Cooking in the time of Covid-19: Cooking with What’s Growing in the Garden.

The family took a break from cooking new dishes. Logan continued to cook twice a week, re-doing the recipes he was taught and perfecting them. The days in between were officially cheat days. Tired of cooking and baking everyday, we decided to support the restaurants in our community by ordering take out. It was a good three weeks of Tom framing and putting up a wall in the basement to make an enclosed office space for himself. He and the boys were also busy making me a new backyard garden bed and vegetable garden box, measuring, cutting, shoveling and hauling 8 yards of dirt.


While they did this for me, I gathered perennials at the local garden centres and binge watched Showtime’s “The Affair” (super comfy under a blanket with my hubby’s hoodie during the rainy chilly 2 weeks we experienced before it got super hot.

On our  hiatus from cooking, Hubby and I also went for walks and checked out the moon during the month of Ramadan. Having grown up in the Caribbean where we celebrate every culture that makes up the populations of the islands, I hadn’t really been as aware of the various cultural and religious holidays as I used to be since moving to Canada 32 years ago. But now, even in the smaller communities, people (including me) are more aware of the different cultural celebrations now that Canada is more diverse. This is a good thing. Canada isn’t perfect and we are not untainted by racial discrimination and other social problems, but Canadians as a whole, try to do better and try to evolve and this makes me very proud and comfortable living here.

Anyhow… when food was made at home during this time of hiatus, it was quick and simple with nothing left over. Here is one of the meals we made that was super quick and easy:-

Lemon Pepper Chicken


For this meal, I handed Logan a bag of thawed chicken thighs and told him to make dinner for the family. Chicken thighs are great because they are cheaper and even cheaper still if they are bone with skin on. If you aren’t roasting or frying the thighs maybe you will want the skinless boneless option but either way, its a great alternative to chicken breasts which are a drier meat and more expensive.

Logan seasoned the thighs with lemon juice of 1/2 a large lemon and lemon pepper seasoning. The lemon pepper seasoning I buy also has salt in it so make sure you read the label before you add more seasonings. Logan likes using onion, garlic, chives, basil, tarragon, parsley and thyme to season meat. With all the herb plants transplanted into the garden, everything but the onions was fresh picked. He brushed the baking dish lightly with olive oil and poured melted garlic butter over the chicken thighs and baked covered with foil at first (15 minutes), then he placed lemon slices and lemon zest upon each thigh and continued to bake them at 350 for 8 -10 minutes.

While the chicken was in the oven, he grabbed one of the Uncle Ben’s Wild rice instant dishes which microwave in 90 seconds and are a worthy side dish when you are in a hurry. We also had some corn hanging around in the fridge so he figured he’d boil them and use them as a side to complete the meal.

He mixed up some lime juice and voila (or wah-la as he used to say when he was little), dinner was served. Quick. Easy. Delicious. Da Boy Can Cook!

Cooking in the Time of Covid-19: Super quick and easy to prepare – Pasta Daniella

If you can figure out what is too much and what is too little; if you have a functioning tongue and can figure out what tastes bland or just plain bad, you can cook. If you can pay attention to what you have cooking, baking or simmering while turning your attention to another dish without burning everything; if you can multi-task even just a little, you can create a dish out of whatever you find in your kitchen pantry and fridge.

Every pasta dish I make up off the top of my head with whatever I can place my hands on in the kitchen is Pasta Daniella. Here’s what you do:-


Boil pasta – any pasta you can put your hands on.

I found spicy Genoa salami, mushrooms, green onion, garlic onion, lemon, capers, green olives, Kosher salt, black pepper, oregano, thyme, olive oil and garlic butter. I chopped the veggies and squeezed in some lemon juice added the seasonings and a splash of white wine. I sauteed the seasoned veggies and spices in the olive oil. Next, I added the salami and then the pasta and shredded some Parmesan onto the pasta and tossed it all again.


And here it is – prep and cook time maybe 1/2 an hour. Tasty and satisfying. Bon appetit!


Cooking in the time of Covid-19: Quick, Feel Good Food.

One view that has solidified for me since the world has been dealing with this virus is that we have to be happy. We have to home in on who we are, what we have and find happiness. We spend too much time planning to be successful, figuring out how to earn more, do more with our time and we pass that stress on to our children and grandchildren and it is a failing life plan that puts way too much emphasis on everything but happiness. If you know how to tap into the simple things that make you happy you wont spend precious days, months and years putting in time to a lot of useless and unfulfilling things that are supposed to lead to happiness, but never do. During this pandemic isolation, cooking has made us all very happy. Today I thought I would look at some of the quick and easy to prepare treats that made us feel good.

Throw Down Chicken and Cauliflower Tikka Masala

When my children were small, like all kids,they went through the occasional reject of the good food that you wanted in them and not on the floor, or on the table or in their hair. Like any mother, I too hid vegetables in pancakes and put stuff in wraps but as they got older and I revealed what they were gobbling up made for young men who have their favorites but pretty much eat any food of any colour and texture of any flavor and colour. So here is a dish that takes no time at all. I am going to tell you right away, if you want to do this from scratch, you can totally look up how to make the sauce but if you have a tight schedule or just a hungry family who can’t wait long for food, USE THE JAR SAUCE! IT’S OKAY. I recommend having Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken, Coconut Curry sauce and Pad Thai Sauce in your pantry. Today I decided on Tikka Masala sauce as I had thawed seasoned chicken and cauliflower which in my past recipe for fritters you found out that I have an over abundance of frozen cauliflower.

I diced the seasoned chicken and set aside.Then I poured the bottle of sauce into a skillet. I added chopped onions and a clove of garlic and stirred it in and let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes. Next add the cauliflower and the chicken and fold in with the sauce. When the sauce has covered the chicken and the cauliflower, cover and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes.

The smell of this sauce is amazing. It’s inviting and there is spiciness and fruitiness and it is just a happy dish. Serve over Naan bread or rice for a satisfying meal. To quote my son Logan when I asked him how his meal was, “Loved it. Tasty and lots of good flavours and the cauliflower was a nice surprise. I thought it all looked like chicken!” It was a nice touch that is exactly how I got them to eat cauliflower in the first place. And there you have it, a hearty meal in just over 20 minutes, and why not take the shortcuts? You can add to it if you wish to make it more spicy or you can leave the sauce as is. In spite of the pandemic, we have a busy next couple of days with baking and planting and Logan has on-line presentations, we have webinars and Adam has schoolwork to catch up on.  I made this and stored it in the fridge knowing that I wanted to serve it to Logan for dinner the evening after and to Adam for dinner the following evening when he comes to pick it up. Tom and I will have it for lunch tomorrow. Nothing like a heat and eat dish that makes you smile. While this dish was simmering, I started my …

Cinco de Mayo inspired Buffalo Chicken Dip cups.

Last Monday was Cinco de Mayo and we had chili cups for dinner. It is more like a snack made with tortilla wraps and chili and that recipe will follow this one but I decided on this variation on Wednesday as this chicken dip is my husband’s favourite and I wanted to make it for him and we needed dinner anyway so while the Tikka Masala was cooking, I started on this tasty snack and turned it into a meal.

Cook 1 1/2 to 2 chicken breasts in a pot with salt, pepper, a 1/4 cup of water and a teaspoon of garlic butter. Once the chicken is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, put the chicken into a separate bowl and pull the meat apart. Add 3 teaspoons of sour cream and 2 table spoons of cream cheese. The sour cream and cream cheese should be enough to cover all the shredded chicken. If not, add a little more of each without making the chicken soggy. Add some fresh ground pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and either red pepper chili flakes or a generous pinch of cayenne pepper. I also recommend adding a 1/4 teaspoon of the buffalo seasoning powder and a 1/2 teaspoon of the Hidden Valley powdered dressing for a really nice flavour.Shred a cup of cheddar cheese and set some aside for topping and fold the rest into the dip.

Add a generous dash of Frank’s Red Hot or equivalent and a decent dash of Buffalo Chicken sauce.This dip is all about intense, satisfying flavour. Cut up a stalk of chives or green onion. Save a bit of it to garnish the dip and fold the rest in. Lightly brush some tortillas with olive oil, Cut in half and then into quarters. Line the muffin pans by taking a quarter of the tortilla and pushing it into the hollow, oil side down. Put in a bit of the chicken dip and a little cheese.

  Then place another tortilla quarter on top the layer of cheese and repeat with a bit of the chicken dip and cheese. Place in an 325 F oven for 20 minutes. Tortillas will get slightly brown and crispy. Top with a dot of sour cream and cooked crispy bacon. Variation – Using Red bean and meat chili.

Logan wanted more than mini tortilla treats so I took some left over chili that Tom made a couple days before and put it in a wrap. I put some chicken dip in the other. Top with cheese,then fold and roll and wrap in foil and place in oven also at 325 F for 25 minutes as they need a little more time than the tortilla cups to cook.Place the rest of the dip in an oven ready container. Top with cheese and bake again for 20 minutes at 325 F or at least until the edges brown and the cheese bubbles. Top with bacon and the rest of the chives.

And here is my Buffalo chicken Dip end result. It made 3 dishes – buffalo chicken tortilla cups, a wrap and a moreish dip for tortilla chips. I wanted to make it for Tom because I know how much he loves it and usually we have left overs to heat up for later but we had nothing left. Not a scrap.



Tom’s Homemade Bread – We are now into making different kinds of bread. Here is Tom’s recipe for Basic Homemade White Bread. You need 1 tbsp margarine or butter. 1 tbsp shortening. 1 cup boiling water. 1 cup scalded milk. 1 pack yeast and 1/4 cup warm water. 1 tsp sugar. 2 1/2 tbsp sugar and 1tbsp salt. 6 cups flour. Makes 3 smaller loaves or 1 bigger loaf.


Here is how to do it – In a large bowl, place boiling water, scalded milk, margarine, shortening, sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm.Add 1 pk yeast to 1/4 cup warm water and 1 tsp sugar. Allow to foam up then add to lukewarm milk. Mix. Add sifted flour using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.

Knead bread on a floured surface. Place n greased bowl (with butter) and turn to grease surface. Cover preferably with a damp cloth and allow to rise double in bulk. Punch down to release sour fermented aroma. Divide dough int 3 equal parts. Roll out 1 part then knead and shape into a loaf. Repeat with other 2 parts of dough. Place in greased bread pans. Next cover with a damp cloth or cover with another bread pan and allow to rise double in bulk.


There is NOTHING like the smell of fresh baked homemade white bread. Nothing is as tender and soft and satisfying. It reminds me of my childhood and I still cut the first warm slice and smother it with butter. Mmmmmmm

Recipe for the cream cheese frosting I made for some box red velvet cupcakes I made :8 oz cream cheese softened to room temperature. 6 tbsp softened salted butter. 1 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar. 1 tsp vanilla extract. Mix cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl (use an electronic kitchen mixer low speed until combined). Add vanilla and sugar and continue to mix on low  then mix on medium-high for 2 more minutes. Use a spatula to break up air bubbles. Immediately frost onto a cooled cake or pipe onto cupcakes and ENJOY!

The finished cupcakes. They were light, soft and tasty. I liked that the frosting was not heavy or overly sweet as some cream cheese frostings can be.

Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Bread, Cupcakes and Cookies

We are mostly cooks and not bakers.Tom is the more likely of the pair of us to bake as he likes the precision and accuracy of baking…it’s very scientific and that satisfies Tom’s mind incredibly.Once in a while we throw down a batch of cookies and cupcakes and loaves of bread and pies as a treat for the guys mostly as they aren’t training as hard now that we are in a pandemic and it satisfies the occasional sweet tooth craving they may have. Here, in the photo above,we see a half eaten apple pie that our younger son basically claimed as his own. The week before he claimed all of the pumpkin pie I made the week before. Missing from the photo is the cherry pie I made for my sister for Mother’s Day. Hid it so I could actually give it to her as a present bite free – lol. I make pies using frozen fruit which I boil into a chunky sauce and add spices like cinnamon and nutmeg or star anise. I used store bought pastry shells (because why not?) and my glaze is either honey and water, sugar and water or a beaten egg yolk. When I make cookies I use store bought cookie dough because I hate making cookie dough and add to it  – more fruit, chocolate chips of chunks, dark chocolate pieces or white, Skor bar pieces or almonds or some other nut just to give it my flare. I make cupcakes now because the storage is easier, easier to transport to the guy living in his own place and they usually take one or two at a time which is healthier than them cutting a huge hunk of cake with twice as much frosting.

That concludes the Quickies recipes. There are more but this is enough for one posting. I am feeling like we are coming to the end of our pandemic lock down but I think it will be a slow transition back. So I think there is a lot more time left to cook and bake and share. I think once we are back on schedule with life, we are really going to try and carve out the time to do more cooking and baking at home. We have proven to ourselves that we can and Logan is really learning to cook very well, so there is no reason why we can’t look at our schedules and set aside some time for cooking more than we had been before. Fingers crossed we will be able to resume our lifestyles gradually soon. Spend the time with the family well and stay healthy. ~ Daniella and family.


Cooking in the time of Covid-19: Dear Logan,

Dear Logan,

We have been home doing our part to stop the spread of this deadly virus and keep each other healthy. Today, we have been home for 53 days. We are doing our part to keep our family safe as well as preventing the spread of this virus that abruptly ended life as we know it. This virus couldn’t come at a worse time for young people like you who are on the brink of so much growth and change. You have always had to fight to get where you want with your passion and now it seems you have to wait and be patient just a bit longer. I struggle to understand why things happen when they do and I try to ground my belief that things do happen for a reason, but this virus occurring now, has me frustrated and my heart aches when I think of how it has interrupted your and your brother’s life. I think if it were just Dad and me, I wouldn’t feel so frustrated, angry and disappointed at the timing of this virus. If it were just Dad and me I wouldn’t care that I was home for 53 days. But, I look at you, son, and you are patient, resilient and you are finding ways to utilize your time and be happy. You also keep us happy around here and once again, you have earned the right to be called pure joy. Some days are better than others and cabin fever does show up from time to time but for the most part, we have all been okay while stuck at home.

I wanted to let you know that including all these recipes on my blog is primarily for you. If people try our recipes and learn to cook as well, that is just a wonderful sharing bonus, but this is all for you. You have embraced using this time together to learn to cook and take yet another step to independence. I have gotten to know you better during our time in the kitchen. I have always known you but finding out more about who you are becoming has made my heart full. You are ready to head out and forge your way in the world and I cannot wait to see the coming chapters of your life unfold. I hope you have a long and happy life, filled with as many experiences as you can gather. I hope you see thousands of places, eat thousands of dishes, swim in many oceans and lakes and embrace many cultures. I wish you joy and peace and the strength to stick to what you believe in and get back on your feet when life knocks you down. I want you to tap into the reservoir of our support, belief and love for you when we are apart from each other and know that when we do see each other we will re-fill that reservoir with every hug, kiss, smile, kind words and laughter. It is a pleasure to cook with you, to teach you and to learn from you. It is reassuring to know you are independent and capable of taking care of yourself. You can call me, text me or video chat with me anytime you want, but I think more often than not, you will refer to the blog for anything you need to know about the dishes we have taught you. This blog, in all it’s virtual locations will be here for you now, for when we are not available or able to help you and it will be here long after we are gone. I think I can safely say this blog will be here not just as a reference for cooking but for comfort and will serve as a a bank full of beautiful memories we have created together.

We love you Logan and we are so grateful and honored to be your parents. You are an incredible gift of love, light and life.


Last Monday’s dinner was part of what I call phase 2 of learning to cook. In phase 2 we cook the dishes we have learned for the second or third time. So far he has done lasagna twice, shepherd’s pie twice and has done chicken and broccoli pasta twice. For Monday’s dinner, he prepared chicken and broccoli pasta for his dad and did a shrimp variation for us. This is how he he did it:-

First, Logan cut up the chicken, seasoned it  with oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder and put it in a pot of olive, a little Worcestershire sauce and a little water. He covered the pot and let the chicken cook on medium low heat for 10 minutes, reducing it to low heat for 15 – 20 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked but tender. Once the chicken was cooked, he turned off the burner and set the chicken aside.

Next he boiled the water for the pasta (with a little olive oil and salt in the water). While he waited he rinsed the shrimp and seasoned them. Logan chose, salt, pepper, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, fresh garlic and diced onion.

Once the water came to a rolling boil, he put in the pasta of choice which was rigatoni and boiled until al dente. He drained the pasta, rinsed it and set it aside. Next he cooked the broccoli in a teaspoon of butter until it softened a bit and turned a brighter green.

He added the pasta to the pot and folded in the Alfredo sauce  and some freshly grated Parmesan and left on low heat.


Lastly, he cooked his shrimp in a separate pot (only because we were doing two versions of the dish – otherwise he could have cooked the broccoli with the shrimp. Once the shrimp turned light pink, Logan added the juice of 1/4 of a lime, stirred and set aside.

He added some of the broccoli pasta Alfredo into the pot with the chicken to make Tom’s dish and then added the shrimp into the remainder of the pasta and broccoli Alfredo.

Once the meals were plated, he topped them with some Parmesan and black pepper and served.

When a dish is made right and is tasty, it satiates you and leaves you wanting for nothing more. Since the pandemic it has been difficult not to snack but generally I eat and stop when I am full so often I will have one big meal a day with  two very light ones. If I am hungry, I eat.The second time he made this dish (and with a variation) it tasted even better. He is learning so quickly and so well that I forget I am teaching him. I give him the freedom to season how he wants to and the freedom to choose how great or how fine he wants to cut his ingredients. He makes me so proud when he tastes the food as he cooks it, cleans as he cooks and puts ingredients away while he waits on the food as it cooks ….and….he smells his seasonings and in a short space of time has learned to flavor meat by eyeballing how much he thinks he needs to make his food tasty.

If this is round 2, I can’t wait to taste round 3 of these fabulous dishes.

Stay well, wash your hands keep 2 meters between yourself and strangers and hang in there, This too shall pass.  ~Daniella and family.