Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Buttertart Pan Squares

I accidentally sent out this message before the holidays, before having a chance to finish typing up the recipe. So here it is again, in full this time.

We first had these the day after they were made and found them super sweet. However, a day or two later they were much better. Not sure if that's typical, as I've only made them once before and can't really remember. In any case, if you find them too sweet to begin with, maybe leave them for a day or two and try them again. I got this recipe from my Aunt Liz awhile back.


1/2 C butter
1 C all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. white sugar

1 1/2 C brown sugar
1 C walnuts, chopped (or raisins)
2 eggs
3 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla

1. For crust: Cream butter well and cream it into flour and white sugar. Press into ungreased 9 x 9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 15 minutes.

2. Then mix the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl. Spread this over the baked base and return to oven. Bake for 20 minutes longer or until golden brown.

Enjoy. And Happy 2010 to all! I'll post all of the recipes from our New Years party shortly... once I find time to type them all out...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

This is one of the recipes I made for this year's New Years Eve party. It's also one of the few recipes that I remembered to take a picture of. It's standard fare at any large get-together in our house, as it's generally loved by all.

1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 C mayonnaise
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C grated Romano cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 oz.) can artichokes, drained and chopped
1/2 C frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
1/4 C shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Lightly grease a small baking dish.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, garlic, basil, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.

3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.

I usually serve this with nachos, though it would also go well with veggies.

Sucre à la crème

Brandi gave me a batch of this a few years back as a gift and I've been making it at Christmas and giving it out as little gifts ever since. It's super sweet, but delicious in small portions. Again, don't substitute margarine for butter, as you won't get the same results.

2 C sugar
1/2 lb. (1 C) butter
2 C brown sugar
3/4 C evaporated milk
2 C icing sugar

1. Mix white sugar, butter, brown sugar and evaporated milk together and bring to a rolling boil. Boil 5 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and add icing sugar. Stir until smooth.

3. Pour into an 8 x 8 inch pan and let cool.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Mom's Shortbread Cookies

I ran upstairs to get my holiday baking going the minute my last client of 2009 walked out my door this afternoon. Yeehaw!!! Finally, a bit of time to catch up on reports (aka relax and do nothing...).

This is my mom's shortbread recipe and is a huge family favourite. In fact, last year, my brother and I turned the entire house upside down while my mom was out, trying to find her holiday stash of these cookies, which she swore she hadn't made. We found them after much devotion and then transferred the majority of them to another container after tasting a few (to be sure they hadn't gone bad, of course...). My mom's face when she got the cookies out was priceless... she should know by this point that hiding cookies in a Baynton-filled household is a futile mission.

I make this every year for my kinesitherapist, who has been steadily working on my tailbone injury for over two years now. Shortbread are her favourite, so I make her a batch every year at the holidays to thank her.

The recipe says to sift together the flour and sugar. I am 100% a non-sifter, but give in for only this recipe, as it really does affect the quality of the cookies. My exhausted wrists and fingers can attest to me just having sifted two batches of these... blah! But it does make them better. Be sure to use only real butter and to let it get to room temperature before starting, otherwise the cookies don't turn out as well. It's also one of the only recipes that I don't substitute whole-wheat flour for. But they're way better with white and... whatever... it's the holidays...

1 1/4 C light brown sugar
4 C sifted all-purpose flour
1 lb. salted butter at room temperature

1. Sift flour and sugar together.

2. Cut in butter and work with fingers until blended.

3. Roll into 1 inch balls. Flatten with a fork on a ungreased cookie sheet. The dough tends to be quite dry, so you need to work each individual cookie in your hand to make them stick well together and so that they won't crumble apart when you flatten them with a fork. Bake at 325 degrees Farenheit for 15-25 minutes.

Makes approximately 75-100 cookies.

P.S. Did I mention that these are absolutely delicious?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cookies 'n Cream Fudge

I've finally gotten around to starting my Christmas baking. And with 4 more days until Christmas, I have just enough time to get everything done!

I originally got this recipe from Allrecipes a few years back. Although I don't love it, as I find it too sweet, my husband and a few of his colleagues absolutely love it and I make it once a year at Christmas for them.

3 (6 oz.) packages of white chocolate baking squares
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated) - I use the light version
1/8 tsp. salt
2 C coarsely chopped creme-filled sandwich cookies (Oreos work nicely)

1. In a heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt chocolate with sweetened condensed milk and salt. Remove from heat. Stir in cookies.

2. Spread evenly into foil-lined 8-inch square baking pan. Chill 2 hours or until firm.

3. Turn fudge onto cutting board; peel off foil and cut into squares. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Makes 40 servings.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Baked Potato and Leek Soup with Cheddar and Bacon

I got this recipe from April a few years back and continue to make it at least a few times every winter. It's one of my husband's favourites. I usually buy a few bunches of leeks at the end of fall, when they're much cheaper than in the winter. I slice them and freeze them in the portion required for this soup and then take them out whenever I feel like making this. Unfortunately, the soup doesn't freeze very well itself, due to the potatoes. But it's good enough that you'll be able to finish it without freezing it.

2 medium baked potatoes
1/4 C butter (optional)
2 1/2 C sliced leeks
2 garlic cloves
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 C water
2 C chicken broth
4 slices bacon, cut into pieces
1/2 C milk
1/2 C sour cream (I use the fat-free)
1 C grated sharp cheddar
2 tbsp. sliced green onions

1. Wash potatoes and bake in the oven until tender. Set aside to cool. Melt butter over medium heat (I skip this step). Add leeks and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 10 minutes.

2. Add broth and water. Simmer over medium heat and cook until leeks are tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Cook bacon until brown and crisp. Drain on paper towel.

4. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Use a large spoon to scoop pulp into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside. Coarsely chop potato skin and entire remaining potato and add to pot with leeks.

5. In a blender or food processor, purée in batches. Return puréed soup to a clean pot and reheat over medium-low. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and sour cream until smooth, then whisk into soup with 1/2 C of cheddar. Stir in diced potato.

6. If soup is too thick, it may be thinned with a little water.

7. Season to taste and garnish with remaining cheddar, bacon and chives.

For a vegetarian version, just omit the bacon bits and use vegetable instead of chicken broth.

Makes 4 servings.

Banana Bread

I made this recipe many moons ago, but am just getting around to posting it now. It comes from the cookbook Cook Great Food, which, as I've already mentioned, is a fantastic cookbook. I have a bunch of different banana bread recipes (some with peanut butter, flax, etc.) and vary between them all, depending what I'm in the mood for (and what ingredients I have on hand).

1 1/4 C flour (I use whole-wheat)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 C sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1/4 C lower-fat plain yogurt
1/4 C vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C mashed ripe bananas (about 2 to 3 medium)

1. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, blend sugar, egg, egg white, yogurt, oil and vanilla. Blend in bananas. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour at 350 degrees Farenheit.

Makes 12 portions.

Shredded Chicken and Chicken Wraps

I had a bit of a lazy week this week, as I had a million cancellations... apparently Christmas shopping is much more of a priority than speech therapy these days. So I figured I'd update my blog while waiting for my husband to get home for the evening.

I make this recipe often and always keep a few batches of shredded chicken in our freezer, which I use for soups, salads, wraps, etc. I'll post a bunch of different recipes over time that I use this chicken in. I buy the chickens when they're on sale and stock the freezer from there, with the cooked chicken. It ends up being a super cheap way of having real chicken instead of that fake deli meat stuff. This recipe is made in the slow cooker, so the time it takes to prepare is very minimal. It comes from the cookbook The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson.

Shredded Chicken
3 to 4 lbs. chicken pieces, skin on (I usually buy the chicken breasts with backs)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker, laying dark meat (legs and thighs) on bottom and white meat (breasts) on top (I only ever make it with white meat). Add water to cover. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours, until chicken is cooked through. Allow to cool in liquid (I don't do this). Remove skin and bones from chicken and shred by pulling the meat off the bones and apart with your fingers.

I then portion the meat into Ziploc bags, putting in enough for meals for 3-4 days and freeze what I don't use immediately. I can fit about 3-4 breasts in my slow cooker at a time. Though I'll often buy more and make this recipe 2-3 times in a row, freezing enough for quite awhile.

I often use this chicken to make wraps for lunch. My current favourite (or at least until I threw it up a few times last week - have I mentioned that I love being pregnant?) is a chicken-pesto-brie wrap. I use a whole-wheat tortilla and spread it with pesto down the middle. I then put in a handful of the chicken and a couple of thin slices of brie. I prefer this when I can heat it up in my sandwich maker, though it is also good cold.

My husband's favourite is to spread a bit of light ceasar salad dressing on the tortilla and to then top it with chicken and bacon crumbs. This is good both hot and cold as well. When cold, we'll often throw in lettuce and tomatoes as well.

I'm planning to make a great Thai curry soup this weekend that uses this chicken and will get around to posting that recipe shortly.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Apple Cream Cheese Pie

We make this once a year in the weeks following our trip apple-picking. It's fantastically yummy and is great for when you have company over.

1 refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box (or use recipe provided earlier)

3/4 C brown sugar (or 1/3 C brown sugar Splenda)
1/2 C whole-wheat flour
1/2 C old-fashioned oats
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 C butter or margarine

Apple layer:
3 C thinly sliced apples (3 medium, but I use around 6)
1/3 C granulated sugar (I used 1/4 C)
3 tbsp. whole-wheat flour
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cream Cheese Layer:
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened (used light)
1/3 C granulated sugar (I used 1/4 C)
1 egg
1/3 tsp. vanilla

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Make pie crust as directed on box for one baked pie shell, using a 9-inch glass pie pan, except do not prick crust. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light brown. If crust puffs in centre, flatten gently with back of wooden spoon. Remove and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together streusel ingredients except butter. With pastry blender or fork, but in butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Set aside. In large bowl, gently mix apple layer ingredients; set aside.

3. In small bowl, beat cream cheese and granulated sugar on low speed until well blended. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Spread in crust-lined pan. Spoon apple mixture evenly over cream cheese layer; sprinkle with streusel.

4. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until apples are tender and streusel is golden brown. If necessary, cover pie loosely with foil during last 10 to 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning. Cool at least 1 hour before serving. Store covered in fridge.

Makes 8 servings.

Feta Spinach Pie with Whole Wheat Crust

I had this awhile back for lunch at Heather's house and it was fantastic. It's quick to make and makes a nice meal with a salad.

1 frozen pie shell
1/3 pkg. drained frozen spinach
3 eggs
1/2 C milk (I often use soy milk)
1/2 tbsp. crushed garlic
pepper to taste
1 C feta or ricotta (I've only ever made it with light feta)
1/3 C parmesan

Mix everything together and pour into pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 38 minutes.

I often make my own whole-wheat crust with a recipe that came with my Cuisinart food processor.

Basic Pastry

1 1/2 C flour (I substitute whole-wheat)
1/2 C very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C ice water

Use metal blade to process flour, butter and salt until mixture is like coarse meal, about 8 seconds. Add ice water and pulse until dough begins to clump together. Do not let it form a ball. Put dough in a plastic food storage bag. Work through bag to press dough together into a ball, then a flat disc.

Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour before rolling it out.

Easy Cabbage Roll Casserole and Pumpkin Coconut Soup

This first recipe also comes from Canada's Best Slow Cooker Recipes. It freezes really well and is basically the same ingredients as you'd find in cabbage rolls, but without the hassle.

Easy Cabbage Roll Casserole

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef or turkey (I've only ever used turkey)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 small can (221 mL) tomato sauce
1 C water
1 can (284 mL) condensed tomato soup
1/2 C long grain rice
4 C shredded cabbage
1/3 C tomato juice or water
sour cream (optional)

1. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, combine ground beef, onions, garlic, salt and pepper; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until browned. Drain off any excess fat. Return to heat and add tomato sauce, water and half the can of tomato soup, mixing well. Add rice, stirring to combine.

2. Into prepared slow cooker, place half of meat mixture, then half of cabbage. Top with remaining meat mixture and remaining cabbage

3. In a bowl combine remaining tomato soup with tomato juice, mixing well. Pour into slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4 to 6 hours, until bubbling and heated through. Serve with sour cream.

Serves 6 to 8.

Pumpkin Coconut Soup

I can't quite recall where I stumbled across this soup recipe, though it's one of my favourite fall soups. I usually buy sugar pumpkins every year to put on our steps around Halloween. I then cook all of the pumpkins and freeze the pumpkin in batches to make this soup all winter. Or as I did this year, when I get really motivated, I just make mass batches of this soup and freeze the whole soup to last through the winter.

This recipe is much better when made with fresh rather than canned pumpkin. However, if you do use canned, be sure not to accidentally buy pumpkin pie filling, as it already has spices added to it. Also, I always find the soup a bit thick, so I add a bit more water or chicken broth than what the recipe calls for.

8 C of cooked pumpkin
2 medium onions
1 can light coconut milk
chicken broth (optional)
1 tsp. fresh ginger
salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop the onions and cook in a bit of butter or oil on low heat.

2. Mix together the cooked pumpkin, onions, coconut milk and 4 cups of water or chicken broth. Season to taste and let simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Add the ginger and blend to purée consistency.

Can be garnished with roasted pumpkin seeds.

Serves 8.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mom's Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

This recipe comes from Canada's Best Slow Cooker Recipes, which has all sorts of good freezable crock pot recipes in it. My sister just asked me for a stew recipe, so I figured I may as well just put it right up on my blog. I haven't made this in awhile, but it's good and takes little time. If you want to freeze it, omit the potatoes, as they don't freeze well.

1/4 C flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 lbs. stewing beef, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 C beef stock
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 can (540mL) tomatoes, diced, with juice
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley or 2 tbsp. dried
1 C frozen peas
salt and pepper

1. In a heavy plastic bag, combine flour, salt and pepper. In batches, add beef to flour mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a plate. In a large nonstick skillet, heat half the oil over medium-high heat. Cook beef in batches, adding more oil as needed, until browned all over. With a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a slow cooker.

2. Add 1C stock to pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits. Transfer stock mixture to slow cooker. Add carrots, potatoes, celery, onion, tomatoes (with juice), remaining stock, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce and parsley; mix well to combine. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4 to 6 hours, until vegetables are tender and stew is bubbling. Remove bay leaf and discard.

3. Add peas. Cover and cook on High 15 to 20 minutes longer or until slightly thickened and peas are heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 6 to 8

Freezer-friendly if you leave out the potatoes

Friday, November 20, 2009

Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

We are going to a little get-together tomorrow night for a friend's birthday and wanted to bring a little treat with us. I suggested my delicious double chocolate cookies (yes Ash and Steph - the famous reverse chocolate chippers, which I have yet to post). To which my husband responded, no, why don't you bring Joanna's cookies. Pfff... as if her cookies are better than mine. Ok, fine, they are pretty good. But still... part of what is so fabulous with this cookies is their enormous size. Don't make tiny versions, as I think for some reason it makes them all that less impressive. These cookies are like the ones you see in bakeries or specialty shops.

2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 C unsalted butter, melted (they're better with butter than with margarine)
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 C semisweet chocolate chips (though I use dark chocolate chips and prefer these)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. (ok, I'm clearly too lazy to sift anything other than when making shortbread cookies).

3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 C at a time (yes, you read that right!) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Do not overbake. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Breakfast Muffin Bonanza

A friend of mine just asked me to e-mail her this recipe, which I had brought to her house a few years back, so I thought I would come on and post it, even though I haven't made it in quite awhile and don't have any pictures to go on with it just yet. Enjoy.

1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C oil
1 C buttermilk
2 tbsp. molasses
1 1/2 C natural bran
2/3 C flour
1/2 C wheat germ
1/4 C sesame seeds
1/4 C flax seeds
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 C raisins

1. Preheat over to 400 degrees Farenheit. Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray. Combine brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, egg and molasses in large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups.

2. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until top springs back when lightly touched.

Makes 12 muffins.

Note: Whether or not you grind the flax seeds is up to you, but you will only get their health benefits if they are ground.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Carrot and Coriander Soup and Cacciatore Chicken

So I went a bit crazy and bought 10 lbs. of carrots a few weeks back. Which I suppose is quite a bit for only two people to eat... I just couldn't restrain myself. They were $3.99... so that explains the abundance of carrot soup recipes I've been making lately. Luckily, I've yet to hear complaint from my husband about the lack of variety of vegetables lately.

This soup freezes well, though you may have to run it through the blender again with a bit of stock once it has thawed. Be sure that the carrots are cooked enough before blending, otherwise it won't blend into a nice purée. Also, you can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian version. Don't make the mistake of using ground coriander instead of fresh, as it is not at all the same thing. I used a ground lemon peel bought in the spice aisle of the grocery store instead of fresh lemon peel, as I rarely have fresh lemons around and that worked well.

Carrot and Coriander Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. carrots, peeled and chopped
3 3/4 C chicken stock
few sprigs fresh coriander
1 tsp. lemon rind
2 tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

1. Soften the onion in a large pot. Add chopped carrots, chicken stock, coriander leaves, lemon rind, lemon juice and seasoning to taste.

2. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, occasionally checking that there is enough liquid. When the carrots are really tender, blend or liquidize and return to pot, then check seasoning.

3. Heat thoroughly again and sprinkle with chopped coriander before serving.

Chicken Cacciatore

This is recipe that I used to make whenever I had people over for dinner in undergrad. It used to be my 'fancy' meal, as I was really just learning to cook. I rarely make it anymore, but it's a good recipe and freezes well. I usually use boneless skinless chicken breast, though I'm sure you could use other cuts of chicken as well.

1/3 C all-purpose flour (or whole-wheat)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 lbs. chicken pieces
1/4 C margarine (butter browns too fast)
1 C chopped onion
1 small green pepper, chopped
10 oz. (284 mL) sliced mushrooms, drained
7 1/2 oz. (213 mL) tomato sauce
14 oz. (398 mL) canned tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. basil
grated parmesan cheese, sprinkle

1. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag.

2. Put 2 or 3 pieces of chicken at a time. Shake to coat. Brown margarine in frying pan or large heavy Dutch oven. Remove chicken as it is browned.

3. Add onion and green pepper to pan. Sauté until soft. Add more margarine if needed.

4. Measure in next 9 ingredients and stir.

5. Add chicken. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Cover and simmer slowly for about 35 to 40 minutes until tender.

Serves 4 to 5 (though I find it makes much more).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Red Lentil and Carrot Soup with Coconut and Spelt Biscuits

I can't quite recall where I got this recipe. The soup is made in the slow cooker, which is super practical for a work day. It's great for cold winter days and is filling as a meal on its own. I usually make it with light coconut milk instead of regular. Don't omit the fresh coriander if at all possible, because it really makes a big difference.

Red Lentil and Carrot Soup w
ith Coconut

2 C dry red lentils
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes, including juice
6 C vegetable stock
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 long red chili pepper or 2 Thai chilies, finely chopped (or hot pepper sauce)
thin lemon slices (optional)
finely chopped coriander

1. In a colander, rinse lentils thoroughly under cold running water. Set aside.

2. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil, breaking up with the back of a spoon. Stir in reserved lentils and stock.

3. Transfer mixture to slow cooker stoneware. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 or 5 hours, until carrots are tender and mixture is bubbling. Stir in coconut milk, lemon juice and chili pepper and cook on high for 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through.

4. When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and top with lemon slices and cilantro, if using.

Serves 8 to 10 as starter or 4 to 6 as a main course.

Spelt Biscuits

I got this recipe off of the All Recipes website last year when I was trying to find wheat-free recipes. These are a bit crumbly but really good.

2 C spelt flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. butter
2/3 C milk

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Farenheit.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually stir in milk, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You may need to adjust the amount of milk. Pat out on a floured surface to about 1-inch thick. Cut into biscuits and place on a baking sheet.

3. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Almond Butter/Peanut Butter Cookies

I made these cookies when Heidi came up to visit last weekend. They're fairly healthy and quite filling as a snack, however, they're a bit costly to make. I buy MaraNatha natural almond butter at Costco for $6.99 for about 750 grams. Which compares to about $5.99 in health food stores for a container that's not even half the size as the one at Costco. So that makes them a bit more affordable, since the recipes calls for a cup of the almond butter and makes a relatively small amount of cookies as compared to other recipes.

1 C natural almond butter or natural peanut butter
1 C brown sugar (I use 1/2 C of brown sugar or brown sugar Splenda mix)
1 egg or 4 tbsp. of egg whites

1.  Mix together and roll into balls.

2.  Press lightly with a moistened fork. 

3.  Bake on a nonstick baking sheet at 325 degrees Farenheit for 15 minutes. Do not overbake.

Optional: you can stir in 1/2 C raisins, dried cranberries, dark chocolate chips or chopped dried apricots

I like to mix in chocolate chips or mini M&Ms or mini Reeses Pieces when I make the peanut butter cookies and prefer raisins when I make them with almond butter. Don't make this with non-natural style nut butters, as the cookies aren't nearly as good.

And no, it is not a mistake that there is no flour in this recipe.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

French Onion Soup and Ceasar Salad

I made this for dinner last weekend. It is one of my favourite winter meals - classic comfort food. This is what we always have for Christmas Eve dinner with my family and we all love it. The soup recipe is my mom's and the salad recipe is my dad's. And both are delicious. So good, in fact, that I have rarely had either a French onion soup or ceasar salad as good as these two recipes when I eat in restaurants. Though you have to like both vinegar and garlic to enjoy the salad.

Mom's French Onion Soup

4 onions
3 cans of consomme soup
french bread
shredded mozzarella, cheddar and monteray jack

  1. Cut up the onions and saute in 1/2 C of water for 25 minutes (bring the water to a boil and then simmer).
  2. Add 3 cans of consomme soup and 2 cans of water and simmer for one hour.
  3. Put toasted buttered bread in French onion soup bowl and add soup.
  4. Top with mixture of cheeses and broil until cheese is melted.
Dad's Ceasar Salad Dressing

1 crushed garlic clove (I usually use considerably more)
1 egg yolk

Mix together and then stir in:

4 tbsp. olive oil

Progressively add, while stirring:

dash of tabasco/hot sauce
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 tbsp. parmesan (or can mix in later with the lettuce)
freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix with romaine lettuce.

bacon bits
additional parmesan

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Carrot and Lots of Garlic Soup

This recipe was passed on to me from my Aunt Liz. I've been making it for a few years now and it's really good. We made this recipe last weekend and I'm going to make a few more batches this weekend to freeze because I love it.

2 heads garlic
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper
5 C vegetable stock
3 C chopped carrots
1 potato, peeled and chopped
1 C shredded fresh basil (optional)
1/4 C light sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)
1/4 C minced fresh chives (optional)

1. Separate and peel garlic cloves. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; fry garlic, onion, salt and pepper, stirring, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add stock, carrots, potato and 1 C water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

2. Purée soup until smooth in small batches using blender. Add water to thin, if you desire (optional).

To serve, stir in basil, ladle into bowls; top with sour cream and chives.

Makes 4-6 servings.

I don't use any of the optional ingredients and it's wonderful as is. Enjoy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Girls Night Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake

So I’ve been completely lazy at updating my blog lately… I know… I have a bunch of different recipes to post up here, but just haven’t gotten around to it. 

I made this cheesecake for last week’s girl night and it was pretty good. Rich, but good (don’t the two usually go hand in hand?). I find the quantities required in the recipe a bit much. My cheesecake pan was overflowing, even though I had put some of the mixture into two individual cheesecake pans. So if you’ve got the patience, you may want to make a smaller version of the recipe. Or you can do as I did and make some little individual portions. In any case, be sure to make this when you have lots of people around to eat it, as it is HUGE. Though it freezes well. I didn't bother decorating it, but I'm sure it would have been much prettier if I had (though I'm sure it tasted just the same).

This recipe comes from the cookbook 125 Best Cheesecake Recipes, which is a great cookbook. I've only made about 4 or 5 of the cheesecakes in it so far, over the years, but they've all been fantastic.

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 ½ C graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/3 C unsalted butter, melted

5 pkgs. (each 250g) of regular cream cheese, softened
1 C sour cream
2 ¼ C granulated sugar
6 eggs
½ C all-purpose flour
1 C pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ C pure maple syrup
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground allspice

1. Crust: In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, ginger and butter. Press into bottom of a 10-inch ungreased cheesecake pan with 3-inch sides, and freeze.

2. Filling: In a large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream and sugar on medium-high speech for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in flour, pumpkin, vanilla, lemon juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Pour batter over frozen crust. Bake in preheated oven at 350oF for 65 to 75 minutes or until the top is light brown and the centre has a slight jiggle to it. Cool on a rack for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before decorating with whipped cream topping or serving.

Serves 18 to 20.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chipotle Salsa

My Aunt sent me this recipe, which she made last fall and said was highly recommended. I recently heard that Alanna was dying to get a copy of this recipe, so I figured I'd post it up now. It is taken from the Canadian Living Test Kitchen.
Servings: eight 2-cup (500 mL) jars
250 g jalapeno peppers (about 6)
1 can (7 oz/198 g) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
16 cups (4 L) coarsely chopped peeled tomatoes (about 7 lb/3.15 kg)
6 cups (1.5 L) chopped seeded Cubanelle, Anaheim or sweetbanana peppers (about 1-3/4 lb/875 g)
4 cups (1 L) chopped onions (about 2 lb/1 kg)
4 cups (1 L) chopped sweet green peppers (about 2 lb/1 kg)
4 cups (1 L) cider vinegar
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans (each 5-1/2 oz/156 mL) tomato paste
1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
5 tsp (25 mL) salt
2 tsp (10 mL) dried oregano
3/4 cup (175 mL) chopped fresh coriander

1. Wearing rubber gloves, seed, core and finely chop jalapeno peppers to make 1 cup (250 mL).

2. Reserving sauce, remove chipotle peppers; seed if desired and chop.

3. In large heavy nonaluminum stock pot, combine jalapeno peppers, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, tomatoes, Cubanelle peppers, onions, green peppers, vinegar, garlic, tomato paste, sugar, salt and oregano; bring to boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring often, until thickened, 2 to 2-1/4 hours.

4. Add coriander; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

5. Fill hot 2-cup (500 mL) canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch (1 cm) headspace. Cover with prepared lids. Screw on bands until resistance is met; increase to fingertip tight. Boil in boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chicken and Bechamel Crepes

My French husband spoiled me by making these crepes for dinner last night. I haven’t been feeling well lately and he was nice enough to make a stash of these to last a few nights so that I won’t have to cook. These are rich, so you won’t want to eat them every single day. But delish…

French recipes give quantities in grams rather than cups and I don’t have the equivalents. Though I’m sure you can find them on-line if you don’t have a food scale. The recipes have been translated and adapted from the Petit Larousse de la Cuisine.

Crepe batter

This batter is for savory, rather than sweet crepes.
100g of white flour (we’ve tried the recipe with whole-wheat and it doesn’t turn out well, so this is one of the recipes where I’ve conceded and use white flour)

2 eggs
1 tsp. butter
300 mL milk
pinch of salt

1. Beat the eggs and flour together with a whisk until you obtain a smooth batter. Mix in milk with the whisk.

2. Melt the butter in the microwave and mix into batter.

3. Let the batter sit for 2 hours at room temperature.

Making the crepes themselves is a bit of an art and not one that I’ve ever tackled myself. Though my husband makes it look quite easy. After searching for a good crepe pan over here for years, my husband is now quite satisfied with the Starfrit pan, which he finds makes crepe making painless.

The pan must be hot before pouring batter into it. Using less than a full ladle of batter, pour just enough batter into a crepe pan and quickly turn the pan around to spread the batter evenly across the pan. If you have a good quality pan, such as the one suggested above, you won’t need to add additional butter to cook the crepes. However, if your crepes stick, you may want to add a bit of melted butter to the pan prior to pouring the batter in.

Once you can move the crepe on the pan by shaking it a bit, the crepe is ready to be flipped. Use a spatula or flipper to help flip the pancake (though my husband likes to just flip them in the air, a bit like pizza-makers do. But I don’t, suggest you try that the first time you make this recipe!). You can also buy an adapted tool made specifically to flip crepes, in specialty kitchen stores, such as Ares. Then cook for approximately one minute, until the crepe is cooked on both sides. Remove to a plate to cool. You can pile one crepe on top of the next as they are cooked.

Béchamel Sauce

30g butter
30g white flour
300mL milk
100mL chicken broth

1. Melt butter in a small heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat without letting it brown. Gradually add the flour, stirring continually with a whisk as it is added. Continue cooking for approximately 4 minutes.

2. Heat milk in the microwave. Pour milk into the pan and mix together until fully mixed and you obtain a thick consistency.

3. Pour in chicken broth and stir until mixed.

Putting it all together:

3 boneless chicken breasts, diced small and cooked
1 pkg. mushrooms, sliced and cooked

1. Mix chicken and mushroom into béchamel sauce. Spoon mixture evenly over 6 or 7 crepes. Roll each crepe and place in a baking dish. You can optionally sprinkle the crepes with a bit of grated cheese before placing them in the oven to heat for 15 minutes (if the sauce is still hot) at 300oF. These will keep well in the fridge, likely freeze well and are good reheated.

As a variation, you can use cubed or sliced ham instead of the chicken.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Curried Lentils and Mom's Lemon Bread

At my sister's request for more lentil recipes, I decided to make this for dinner tonight. It makes a big batch, freezes well and is probably one of the cheapest meals you can find. This recipe is taken from HeartSmart Flavours of India by Krishna Jamal.

Curried Chickpea Lentils

2 C lentils, preferably chickpea lentils (channa daal) (I used dried green lentils)
6 C water
3/4 tsp. crushed ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil

2 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 cloves
2-inch cinnamon stick
1 cardamom pod (I left this out because I didn't have it)
1 tsp. cumin seeds (I used ground cumin instead)
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 green chilies (or to taste), halved
2 medium tomatoes, cut in big chunks
1 tbsp. canned crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. mild curry powder
1/4 C fresh cilantro
lemon juice to taste

1. Rinse lentils, and soak in warm water for 30 to 50 minutes. Drain.

2. In large pot, over high heat, combine 6 C water, ginger, garlic, salt, ground turmeric and 1 1/2 tsp. of the oil. Bring to a boil and add lentils. When water returns to boil, reduce heat to medium and boil for 20 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Heat remaining oil in small pan over high heat. Add cloves, cinnamon and cardamom pod. When spices start to pop, add cumin seeds and onion. Cook until onion is tender. Add chiles, fresh and crushed tomatoes and curry powder. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add to lentils.

5. Bring lentil mixture to boil and add cilantro and lemon juice. Serve with rice, or thin it down to a soup with approximately 3 C of water. Blend to smooth consistency and serve.

Serves 4 with rice, 8 to 12 as soup.

I also treated ourselves this weekend and made mom's lemon bread. I generally try to only pick fairly healthy foods to bake, but once in awhile will make recipes that are just plain good. And this is one of them. It's super quick and easy to make.

Lemon Bread

6 tbsp. shortening (I used margarine instead)
1 C sugar
1 1/2 C flour
2 eggs
1/2 C milk
1 tsp. baking powder

1. Mix in the order given and let stand for 20 minutes. Bake at 300oF for one hour.

I just realized why mine came out a little crispy after only 50 minutes... I accidentally set the oven for 350oF. Oh well... at least I didn't forget the sugar or baking powder, as I've been known to do on more than one occasion when baking while talking on the phone.

2. When the bread comes out of the oven, pour bottled or fresh lemon juice over the top, to your liking. I love lemon juice, so I douse it... yum!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Shrimp and Butternut Squash in Coconut Milk Broth

Here's a recipe for what I made for dinner last night. It originally comes from The Best of Cooking Light: Superfast Weeknight Dinners, from October 2005 and is quick to make. Though it can be reheated, it doesn't freeze well, as the texture of the shrimp change to mush. You can find coconut milk in any well-stocked grocery store, though the light can be a bit harder to find. If you can't find it there, you'll definitely find it in specialty Asian grocery stores.
Shrimp and Butternut Squash in Coconut Milk Broth

3/4 C fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 oz.) can light coconut milk
2 C (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
1 C (1-inch) red bell pepper strips
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 C hot cooked brown basmati rice
1/4 C fresh lime juice
3 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a large saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Stir in squash and bell pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until squash is just tender.

2. Stir in shrimp; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rice, lime juice, and cilantro.

Makes 4 servings.

Note that you can use a pound of firm water-packed tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes in place of the shrimp, if you wish.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Date and Apple Sweet Bread, Chickpea Salad and Camping Apple Crisp

We spent the weekend at Oka Provincial Park with Heather, Bap, Liz, Darren and the boys this weekend. I brought along some muffins for breakfast. I got this recipe from the Vergers Lafrance a few years ago while apple picking there and it has been a favourite ever since.

Date and Apple Sweet Bread

· 1 tbsp. instant coffee granules
· 1 C boiling water
· 1 8-oz. pkg. of dates, chopped
· 2 ¼ C flour (I use kamut flour)
· 2 tsp. baking powder
· ½ tsp. baking soda
· ½ tsp. salt
· ¾ C lightly packed brown sugar (I reduce it to 2/3 C)
· 1 egg
· 1 C apples, peeled and grated
· ½ C chopped nuts
· ½ C raisins (optional)
· 2 tbsp. melted low-fat margarine

1. Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water. Pour over the dates and let sit.

2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the brown sugar and mix well.

3. Beat together the egg, apples, nuts, raisins, margarine and the date and coffee mixture. Stir until well mixed. Pour into a 9 x 5 x 3 inch greased bread pan.

4. Cook at 350 degrees Farenheit for 60 to 70 minutes.


I usually make this as a bread, as the recipe indicates, but made it as muffins for the weekend, as I figured it would be less messy. I baked them for 25-30 minutes.

I also made the following salad for the weekend, which I got from my Aunt Liz a few years back. I often make this for a quick lunch. I typically make it with tomatoes and green onions, though both versions are good. I also put loads of garlic into it.

Chickpea Salad

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
120 g feta cheese, crumbled
1 sweet red pepper or 1 tomato, chopped
2 green onions or 1 red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. each salt and pepper

1. Whisk dressing together and pour over lentils, feta, vegetables and garlic. You can optionally sprinkle fresh coriander over the salad.

The following recipe is one that I used to make in Girl Guides years ago and is still a camping favourite.

For a vegan version, omit the feta cheese.
Camping Apple Crisp

2 Dad’s oatmeal cookies

1. Put a Dad’s cookie on a piece of foil, shiny side facing in. Place a few spoonfuls of applesauce on top of the cookie, and then top with a second cookie.

2. Place near the campfire, without being directly in the flames and cook for 10-20 minutes, depending on the intensity of the fire, flipping over to cook both sides evenly. It is ready to eat when the cookies have become soft. Eat warm with a spoon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Finnish Apple Pancake

So here goes the first apples in our 20 lb. mountain... aside from the one I had in my lunch today. This recipe is my husband's favourite breakfast. Though it is called a pancake, this really isn't like our traditional Canadian pancakes at all. Though it's still just as yummy.

2 C thinly sliced cored peeled apples
1 tbsp. reduced-fat butter or margarine, melted
3 eggs
1/2 C soy or regular milk
1/3 C whole-wheat flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon sugar
1 tbsp. granulated sugar

1. Place apples and butter in baking pan; toss to coat. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, flour, baking powder and salt until smooth. Set aside.

Topping: In another small bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

4. Pour egg mixture over cooked apples; sprinkle evenly with topping. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until pancake is puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately.

Serves 2-3.

The recipe is originally from Cook Great Food, a cookbook by the Dietitians of Canada. I've modified it just slightly, using whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, reduced-fat butter/margarine instead of regular and soy milk instead of regular. I also leave the sugar out of the topping, as we like to drizzle this with a bit of maple syrup just before eating.

This should be served warm, but I often make it the night before and heat it up the next day in the microwave. It's still just as good. I've also tried a wide variety other combinations of fruit along with the apples, including bluberries, raspberries, rhubarb, etc. and all are delicious. Just throw in a handful of whatever other fruits you feel like, fresh or frozen. The one in the picture is with blueberries.

In passing, the two cookbooks by the Dietitians of Canada, Cook Great Food and Simply Great Food are both excellent (and were recommended to me by Lucie, the dietitian where I used to work). They're both full of a variety of relatively simple and healthy meals.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The beginning of fall...

For us, the beginning of fall (or the end of summer) is always marked by an apple-picking adventure. This afternoon, we drove up to Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, about 30 minutes northwest of us to go apple-picking. We fight the masses of children every year to go pick our own apples, which will last through the winter if kept in the basement (or if we don't eat them all first!). Every year, we go to Les Vergers Lafrance, which is both an apple orchard and a cider house. You can get a 20 lb. bag of apples for $12 and can then sample all of their pastries, ciders and ice ciders for free. We typically end up leaving with more than a couple bottles of cider.

We've also recently discovered the Oka Abbey Store, a short 10 minute drive from the apple orchard. Oka cheese is quite well-known throughout Quebec and actually used to be made by monks. You can find regular Oka cheese anywhere in the Montreal area (and throughout the province, I would presume). But there are a few varieties of Oka that you can only find here. I fell in love with their Oka curds last year. We went back another time to get some, but it turns out that they sell out early in the day. Yes, they're that good. We managed to get ourselves a bag (ok, 3...) today, even though we didn't get there until 3pm (lazy morning... concert last night). We also picked up a variety of Oka to be used for raclette and will test that out sometime in the next few weeks. The Abbey has a wide selection of cheeses from across Quebec, as well as many other regional products. Though it's quite touristy, you can find a good selection of products that you can't typically find in grocery stores. If you're ever in the region, I highly recommend you stop by to get some of the curds, if nothing else.

Now I just have to start transforming the apples... we never manage to eat all of them just like that and I have a good selection of apple-based recipes from over the past few years. Some years I've been super ambitious and we've even come home with 40 lbs (yes, there are only 2 of us at home). But I just didn't feel like peeling mountains of apples for applesauce this year. I'll put a variety of apple recipes up over the next few weeks.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tabouleh Salad

This recipe comes from Lyne at work from a potluck a few years back. As I've told her before, she's given me some of my favourite recipes. I miss working with her if only to steal great recipes off of her (just kidding Lyne!). I just made this for lunch and it is great and is a nice salad to bring camping.

I often make this with quinoa instead of bulgur to increase the protein content of it. I also tend to make it without the chicken (because I'm too lazy to actually cook any) and sometimes throw in a 2nd can of chickpeas depending on how much bulgur/quinoa I've made, as I usually end up with way more than the recipe called for. I'll also often toss in some diced peppers as well.

Tabouleh Salad

· 1 C bulgur (medium or coarse)
· 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
· 2 chicken breasts (optional)
· 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
· 1 C diced English cucumber
· 1 C minced fresh Italian parsley
· 1/2 C chopped green onions / red onion
· ¼ C chopped fresh mint

· ¼ C lemon juice
· 2 tbsp. olive oil
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· 1 tsp. salt
· ½ tsp. pepper

1. In saucepan, bring 1 ¾ C water (or chicken broth) to boil; stir in bulgur. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 10 minutes or until no liquid remains. Transfer to large bowl, fluffing with fork. (For quinoa, you use a quantity of 2 parts water to 1 part grain).

2. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, parlsey, onions and mint.

3. For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt and pepper; pour over bulgur mixture and toss to combine.

Note: Use 1 lb. peeled and deveined grilled large shrimp instead of the chickpeas.

Makes 4 servings.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mom's Cinnamon Bread

Another one of my favourite childhood recipes was mom's cinnamon bread. I have vivid recollections from my youth of inviting friends over to make this recipe when my mom wasn't home... she couldn't stand the mess we would make!!

I decided to post this today as we are just back from Amman and Noorin's beautiful wedding and this was one of Amman's favourites. When I lived with Amman in undergrad, I would frequently make this recipe, only to come home 5 hours later to crumbs and vivid insistence that I hadn't baked anything earlier in the day!

Bread batter:

1/4 C butter
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C sour milk
2 C flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Cinnamon sugar:

3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Mix together the wet ingredients and then mix in the dry ingredients of the bread batter.

2. Alternate layers of bread batter and cinnamon sugar in a bread pan, finishing with bread batter. Cut a knife through the batter a few times, which will create swirls of cinnamon sugar in the baked bread. Bake at 350°F for one hour.

Note: You can make sour milk by stirring a bit of sour milk (approx. 1 tsp.) of lemon juice into a cup of milk and letting it stand for approximately 5 minutes.

that's some lemon bread lurking in the background -
we had company coming over :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Barbecue Rub

We're trying to make the most of our bbq as summer comes to an end. Last night, we used the following rub on our pork (also good for chicken, and I've even used it on mahi-mahi). It keeps a long time and is great when you're in a pinch for a quick homemade dinner (or at least, part of dinner...). Watch how much of this you use if you don't like spicy food as this can be quite hot.

Basic Barbecue Rub

¼ C firmly packed brown sugar
¼ C paprika
3 tbsp. black pepper
4 tbsp. coarse salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. celery seeds (I leave this out because I hate celery!)
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, using your fingers to break up any lumps of brown sugar. Store in an airtight jar away from heat or light. Will keep for at least 6 months (though I’ve had mine for a year and just used the last of it yesterday).

Taken from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mom's Microwave Mac & Cheese

The recent cold weather has brought along with it early cravings for winter foods. So for dinner tonight I made my mom's mac and cheese. This is a great recipe and both kids and adults alike will enjoy it. I've made some alterations to the original recipe to make it a bit healthier. If anyone wants the original recipe, let me know, and I can put up the changes I've made. Although this may sound a bit unappealing, since it is made in a microwave, it is both quick and yummy. And it also freezes well, should there be any leftovers.


2 C uncooked whole-wheat macaroni
2 C hot water
1 tbsp. light margarine
¼ C chopped onion
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. Keen’s mustard spice (or paprika)
1 ¼ C milk (regular or soy)
8 oz. (240g) reduced-fat old cheddar cheese (small package)
1/4 C whole-wheat flour

1. Put first 7 ingredients in a casserole. Cover and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Stir, cover and microwave on medium for 4 - 6 minutes.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and microwave for 12 minutes, stirring every 4 minutes. Macaroni should be tender and mixture should be bubbly.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Homemade yogurt

All who know me know that I am somewhat obsessed with yogurt. Particularly the yogurt in France... Ter, you will clearly recall my excitement as I attempted to choose from the array of dazzling flavours that lined the dairy case of every grocery store when we were in Paris. Everyone else goes for the wine and cheese, but not me...

Last week, we splurged on a yogurt maker (Waring Pro Yogurt Maker for any who might be inspired by this review).

Today was our first attempt using it. It's quite simple, despite being called a 'professional yogurt maker'. You add the bacteria to milk, heat to a boil, let cool and then place in the machine for about 5-6 hours. Once refrigerated for a couple of hours, it is ready to eat. The bacteria can be found in any health food store for about 50 cents per litre of yogurt.

I've gotta admit that the yogurt doesn't come close to what is sold in stores. You have to like real, plain yogurt to enjoy this though. But I love it just like this or with a bit of sugar (especially maple sugar or syrup) and/or fresh fruit stirred in. The machine is definitely a keeper. And I'm sure that in the long-run, given the quantities of yogurt that we go through, that we'll actually end up saving money too.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Looks like this may be fun

Thanks for all of the great feedback I've been receiving so far. I've gotten tons of suggestions for topics of discussion and different recipes. Apparently, I'm not the only one who loves food quite so much! I'll address everyone's suggestions over time. I don't want to run out of ideas too soon.

A few people have asked about having an automatic e-mail sent to them every time I do an update. I'm still trying to figure out how to do this, but should get back to everyone soon.

Others have asked if they can contribute their own recipes... um... clearly... I mean, that's obviously the only reason I even started this thing was to get even more wonderful ideas of fabulous recipes to impress guests with. Feel free to mail me things and I'll put them up over time. And no worries - I won't steal your credit!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Joining the blogging world... one recipe at a time

So I've decided to start a food-related blog on Steph's suggestion. Clearly she knows that I both love to talk and love food. So her suggestion that I might enjoy constantly writing about food was right on. I figure that this is a good medium for me to share some of the recipes that I have come across in my unending quest for wonderful recipes.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to cook, love to eat and love to have people over to cook for. Perhaps not in that order. I sometimes can't wait to have a family so that the food can disappear more quickly and I can cook more. I quite enjoy pouring over cookbooks, picking out new recipes as the seasons change. I love exploring grocery stores in new countries to find odd and exotic items. And we often spend much time dodging the Agriculture Canada dogs at the airport upon return from our travels, so that our newest finds don't get confiscated - such as the mass quantities of vanilla we just brought back from Tahiti.

In any case, I guess I'll see what this develops into and how long I keep doing this. I'll start by posting the recipe that Steph had mentioned she wanted from me, as well another that I threw in as a bonus (ha!). Enjoy!

Baked Brie, Potatoes, Ham and Eggs

This is a favourite for brunch... right Katie?

· 4 large potatoes (1.125 kg)
· 1 tsp. olive oil
· 8 oz. brie cheese, diced
· 1 C finely chopped ham
· ¼ C each chopped fresh parsley and sliced green onions
· ¼ tsp. pepper
· salt to taste
· 8 eggs
· pinch of paprika

1. Cook potatoes until tender but firm, about 15 minutes; drain well. Refrigerate until cold. Cut into 1/4 –inch cubes.

2. Fry potatoes in oil, stirring often, until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool. Stir in Brie, ham, parsley, onions, pepper and salt. Transfer to greased baking dish, spreading evenly. Make 8 wells in mixture.

3. Heat in 400°F oven until warm, about 15 minutes. Scramble eggs and pour over potatoes. Bake, uncovered, until eggs are set approximately 30 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

Smoked salmon can be substituted for the ham.

Lentil Feta Salad

This recipe makes a great summer lunch and is perfect for bbqs or potlucks.

· ½ C slivered almonds
· 1 C dried green lentils
· 2 cloves garlic
· ¼ C olive oil
· 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
· 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
· ¼ tsp. salt and pepper
· 1 ½ C diced cucumber
· 1 C halved cherry tomatoes
· ½ C diced sweet or red onion
· 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
· ¾ C crumbled feta cheese

1. In small dry skillet, toast almonds over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside. (ok, I often skip this step because I'm too lazy - but I'm sure it'd be even tastier if I did this).

2. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add lentils and garlic; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Discard garlic. (ok, I also use canned lentils. Again, laziness.).

3. In large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Add lentils, cucumber, tomatoes, onion and parsley; toss to coat.

4. Stir in almonds and feta. If serving at a bbq or special function, you may want to sprinkle a bit of feta on top.

For a vegan version, omit the feta cheese.

Makes 6 servings.