pear pancetta risotto


as the sweaters come out (YAY) & the temperature drops (double YAY) i am ready to introduce all the comforting cold weather foods back into my diet. while i am someone who makes risotto during the summer months too, i know not everyone wants to stand over a steamy hot stove for an hour in the dog days of summer! this risotto recipe is inspired by all things fall & features the sweet taste of fresh tree ripened pears from the orchard.

off topic: is anyone as excited as me to go apple picking this month?!? okay, back to the risotto.

to start this risotto off, i opted for cambria wine's: benchbreak chardonnay. i can't stress how important it is to cook with good quality wines & this chardonnay adds the perfect flavour base to any flavour of risotto! it features a lively fruit & oak spice aroma that pairs perfectly with the pears. i used pancetta to add a touch of heartiness & saltiness, but prosciutto or guanciale would be an excellent subsittue as well. cured italian meats make every dish better. lastly, i highly reccomend using a low sodium chicken stock. this allows you to control the amount of salt that gets added to the rissoto as the rice soaks up the stock because there is no saving a salty risotto!


  • 6 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 pears, peeled & diced
  • 1/2 cup pancetta, diced
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup cambria wines: benchbreak chardonnay
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


  • heat chicken stock in a large pot over low heat.
  • in a separate skillet over medium-low heat add the butter, oil, onion, pears, pancetta & sage. season with salt & pepper.
  • cook until the onions are translucent & the pears have softened.
  • add the rice & cook until the rice begins to turn translucent. about a minute.
  • turn skillet down to low heat & add the wine. once the rice has absorbed the liquid, add a ladle full of chicken stock. once the stock is absorbed add another ladle full stirring in between each addition. continue this step until the rice is fully cooked throughout (about 6 cups of stock). taste it to confirm the rice is cooked throughout.
  • stir in the parmesan cheese & a touch of cracked black pepper. serve immediately.

artichoke + spinach dip


who doesn't love a classic artichoke & spinach dip!?! i am partnering with vitamix today to share the ultimate holiday starter. i thought something warmy & cheesy would make for the perfect dish to serve at any gathering! this one earns bonus points because you can prepare it in advance & bake it when you are ready to serve. anything that involves minimal prep the day of christmas dinner earns a gold star in my books! the presentation of this dip looks so inviting & rustic when served in a cast iron pot. the little twist i did from the classic version was use an aged cheddar cheese over parmesan. i love the flavour it adds & the gooey melt factor. while i served mine with freshly toasted baguette slices, you can serve it with just about anything you like! tortilla chips, pita, nann bread & so on.

NOW..i have made two versions of this in my vitamix, a hot dip (which you see here) & a cold dip (which turns out a vibrant green colour). while the hot dip is much more indulgent, the cold dip is perfect for serving along side raw vegetables. it involves the exact same ingredients below but everything gets pureed in the vitamix & served as is. no heating involved! because of the green colour the spinach turns it, we call this one the grinch's dip:) as for the hot one, everything but the spinach, artichoke hearts & cheese gets pureed in the blender. then i fold those ingredients into the mix to add texture & depth to the final dish.

now let's get blending!!!


  • 1 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup spinach, freshly steamed, strained & roughly chopped
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, strained & roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated old cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1 baguette, thinly sliced & toasted


  • preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • place the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, shallots, garlic, salt & pepper into the vitamix. pulse until ingredients are well blended.
  • pour into a mixing bowl. fold in the strained spinach, artichokes & cheddar cheese.
  • transfer to an oven safe skillet or baking dish & top with additional cheddar cheese.
  • bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted & browned (broil for a minute or two to crisp the cheese).
  • serve immediately with toasted baguette or warm pita.

black pepper + white cheddar mac & cheese


can you believe it is december this week?! WHAT. this weekend we put up our first ever christmas tree (a real one!) & decorated it with the cutest forest animal ornaments. it goes with the rest of the house since i have a slight obsession with foxes & deers. seriously though, fox figures everywhere. also, who watched the girlmore girls revival?! i pretty much spent all of friday binge watching it & not sure how i feel about the ending. BUT i don't want to spoil it for all you slow pokes so let's just skip on over to this mac & cheese!

this mac & cheese dish is SUPER cheesy because i used an extra old white cheddar cheese (& lots of it). since it is the holidays, i made it a touch richer with the addition of heavy cream but feel free to use whole milk for the whole recipe. instead of doing the traditional topping of bread crumbs tossed in butter, i used harvest snaps! they have so many flavours to choose from. i went with the black pepper blend but feel free be bold & use your favourite (wasabi?!?!). just make sure to have an extra bag on hand for snacking purposes cause i ate a whole bag in the process;)

happy ALMOST december! get those advent calenders ready.


  • 1 box of short pasta
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups grated extra old white cheddar, plus more for topping
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 bag of black pepper harvest snaps, crushed


  • preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • cook pasta as directed on box until al dente. strain & set aside.
  • in a separate pot over medium heat add the butter, flour & mustard powder. stir constantly & cook until a smooth roux forms, about 5 minutes.
  • add the whole milk, heavy cream & bay leaf. simmer for ten minutes.
  • remove bay leaf & temper in the egg, followed by the grated old white cheddar cheese.
  • add the strained, cooked pasta to the pot & stir until evenly coated. if the pot is not oven safe, transfer to a baking dish.
  • top with additional cheese & crushed black pepper harvest snaps.
  • bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly & golden brown.

this post was created in partnership with harvest snaps! thank you for supporting the brands that keep me doing what i love. xo