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.


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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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.