Kneading + Knives Bucket Lists: Summer 2017

The days in Winnipeg are getting longer, the patios are open and the smell of BBQs is in the air. That can only mean one thing – SUMMER!!!!


We are both BIG Olaf fans!

To celebrate all things warm, and delicious on the first official day of summer, we are creating our own little bucket list of the things we want to do this summer – SO fun!

Cindy’s List:

  1. Create a cocktail using cucumber vodka and rosé: I recently bought a bottle of the former and absolutely love to drink the latter. Mixing them in some way can only be better, right?!
  2. Create a really great Signature Cindy Salad for dinner on those hot summer nights or that I can bring to summer potlucks. Besides greens, I’m thinking melons, berries, some stinky cheese and… something crunchy?
  3. Experiment with homemade popsicles!
  4. Continue to experiment with pizza on the BBQ – especially finding the perfect crust, as the one we used last year was almost as thick as foccacia!
  5. Since I’ll be travelling for 2 weeks in July on a road trip, I definitely want to make some great homemade snacks to bring along. Any suggestions?

Lisa’s List:

  1. Make some deeeeelish ribs on the BBQ.  I tried some mediocre ribs by Jamie Oliver last summer,  but I really, really want to find ones that knock my socks off.
  2. Take a random day off and go to the beach.  I haven’t been to a beach since March 2016…granted, it was in Australia, which was fab…but I def. want a day of sand between my toes and sun on my skin.
  3. Spend time relaxing in my backyard, with a freshly made mojito, made of mint harvested from my mint plant and maybe some blueberries and strawberries harvested from my plants, too…if they bear fruit.
  4. Plan a fun housewarming / birthday party in August….complete with a kick ass menu!
  5. Patio beers with good friends both in my back yard and out and about in Winnipeg.
  6. I have a bonus one – to really give my new convection oven and my kitchen a proper test run, I want to attempt to make a beautiful cake from a recipe I have never tried before…eeek!

What’s on your summer bucket list?

May 2017 | Our Final Review of Pinch of Yum

Our cookbook (well… blog!) for May 2017 was Pinch of Yum.

Lisa’s Thoughts:

Pinch of Yum – totally not a misleading title.  Lindsay’s blog is full of yummy things to make.  Unfortunately, due to the chaos that was purchasing appliances for my new to me house, I was only able to make a few recipes from her blog – which was a total bummer….but I am confident that I will be making more things from her blog because… many things.  I also liked that it didn’t require outlandish ingredients for most of the recipes…and a lot of them were chock full of veggies and were generally quite healthy.  They also weren’t overly complicated, which I appreciated after a month with that Jamie Oliver 15 Minute nightmare book.

I loved the burritos I made of hers…and love that they are in my freezer and have made for delish dinners on nights when I can’t be bothered to make a proper dinner…and for the record….the reheated burritos taste great – but they do take about 25 minutes in the oven to warm up (since I currently don’t have my microwave installed…sad).  I loved the other dishes I made, too…and already have my eye on a few others to make in the future when I’m not pulling my hair out with the craziness that is moving.

I also liked that her blog includes blogging tips and parts from her real life, both the terrific and the tragic.  It makes her more real and relatable and for whatever reason, it made me enjoy visiting the blog more.  It also made me want to drive to Twin Cities and give her a hug.

So, if you are looking for healthy, delish food – def. at Pinch of Yum to your regular food blog repertoire.  You will not be sorry.

Cindy’s Thoughts:

Hurrah! After a disaster of a cookbook in April, May was a wonderful month of cooking from the Pinch of Yum blog! Lindsay’s recipes are simply, healthy, quick and most importantly… delicious.

Like Lisa mentions above, the recipes didn’t require outlandish ingredients. The vibe of the recipes and the way they were written were similar to The Kitchn, which I loved: friendly and approachable.

This is a definite blog to bookmark and use regularly. (Especially those soft chocolate chip cookies!) Plain and simple: I love just kind of everything about the Pinch of Yum blog.

Recipes We Cooked: Spicy Sausage Rigatoni, Spicy Chipotle Turkey Burritos, Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad, The Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies, Burst Tomato and Zucchini Spaghetti with Avocado, Brown Butter Scallops with Parmesan Risotto

Final Verdict: Highly Recommended


Pinch of Yum Blog: Spicy Sausage Rigatoni

We’re not a big pasta eating household but when my husband picked this recipe out, I had a feeling we were in for a delicious treat!


What heaven smells like…

And yes: Winner, winner, rigatoni dinner! This dish is fantastic. Slightly sweet, slightly spicy and a nice richness from the red wine. (Note below that the recipe calls for a specific brand of wine. We simply bought a small, cheap bottle of red.)


Don’t skip on the parmesan cheese and basil!

I didn’t time this recipe as best as I could because I ended up cooking the pasta first and THEN starting the sauce (which takes about 20 minutes). No huge deal, as the pasta is tossed into the sauce at the end… but just another friendly reminder for me to read the full recipe before beginning to cook.


A closer look at the deliciousness

Oh and the leftovers, you guys… this dish is even better the next day!

Recipe Rating: 5 Knives out of 5

Bon appétit,

p.s. I have to say, I’ll be sad to see May go because I really enjoyed cooking through the Pinch of Yum blog! It’s definitely bookmarked at the top of my list and will be a regular food resource.


Spicy Sausage Rigatoni

Serves: 8-10
  • 1 tablespoon oil or butter
  • half of a yellow onion, minced
  • 4 carrots, minced
  • 12 ounces spicy Italian sausage (casings removed – just the ground meat)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup Barefoot Rich Red Blend
  • 1 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, including their juice
  • ¼ cup balsamic or Italian dressing (optional)
  • 1 lb. whole wheat rigatoni
  • ½ cup reserved pasta water
  • Parmesan and parsley or basil for topping
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrots – saute for 10 minutes or so, until the vegetables are very soft.
  2. Add the ground sausage, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. When the sausage is fully cooked, add the wine to get the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the tomatoes and dressing – simmer for 10-20 minutes while the pasta is cooking.
  4. Cook the pasta according to package directions. When draining, reserve ½ cup of the cooking water. Combine the pasta, the sauce, and the reserved water and toss gently to combine. Transfer to a large serving dish and top with Parmesan and parsley or basil. Serve with more Barefoot Rich Red Blend!

Recipe copied from:

Pinch of Yum Blog’s Spicy Chipotle Turkey Burritos



Sorry for the Homer Simpson moment…I just…I remember how good these tasted and it makes me want one bad, bad, bad.

I made these for dinner for a friend that was coming to check out my new (to me) house.  The recipe was rather simple.  I experimented with it a bit, using some beer to deglaze my Dutch oven of all those yummy brown bits leftover from cooking the ground chicken (couldn’t find ground turkey).


I used most of the recommended veggies – peppers, onions, mushrooms and zucchini.  I forgot to add the frozen corn I had bought for the burritos, but no matter it was delicious.  My only real complaint was that there was a lot of liquid in the burrito filling.  I am thinking it might be because I didn’t sweat the zucchini before throwing it in, but I really don’t know.  It was delicious, regardless of the fact that the burritos were crazy messy to eat.

IMG_5115[1]I made some guacamole, put out some feta (can’t find Cotija Cheese at my local supermarkets), salsa, cilantro, plain greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) and hot sauce for additional condiments.  I highly recommend putting these items out to accompany your burritos because they compliment the flavours nicely.

My dinner guest and I both eagerly ate two burritos and felt pleasantly stuffed.  I had a LOT of filling leftover (not as surprise given that this recipe should make 15 burritos).  I rolled up the rest of the burritos and have them waiting for me in my freezer.  Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to try out the frozen versions yet, but I’m feeling confident that they will be just as good as they were when they were freshly made…but I will provide an update on the blog here when I finally give one a whirl.

I would definitely recommend making these burritos, full stop. I think the fact that it makes enough to put away for quick, future meals is fabulous. Definitely whip up a batch, pronto!

Recipe rating: 5 knives out of 5

Om, nom, nom,



Pinch of Yum Blog: Spicy Chipotle Turkey Burritos (Make Ahead)

Serves: 15 burritos


Filing Part One (Turkey):

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 3 lbs. ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoon EACH chili powder and cumin
  • 3-5 individual chipotle peppers (canned in adobo sauce), minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Filling Part Two (Vegetables):

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon EACH chili powder and cumin
  • 4-5 cups chopped veggies like carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, etc. (see notes for specifics)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (more as needed)
  • 1 14-ounce can pinto or black beans
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1½ cups plain Greek yogurt

For Serving:

  • 15 10-inch tortillas
  • avocado, hot sauce, cilantro, etc. for serving


  1. Filling Part One: Heat the tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven or stock pot. Add the onion and the turkey; as the turkey cooks, add the spices, chipotle peppers, and salt. Cook until the turkey is browned and fully cooked. When the meat is saucy and delicious-looking, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Filling Part Two: In the same pot, add the oil, onion, veggies, and spices. Saute for a few minutes until the vegetables are mostly soft. Add enough broth to barely cover the vegetables and simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the vegetables are soft and the mixture has thickened. Add the beans, meat, cheese, and yogurt. Stir until creamy. Also at this point it’s a good idea to taste and add salt or more seasoning to make sure you’re all good on flavor.
  3. Fill each tortilla with about ½ cup of the filling, fold up (I spread a little goat cheese or avocado on the sides to help them stick together), and wrap with plastic or foil. Store in the freezer for quick, grab-and-go lunches and dinners!
  4. To heat and eat, either pop in the microwave (takes about 5 minutes for a semi-thawed burrito) or in the oven (I’ve never been patient enough to do it this way so I don’t have a good time guideline here) or a combo with the microwave and then on a skillet if you’re at home so you can get that golden brown exterior. That’s the best way.


For more smoky heat, add additional chipotles. For more HOT heat, add a good shake of cayenne to the meat and vegetable mixture.

For vegetables, I always use a few different veggies based on whatever’s left in the fridge. But if you want direct amounts, I’d suggest 1 sweet potato, 5 carrots, and 3 bell peppers.

Also – technically the cheese and Greek yogurt could be optional, but I like the mixture to be a little creamy. It also helps it stick together better.


Pinch of Yum Blog: Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad

Hey All,

This moving thing has really put a YUGE damper on my blogging…mostly because I have not had access to a fridge or a stove in my new place…until this past weekend.


my precious…..

I tested out my new convection oven with The Kitchn’s Perfected Chocolate Chip Cookies, of course…and they were fabulous.  I was a bit nervous with the convection setting, but I didn’t need to fear as it all turned out amazingly. YAY!

I also roasted up my first chicken in my stove last night and that wasn’t quite so straight forward (though it turned out perfectly in the end) given I used the temperature probe that came with the stove.  It’s going take some time to learn it, I think.

I prepped the chicken using Turkey Paste from William Sonoma.  You need to get this stuff ( I can’t put the link as it’s not on the site as it’s only available in the fall) because its so easy and yummy and a little goes a long way.  And since I had this yummy chicken all ready to go as well as some other key ingredients (including watermelon, thanks to a generous drop off from my Auntie Kim), I figured that this recipe was the thing to make for dinner.

Plus, it marks a return to eating real, non-take out food…like proper vegetables and un-fried foods. YAAAAS!

So onto the recipe.  Was very nice, super easy…like even if I had to cook up the chicken and carve up the watermelon, it would still be easy peasy.  It was filling and delicious and well, who knew I liked blue cheese?!


First time for everything-buying blue cheese!

One thing that I sort of screwed up was making the balsamic reduction.  I know, I know…how do you mess that up?!  Well, having a new stove and being distracted–that’s how.  Instead of cooking it down to a nice drizzle…I cooked it down to almost a caramel. Sigh.  Such a waste of balsamic…but alas, it still tasted great, despite some chewy bits. Hah!


Looks good, right?

I also added a bit of cucumber to this as I just can’t help myself. I love cucumber with salad so feel free to do the same in yours, if you want.

Oh and the best part of this salad, next to the ease of prepping it, was that it just tasted like summer…and since it was a warmer spring night, it just seemed like the perfect choice for my dinner last night.

Recipe rating: 4 knives out of 5

Om, nom, nom,



 Pinch of Yum’s Balsamic Watermelon Salad

Serves 4


1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts

3 teaspoons all purpose seasoning (Pinch of Yum used a spice mix from a specialty food store – I used William’s Sonoma Turkey Paste)

1 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups baby spinach or greens

2 cups cubed watermelon

½ cup blue cheese crumbles

¼ cup sliced or crushed almonds

sliced cumber – optional (this is my own addition and not part of the original recipe



Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the balsamic vinegar is significantly reduced and starting to become syrupy.

Meanwhile, turn a grill or nonstick skillet to high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with the seasoning on both sides and drizzle with the olive oil. Transfer to the hot grill and cook until no longer pink on the inside and nicely browned on the outside. Let rest for 5 minutes; cut into small cubes.

Layer the spinach with the chicken, watermelon, blue cheese, almonds, and drizzle with the balsamic reduction to taste. Top with additional olive oil if desired.

Pinch of Yum: The Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe title? It’s the truth.

These are THE Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies!


Yes, I – the non-baker – choose a baking recipe to review. These babies are the perfect texture. My sole complaint? The recipe only makes 12 cookies (or 9 giant cookies). Had I bought more chocolate chips, I would easily have made a second batch the same evening.


There’s really not much more to say, readers. I consider these the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Make ’em! (And they only took 20 minutes – prep and cooking time included!)


Recipe Rating: 5 Knives out of 5

Bon appétit!


The Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Serves: 12 cookies (or 9 if you make the cookies HUUUGE, which I often do)
  • 8 tablespoons of salted butter
  • ½ cup white sugar (I like to use raw cane sugar with a coarser texture)
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour (more as needed – see video)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (but I always add a little extra)
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips (I use a combination of chocolate chips and chocolate chunks)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Microwave the butter for about 40 seconds to just barely melt it. It shouldn’t be hot – but it should be almost entirely in liquid form.
  2. Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, beat the butter with the sugars until creamy. Add the vanilla and the egg; beat on low speed until just incorporated – 10-15 seconds or so (if you beat the egg for too long, the cookies will be stiff).
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until crumbles form. Use your hands to press the crumbles together into a dough. It should form one large ball that is easy to handle (right at the stage between “wet” dough and “dry” dough). Add the chocolate chips and incorporate with your hands.
  4. Roll the dough into 12 large balls (or 9 for HUGELY awesome cookies) and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes until the cookies look puffy and dry and just barely golden.Warning, friends: DO NOT OVERBAKE. This advice is probably written on every cookie recipe everywhere, but this is essential for keeping the cookies soft. Take them out even if they look like they’re not done yet (see picture in the post). They’ll be pale and puffy.
  5. Let them cool on the pan for a good 30 minutes or so (I mean, okay, eat four or five but then let the rest of them cool). They will sink down and turn into these dense, buttery, soft cookies that are the best in all the land. These should stay soft for many days if kept in an airtight container. I also like to freeze them.
Notes: The 3 most important things about this recipe are 1) melting the butter, 2) adding enough flour, and 3) not baking for too long.

If you find that the dough is wet and it REALLY sticks to your hands, you probably need a little more flour. This is important otherwise you’ll have flat cookies. I’ll usually add a few tablespoons at a time to get it to the right consistency. See video in post for reference. You should be able to roll the balls of dough between your hands without any issues.

Pinch of Yum Blog: Burst Tomato and Zucchini Spaghetti with Avocado Sauce

Ah, those first warm days of Spring that feel like Summer…


The best colours!

On a particularly warm Monday in early May, I knew I wanted something light and fresh for dinner, and I knew I didn’t want to use my oven if at all possible. Another reason I chose this recipe is because I received a veggie spiralizer as a gift quite some time ago and the only use I was getting out of it was, well, none!


Zucchini noodles are quite the blast to make!

Enter the Burst Tomato and Zucchini Spaghetti with Avocado Sauce recipe from Pinch of Yum. It looked just perfect! A limited amount of stovetop cooking with a healthy-looking end point (i.e. dinner!).

The best news – guess how long this recipe took to make? That’s right folks… 15 MINUTES! (For real, Jamie Oliver.)


Just before mixing…

My modifications: I skipped out on the spaghetti and I left the zucchini noodles raw ( I like the texture better), instead of cooking them with the burst tomatoes. I also threw in one chopped, unseeded mildly spiced yellow chile for a bit of heat.

The avocado sauce was good, but was missing a little something. Since I’ll be making this dish again (likely with the addition of some grilled shrimp!), I’m eager to experiment a bit with the sauce – perhaps anchovies or anchovy paste would ramp it up a bit?


From prep to plate in 15 minutes, yo!

Overall, this was a tasty, healthy and super easy dinner for a warm eve. Thumbs up.

Recipe Rating: 4 Knives out of 5

Bon appétit,


Burst Tomato and Zucchini Spaghetti with Avocado Sauce

  • 3 cups yellow and red cherry tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini, spiralized
  • 4 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (optional – see notes)
  • Parmesan for topping (but skip this if you’re vegan, obvs)
Avocado Sauce
  • 1 avocado
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 3-4 green onions (green parts)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Pulse all sauce ingredients together until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat the cherry tomatoes in a large skillet over medium high heat with a very quick drizzle of olive oil. Gently shake the pan to get them moving (you might want to grab a lid for this – they really start to spatter when the juices hit the hot oil). Continue cooking until tomatoes are roasty-looking and the skins are split or loosened. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Add the zucchini to the same pan and toss for 1-2 minutes, until tender-crisp. Add the spaghetti and the avocado sauce. Toss until combined. Season with salt and pepper, top with reserved tomatoes and Parmesan if you like that sort of thing. Serve immediately.
Okay, so if you’re going SUPER HEALTHY on us, you could skip the pasta. We made this without pasta as a side for grilled chicken during an especially ambitious post-new-year’s-resolution meal, and even with JUST THE ZUCCHINI, it was still super delicious.

However, if you were making this without the chicken, I wouldn’t go for the zucchini-noodles-only approach. The pasta makes it more of a meal in and of itself.

Pinch of Yum Blog’s Brown Butter Scallops with Parmesan Risotto

Hey Folks!

My apologies for being a bit MIA.  This whole new house thing has been nothing short of a nightmare and cooking or baking anything has been so far off my radar that I never thought I would find my way back.  The residual stress that Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals also didn’t help.

Something about risotto was calling to me and this recipe looked a smidge simpler then my perennial favourite The Kitchn Cookbook: Risotto with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions and Parmesan Cheese.  The only challenge was the scallops, but since Cindy recently cooked up some mighty fine scallops, I figured I should, too, and did…after a few text requests for guidance from my lovely co-blogger.


I will note here, that I halved the amount of scallops for this recipe and added in a half pound of shrimp.  I was essentially hedging my bets, just in case I ruined the scallops. In the end, they turned out darn great, but I actually liked the shrimp more!

The recipe overall was nice and straight forward.  I probably found it easier than most, if only because I already had a good base knowledge on what to do for risotto.  I will say, I always add extra butter, parm and chicken broth…because well, it’s delish.


see those brown butter flecks!!!!! DROOL!

Actually speaking of delish, what I really, really, REALLY loved was the brown butter drizzle (which, I forgot in my fancy instagram pic), but omg, did it ever up the flavour in this dish. I’ve always been a fan of brown butter, but holy moly, it’s addition to this dish is out of this world.  I ended up mixing all of it into the risotto and then threw in the greens, scallops and shrimp into one glorious mix.

The only thing that I found to not be so great was the garlic greens.  I used kale because it looked much better than the super wilted spinach I found and I didn’t have time to go to another store.  The kale just…I dunno  This dish was so comforting and luxurious and I found the kale ended up a chewy, ugly addition to the dish.  It took away from the comfort aspect and I think some sautéed and wilted spinach and garlic would have been a better choice.


finished product, minus the brown butter – oops!

Without a doubt, I would definitely make this again (and again) and I could definitely see doubling the recipe to have extra leftovers (and yes I know technically risotto is best when fresh, but it isn’t horrible as leftovers, promise!).  It was relatively quick and required relatively little prep work, which is a huge plus, given how yummy this is.  I would also attempt at adding different veggies to this like asparagus, corn or mushrooms…essentially anything that would go well with garlic, carbs and parmesan. lol.

So yeah, get yourself to the grocery store, get your ingredients and cook this up – you won’t be sorry!

Recipe rating: 4.5 knives out of 5

Om, nom, nom,



Pinch of Yum’s Brown Butter Scallops with Parmesan Risotto

Serves: 3-4

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 minced clove garlic or 1 minced shallot (or both)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3-ish cups of chicken broth
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or other high smoke point oil – I used canola)
  • 1 pound jumbo scallops
    • NB I did half a pound of scallops and half a pound of shrimp
Sauteed Garlic Greens:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 4 cups spinach or kale
Brown Butter:
  • 3 tablespoons butter

For the Risotto: In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic or shallots and saute for a minute or two, until soft and fragrant. Add the arborio rice, stir to coat with butter. Add the white wine and enjoy the sizzles. Add the broth, ½ cup at a time, and simmer/stir after each addition until the rice is soft and creamy. I usually err on the side of more liquid to get a creamier texture. Add the parmesan and stir until incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste.

For the Seared Scallops: Heat oil in nonstick skillet. Pat scallops dry (VERY DRY, as dry as possible), sprinkle with salt, and add to pan. They should sizzle (if not, you need a hotter pan.) Shake gently to prevent sticking. After 2-3 minutes, flip each scallop over. They should have a pretty golden brown exterior and an opaque inside. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil. Serve immediately.

For the Sautéed Spinach: Heat the oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic, stir for a minute to get the flavor going. Add the spinach or kale and stir until wilted.

For the Brown Butter: Put a few tablespoons of butter in a clean skillet over medium heat and stir it while watching it closely – when it starts to look golden and foamy, remove from heat, transfer to a heat-proof bowl to cool slightly, then drizzle over the risotto, scallops, and greens.

April 2017 | Our Final Review of Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals

Our cookbook for April 2017 was Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals. (Buy it here, if you like.)

Lisa’s Thoughts:

Jamie, I am so disappointed in you.

You sold me a massive bill of goods on your 15-Minute Meals TV show, that I watched while sweating out a few gimpy miles.  I figured that the book would be a perfect match of what I knew would be a rough month for me time wise.  Work was about to get crazy stressful and I was preparing to move into my first home.  Quick and simple meals was exactly what I needed.

Except it was all a lie.  These meals did not take 15 minutes to make…it took almost three times that.  Start to finish…having all the ingredients out to serving…15 minutes…mine both took 40 minutes plus.  If it was 25 minutes, I would’ve given Jamie a pass…I mean, he’s a  pro chef – and I am far from it…but that was not the case.

And I did try to make these meals in 15 minutes.  I had two iphones timing my progress….and when that 15 minute timer went off and I was nowhere near done, I was blown away.  I started rushing even more through the recipes, making messes and worrying about whether or not I was missing steps because there were so many things happening…for the two recipes I made, there were three pots on the stove at all times.

The end result of this was a general anxiousness and lack of desire to cook anything further from the book…a first for me not only for the blog, but in my life…and I have always been a bit of an anxious cook in the kitchen.

Suffice it to say, this cookbook is a YUGE miss. Save your money and go spend it on a top rated book like Food 52 Genius Recipes or The Kitchn…or some fun kitchen gadget.

Cindy’s Thoughts:

As a long time fan of Jamie Oliver, this really pains me to say… but I did not enjoy this cookbook. I truly and thoroughly enjoyed the second cookbook Lisa and I cooked through last summer – Jamie at Home. Those recipes were written thoughtfully and wonderfully! This 15 Minute Meals book though… it’s like the recipes had no soul.

Sure, the scallops were delicious and so was the shred salad, but everything felt very disjointed in this book. The odd combo of main dish and side dish in each recipe often did not pair well together… and, really, you don’t always need a side for your entrée.

The meals did take much more cooking time than indicated, and to be honest… I’m not sure how even Jamie himself could tackle each recipe in 15 minutes without prepping his mise en place and without having a kitchen that looked like a tornado ripped through.

Want to know something else? I actually cooked one more recipe from this book. (The Broccoli Pasta, sans Chopped Garden Salad.) But it was so lackluster that I didn’t even bother blogging about it. (And the leftovers are slowly molding over in my fridge.)

Sigh 😦

While this book was a dud, it did not shut down my love for Jamie. I have another handful of Jamie Oliver cookbooks that I would like to cook through and review one day. Hoping those have got some soul!

Recipes We Cooked: Sausage Fusilli with Creamy Garden Salad, Golden Scallops With Sun-Blush Mash & Greens, Turkish Flats, Shred Salad, Feta & Herbs, Glazed Sizzling Chops with Sweet Tomato and Asparagus Lasagnetti

Final Verdict: Not Recommended


Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals: Sausage Fusilli with Creamy Garden Salad

Hey Folks!

Recipe number two for me from Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals….oh and yet again, this took way longer than 15 minutes…but I also didn’t even try to rush this time because…I just couldn’t be bothered.  Work craziness and moving stress…I just honestly don’t have it in me to add cooking mess to the deal.


the reality of 15-minute recipes – three or more things happening at once

This recipe felt much easier than the first 15-minute meal I cooked.  Maybe it was because I took my time.  I got everything all mis en place for the most part, which helped a fair bit from a cooking stress perspective.

I think one of the biggest struggles in getting this recipe was not having enough room to do stuff.  I kept having to move stuff as I only have a small amount of counter space, so I couldn’t have all my ingredients out, three pans started on the stove, my food processor and salad fixins.  I think that if I had a hint more room, maybe it would’ve saved me a handful of minutes.IMG_4901[1]

The pasta tastes pretty darn great.  I would absolutely make it again.  Though I would like to add in some sautéed mushrooms because I just love mushrooms in tomato based pasta dishes.  It tasted really fresh and flavourful and had this interesting brightness to it, which I think was a result of the balsamic vinegar.

The salad…massively disappointing…the dressing was over lemony (so please do only put lemon juice in to taste) and just missing something…and what that is I am not really sure.  Since I used greek yogurt, I had to add a smidge of skim milk to thin it out a bit.  The ingredients in the salad were also a bit bland.  I think just greens (even though I only had two of the three kinds) was just boring.  It could have used some cucumber or maybe some toasted pine nuts or almonds for crunch.  I have since tried to fix the dressing to make it a hint more palatable so it doesn’t go to waste…but in the future, this is a salad I will definitely not be making.


Recipe Rating (pasta): 4 knives out of 5

Recipe Rating (salad): 0 knives out of 5

Om, nom, nom,



Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals: Sausage Fusilli with Creamy Garden Salad

Ingredients out – Kettle boiled – Grill pan, high heat – Food processor (metal blade) – Large frying pan, high heat – Large lidded saucepan, high heat

Serves 4

Sausage Fusilli
4 good-quality pork sausages
olive oil
1 large red onion
1 heaping tsp fennel seeds
4 roasted red peppers from a jar
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
4 garlic cloves
320g  or 11 oz of dried fusilli
3 tbsp thick balsamic vinegar, plus extra to serve
1 1/2 cups passata

Creamy Garden Salad
1 head of bibb lettuce (I subbed in green and red leaf lettuce)
2 large handfuls of baby spinach or arugula
1 cup of sprouted cress (not used because I couldn’t find it)
2 tsp English mustard (I used a grainy dijon)
1 lemon, juiced
3 tbsp non-fat yogurt (I used non fat greek)
1 bunch of fresh chives

Start Cooking

Score the sausages lengthways about three-quarters of the way through, open them out like a book, then rub with 1 teaspoon of oil and place on the grill pan, cut-side down, turning regularly, until crispy and cooked through.

Peel and halve the red onion, then pulse in the processor with the fennel seeds, peppers, half of the rosemary leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper. Put into the large frying pan with 1 tablespoon of oil, squash in the unpeeled garlic through a garlic press (I didn’t do this because eff the garlic press) and stir frequently.

Put the pasta into the saucepan, cover with boiling salted water and cook following the package instructions.

Add the balsamic and passata to the veg pan.

Trim the lettuce and cut into wedges, then arrange with the spinach or arugula around a nice board or platter and snip over the sprouted cress.

Toss the remaining rosemary leaves with the sausages until crispy, then remove from the heat.

Make a dressing by mixing the mustard, yogurt and lemon juice (I waaaay over did the lemon…so fair warning…lemon to taste is key) with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Finely chop the chives, stir half through the dressing, then drizzle over the salad.

Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of the starchy cooking water, then toss well with the sauce, loosening with a splash of cooking water, if needed.  Season to taste and tip onto a platter, scatter remaining chives, chop and scatter over the sausages and finish with a drizzle of balsamic from a height.