Enchiladas with homemade sauce and pico de gallo

Sometimes in Europe, it feels like 1993. Some things just take a really long time to get here, like Mexican food. Tex Mex seems to be hugely popular right now, we even saw a few Tex Mex / Saloon type restaurants in Latvia, but try as they might, these places are missing something…and that something is usually anything remotely spicy.

That said, I thought I’d take a crack at making enchilada sauce. I’m not entirely sure what constitutes an authentic enchilada sauce and my research could not answer this either, but we really enjoyed this and it was a great opportunity to use some dried Mexican peppers we have in the pantry. Pantry space in our European flat = so very precious. Oh, and fun fact, enchilada comes from the verb enchilar, which means to add chilis to something. Yum!

Continue reading “Enchiladas with homemade sauce and pico de gallo”


Prosciutto wrapped chicken stuffed with goat cheese and dates

Everyone now and then, we have someone in for dinner on a weeknight. This invitation also comes with a glimpse into the chaos of life mid-week, when you haven’t vacuumed or tidied, and there is a strong possibility of a few articles of clothing or some wet towels on the floor, and if you’re at my house, there may be coffee cups in random locations that you’ve forgotten to put in the dishwasher.

I am always looking for something simple and easy to make to serve to weeknight dinner guests. I assume they don’t want to eat leftover tacos (because there never are any, ha!) or scrambled eggs with whatever sad veggies I find in the crisper.

This is a recipe I like to keep in my back pocket since it is easy to make, doesn’t require very many ingredients, and those ingredients are easy to find (or substitute). You can also make this in advance to pop in the oven when your guests arrive. Continue reading “Prosciutto wrapped chicken stuffed with goat cheese and dates”

Smoky Chorizo & Cabbage Soup

Despite the heat, I have been reluctant to let go of some of the principal comforts of winter, including soup and sleeping with a giant duvet. Cabbage soup typically gets a bad rap but I love the combination of hearty and healthy. This is a riff on another version I make often and it is  so much more than the sum of its parts. Plus, the addition of celeriac (aka celery root) gives it something special since it is a lighter, less starchy root with a vague but yummy flavour of celery salt. This is a lovely, smoky soup that is very hearty but won’t weigh you down. Especially since you have all those springtime things to do while your bum print fades from the couch until winter comes round again…

By the way, JD ate three bowls in a row so you know this must pass muster. Alright, on to the directions:

First chop a couple of slice of smoked bacon. I use applewood smoked, 3 thick slices will do nicely.


Then grab yourself a small spicy chorizo (you may use mild if you prefer)chorizo

  Chop your chorizo into coins, like soDSC_8574

And cook over medium-high heat, so that bacon starts to crisp and the chorizo starts to release its delicious red oil


Add your old friends onion and garlicDSC_8576

Now you can either slice a small cabbage, or half of a large one (so pretty)DSC_8579

Cabbage roughly slicedDSC_8582

Add to your pot and continue to cook on medium heat. It looks daunting at first, but I assure you that it will cook downDSC_8584

This is a celery root. It is ugly but delicious. I cut away the tops and sides and peel any leftover bits with a vegetable peeler.DSC_8587

Roughly chop your celery root into chunksDSC_8591

Add two or three fresh tomatoes, choppedDSC_8595

Add some tomato paste and about 4.5 cups of chicken broth, you want the cabbage to be nearly covered.

This is my trick for tomato paste: buy a large can, brush an ice cube tray with olive oil or spray with cooking spray, fill cubes with tomato paste, freeze, and pop out of tray and store in a plastic bag in the freezer. Saves so much time and effort when you need to add tomato paste to a recipe.


So easy, no?


Once you’ve added your celery root, tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken broth, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until cabbage has shrunk significantlyDSC_8599

Taste and adjust seasoning. At this point you may also need to add a little more water or stock, depending on how soupy you like it. I added pepper, a pinch of salt, some red pepper flakes. Spanish smoked paprika would also be delicious if you have it on hand. Let simmer another 10 minutes and serve.DSC_8605

Smoky Chorizo and Cabbage Soup

Serves 4 with leftovers


1 small hot chorizo sausage, sliced into coins

3-4 slices of bacon, preferably a smoked variety, chopped

1 medium onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small cabbage,  core removed and sliced (or 1/2 a large)

4.5 cups chicken broth

1 small celery root (aka celeriac), peeled and chopped into chunks

2-3 Roma or vine tomatoes, chopped

2 TBSP tomato paste

Salt, pepper, and hot pepper flakes, to taste

  1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook bacon and chorizo until bacon starts to get crispy and chorizo releases its delicious red oil, about 5 minute. If you have more than 2 or 3 tbsp of fat in your pan, remove excess with a spoon.

  2. Add sliced onion and minced garlic, lower heat to medium, and continue to cook while onion softens and garlic becomes aromatic, 5 minutes more.

  3. Add sliced cabbage and stir gently to coat. While you prep the rest of your ingredients, stir cabbage periodically as it cooks down.

  4. Add celery root, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and broth to the pot so that cabbage is nearly covered. Cover and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes until cabbage has greatly shrunk in size and is very soft.

  5. Taste soup and adjust seasonings – you may need a pinch of salt, some pepper, and some hot pepper flakes. Allow to simmer 10 more minutes so that flavours combine.

  6. Serve and enjoy

    More to come!

Liam’s Mancave Chili

Well, that was certainly a long hiatus! Believe me, a lot longer than I expected. I am just getting over an unbelievable bout of bacterial bronchitis (say that 5 times fast). The good news is that I have a back-log of recipes to post. I also have a lovely new header (see?) thanks to the fabulously talented Miss Andrea Q., whose kindness I hope to repay in cookies. ‘Cause, you know, you can’t mail chili…

On to the good stuff…

I named this chili after two Liams: my brother Liam, and my faithful taste-tester, house-sitter and overall wacky guy, our good friend Liam. My brother had chatted with me recently about wanting to make a chili that was elevated to new heights of meaty-deliciousness. And had bacon. While I didn’t have bacon on hand while I was concocting this chili, I did have leftover pulled pork. I think it gives another layer of meaty yumminess to the chili. Plus it was a great way to use the last of the pulled pork. Our friend Liam was lovely enough to pop by our house and take home some of what turned out to be a massive pot of chili. He declared it “Mantastic”.

Please be warned: this is no veggie lover’s delight. I did not follow the “I need to use up X vegetables – let’s make chili!” train of thought. Veggie chili is good, don’t get me wrong, it just wasn’t right for the Liams in my life.

One more thing, may I suggest finding a butcher who makes sausages? In my experience, buying directly from a butcher means amazing flavour with very little or no fillers/additives. This means no wheat, excessive fat, etc.. just meaty goodness.

Liam’s Mancave Chili

Serves 6 to 8

1 lb ground Beef

1 lb hot Italian Sausage, removed from casings

1 large red onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped

1 28oz can crushed tomatoes

1 small can black beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly

1.5 cups leftover pulled pork (optional) or

5 thick slices bacon, cooked until lightly crisped, drained and chopped (optional)

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1 tsp salt (optional)

1 packet stevia or 1 tsp sugar (or sweetener of your choice – brings out the flavour of the tomatoes)

3 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp garlic powder (or granulated garlic)

1 tbsp cumin

1 to 2 tsp cayenne pepper (omit if you don’t like heat)

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot or dutch oven, brown ground beef and sausage (removed from casing) over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain off all but 1 tsp of fat and set aside.

Add your chopped red onions and cook over medium-low heat until onions begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes. This step will add some sweetness to your chili.

Once onions have begin to caramelize, add your minced garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes until garlic is very fragrant.

I recommend roasted red peppers that have been packed in water, NOT vinegar.

Add your drained and chopped red peppers to your chili pot.

Add your can of crushed tomatoes and your black beans. At this point, you can also return the ground beef/sausage mixture to the pot along with any leftover pulled pork you may have (or bacon if you’re really feeling crazy).

Add your lime juice and spices. Allow to simmer one hour and then taste. Adjust seasonings if it’s not how you like it. More lime juice will temper your chili if it’s too hot. You may need to add salt but I prefer to use little to none, if possible. A couple of drops of liquid smoke might be good at this point, too. After your adjust the seasonings, you can serve the chili if pressed for time or continue to simmer for another hour (my preference).

Served topped with your favorite add-ons. JD’s is shown here with some shredded Monterey Jack cheese and a side of baked tortilla chips I made in the oven. I prefer mine plain with some chopped green onions on top and maybe a little sour cream.