Tag Archives: comfort food

Applesauce Cake with Maple Buttercream Icing

We ramped up the yum factor in the lemon kitchen this weekend. Feeling sorry for ourselves after sending our girl Cait off, we were in the mood for comfort and goodness.

This lovely applesauce cake with maple buttercream icing did the trick. Two of my favourite things, apples and maple syrup! Our company loved it too!


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 (8 inch) round pans, or 1 (9×13 inch) pan, or 1 bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in the applesauce. Beat in the eggs. Beat in the flour mixture, do not over-mix. Spread batter into pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes for the 8 inch layers, OR approx. 40 minutes for the 9×13 inch pan/bundt pan. Test to see if a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15-20 minutes before turning out on to cooling rack.

Maple Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup at room temperature
  • 2-3 tbsp milk at room temperature
  • 2-3 cups icing sugar

Combine butter, maple syrup, milk and 2 cups confectioners sugar in a large bowl/ food processor and beat until smooth. Add remaining sugar in gradually until frosting is thick enough to spread easily(you may not use all the sugar). If icing is too dry, add additional milk until desired consistency is reached, whatever works for you.

Bowl of Bliss

In our quest for healthy alternatives, I have been depending a lot on people who write cookbooks with lower fat/calorie recipes. Often these recipes lack flavour and we are left disappointed. I can however always rely on Rose Reisman, Moosewood or the Podleski sisters to ramp up a recipe without compromising taste.

I normally use my own soup creations when cooking up a big batch of comfort, but really felt like a bowl of creamy indulgence today so I looked to these folks in particular for a version of something delish. With a few of my own revisions this adaptation of a Looneyspoons soup was packed with flavour.

Cheddar Broccoli Soup
1 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 cups broccoli florets
1 cup peeled and cubed potatoes
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
3/4 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt
5 dashes of Tabasco sauce

4 sprays non-stick spray to large saucepan. Add onions, garlic and celery. Cook and stir over medium heat until veggies begins to soften. Add broth, 3 cups of the broccoli and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on low for 15 mins.

While soup is simmering steam the rest of the broccoli for 2 minutes. Set aside.

Transfer soup to a blender, and pulse on and off until soup is almost pureed. Return soup to pot over low heat.

Add steamed broccoli, and remaining ingredients. Stir until smooth. Serve with a dollop of low-fat sour cream.

Serves 4

Comfort Weekend

There is nothing like your mom showing up from out-of-town with a pot of her spaghetti sauce. Something about unplanned fall weekends, and longing for something familiar that make this a good thing. So, set in motion a weekend full of comfort food and good things that I will show you mostly through pictures.

Friday night was pasta night, with a few good bottles of wine, we planned out what we wanted to do for the rest of the weekend. Saturday morning we went to see the beautiful artwork of Prea Zwarych at the Sandy Hill Garage Sale. Prea is a 4th year Ottawa U student who has brought her lovely work to our neighbourhood.

Later for lunch we met at the Prescott for the famous meatball sandwich, and then I headed home to make a Shepherd’s Pie for a Saturday night dinner on my daughter’s front porch (which also included more wine and a great lemon curd dessert).

Sunday was a lazy stick around kind of day (we did manage sushi lunch, yes I consider miso soup comfort food) and later that night homemade pizza on the grill.

I want more comfort weekends….


Feeling in the need for some soup and trying to think of something to go with the stuffed peppers I am making tonight, I thought what better than a tomato cream?

A variation on the Rebar Tomato Cream, this soup was quick and easy, made the kitchen smell wonderful and tasted divine if I do say so myself.  My apologies to the purists but I used canned tomato as opposed to fresh (cause their not really fresh…..) and it was good use for the numerous cans in my cupboard.

Tomato Cream Soup

(makes 6-8 servings generous bowls)

6 cups chicken broth

1 large onion chopped                    

2 tbsp olive oil

6 cloves garlic chopped

2 tsp chili flakes

1/2 cup fresh basil

2 tsp salt

2  28 oz cans of diced tomatoes

1/2 cup of whole milk

1/2 cup of heavy cream

Warm the broth and keep warm. In large soup pot saute the onion in olive oil until transparent. Add garlic, chili flakes, 1/2 of the basil and 1 tsp salt, stir for 2 minutes and then add broth and tomatoes. Bring to boil cook for 10 minutes, turn to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add cream and milk, the rest of the basil and salt. Serve.

There are lots of ways you can adjust to your preference, use other fresh herbs, use vegetable broth instead of chicken etc. Just enjoy!

Cooking for Winter and for Us

After spending several evenings out these past few weeks, and not necessarily thrilled with the places I have been, I have decided a weekend of trying new recipes, cooking in large batches and freezing is in order. What better on a rainy, dark-sky Sunday to do than prepare comfort food for the coming weeks?

Potato leek soup, spaghetti sauce, a hearty beef barley and a savoury bread pudding from the Rebar Cookbook (one of my favourites), make for a very fragrant kitchen and give me a great sense of accomplishment in one afternoon.

A great Friday night dinner with family reminded me how important it is to cook together and sit at our own tables. I feel like the indulgence of eating out often, is no longer a treat but an expectation. You know when you can’t decide where to go for dinner because nothing appeals to you, that you have been out too much.

Enough said, back to the kitchen.


Lounge Lizards

After a busy day, involved in a neighbourhood garage sale and realizing the work the house needed after lugging things in and out, we decided cooking supper was not an option. We cleaned ourselves up and walked over to Sandy Hill Lounge and Grill at 321 Somerset St. East

A delightful surprise, Sandy Hill replaces the former Drumlins Irish Pub. While we did visit Drumlins several times, we sensed on one of our last visits that Drumlins days were numbered.

A fresh coat of paint, beautiful hardwood floors, and lovely black and white photos of local history, have definitely done wonders for the place. A new supper menu and a fabulous weekend brunch menu have taken the place of all-you- can-eat wings nights. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a neighbourhood gathering place, but with a different spin.

We were ravenous after drinking coffee all day outdoors. I started with a large Keith’s Red and Adrian wimped out with a diet coke. We decided on apps and chose the Sausage and Chicken Gumbo (which was recommended by another site), it was the perfect choice and while a little on the salty side, the thick, creamy base was delicious, sausage with a bit of a bite and tender pieces of chicken with rice reminded me of a similar gumbo I had in New Orleans in March. While it seemed like a simple dish, it was full of surprisingly complex flavours. This hearty meal in a bowl would definitely be enough for lunch (and possibly dinner if you weren’t starving), a generous serving.

For my main I chose the Beef Stew with Spicy Cornmeal Bread. The stew reminded me of Mom’s, real comfort food full of flavour, tender beef, carrots and potatoes, no surprises, but just what I was looking for. The cornbread turned out to be a little gastronomic masterpiece-the size of an extra large muffin (or small loaf), filled with bits of hot peppers and my fave, cilantro. It was melt in your mouth delish, but I couldn’t eat it all and handed half over to Adrian-served with butter (but not necessary). I tried to get the recipe out of the chef-but much to my dismay he refused. I was glad to know it was his recipe, and I also want him to know, I have not given up yet. Adrian chose the Meat Lovers Pizza, full of chicken, sausage, and beef on a light, crispy dough, it was good, really good-I hope they keep pizza on the menu.

We had a great wait staff who was attentive, but not overly, she was excited about working in the new space and it shone through in her service.

One really great, new thing is that you don’t have to order a large draft, they come in 10 once size as well.

So do I recommend Sandy Hill Lounge and Grill? Absolutely, I love supporting neighborhood restaurants and pubs. I want this place to be hopping every night-so drop by and if you don’t live in Sandy Hill, it wouldn’t hurt you to come downtown to try it out, what about next Sunday for brunch?

Day 4 (recipe 4) Shepherd’s Pie

Still feeling the effects of an over indulgent weekend, we were longing for some comfort food, and a slow easy day. After the dogs went to the park, we got a bit of work done around the house, enjoyed the sun, pulled some weeds out of the front garden and I looked for a recipe.

Shepherd’s Pie, its been ages. The recipe came out of the Bon Appetit/Epicurious archives and it was just what we were looking for. It reminded me of Mom’s kitchen, we opened a bottle of wine and sat in the livingroom on our big comfy couch.


A lovely end to a great long weekend. I must say, I am feeling pretty good, normally pressing a shirt for work, or making lunches at this time, I am looking forward to this vacation.

Keep posted, we are doing gourmet camping food during a trip in two weeks to New York State (of course I will post after the holiday).

Until tomorrow and recipe 5.