Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

If you have a large stock of fresh garden tomatoes then I have the perfect cozy fall recipe for you to try out! It’s easy, healthy and comforting and makes the perfect grilled cheese dip!

  • 4 cups Roasted Tomato Base (This is what I use for all my tomato soups, and sauces. It’s your classic crushed tomatoes but roasted down for an even more robust and sweetened flavor. All I do is half tomatoes and place in a roaster or cake pan, drizzle with olive oil and salt & pepper and roast at 395 for 2 hours or so. The tomatoes start to brown and blister and your whole house smells like an italian grandma’s! Transfer roasted tomatoes to a large bowl, add a tbsp sugar and using a hand blender blitz them up until they are smooth. They start to get a bit creamy already at this point!)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 tbsp flour
  • dried or fresh basil (In prime basil growing season I trim off the leaves and blitz them up in my bullet blender with some olive oil and freeze flattened in ziploc bags so I can simply break off chunks of fresh tasting goodness all winter long!)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup milk (or unsweetened unflavored milk alternative)

Here’s the method: In large soup pot saute the garlic and onions in butter. Season with salt & pepper and cook until softened. Add the flour and continue to cook while stirring. Add the water and stir to remove lumps then add the remaining liquids. Stir and keep at a low simmer. If you vigorously boil this soup it will split. Add your basil of choice and season to taste with more salt & pepper and garnish with whatever you so desire! We toasted up some buttered bread but some other options are grilled cheese sandwiches or cubes, grated cheese such as parmesan, crumbled feta or chevre, a drizzle of balsamic or olive oil or even some fresh chunked tomatoes with basil and garlic, like a quick bruschetta. It’s deliciously easy and oh so perfect to use up those garden tomatoes!


Fancy Fuss-Free Dinner

So many of you fell in love with one of my latest foodie posts on Instagram (if you don’t already follow me my tag is rheasdays) so I thought I’d jot down a quick post with the recipes for my belated Valentine’s dinner!  Both the app and the main are incredibly easy and I sourced a few of the more speciality items from Deluca’s Italian Market in Winnipeg as well as from one of my favourite farmers, my brother!  Food is my love language…specifically the Italian kind!


Roasted Tomatoes and Burrata Cheese

  • 1 tub cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Fresh garlic, I used 3 cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Burrata (fresh Italian cow milk cheese)
  • Pesto
  • Toasted Walnuts
  • Baguette or Crostini

In an oven safe dish roast your tomatoes and garlic with a generous pour of good quality olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I roasted mine for 20mins+ on 395.  Let dish cool slightly and then place the buratta in centre stage and drizzle the entire dish with pesto and sprinkle with toasted walnuts. Dive right in and heap this delicious nibble onto warmed bread!


Roasted Pepper and Sausage Pasta

  • Sauce:
  • 1 large bell pepper, roasted and finely diced
  • 1 md onion, diced
  • 2 pints crushed tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

In large sauce pan saute the onions in olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Add the diced roasted pepper and the crushed tomatoes. I usually add a 1/2 tsp sugar to my crushed tomatoes to cut some of the acid.  Let simmer while making the meatballs.

  • Sausage Meatballs
  • 5-6 mild Italian sausages, casing removed (get to know your farmer and butcher and locally source your pork like I do from my brother’s farm!)
  • 1/2 cup frozen and thawed spinach
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs or finely diced crusts of bread

Combine sausage mixture well and roll into small meatballs.  Place directly into the simmering sauce to cook.  Be careful when stirring the sauce until the meatballs are completely cooked and firm.

Boil your favourite pasta according the the package.  I like to use a smaller style noodle that will hold a lot of sauce.  Orecchiette is what I used this night but penne or fusilli would also be lovely.

Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and if you’re feeling super fancy sprinkle some freshly grated parmesan on top.  Such an easy weeknight dish that still feels full of flavour and love.


Love is in the Air


Ah, Sweet February with all the pink things!  How I’ve missed your gorgeous hue!  If you’re looking for something extra sweet (and truthfully, 70% air!) you need to check out this recipe for homemade marshmallows.  I added some strawberry jam into this batch and they turned my favourite color with just a faint scent of summer berries.  Floating atop my white hot chocolate they are the perfect treat for someone you love! Love is in the Air!


Homemade Marshmallows

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp gelatin
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla (or other extract to your taste)
  • 2/3 cup icing sugar for tossing them into after cutting
  • Oil, parchment then oil the parchment and line a 9×13 shallow baking pan.
  • In mixer, dissolve 1/4 cup water and gelatine.
  • In pot, boil sugar, 1/2 cup water and honey until soft ball stage, using a candy thermometer, 240* (this takes 12-15mins)
  • Pour syrup over bloomed gelatine with your mixer on low.  Then mix on hight until triple in volume. (I drape a tea towel over the mixer during high so that it doesn’t make a mess everywhere!)
  • Pour into pan and let set.  Cut and roll into icing sugar.

You can also make these beauties and pipe them out into rosettes or tree figures.  Tint and flavour your mix however you desire! Get creative and see where your tastes take you!  We love rolling cut squares into tinted or toasted coconut and have even tossed them into cocoa powder and melted them up on some graham crackers.  For Christmas we’ve tinted them green and piped trees and frosted them with sprinkles and icing sugar.  This recipe is so easy and fun to make!


Darkness before the Dawn…


It is in my humble opinion that loss of any kind is a wound that time does not actually heal.  In fact I think that is a rather harsh and insensitive approach to grief.  One that I myself have been naive to believe.  Until now.  Experience is education and within the two we become smarter and wiser.  I’ve learned through losing my sister in law that loss is not something we get over, nor should we.  With time we do not hurt less, nor do we love less.  We simply learn to live with the pain.  We accept it into our daily lives in a way.  And it does not come gently and without force.  If you experience loss (which we all eventually must) then you know exactly that.

Here we are at the beginning of a new year.  And even more than that, a new decade.  2020! (How is that even possible?). So, in a sense, time is relentless.  It seems to be even faster paced than ever before…I can’t be the only one that feels like this.  Loss has a funny way of amplifying things.  Making one feel like more needs to be done.  A feeling of mortality looming.  At the end of every year I have a sense of reflection…like ‘have I done enough?’, ‘did I fill my days to the fullest?’, but this year I’ve had even more reflection involving the QUALITY of time…’have I done enough GOOD?’, ‘have my days left my HEART the fullest?’.  It has left me saying “yes” as much as possible which in turn has left me in a burn out.  In a way being my busiest self has allowed me to avoid some of the things that I’m struggling with.  I need to find that happy medium and I’m working harder at figuring out what it is that brings me true happiness and spend less time worrying about the things that are out of my hands.

So if like me you are feeling a similar angst I’ve created a bit of a ‘game plan’ to get myself back on track both mentally and physically as well as emotionally/spiritually.

  • Get rid of the clutter: This includes the distractions in your life that help you to avoid.  The physical clutter as well as the mental.  Clean out the closets, organize that junk drawer, clear some space in your calendar so you have time to not be “on”.
  • Get moving: Outside is best.  But whatever works to get your body in motion for 20-30 mins everyday. Sweat it out.
  • Turn off the Tech: Get offline more.  Limit social media time.  Instead of tv opt for a good book.
  • Journal: Get a prompted writing agenda if this is new.  I chose “A Mindful Year” but there are tons out there.
  • Get Creative: Do something that inspires you.  My goal is to get back to watercolour painting.
  • Eat Well: Get at those greens.  Cook together with family and try new recipes.  For me this also means less ‘lazy meals’ and more whole foods.   Less alcohol is also on my list.  Moderation is key.
  • Stay Open: Keep your tribe close.  Make sure that communication is at the heart of your relationships and be honest on the crappy days as well as the great ones.  And listen to your body and mind.  If you need to slow down and chill DO THAT.

I’m hoping that writing my ‘game plan’ down and realizing where my goals truly lie will help me to be successful.  Baby steps with momentum.  One day at a time is no joke.  Sincerely, one day at a time.  I think above all else, be gentle on yourself.

“Rhea: Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love!”

In honour of “Bell’s Lets Talk” Initiative here in Canada I think it’s so important to talk about your mental health and create a community in which to grow and heal.  I’d love to hear from you too; what are some tips and tricks that help keep you grounded and living your best life?  What are some of your struggles?


Chia Pudding Cups…Routine doesn’t have to equal Rut!


It happens to me every time around this year…I get in a rut with my mornings.  By this time after Christmas the only thing I’m consuming in the morning is coffee, coffee and more coffee.  And if E is lucky we’ll switch up his cold cereal for some oatmeal or if I’m feeling really crazy maybe some reheated weekend pancakes.  It’s sad.  And lets be real, these dark winter months we all need a little less sad!  Insert these pretty little gems!  My Chia Pudding Cups!

Whole grains or seeds of any kind are so incredibly good for us.  They give us a much needed nutrient packed punch, help keep us regular and might be just what the doctor ordered to get out of this rut! Chia seeds are high in omega-3 as well as fiber, iron and even calcium.  They have been known to reduce cholesterol as well as promote a healthy gut.  They are easy to find at most grocery or health food stores.  I get mine from Bulk Barn and store them in the fridge in a mason jar.  I like to add them to an array of dishes such as cookies, granola, oatmeal, on top of salads, in muffins, breads and even mixed into breadcrumbs for coating chicken or pork.  Here’s another great way to get in more of these health-rich seeds; my Chia Pudding!

Here’s how you make it:

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2 cups milk or dairy alternative such as almond or coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • Mix all of these ingredients together and let sit overnight.  The chia seeds will absorb the liquid and you’ll be left with a rich pudding, much like tapioca.
  • In parfait cups or mason jars layer the chia pudding with your favourite yogurt and/or fresh or frozen fruit.  Top with nuts, more berries, coconut and a sprig of mint if you’re feeling fancy.  These jars can be served immediately or will keep for a couple of days in the fridge.
  • You can also add in cocoa powder, peanut butter powder or even some almond extract to change up the flavour base.  Mmmmm Peanut Butter Pudding topped with bananas and vanilla yogurt!