Gillis Cucumber Salad

Learned this recipe from my dad a long time ago  after many a hot summer day spent snacking on this. Great for potlucks, picnics, or to accompany anything cooked on the barbecue.

Prep Time: ~70 minutes, including time chilling in the fridge.
Serves 6


  • 1-2 large cucumbers, peeled if desired, finely sliced.
  • Other raw vegetables (sliced red peppers and tomatoes are great).
  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1-2 tbsp vinegar (balsamic or apple cider work well).
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Toss everything in a bowl, stir well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavours mingle. Serve slightly cooler than room temperature.


A recipe I made up all on my own, after growing up on meat chili most of my life, and wanting a meatless alternative full of nutrition and flavor. I’m a huge fan of one pot cooking, since I hate doing dishes, and this recipe is very kind to all who don’t like washing dishes! If you prefer kidney beans or any other kinds of bean to black beans, go ahead and substitute them. I personally recommend using a can of whole tomatoes instead of buying a can of pre-crushed or diced tomatoes, simply because I find there’s more juice in the whole tomatoes, which makes the chili taste better. And yes, there is cinnamon in this. My family’s always done it that way.

Great served alone, with rice, or with tortilla chips. You can even put it on nachos, or in a tortilla with some fresh tomatoes and lettuce for a burrito!

Prep Time: ~30 min
Serves 4


  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 medium onion, diced.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 1 bell pepper, diced.
  • 1 jalapeno, diced.
  • 1 can whole tomatoes, sliced, reserve the juice.
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed.
  • 2 tsp ground cumin.
  • 2 tsp ground coriander.
  • 2 tsp chili powder.
  • ½ tsp cinnamon.
  • 1 tsp paprika.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté everything until the onion is soft and translucent.

Next, add the bell pepper and the jalapeno, and continue cooking, stirring frequently.

Add the spices, then the tomatoes and the beans, and stir well. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, the longer the better.

Gillis Pasta Salad

My mom’s recipe, tried and true. Perfect for barbecues, picnics, or just a hot day when you want cool pasta. This dish can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta.

Prep time: 90 minutes, including time cooling in the fridge.
Gluten-free (if using gluten-free pasta)
Serves 4


  • 400 g short pasta/gluten-free pasta (rotini, farfalle, etc), cooked, drained, and cooled.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed.
  • 1 green pepper, seeds removed, finely chopped.
  • 1 cucumber, finely chopped.
  • 1 ½ cups cherry/grape tomatoes, halved.
  • 1 handful fresh basil, and any other herbs (tarragon, dill, etc).
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 tsp orange juice.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Toss everything in a bowl, stir well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavours mingle. Serve slightly cooler than room temperature.


A delicious, cold soup of Spanish origin. Great on a hot summer’s day when you want veggies, but are tired of salads. This is how my family has always made it, so it’s probably not the most traditional, but it sure is yummy!

Prep time: ~80 minutes, including time chilling in the fridge
Serves 6


  • 1 cucumber, chopped.
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped.
  • 2 green peppers, chopped.
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped.
  • 1 onion, chopped.
  • Juice of 1 lemon/lime.
  • 1 cup tomato juice.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 handful fresh herbs (basil, tarragon, dill, parsley, etc).
  • Hot sauce, to taste.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Blend all of the vegetables and herbs using a blender, immersion blender, or food processor. Place the mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the olive oil, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors mingle. Serve slightly cooler than room temperature, with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh herbs to garnish, if you’re feeling fancy.

Fresh Herb Salad

Inspired by salads I made many a time when we had a large herb garden. Yummy and fresh, a great salad to eat in the summer.

Prep Time: ~10 minutes
Serves 4-5


  • 1 head lettuce, or the equivalent amount of other leafy greens (spinach, kale, etc).
  • 2 handfuls fresh leafy herbs (basil, tarragon, dill, oregano, marjoram, etc).
  • 1 small handful fresh chives, chopped.
  • 1 bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow), cut into small strips.
  • 1 handful cherry/grape tomatoes, halved.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 2 tsp vinegar (balsamic and raspberry are nice).
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Wash the lettuce and tear it into bite sized pieces. Wash the herbs. Spin these into a salad spinner to get rid of the water, or pat dry with a paper towel. Place the lettuce and herbs in a large bowl.

Toss in the pepper slices and the tomatoes, then prepare a dressing as such: add the olive oil and toss to coat the leaves, then add the salt and pepper and toss again, and finally add the vinegar, stirring the salad one last time to coat everything evenly. The dressing should be added just before serving, to prevent the lettuce and herbs from wilting.

Gillis Family Borscht

A classic Russian soup, with a few family twists. Full of vegetables and with very little fat, this is a super healthy, super yummy soup. Served with some potato latkes or some brown bread, it gets taken to a whole new level.

Prep Time: ~1 hour
Serves 4-5


  • 1 ½ cups potatoes, thinly sliced.
  • 1 cup beets, thinly sliced.
  • 4 cups water/vegetable stock.
  • 2 tbsp mild vegetable oil (olive, grape seed, canola, etc).
  • 1 ½ cups onions, chopped.
  • 1 large carrot, sliced.
  • 1 large stalk celery, sliced.
  • 3 cups cabbage, shredded.
  • 1 cup tomato puree.
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp cider vinegar.
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup or similar sweetener.
  • salt and pepper, to taste.
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds, plus some to garnish.
  • As much dill (fresh is better, but dried works well too) as you like, plus some to garnish.

Cooking Instructions:

Boil the potatoes and beets in the stock/water until tender, around 10-15 minutes. Remove them from the liquid, setting aside for further use.

In a large pot, fry the onions in the oil until translucent, adding in the salt and caraway seeds. Next, add the carrots, celery, and cabbage, season with pepper. Fry for a few minutes, to let the flavors mingle.

Pour in the tomato puree and the liquid you used to cook the beets and potatoes. Toss in your dill. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables start to get tender.

Next,  add the beets and potatoes back into the pot. Allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes, tasting to test the seasoning from time to time. Serve hot or chilled, with a little dill and some caraway seeds as a garnish.

Vegetable Fried Rice

My very own recipe! Took some trial and error to get to a point that I liked, but pretty yummy. Fair warning: this is not at all authentic Asian cuisine. I won’t even pretend that it is. This is very much “fusion food”. And much like many of my other recipes, this one starts out with frying onion and garlic. You could also add some tofu if you like, for some extra protein.

Prep time: ~30-40 minutes
Gluten-free (if gluten-free soy sauce is used)
Serves 4


  • 1 cup rice, pre-cooked and cooled.
  • 2 tsp sesame oil.
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely sliced.
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets.
  • 1 cup snow peas or green peas.
  • 4 heads of bok choy, leaves separated from the stems.
  • Dash soy sauce/gluten-free soy sauce.
  • ½ tsp Chinese five spice.
  • Fresh ginger, grated, to taste.
  • Hot sauce, to taste.
  • Black pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Heat a large frying pan or wok on medium heat with the oil in the bottom. When hot, add the onion, cook for a few minutes. Then add the garlic, and, shortly afterwards, the carrots. Cook until carrots begin to soften.

Next add the broccoli, and cook until it begins to soften. Toss in the peas and the bok choy stems, and when warmed through, add the leaves as well. Allow them to cook for a minute, then stir in the rice, soy sauce, five spice, ginger, pepper, and hot sauce, and continue stirring until everything is coated properly and the rice is hot. Serve immediately.

Fruit Granita

If it’s a hot summer day, this is a great dish to serve to guests. I recommend making several different flavours for variety!

Prep time: ~4 hours
Serves 4


Strawberry and basil granita:

  • 1 tub strawberries, hulled and sliced in half.
  • 1 large handful basil, shredded.
  • Sweetener of your choice, to taste.

Lemon and mint granita:

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice.
  • 1 handful mint, shredded.
  • Sweetener of your choice, to taste.
  • Water, to dilute the lemon juice.

Cooking Instructions

Place the strawberries and basil in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, adding sweetener to your preference. Put in a freezer-safe container and set aside. Do the same with the lemon and mint.

Place both containers into the freezer for at least 4 hours, stirring every half hour to prevent it from freezing solid, but instead making a crunchy ice. Serve in cute little dishes.

Death Pasta

So named because it is incredibly filling, and eating too much will leave you in a food coma. Another recipe I learned from Amr (Elaine’s boyfriend). Very delicious, despite the dangers of overindulging in this dish, and sort of like a vegan pasta bolognaise. Also quite healthy! This dish can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta.

Prep time: ~40 minutes
Gluten-free (if using gluten-free pasta)
Serves 4-6


  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, cooked.
  • 1 can beans, drained and rinsed (black beans are best, but use whatever beans you like!)
  • 400 g pasta/gluten-free pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced.
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced.
  • 1 large onion, chopped.
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed.
  • 1 can tomatoes, pureed.
  • 2 tsp Baharat (see Spices for the recipe!).
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or hot sauce to taste.
  • 1 small handful fresh basil, shredded, or 1 tsp dried basil.
  • salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and saute for 2 minutes. Next add the garlic, and cook until both onions and garlic are soft and fragrant.

Add the carrots and celery, and cook with the lid on until the carrots begin to soften. Next, toss in all the lentils, and give it all a good stir. Add in the tomatoes and Middle Eastern spice mix and stir well.

Bring to a bubble, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Toss in the basil, beans, red pepper flakes or hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Continue to stir and let simmer for as long as you want, but at least until the carrots are thoroughly cooked.

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, drain, and toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together. Serve hot, and don’t eat too much! Seriously, don’t eat too much.

Puppy Chow

Another recipe of my sister’s. Yummy and sweet and crunchy, a great party snack/dessert! 

Prep time: ~15 minutes
Serves 6


  • 200 g non-dairy chocolate chips.
  • 200 g peanut butter.
  • Drizzle of mild vegetable oil (canola oil works well).
  • Gluten-free Rice Chex.
  • Icing sugar, to coat.

Cooking Instructions:

Place the peanut butter, chocolate, and oil in a small pot over low heat, or in a double boiler, and stir until fully melted and mixed together. In a large Ziploc bag, place your rice chex, and pour over the chocolate-peanut butter mix. Toss to coat the pieces evenly. Next, add the icing sugar, tossing again to coat everything.