Pasta with Shrimp (or without!) in Tomato White Wine Sauce

By Corinne

If you live in Thunder Bay and haven’t tried Big Lake Pasta you should track some down at your earliest convenience. This pasta dish could probably be made with any pasta, but the Saffron Campanelle really did give it an extra something special.

Speaking of special, you may have noticed a real lack of fish and seafood posts from me on this blog. That’s because when I make them, it’s only as something special for my husband or company that I really love as I have a fairly severe allergy to them. Full disclosure, I was told that the shrimp were really good, but I didn’t (and can’t) actually taste them myself. I have the feeling that three of these large prawns would have been a fine serving, but since it’s a special treat, hubby got all six. Obviously this isn’t vegetarian if you use shrimp, but I ate it without and didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

Serves: 4 (though you would need more shrimp for 4 people, there is enough pasta and sauce for 4)

Time: about 1 hour including simmering time for sauce

You will need:

  • 1 medium/large onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • 1 dried chili pepper or about 1/2-1tsp of chili flakes
  • 2 cups of white wine (preferably dry, preferably Chardonnay)
  • 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped for garnish
  • wedges of fresh lemon
  • 350g fresh pasta, preferably Big Lake Saffron Campanelle

For the shrimps – I used tiger prawns and serving size will depend on the size of your shrimp!

I used this amount of butter/spice mixture for 6 large tiger prawns (probably 2 servings)

  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 large clove of garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp minced flat leaf parsley

In a large pot over medium heat, add about 2 tbsp olive or canola oil. Add the onion to this and stir around for about 10 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and chili pepper and stir for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add 2 cups of white wine, slowly at first to scrape up any browned bits from the pan. Then add the can of tomatoes and paprika. Allow to simmer for about 45min to 1hr. Taste after simmering for a while, and add salt and pepper to taste.

While sauce is simmering, prep the butter mixture for the shrimp. Rinse and clean shrimp if necessary and slide onto bamboo skewers. Baste with butter sauce before putting on BBQ, and if you have enough, one more time when you flip them over.

The shrimp will take less than 10 minutes on the bbq, so when you are ready to put your pasta in the boiling water that would be the time to put them on.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped herbs (parsley or basil) and squeeze a wedge of lemon over just before serving.




Steak and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

By Corinne

I love goat cheese and there is a generous amount of it on this salad – do feel free to cut back to a more reasonable amount. There is a pub in town that serves a delicious goat cheese and steak salad that was definitely my inspiration for this. Making it at home means I can add more cheese and make the dressing exactly how I want it.

Serves: 4 

Time: about 25 minutes – but it depends on how long you let the steaks come to room temperature and how long you let them rest for at the end

You will need:

  • 3 strip loin steaks (you can do one per person if they are particularly small or if you are very hungry – you can also do 2 steaks if you are looking to cut back on the meat portion)
  • Montreal steak spice
  • Worcestershire sauce (gluten free if you use a gf worcestershire – alternatively use balsamic here)
  • 10 oz (284g) salad greens (I used “tender ruby reds”, but spring mix or romaine work as well)
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 small red onion, VERY thinly sliced
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes if desired. Sometimes I feel them, sometimes I don’t.
  • 250g goat cheese (if you can find it, try ‘Celebrity’ brand – it’s one of the best ones I’ve found in a grocery store. If you live in Thunder Bay, you can find it at Maltese)

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar *
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt
  • few grinds of fresh pepper

*as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I tend to prefer my dressings more on the vinegar side. The classic oil/vinegar ratio is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil – feel free to adjust this to taste.

Sprinkle steaks liberally with Montreal steak spice and Worcestershire sauce. Allow to come to room temperature – at least 30 minutes, but 45 if you have time.

Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

Slice peppers and onions and tomatoes if using. Divide salad greens among plates, distribute onions and peppers on top of greens and sprinkle with goat cheese. I find raw onion can be quite strong. Slice it very thin, as thin as you possibly can. Give it a taste, the amount  you use is going to depend very much on the strength of the particular onion.


Grilling the steaks – preheat bbq for 5-10 minutes. Sear steaks- place on grill for 1 minute, close the lid. Flip and place on the other side for 1 minute. Flip again and cook for 10-15 minutes flipping half way through, depending on desired doneness. If you haven’t tried it,  you should start trying the touch test for doneness.  It’s a more reliable test than purely timing, and once you have it down you’re golden. If you have a meat thermometer, you can use that, but it requires you poking the steaks and losing potential juiciness. Allow steaks to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Divide greens, vegetables and goat cheese between 4 plates. Thinly slice steak and place on salad. Divide dressing between 4 plates. If desired, add a few more chunks of goat cheese on top of the steaks.


BBQ Honey Mustard Ham


By Corinne

This is a fast and easy supper, and a bit of a different take on a ham, which is usually served roasted whole rather than sliced and grilled on the BBQ. Instead of taking hours, this recipe takes a total of less than 20 minutes including prep and cook time. The glaze is simple and amounts are easily increased if you would like to make more. It’s fast and easy enough to prep and cook that you can manage even when babysitting 3 children under 8!

Time: about 15 to 20 minutes including prep and cook time

You will need:

  • 3-4 tbsp of dijon mustard (I love the president’s choice brand dijon as it has a bit of a bite)
  • 3-4 tbsp of liquid honey
  • 1-2 tsp of low sodium soy sauce OR balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5-2lb boneless fully cooked black forest or Virginia ham

Whisk together mustard, honey and soy into a small bowl. Slice boneless ham into slices about 1/4″ thick.

Heat BBQ to medium heat. Place ham slices on grill, keeping lid closed as much as possible. Grill for about 2-3 min and then flip. Using a silicon brush, brush glaze over each slice. Grill for another 2 min and flip again, repeating glaze on the other side. Grill for another 2 min and glaze again. Repeat one more time so each side has been glazed twice and all glaze has been used.

BBQ Chicken Wings with Lime and Lager Marinade

By Corinne

I love chicken wings, partly because I love variety and sauces and rubs and wings are just so versatile! This marinade is delightful for either chicken or pork*, though tonight we had it with wings. Speaking of rubs, I was recently gifted a jar of Pampered Chef Chili Lime seasoning. I thought this would make a delightful rub on the chicken wings and sprinkled on a generous amount after removing them from the marinade. Unfortunately, this particular seasoning has been discontinued, but apparently there is some pressure on the company to bring it back due to popularity. I’ve tried a few of the Pampered Chef seasonings, and have liked all the ones I’ve had so far!

Speaking of Pampered Chef, we can look forward to our friend Mandi, a Pampered Chef consultant, doing a guest post in near future! While I’m terrible at selling things so have never been interested in being a consultant, the large bar pan from Pampered  Chef is one of my favourite (and frequently used!) things in my tiny kitchen. I love it so much that I can’t help myself and sometimes have to gift one to people who I love and who also love cooking. I use it pretty much every time I turn on the oven, whether it’s for cookies or chicken or roasting off some veggies. Absolutely nothing roasts potatoes off to crisp perfection like this pan. Ok, enough waxing poetic about the large bar pan (though I could go on) and here’s the marinade!

Makes: 2 lbs of chicken wings, about 1 1/2 cups of marinade

Time: 10 minutes prep, few hours to overnight for marinating, 15-20 minutes BBQ

You will need:

  • 1 cup lager (I used Muskoka Brewery craft lager, but have also used Canadian, and Sleeping Giant Northern Logger – which actually isn’t a lager but is a kolsch style beer)
  • zest and juice from 2 limes (1/4 cup lime juice)
  • 1/4 cup canola or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 lbs chicken wings

Prepare marinade. In a medium bowl, zest limes and then juice. Add 1/4 cup of canola, salt, pepper, fresh chopped basil and mint, and minced garlic. Give this a good whisk, then add one cup of lager. It will foam and bubble a bit, then give it a stir. Either add marinade and wings to a large ziplock baggie to marinate, or add the wings to the bowl and cover. Marinate for at least 2 hours, but up to over night.

Preheat BBQ to medium heat. When ready to BBQ, remove wings from marinade. If you are adding an additional rub, do so at this point. BBQ wings for 5 minutes with lid closed. Flip and close lid again. BBQ for an additional 5-10 minutes, flipping twice more. BBQ time will vary a bit depending on your BBQ.

Serve with a salad, corn on the cob, or some BBQ potatoes 🙂

*As I mentioned at the top of the post, this same marinade is delicious on pork chops. I usually use that amount of marinade for 3 chops. Same deal, allow to marinate for 2 hours or up to over night.


Grilled Chicken Pizza with Corn and Garlic Gouda

By Corinne

Homemade pizza is endlessly versatile and easy to put together once you have a favourite dough recipe down. I’ve been in love with our local corn lately, featured here in a pasta, and here in a pizza that echoes of a corn chowder but in flatbread form. This pizza came about from what I was able to scrounge in the fridge and pantry in order to whip together a supper after an evening golfing.

Makes: 1 pizza – about 15″ diameter

You will need:

For toppings:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 cup fresh corn, removed from cob- about 1 cup of kernels
  • about 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (about half of a small red onion)
  • about 1/2 cup of your favourite BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup shredded garlic gouda cheese – preferably Thunder Oaks if you can get it

Tl’s-works-every-time pizza dough* this is a half recipe to make one pizza rather than 2 you could also make the full recipe as seen here, and then put half in the fridge to use in the next day or two.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp yeast (quick rise or traditional, either works, traditional will just take longer to rise)
  • 2/3 cup very warm water

Mix dry ingredients, including yeast, for dough. Add very warm water and knead a few minutes until all ingredients have come together in a smooth dough. If dough seems too sticky, add a bit more flour. Rub dough with a tbsp or so of oil, cover, and let rise in a warm place until you are ready to roll out for ingredients. Prepare your other ingredients. Your dough will probably double in this time but if it doesn’t QUITE double, it will all be ok.

Preheat BBQ to medium high heat. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper. Grill with lid down as much as possible, flipping after about 5-7 minutes, and then again after another 5-7 minutes. Grilling time will depend a bit on your BBQ and the thickness of your chicken breast.

Prepare toppings. Slice red onion and set aside. Husk corn, and remove kernels. You should get about 1 cup of kernels from a cob. Shred cheese. Slice chicken thinly, then cut into about 1/2″ pieces.

Preheat oven to 400F.

When oven is preheated, and dough has risen roll out dough and transfer onto pizza stone. If dough is quite sticky (which sometimes happens because measuring flour can yield varying amounts!) then rather than add more flour, if you stretch and spread the dough with your fingers over the stone, a slightly sticky dough will bake up very crisp and delicious! There are some recipes such as this one that actually do this on purpose 🙂

Spread BBQ sauce evenly over dough. If desired, use more or less sauce depending on how saucy you like your pizza. I went on the scant side with the sauce as I wanted to make sure the other toppings really got to shine. Sprinkle on cheese, chicken, then corn and red onion.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden.


BBQ Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Prosciutto, Basil and Provolone

By Corinne

Firstly, let me say that while I feel this is one of those meals that looks impressive, it’s truly not difficult to put together. I love having basil available to me at hand all summer, and tend to put it in everything 🙂 The prep time varies a lot depending on whether you happened to purchase your chicken pre flattened and whether or not you make your own marinara. I tend to be a bit lazy with this, as the local butcher shop will flatten your chicken at no extra cost, and since I’m getting the prosciutto and provolone at the same place, it is a time saver. The drunken red sauce I make to go with panzerotti goes marvellously well with these.

I’ve made this in the oven as well, 350F, cook seam side down on a baking sheet for 15, then flip them for another 15. They don’t turn out quite as pretty, but are just as tasty!

Serves: 4

Time: Prep time 10 min*, grill time 15-20 min * longer if you are making your own marinara and have to flatten your chicken breasts!

You will need:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 8 ounces each
  • 4 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 4 thin slices of provolone cheese
  • 8-12 basil leaves + more for garnish
  • 2 cups good quality tomato sauce – either homemade or purchased
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • salt and pepper
  • toothpicks

If you are making your own tomato sauce, start it before you prep your chicken. If you are using prepared marinara, heat it when your chicken goes on the BBQ.

If you did not purchase your breasts already flattened-then place each piece of chicken, smooth side down, on about 12 inches of plastic wrap about 2 inches from the edge. Fold the rest of the plastic wrap over the chicken, leaving about an inch from the folded edge. Starting from the thickest side, gently pound the chicken with the flat side of a tenderizer, moving to different areas until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Don’t pound too hard or you can break the chicken apart.

After all breasts are flattened, season each on both sides with a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. Arrange the chicken with the smooth side down on a work surface.

Lay a slice of prosciutto on each piece of chicken. Then lay a slice of  provolone. Depending on the shape of your chicken, you may want to break the provolone in half and lay them that way. Then lay 2-3 basil leaves on the provolone.

Carefully roll up the chicken keeping it snug. Use tooth picks to tuck in the ends and keep it together. Remember how many toothpicks you used in each so you can make sure you take them out before serving! I usually need 4 to keep them together.

After all chickens are rolled, lightly brush with canola oil. Place seam side down on a preheated grill over medium direct heat. Cook with the lid closed as much as possible. Grill until golden on all sides, about 3-5 min on each side. This part is where it depends a bit on how well you know your BBQ :). It took 15 minutes on ours, but if your temp is a little lower, it may take 20. If there is cheese oozing it’s way out, they are almost certainly done. Starting on the seam side down helps you avoid losing cheese in the grilling process.

Remove from grill and let rest a few moments. Remove toothpicks before serving. Plate a few spoonfuls of sauce and then lay the chicken on top. You can either cut it into slices to serve, or cut each one in half to plate. Garnish with additional basil and enjoy!



Cabernet Shiraz Burgers with Smoked Cheddar


By Corinne

The quote often attributed to Julia Child, “I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.” very much describes my cooking 🙂 though I really do love adding wine to my food. The wine reduction in these burgers adds moisture and flavour as both an ingredient in the mix and as a glaze while cooking.

Serves: 4

Time: 20-25 to reduce wine, 5 minutes to prep burgers, 20 minutes to cook

You will need:

  • 2 cups of Cabernet Sauvignon or a Cab Shiraz blend (what I prefer for these burgers – I used Cliff 79 Cab Shiraz ~$11 and nice to drink the rest of the bottle!)
  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef (I used lean, because the wine will make them juicy, but you could use regular, keep in mind they will shrink more if you do)
  • sprig of fresh rosemary
  • crushed clove of garlic (just give it a good smash with the flat side of a knife)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • smoked cheddar cheese* for topping and other toppings of your choice – I used red onion, lettuce from my garden, mustard and pickles. * smoked gouda (Thunder Oaks if you can get it!) and smoked mozza also work nicely!

Add 2 cups of wine, 1 tbsp of sugar, sprig of rosemary and a clove of crushed garlic to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a simmer on medium/medium high and cook until reduced to half a cup – about 20-25 min. Strain the rosemary and garlic from the reduced sauce and discard.

To the ground beef add 1/4 C of the reduced red wine, 2 tsp salt,  1 tsp pepper. Mix well and shape into 4 patties. Reserve the other 1/4 C of the reduced wine to glaze the burgers as they cook.

Grill over medium low direct heat for 5 minutes with the lid closed. When you flip the burgers, generously glaze with red wine sauce. Do this three more times, glazing each time you flip and cooking with the lid down as much as possible. Add the smoked cheddar on the final flip to get it nice and melty.

These burgers will be rich and slightly purple from the wine, the colour doesn’t fade a lot upon cooking! Garnish however you like it and enjoy!

Gluten free if served on a gluten free bun.