Cottage Pie Topped with Scalloped Potato Gratin

Yummmmy!!!  Made this dish for supper tonight and it was soooooo tasty!! What a combination….ground beef with onion, carrot, mushrooms ( I didn’t have )celery..then the scalloped potato cream mixture for the potatoes made this dish very delicious!  A keeper for sure…hubby went back for seconds which is always a good sign.

It has three steps then you put it together.  First the meat mixture, the potatoes, the cream mixture…but it’s worth it.  It takes about 30 minutes to cook and about 45 minutes to get all the components together and ready.  I will be doing it again!




Cottage Pie Topped with Scalloped Potatoes Gratin

Ground Beef Mixture:

  1. 1 lb ground beef
  2. salt & pepper to taste
  3. 1/2 of a larg onion or one small one
  4. 1 1/2 stalks of celery finely chopped
  5. 1 carrot chopped small
  6. SCANT 1/4 cup of flour
  7. 1 cup beef stock
  8. 1 tsp soy sauce
  9. some chopped parley or a TBSP of dry parsley
  10. 4 oz of cremini mushrooms sliced

For The Potatoes:

  1. 1 TBSP flour ( I use easy blend by Robin Hood for my sauces)
  2. 2/3 cup of heavy cream (I used whipping cream)
  3. 1 large clove of garlic minced
  4. salt & pepper to taste
  5. 2 lbs of potatoes ( I used Yukon Gold)
  6. 4 oz of cheddar cheese ( I used Monterey Jack)
  7. 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


  • peel and slice potatoes 1/8 inch thick
  • put in pot and boil 5 minutes…till they begin to get soft
  • drain in strainer and let cool


  • Brown beef in frying pan
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • drain fat then sprinkle flour over meat…mix well
  • set meat aside on a plate
  • in the frying pan add onion, celery and carrot & mushroom
  • fry till they begin to get soft
  • add meet to the pan and mix together
  • add beef broth & soy sauce
  • simmer till thickened
  • put meat mixture into a casserole dish

Cream Mixture

  • In a glass measuring cup add 2/3 cup of heavy cream
  • Add 1 TBSP of flour ( I use easy blend by Robin Hood for sauces)
  • mix well so there won’t be any lumps
  • add 1 large clove of garlic minced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Bring to a boil then simmer till it starts to thicken..set aside

This is the flour I use for any sauce or gravy I make.  It’s super fine …you mix it into your liquid with a fork…no lumps!


  • layer half the potatoes over the meat
  • now half the cream mixture
  • repeat
  • sprinkle the cheese over top
  • Bake in a 425 oven for about 30 minutes
  • till the top is browned and crusty and it’s bubbly hot
  • serve with garlic bread



Gingerbread Magic Cookie Bars…a new twist!

See what happens when you substitute ingredients….something deliscious happens!!!  Sometimes! LOL…well this was one of those times.  Love when that happens!!!

I used chocolate chips and salted caramel chips…and a gingersap crust.  YUMMMMM!!!

My hubby was the taste tester today and he loved them!  They’re a keeper he said.  YES!!!

I’m getting all kinds of baking ready to ship to our son and his family for Christmas.  The kids love when the “Christmas box” arrives.  They jump up and down they’re so excited.  It’s so much fun to watch them unpack that box…sob sob that they’re so far away.

Enough about my sob story….let’s not waste time talking and let’s get baking…and tasting LOL

Finely crush your gingersanp cookies.  Add butter, flour, baking powder.  Press into a greased 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper.

Layer all remaining ingredients as listed in recipe.

Let cool completely then cut into bars.



My Magic Cookie Bars…a new twist!

  1. 1 1/2 cups of ginger snaps …finely crushed
  2. 1/2 cup butter very soft
  3. 1/2 cup flour
  4. 1 tsp baking powder
  5. 1 cup flaked coconut
  6. 1 cup salted caramel chips
  7. 1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips
  8. 1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
  9. 1 cup chopped pecans



  • place crushed ginger snaps in stand mixer or food processor
  • add very soft butter, flour and baking powder
  • mix in low till completely blended
  • press into a prepared 9×13 pan…greased and lined with parchment paper
  • Layer remaining ingredients…in order listed
  • Bake at 325 for 30 minutes
  • Let cool completely
  • Cut into squares or bars






Sugar Cookies (memere pickle’s recipe)

Our granddaughter came over today for a visit.  She has these long breaks at University so she comes and spends the afternoon with us.   I was about to make cookies so we decided to make her great grandmother’s sugar cookies. My mother in law was a great cook.  Miss her at Christmas time.  I used to go over and make her pie crust for her to make her meat pies…I have her recipe for that too! Maybe next time LOL

The younger great grandchildren called here “memere pickle”.  That all started when Mila (great granddaughter)used to go and see her and ask for a pickle.  So the name stuck and she became “memere pickle”

Her recipe was hand written on a piece of paper she had on hand.  I added my own notes to it so pay attention!!!


Sugar Cookies…(memere pickle’s recipe)

My mother in law wrote this on a piece of paper she had on hand.

I added my own notes so please pay attention!!!

I made the recipe with butter NOT MARGARINE!

I also baked it 9 minutes in my oven.  So depending on how hot your oven is I would say 8-10 minutes.  You want the edges lightly golden.



Spaghetti Sauce…the best!

I have never, so far, come across anyone that doesn’t like a good spaghetti dinner.  For a long time for some reason I could not make a good spaghetti sauce.

One weekend we decided to go and visit our friends in Ottawa.  When we got there I could smell this wonderful sauce that had been simmering for hours.  I couldn’t wait to taste it!

When dinner time came I eagerly came to the table..the smells!!!!  .I wasn’t disappointed!   I could have literally eaten the whole pot it was soooooo good!

So of course I had to get the recipe..and he was willing to share.  It did not take long after we got home that I wanted to try it.  It’s an easy recipe, goes together in short order and is deliscious. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.






Spaghetti Sauce…the best!

  1. 2 28oz cans of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes…from Costco…squished with your hands
  2. 1 large can of Hunt’s Tomato Sauce
  3. 1 can of Tomato Paste
  4. 1 lb lean ground beef
  5. 2 Italian sausage…casings removed…you choose how spicy
  6. 1 onion…finely chopped
  7. 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  8. 1 good size carrot..finely chopped
  9. 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  10. 2 large cloves of garlic..minced
  11. salt & pepper to taste
  12. 1/3 – 1/2 cup of good red wine
  13. 1 TBSP each….oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, 2 bay leaves
  14. 3 TBSP of brown sugar


  • brown your ground beef and sausage together…drain fat
  • add onion and cook till onion is translucent
  • add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes
  • add celery, carrot, pepper and sauté for 2 minutes
  • take your two cans of tomatoes and squish them with your can wear gloves…
  • add tomatoes, tomato paste,  Hunt’s Tomato Sauce to your meat mixture
  • Add red wine and spices
  • add brown sugar
  • bring to a boil then simmer for at least 2 hours…
  • use your favourite pasta





Christmas Tour of Homes 2018


How I love Christmas.  The decorating, the lights, the sparkle and all the shopping.  I love when the stores are busy with people…I just love it all!

In Sudbury where I live there is a Christmas Tour of Homes…they raise funds for charities in our area.  It is always well attended.  This year there were six houses on the tour.  I was invited to decorate one of them…the largest house on the tour.  There were seven trees, small trees all over and all the other decorations, like the mantle, etc.

When I first got to the house at the time it all started there was a lineup all the way down the walkway, the driveway and up a bit of the street…good thing it was a beautiful day out!

So I thought I’d bring you on the “Tour”…maybe you’ll pick up some ideas for your place….

They just added this sunroom this fall so we decided it would be a great spot for a tree….one of seven in this house.

This was her daughter’s room (they are empty nesters) so we decided to keep it girly.  There is fur ribbon, and embossed ribbon and the tree is full of snowflakes…all sizes.  And clusters of purple balls.

This was on the mantle…there is a tv in the middle but there was room on each side so we filled the areas with assorted trees, branches with red bell/balls and candles.

It was such a large house we had to get creative and use things around the house…an ugly Christmas sweater and some well used skates.

The lady of the house is an artist…so I had her paint this as a backdrop for the manger.  There are small lights that come through and sparkle like stars.

This tree if full of words like Joy, Peace, Merry Christmas etc and full of large and small snowflakes.

The dining room table is so inviting….it says “come sit with us”.  Enjoy some food with us!!!

In the kitchen we go…..on a long peninsula we put a old sleigh… old wire basket is full of red ribbon, a tree, it says “Merry Christmas”

The owner said she just loves going up to her bedroom….she puts the tree lights on and reads …till she falls asleep!

Here is another sample of her art…..

Hope you enjoyed the “Tour”







Shepherd’s Pie


Fall is here and that makes us hungry for comfort foods.  So the other day I decided to make a Shepherd’s pie recipe I found while browsing the internet.

It turned out really good…when my hubby took a bite he said “it’s a keeper”…that’s always my sign that I should post this…

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Peel & boil your potatoes.  Add buttter, a bit of milk and Parmesan cheese.  Salt & pepper to taste.  Mash and set aside.

Brown your hamburger…then drain fat…add onion, garlic and toss for for a couple of minutes till onions are translucent.

Add beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, onion soup mix and frozen veggies.  Stir to mix.  Simmer for about 3 minutes.  It will remain cooking in the oven

Put mashed potatoes on top. Sprinkle a bit of parsley and grated Parmesan cheese on top…place in 350 oven for about 30 minutes..till top of potatoes are nicely browned.

I cooked mine in a cast iron skillet so I could transfer it to the overn…dirtying only that pan.

Shepherd’s Pie

  1. 6 large potatoes..boiled and mashed
  2. 6 TBSPs butter…room temperature
  3. 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  4. just a bit of milk …for mashed potatoes
  5. 1 1/4lb of hamburger meat
  6. salt & pepper to taste
  7. 1 large onion
  8. 1 large clove of garlic minced ( or my garlic paste ..see add ons)
  9. 1 cup of beef broth
  10. 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
  11. 1 envelope of onion soup mix
  12. 2 cups frozen vegetables…carrot/peas/green beans/


  • peel & boil potatoes  (for mashed potatoes)
  • add butter, a bit of milk, Parmesan cheese,  salt & pepper to taste
  • set aside
  • meanwhile, brown hamburger…drain fat
  • add onion, garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes..till onion is translucent.
  • add beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, onion soup mix, frozen veggies…stir to mix
  • simmer for about 3 minutes…this will remain cooking in the oven
  • top with mashed potatoes
  • make a design on top with a fork
  • top with some Parmesan cheese and a bit of parsley
  • bake in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes….till top of potatoes are nicely browned.


Garlic Paste


This will be the shortest but yummiest post I ever make.  YOU WILL THANK ME FOR THIS!  See this green garlic paste?  We never let ourselves run out of this.  It’s always in our fridge ready for use.

We saw this on a cooking show years ago and my hubby experimented and he succeeded!  The scene was in Italy and the mom brought a bowl of this out and put it on the outdoor table where her family was gathered..and they scooped it out and dipped their bread in it. But I tell you it’s great on chicken, fish, garlic bread, you name it you can use it.  Add some to your Chili, spaghetti sauce, etc.  Be creative!!!

Note: it will last in the fridge for weeks!


Garlic Paste

  1. one whole bulb of garlic peeled
  2. 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  3. pinch of salt
  4. pinch of parsley


  • in a small food processor add all the garlic cloves…the whole bulb of peeled garlic and mince
  • add the olive oil and mix again
  • add salt and parsley and mix again
  • place in an airtight container and put it in the fridge
  • Note: it will set like soft butter. It will take a couple of days.



Raisin Pie

Today my hubby asked if I would make him a raisin pie…I’m trying to lose weight so I’ll have to be very disciplined once it’s cooked.  It smells so good in here…I”m in trouble….

When I first got married 47 years ago it’s my mother in law who taught me how to make pie crust.  Years later when I was making pie crust for her meat pies (tourtiere) in French, she said “I taught you how to make pie crust and now you’re better than me) LOL.

I find it easy to make pies, but it’s not the same for everyone.  But here is my recipe if you’re a pie maker.


Make slits for steam to escape.

Fold your bottom and top crust under together.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar.

It’s a very tasty pie!


Raisin Pie

  1. 2 cups of water
  2. 1 3/4 cup of raisins
  3. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  4. 2 TBSP of corn starch
  5. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  6. 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  7. 1/4 tsp salt
  8. 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  9. 1/4 cup of butter , room temperature


  • Bring  your water & raisins to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes
  • mix all dry ingredients together and add after 5 minutes
  • simmer till clear and thickened…remove from heat
  • add butter and vinegar
  • let cool to room temperature
  • meanwhile roll out your dough for the bottom crust
  • pour your cooled filling into your pie crust
  • roll out your top pie crust and top the pie…make slits for steam to escape
  • cut your excess crust to about 3/4 inch overhang then fold under
  • now dust your fingers with flour an flute the edge or primp with a fork


Instant Pot Beef & Barley Soup

It was that kind of day today….a soup kind of day.  Overcast, rainy and damp.  So it begged for something comforting like beef & barley soup.  What better way to make it than in my Instant Pot….just got it and this is the first recipe I try in it.

My friends had one and we loved what they made in theirs so we thought this would be handy at camp so we bought one.  And I’m glad we did!  It works great and is actually very easy once you read the instructions.

So here we go…a new adventure!!

Beef & Barley Soup (Instant Pot Recipe)

  1. 1 1/2 lbs stew beef cut in small pieces
  2. salt and pepper to taste
  3. cooking oil ( I used olive oil)
  4. 10 baby bella mushrooms cut in small pieces
  5. 3 cups of miropois ( chopped carrots, celery & onion)
  6. 6-8 cloves of garlic , minced
  7. 6 cups low sodium beef broth
  8. 1 cup water
  9. 2 bay leaves
  10. 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  11. 1 large potato shredded
  12. 2/3 cup of pearl barley, rinsed
  13. 2 Tbsp of Boris or other beef broth enhancer


  • season the stew meat with salt & pepper. Hear 1 Tbsp of oil in your Instant Pot over “normal” heat on the “Sauté” setting. Add 1/2 the stew meat to brown, remove put in a bowl and brown the other 1/2..repeat
  • now add a bit more oil if needed and sauté the celery, carrot & onion..add garlic and sauté …..add to same bowl as stew set aside
  • now add the mushrooms and sauté as well ( add more oil if needed)
  • now add everything you have sautéed…add your beef broth, water and seasoning & bay leaves
  • lock your lid onto your Instant Pot and press Pressure Cook…on high for 15 minutes.
  • Note: it will take a couple of minutes to reach the pressure
  • the time you’ve set will come on once the temperature is reached
  • once the 15 minutes are up it will ding
  • release the pressure as per instructions in your manual….
  • remove lid ….add rinsed barley and shredded potato, mix
  • add more seasonings if needed
  • lock the lid in place
  • press “slow cooker” and time it for 1 hour
  • it will be perfectly done





Mixed Berry/Chocolate Muffins

Happy Fall everyone!  It’s sunny here today and it put me in the mood for baking muffins. granddaughter who is in her first year of University is coming for supper and I’ll send some home with her.

I know…these are not fall flavours per say…..but you will love these muffins….anytime of year. Trust me on this one!!

Now…I have been called the muffin queen by my friends for years now.  The ones I baked today have been a favourite for a long time so I thought I’d share it with you here today.

I’m trying to lose some weight so this surely doesn’t help!  Grrrrr!  But I need to be a good girl and learn control…yeah right!

I love chocolate…and I love it in everything I can put it in.  So I put chocolate in these muffins….HEAVENLY!!!

Note:  I used jumbo tulip liners and a jumbo scoop.


Look how the tops cracked open….I baked them on convection bake @350.

You want to make sure that when you mix the wet and dry ingredients that you fold in slowly….the batter will be lumpy.  That will give you a moist and light texture.  If you over beat they will be tough.

Add the frozen berries and chocolate if you’re using it…again mix in slowly….Don’t overmix!!!

Oh!!! The batter changed colour!!!  It’s ok….once baked they are perfect!


Mixed Berry/Chocolate Muffins

  1. 2 cups of unbleached flour
  2. 2 tsp baking powder
  3. 1/4 tsp salt
  4. 1 cup sugar
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 3/4 cup milk
  7. 1/2 cup oil ( I used grape seed oil)
  8. 1 tsp almond extract
  9. 2 cups of berries ( I used frozen 3 berry mix, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry ) DO NOT THAW!
  10. 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)


Line a muffin pan with your favourite liners…..I used jumbo tulip liners.

Preheat your oven to 375

I baked mine on convection bake @350

  • mix first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl…set aside
  • in a large bowl mix sugar, eggs, milk, oil, almond extract and beat well
  • add dry ingredients and fold in gently (that will give you moist and light muffins)
  • add frozen fruit and chocolate and fold in gently….the batter will change colour but it will be perfect once baked…
  • scoop into your prepared muffin tin
  • sprinkle the tops with coarse raw sugar (it’s light brown and coarse)


Pastrami Dip

Yes, pastrami dip….YUM!  I came across this recipe in the 1980”s.  My sister in law brought it to a family gathering and I was hooked!  I claimed it as mince and have been making it ever since!  Thanks Cathy!

I”m at camp for the summer, and since I hadn’t made it for ages I decided to try it here for a large gathering we had yesterday.  It was a hit! Hard to imagine but it has a wonderful taste!

Side note: we have a friend here at camp that we introduced pastrami sandwiches to for the first time.  I love pastrami with Dijon Mustard and lettuce on a cheese bun or bread. It is now his favourite go to lunch meat…so yes he did like the pastrami dip!

I did not have my food processor here so I chopped the pastrami with a bit of the sour cream mixture in my blender and that worked out fine, but a processor works better as the blender minces it a bit too fine but the taste is the same.

I know the name of this dip sounds wacky but please try it..your company will love it!


Pastrami Dip

  1. 1/2 lb of pastrami
  2. 1 cup of mayonnaise ( I used Miracle Whip)
  3. 1 cup of sour cream
  4. 3 green onions
  5. 1 tsp of dried dill
  6. 2 round sour dough breads


  • cut pastrami and green onion in small pieces and chop in a food processor till it’s nice small pieces (not minced to mush)
  • remove from processor and place in a large bowl
  • add sour cream and mayonaise
  • add dill
  • place in fridge for at least 4 hours
  • Cut out a round area from the centre of one sour dough bread large enough to accomodate your dip
  • cut the other sour bread in 1 inch pieces or your desired size
  • place on platter and serve


Summer Salad

I just love a good summer salad… I’m sharing one today that I’m making for supper at camp on beautiful Manitoulin Island.  So the kitchen I’m working in is our RV kitchen.  It’s quite roomy and works great….I’ve also gotten used to baking on the BBQ and it beats warming up the trailer.

Yesterday I had the Manitoulin Chicks (our girly group here in our park) over for a BBQ baking lesson…I will post “how to”very soon… was a great success! And the bonus was getting to visit with my friends!

But today is salad day…if you’re like us here it’s been an extremely warm summer so we’re looking for something light and cool to eat.

So here we go….oops almost forgot!  In Sudbury Ontario where we live we have a store that sells infused oils and balsamic vinegars..the store is called Adoro…could be a different name in your city…they make wonderful dressings…most stores give you a sheet with all the pairings and you can do tastings in the store as well…I just love them.

Today I’m using Lemon Olive Oil and BlackBerry/Ginger Balsamic.




Summer Salad:

  1. romaine lettuce…washed and cut….YOU CAN USE A LETTUCE MIX OR ADD KALE TO YOUR ROMAINE
  2. red onion
  3. feta cheese
  4. candied pecans
  5. lemon olive oil
  6. strawberries
  7. blackberry/ginger balsamic


  • wash and prepare romaine lettuce or lettuce mix
  • red onion…sliced and ringed…set aside
  • feta cheese….cut or crumbled…set aside
  • strawberries…washed and sliced….set aside

Candied Pecans:

  • In a saucepan melt 1Tbsp of butter and 1Tbsp of brown sugar for every 1/2 cup of nuts…(I used pecans) you could  use walnuts.
  • Add pecans and simmer for about 7 minutes …till the sugar mixture is turned dark and the nuts are coated. DON’T BURN THEM!
  • Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper…let cool…set aside



  • Just before serving….toss your greens & onion with the olive oil
  • Add in layers:  feta cheese, pecans, and strawberries
  • Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top
  • Note:  I place the balsamic on the table so people can use more

Note: it looks really nice served on a long narrow platter with everything layered…