Southwest Caesar Salad with Grilled Steak

Regular followers may have figured out by now that salads are my favorite meal for the summer. This is one of my go-to recipes when I have friends coming to the cottage for the day. It is fresh, tasty, mostly make ahead and, best of all, never fails to impress! It pleases the men as much as the ladies, which can’t be said for that many salads! It sets a tex-mex theme for the day which you can carry over to appetizers and beverages. Oh, I forgot to add that Beergaritas pair really well with this salad:)Ole!


Rub for the steak:

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. each ground cumin and coriander

1/2 tsp each salt, pepper and granulated sugar

Dressing for the salad:

2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup light sour cream

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic

4 green onions, coarsely chopped

1/2 salt

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded

1/2 cup olive oil


1 head torn Romaine lettuce

1 sweet red pepper, seeded or diced

3 cobs of corn, grilled and then kernels removed

1 pound 3/4″ thick top sirloin steak

To make dressing, combine cilantro, sour cream, lime juice, Parmesan, garlic, green onions, salt, and jalapeño in a blender and process until finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add oil and blend until smooth. This can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.

Mix rub ingredients together and rub on both sides of steak. Peel back husks of corn, remove silk and then replace husks.  Soak in water for at least 15 minutes. Preheat grill to medium high. Put corn on grill (turning often) for 10 minutes before adding steak. Cook steak approx. 5 minutes per side for medium rare, or to taste. Remove steak and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Let corn cool a bit, then remove kernels with a sharp knife.

Arrange lettuce, corn and diced red pepper on 4 dinner plates. Slice steak into thin slices and arrange on salad. Drizzle dressing over salads. Garnish with nacho chips, if desired. Enjoy!

Mary Anne

Nicole says: “You had me at beergarita.  It all sounds delish, especially the dressing. And how cute is your little napkin holder?  Perfect for the cottage!”


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Tiffany @ MyDirt - July 30, 2013 - 11:59 am

Pinned this recipe. I think I pinned your last one too. I sense a theme here :)

Janelle @ Two Cups of Happy - July 30, 2013 - 4:13 pm

Another delicious looking salad recipe. Your homemade dressings are inspiring me :)

Inspire Me Heather - July 31, 2013 - 7:57 am

Your recipe looks great, perfect for a hot Summer nights supper – thanks!

Sheila @sZinteriors - July 31, 2013 - 3:01 pm

Salads are my favorite for the summer, too – especially a great caesar salad. The dressing looks amazing!! Thanks for sharing :-)

MaryAnne - July 31, 2013 - 5:16 pm

I hope you get a chance to try it Sheila!

MaryAnne - July 31, 2013 - 5:17 pm

It is one of our favorite salad meals hands down:)

MaryAnne - July 31, 2013 - 5:18 pm

Well what are you waiting for, get to the kitchen and start mixing LOL!

MaryAnne - July 31, 2013 - 5:19 pm

You certainly have spotted a theme. I love salad meals in the summer:)

Dani @ lifeovereasy - August 1, 2013 - 2:56 am

yum – i love salads that you can eat as a meal!

Karen@NourishWithKaren - August 2, 2013 - 10:39 am

YUM! Pinned this. The salad dressing and rub both look awesome. We will be trying both of these this weekend!

Friday Night Wine Pick: (not quite) Waupoos Cider

It’s Friday and you have just arrived at the cottage. It’s so hot, your exposed flesh has become one with the leather seat in your car. It’s humid…so humid your contact lenses have fogged over, and your hair….well forget your hair until next November.  You are on a deaths door quest for something to quench that ‘tongue stuck to the top of your mouth’ unquenchable thirst. A beer, ya that’s what I want…a frosty ‘nirvana’ cold beer. But your daughter brings you cider….CIDER!!!…are you kidding me?

No, I kid you not. I’m speaking of the 6.5% apple cider that resembles beer in look and colour, and you might even venture to say somewhat in flavour as well. My first foray into this thirst quencher was with Waupoos Cider . This sparkling beverage is made from late harvest and European cider apples and is manufactured in Picton Ontario…who knew? Also, Waupoos Cider is a fabulous alternative to beer for those sensitive or allergic to gluten, dairy and wheat. It is available at LCBO.

Oh ya…..and that ‘tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth’ thirst….it was quenched!!



LCBO 612804 | 4×341 mL bottle




 Maureen thumbnailMaureen  

Lisa says: “Ha love the imagery in this post Mo! I am not a huge beer lover so I think I’ll give this a try.”

Donna says: “I’m thirsty just reading this!  I love a cold beer on a hot day, but have been avoiding gluten sadly.  Now I have another option!  Thank you Miss Mo!”


Mary Anne says: “Thanks for reminding me that I tried cider last summer and LIKED it. Great option for those super thirsty days!”

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c addison - June 10, 2013 - 7:33 pm

love my cider non or alchol wampous cider thank you

Kitchen Reno’s 101

So you’re planning a new kitchen, the single most important room in any home. The task will be exciting and daunting at the same time. The process can be overwhelming, but so rewarding when you get the kitchen of your dreams. Here is the clincher… can be expensive, especially when you make costly mistakes. Here are a few ideas and options for you to consider when making the leap into the unknown.


Option 1: Complete Kitchen Renovation

This will be the most expensive option of all, but oh so satisfying when it is completed. Depending on the scale of the renovation, you may be removing/adding walls, adding windows, tearing up old flooring, and installing new. Demolition of old cabinetry, counter tops, and backsplash to make way for new. You will need professional help from an Interior Designer, Decorator or Kitchen Designer to help you with the layout of the space. You will have electrical and plumbing to do and measurements of surfaces to take. You will need to choose such things as paint/wallpaper for the walls, counter tops, backsplash, flooring, sinks, faucets, lighting and fixtures, window treatments, appliances ,if buying new, and cabinetry with hardware

Kitchen After
Sonya Kinkade Design
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography

Kitchen After
Sonya Kinkade Design
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography

Kitchen After
Sonya Kinkade Design
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography

Kitchen After
Sonya Kinkade Design
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography


Option 2: Kitchen Reno without Custom Cabinetry

A less expensive option than #1, but it will give you the polished look you may be after. By using store bought cabinetry you have fewer options than custom, but when dressed up with custom detailing it can fool the eye into thinking you have spent a fortune. Make sure you choose your finishes wisely, and put your money where it counts on such things as countertops and the backsplash.

Sonya Kinkade Design
Martha Stewart Cabinets/ Home Depot
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography

Sonya Kinkade Design
Martha Stewart Cabinets/ Home Depot
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography

Sonya Kinkade Design
Martha Stewart Cabinets/ Home Depot
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography

Sonya Kinkade Design
Martha Stewart Cabinets/ Home Depot
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography



Option 3: Kitchen Facelift

This option will give you the best bang for your buck. You will keep the footprint of your kitchen the same. There will be no removing of walls or windows. You will keep your existing cabinetry and have it sprayed in an updated paint lacquer color of your choice. If the doors on your current cabinetry are dated and you do not care for them , that’s Ok. You can order new doors to be made and have them finished to replace the old. Add new hardware to the doors for the jewellery of the space. You then should change your counter top and add an updated backsplash. This will bring high impact into a dated kitchen. New sinks and faucets can be added, but are not necessary if the ones you have are in good shape. Adding new and updated lighting fixture will beef up the WOW factor.



Sonya Kinkade Design
Door Fronts/ Ottawa Valley Kitchens
Photo Credit Sonya Kinkade

Sonya Kinkade Design
Door Fronts/ Ottawa Valley Kitchens
Photo Credit Sonya Kinkade

Sonya Kinkade Design
Door Fronts/ Ottawa Valley Kitchens
Photo Credit Sonya Kinkade

Sonya Kinkade Design
Door Fronts/ Ottawa Valley Kitchens
Photo Credit Sonya Kinkade



Options 2 & 3 can all be done with the help of your local IKEA or Home Depot Stores. They both have cabinetry options, hardware, counter top options, back splash, flooring, appliances, sinks, faucets, and lighting. You can get paint and accessories there too. It’s  a one stop shop for your Kitchen renovating needs.

With all of this, no matter what option you choose,  hiring an Interior Designer or Decorator can help with all aspects of the renovation. They will help to ensure the design process is a success with careful construction management. They will make sure the technical drawings and material specifications are carried out as intended. They will manage the project during the building process, and will monitor it on-site while the various trades complete their work. By having a designer manage the daunting process of a renovation and construction, it will make the transition a much easier experience. They will ensure all work is done properly, by managing the construction and installation process.

If you do not need the full service of an Interior Designer or Decorator, they can also simply assist you with sourcing and product choices. This will keep you from making costly mistakes in the end. My favorite motto “Do it right the first time”!

I hope with this information you can enter your journey into your kitchen renovation with confidence, and be assured there is a gorgeous new kitchen in your future. It will be the kitchen of your dreams and will be charming and welcoming every time you enter it. Getting there will not be easy but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare.



Maureen says: ” Any of the three options Sonya mentioned above can be the perfect solution for specific budgets. Always take the time to do the job right once…do not waste time and money trying to do it right twice.”


Mary Anne says:“Great overview Sonya. Renovating a kitchen can be a daunting task and paying for professional advice is like insurance to make sure you don’t make expensive mistakes.”

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Inspire Me Heather - September 7, 2013 - 9:08 am

Wow, those kitchen makeovers look gorgeous!!

mara - September 7, 2013 - 4:41 pm

I need a kitchen facelift. My layout is just fine. But, these kitchens are all droolworthy.

Dining al Fresco in Ottawa

I don’t know about you, but there is something special, about dining outside and if you attach the words ‘al fresco’ to the activity, it becomes almost romantic.  Let us not confuse having a picnic with dining al fresco.  In my experience, having a picnic always encourages yellow jackets and pesky flies to land on your food, not to mention an entire ant hill population showing up as though they have received a personal invitation to join you.

Dining al fresco, which also involves consuming food outside, is much more sophisticated.  Of course dining al fresco is not necessarily about the food, drink and others sharing your table.  It is about the atmosphere … normal street activities, folks walking by, the non AC’d environment, perhaps the cacophony of any or all outside noises.  Sometimes dining al fresco can be a quiet, private affair.  Other times your dining table might be up against a bustling city sidewalk, in the town square, by the ocean, high in the mountain top clouds.  OYE!…I’m getting away with myself, but only because I have been very fortunate to dine al fresco in Paris, Rome, Greece, Spain, Portugal and NYC.  Those dining al fresco occasions elicited ‘pinch me’ cries of delight.

Perhaps those far away dining experiences have encouraged me to explore dining patios closer to home.  The three local Ottawa patios I’ve written about below, are all very different in atmosphere and menu selection, but equally enjoyable for al fresco dining.

One of my favourite local restaurants to dine al fresco is le café overlooking a small portion of the Rideau Canal, a historical landmark in Ottawa.  Not only does the menu boast ‘Canadian classic cuisine’ made with fresh, seasonal ingredients but the view is spectacular.  We dined on the patio with out of town visitors who were completely enamoured with their meal and the view.  There is something enchanting about enjoying a meal while watching gleaming yachts sail past.  If you are a native Ottawan or a visitor to Ottawa in the summer, I highly recommend dining at le café on the patio.

The TBBs recently dined in The Byward Market at The Black Thorn  in downtown Ottawa.  Another restaurant whose menu is derived from locally sourced ingredients, The Black Thorn has two al fresco dining areas, one facing the street, which is enjoyable if you are interested in the sights and sounds of The Market, while the other is situated in the courtyard at the back of the restaurant which was unfortunately under construction when we dined there.  One of the reasons the TBBs chose to dine at The Black Thorn, was because of their famous gourmet pizza and the pleasure of choosing from an extensive wine and draft selection.

You like Italian food and dining al fresco?  Little Italy is where you want to dine.  There are several restaurants in Little Italy that have patios.  Ciccio, has been located at 330 Preston for over 40 years.  Having just gone through a renovation, they pride themselves on being ‘the best and well known Italian Restaurant in Ottawa’.  In fact we enjoyed a fabulous bottle of Amarone there, which I raved about on the TBB Friday Night Wine Pick.   The hustle and bustle in the heart of Little Italy was quite evident on a recent Friday night when we dined al fresco at Ciccio.  We met several people we knew, while enjoying our meal next to the sidewalk.

Remember, dining al fresco means immersing yourself in the culture of the area you are dining in.

Enjoy more dining al fresco restaurants in Ottawa 

 Maureen thumbnailMaureen

Donna says: “I love al fresco dining and these are wonderful options Maureen!  We also spend many summer evenings dining al fresco on our outdoor patio at home, which allows us to make the most of our short summers here in Ottawa.”

Mmmmm al fresco……makes me think of a light breeze in my hair, the smell of crisp fresh wine…..and a gorgeous man running his fingers through my hair….Oh sorry, what were we talking about?


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Inspire Me Heather - August 13, 2013 - 8:19 am

I love eating outdoors too, you really get a taste of your surroundings!

Dani @ lifeovereasy - August 14, 2013 - 2:15 am

The words “al fresco” make everything sound more delicious!

Tia - August 16, 2013 - 10:39 pm

It’s not fancy, but you can get beer and wine (and pub-type foods) right on the Ottawa river at the Rockcliffe boat house. You have to take a very steep hill down to the water, but it’s a great place to have an outdoor drink (especially while fireworks are going off at the Casino). Definitely miss Preston street now that I don’t live in Ottawa anymore.

Anne@DesignDreams - August 17, 2013 - 9:04 am

Looks like a fabulous place to eat.

Raspberry Lychee Sorbet with Champagne


I came across this little gem while surfing the web recently. This blog called Gourmande in the Kitchen authored by Sylvie Shirazi photographer and food lover is filled with mouth watering recipies and an incredible amount of  EYE CANDY photography. What caught my eye originally is this Summer Cocktail that is dessert that doubles as a cocktail…SECONDS PLEASE!!

RECIPE: Raspberry Lychee Sorbet with Champagne (Champagne Floats)


  • 1 ½ cups/280g frozen raspberries
  • 1 can (20 oz/565g) can of lychees packed in their own juices
  • A few drops of rosewater


  1. Purée the raspberries with the lychees and their juices in a high speed blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Scrape the purée through a fine sieve into a bowl; pressing to discard the seeds.
  3. Stir a couple drops of rosewater into the raspberry/lychee purée and pour into ice cream maker.
  4. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions until set, about 25-30 minutes.
  5. Transfer the sorbet to a plastic container and freeze until completely set and firm, about 1 hour.
  6. To make the floats: Place a small scoop of the sorbet into a glass.
  7. Slowly pour the Champagne over the sorbet. Garnish each glass with fresh raspberries, if desired.
  8. Serve immediately.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegan, Vegetarian

Diet tags: Gluten free, Dairy-free


sonya thumbnail




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