarita!

I ordered it at a place called Si Senor in Punta Mita, Nayarit and fell in love!

So if you’re feeling cold and perhaps blue and you can’t get away to a tropical location, let it come to you in the form a of a delicious, foamy beverage.

Cilantro Margarita


  • 2 ounces of fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces of agave or simple syrup
  • 2 ounces of tequila
  • Ice
  • Bunch of cilantro (about 20 sprigs)
  • Course salt
  • Lime wedges


  1. Squeeze lime onto lid of glass. Dip in the course salt for rimmer.
  2. Divide cilantro into two glasses. Press with a muddler.
  3. Fill shaker with lime juice, syrup and tequila. Add ice. Shake.
  4. Pour into two glasses and garnish with a wedge of lime.


Brown Sugar Holiday Cut Outs

brow sugar cookies

My new favourite recipe for sugar cookies made with brown sugar.

In my last post, I shared my Christmas bucket list. Not long after, I was able to cross #7 off my list: attend a cookie swap party.

It was more than a swap party as we learned to make eight different kinds of cookies. It was a baking party with the team from Canola Eat Well. They hosted a holiday baking party at Benjamin’s Gourmet Foods with award-winning Chef MJ Feeke. I never pass up the opportunity to learn from her and especially on this occasion where we were able to make, bake and take EIGHT dozen cookies home with us.

I’ve gushed about Benjamin’s and Chef MJ before. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it!

Back to the baking party. Chef MJ welcomed about 16 of us into her kitchen, which in itself was exciting for me. We broke down into groups of four and each made four dozen of eight different holiday cookies. After a few mistakes, some laughs and helping each other out, the cookies were baked and we each took a dozen of each cookie home. We even picked up a few baking tips along the way. It turns out, most people were there because we aren’t great bakers and we wanted to improve our skills.

All the cookies were delicious but I would have to say the Mint Chocolate Crinkle Cookies were my favourite. I’m a sucker for sugar cookies so I also really enjoyed the Brown Sugar Cut Outs (recipe below). They are basically sugar cookies made with brown sugar. Sweet and simple!

Speaking of tips, here are three I picked up from Chef MJ specifically for this recipe:

Tip #1

Using parchment paper (instead of greasing your cookie sheets) saves time AND did you know you can reuse your parchment paper? You can, and you might want to if you’re making a few batches of cookies. If using a convection oven, place the cookie sheet in the corner so the paper doesn’t blow.

Tip #2

Roll dough out in sections; this makes it easier to work. Save a piece of previously rolled out dough and add it to the next batch.

Tip #3

Once you have your shapes cut out and just before they are ready to go in the oven, spray them lightly with water before sprinkling on the sugar. Bake and the sugar sticks to the dough making it glisten.

I loved being in a professional baking kitchen so I snapped a few pics.

silicone bakeware

Silicone bakeware.


Every single one of these baking sheets was used.

Every single one of these baking sheets was used.



Whisks in every size.


shaping shortbread

Chef MJ shows us how to roll out and cut out shortbread.

holiday baking

Here are some of the cookies we made.

Brown sugar cookies

Cutting out cookies in fun holiday shapes.


brown sugar cut outs

Cookies finished with coloured sugar



  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup canola margarine
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • coloured sugar for sprinkling if desired


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Add parchment paper to cookie sheet. (See tip #1 above).
  3. Combine flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. Cream the margarine and brown sugar together. Add egg and vanilla.
  5. Add creamy mixture to the flour and combine.
  6. Roll dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least two hours — the longer the better).
  7. Roll dough out to about 3 mm thick. (See tip #2 for rolling out dough above).
  8. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters.
  9. If topping cookies with sugar, lightly mist with cut outs with a little water. Sprinkle with sugar on top just before baking(see tip #3 above). If not adding sugar, skip this step.
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  11. Let cool.

Brown sugar cut outs 2

Brown Sugar Cookies.jpg

Christmas Bucket List

I know, I know, it’s still November but Christmas is my favourite time of year and I am especially looking forward to making my babies’ first Christmas a memorable one.

Every year, I come up with an unofficial Christmas bucket list and this year I’ve decided to share it. Turns out, quite a few items happen to be food-related so it will give me a chance to share some recipes.

1. Skate on the river. 

Here in Winnipeg, the Red River Mutual Trail is a ice rink on the frozen Red and Assiniboine River, located in the heart of the city. It is packed with skaters on any given Winnipeg winter weekend (say that fast three times) and I have to make up for last year when I was pregnant and had to pass up on it.

2. Give back by donating time or money. 

My mom got my sisters and I into packaging Christmas boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We’d have so much fun buying things to pack into shoe boxes for children in developing countries. I’ve continued the tradition every Christmas. On occasions where I haven’t been able to fill shoe boxes, I’ve donated to Operation Christmas Child. It’s a reminder of how much we have to be thankful for.

During the holidays I also like to give back in time. I’ve wrapped presents at those booths in the mall. Usually a different organizes volunteers to wrap presents for donations going towards their cause.

Another favourite is volunteering at Winnipeg Harvest.

I also usually organize putting a hamper together for a family in need through the Christmas Cheer Board at work.

Not sure what I’m doing this year, but I will find a way to give back to my community.

Homemade sweet and spicy popcorn

Fancy homemade popcorn is a must to go with Christmas movie binge-watching. Photo source: canolaeatwell.com

3. Have a Christmas movie marathon complete with homemade popcorn.

I LOVE Christmas movies and nothing screams Christmas like a snowy day spent indoors, cuddled in a blanket drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies while watching Christmas classics. I have my favourites (The Holiday, Love Actually, The Family Stone, Home Alone) but this year I want to watch some classics. I have a confession…I have never seen A Christmas Story in full! I have seen parts here and there but never from start to finish, to this is the year. I’m also adding It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street to the list.

Popcorn and binge-movie-watching go together and I’ve been looking for an excuse to try some popcorn recipes on a Whirley Popper I got for Christmas last year. I’ve got this recipe, this one and this one  in mind.

Making mulled wine is on my Christmas to-do list.

Making mulled wine is on my Christmas to-do list.

4. Make mulled wine. 

I associate mulled with Christmas cheer but I’ve never made it, so this is

Fancy homemade popcorn is a must to go with Christmas movie binge-watching.

the year. I’m still looking for a recipe is anyone has one they’d like to share!

5. See a lights or Christmas tree display. 

Lights, trees, wreaths, snow flakes, holly, mistletoe, nativity scenes, I love all Christmas decor. I know there are plenty of Christmas tree and light displays so I think it’ll be nice to make an afternoon of it with my family and immerse ourselves in the non-commercial joys of Christmas.

6. DIY gift giving. 

Speaking of non-commercial, I plan to purchase gifts at craft shows with local fares and/or at Ten Thousand Villages because who doesn’t love a socially conscious gift?

I do plan to make a couple of gifts of my own. I’m thinking the popcorn above would make a yummy gift for a host.

7. Attend a cookie swap.

I love the idea of a cookie swap: you bake one kind of cookie (1 dozen per attendee) and then you just swap so that each person goes home with various kinds of baked goods!

This year especially, I don’t have a lot of time so anything that saves me time sounds good to me.

One of the cute nativity scene decorations from Ten Thousand Villages I have my eye on.

One of the cute nativity scene decorations from Ten Thousand Villages I have my eye on.

8. Start my nativity scene collection.

In El Salvador and other Central American countries, nativity scenes, nacimientos are THE Christmas icon. In fact, in my parents’ hometown, they would turn it into a friendly competition. People go all out creating whole villages with the nativity scene at the centre of course. There is a panel of judges and a winner is crowned, usually purely for bragging rights. They are set up near the doorway, making it easy to see for neighbours and others passing by. My grandma won the competition in her neighbourhood one year. I wish I had pictures!

My parents carried the tradition on when we moved to Canada. Every time they went back to El Salvador for a visit, they’d bring back a new piece. Baby Jesus is not placed in the manger until midnight on December 24th, representing his birth.

I don’t have the room to go all out but I have wanted to start a small collection for years now so what better time than the present to get started.

9. Start a new family tradition.

This Christmas is extra special for my husband and I because of the two new little ones in our family (read about it here). I have nothing but the fondest memories of my childhood Christmases and I only hope to be able to provide memories as warm and loving to our kids. So I’ve decided to start a tradition unique to our family this year. I’m not sure what it is yet so I’m curious — what are your holiday family traditions?

10. Get my music fix.

B.A. (before babies) my husband and I used to go out to live shows and concerts all the time. While we’ve managed to get out for dinner a few times, none of those outings have involved live music and I miss it. There is no shortage of shows here so my goal is to get out and get my music fix at some point this holiday season.

What are your Christmas/holiday must-dos this year? I’d love to hear them!

Ayote con miel (pumpkin in honey)

calabaza con miel

Last week my sisters asked me about a pumpkin dish our mother used to make. They recalled her making it this time of year when pumpkins are in season, even though they didn’t actually like or eat it. I smiled because once again I was reminded how much food plays a role in the memory of our mother. And how awesome is it my sisters look to me for her recipes?

The dish they were talking about it ayote en miel, or pumpkin in honey. is a sweet pumpkin dish cooked in a syrup and is served warm. Depending on the country, pumpkins are called ayotes or calabazas so this dish is also referred to as calabazas en miel. It is perfect to enjoy for halloween or Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations.

I decided to make this recipe last minute and this presented me with a problem. One of the ingredients in this recipe is panela which is a round, solid that is made of cane sugar. Sugarcane is an El Salvador crop so panela is easily found there but in Winnipeg, not so much. I’m sure I could have found it at one of the local specialty food shops but I decided to make do with what I had at home and came up with an Canadian alternative.

At first I debated using agave syrup, but since it is a little less sweet, I opted for a combination of brown sugar and local honey instead. Taking a traditional latin recipe and putting my own local and/or North American twist is what I do best.

Why honey?

The Canadian prairies are a large producer of honey which is recognized for its quality around the world. According to Bee Maid Honey, “the sunny and long summers in western Canada provide the clover, alfalfa and canola crops for bees to forage and produce the mild, white Canadian honey prized for its taste.” My father-in-law farms near Dauphin and his canola fields provide the ideal habitat for bees to polinate. Canola flowers produce nectar with a light colour and mild flavour that we, as consumers enjoy. Pollination also benefits the crops (learn more about this mutually beneficial relationship at Bees Matter). In return for allowing the beekeeper’s bees to pollinate in his fields, my father-in-law receives some of the delicious honey in return and since he is so generous he shares with us, leaving me with plenty of honey to enjoy.

So back to the ayote recipe. I decided on a combination of brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla to substitute for the panela.

My other North American twist to this very traditional Latin American recipe is the use of the slow cooker. That is an appliance unheard of in most Latin American homes, but its convenience makes it the perfect addition to this recipe.

Bonus: the aroma of the cloves and cinnamon will make your house smell delicious all day!

Chop pumpkin (leave the skin on) into two inch pieces. My mom used to cut them up into funky shapes so I did the same.

The pumpkin ic cooked with the skin on and chopped into two inch pieces.

Add to slow cooker with water, brown sugar, vanilla, cloves and cinnamon sticks.

ayote in slow cooker

Cook on low for five hours, or until tender.

calabaza en miel

Enjoy warm!
ayote con miel dish

Ayote en Miel


  • One small pumpkin (2-3 lbs), washed on the outside, chopped (with skin on) on into 2 inch pieces (see note below)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks


  1. Combine water, brown sugar and honey in slow cooker. Mix to combine.
  2. Add the vanilla, cloves and cinnamon sticks.
  3. Add the pieces of pumpkin so that water covers most of the pieces.
  4. Cook on low for 5 hours or until tender.
  5. Remove the cloves and cinnamon sticks and enjoy while hot!

Note: This recipe is made with the skin on the pumpkin. Therefore, it is a good idea to wash the pumpkin on the outside before chopping it up. Wash as you could any other fruit or vegetable and dry before chopping up.

calabaza con miel

Cafe con leche

Cafe con leche, with an horchata twist.

Cafe con leche, with an horchata twist.

Like in many other cultures and countries, in Latin America, we take our coffee seriously. It’s no wonder as it produces some of the world’s best coffee, but I may be biased. Unlike in North America, coffee is often not forbidden to children.

Such was the case in my childhood. My dad would often tell us about his coffee picking days (read about how that led to my preference for fair and direct trade coffee here) and would give us sips of his coffee. When we were young and we visited our homeland, El Salvador, our grandma would give us freshly made cafe con leche (coffee with milk).

A steaming hot cup of cafe con leche is much more than a cup of coffee. To me, it represents slowing down to savour the moment and sharing it with loved ones. It carries with it a very different aura that the rushed, daily cup of before-work coffee does. While I usually prefer my coffee black, once in a while (usually on chilly fall or winter weekends) I prefer to slow down and savour a cafe con leche. It always brings me back to my days spent with my grandmothers in El Salvador.

It’s now officially fall and with it comes the annual plethora of pumpkin spice everything. I’m no against a good pumpkin spiced latte, but this year I am starting a new trend. I am making horchata the new taste of fall!

How am I doing this? With my new delicious obsession – RumChata! A few weeks ago I made a Horchata Tres Leches and I’ve been looking for new ways to use it since. Lucky for me, the RumChata website offers plenty of recipes, including a Cafe con Chata recipe. It’s basically a cafe con leche with RumChata; almost like a pumpkin spiced latte.

I used my own cafe con leche recipe and just added the RumChata. Cafe con leche is usually on the sweet side and the coffee to milk ratio is 1:1 but feel free to adjust according to your taste (I use 2:1 coffee to milk ratio). The Cafe con Chata recipe on the RumChata website calls for 2 parts of cafe con leche and one part RumChata (don’t forget it is a liqueur).

It is perfection on fall weekend mornings. Just add the weekend paper, a good book or netflix and enjoy life!

Cafe con Leche (Cafe con Chata*)

Makes 4 cups 

*Follow directions for cafe con leche and add the 5th step in the directions to make it a Cafe con Chata.


  • 2 cups of freshly prepared, strong coffee (or espresso) made preferably in a french press
  • 2 cups of milk
  • sugar to taste
  • ground cinnamon or 4 cinnamon sticks


  1. Place milk in a saucepan bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to just simmering and let simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Meanwhile, divide coffee between four cups.
  4. Sweeten with sugar to taste (if adding RumChata, add only a little first as the RumChata is also sweet).
  5. Add 1 oz of RumChata*.
  6. Add milk to each cup. The ratio for cafe con leche is 1:1 BUT you can adjust according to your preference.
  7. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick.
Cafe con leche + RumChata

Cafe con leche + RumChata

Horchata Tres Leches

Horchata tres leches cake made with RumChata

Horchata tres leches cake made with RumChata.

This summer I’ve been experimenting with RumChata, an horchata-flavoured liquor. I’m not usually a fan of liquors but this one takes the cake (see what I did there?) It is just the right mix of alcohol and flavour and best of all tastes like real horchata – cinnamon-y and smooth.

Tres leches cake is one of my favourite things to make and the idea to use the RumChata came to me at the last minute. I “remixed” my go-to tres leches recipe. I omitted the vanilla and used RumChata instead of regular rum and the result was genius!

Stay tuned for more RumChata recipes!



  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups of white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder

Tres Leches:

  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (14 oz.) condensed milk
  • 1 cup fresh milk
  • 1 oz RumChata


  • Whipping cream, meringue or your favourite icing.
  • Fruit (optional)


  1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your baking pan (10″ to 12″ inches is ideal).
  2. In a bowl, mix flour and baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat or whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  4. Add the sugar.
  5. Add the egg yolks, one at a time.
  6. Add the flour to the wet mixture.
  7. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool.
  8. Once cake has cooled poke holes into cake with a toothpick.

Tres Leches

  1. Mix together all three milks.
  2. Add the RumChata. Stir.
  3. Pour the tres leches evenly over the cake.
  4. Place in refrigerator overnight or for a few hours until the cake has soaked up all the tres leches.
  5. Top with whipping cream (or other icing) and fruit.

Your cake is ready when it has a golden, crusty top.


Cake right out of the oven.

Pierce holes all over the cake using a toothpick.

The holes in the cake soak up the tres leeches blend.

The holes in the cake soak up the tres leches blend.

Pour the tres leches, including the RumChata over the cake. It will soak into the cake immediately.

Pour the tres leeches over the cake.

Pour the tres leeches over the cake.

Top with your favourite icing and fresh fruit.

Top with your favourite icing and fresh fruit.

Horchata tres leches cake.

National Tequila Day Luxury Margarita

The Don Julio Blanco Luxury Tequila

The Don Julio Blanco Luxury Tequila.

Tequila. Oh, how I love it so. One of my most memorable tequila experiences was visiting the town of Tequila, Mexico.

I never get sick of tequila because the cocktail possibilities are endless but when in doubt a classic margarita is the way to go. I usually find drink and food inspirations on Instagram and the Don Julio Instagram account is one of my favourites. It never disappoints. Last weekend they posted a recipe for the Don Julio Blanco Luxury Margarita. Don Julio tequila is one of my favourites; it is smooth for sipping and this recipe is refreshing on a hot summer.

Today is #NationalTequilaDay and it’s Friday. Need I say more? Give it a whirl and start your weekend out right. Before you head out to buy tequila, make sure you check out my top 5 things to know when choosing a tequila.

Get the recipe for the Don Julio Blanco Luxury Margarita from their instagram account.

Cheers! Salud!



Coffee Paletas

paletas de cafe

Coffee paletas, a cool treat.

Paletas (popsicles) were a regular treat in my childhood days. Last summer I shared an easy recipe for Coconut-Mint Paletas and this year I’ve been playing around with some more recipes. My mom used to make all kinds of flavours; I remember watching her make them and feeling tormented while I waited for them to freeze. My FAVOURITE were her coffee paletas. Since I was a child and didn’t drink coffee they seemed like such a treat at the time. She made them sweet enough so that it was friendly on the kid palette.

I actually don’t have her recipe for this one so I created my own and I love how they turned out. As usual, I wanted to keep it simple so the best part is there are only two ingredients!

It’s been so hot these days, these have been serving a dual purpose — I’ve been snacking on them to keep cool and as an afternoon pick-me-up. I make them using leftover fair trade coffee from Ten Thousand Villages so not a drop goes to waste!


Makes 5 – 100 ml popsicles


  • 2 cups of cold coffee (from coffee brewed that day)
  • 1/3 cup of sweetened condensed milk


  1. Pour coffee into a glass bowl.
  2. Add condensed milk and stir until well blended.
  3. Pour into popsicle molds.
  4. Freeze until solid.

coffee paleta

Patios for the picking downtown


Winnipeg is known for it’s long, cold winters and because of this Winnipeggers really know how to make every ounce of summer count. Sitting on a patio on a warm day is a summer ritual we take seriously. The only downside can be that our favourite patio is full. But have no fear, more patios are popping up in prime downtown Winnipeg spots. Whether you’re looking for a place to have your coffee, lunch or after work drinks, you are sure to find it downtown (#finditdowntown). Thanks to the Downtown Winnipeg  Biz, downtown restaurants are getting some help in clearing the obstacles they must go through to set up their patios. They also lend out patio chairs and tables and aid in the design of the patio space and fencing so that they meet regulations.

Their Patio Program has been such a success they’ve seen a jump from 22 patios in 2006 to 36 this year. I joined the Downtown Biz on a patio crawl last week to learn about the program and check out some of the newest to take advantage of what the program offers.

Casa Burrito

The first stop was Casa Burrito. Its location across the University of Winnipeg makes it a hot spot for students. It is the ideal location because of Portage Avenue’s wide sidewalks. Its view is picture perfect — students lounging on the beautifully landscaped grounds, a man playing catch with his dog. The food is worth a visit too of course. We sampled burritos filled with frijoles (my favourite), rice and pico de gallo, chorizo and frijoles quesadillas and curried lentil quesadillas accompanied by three sauces: a hot verde sauce made with jalapeños and cilantro, a smoky chipotle sauce and a mango sauce which is their most popular.

Casa Burrito

Portage Avenue is ideal for patios because of its wide sidewalks.

Fools and Horses Coffee

The next stop was Fools and Horses Coffee on Broadway. If you’re part of the bustling office life in downtown Winnipeg, this little patio offers some respite. It features Manitoba’s only Modbar coffee machine, an espresso system located below the counter which enhances customer interaction. Coffee isn’t the only thing on tap; at 11 am they open up their taps for beer from Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well as wine through their FreshTAP pouring system. This makes Fools and Horses Coffee the perfect place for a coffee meeting, lunch or after work drinks, a unique characteristic not many other places downtown offer. Besides their excellent coffee and other beverages on tap, their menu consists of locally produced products (see their menu here).  Their charcuterie board won me over —  it’s the best one I’ve had in a long time (and I always order the charcuterie at restaurants).

Patio view at Fools and Horse Coffee Company.

Patio view at Fools and Horse Coffee Company.

Patio view and charcuterie at Fools and Horses.

Patio view and charcuterie at Fools and Horses.

Bar Red Sea

The third stop was Bar Red Sea also located on Portage Avenue. It occupies the former Chocolate Shoppe and later Arkadash. Their patio was an example of the red tape that restaurants sometimes have to deal with; on this particular day they were waiting for a liquor license to serve which is separate from the patio licence. This is the type of issue the Downtown Biz can help restaurants out with. We sampled some of the authentic Ethiopian food the Red Sea Bar offers and that alone should be enough to lure any Ethiopian food lover.

Bar Red Sea

Ethiopian Food at Bar Red Sea

Clay Oven

Our last stop was at Clay Oven whose patio over looks the Manitoba Hydro Place Plaza, where on this particular day, Thursday, the Downtown Farmer’s Market takes places (also a Downtown Winnipeg Biz initiative). Following the success of its other locations throughout the city, Clay Oven recently opened downtown and has become a very popular spot for lunch and it’s no wonder. They’re open until 8 PM, which is longer than other downtown restaurants. Their menu offers chicken, lamb and seafood but does not contain any beef or pork products; it also offers an array of Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Halal and Vegan friendly dishes. It’s truly Indian food at its best and the patio’s prime location in the middle of the busy plaza cannot be beat.

Veggie pakoras

Veggie pakoras from Clay Oven.

Patio view from Clay Oven Express.

Patio view from Clay Oven Express.

Next time you’re looking for a patio, don’t think twice about heading downtown where the wide range of options are sure to please your palette! See what places others enjoy and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #FindItDowntown

Agua fresca de melon

Agua fresca The summer solstice occurred this past week and days are getting hot. If you’re in need of a super refreshing drink, agua fresca is a good way to go. Made up of mainly fruit and water, it’s fruity, frothy and a good way to cool down on a hot summer day. In Latin American countries, agua fresca is sold mainly by street vendors or corner store (bodegas). Luckily for you, it’s super simple to make. This recipe came to me as mostly all recipes on this blog do – reminiscing about the food and drinks my mom used to make when she was alive. My mom always used cantaloupe, I usually make it with cantaloupe or watermelon. Grab some fruit, ice and water and make a batch to enjoy on the deck or balcony with a good book!

Turn this bowl of cantaloupe into a refreshing glass of agua fresca.

Turn this bowl of cantaloupe into a refreshing glass of agua fresca.

Agua fresca de melon

(makes 8 cups)

  • 8 cups of diced cantaloupe (approximately two medium-sized cantaloupes)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 TBSP fresh lime juice
  • 2 TBSP of honey OR agave syrup OR simple syrup (or other liquid sweetener of choice)
  • handful of fresh mint leaves
  • ice


  1. Place the fruit and water in the blender. Blend for one minute or your desired consistency as it will be pulpy. (If using any kind of melon it will be frothy).
  2. Add the lime juice, liquid sweetener and mint leaves. Blend for another 30 seconds.
  3. Refrigerate and serve over ice.
Agua fresca de melon, popular in Latin American streets.

Agua fresca de melon, popular in Latin American streets.

Shrimp cocktail tostadas

The craziness that is Sabado Gigante.

The craziness that is Sabado Gigante. Image source: Sabdodo Gigante Facebook page.

It was recently announced that after 53 years on air, Sabado Gigante, the popular Spanish language variety show, will be no more. This made me a little sad. When my sisters and I were young, our Saturday nights were spent with my parents watching Sabado Gigante. It was a weekly ritual. I suspect it was one of the ways my parents got a taste of home from the otherwise all-English television programming in our house.

This ritual was accompanied with yummy snacks of course. Mainly always a shrimp cocktail (also known as Salvadoran ceviche), guacamole or sometimes just chips and salsa or with leftover chimol from that evening’s bbq.

When I heard Sabado Gigante was ending its run on air, I automatically thought back to that shrimp cocktail that I haven’t had or made in years (mainly because my husband has a shellfish allergy so I try not to bring any shellfish in the house). But this weekend, I made these shrimp cocktail tostadas and tuned in to Sabado Gigante for old time’s sake. It’s amazing how much our senses can bring back a flood of memories. Something as simple as the sounds of  Don Francisco’s (the host) unique voice or the taste of a simple snack brought my comforts of my childhood.

This cocktail is good on its own, with tortilla chips, or on tostadas as shown here.

Shrimp cocktail (Salvadoran ceviche) tostadas.

Shrimp cocktail (Salvadoran ceviche) tostadas.

Shrimp Cocktail Tostadas (ceviche de camaron)


  • 50-60 cook, peeled and deveined shrimp (the shrimp from a shrimp cocktail ring works just fine)
  • 2 ripe avocados, chopped
  • 1 medium sized tomato, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 TBSP ketchup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • juice of 1/2 of a lime
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • chopped cilantro
  • salsa picante (hot sauce) of your choice (my sauce of choice is Cholula)
  • 6-8 Charra tostadas (in Winnipeg, these are available at Mercadito Latin, Marvin’s, El Izalco, and even Superstore).


  1. Chop shrimp pieces into halves
  2. In a bowl, combine shrimp, avocados and tomatoes.
  3. In a small separate bowl, combine ketchup and worcestershire sauce. Mix well.
  4. Pour ketchup mixture over shrimp mix.
  5. Add cumin, salt and pepper. Squeeze the lime juice over and mix.
  6. Add the red onion last so as not to overpower the other ingredients.
  7. Top with cilantro and salsa picanta of your choice.
  8. Spoon onto tostadas.

Enjoy with a little Sabado Gigante on the side!

Shrimp cocktail (otherwise known as ceviche) tostadas.

Shrimp cocktail (otherwise known as ceviche) tostadas.

Cilantro Margarita

Eat Sip Slurp


I’ve always said combat the winter blahs with a festive spirit. Bring the tropics to yourself for a little motivation if only for a moment.

Try cooking up your favourite summer meal. Have a BBQ (or faux BBQ), or make a summery cocktail.

We all know the margarita is one of my favourites. I’m fortunate enough to spend some time in paradise this winter where I discovered this year’s margarita gem. The only catch is you must like cilantro!

Cilantro is one of the most used herbs in Latin American cooking. I am borderline obsessed with it and add it to EVERYTHING, especially this month where I have the fresh, fresh stuff at my disposal. You can make –chimol (chirmol?) and this year’s anti-January blahs remedy – a Cilantro Margarita!

I ordered it at a place called Si Senor in Punta Mita, Nayarit and fell in love!

So if you’re…

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