Quinoa Bowl with Honey-Chipotle Chicken

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There is something special about a meal in a bowl. I really like the idea of: a) no side dishes to fuss with; b) something healthy, something grilled, anything with avocado; and c) using my shallow bowls for something and calling it dinner. I have the same love for cobb salads, or a hearty soup or stew, or sadly, even a dinner-time bowl of cereal on desperate nights.

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There is a reason this bowl works so well, and it is as simple as flavour. Yes, it’s chock full of healthy bits like greens, quinoa, tomatoes, chicken, and avocado. But it also packs a flavour punch that Marcus and I love. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are smoky and spicy. Honey and mustard balance the adobo perfectly. I would be happy to eat the chicken all by itself. I alternate preparing the chicken on the grill (warm weather) and in a sauté pan with the lid on (cold weather). I like the char the grill gives, but the pan achieves more intense smoky-honey-mustardness since the marinade juices thicken around the chicken. Both are wonderful.

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Pear Chocolate Scones

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I remember the first time I made this recipe well. The day was unremarkable, nothing special happened, but for some reason that moment and that morning sticks out in my memory. Marcus and I were in Canmore, enjoying the condo my parent’s had before their current house there. I don’t think we had Pip yet – life without Pip? Strange. It was cold that morning, and I remember doing my scone thing while Marcus was lying on the floor in front of the TV, with his head propped up against a chair. The kitchen sort of overlooked the family room area from a distance, so I could see Marcus and the TV and do the baking business all at the same time. He was watching House Hunters International, and the episode was based in Paris. Scones were baked, Paris was on the TV, mountains in the background…it just sticks out!

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I also remember that morning because Marcus completely loved these scones. He thinks they are the best thing, ever. Marcus would pay $8 for one of these babies! I certainly like them, but not like he does. And while I’ve made scones in the past, these got me in a kind of scone groove that I’ve quite liked. I’m usually not the biggest chocolate-fruit-combo fan (I’m more of an apple-cheddar kind of gal), but Marcus will always, always go back to these.

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Mango Sorbet

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When you live in Canada, there are certain times of the year where there’s an exciting imported fruit in season. The summer proves bountiful with lovely, fresh fruit grown here in our beautiful country. Fruit like peaches and apples and berries. But the winter – not so much. The first Meyer lemon I see at the market or grocery store is like Christmas. Ataulfo mangoes are no different. We buy lots. Mum buys lots. Mango mania.

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These beauties were given to me by my Mum, who buys flats of them. She made the best jam this year. Ever. Mango-cherry-vanilla using these gorgeous mangoes, cherries from her backyard tree that she froze from the summer, and a vanilla bean. It is so ridiculously good. Marcus ate it for dinner a couple nights ago (on toast – I swear). Ataulfo mangoes are small, but pack a sweet, tangy punch. I like them diced in salads, or on cereal or yoghurt, or just plain. Or, follow my lead, and make some mango sorbet this winter.

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Gnocchi and Tomato Sauce

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So, gnocchi. So much to say!!

Firstly and most important, Sister made a wonderful surprise home this week. Marcus and I were in New Zealand and I received an email from Sister, who is a student on the east coast of Canada. Sister is coming home! She gets home the day after we get home from New Zealand, and we hatch a plan to surprise our Mum and Dad. The excitement builds, and a terribly-kept secret bubbles over into a story about a “great gift from the airport”…and then, Sister pops out, Mum and Dad are shocked, and happy, happy days.

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Sister is like a cool version of me. You know, like a seven years ago version? ‘Cause she’s literally seven years younger? She wears high waisted jeans and lives alone in an apartment where she makes galettes, and plunger coffee, and doesn’t have a TV. Sister likes wine, and braids in her hair, and Pippy. She is smarter than I would ever wish to be, and has excellent taste in wine and food and dogs.

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Sesame Ginger Salmon

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Marcus and I are coming off a New Zealand high; a great adventure and a wonderful place to visit. The friendliest of people, beautiful sights and scenery, excellent wine and beer, and really great food. I don’t think we’ve ever had so much lamb in our lives, and that’s not a complaint! The seafood is abundant, it’s fresh and delicious. While we mainly ate white fish in New Zealand, like blue cod, snapper, and tarakihi, this gingery sweet and salty salmon is delish and totally hits the spot.

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I’ve experimented with several Asian-style salmon recipes, and this is easily the best one. I was halfway through the recipe when I first made this dish and realized I needed to make a glaze. I’m the kind of cook where I don’t do a very good job of following instructions. If there’s a sauce or dip or glaze in a recipe and I don’t feel like making it, I won’t. I was this close to not making the glaze, but since it’s so super quick and there’s little ingredients, I went for it. I learned: this glaze is the best part of the dish; do not skip this step; the result is a sweet, tangy, sticky sauce that balances the saltiness of the marinade. It is the bomb.

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