Leftovers… are awesome! Try this penne with sausage in a whisky cream sauce done in 9 MINUTES!


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What exactly are leftovers? Leftovers are the uneaten remains of a hot or cold meal after the meal is over and everyone has finished eating.

As a kid what did that mean? It meant a gross dinner was around the corner. 😬 My mom was an excellent cook but even leftover night was a food bust.

No. Anymore.

Today is Labour Day in Canada or (Holiday Monday) and all the stores are closed. So dinnertime rolled around and I had no idea what to make. So I opened my fridge and grab a ton of leftovers and made a wicked dinner.

Here is what I used:

  • 2 cups cooked penne pasta
  • 1 bunch of asparagus which I cooked in garlic and oil
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 smoked Serrano chili ( or a chipotle if that is what you have )
  • 2 cobs of corn – kernels cut off
  • 3 BBQed Italian sausages sliced
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • Splash of whisky
  • Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper

What did I do?

Melt a bit of butter in a pan, add onion and asparagus after a few minutes add garlic and corn. After 1 minutes add chili, sausage and pasta. After 2 minutes add splash of whisky and stock and cream. Simmer 3 minutes and viola. Season with salt and pepper and top with Parmesan.

You won’t believe this is leftovers!

Instant Pot – Tex Mex Chicken Thighs


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This is a quick dinner that can be made on any weeknight or weekend.

All it takes is 30 mins in an Instant Pot.


  • 1.5 kilo chicken thighs (club pack)
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbls chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups fresh salsa
  • 2 whole chipotles in adobo sauce diced up
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Stems of cilantro finely diced *amazing flavour and even those who don’t like the cilantro flavour like this.
  • 19 0z Can black beans
  • 15 oz Can of corn kernels

Press sauté on your Instant pot until it registers HOT. Add 2 tsp oil and add your chicken thighs. Cook both sides of chicken for 5 mins add salt, chili powder, cumin, chipotles, cilantro stems, garlic and onions. Mix around for 2 minutes. Add canned corn with juice, add drained beans and stir. Top with salsa and DO NOT STIR. Tomatoes can tend to burn in the IP so just pour on top and spread out.

Put on IP Lid and seal the vent. Press Chili button – 30 mins. Viola

Do what ever you need to do and once the IP beeps release the steam vent to depressurize. Shred the chicken thighs, they will be soft and buttery. Mix everything together, add fresh cilantro leaves and check seasoning.

Serve on its own, on rice, spaghetti squash, top with chunks of avocado, cheese and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Makes 10 cups and freezes perfectly well.


Soup Addict – Italian Wedding Soup


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When you live in Ottawa, and it’s the winter and it’s cold than Mars (true story) I crave soup. This delicious Italian Wedding soup always makes feel cozy and warm. Italian wedding soup is a combination of a killer broth, mini tasty meatballs, a small pasta, veggies and greens.

I honestly adore soup.  I love it for lunch with a piece of crusty bread and it makes a great appetizer before dinner. My youngest Holly loves this soup (she loves meat) my oldest Chloe avoids meat like the plague, so I wanted to create a version that would appeal to both kids. Chloe just eats hers minus the meatballs.

This soup is made on the stove 🙂 sorry Instant Pot lovers this is old school 🙂 This soup will keep in your fridge for 5 days and freezes superbly well. Rolling the meatballs are the most time consuming part of this recipe so if you have child labor kids to assist you, use it.


Ingredients for Pork Meatballs (can be done ahead of time and frozen):

  • 1 pound ground pork (makes a tender meatball, but you can also use beef)
  • 1/2 cup onion , finely diced (about 1/2 medium onion)
  • cloves garlic , peeled and minced (or use a rasp)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs or seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs (parsley, basil, rosemary)
  • 1 egg

Ingredients for Soup:

  • tablespoons butter or oil
  • 1 cup onion , finely diced (1 medium onion)
  • 1 cup carrot , peeled and diced (1 medium carrot)
  • cloves garlic , peeled and minced
  • ~3 liters chicken broth – organic if you can (or homemade… I don’t have time for that though :)…)
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 1 cup orzo, seme di Melone or acini di pepi
  • 1 pound fresh tender spinach
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced mixed herbs



  1. In a large bowl, mix together pork, onion, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt, bread crumbs, herbs, and egg until combined
  2. Shape into tiny bite-sized meatballs, roughly 1/2 inch in diameter; place onto parchment covered cookie sheet and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. Luckily if you live in Canada during the winter you can put these babies outside to freeze while you prepare your broth 🙂 * Refrigerating is important as it will keep them from falling apart in the soup. You need a minimum of 30 mins to set up.


  1. In a large stock pot, melt butter; add onion, carrots, and garlic. Saute until tender, but not soft (about 5 minutes)
  2. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Turn to simmer, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.
  3. Taste and season with salt and pepper, to taste
  4. Drop meatballs into broth; cook 7 minutes. Add pasta of your choice and cook 5 minutes
  5. Add herbs and simmer for 30 minutes to meld flavours, adding more broth, if needed. Add spinach for the last few minutes.
  6. Serve with crusty bread, or garlic bread (my kids favourite) and top with additional Parmesan cheese. I also love to add a bit of Sriracha to my soup too.
  7. Enjoy!

Instant Pot: Pulled Pork!


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I am officially obsessed with my Instant Pot. My pulled pork was a big test because I swear by using my slow cooker for 12 hours to make the “perfect” pulled pork. I saw pork shoulder bone in on sale at the store today so I picked one up for 18$ for 3 kilos. A steal!

Prep is the same, but instead of taking 12 hours in a slow cooker however I had pulled pork on the table in 75 minutes!

Here is what you need:

  • 3 kilos of pork shoulder bone in (remove the skin and slice into fist full chunks)
  • Dry rub – start with 2/3 cup but you may need more (I use my own rub but you can buy one from the store)
  • 1 bottle beer or can of coke or root beer (not sugar free)
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup bbq sauce – I use homemade but you can use your favorite store bought BBQ sauce.
  1. Cut the pork shoulder into fist full chunks keeping the bones.
  2. Rub each and every pork chunk with the dry rub.
  3. Typically I would do this 24-48 hours in advance and keep it in the fridge but today I did it all in one step.
  4. In your instant pot press the sauté button and add a splash of oil. Add sliced onion. Sauté for 2 or 3 minutes. Add pork chunks.
  5. Layer meat and onions, meat and onions.
  6. Pour beer over top. If you want it gluten free don’t have a beer use root beer/coke etc. in this case I used a radler. Try to make sure the meat is evenly in the pot and mostly covered by the beer.
  7. Put on instant pot lid.
  8. Press meat button, set for 75 minutes and put up your feet and relax.
  9. Fast forward ~90 mins (once instant pot is finished and done venting open the lid.)
  10. Remove bones and discard. Shred meat with fork or tongs. The meat is like butter and just falls apart.
  11. You will have a lot of pork juices (these are delicious and if you want to scoop out 3 cups you can use it for baked beans) reserve a good 3 cups, you will most likely have 5-6 cups of juices.
  12. In the instant pot add back in the pork, 2-3 cups of porky juices and the bourbon and BBQ sauce. Press sauté button and cook for 5 minutes or so. You want to taste the sweet pork, not just the BBQ sauce so start with a little, you can always add more.
  13. This made 8 cups of meat and sauce. Enough for 4 dinners. It freezes superbly well. I use it for tacos, on nachos on my famous pull pork pizza! Think about it, 4 dinners for 18$ is a great deal.

Enjoy! I can’t wait to hear how you liked it!

Egg Bites – Premake your breakfasts for the week in 20 mins!


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I love eggs but I can’t be bothered to make an egg every morning.. I mean who has time for that?

Enter egg bites, baked in the oven, customizable to whatever your tastes are. Easy peasy… just how I like my mornings.

All you need is an oven, a 12 muffin tin, 8 eggs and whatever extras you want! To save a mess I use silicon muffin liners.

Here is what you need:

  • 8 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbs heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 slices of diced bacon
  • 1/2 onion finely diced
  • 1 whole jalapeño finely diced
  • 1/2 cup feta crumbled

Sauté the onion, bacon and jalapeño in a pan until golden. Drop a 1/2 Tbs of this mixture into the muffin tins.

Whisk up the 8 eggs in a bowl. Add the heavy cream and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Add 1/4 cup of the egg mixture into each muffin tin. Top with roughly 2 tsp of crumbed feta cheese.

Put these babies into a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Voila! Now in the morning your only concern is making a Coffee, trying to get dressed in private and herding cats.. err I mean your children. 😉


Instant Pot! Chipotle Chicken


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Holy moly was this one ever quick and delicious! I was craving wraps for dinner and didn’t want to pan fry the chicken so I whipped this up in minutes. Dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes.

Here is what you need:

  • 4 small chicken breasts (roughly a pound give or take)
  • 1/4 cup of diced chipotles in adobo sauce (I LOVE this stuff!) – Tip ! once you open the can throw the rest in a zip lock bag and toss it in the freezer to use in other dishes.   I’m obsessed with it.
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced finely or use a rasp
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tsp Brown sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp oil

  1. With the cooker’s lid off, add a tsp of oil spray and heat to “Saute” until the cooker has heated up. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add in the chipotle and adobo sauce.
  2. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place in the Instant Pot and saute until browned. Add the chicken stock & brown sugar. Securely lock the pressure cooker’s lid and set to “Manual”. Cook at HIGH pressure for 8 minutes. YES 8 MINUTES!!! 😳 crazy eh?
  3. Perform a quick release to release the pressure. Open the lid and remove the chicken breasts. Shred the chicken and set it back in the cooker.

This is delicious in wraps, on nachos, served on rice and topped with avocado and salsa and cheese.

Stay tuned.. I will have 8 more Instant pot recipes to go for January!


Instant Pot! Curried Butternut Squash soup


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Need soup in a hurry? Keep reading.

My Goal in 2018 is to use my Instant pot 10 times a month. Sometimes following a recipe and other times just winging it.

This soup was the latter and it turned out amazingly well.

Ingredients I like to say are a guideline… don’t bail on a recipe if you are missing an ingredient just improvise. Only have 3 cups of squash? then use a sweet potato too!

  • 6 cups of butternut squash. A small squash should give you 6 cups. Large pieces is fine.
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 large apple chopped or 2 small (leave skin on)
  • 1 smoked Serrano chili (you can use 1 tsp chipotle powder or a whole chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (found in a can in your Mexican or ethic aisle at the grocery store))
  • 3 cloves of garlic whole
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 4 cups chicken stock (i used water because I was out)
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup of whipping cream 35% or full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp oil (any oil you have)

Plug in your Instant pot and press Saute, add a little splash of oil and then the onions and garlic, saute and minute or two… then add your spices and keep your face away from the pot… the spices will begin to saute and you will start to cough if you are too close. Let it go a minute and toss in the apples and squash. Then add your liquids.

Press cancel. Put on the lid and move the vent to seal. Press the soup button, set time for 15 minutes and voila. Once Instant pot beeps, open the vent. Once you can safely remove the lid take it off and grab a immersion blender and blend the soup until nice and creamy, then add the cream and stir. Check for seasonings and adjust to your own tastes.

If you don’t have an immersion blender you can cool the soup and use a blender. This recipe makes 10 cups.

It will keep in your fridge for 5 days or freeze. I made this 3 days ago and have eaten 5 cups already.. it is spicy and creamy and delicious.

To jazz it up you can toss with a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream, chives and pumpkin seeds or crispy bacon bits.


The BEST Mexican Corn Salad recipe


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It’s late summer and corn is in season right now in Ontario and it is DELISH! I know after a few meals of corn on the cob we all want to switch it up a little … so this is a perfect alternative to corn on the cob.

Not sure if you are familiar with Mexico’s all-dressed corn-on-the-cob…but this recipe turns it into a summery salad. If you don’t like spicy foods, use smoked paprika in the crema; otherwise, chipotle powder or canned chipotles gives the salad an authentic smoky kick or in a pinch use Sriracha. The crema is also delicious with nachos, on burgers, chicken, grilled fish, honestly anything!

Chipotle Lime Crema

  • ½ cup (125 mL) mayonnaise (reduced fat is fine)
  • ½ cup (125 mL) sour cream
  • 2 Tbls fresh lime juice
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika or ground chipotle pepper
  • Salt to taste

Corn Salad

  • 6 cobs of corn, shucked
  • 1 orange pepper diced finely
  • ⅔ cup dice finely a Vidalia onion
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 whole avocados diced
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups arugula (the peppery taste is a nice compliment to the sweetness of the corn)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) crumbled feta or cotija cheese if you can score that
  • Lime wedges


Step by Step:

For the crema, whisk all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate at least 24 hours and up to 1 week.

Preheat grill to high. Clean and oil barbecue grate. Place corn on grill. Cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. (Alternatively, you could boil the corn in unsalted water for 5 minutes then quickly char it directly on the flame of a gas burner.) Transfer to a baking sheet and cool completely.

* TIP! Start with a large bowl and then place a smaller bowl upside down. Stand corn on end. Slice downward with a sharp knife to cut kernels away from cob. Less Mess!  Place corn in a large mixing bowl with onion, peppers, avocados, tomatoes, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix.

For each serving, place a little mound of salad greens in a bowl, if using. Spoon in some corn salad. Top with a dollop of crema and sprinkle with feta. Serve with lime wedges.




The Best Bolognese sauce, hands down. Instant Pot Recipe.


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I can’t say enough good things about my Instant Pot. I bought the 8 quart one this winter and I can’t get enough of it. 

I typically make my bolognese sauce on the stove and it takes roughly 6 hours on a slow simmer to come out perfectly. 
Using my instant pot it took 35 minutes on high pressure and viola my sauce is ready!

The sauté feature is a huge time and prep saver as you can sauté in the actual pot. 

The key to this sauce is the meat ratio and I blitz all the vegetable in the food processor before I add it into the meat. This bolognese sauce is more of a ragu than your typical spaghetti sauce. Also another tip I don’t use beef, I only use veal and pork and prom sausage. This makes the sauce much more mild. 

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground veal
  • 1 pound Italian sausage meat (casing removed)
  • 1 large white onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 celery heart stalks
  • 4 garlic cloves 
  • 3/4 cups of sundried tomatoes
  • 1 huge handful of fresh basil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 28 oz can tomato purée (try to find San Marizano tomatoes)
  • 1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • Parmesan rind
  • Dried Bay leaves (4) 
  • 1/3 red wine
  • Splash of heavy cream 

In a food processor add all the vegetables and basil and sun dried tomatoes. Blitz until their are no chunks and you have a very finely diced mixture. Set aside.

Plug in your Instant pot and press the sauté button – it will take a few minutes and it will beep and say hot.

Start sautéing the sausage meat so some of the fat renders down, once crumbly add the  ground pork and cook down and then add the veal. This whole process will take about 10 minutes to brown the meat. 

Once no longer pink, add in the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, basil and sundried tomatoe purée. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Then add in the 2 cans of tomatoes, salt and sugar and bay leaves. Throw in the Parmesan rind and 1/3 cup of good red wine. 

Put on the top of the Instant pot, press the meat/stew button (35 mins on high pressure) and sit back and relax! It will take about 5 minutes to come up to high pressure and then the timer will start counting down. Once it is finished, the Instant pot will shut off automatically. 

This sauce usually simmers on my stove for 4-6 hours. With this instant pot it now only takes 45 minutes! 

Typically a Bolognese sauce is served with a wider pasta noodle but you can serve it on whenever noodle you desire. Before serving add a splash of cream to the sauce. I can’t explain what it does to the sauce but it makes it amazing and rounds out all the meat and tomato flavour. 

This sauce freezes amazingly well (do not add the cream before you freeze it) and this recipe will give you roughly 10~12 cups. 


Bakery Style Buttermilk chocolate chip muffins


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First let me start by giving credit where credit is due, this recipe was given to me by a friend who found it on Pinterest these have got to be some of the best chocolate chip muffins I have ever eaten. I have tweaked the original recipe a bit, so here is my version. 

Chloe makes them at least every 10 days or so, they freeze incredibly well all you need to do is take a muffin out of the freezer put it in the lunch bag and by snacktime it’s thawed, Voila! These are a winner winner.


1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar or vanilla bean sugar 

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 larges eggs beaten 

1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or the best extract you can find 
1 1/2 cups miniature chocolate chips

sanding sugar for sprinkling on top – makes all the difference. 

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Use muffin liners or Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. This recipe makes 12 large and 12 mini muffins.
In a larger bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the butter, eggs, vanilla, and the buttermilk. Stir JUST until a batter with lumps forms.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill each cup in the muffin tin to be completely full (about a heaping 1/4 cup).

Bake at 425ºF for 5 minutes. Then decrease the heat to 375ºF and bake for another 13 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes before removing from the tin and serving.


http://www.monicaskitchen.com (new website coming soon!)