Steak and Smoked Salmon Crustini


Here in Windsor it is April 24th – and still 40 degrees fahrenheit. By now, I have envisioned most of my cooking to consist of outdoor barbecue favourites, like Beef and Vegetable Skewers paired with a nice Garden Summer Salad and my Peach Champagne Bellini’s. But on this cold, rainy day I am forced to use my oven as my virtual barbecue. Despite my desire to cook in my bathing suit to, at least, fake myself into thinking we have hit hot weather.. I instead cooked up a baked Steak and Smoked Salmon Crustini with a Horseradish and Avocado Pesto. Delicious as an entrée paired with a Cucumber and Tomato Salad, or as a bite-size appetizer! Envision, and Enjoy!

Steak and Smoked Salmon Crustini

1 Grilled Medium-Rare Ribeye Steak, cut into thin pieces
1 French Baguette, sliced into 1-inch thick pieces
2 Avocados, halved and scooped out
3 teaspoons Horseradish Sauce
12 – 13 slices of thinly sliced raw Smoked Salmon (can be found at most supermarkets in packages)
3/4 – 1 cup shaved Parmigiano cheese
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Half of a lemon
3 cloves garlic

Serves: 12 Crustini’s

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. In a food processor or small blender, add the 4 halves of avocado, horseradish, garlic cloves, and juice of the lemon. Blend until smooth.
3. Lay out all pieces of sliced baguette (should be about 12 or 13) on baking sheet. Spread avocado and horseradish mixture across each piece.
4. Next, layer on one slice of smoked salmon for each piece, then pieces of steak, and Parmigiano cheese.
5. Bake for about 5 – 7 minutes, or until steak starts to bubble and pop.
6. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve!!

TIP: Don’t overbake the crustini – as soon as you see the smoked salmon start to cook and turn white, it looses the texture.




Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Pesto Panini


Today’s post comes from the inspiration of leftovers – whether you use grilled chicken, cured deli meats, shredded pork or leftover beef, leftover meat always makes a great sandwich when you throw in fresh and creative ingredients. In this panini, I used grilled skinless chicken, home-made broccoli and garlic pesto, sliced beefsteak tomato and mozzarella cheese on toasted rye bread.

Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Pesto Panini

1 whole boneless chicken breast, grilled and shredded
6 slices beefsteak tomato (or any larger tomato)
1 fresh broccoli stock
3 cloves garlic
4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon chopped dill weed
salt and pepper to taste

Serves: 2

1. In a small saucepan, boil broccoli for 3 minutes – you want it slightly cooked, but still hard enough that the pesto won’t be mushy.
2. Drain, and in a food processor combine the broccoli, garlic, dill weed, and pinch of salt.
3. Blend on low, slowly adding in olive oil until all ingredients are combined into a spreadable texture.
4. On your rye bread, spread pesto on both sides and top each sandwich with 2 slices of mozzarella cheese, 3 slices of tomato, grilled chicken, and salt and pepper to your taste.
5. If you have a panini press, grilled for 3 minutes. If not, heat up sandwiches in a skillet on medium heat, and sit a large plate (or anything heavy) on top of the sandwich to weigh it down and give it some char.
6. Cut in half, and serve!

Happy Eating!

Bacon, Broccoli and Shrimp Ricotta Stuffed Lasagna Rolls


Do not let the title of this next recipe fool you..this is one of the easiest dishes I have ever made, and by far one of the most delicious! Perfect as an appetizer individually, or paired with a nice side of roasted vegetables, my Bacon, Broccoli and Shrimp Ricotta Stuffed Lasagna Rolls are just the perfect amount of cheesy goodness to satisfy your baked pasta craving…and who doesn’t love bacon? No one.

For the vegans and vegetarians, the great thing about baked and stuffed pasta is that the ingredients are always interchangeable! Instead of ricotta, shrimp, and bacon, a great alternative would be soy cheese and some delicious cooked vegetables that pair well with starch like butternut squash, sweet potato or asparagus. As for the pasta itself, most wheat pastas are actually vegan-friendly because they are made from Duram Semolina, which is essentially wheat flour. Only egg pasta noodles (like Gnocchi) contain dairy ingredients. So remember, any pasta that is made with Duram Semolina is vegan-friendly – just make sure to check the ingredients on the back of the box if your buying the noodles, just to be safe.

Bacon, Broccoli and Shrimp Ricotta Stuffed Lasagna Rolls

5 Lasagne Strips (As discussed in Pasta 101, lasagne is a singular noodle, lasagna is the dish when there are multiple noodles)
2×500 ml tubs Ricotta Cheese
1 bag of de-veined, de-shelled shrimp
10 – 15 strips uncooked bacon (depending on your bacon craving)
1 head of warm-blanched broccoli (slightly boiled for about 2-3 minutes)
4 cloves garlic, pressed and chopped finely
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons butter/margarine
3 cups of your choice of pasta sauce!
20 toothpicks

Serves: A meal for 3 – 5

1. Preheat oven to 375°F
2. In a large pot, bring unsalted water to a boil and place in lasagne noodles.
3. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet heat butter on low to a sizzle and toss in chopped garlic and shrimp.
4. With your lasagne noodles, you want to cook them until soft enough that they are flexible, but not to the point of mush. I usually leave them in about 4 minutes. I you still feel they are too al dente, don’t worry – the pasta sauce will soften them more. When the noddles are ready – take them out and lay them in casserole pan to dry and assemble, and then cut them in HALF – this means you will have TEN noodles.
5. Cook the shrimp until pink and no longer transparent. Adding more butter to the skillet for flavor is always an option : ) Once done, place shrimp in food processor.
6. Cutting off LARGE chunks, place the blanched broccoli in food processor as well.
7. Next, cook bacon in the same skillet as your buttered shrimp until well done. Once cooked, remove and immediately place strips in food processor.
8. Pulse the ingredients in the food processor JUST A LITTLE BIT – you want small chunks..not bacon, shrimp and broccoli dip.
9. In a separate bowl, fill with ricotta and parsley. Mix together.
10. Next, combine ricotta mixture and bacon, broccoli, and shrimp mixture.


11. In the casserole pan where the noodles lay, roll each noodle into a small tube about 1 inch in diameter – secure and PIN with two toothpicks.
12. Using a small spoon, fill the pasta tubes with the filling mixture until slightly heaping, and then place each roll an inch apart in the pan.
13. Coat with sauce of your choice (I LOVE a good blush sauce), and bake for about 20 minutes or until mixture starts to bubble.
14. Serve, remove toothpicks, and Bon Appetit!

TIP: The reason why the seasoning is so minimal in this dish, is because I think there is so much flavor jam-packed into the filling with the shrimp, butter and bacon, that no extra herbs is necessary. It will only take away from the filling flavor. But, like all foodies, I have my preferences so feel free to add what YOU like!

Justina’s “At-Home-Sick-Watch-Sex-And-The-City-All-Day” Soup


The title itself is not meant to be exaggerated; when I am at home sick with a nasty bug, I pop in Season 4 of Sex and The City and let Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda take my pain away. But one essential part of my girly treatment plan, is some Lemon Rice Chicken Soup. I will warn you – I am a garlic fiend, so do not hesitate to scale back on the cloves.

Lemon Rice Chicken Soup

2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup long grain rice (white rice can just as easily be used)
3 cloves of fresh (not minced) garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup shredded skinless cooked chicken
3 tablespoons fine parmigiano cheese
Quarter of a lemon
1 teaspoon Horseradish sauce (Optional)

Serves: 1 Sick Person

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, pour in olive oil and let heat until oil thins enough to coat bottom of saucepan.
2. Toss in garlic and let simmer for about 30 seconds, or until garlic starts to faintly brown.
3. Pour in chicken stock and let simmer until it slightly starts to boil.
4. Squeeze in lemon, and toss in peel to saucepan for extra flavor.
5. Pour in rice and let cook for about 5 minutes.
6. Toss in shredded chicken, and let simmer for 2 minutes.
7. Remove from heat, mix in parmigiano cheese (and Horseradish at this point), and serve!

Cooking the rice beforehand for a harder, drier texture is also an option that I sometimes like to do.

Get Well Soon!