Category Archives: Salsas, Dips, Sauces, Marinades, Dressings

salsas, dips, sauces, marinades

Turmeric & Jalapeno Dressing (with charred corn and bell pepper salad)

My latest obsession is fresh turmeric.  I’ve read so many things about the health benefits of turmeric so when I saw some organic Peruvian turmeric at the corner market I HAD to grab some to experiment/play with!

Now that I’ve gotten over the initial trepidation of using a new spice, I’m incorporating it into all sorts of dishes, from rice to lentils to quinoa – and now even in my salad dressing(s)!

The following salad dressing requires, in my opinion, a hearty salad with some texture and crunch to balance out the heat of the jalapeño.  I really enjoy it with the following:

Charred Corn, Cabbage and Bell Pepper Salad (serves 2)

  • 2 cups green or red cabbage (shredded)
  • 1/2 cup julienned (thin strips) carrot
  • 1 cup julienned bell pepper (red, orange and/or yellow)
  • 3/4 cup corn
  • 1/3 cup red onion, shredded
  • Garnish options:  Roasted peanuts or cashews, feta cheese, fresh cilantro, cherry tomatoes, green onion

METHOD:  (this is just a suggestion.  You don’t need to char the vegetables to have a great salad!).

  • Cut/prepare vegetables.
  • Get a non-stick pan searing hot (it should be starting to smoke).
  • Once the corn starts ‘popping’ (literally, like popcorn), give the pan a shake.
  • When the corn starts to char/blacken, remove from pan and into a large mixing bowl.
  • Repeat process with red onions and then with bell peppers.  You only want to ‘flash’ them into the hot pan to give a nice char.  You’re not trying to cook them.  A few SECONDS in the pan is plenty.

Turmeric and Jalapeno Dressing (enough for 4 servings)

NOTE:  I use a microplane for grating ginger, garlic, turmeric and all citrus zest.  It is an essential kitchen tool, in my opinion.


  • 1 medium sized jalapeno, seeds removed (keep a few if you want the dressing really spicy!)
  • 1 4″ piece of turmeric, peeled and grated (or 3/4 tsp ground turmeric, but use the fresh stuff if you can!)
  • 1 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 clove garlic (about 1 tsp), grated
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp grated lime zest
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • salt to taste

METHOD:  pulse all ingredients together in a food processor or hand-held blender and toss into salad.  Season salad with salt to taste.


NOTE:  If you have any dressing left over it’s wonderful thrown into quinoa, rice or lentils!!




Cilantro and Lemon Avocado Spread

avocado spread

I still remember the very first time I tried an avocado.  I was in my early 20’s.  As soon as I tried it I was hooked.  I absolutely loved the flavour and creamy texture.  I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been eating them my whole life.  Now I eat several avocados a week.

Not only are they incredibly delicious and versatile, they’re also really, really good for you.  If I listed all their health benefits here it would take me all day so I’m just going include a link to a site that details how amazing this fruit is for you!!

One of my favourite ways to eat avocados is as guacamole.  Another way I prepare avocados is as a spread – which is the recipe below.  I am OBSESSED with this recipe.  Like the old lady in the Frank’s Hot Sauce commercial says:  “I put that sh** on EVERYTHING”!

I eat this spread on rye toast or English muffin in the morning with some diced cherry tomatoes on it or add it on top of scrambled eggs for a pre-workout breakfast.  I add it to sandwiches and wraps for lunch.  I add it to salads with some olive oil and use it as a dressing.  I make BLT’s with turkey bacon and add this spread instead of mayonnaise.  I eat it with crackers, tortilla chips and cut up raw vegetables.  I LOVE it with chilled prawns in lieu of cocktail sauce.  I spread it on pita or naan bread and top it with some smoked salmon for a healthy snack.  I even add it to soups.  Did I mention this spread/dip/dressing was versatile?!

About the recipe:  I decided to use lemon juice instead of lime juice here because I wanted a distinctly different taste then when I make guacamole.  I decided not to use garlic because the flavour of shallot has a hint of garlic in it already.  If you like things spicy, I would suggest maybe adding a 1/2 tsp of seeded jalapeño pepper to the recipe.

NOTE:  Because avocado discolors (goes brown) easily, ensure you have as few air bubbles in it as possible when storing and always store in an air tight container with a layer of plastic wrap right on top.  This spread should last up to 4 days if stored properly.


  • 1 large avocado (1 cup)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 packed cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup fat-free greek plain yogurt (or you could use light sour cream)
  • 1 Tbsp shallot (use red onion if you don’t have shallot)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup green onion – diced
  • OPTION:  1 Tbsp olive oil


  • You can either dice the shallot, cilantro and green onion and just smash everything together with a fork to get a ‘chunky’ spread OR for a smoother spread, mix all ingredients, except green onion, in a small hand-held mixer and pulse for a few seconds.  Add diced green onion last for texture.
  • Adjust lemon juice, salt and pepper as desired.

Whipped Garlic and Herb Butter

herbed butter

Butter is great without doing a thing to it.  But add some garlic, shallots and fresh herbs to it, whip it to soft, fluffy perfection and I could literally eat it with a spoon (don’t judge).

I came up with the below recipe last week while I was making the cream cheese frosting for a carrot cake.  I whipped the cream cheese and butter together and before I added the sugar, I decided to slather a bit on some leftover baguette.  It was delicious.  That got me to thinking about how I could make it even better and of course garlic and fresh herbs immediately came to mind.

SO, the other day when I got up early and made a batch of apple cheddar biscuits, I decided whip up some ‘special’ butter to go with them.

The result was unbelievably good.  I’ve been using this butter on everything now.  Obviously, I’ve been slathering it on every type of bread known to man; but I’ve also been using it to finish pasta sauces, adding it to rice, quinoa….  You name it.  I’ve even been using it to fry eggs and drizzling it on popcorn!!

If you make a batch and don’t want to use it all, it freezes beautifully.  Just portion it into little patties and freeze it on a parchment paper lined tray.  Then just pop them into a ziplock bag and pull them from the freezer when desired.  Voila!  Instant ‘gourmet’ butter any time.

frozen butter 'patties'

frozen butter ‘patties’


  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp softened cream cheese (light cream cheese is fine too)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 heaping tsp shallot – minced (if you don’t have shallot, use green onion)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic – minced (use more if you want it really garlicky!)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley – finely chopped
  • 1 heaping Tbsp mixed fresh herbs (oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage….)
  • NOTE:  use one/a few of these herbs or a combination of all.  Use what you love!
  • OPTION: 1 Tbsp whipping cream or half and half (use milk if you don’t have either) for an even fluffier butter

herbed butter in bowl



Cherry, Apple and Shallot Compote

cherry apple compote

My absolute favourite thing to serve with pork is fruit.  Peaches, plums, blueberries, cherries and apples are all AMAZING flavour pairings.  In the summer when these fruits are in season I’ll make beautiful, fresh salsas with whatever I have on hand, or even toss the fruit in with greens and a simple vinaigrette to serve alongside pork (or chicken).

In the winter I use whatever fruit I have in my freezer and make fruit reductions or compotes instead.  This time I used cherries and the result was absolutely wonderful when cooked down with apples, shallots and a little vinegar to really bring out the flavours of the fruit and give the compote a little ‘tang’.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 3/4 cup frozen, pitted cherries – pureed or finely chopped (if chopping, I suggest chopping when they’re still frozen to make it much less messy!)
  • 1 cup apple – small dice (I used a Gala apple but any kind will do)
  • 1 Tbsp shallot – minced
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • OPTIONAL:  1/2 tsp fresh thyme, parsley OR rosemary – finely minced
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Cook shallot (and herbs, if using) in butter on low heat until it becomes soft.
  • Deglaze with vinegar.
  • add cherries and apple and cook on very low heat for 20 – 30 minutes until apple is softened to desired texture and cherry liquid is reduced slightly.

cherry and apple in pan

  • Finish with a touch of salt, a little fresh cracked pepper and lemon juice.

Serve with marinated pork loin and white bean puree for a delicious dinner!

pork with bean and cherry compote cover


Fresh Herb & Dijon Marinated Pork Loin


BBQ pork loin with white bean puree and cherry apple compote

BBQ pork loin with white bean puree and cherry apple compote

I absolutely LOVE fresh herbs with pork (with ANYTHING for that matter…).  Particularly thyme, rosemary and/or sage.  I have a ziplock bag in the freezer filled with these herbs.  I pick whatever herbs are left in my garden at the end of the season and freeze them to use in soups, stocks, marinades and sauces all winter long.

The below marinade is absolutely delicious, quick to make and very simple.  If you don’t have some of the fresh herbs available, just use more of something else or substitute with the dried version.  (Just use less if you’re using dried herbs).

I served the pork with a cherry apple compote and a white bean and leek puree.  The puree serves as an AMAZING, interesting and healthy alternative to mashed potatoes and the fruit compote really compliments the pork perfectly (:

NOTE: The following measurements for the marinade are estimates only.  If you use a little extra or a little less of anything it really won’t matter.  If you have some left over just freeze it to use in your next marinade or just refrigerate if you’ll be using it within 2 weeks…  I suggest marinating the meat for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours, or even longer.  The longer it marinates the better the flavour!

INGREDIENTS – pork marinade (enough for 1 – 2 pork loins)

  • 1 pork loin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp shallot and/or onion
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp worchesterchire sauce


pork loin, marinade and herbs

  • Puree all ingredients together and slather generously all over the pork (this would be a great marinade for chicken as well!).  Marinate meat for 4 – 24 hours.

pork marinating


  • Right before grilling, season very generously with salt on all sides of the pork loin.
  • Preheat BBQ grill to 500 degrees.
  • Cook pork for approximately 4 minutes per side for a total of 16 minutes.
  • Remove from BBQ and cover tightly with foil.
  • Allow to rest for 5 – 7 minutes before serving to ensure juices stay in the meat (slicing it right away will dry it out).

porkloin bbq done

Suggestion:  Serve with white bean and shallot puree and cherry apple compote!

pork with bean puree and cherry apple compote





White Bean and Leek Puree, Dip and/or Spread


white bean dip

I have committed to eating more fibre this year.  Beans (and lentils) are an amazing source of fibre as well as vitamins and minerals.  (For more information on the health benefits of kidney beans click here:

I am absolutely loving incorporating lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans into my recipes.  They really are delicious, inexpensive and SO versatile (I add them to soups, sauces, salads, curries, and stir-fry to name a few things…).

The below recipe is quick, simple and SO, SO good.  When I first decided to develop it, it was meant to be a dip for vegetables.  But when I tasted it still warm, I immediately thought it would be a PERFECT substitute for mashed potatoes!  It pairs SO well with chicken and especially pork.  It’s also wonderful served tepid or cold on crackers or on naan or pita bread as a spread.

Basically, this puree/spread/dip is just amazing and can be eaten at any temperature, just about any way you can think of!  (Yesterday I spread it onto crackers, topped it with some sardines and a squeeze of lemon juice and ate it as a fibre-rich, protein-packed lunch).

Once you’ve made this, I’m sure it will become a regular recipe in your house!

NOTE:  You can also experiment with the flavour profile by adding spice such as cumin to it or fresh herbs such as parley or dill!  I’ve also made this with 1/4 cup parmesan cheese to finish and it’s AMAZING.


  • 1 can pre-cooked, rinsed white kidney beans
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp shallot
  • 2 Tbsp leek OR green onion – WHITE AND PALE GREEN PART ONLY
  • 1.5 – 2 Tbsp lemon juice (depending on how lemony you like it)
  • 1/2 cup water (or stock of your choice) NOTE:  use a little more water for a thinner puree.  A little less for a thicker puree.
  • 1 heaping tsp garlic
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • OPTIONAL:  1 tsp plain yogurt (or sour cream)


  • Sautee garlic, shallot, red pepper flakes and leek with olive oil on medium-low heat until soft and fragrant.  About 5 minutes.  Stir often to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  • Add rinsed beans, water, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  • Bring to boil and turn off heat.
  • Add yogurt, if using.
  • Puree the mixture and taste.
  • Adjust seasoning and lemon juice as desired.

Serve warm as a puree with pork,  or serve cold/tepid as a dip/spread for vegetables, crackers and bread(s)!

White bean and leek puree with pork and cherry apple compote

White bean and leek puree with pork and cherry apple compote


Chicken Tikki Marsala with Cucumber Raita

chicken tikki with cucumber

I got this recipe from a magazine and tweaked some of the ingredients and measurements to create something I feel has a little more flavour and a lot of added nutrition.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, tomato based sauces are a perfect place to add loads of vegetables because the rich tomato flavour overwhelms the taste of just about anything else you add – in a good way.  This is especially helpful if you have picky eaters/kids who aren’t fans of lots of vegetables.  You can ‘shred’ veggies and hide them in this dish (:

In this recipe I added 1/2 cup of shredded zucchini and 1/4 cup shredded carrot to the tomato sauce.  It literally ‘disappears’ into the sauce.  I would have added cauliflower florets as well but cauliflower is at a ridiculous price right now ($6.99 for a teeny tiny head?!).  Bell peppers or even corn would be nice additions as well.

I served this dish on a bed of jasmine rice with a side of warmed naan bread.  Any kind of rice would be great with this dish and pita bread would work just as well as naan.  I just LOVE the chewy, dense texture of naan bread so I used that.

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 – 8)

  • 1 can (796ml) diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced/diced white onion
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • OPTION:  1/4 cup shredded carrot and/or 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp garlic – minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground marsala (marsala is a blend of cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, mace and cloves.  You can find the ready-made mix in any grocery store)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • pinch cayenne pepper (more if you want more heat)
  • 1/4 cup 35% whipping cream (use half n’ half to reduce fat and calories)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • GARNISH:  Fresh cilantro and the cucumber raita (recipe below)
  • 4 – 6 chicken breasts (depending on size) cut into large 1 inch chunks

Cucumber Raita

  • 1 cup grater cucumber (I use a cheese grater)
  • 1 cup yogurt (you can use Balkan-style but I use fat-free Greek yogurt to save calories and fat)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/8 tsp garlic – minced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp green onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste

chicken tikki marsala


Cucumber raita:  

  • shred cucumber and put in strainer/colander with salt to draw out moisture.
  • Let sit for 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Squeeze out any excess liquid and mix with all the other ingredients.
  • Adjust seasoning and lemon juice as desired.
  • Put aside.  NOTE:  This can be made up to one day ahead.

Chicken Tikki Marsala:

  • In a large pot heat oil on medium heat and add onion, ginger, garlic and carrot – if using.  Sauté until onion is soft and garlic and ginger are fragrant (around 4 minutes).  Stir often as you do not want any much/any colour on the onion and be careful not to let the garlic burn!
  • Add brown sugar, cumin, salt, marsala, paprika, turmeric and cayenne pepper and stir for around one minute more until all is combined.
  • Add tomato paste and stir for one minute or so.
  • Add canned tomato.  Turn heat down to low and let the tomato sauce simmer and reduce/thicken for around 1 to 1.5 hours.
  • Rice:  depending on what kind of rice you’re cooking, get it on the stove at the right time to ensure it’s ready when the chicken is.  (As I used jasmine rice which takes around 15 minutes in total, I put the rice on when I added the chicken to the pot).
  • Add chicken and zucchini/cauliflower or whatever other vegetables you want to use.
  • Simmer on low heat until chicken is cooked through.  Around 15 minutes.
  • Turn off heat.
  • Stir in cream and lemon juice.

Serve over a bed of rice topped with cucumber raita, fresh cilantro and a side of naan or pita bread!  I also highly recommend enjoying this slightly spicy dish with a nice glass of wine.

Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes with Mango Salsa

salmon and yam cakes

The other night I really wanted fish for dinner but I hadn’t defrosted/bought any.  I had a few cans of salmon in the pantry which are usually reserved for making salmon salad sandwiches to put in my son’s school lunches.  I decided I was going to get creative and turn a can of salmon into a delicious, super healthy and easy entrée.

The reason I decided to use sweet potato in this recipe (as opposed to mayonnaise) is because I wanted something to help ‘bind’ the salmon mixture together to form a patty, but didn’t want to add a lot of fat and calories.  Instead I wanted to add nutrients.  I only had a sweet potato on hand.  Regular potato or even yam would also work in this recipe.

These salmon cakes could be served with a nice aioli (basically a flavoured mayonnaise), but since I had the ingredients on hand, I went with a delicious corn and mango salsa and served the  salmon cakes on a bed of seasoned greens and cucumber.

This dish can be served as a light entrée for lunch/dinner or as a wonderful appetizer.  Simple.  Healthy.  Delicious.

INGREDIENTS (makes 4 large cakes or 6 small ones)

  • 1 can salmon
  • 1/4 cup mashed/pureed sweet potato/potato/yam
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest + a squeeze of lemon juice (around 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup green onion – sliced
  • 1/4 cup parsley – chopped (or fresh dill would be a nice option)
  • 1 Tbsp shallot – small dice (red onion would also work)
  • 1/4 cup celery – small dice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • oil for frying
  • flour for coating salmon cakes


  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 1/3 cup mango chunks – (I used frozen and cut into small bite sized pieces)
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper – small dice
  • 1 Tbsp red onion – small dice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro – chopped
  • 1 tsp lime juice – possibly more, to taste
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Make salsa by mixing all of the above ingredients together.  Adjust seasoning as desired. Put aside.
  • Peel potato/yam.  Cut into large pieces and add to a pot of cold, salted water.
  • Bring water to a boil and turn down to a simmer.  Cook potato/yam until you can easily pierce through it with no resistance (around 15 minutes).
  • Drain the potato and mash until smooth.  NOTE:  I added 1 teaspoon of butter, a Tablespoon of milk and a dash of salt and mashed until smooth but you don’t necessarily need to add those ingredients.
  • Open the can of salmon and drain out any excess liquid (ensure you drain it well as too much moisture will result in loose salmon cakes that easily fall apart when frying).
  • Mix all ingredients together and check the seasoning.  Adjust as necessary.
  • Form the mixture into patties/cakes.  You can make a few large ones or around 6 small ones.  (They should be round and about 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick.  Like little hockey pucks).  (:
  • Dip/dust both sides of each salmon cake with flour just before adding them to the pan.  NOTE:  This isn’t mandatory but helps hold them together and gives a nice ‘crust’ on the outside.
  • Add vegetable oil to pan (around 1/4 cup) and allow it to get hot.  NOTE:  The cakes should sizzle when you add them to the pan.  If the pan isn’t hot enough, the salmon cakes will stick to the bottom.
  • Add salmon cakes to the hot pan.  Do this slowly and carefully to avoid getting any splattered oil on you.
  • Cook until golden brown on one side and then flip and cook the other side until browned.  Around 3 – 4 minutes per side.

salmon cakes in pan

  • Season with a little more salt immediately after the cakes come out of the oil and serve on a bed of seasoned greens/spinach/kale and cucumber slices.  Top with salsa or serve with a side of aioli.

salmon cakes on plate



Classic and Simple Guacamole


I’ve been making this guacamole recipe for years and always make it the exact same way because it’s delicious and I wouldn’t want to change a thing.  I serve this almost every time I have people over.

The measurements below are estimates only.  The ingredients need to be adjusted slightly depending on the exact size of the avocados.  Also, some jalapeños have more heat than others so you will need to adjust the ‘heat level’ based on that.  Just play with the measurements until you get the amount of heat/garlic/lime flavour, etc. YOU like!

INGREDIENTS (serves 8)

  • 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 medium ripe avocados
  • 2 tsp jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (use more if you want to add more heat)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup red or white onion, small dice
  • 2 – 3 tsp lime juice
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste (use a generous amount of salt to really bring out the flavour)


  • Slice the avocados in half lengthwise.
  • Using a sharp knife, hammer into the pit.  Turn the knife and the pit should come loose (if it doesn’t, the avocados aren’t ripe enough!).
  • Slice the avocado into criss-crosses then scoop out into a bowl.
  • Add all the other ingredients and mix together.  (Smash the avocado a bit if you want the guacamole smoother.  I just mix it because I like it chunky)
  • Adjust seasoning until desired flavour is reached.

Serve with tortilla chips or pita chips and a cold cerveza!




Healthy Chipotle, Cumin and Lime Dip

chipotle peppers

chipotle peppers

I love this dip.  It’s something I make all the time. This dip is incredibly versatile.  I came up with it last summer when I was making fish tacos.  Now I make it for everything.  I LOVE it as a vegetable dip.  It’s amazing with naan bread.  It’s incredible with fritters and on steak fajitas.  Hell, I even use it instead of mayo in wraps and sandwiches and add a dollop to soups.  The best part is, it’s SUPER easy to make and low in fat and calories so you can basically eat as much as you want without guilt!  Did I mention I really love this dip?

chipotle peppers

chipotle peppers

NOTE:  you can buy chipotle peppers in a can at any grocery store.  Once I open the can I just freeze whatever I don’t use in a ziplock bag and use a knife to slice off a chunk whenever I want some!  Chipotle peppers are extremely hot, so a little goes a loooong way.  One can lasts me a year!

canned chipotle peppers

canned chipotle peppers

  • 1 tsp chipotle pepper (use 2 teaspoon+ if you want it spicy.  Less if you want it mild!)
  • 1 cup plain fat-free greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (you could use low-fat, but I prefer the full fat version)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp lime juice + 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • 1/2 tsp garlic – minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Buzz all ingredients together in food processor or hand-held blender (if you don’t have either, just ensure you chop chipotle peppers and garlic until it’s a paste, then add to other ingredients).
  • Adjust lime juice and salt as desired.

Serve with anything and everything you want!