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