Homemade Pasta Sauce

Yes, it’s completely from scratch and it is much easier than you thought!  If you have a few hours to sit around and smell simmering tomato sauce, you should try this immediately.

Goes great with homemade meatballs!

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August Recipe Review

In case you missed it on Instagram… Here is a list if the recipes I tried out this week, and a photo of the results. All were quite delicious and I was so satisfied!

Sunday: One Skillet Chicken and Rice

Recipe originally from Looneyspoons. Review coming soon.

Monday: Roasted Veggies and Feta (warm salad)

Recipe originally from Looneyspoons. Review coming soon.

Tuesday: Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps

Recipe originally from Gordon Ramsay. Review coming soon.

Saturday: Cheesy Tomato Risotto and Lemon, Maple, Dill Chicken Breasts

Leftovers can be just as pretty and delicious as the first time. #thepurplemenu #whatsfordinner #leftovers

A post shared by Shaunese H (@thepurplemenu) on

Recipes from Gordon Ramsay (risotto) and Looneyspoons.  Review coming soon.



Brownie Biscotti Recipe Review

This is actually a recipe stolen from AllRecipes.  You can find all of the instructions here.  This post is more a review and my notes about the recipe.


My overall impression was that this was an incredibly easy recipe.  I was also pleased that it uses pretty common ingredients.  Many other biscotti recipes call for anise extract and/or almond extract.  As I’m not a huge baker, I tend not to have these sitting in my cupboard.

The Tricky Bits:

I was a bit confused about servings and how many this recipe should yield.  The original states that it makes 30 servings, but from the result that I got I would say these would have to be extremely tiny pieces.  I was able to cut 10 pieces according to the instructions to make 1-inch slices.  The recipe does provide instructions to make two loaves of a specific size.  I was pretty sure I had what they specified, which produced only one loaf and still, only 10 slices.  I very well could have been off, I was more concerned with making a loaf that would yield the biscotti shapes that I am familiar with.

One thing that I do wish had been more clear was regarding firmness.  The first baking of the biscotti (for those who don’t know, it is literally baked twice) the instructions state to bake until firm.  I baked according to what I thought was firm, but given my lack of baking experience I wasn’t quite sure.  After the loaf cooled for 30-minutes, it was clear that it wasn’t firm enough.  Although the outside was crisp the centre appear more like a brownie or dense cake.

Luckily they get baked twice, so I carefully allowed the to stay in the oven a bit longer in order to try and bring out more moisture.  The only danger to this is that the edges will burn.  Typically you wouldn’t flip the biscotti, but I noticed my edges getting a bit dark and flipped them in order to avoid burning.  In the end I waited until the brownie texture I had noticed earlier appeared more like the crisp, dry biscotti I am used to.

Other Reviews:

One of the complaints from the online reviews is that they are not sweet enough or chocolate-y enough.  Keep in mind that this is biscotti, not a brownie or a cookie.  They are meant to be dry, they aren’t meant to be overly sweet and I found the chocolate flavour to be just perfect considering that they are meant to be dipped in coffee.  Do you want coffee with biscotti or café mocha?

Overall Impression:

All in all, I recommend this recipe for those who want to make something that is a little bit fancy.  The downside is that it does take quite a while, close to 2 hours from start until you remove them from the oven, then of course you need to wait for them to cool before you package them up.

This recipe definitely gets a thumbs up from me!

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Baked Parmesan Potatoes

These are one of my favourite dinner side-dishes.  They are easy to make and warm up nicely the next day.  The mild, cheesy flavour makes them a good leftover even for breakfast the next day.  If you like potatoes (And who doesn’t? Really?) then you will love these!


  • 6 medium potatoes, chopped into quarters
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1.8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cheese, salt, pepper and spices.  Mix well.
  3. Melt butter into an oven safe baking pan.
  4. Dip potatoes into water, then roll them in the flour mixture.  Place them into the baking pan and bake for 1 hour.

This is a quick and easy side-dish that goes well with a meat side.  Try them with roasted pork!  I used new (juvenile/young) potatoes and they had a delicious sweet quality to them.  I highly recommend them for this dish as the time in the oven really helps bring out the sweetness.

Side note: I’ve decided that I suck at cooking pork chops (failed attempt pictured above) and will gladly accept any tips you have to add flavour!

Drab to Fab: Scrambled Eggs

I will be the first person to admit that I rarely eat a full breakfast.  Growing up I hardly ate anything before lunch.  Television shows and reading eventually convinced me that I should eat something in the morning, but unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of breakfast foods.  Cereal? Bland!  Pancakes? Boring.   French toast?  Too much work.  Eggs?  Gross.

Actually, eggs can be quite good and they are quick and easy to make.  The best part?  If you have any leftover veggies in the fridge and a bit of ham you can make an impressive gourmet scrambled egg dish.  Take a look!

This recipe was incredibly easy.  We all know how to make scrambled eggs, right?


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 medium green onion, chopped finely (save portion of green leaves for garnish)
  • 1-in piece of zucchini, chopped
  • 3 thin slices of ham, chopped
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lemon-dill spice mix
  • Milk


  1. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, pepper and lemon-dill seasoning.
  2. Whisk in a splash of milk.
  3. Chop green onion, zucchini, ham and add to egg mixture.
  4. Mix together until veggies and ham are well incorporated.  The mixture will appear quite chunky.
  5. Warm a non-stick frying pan.  Use oil or melt butter to help prevent the eggs from sticking.
  6. Once pan is warm, add the egg mixture.  Stir or whisk while cooking to prevent large chunks from forming.  The eggs will be cooked after only a few minutes.
  7. Garnish the eggs with the chopped up green onion leaves and serve with a side of fruit and tea.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use virtually any veggies you have in the fridge.  I recommend sticking to the veggies that are softer but still firm, like zucchini.  They will cook as fast as the eggs whereas firmer veggies will take too long and you will end up with either raw veggies or burnt eggs.

Some of you may be wondering about the lemon-dill seasoning.  I used this blend from Epicure which is actually supposed to be used to make a veggie dip.  The seasoning has quite a mild flavour but was a nice way to add a little extra umph to the eggs.

With minimal effort and about 10-minutes, you can have an impressive breakfast!

Bon appetit!

My Food Philosophy

Good morning/afternoon/evening,

Welcome to my blog, The Purple Menu.  It looks like we are both new here and I thought it would be best to start with an introduction.

I’ve started The Purple Menu (PM from now on, for simplicity’s sake) as a way to share my enjoyment and thoughts on food and cooking.  Over the past year, or so, I’ve become known for sharing Instagrams of my latest meals with my friends on Facebook. The response has been overwhelmingly positive!  Some friends have started doing the same, often using our tags #whatsfordinner, #girlswhocook and #kitchengoddess.  It felt great to know that people enjoy these photos, and some have commented that I’ve inspired them to eat-in rather than eat-out.

Recently I’ve had two friends suggest that I expand my digital meal sharing empire.  I’ve been asked for recipes, tips on how I manage my time and my personal menu, information on how I’ve learned certain things, etc.  These things, paired with my belief that eating at home can be fulfilling, fun and non-stressful has inspired me to start writing this blog – to help answer some of these questions.

As a young lady in my mid-twenties, I am a part of the so-called fast food generation.  I was practically raised on the stuff.  I don’t see this as a result of ignorance but rather necessity, and I feel this is a misconception that isn’t well articulated in the media.  There are many articles about obesity and the danger of fast-food culture, and rightfully so.  Unfortunately it seems that many people attribute this solely with negligent parental behaviour, addiction or ignorance.  The unfortunate reality for many families is that fast food can be a necessary evil.

I was raised by a single parent who, for as long as I can remember, has always worked beyond typical full-time hours.  At various times in our lives it had been impossible to stick to a regular meal schedule, it was impossible to spend an hour preparing dinner when mom wasn’t home until after 9:30 PM.  Fast food was as much her way of grabbing a meal whenever possible as it was my way of eating while alone.  For some low-income families meals out can be cheaper than meals in.  Some families are constantly forced to choose between affordability and erratic schedules.

Unfortunately for children and parents in these types of situations, over time it becomes hard to imagine eating anything else.  The unfamiliar can be daunting, whether it is learning to cook or learning to like the way things taste.  I maintain that knowing how to make your own meals is an important skill, it’s one of the things you can do for yourself to improve your own health, happiness, and even impress others.

In our go-go-go world, it can be overwhelming to get started, but I am here to help.  Forget breaking the bank for expensive, gourmet ingredients, great meals can be made with some of the simplest.  Forget the mentality that absolutely everything needs to be from scratch, it’s OK to cheat.  Forget the feeling that preparing meals is a chore, it can be fun and satisfying.

I’m here to help you learn all of these things, by bringing you through my experience as I learn.  Welcome to PM, to my menu.  I’m posting things as I make them, I’m not on a schedule or theme.  What I feel like is what will happen, and I hope you see this as being open and down-to-earth.  I’m not just about recipes here either, I’m about testing out new tools, techniques, shows and books, and I am happy to share it all.

So, let’s put on an apron, sharpen those knives and warm up those pans!

Sincerely, SmokeyChef.