Fast and fresh tuna poke bowls

A flavourful, nourishing way to enjoy a top food trend!

Poke (pronounced poke-ay) hails from Hawaii and burst onto the Canadian food scene in 2016. This bowl version is a delicious dish that’s as healthy as it is beautiful, packed with vibrantly-coloured raw vegetables and marinated sushi-grade tuna. For an extra speedy meal, you can cook the rice, prepare the vegetables and marinate the tuna ahead of time then pop everything into the refrigerator. When it’s time to eat, it will take less than five minutes to assemble these tasty bowls. If you like this dish, you’ll probably also enjoy my sushi bowl recipe. If you’re lucky to have a reliable fishmonger nearby for the tuna that’s fantastic, but if not, don’t despair – many large grocery stores sell good quality tuna today.


  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) Calrose (sushi) rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) white sugar
  • 6 ounces (170 g) sushi-grade tuna
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) water
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) finely minced sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoons (150 mL) finely minced ginger root
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon (2.5 mL to 3.75 mL) Sriracha, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) julienned English cucumber
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) grated or ribboned carrot
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) thinly sliced sugar snap peas
  • 1 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoons (15 mL) green onion tops, finely sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) toasted sesame seeds


  • Prepare rice by putting it in a medium saucepan. Add just enough water to cover, then swirl the rice and water to rinse rice. Drain off water. Add 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) fresh, cold water and 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt to the pan. Cover and place over medium-high heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, immediately reduce heat to low. Let cook undisturbed for 15 minutes; check and cook a few minutes more if needed until all water is absorbed.
  • Combine rice vinegar and sugar in a heatproof bowl and microwave for 30 – 40 seconds until sugar dissolves when stirred. Add the mixture to the cooked rice, then transfer it to a broad, shallow bowl. Let cool to room temperature, stirring often. If making ahead, rice should be refrigerated after 30 minutes; you can use a microwave to warm it to room temperature when ready to assemble bowls.
  • To make the poke, cut tuna into small cubes (less than 1/2 inch). Place in a bowl.
  • Combine soy sauce, water, sesame oil, sweet onion, ginger root and Sriracha in a glass jar with a tight lid. Shake to combine well. Drizzle over tuna, stir gently, then let tuna marinate for at least 20 minutes or up to 12 hours, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate if marinating more than 20 minutes.
  • When ready to serve, divide cooked, seasoned rice among two bowls. Arrange cucumber, carrot, snap peas and avocado over top. Spoon tuna into the middle, with just a little of the marinade, transferring any remaining marinade into small bowls or a little jug to serve on the side.
  • Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

Serves 2.


tuna poke bowl pinnable

Posted in Asian, bowl, fish, Grains, Make Ahead, make-ahead, raw, rice, sushi, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Old-fashioned cherry nut loaf

A retro treat for today’s tea parties (or….breakfast)!

When I was a kid, my mom seemed to make this loaf primarily at Christmastime so I associate it with all sorts of happy, festive feelings. I recall she often used a combination of red and green maraschino cherries, so her loaves were extra-vibrant for the holiday season! This updated version is a semi-faithful recreation of my mom’s recipe, which is why I used regular maraschino cherries. I would, however, highly recommend using some of the great artisanal cocktail cherries that are available today as a slightly healthier alternative. The loaf has a nice dense texture that makes it very satisfying and while the slices are delicious ‘as is’, they’re even more fabulous when toasted and topped with a little butter.


  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter
  • 1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) cherry juice from jar of maraschinos
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) milk
  • 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) maraschino cherries (stems/pits removed if needed)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped toasted walnuts


  • Preheat oven to 325F. Line an 8 x 4 inch (20 cm x 10 cm) loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Add egg and beat well.
  • Combine cherry juice and milk and set aside.
  • Blend together flour, baking powder and salt; add one-third of this mixture to the butter mixture and stir to blend.
  • Add half the milk mixture to the butter and flour, stir until well-blended.
  • Add another one-third of the flour mixture to the bowl and stir to blend.
  • Add the rest of the milk and blend in, then add remaining flour and stir until just incorporated.
  • Add the cherries and walnuts and stir gently until mixed in.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  • Bake for 55 – 65 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Let cool 5 minutes in pan then turn out onto a wire rack. Loaf should be no more than lukewarm before slicing otherwise it may fall apart.
  • Well-wrapped, the loaf can be kept at room temperature for three days or sliced and frozen for up to 3 months.

Makes 1 loaf.


Posted in baking, Breads, Breakfast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Small batch fun and festive lion cupcakes

Perfect for parties, bake sales and more!

I have always been a big fan of cupcakes. Not only are they quicker and easier to serve than cake, they can be so fun to decorate too. These cuties are inspired by the proverb attributed to the month of March (‘in like a lion, out like a lamb’) and they are a big hit every time I serve them. Just like my small batch maple-bacon cupcakes, this recipe makes a reasonable amount of treats so they’re likely to get polished off quickly and not tempt you for days afterwards. For the lions’ manes, I used Chicago Mix popcorn; some lions were caramel corn, some were cheddar and everyone was happy.


For the cupcakes

  • 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk

For the frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2. 5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons (15 – 30 mL) milk
  • Few drops orange (or yellow+red) food colouring

For decorating

  • Small candies for eyes (I used mini m&ms)
  • Pretzel twists, trimmed to form mouth and nose shape
  • Popped popcorn


  • To make cupcakes, preheat oven to 350F and line 10 compartments of a muffin pan with paper liners.
  • In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for one minute. Add the vanilla and melted butter and beat until well combined.
  • Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined. Add the milk, and beat until just combined. Add the remaining flour and beat until evenly blended.
  • Divide the batter evenly among 10 muffin cups (fill each about 2/3 full). Bake for 15 – 17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting; if you have time, frozen cupcakes are even easier to decorate.
  • Make the frosting by beating icing sugar and butter together until smooth. Add vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of milk plus the food colouring. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (2 – 3 minutes). If the frosting appears too thick to spread easily, add additional milk as needed, one teaspoon at a time.
  • To decorate, trim the domed top off each cupcake with a serrated knife, to make a flat area for the lion’s face. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes with a knife. Add eyes and mouth, then place popcorn around the outside to form the mane.

Makes 10 cupcakes.

This original recipe, created by Paula Roy, first appeared at


Posted in baking, Dessert, Desserts, Entertaining | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chai-spiced Dutch Baby pancake

A tasty treat for breakfast or brunch!

Similar in texture to popovers or Yorkshire pudding, Dutch babies are a great alternative to traditional pancakes. The batter puffs up beautifully while baking, giving the Dutch baby a delicate texture to match its light flavour. You can vary the spices to suit your tastes; my family just loves this chai-inspired version. You can prepare the batter the night before, but be sure to whisk it well just before adding it to the hot pan.


  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) milk
  • One star anise
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter, melted and divided
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon (.65 mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground cardamom
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) all-purpose flour


  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • In a small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon for the topping and set aside. Take any other toppings you enjoy (jam, fresh lemon wedges or maple syrup, for example) out of the fridge to warm up a little.
  • Put the milk and star anise in a glass measure (or small pot) and heat until just warm but not boiling. Remove from heat and let sit so the milk gets infused with the star anise flavour.
  • Place a 10-inch oven proof frying pan (cast iron is best) on the stove, over medium heat. Add half the melted butter to the frying pan and swirl it around to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Remove from heat.
  • Strain the milk and discard the star anise. Put the eggs in a blender (or use an immersion blender) along with the milk, brown sugar, remaining butter, vanilla and spices. Blend until smooth and a little bit frothy. Add flour and use the blender to pulse the mixture until it is smooth and does not have any lumps. Note that the consistency should be fairly thin, more like a crepe batter than a traditional pancake batter.
  • Reheat the frying pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes before pouring the batter into the pan. Right away, transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake for 18 – 22 minutes. It will be puffy and golden brown on top when cooked.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and immediately sprinkle the Dutch baby with the reserved cinnamon and sugar mixture. Note that it will begin to deflate almost immediately – this is normal and does not affect the taste. Slice and serve hot with your choice of accompaniments.

Serves 3 – 4.

Note: you can also use this recipe to make three individual Dutch babies if you have smaller (6 inch) cast iron skillets. Divide the batter evenly among the hot, buttered skillets and bake for 15 – 18 minutes.

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Roasted carrots with balsamic mascarpone and pistachios

An easy yet impressive vegetable dish!

Have you ever noticed that vegetables served in good restaurants usually look stunning and taste fantastic? I think that is because many chefs wisely treat their vegetables not just as ‘side dishes’ but instead consider them an essential component on the plate and even, in some cases, the star of the show. This year, I’m trying to take a little more time and care with vegetables to help them shine on my plates, and this carrot dish is a great example. I like to use French-cut carrots, which are small carrots that have been peeled and trimmed, with a cute little bit of green carrot top left on one end. You can now find these at many grocery stores and even big-box shops have them as well; uniformly sized regular carrots would work just fine too. The French cut beauties look absolutely fantastic when cooked but, more importantly, they also have great flavour, especially when roasted which promotes caramelization. I used mascarpone, which is mild-tasting Italian cream cheese, for the whipped deliciousness spread underneath the carrots, but you could mix regular cream cheese with the balsamic instead and it would be just as tasty.


  • 1 pound (454 g) French cut carrots
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons (15 – 30 mL) olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) honey
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) mascarpone or cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) pistachios, shelled and chopped


  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Slice carrots in half lengthwise and place on a baking tray, cut sides facing up. Brush cut sides generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Carrots can be prepped to this point and covered with plastic wrap for up to 24 hours prior to cooking.
  • Roast in preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until just beginning to feel tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife (if not using French cut carrots, note that larger carrots may need additional cooking time).
  • Whisk together honey and Dijon. Brush over cut sides of carrots and roast about 10 minutes more, until tender and just beginning to turn brown in places.
  • While carrots finish cooking, combine mascarpone and balsamic, stirring well so the mixture is evenly blended. Spread mascarpone mixture in a layer approximately 1/4 inch (.6 cm) thick down the centre of a serving platter (or place a dollop in the middle of four serving plates).
  • Transfer cooked carrots to the platter, arranging nicely. Sprinkle with pistachios and serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

Posted in Fruits and vegetables, Vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gingerbread cookie bars

Part cookie, part cake and all delicious!

I blame my Nova Scotia heritage for my love of all things ginger and molasses. From my family’s favourite old fashioned chewy ginger cookies to these scrumptious whole wheat gingerbread waffles to these heavenly pear-gingerbread muffins, it’s a favourite ingredient combination for sure. These bars or squares, depending upon how you choose to cut them, are the perfect blend of cookie and cake and the candied ginger on top is a real treat. They’re delicious on their own but even more festive with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.


  • 1 cup (250 mL) butter
  • 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons (7.5 mL) ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) molasses
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) very finely chopped candied (crystallized) ginger


  • Melt butter and set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the pan and other ingredients.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the ends.
  • Combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a large bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one), combine the melted butter, sugars and molasses. Beat until well blended. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla and beat one minute more.
  • Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until well blended.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the chopped candied ginger evenly over top of the batter.
  • Bake in preheated oven until edges are set but the centre is still soft, about 22 – 25 minutes.
  • Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes then lift out of pan using parchment paper “handles” and cut into bars.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for three days or freeze for up to three months.


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Fast Fresh Food

Four great meals that take just moments to make!

I think the one cooking-related comment that I hear most often from people is that they find they just don’t have time to prepare the nutritious meals they want to eat. I get it – life is hectic and it does take a little extra planning to put good food on the table each day. That’s why I work hard to create recipes for this blog that come together quickly and taste terrific. For a recent series of segments on CTV Morning Live Ottawa, I was asked to share four fast, fresh favourites with host Sarah Freemark. We had fun playing in the Constantly Cooking kitchen to create the dishes below (click on the names to access the recipes) and I showed Sarah how a few great gadgets like the InstantPot, KitchenAid stand mixer and spiralizer can make meal prep a whole lot simpler. The best part: each of the recipes featured on the show takes as little as 5 minutes but no more than 20 minutes to prepare. Healthy, delicious meals have never been so easy!

Shredded chicken with honey-garlic sauce

Raw zucchini noodles with spicy peanut sauce

Ten minute Thai soup

Crisp and colourful Waldorf pasta salad

Crisp and colourful Waldorf Pasta Salad


Posted in dinner, family-friendly main dish, healthy, how to serve raw zucchini, Instant Pot, Main DIsh, Make Ahead | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment