Meyer Lemon and Cranberry Scones

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I love me some coffee. The taste of course, but also the idea of having coffee stirs up the nostalgic notion of getting together with friends and catching up, or waking up early before everyone else and having a quit moment sipping on my coffee.

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You know what I love just as much if not more than my coffee, the yummy goodies that go with it.

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I cannot go to Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, of any coffee house , without grabbing a little something sweet to go with my coffee.

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I swear sometimes I’ brew up a cup of coffee, just because I need something to drink with my cookie, Danish, or yummy, fresh out of the oven scones.

Meyer Lemon and Cranberry Scones-8Like these heavenly lemony, cranberry goodness. A friend of mine ask me if I could whip her up a batch of lemon cranberry scones… with lemon glaze… of course…. So being the good friend I am… I obliged. And of course I had to taste test one… or two… ok I ended up making another batch for her.

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[Adapted from http://www.pastryaffair.com/blog/lemon-cranberry-scones.html%5D
1 ½ Cups of Flour
½ Cup of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2 Tablespoons of Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
2 Tablespoons of Meyer Lemon Zest (About 5 Meyer Lemons)
½ Cup of Cold Butter
½ Cup of Cream
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
¾ Cup of Dried Cranberries
Glaze:
1 Cup of Powdered Sugar
1-2 Tablespoons of Meyer Lemon Juice

Pre- Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl whisk flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set Aside.

Using a pastry blender, or 2 forks, mix Meyer lemon zest and cold butter into the flour mixture, until it resembles small grains. Stir in cranberries. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk, cream, vanilla and egg. Pour cream mixture into flour mixture, and stir until it comes together. I used a wooden spoon and then floured my hands to finish the job off. DO NOT OVER MIX.

Place dough on a floured surface and shape into a flat circle, it should be 1 inch thick. Cut into 6-8 triangles.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Whisk one egg white with 2 tablespoons of milk and brush over top scones.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until slightly brown. Allow to cool for 20 minutes, before drenching in lemon glaze.

For the glaze; in a small bowl , whisk together powdered sugar and Meyer lemon juice. You may need both tablespoons of lemon juice, it should be quite runny. Pour over cooled scones. Grab a cup of joe and relax!

 

Key Lime Pie Bars

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Can someone please tell me I’m not the only one with dogs who watch TV and incisively bark anytime , anything resembling appears on the screen?

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I mean I have seen dogs watch TVs quietly,… or even completely ignore it… please tell me I’m not the only one, and that you have some advice for me.

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I think I may need Caesar or something, I mean they bark at EVERYTHING… it’s not just the TV, it’s the doorbell, it’s the people walking by, it’s the birds flying by the window, it’s the grass blowing in the wind, its … its everything!

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I love my dogs, but it’s gotten to the point where we are competing to see who’s the loudest, they bark and I yell… clearly it’s not working.

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So if you have any advice or Mr. Milan’s phone number… let me know.

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In the meantime, I’ll be over here eating these yummy key lime squares…. Aaaaaaand that was my worst segue EVER.

[Adapted from http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/key-lime-pie-bars/%5D
Crust
1 ½ Cup of Crushed Graham Crackers
2 Tablespoons of Sugar
5 Tablespoons of Melted Butter
Filling
3 Egg Yolks
2 Teaspoons of Key Lime Zest
2/3 Cup of Key Lime Juice
1 Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 OZ)
Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease, or spray an 8×8 pan. If you use a glass pan, make sure you grease it up good, or it will stick.
In a medium bowl, combine graham crackers, sugar and melted butter, and press into the bottom of the pan, bake for 8-10 minutes, cool completely.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs on high until very thick, add the lime zest, lime juice and condensed milk, until thick, Pour into the pan with the cooled graham cracker crust. Spread evenly. Bake for 10 minutes.
Cool completely and place in the fridge until cold and set, overnight is preferred.. but 3-4 hours should do it if you can’t wait.

 

Mini Chocolate Dipped Orange Biscotti

Folks, I have re-discovered music.

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Growing up it was such a huge part of everything I did. You know what I mean, standing in the mirror belting out your favorite melody dancing all over your room. Or crying your heart out over that boy who “was the one”.

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I mean I still listen to music, but its mostly on the car, or while I’m running/working out. But that music is usually per-selected. I’m talking about re-discovering that music, that music that makes you want to dance around the room until your legs hurt and your out of breath.

Mini Chocolate Dipped Orange Biscotti-4I have recently adapted this to my cooking rituals. That’s right, I’m that neighbor you see shaking her thang like no one is watching. God I hope for their sake, they are no watching. I actually make up extra work in the kitchen after baking or cooking so that I can listen to the music longer…… let me tell you , my kitchen has never been cleaner.

Mini Chocolate Dipped Orange Biscotti-7My musical addiction at the moment is this app called Sognza, and I’ addicted to the 90’s dance party! from Bel Biv Devoe to Janet Jackson, all the way to color me bad… ya I went there.

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Weather its 70’s, 80’s, 90’s or whatever music, get off your but, through on your favorite music and bake something… heck bake these… they are definitely bootie shaking worthy

Mini Chocolate Dipped Orange Biscotti
[Adapted by http://www.marthastewart.com/1047286/biscotti-bites%5D
1 ¼ Cups of Flour
1 ¼ Cups of Cornmeal
½ Teaspoon of Baking Powder and Salt
¾ Cup of Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 Cup of Sugar
2 Eggs
1 ½ Cups of Sweetened Coconut
2 Tablespoons of Tangerine Zest (or Orange)
11 Ounces of Chopped Semi-sweet Chocolate, separated 5 ounces and 6 ounces

Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking soda and salt, set aside.

In a stand mixer, mix butter on high until smooth. Add sugar, beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Slowly add flour, until well combined. Remove from stand mixer. Stir in coconut, tangerine zest and 5 ounces of chopped chocolate.

Using a rounded teaspoon, scoop out onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool on a wire rack.

When the cookies are completely cooled, line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Melt the rest of the 6 ounces of chocolate in a double broiler.

Dip the bottom of the cookies in the melted chocolate and place them on the parchment lined cookie sheets.
Place in the fridge, until the chocolate is completely cooled.

 

Pizza Sauce

Hi there friends! I just want to give you a quick recipe, since I rambled on, on Tuesday with my monthly top ten.

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I usually post a recipe on Tuesday’s, but I also post my monthly top ten on the first day of the month, so you kinda got gypped (I totally had to look up the spelling for gypped) out of a recipe.

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So I thought, why not take the opportunity to post a staple, yet simple recipe. This Homemade pizza sauce.I am obsessed with pizza, and like many of you out there, I have come to the conclusion, homemade is better. Its so much more flexible. You can choose to put whatever you want on it, at home, and no one will judge you… except maybe your family.

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I used to use store bought pizza sauce on my homemade pizza… it just didn’t sit well with me. Why pay for something I can make at home for cheaper and it just taste better. It’s so simple to It also freezes well. I usually freeze them on portion sizes, which makes for a quick thawing.

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Homemade is better…am I right?

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Homemade Pizza Sauce

[Adapted from http://traceysculinaryadventures.com/2013/02/homemade-pizza-rolls.html%5D

1 Tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, Diced
2 Teaspoons of Minced Garlic
3 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste
1 Teaspoon of Italian Seasoning (I use Club House)
1 14ounce Can of Diced Tomatoes

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add diced onions, garlic and Italian seasoning. Cook until onions are soft and translucent.

Stir in tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute. Add diced canned tomatoes with juice. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

Pour into a blender and puree.

TIP: Yay pizza sauce. I like to store mine in ziploc snack bags and freeze them. I put about a 1/3 of a cup in each bag. They take 5 minutes to thaw in warm water, then you simply cut the corner and squeeze out onto a pizza crust.

 

Monthly Top Ten; March Edition

1. Blah blah blah blah… so over winter… here’s a new spring wreath instead

Spring Wrath

2. blogiversary; Yup its been one year since I took the plunge into the blogging world. It was a long time coming, and I was hesitant to start, until I read an interview with Kelly Senyei from Just a Taste. She was asked, what her advice to a new someone wanting to start a food blog. Was. She simply said; Just do it. Don’t wait until everything is perfect, because it will never be the right time, you will learn as you go. Thanks Kelly, great advice. Check out my first post!

3. Skiing; We finally got out there. I actually like skiing, but it’s the “get up and go” I don’t have for it. It’s one of those thing, you know you’re going to enjoy it once your there, it’s getting the motivation to go that’s the problem. I spent the entire time snowplowing (we call it pizzaing, cause your ski’s look like a piece of pizza) down the hill. I know I am a grandma skier, and I don’t care.

4. Lately I have not been obsessed with any TV. All my British shows are on hiatus  Please send me any suggestions you may have. But here is a list of a few regular programs that I follow:
Comedy:
2 Broke Girls
The Goldbergs: Love the smother
Trophy Wife
Drama:
Elementary
Supernatural: Sam and Dean forever
Suits
Grimm

5. New Blog; The Bojon Gourmet. I can’t take credit for finding this blog. Katrina over at Warm Vanilla Sugar, listed this in her January Things. Thanks Katrina. Check out the “about” section, It tells you where the name came from; Genius!

6. Old blog; Well not old, she has been on my radar for over a year. Her pictures are phenomenal and her recipes are genius. I may have mentioned her before CHECK HER OUT http://jillianleiboff.blogspot.ca/

7. This tea cup says it all. I was told that every time I buy a new mug I have to get rid of an existing one… it’s getting harder and harder to choose which ones stay and which ones go.

teacup

8. What I’m Reading; I finally finished the Dead Sleep, by Greg Ilse. So me and a friend went on a book store date. It’s where you buy some coffee and browse the book store. I always seem to find something when I go with Heather. I found a series of books based on one of my favorite Canadian detective show… Murdoch Mysteries. It’s a Canadian crime drama set in the late 1800’s in Toronto. IN LOVE.

9. Gluten Free; I am not going gluten free. I looove bread way too much, But I have given it a try in the past and I have a few friends that are gluten free. It really bugs me that there doesn’t seem to be, In my opinion, any good gluten free pizza crusts. Maybe I expectations are too high? Every time I try a new gluten free pizza crust they always seem a little too crispy… like I’m putting pizza toppings on a giant cracker. Help!

10. Someone had a birthday this month! Love you babe!

birthday cake-march

Apple Pantry Bread

I must be in spring cleaning kinda of mood lately.

Apple Pantry Bread-9I mean last week I was all…” here is a pizza with everything from my fridge on it.”  And this week I’m making you a bread with everything from my pantry in it.

Apple Pantry Bread-2The real inspiration for this bread is my attempt at being a little more healthy. It just got a little out of control when I went looking for the coconut, and I was all “ I can add this, and I can add that”

Apple Pantry Bread-4In the end it turned out quit nice. I loved it so much, I didn’t even share it.

Apple Pantry Bread-5No I didn’t eat it all in one day… thought about it… Then it occurred to me that, that would defeat the purpose of it being healthy.

Apple Pantry Bread-7So I cut it up and froze it. So every time I wanted a slice (which was every night until it was gone) I would pull out a slice, heat it for 45 secs in the microwave and sprinkle a little powdered sugar and top with fresh blueberries. Perfect!

Apple Pantry Bread-10Go ahead and clean out your pantry and shove everything into this bread.
Apple Pantry Bread
¾ Cups each of All Purpose and Whole Wheat Pastry Flour ( or 1 ½ Cups of All Purpose Flour)
1 Cup of Quick Oats ( Not Instant)
1 Cup of Sugar
2 Teaspoons each of Baking Powder and Cinnamon
½ Teaspoon of Salt
¼ Teaspoon of Nutmeg
1/3 Cup of Shredded Coconut and Chopped Walnuts
½ Cup of 2% Evaporated Milk
2 Large Eggs
1/3 Cup of Unsweetened Applesauce
2 Tablespoons of Canola Oil
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla
2 Apples, Grated (About 2 Cups)
1 Large Carrot Grated ( About ½ Cup)
½ Cup of Blueberries

Pre-Heat you r oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.
In a large bowl, whisk flours, rolled oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Stir in the coconut and walnuts.
In a medium bowl, whisk the evaporated milk and eggs together. Mix in applesauce, canola oil, vanilla, apples, and carrots.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Fold in blueberries.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean from the centre.
Place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, remove bread from pan and cool completely on cooling rack.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and blueberries to serve

 

Caramelized Onion Brussel Sprouts Bacon and Goat Cheese Pizza

This pizza you guys… This pizza is to make up for last weeks plain old boring , but necessary pizza dough.

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Actually it wasn’t really all that boring… it was full of yummy garlic and it was a little healthy to, with the whole wheat and all.  Now you have something to put on your new garlic whole wheat pizza dough…THIS!

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I have a little bit of an issue, well kind of a addiction of pizza… I may have mentioned it before and will probably mention it again.  I love me some pizza.  I mean the possibilities are endless, you can put anything on it,… yes I mean anything.

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Its sort of like my grilled cheese addiction.. yet another food you can put anything in.  Maybe I should make a grilled cheese pizza… does that make sense?… is it even possible?… my mind is wandering.. sorry.

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Back to this pizza.  its sort of all my favorite things smashed on top of a pizza. I may have been cleaning out the fridge too.

But come on, whats not to love about all this stuff. Shredded brussel sprouts… good, caramelized onions.. good, bacon … good, goat cheese…good oh and I think there is a handful of mozzarella too.

caramelized onion brussel sprouts bacon and goat cheese pizza

You don’t have to follow this pizza recipe, you can put whatever you want on yours.. prehaps its the end of the week and you need to clean out your fridge.

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Let me know how yours turns out!

Caramelized Onion Brussel Sprouts Bacon and Goat Cheese Pizza

2 Tablespoons of Hummus
2 Tablespoons of Pizza Sauce
1/2 Cup of Mozzarella
5 Brussel Sprouts, Shredded
4 Slices of Bacon
1 Tablespoon of Butter
1 Large Onion, Sliced into Rings
Goat Cheese

Pre-Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare the super awesome whole wheat pizza dough from last week, or your favorite (pick mine!).  Roll it out and place it on a pan, that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  I used a pizza stone.  I find its easier to roll out the dough onto parchment paper and slide it on the heated stone.

Heat a small-medium pan over medium heat,and cook bacon to desired crispness. **Note:don’t leave and try and fold your laundry, your bacon will burn

Heat a medium pan, over low-medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add onion, and sprinkle in sugar.  Stir occasionally for about 20 minutes. Set aside. ** Note: The idea is to slowly brown them.  Usually this process can take up to 45 minutes… but we speed it up here with the sugar.  If the onions seem to be burning and getting hard, turn the heat down.

Spread 2 tablespoons of hummus and pizza sauce.  Sprinkle the mozzarella all over (you can add more if you want).  Spread the onions and bacon.  Dot the goat cheese all over the pizza.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the cheese is bubbly.   If your using a pizza stone, leave it in for 5 extra minutes.

Whole Wheat Garlic Pizza Dough

Let’s talk TV…. I love me some TV…more to the point… I love me some 30 minute comedy TV.

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I am from generation TV.  My love affair started at a very young age with the classic 30 minute (22 without commercials) comedy.   80’s shows like Saved by The bell, Alf, Punky Brewster, Who’s the Boss, Growing Pains, the Cosby Show, heading into the 90’s, Fresh Prince, Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier, 30 rock from the sun…. I could literally type for 10 pages with the list of shows I watched growing up.

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Which brings me to my point, yes I have a point to all this yammering.  Where are all the good 30 minute comedy shows gone?  All we seem to watch these days are 60 minute dramas.  Don’t get me wrong, I could not live without my Downton Abby, Sherlock, or Supernatural, but I’m craving the simplicity of the 80/90’s comedy.

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I’m here to tell you , I have found a few hidden gems, and you must watch them with me… you will once again laugh out loud and not feel confined to your couch for 60 minutes.

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Here we go… Episodes… Matt Leblanc playing Matt Leblanc, with an edgy joey persona… LAUGH OUT LOUD funny….2 broke girls… a kind of obvious, bad one liner funny, worth a watch.  Oh and how about Trophy wife… 3rd hot wife, dealing with past wives and their children… I always hesitate to watch this, then it sucks me in.

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I have saved the Best for last… The Goldbergs… I’m in heaven with this show… its all about this family growing up in the 80’s.  Remember when you got excited when your mom bought the super long telephone cord, so you could leave the room to have a private conversations… that’s in this show.  Oh and they did a Goonies episode… nuff said.

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If you have any gems you’re watching, please share  I have a few more slots open for watching.

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Oh ya, make this super awesome garlic whole wheat pizza dough, Its adapted from Ashley’s, and I even added the best tip for making it rise fast from Kelly…These Gals are geniuses…. It’s my go to crust.  It make 2 medium size crusts, I always freeze one for later.
P.S.  I promise not to bore you with a million dough pictures next week.   Maybe I’ll make some pizza with this dough.. YAY!

Whole Wheat Garlic Dough

[Adapted From http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2012/05/07/wheat-pizza-dough/]

1 1/4 Cup of Hot Water
1 Pack of Quick Rise Active Yeast
2 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
3 Cups of Flour
1 Cups of Whole Wheat Flour
1 ½ Teaspoon of Garlic Salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk both the flours and garlic salt.  You can also just add to a regular bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer.

Run the water until its warm, measure out the warm water and pour into a medium bowl.  Add the olive oil.  Sprinkle the yeast over top the warm water.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl with the flour.  If using a stand mixer, mix with the paddle until combined, it usually takes a couple turns.  Then replace the paddle with the dough hook, and let it run on low for 5 minutes.

If you don’t have a stand mixer, pour yeast mixture into the bowl with flour, and mix with a spoon until it comes together, then you use your hands to knead on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes.

Once the dough has been kneaded for 5 minutes, spray a large bowl with non-stick spray and place the dough in the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.

Start up your dryer and let it run for 3-5 minutes.  Stop the dryer and place the bowl with the dough into the dryer and let it sit for 15 -20 minutes.  It should double in size.  If not warm up the dryer again and place the bowl back in.

Once the dough has doubles in size, punch down.  Separate into 2 balls.  I usually use one and freeze the other.

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate

I realize that I’m just barely squeezing this in.

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Many of you are dreaming of spring, and thinking up meals and treats to get you in the mood for the upcoming warmer weather.

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So was I….. until I saw this!  I mean I’ve had red velvet cake before,  but red velvet hot chocolate!  What!  It took a lot of restraint not to lick my computer screen when I first saw this.

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I love the idea of red velvet.  It’s all fancy and decadent.  I know, it’s just chocolate with LOTS of red food coloring.  Someone already ruined the illusion for me.  Just like wrestling, I was perfectly content thinking it was real,  .. opps…. Are there still some of you out there that still think its real…. sorry.

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Even though I know the truth, I still feel all important drinking this.  Like somehow, I’m special.

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Don’t worry, you  can feel special too, come inside out of the cold and warm up with this, and dream of the upcoming spring season.

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Just a side note, I totally devoured this after I took the photos, like I had red /chocolate whip cream all over my face devour.

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate

[Adapted from http://www.heathersfrenchpress.com/2014/01/red-velvet-hot-cocoa.html%5D

Whipped Cream

1/2 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Tablespoons of Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla

Hot Chocolate

1 Cup up Milk
1/2 cup of Chopped Dark Chocolate
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
3 Teaspoons of Red Food Coloring

For the whipped cream; Whip heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer, until you have sift peaks.  Set aside

Heat milk in a small pot, until warm, but not boiling.  Stir frequently so it doesn’t burn.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the chopped chocolate and vanilla.  Stir until all the chocolate is melted. Stir in the red food coloring.

Monthly Top Ten; February Edition

heart cookies1. Valentine’s day; what did you do?  I spent it home alone…. don’t feel too bad for me.  We don’t really take it seriously in our house.  The Mr. had to work and so did I.  I used the holiday (I use that term loosely) as an excuse to bake.

2. Skating on the Canal; I went skating on the Rideau Canal up here in Ottawa Canada. Super Canadian thing to do.   It’s the 2nd longest out door rink in North America(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rideau_Canal#Skateway), and it’s in my backyard.  Important note, if you skate 4 km down the canal, you have to skate 4kms to get back to your car.  I was tired!

3. Sherlock; and my obsession with British television continues.  I was super bummed when I finished Downton Abby and realized there was no new Dr. Who until fall.  Then a fellow british obsessed TV watcher turned me on to Sherlock… In love!!! New favorite show

4. Things We Make(http://thingswemake.wordpress.com/);  I stumbled on to this blog through my wordpress reader.  The photo’s are amazing and everything they make is right up my alley. Check em out

5. What am I Reading;  Dead Sleep by Greg Iles .  It’s a great thriller.  I read another book of his a couple years back called The Quit Game … That was also an excellent book, hence my reading another one of his books.

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6. 10,000 Pillows;  That’s how many pillows we have on our bed now.  So glad I don’t make the bed in the morning!

7. Blah Blah Olympics; I tried to be all indifferent about you… but you sucked me in.  I even watched an entire curling match.

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8.  Soggy Salad;  This is usually the state of my salad, the day after I open the bag.   It really upsets me, mainly because I don’t like salad and I have been making an effort to eat it.  Then a friend told me about these containers that another friend uses.  These awesome produce saver from  Rubermaid.   It really works.  I put green onions (famous for wilting in a couple of days) and 4 days later… FRESH.  Thanks Trina and Anne

9. My Sister is having another boy!! I think she should name him Tracy!  I was able to convince my dad to squeeze it into the middle of her name, I’m sure I can convince her to name her new baby boy Tracy too… right?!

10. I heard the other day that we have had the coldest winter in 20 years up here in Ottawa….. But we managed to get outside a couple of times…. Thank god!

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Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Who wants to eat something healthy!

Chai Seed Pudding-11OK….. who thinks they should eat something healthy?  We all do,  right?  But lets face it, healthy doesn’t always equal yummy.

Chai Seed PuddingI visited a nutritionist a few years back… and she had me try a whole bunch of weird healthy foods.  Most of which didn’t stick.  She did give me a really good piece of advice… she said if you give something a month you’ll either incorporate it into your everyday, or you won’t.  Like I said, most of it didn’t stick… I did however get used to plain oatmeal.  I mean plain… taste like warm cardboard plain oatmeal.  But she was right, I ate some regular sugar added oatmeal recently and I felt like I swallowed a bowl of sugar.

Chai Seed Pudding-3I know we can get used to healthier things, but it’s not the instant satisfaction putting a yummy piece of cake in your mouth.

Chai Seed Pudding-5I will admit, on a rare occasion you can find something healthy that taste good.   This chai seed pudding is one of those occasions.

Chai Seed Pudding-6I was skeptical at first… what the heck is chia seed?, and how the heck is supposed turn into pudding?   Well my friends , not only is it the hair on top of your beloved 80’s sensation, CHIA PET, it’s also a super seed, full of all kinds of good stuff, like omega 3… and when you soak it… it explodes into pudding goodness.

Chai Seed Pudding-8And the toppings, well…. they are endless.  I was lucky enough to find a really fresh mango, and then I sprinkled chocolate shavings on top.. who doesn’t like chocolate.

Chai Seed Pudding-7Go ahead, be healthy, try this!  Trust me…. Although I did get used to eating warm cardboard.

Chai Seed Pudding-9P.S. My co-worker was the one who pointed out that I was eating chia pet hair…. thanks Sue.

[Adapted from http://www.domesticate-me.com/vanilla-chia-seed-pudding/%5D

2 Cups of Milk (I used 1 Cup of Coconut milk and 1 Cup of 1% Milk)
11/2 Teaspoons of Vanilla
2 Tablespoons of Maple Syrup
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
½ Cup of Chai Seeds (I bought mine at the bulk store)

Whisk together milk, vanilla, maple syrup and salt. Stir in chai seeds.  Make sure all the seeds are emursed in the milk mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Leave in the fridge over night.  I took mine out every once and awhile I gave it a stir.

Put whatever topping you like.  Here are a few suggestions:

Mango and shaved chocolate

Fresh berries and a squeeze of lemon

Granola and dried cranberries

Maple syrup

Roasted Vegetable and Meatball Soup

I did something really Canadian this weekend!

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No, I didn’t build and igloo, or play hockey…. Although, it would be really funny to watch me do either of those. I went skating on the Rideau Canal.  For those of you who don’t live in Canada, it’s the 2nd longest man made skating rink, and for those of you who do live in Canada and don’t know… shame on you!

Roasted Veggie Soup with meatballs

I was recently inspired to get outside more in the winter by a local radio station.  They had this women on ranting about how us northerners have turned into a bunch of wimps.

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She went on to interview people on the street to find out what people like about winter, and only a few people had positive things to say.  I know, I know it’s hard to get out when you look at the temperature and see -100, but come one this is nothing new to us.

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When I was 10, it didn’t matter how cold it was, I was running out the door with my mom chasing behind me with my toque (that’s Canadian speck for hat), screaming at me to do up my Jacket.  Where is that enthusiasm!

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So when I realized I had nothing planned on Saturday, and everyone was busy, I dug out my skates, grabbed my IPOD and headed downtown. I actually went on my own.  Now before you start feeling sorry for me, Mr PBandO had to work all weekend and most of my friends were busy , with Valentine’s Day plans…. Ok you can feel a little sorry for me.

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So put on your toque, do up your jacket and go outside… it’s not that bad!  When you come back in, warm up with some yummy meatball soup.  It’s gotta bit of kick to it!

[Adapted from Janet and Greta]

Soup

8 Large Roma Tomatoes, Seeded and Chopped
2 Red Peppers, Chopped (I used 1 red and 1 yellow)
1 Red Onion, Chopped
1 Tablespoon of Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons of Italian Seasoning (2 Tablespoons Each, Fresh Rosemary and Thyme)
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
2 Cups of Low Sodium Beef Broth
1 Cup of V8 Juice
2 Teaspoon of Basil (or ¼ Cup fresh Copped)
1 Tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar
1 Teaspoon of Sugar
¼ Teaspoon Each, Salt, Pepper and Red Pepper Flakes
Meat Balls

1/2  Pound of Lean Ground Beef
¼ Cup of Onions, Chopped
¼ Cup Bread Crumbs
2 Tablespoons of Parmesan Cheese
1 Egg
½ Teaspoon of Italian Seasoning
¼ Teaspoon of Salt and Pepper

Pre-Heat the oven to 450 Degrees.  Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray and set aside.

After chopping up the tomatoes, red peppers and onions, place in a large bowl and mix in olive oil, Italian seasoning and garlic.  After it’s mixed up well, lay the veggies out flat on your prepared baking sheet.  Try not to overlap too much.

Place in the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven, stir the veggies around, and return to the oven, but turn the oven to broil.  Broil for 10 minutes, checking frequently.  After 10 minutes remove from oven and set aside.

In a medium bowl , mix all the meat ball ingredients together, until just combines.  Roll into little balls, about a heaping teaspoon.  Set on a baking sheet. Set aside.

Take the roasted vegetables and place in a blender and puree, you can add a bit of the beef broth to help that process along.

Transfer the pure to a big pot and add the rest of the beef broth, v8 juice, basil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Heat to a boil.

Drop all the meat balls into the soup, they will cook in the broth,  Keep on medium for about 10 minutes.

Your Done!

Chocolaty Chocolate Chip Muffins

What is it about the Olympics that captures the attention of every Man, Women and child.

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In the weeks leading up to the Olympics , all I could think about was NO more Hockey (NHL that is) for 2 whole weeks. Then, Mr PBandO started talking about the Olympics with great anticipation.  Really? I was totally ambivalent to the Olympics.  When ask if I was going to watch I was all “eh… probably not”.  You see, growing up, all I remember is my mom monopolizing the TV with all the skating competitions… boring!!  I was actually starting to miss the idea NHL hockey.

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Funny thing happened this weekend I watched an entire mogul skiing competition.  Like watched it… the whole thing… even offered up some of my own professionally commentary…. what?  I could be a professional judge; I judge things all the time in my daily life.

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I just stopped writing this post to ask what was happing with women’s luge…  luge?  What’s happening to me? I guess my whole point here is… Olympics, you have me hooked… GO TEAM CANADA!

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Oh ya… I made us chocolate muffins, because chocolate muffins and the Olympics go hand and hand.  That’s a thing right?

[Adapted From http://www.howsweeteats.com/2011/04/dark-chocolate-blueberry-muffins/]

1 Cup of Flour
1 Cup of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 ½ Teaspoons of Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon of Salt
2 Tablespoons of Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
2/3 Cups of Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
¼ Cup of Melted Butter
1 Cup of 1% Milk
1 Cup of Chocolate Chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tin with paper liner, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, Baking soda, salt, cocoa powder and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar,  1 egg (beaten), vanilla, melted butter, and milk.

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mix until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Using an ice cream scoop, or a large spoon, divide batter amongst the 12 lined muffin cups.

Bake for 20 25 minutes, or until centers are set.  Use a tooth pick to test the doneness (is that a word?).

Allow to cool on a wire rack.  Enjoy!

Crispy Corn-Flake Chicken Fingers

This is one of the very first meals I ever cooked for Mr PBand O and my step-daughter.

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Cooking for her and her father used to really stress me out.   I have mentioned in the past how picky Mr PBandO can be, well there used to be two of them.

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I did go from cooking for a roommate who ate anything (except peas… weirdo),  to two very different picky eaters.  Ya that’s right, they didn’t even like the same stuff.

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On top of all this I’m a foodie, and I have stomach issues of my own.  I would plan meals weeks in advance, and I became the master of making two meals at once.  I know there are some of you out there that are like “get over it Tracy, I have 3 picky kids”  I know, I’m a big whiner.. I’m done complaining

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These days I’m very proud of them.  Both my step daughter and her father have since evolved, and will try pretty much anything.

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So if you have some picky eaters in your house, give these a try, clearly I’m the only one in the universe that has ever had to deal with picky eaters and I am the expert

[Adapted from Crazy Plates Cook Book]

2 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts
¾ Cup of Whole Wheat Flour
2 Teaspoons of Italian Herbs mix ( I use Club House)
1 Teaspoon of Garlic Salt
½ Teaspoon Each of Salt and Pepper
3-4 Cups of Corn Flakes
2Tablespoons of Parmesan Cheese
1 Cup of Buttermilk

Pre- Heat oven 400 degrees

Spray a cookies sheet with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

Cut chicken into strips, and pat down with a paper towel, set aside.

Take out 3 bowls, I use pie plates or bigger than cereal bowls.  In one bowl, stir flour , Italian seasoning, garlic salt, pepper and salt.

To crush the cornflakes, place them in a Ziploc bag, try and take out all the air.   Roll over the cornflakes with a rolling pit, until they are pretty crushed.  You should have about 1 ½ to 2 Cups. Mix the crushed cornflakes and Parmesan cheese in another bowl.

In the last bowl pour in the buttermilk.

This part gets messy. I find if I use one hand for the dry ingredients and one hand for the wet ingredients, its less messy. Working one at a time, coat the chicken in flour, dip in buttermilk, shake off the excess.  Roll in the crushed cornflakes.  Place on the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Check after 35 minutes to make sure they don’t burn.

Enjoy!!

Monthly Top 10 – January Edition

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  1. I have a new obsession with leopard print.  I’m not really sure where it came from, but I can’t get enough.  Aren’t these cute.  I never wear slippers, I am making an exception.
  2. The Looney Spoons Cook book by Janet and Greta Podleski!  Back to a classic.  When I first starting cooking, I was about 21.  One of my first cooking experiences was a pot roast. I was so proud of myself, I invited some friends over, everyone gobbled it up and no one had a bad word to say, until one of my friends told me exactly what he thought.  “It’s too dry” he said.  At first I was insulted, but I took it as a challenge.  Looney Spoons to the rescue. These 2 gals totally redeemed me. All the food is low fat and easy to make.  So  if you haven’t picked one of their books up I highly recommend it.   It helps that they are from Ottawa too.
  3. Let’s have a little chat about Downton Abby.  I know I have professed my love for the show before, I bring it up now, because I almost missed the North American premier.  As if!!!  A friend mentioned it on New Year’s eve.  I’ve been so wrapped up in Dr Who, I almost missed it.   Poor Edith, she can never seem to catch a break, and Mary, I was so upset for her at the end of season 3.  As usual, she is bouncing back with a hand full of suitors.  I swear I’m a little 80 year old British women.
  4. Pasty Affair (http://www.pastryaffair.com/).  I found and fell in love with this blog while I was out of town for work.  I had some down time and stumbled onto it.  It’s really rare these days for me to find a new blog I like.  As soon as I saw her pictures I was in love!  This blog has all the good stuff, like brownies, and cakes, and of course pastry.  Check it out.
  5. Meyer Lemons and Key Limes.  Last year before I started my blog, I kept seeing Meyer lemons everywhere.  So I started to search for them in my grocery stores, only to realize it was the end of the season.   I did end up finding them, and my very first blog post featured these yummy Meyer Lemon cookies.  Lesson learned, I found them early, and Made this yummy coffee cake.
  6. I love to cook… obviously..  but I have a confession to make. You know how a good quality sharp knife is every cooks best friend?  Well….I’m the kid in the corner with those scissors that won’t even cut paper.  You know what I mean.  All my knives are somewhat dull and for my own good.  But, I am determined to graduate to a good quality SHARP knife.  Before I start running with real scissors,  I’m thinking I’m gonna take a knife course.  At least that way, when I cut off my fingers , It will be a clean cut.
  7.  Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag.  Hooked on this show!  The premise of the show is, These 22 ladies chooses a cookbook, and select 5 recipes from it, and try and execute them as written.   The also try out cooking tools as they go.  They prepare all this food for a chef to judge them on it.  At the end of the show They give it a buy or pass.  Check it out.
  8. Perfect Bacon Bowl… That’s all I have to say about that! http://www.perfectbacon.caphoto(1)
  9. New Magazine Subscription!  Another reason I’m secretly a little old lady.  I love getting mail.  I mean snail mail.  Especially in the form of magazines.  I have tried to read them online.. I just can’t do it.  Yup, I’m killing tree’s one magazine at a time.
  10. I’ll finish things off by saying… its freaking cold here.  Mother nature better cut it out, my dogs need to get out, they are driving me NUTS!

Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

I am not going to be late to the party this year. Last year around this time I kept seeing all these yummy recipes with this odd little citrus fruit called a Meyer lemon.

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You know what I did? I waited until March to go looking for them.  I had never actually heard of a Meyer lemon before and figured I’d be able to find them anywhere, anytime.  I was obviously living under a rock, right?

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Of course when I went to look for Meyer lemons, it was like trying to find fresh figs in Ottawa in September.  Now I know that little beauties are easiest to find, in January and early February.

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Anyway , back to last year, in March… I did end up finding them, at heafty cost, and they become the star ingredient in my very first post.

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As I was saying in the beginning, I’m not late to the party this year.  This year I give you this awesome Meyer lemon coffee cake. This combines 2 of my favorite things… Meyer lemons and coffee cake.  Who doesn’t like coffee cake?!  It always makes me think of a lazy Sunday afternoon, curling up on the couch on a cold winter day with a hot cup of coffee and a piece of cake.  Because apparently I live in a coffee commercial.

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Enjoy!

[Adapted From http://www.amandajanebrown.com/2013/03/meyer-lemon-coffee-cake.html]

Cake

2 Cups of Flour
1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon of Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon of Salt
1/3 Cup of Butter, Softened
1 Cup of Sugar
1 Egg, Beaten
1 Tablespoon of Meyer Lemon Zest
½ Cup of Meyer Lemon Juice
½ Cup of Buttermilk

Crumble

1/3 Cup of Sugar
½ Cup of Flour
1 Tablespoon of Meyer Lemon Zest
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
1 Tablespoon of Meyer Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoon of Butter, Melted

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom of a spring form pan with parchment paper, and grease the sides with butter, set aside.

For the crumble topping;  in a medium bowl,  whisk sugar, flour, lemon zest, and salt with a fork.  Pour in the Meyer lemon juice and melted butter, fluff with a fork until crumbly looking, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.

In a large bowl,  beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg and 1 tablespoon of Meyer lemon zest,  Meyer lemon juice, and buttermilk, mix until combined.  Slowly add the flour mixture, until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared spring form pan.  Sprinkle crumble over top.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Bacon and Egg Breakfast Bites

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What’s with me and breakfast lately?  I fell like all I show is breakfast.  I will say this, the good thing about breakfast is you can have it any time.  Snack, brunch, lunch, dinner, and even in the morning.

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I go through these stages where all I want to do is get up on Sunday and prepare these huge brunches, filled with crepes, sausage, Bacon, eggs, and some sort of delicious pastry.  Then I realize, I’m entirely to lazy for that.

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And Mr. PBandO just end up going to our neighborhood greasy spoon.  I loooove greasy spoons, don’t’ you?   It brings me back to my younger days, rolling out of bed at around noon, and heading out for a greasy breakfast.  But I digress.

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Once and a while, I actually do get off the couch and makes some pancakes, cinnamon buns, and these awesome little all in one breakfast treats. These are so easy to make.  I feel bad posting it as a recipe, it’s THAT easy.  But I had to share!

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Maybe next week I’ll post something other than breakfast….. probably not though!  YAY breakfast!

[Adapted from http://www.marthastewart.com/330179/bacon-egg-and-toast-cups]

2 Slices of Whole Wheat Bread
2 Tablespoons of Melted Butter
2 Slices of Bacon
2 Eggs
Salt and Pepper

Pre-Heat Oven to 375 Degrees. Spray a muffin tin with no-stick spray.

Cook bacon, drain fat and set aside.

Lay out your bread on a cutting board.  Using a rolling pin, flatten out the bread, to about ¼ inch.  Cut into a 4 to 5 inch circles.  I used a soup bowl for the size.

Melt butter in microwave for about 20 seconds or until melted.

Gently press the bread into prepared muffin tin.  Brush with melted butter.  Lay bacon in the bottom of the bread. Crack an egg into each bread cup.  Sprinkle salt and pepper.

Put in the oven for 30-30 minutes, or until the egg is set.

You could totally add cheese between the bacon and the egg.

Light and Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes

I’m in love….. with pancakes.

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Not just any pancakes, these light and fluffy ricotta pancakes.   It’s kind of funny, because I don’t even like pancakes… much less love them.  They always seemed to … doughy… to thick …to tasteless  (except for my sister’s pancakes, hers rock!).

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I have tried to make pancakes before, but they never turned out.  So when I saw these on one of my favorite show ‘In the Kitchen with Stefano’ I thought, I’ll give it one more try.

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It may have been the title he gave them, Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes.  If you want me to make something, or even buy something, just put a couple of buzz words in front o fit, and I’m in…. ya I was that kid growing up.

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I don’t think it’s the ricotta cheese in these that make them so light and fluffy and delicious… it thinks it the whipped egg whites

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So pull up a chair and have some breakfast, for dinner, lunch, snack, or if your feeling adventurace…. have them for breakfast.  And eat at least a stack of 8… that way I wont feel bad for polishing off a stack of six.  In my defense, they were small……ish.

Ricotta Pancakes

[Adapted from http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-fluffy-ricotta-pancakes-48085 ]

¾ Cup of Flour
½ Teaspoon of Baking Powder
1 ½ Teaspoon of Sugar
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
1 Cup of Ricotta Cheese
½ Teaspoon of Vanilla
¾ Cup of Milk
3 Eggs

Separate eggs into 2 bowls.  Make sure the whites are in a bowl big enough to whip them.  Whip the egg whites until they have stiff white peaks.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, vanilla and milk, until blended, add the egg yolks.  Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until mixed well.  It will appear lumpy.

Fold the egg whites into the batter, gently.

Heat a skillet and add 2 teaspoons of butter, or just enough to cover the bottom of the skillet once melted.

Drop approximately 1/3 of a cup of batter into the heated skillet, flatten out with the bottom of the measuring cup.  Cook until the side show small bubbles, flip, cook for 3 minutes on the other side.

Server with fresh fruit and icing sugar.

Totally Worth It, Spinach Salad

Ok, I give in!  Everyone seems to be posting all this healthy junk.  I guess I should too.

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Truthfully I usually hate salad.   Ya I said it!   I don’t hate all salad.  Your gonna laugh at me when I tell you the real reason I hate salad.  It’s a lot of work.  It has always seemed silly to me to put in that much work for a salad.  If someone else , makes it, I’ll probably eat it.

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So when the year started, and I kept seeing all of these healthy salads, I thought, fine, I’ll find one I deem worth all the work.

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This is what I settled on this.

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I believe we have a winner.  I actually think this one is worth the work.  At the end of all that chopping, I sat down and actually enjoyed this salad.

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Now I wont lie, I would have enjoyed it a lot better if someone else had do all the work.  Maybe you can come over and make me another one.

[Adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Eat ,Shrink and Be Merry]

1 Can of Mandarins, With Syrup
3 -4 Cups of Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
2 Cups of Mushrooms
4 Slices of Bacon
1/2 Cup of Red Onions, Sliced Thinly
1 Teaspoon of Garlic, Minced
3 Tablespoons of White Vinegar
2 Tablespoons each of Honey Mustard, and Maple Syrup
2 Hard Boiled Eggs
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt and Pepper

Drain the syrup out of the mandarins, and set aside both.  (You need about a ½ cup of syrup)

In a large salad bowl, put the spinach, mandarins and sliced mushrooms.

Hard boil the eggs.  Place the eggs in a medium pot.  Cover the eggs so that there is 1 inch or water above the eggs. Place on a burner over medium to high heat. Bring to a boil.  Allow to boil to 2 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat.   Allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Remove the eggs from the water, using a slotted spoon.  Allow to cool completely before remove the shells.

In a medium pan, fry up the bacon over medium heat until crispy.  I like to cut my bacon in half, it makes it easier to fit it in the pan.  Once crispy, place on a paper towel, and pat dry.  Chop up and sprinkle over spinach

Leaving the fat in the pan, cook the garlic, red onions, and reserved mandarin syrup.  Cook until the onions are soft, about 4 minutes.  Add the vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper, cook for about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove the shells from the egg. I usually tap the egg lightly on my counter top, until all the shells is cracked.  Gently remove the shell.

Cut the egg into slices.  Mine got a little sloppy, I have yet to purchase one of those egg slicers.  Its ok, it all goes in your tummy.  Add the eggs to the salad.

Pour the warm dressing over the salad, and mix gently.

Enjoy, I know I did.

December Monthly Top Ten

Month 2 of monthly things.  Kinda enjoying this….

1. Christmas!  I know it’s over I wanted to say I hope all your Christmas eve’s and mornings were full of family, gifts and of course food!

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2. List of holiday treats I made.  OMG I was a baking ninja this holiday.  I made:

Chocolate Toffee Cups
Toffee Bit Bars
Browned Buttered Cardamom Cookies
Ginger bread M&M cookies
Sugar Cookies with Royal icing
Ginger Bread Oreo and M&M Blondies
Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies

3. Dr. Who; I have been in love for a while now, it’s right up there with my Downton Abby obsession.  I’m actually watching the tenth doctor as I type this.

4. My First Luxe Box;  Last month I mentioned that Michelle turned me on to loose buttons luxe box.  It’s a box of beauty samples that come right to your door.  I love getting mail, it’s the old lady in me!  This is what I got:

Awesome Black tights, that I thought were for my 12 year old step daughter, turns out they stretch and they are really comfortable.  I also got some shampoo and conditioner, it was great, smelt really good.  Some nail polish I will never use, because when I put on sparkle nail polish, I need a chisel to take it off.  Super plumping mascara.  Valentino perfume, it made me smell like my Grandma, I’ll put that away for when I’m like 80.  The best thing I got was this awesome lip balm.  It’s called staintastic and its made by The Balm.  It gives your lips and cheeks a little hit of color.

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5. The Great Food Blogger Cookies Swap. The swap was awesome, and no one poisoned me (It was a secret fear of mine)  I know it sounds silly, but, I am silly.  I received some great cookies from some great food bloggers.  You can read about it here on my post.

6. Table Settings; This year I wanted to do something a little different with my Christmas table  setting.  Mr PB andO says I change it every year.  He is crazy, This will be my 3rd year hosting it at my house, and the first year to switch it up: Take a look, what do you think.

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7. Current food blog crush.  I love Ashley’s site.  I always check in with her a couple of times a month,  but when I saw these bread sticks for Halloween, I became a regular. I also picked up this great whole wheat pizza crust recipe .  Now I would never stray too far from Jessica, but Ashely is defiantly my number 2 right now.

8. Stewart McLean’s Christmas concert;  This is totally a Canadian thing.  Every year my old room-mate and I go to see this concert.  It’s hosted by the great Stewart McLean.  He host a radio show on our beloved CBC radio up her in Canada.  The first time I heard Stewart was on my drive home to Toronto one Christmas.  He was reading one of his famous Dave and Morley stories.  It’s a fictionally family from Toronto that gets into some peculiar situations.  Each year he tours Canada and puts on a Christmas concert.  Its chalk full of local musical talent, some really great musicians and some awesome story telling. It has become one of my favorite traditions.

9. The Yule log Channel.  I know this sounds weird, but growing up I didn’t have a fireplace.  So when a local station would broadcast a fire place burning on Christmas morning, it became a tradition.  This year I found a channel that not only shows you a cozy burning fire place, but it also played Christmas music, double score!!!!

10.Couldn’t let Christmas go by without dressing up the dogs.  This year we gave Lily a break.  Doesn’t Maggie make a great reindeer.

Reindeer Maggies

Mini Gruyere Spinach Leek and Bacon Tarts

Here we are again.  New Year’s Eve!

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This year’s plans are very different from last year.  This year we are have a semi-quiet evening.  We are heading out to dinner with some good friends.

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Last year we were almost in New York.  It’s one of those bucket list things.  I tell you, I would never do it again.   2 things were wrong with that trip.  Number one, I’m too old to be standing around outside waiting for a countdown, New York or not.   Number 2, we were not informed.  We totally didn’t do any research.

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I did get a hotel near the square, but no one told us we had to line up at like 6 am to get anywhere near the centre of the action.

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We spent an hour standing in a crowd of people, 4 blocks away, in a barricaded area.  We finally gave up at 10 pm and went back to the hotel, until 11pm.  Then we made our way down to central park, took a buggy ride, chatted up a cop and waited for the countdown and fireworks.

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It wasn’t a complete loss, the next day, everything was open.  We had a good look around, ate a coal oven pizza, tried to go and see ground zero, (you need tickets!) and headed home.  It gave us a nice glimpse of the city and how to plan better next time.  Maybe in the spring time.

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If I was , say hosting a party this year, I would defiantly server these.  I made them for a poker game Mr. PBandO had, and they were awesome.

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On a side note; Its starting to feel like this blog is more about me blabbing on about life and ending with a recipe.  Sorry about that.  More food talk in the future!

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Pate Brisee

[Adapted from http://www.marthastewart.com/948287/pate-brisee]

2 ½ Cups of Flour
1 Teaspoon of Salt
1 Cup of Cold Butter, Cut into Small Pieces
½ Cup of Ice Water

Filling

[Adapted from http://www.canadianliving.com/food/mini_leek_and_bacon_pies.php]

2-4 Slices of Bacon
4 Leeks, Chopped
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon of Mustard
½ Teaspoon Each, Salt, Pepper and Thyme
1 Package of Spinach, Thawed and Drained of Water
1 Cup Of Gruyere Cheese, Shredded

For the pate brisee;  Whisk flour and salt together in a large bowl.  Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour, until it resembles coarse crumbs, (you may have some bigger pieces, that’s ok.)  Pour the ice water into the flour, butter mixtures.  Using your hands, mix until you can form two balls of dough.  Flatten the dough into two disks.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling;  In a medium pan, cook bacon until crispy.   Place bacon on paper towel, and set aside.  In the same pan, cook, onions and leeks until tender.  Add balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and thyme.   Add thawed and dried spinach.  Set Aside.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray.

Remove the pastry from the fridge, one at a time.  Roll-out the pastry, and using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut into 4inch squares. (I used the Mr. ‘s Tape measure)

Place each pastry square into muffin tin.  Fill each pastry cup with 2 tablespoons of onion/spinach mixture, and top with cheese.  Fold in all four sides, pressing gently in the centre.

Mix egg with 1 tablespoon of water.  Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the tarts with the egg wash.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, server warm.

Apple Dutch Pancake For Christmas Morning

Tree is up, presents are wrapped, dinner is planned, and family is on their way.  We are all ready for Christmas!

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I’m writing this waiting for my family to arrive.  All of a sudden all I want to do is curl up in my bed and sleep through it.  I’m not a Scrooge, I swear, I’m actually the opposite.  I always get this way, just before the festivities begin.

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When you’re a kid all you have to do is get excited.  Someone else takes care of all the behind the scenes Christmas magic.  My step-daughter asked me the other day, if you get less excited for Christmas as an adult.  I had to be honest, we kind of do.

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I think it’s all the planning and baking and decorating and wrapping and cleaning… shall I go on.  It’s not that we aren’t excited; we just sometimes forget what it’s all about.  For me, the best time is after Christmas dinner on Christmas day.   Every one is full and happy, all the presents are opened and being enjoyed and I look around, and realize, that I had a big part to play in how happy and content everyone is on Christmas.  And that’s what I do it all for.

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It’s now my turn to help in making the magic happen behind the scenes.  That’s what makes me excited, or rather, Happy at Christmas.   There’s my doorbell, let the festivities begin.

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Oh ya, before I go, I made you this, maybe you can make it on Christmas morning?  I ate the whole thing, I’m not even kidding.

Apple Dutch Pancake

3 Tablespoons of Margarine or Butter
3 Apples, Peeled and Sliced Thin (Any Kind of Apple)
1/3 Cup of Brown Sugar
½ Teaspoon of Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons of Sugar
½ Cup of Milk
½ Cup of Flour

Melt 1 tablespoon of margarine in a cast iron skillet. Add apples and brown sugar and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside

In a medium bowl mix cinnamon, sugar, milk and flour.  Stir until well blended.

Pour over the apples, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the center is done.

If your cast iron skillet is really well seasoned (mine is not) you should be able to shake it and flip it onto a plate.  Or you can take a spatula and cut little slices out directly from the skillet.   I put maple syrup on mine.

Acorn Squash Bisque

Today in the midst of all this cold weather, we need something warm! It’s at least -125.  I’m not being dramatic at all… I think my eyeballs froze shut for a moment when I first walked outside.

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There is really only one way to warm up in this ridiculous weather, so I bring to you this yummy, warm and comforting acorn squash bisque.  Bisque is really just a fancy word for soup.

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I feel like I have neglected this poor little squash for way to long.  I often pass it in the grocery store while I’m searching for its more popular cousin, the butternut squash.  I love butternut squash… I mean I could eat it every day.  But the acorn squash I have more than once turned my nose up at.  It’s really not fair.

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Finally the other day as I browsing the different squashes, a little acorn squash called out to me, “pick me, buy me, I’m yummy too”  yes, vegetables talk to me in the grocery store.. .(in my head)

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So I picked up that little acorn squash and I made us this bisque!

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Don’t be like me, and neglect the other squashes of the world, you might find a new taste that blows your mind, like this acorn squash did to me.

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Acorn Squash Bisque

[Adapted from http://www.marthastewart.com/336548/acorn-squash-bisque]

2 Acorn Squash (Sometimes they are called Pepper Squash)
2 Tablespoons of Butter
1 Small Onion, Diced
1 Teaspoon each of Salt and Pepper
1 ½ Teaspoon of Ground Sage
¾ Cup of Chicken or Vegetable Broth
½ Cup of Cream

Pre-Heat your oven to 450 degrees

Cut both acorn squash in half.  Place cut side down on a greased baking sheet.  Cover completly with tin foil.  Bake for 30 Minutes.

Spoon out the flesh from the squash and place in small bowl. Set aside.

Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add diced onions and garlic.  Cook until onions are tender, about  4 minutes.  Add sage, salt and pepper, cook for 1 more minute.  Set aside.

Take out your blender and add the squash, onions, and chicken broth, blend until pureed. Pour back into skillet and add cream.  Stir and heat through.

Enjoy!

Browned Buttered and Cardamom Sugar Cookies

That’s right people, it is cookie time…. I mean Christmas time. Which in my mind is cookie time. It’s really the only time of year I can justify baking a dozen or so different kinds of cookies, otherwise I would probably just look like a crazy cookie lady and weigh about 50 lbs heavier.

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Lucky for me, at Christmas time, I have a lot of people in my life that love cookies as much as I do, so I don’t eat them all myself….even though I kinda want to.

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This is why when I heard about the great food blogger cookie swap, I didn’t even hesitate, I just clicked YES.

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I did give a brief explanation of what this was all about in my new monthly top ten.  It’s my number 2.  Basically you bake a bunch of cookies and mail them out to fellow food bloggers and you receive a bunch of cookies…… Umm cookies mailed directly to my house… yes PLEASE.

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I received cookies Not Crocker , Gastronomical Sovereignty and Sweet Twist of Fate , and can I just tell you, I’m in a bit of a cookie coma.

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These are the ones I made. I really like sugar cookies and I am a bit obsessed with browned butter at the moment… so voila,,, browned butter and cardamom sugar cookies, with some trashed up Christmas sprinkles.

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I hope everyone gets to enjoy some Christmas cookies this season!

[Adapted from Better Homes and Garden Christmas Cookie 2010]

1 Cup of Unsalted Butter
1 ½ Cup of Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
1 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon Each of Cardamom and Cinnamon
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
2 ¾ Cups of Flour
¼ Cup of Course Sugar (or regular)
½ Teaspoon of Cardamom

Melt butter in a small pot.  Stirring frequently, until brown and oh so yummy.  It takes about 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.  Place in the fridge, covered for about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together sugar and browned butter.  Make sure you use every last bit of the browned butter, especially the browned bits.

Once combined, stir in eggs, and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt.

Add the flour, about a half a cup , at a time, until all the flour is mixed in.  I shaped mine into a ball.  Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease cookie sheet with butter or non-stick spray.  I use a silicon baking matt.  LOVE IT!

Place the ¼ cup of course sugar and cardamom, into a small bowl.

Remove from the fridge.  Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls, and roll around in the sugar.  I had trouble getting the sugar to stick, so I wet my hands with cold water.  Place on the prepared cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.  Bake for 12 minutes.

Allow to cool on a cooling rack…and ENJOY!

For more recipes, http://www.peanutbutterandonion.wordpress.com

Peanut Butter Crispy Truffles

Truffles… ya sure, no problem, I’ll whip up a batch of those, not a big deal, right……. Wrong!

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I’ve been seeing all kinds of truffles all over the blogging community, and growing up, my aunts homemade truffles were my favorite things to eat at Christmas.

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I mentioned these truffles to Mr. PBandO, and he was so excited, he even offered to help make them.  I did end up on my own with this one, let me tell you, I could have used to help.

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The balls themselves were relatively easy to make, (and yes I realize what I just typed, and then I giggled a little), it was dipping said balls in the chocolate that was a huge pain! (still giggling… what am I 5 years old)

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After about 30 minutes of total failure, I gave in and googled “How to coat truffles in chocolate”.  I found this.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7Fmt9fDdRQ.

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I want to say in the end these were worth it….but the only way I would utter those words is if someone else made them.  They were really good, you just need to have some experience… and not think you’re a hot shot, super star baker and expect to get it the first time…. Tracy

Peanut Butter Crispy Truffles

[Adapted from http://www.howsweeteats.com/2011/12/crispy-chocolate-peanut-butter-cookie-dough-truffles/ ]

2 Cups of Peanut Butter
2 ½ Cups of Powdered Sugar
6 Tablespoon of Soft Butter
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla
1 Cup of Crispy Rice Cereal
3 Cups of Really Good Quality Chocolate

In a large bowl, mix the peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla together, until blended well. Stir in rice crisp cereal , ½ a cup at a time, until it’s all combined.

Roll into 1 inch balls, I used a tablespoon.  Place them on a baking tray, and put into the freezer for 1 hour.

While they are setting in the freezer, melt the chocolate in a double broiler.

Remove the balls from the freezer.  Put a piece of parchment paper on another baking sheet.  Place a ball on a fork, spoon the chocolate over top.  Using a knife, knock the handle of the fork gently to smooth out the chocolate. (us the video).  Place the ball on the parchment.

I did these 3 at a time, it got really messy, but I got into a rhythm over time.  Place all the chocolate coated balls into the fridge, until the chocolate dries.

Now go get someone else make them!

November Monthly Top Ten

I love reading other bloggers musings.  Friday things by Michelle, I love list, Fridays over at shutterbean, 10 things worth noting from Ashley, Hi five Fridays over at A healthy Mrs By far though is Jessica’s Tuesday Things.  I’ve said it in the past….. I totally blog stock her… if that’s a thing.

While I don’t expect to pretend to be in the same category as these bloggers.  I thought I would try my hand at a monthly write up of 10 random things I’ve found, discovered, and maybe picture or two.  Let me know what you think.

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1. These ginger bread M&Ms; I HAD TO HAVE THEM.  My husband hooked me up with his US source…. Thanks Mike!

2. Let’s start this off by me telling you what I stumbled onto over at Love and Olive Oil.  The 2013 Great bloggers cookie swap.  I’m totally in.  It’s for this great charity.  All you have to do is make 3 batches of 12 cookies and mail them to 3 other bloggers, and then you get 3 batches of 12 cookies delivered to your front door.  Cookies at your front door and giving to charity… ummmm yes please.

3. I have been participating in this 3/1 Challenge.   Basically we make 3 meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, with seasonal ingredients.  I had a bit of trouble with September’s challenge, Figs.  Totally rocked it with October’s challenge, butternut squash.  Sadly I had to drop out of November’s challenge, I couldn’t find the ingredients anywhere.  Maybe next month.  Check out the challenge over at Stephanies site.   She rocks it every month!

4. This…..Awesome….Pizza….http://www.annies-eats.com/2013/10/31/bacon-potato-and-caramelized-onion-pizza/  I made this one Friday night,  It was one of those meals that you stumbled upon and you have everything you needed, without having to run to the store.  AND… OMG… best ever!

5. I was over at Michelle’s site, earlier in the month and she was talking about this Luxe box that she had received in the mail.  So I checked it out and, I ordered mine right away.  I know there are a million sites like this, but this ones from Canada.  Can’t wait for mine to arrive.  Thanks Michelle.

6. These Place cards from spoon fork bacon.  I’m always looking for ways to spruce up my table for the holiday. So simple, so cute.

7. Pc PLUS POINTS card.  I just got mine!!! It’s a super great program at my grocery store.  I think it’s only in Canada.  Basically when I buy certain items I get points, and with those points I get money off my grocery bill.  Simple. The cool twist is, that it keeps track of what I purchase, and it offers me specials of stuff I buy frequently.  If you’re in Canada and shop at Lawblaws, or the Superstore. Got get yours now!

8. On a personal note; I am trying to eliminate my snacky time.  You know that time of day when all you want to do is eat.  Mine is after 7pm.  So I am trying not to after 730pm.  So far…. FAIL.  I shouldn’t say completely fail… I have managed a few nights.  I had more will power when it came to quitting smoking!

9. Recently I have been obsessed with chef Stefano Faita.  He hosts a show up here in Canada, called, in the kitchen with Stefano.  All his recipes are simple and yummy.  I often turn to him when I need a quick meal.  Check him out; http://www.cbc.ca/inthekitchen/recipes.html

10. We may have a problem on our hands! I think my dog may hates Christmas.  Every time Christmas commercials comes on, she starts barking.   Oh well I guess I will just have to expose her to everything Christmas… if that means dressing her up in a Santa outfit.  So be it!  Look for it in next months top ten.

Mocha Madeleines

I have a weird obsessions with British TV.   Coronation street,  Downton Abby,  Are you being served? … and recently Dr. Who.  I know I’m a little late to the party on that one.  Hello 50th anniversary special.  I kinda wish that I lived in a Tradis, with a peculiar British alien….. like really!

Mocha Madeleines (1 of 1)-5If you’re an avid British TV watcher, you will have noticed something I did.  All the good, I mean REALLY good episodes, are the 1-2 hour specials.

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So when they announced this special in the summer, I started my countdown.  It went up on the calendar with the Downton Abby season 4 premier (which will also be a special)

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The brits do it right when it comes to TV.  And the French do it right when it comes to little French tea cakes, enter really nice segue into these madeleines.

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I know, I know, you already have enough baking pans… I do too, but the pan is not expensive and these are soooo worth it.  Pop some in the oven and sit back and watch your favorite British TV show, or Canadian, or American.

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Mocha Madeleines

[Adapted from http://frenchfood.about.com/od/cookies/r/chocmadeleine.htm]

½ Cup of Un-Salted Butter, Melted and Cooled

2 Tablespoons of Ground Espresso

2/3 Cup of Sugar

4 Ounces of Dark Chocolate (bitter or semi sweet work great)

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla

3 Eggs

1 Cup of Flour

½ Teaspoon of Baking Powder

½ Cup of Powdered Sugar

In a large bowl, pour melted butter and add ground espresso.  Mix it around and let it sit for 5 minutes. The idea is to get as much of the espresso as possible to dissolve.

After 5 minutes is up, pour the sugar in to the bowl and mix, with a beater, on high until well blended, about 2-3 minutes.

In a microwave safe bowl or a double broiler, melt chocolate.  Allow to cool slightly.  Add to the butter /sugar mixture, along with the vanilla. Beat until well blended.

Beat eggs into the mixture one at a time.

In a separate small bowl, mix flour and baking powder.  Fold into the larger bowl until combined.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray madeleine pans with non-stick cooking spray.

Spoon about 1 and ½ tablespoons of batter into prepared madeleine pans.

Bake for 12 minutes.  Place on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.  Then carefully flip the madeleines out onto the cooling rack.  When completely cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar.  I used a fine metal strainer.

Banana Snack Cake

I am a huge dog lover.  I mean, how can you refuse a big sloppy kiss from a furry buddy so happy to see you.

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Even though they can push us to the brink of madness when they are puppies.  Like when they can’t tell the difference between they’re ratty toy and your favorite pair of shoes (or can they…)

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As they get older they become more than cute fluffy faced annoyances.   They are part of our families.  I don’t know another set of beings on earth that will wait oh so patiently for you at the window for your car to pull up from work, and then to greet you at the door as if you have been gone forever.

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In their eyes you are perfect. I don’t usually do this, but check out this video, it truly speaks to how our furry friends see us. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyUec-lv_jI

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I’m bringing up this topic, because I lost my first dog Earnie, (his name really was EARnie) last year around this time.  He was only 8 years old and was taken too soon.  Maybe one day I’ll tell you about him, but for now, I’ll just say he was my very best friend, and I miss him every single day.  Even now I find myself tearing up.  I miss you my dear friend, you made my life better, by just being in it.

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Ok, so because you were so awesome and let me go on on on on, here is some yummy banana snack cake. It even has chocolate chips in it.  Trust me, it was awesome! Now go make some and then give your dog a hug.

Earnie April 2009

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake

[Adapted from http://www.momswhothink.com/cake-recipes/banana-cake-recipe.html%5D

½ Cup of Butter (Room Temperature)
1 ½ Cup of Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Cups of Flour
½ Teaspoon of Salt
¼ Teaspoon of Baking Powder
½ Cup of Milk
¼ Teaspoon of Vanilla
¾ Teaspoon of Baking Soda
3 Very Ripe Bananas
1 Cup of Mini Chocolate Chips

Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 rectangular cake pan with cooking spray, or you can use butter.

In a larger bowl, cream together butter and sugar until combined.  Beat eggs , add to the butter mixture.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder.

Add milk and flour into the butter mixture, alternating between the two.  Start with the flour and end with the flour.

In a small bowl, mash bananas.  Stir vanilla and baking soda in to bananas.

Fold bananas and mini chocolate chips into the cake batter.  Spread batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until you a tooth pick comes clean when inserted.

When finished remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Apple Cider Caramels

Aaaaaaaaaand take 2!

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I know I’m a little late to the party.  I have been seeing all kinds of caramel recipes in the food blogging world lately.  When I first saw an apple cider recipe, I was drooling and intrigued that you could make you own caramels.  It’s like homemade marshmallows.  I am in awe!

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So I set out to make my first batch or caramels.  Fully expecting to fail the first time.  And I did.  They tasted good.  Maybe a little too tart.  The texture was my issue.  They were way too soft.  There was no way I was cutting into that mooshy mess.  Even after being in the fridge overnight.

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It took me a couple of weeks to get up the courage to try again.   I went searching for a new recipe.  I found one over at Love and Olive Oil.  This is where for the first time I saw that you could increase the temperature of the caramel if you wanted harder candies.   “That’s me” I shouted.  I also noticed that Lindsay said she was a little disappointed in the way the peach flavor in hers was barley there.  That was the other thing I needed to do, tone down the cider flavor.  I assume it’s the corn syrup that does that.

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With my first attempt failure looming over me, I tried again, but this time I was going to increase the temperature, and add corn syrup.Well that was it! It worked success!  I made caramels.  I can honestly say it was a lot of work, and worth the it.

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P.S. put the caramels on parchment at all times.   I rested a few on my wooden cutting board, and they stuck… like glue.  When I tried to pry them off, they flew clear across the kitchen, and it was a race with the dogs to get them.  I won, thankfully!

Apple Cider Caramels

[Adapted from http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2013/08/peach-caramels.html]

**note, you will need a candy thermometer, and an 8×8 pan, not a 9×9 pan.

4 Cups of Apple Cider

1 Cup of Whipping Cream (Sometimes Referred to as Heavy Cream)

4 Tablespoons of Butter, Cut Into Small Cubes

¼ Teaspoon of Salt

1 ½ Cups of Sugar

¼ Cup of Corn Syrup

½ Teaspoon of Vanilla

Prepare a 8×8 pan, by lining it with parchment paper.  Make sure it hangs over the sides.  I measured out 2 pieces, so it hung over all 4 sides.  I also sprayed the pan with a little non-stick spray, to make the parchment stick.

In a medium pot, over medium to high heat, bring the apple cider to a boil.  As soon as it begins to boil, reduce heat to low/medium.  Allow to simmer until reduced to ½ cup.   This takes about 40 Minutes.

In a large pot, add reduced apple cider, cream, butter, salt, sugar and corn syrup.  Bring to a gentle boil.  Stir a couple times so all the ingredient are mixed.  To not over stir it.

Once boiling, you can take a small pastry brush and wet down the sides of the pot to dissolve any sugar on the sides. DO NOT STIR!!  Sorry for yelling, I stirred, it’s not good.  Attach your candy thermometer to the side.  The idea is not to let the thermometer touch the bottom of the pot, for a more accurate reading.

Allow the mixture to reach the temperature of 320 degrees F.  Seems a little high, but I tried it at 250, and the caramels would not set.  Worst case, you have hard caramels.

Once it reaches 320 degrees, remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour the caramel into the prepared pan.  Allow to cool at room temperature, for 30 minutes.  At this point, you should be able to score the caramels with a pizza cutter or regular knife.  I didn’t do this.  I only mention it, because if your caramels are really hard, you’ll wish you had.

Allow to cool for a minimum of 2 hours, or overnight, if you can stand it.  I couldn’t!!!

Remove the caramel from the pan, by lifting the parchment.   Sit it on top of a cutting board.  Cover a cookie sheet with a fresh piece of parchment paper.  Following the lines you scored earlier, cut into desired size, mine were about ¾ of an inch to an inch.  IMPORTANT.  Spray or grease your knife or pizza cutter.  I used a long knife sprayed in non-stick spray, this made to sick from all the spray, so I switched to running my knife over butter.  This is not as easy as it sounds, it’s kind of a pain.  But worth it.  As you cut the caramels, place them on the new parchment, don’t let them sit on the wood cutting board or any other surface.  They will stick, as I explained in my post.

At this point I knew how big my caramels were and I was able to measure how big to cut the parchment paper into.  Wrap the caramels in parchments.

Biscoff Granola Clusters

When I first started blogging, I kept hearing about Biscoff.  I was all, “What the heck is this stuff”  So I went to the grocery store and started my search.  I didn’t get very far, before I realized, there is no Biscoff in Ontario.  At least no where I could find it.

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So I resolved to put in in the same category as , cinnamon chip (like chocolate chips) and ginger bread Oreos.  Things my southern friends can pick up at any grocery store, and I have to sit up here in Canada swooning over via the internet.

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Then I found out they sell Biscoff in western Canada.  So I called up my sister in Calgary and asked her if she had seen it.  She went on a search and found some.  Being the awesome sister she is, she proceeded to purchase me two jars and mailed them up to me (or is it down to me)

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I feel kind of bad, because I made such a big deal about the stuff, and I‘ve been sitting on it for 6 months.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been eating it, but this is the first time I’ve used it in a recipe.

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Totally worth the wait.  Now if I could just find a source for all the other things I so desire, south of the boarder… anyone?

Biscoff Granola Clusters

[Adapted from The Looney Spoons Collection Cookbook]

2 ½ Cups Of Granola (Preferably Low Fat)
¼ Cup of Cranberries and Raisins
1/3 Cup of Biscoff (or Peanut Butter)
1/3 Cup of Maple Syrup
2 Egg Whites
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon

Pre Heat your oven to 250 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray, and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together granola, cranberries and raisins.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl mix together Biscoff (or any cookie butter substitute, even peanut butter works), with maple syrup, egg whites and cinnamon.

Stir the Biscoff mixture into the granola, until combined.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin tins with the mixture.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

These are great for lunches, or a quick snack.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

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I said I wouldn’t make soup for this challenge.

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But then this soup happened.  I opened one of my cookbooks, written by an awesome lady and its all super healthy and yummy, I’m a little off track.  Back to this soup.

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I didn’t mean to make this soup, but when I saw curry and butternut squash… come on… it was out of my control.

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I love curry, it might even be one of my favorite dishes.  On top of that I had one more meal to make for this challenge.  And…. Mr PBandO was out for the afternoon, which is really the only time I can make anything curry.  He hates the smell, even worse than fish… so I don’t get a lot of opportunities to cook with curry.

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So there you have it folks.  I was basically forced to make this soup.   But that’s ok, cause then I got to share it with you.  P.S. Can you see my reflection in the spoon… :)

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

[Adapted from Heart Smart Cookbook]

2 Teaspoons of Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
3-4 Cloves of Garlic, Chopped
2 Teaspoons of Curry Powder
1 Medium Butternut Squash
4 Cups of Chicken Broth, Low Sodium
½ Teaspoon of Salt and Pepper

Pre-Heat Oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and set aside.

Peel the squash with a Y peeler, if you have one.  Cut the top and bottom off.  Cut the squash in half, and from here, cut into 1 inch pieces.

Spread the cut up squash, onions and garlic on the prepared cookie sheet.   Coat with the olive oil, and mix it around.  Make sure the squash is pretty spread out when you cook.  Place in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the squash is softened.

Remove squash from the oven.  Heat large skillet on medium heat.   Add squash, salt, pepper and curry.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Pour in the chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour into a blender, puree until smooth.

Now eat it!

Butternut Squash and Sage Pasta Sauce

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Soo the other day I was out with a friend of mine, and she casually mentions that a friend of hers gave her a really good looking butternut squash, fresh from her garden.  She was “unsure” what to do with it.  “maybe I’ll roast it” she says.  I replied “ and then what”

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You see to me, roasting a butternut squash it step one in a butternut squash recipe.  “and then eat it?” she replied.  “ that’s boring”. I , not so politely replied. Don’t worry she ‘s used to my surly rudeness..;)

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The next morning, she left this good looking squash on my desk.  Isn’t it good lookin?

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I took it home and transformed it into this awesome butternut squash and sage pasta sauce.  I of course tested it, and squirreled away some for myself, and gave the rest to her.

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SO now I will patiently wait for her to make a comment here about how awesome I am and how yummy this sauce is…..;)    Still waiting…….

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[Adapted from http://www.marthastewart.com/341439/butternut-squash-pasta-sauce]

1 Good Looking Butternut Squash (Medium)
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1-2 Tablespoon of Chopped Fresh Sage (or 2 Teaspoons of Dried)
1 Teaspoon Each of Salt and Pepper
2 Teaspoon of Minced Garlic
1 Cup of Cream (5%)
Pasta (Your Choice)

Pre-Heat your oven to 450 degrees.

Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Peel the skin off your butternut squash ( use a Y peeler if you have one, sooo much easier).  Cut off the top and bottom of the squash, cut in half.  Scoop out and discard the seeds.  Chop the squash halves into 1 inch pieces.

Toss the squash and olive oil along with the sage, garlic,  salt and pepper.  Spreed out onto the baking sheet. Try not to overlap pieces.

Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.  You should be able to pierce the squash easily.

Remove from the oven, and place in a blender along with 1 cup of cream (5%).  Add 1 cup of water.  Add more if it seems dry.

Now you can either freeze it for later, or put on top of your favorite pasta.

ButterNut Squash and Sage Waffles and a 3/1 Challange

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It’s 3/1 seasonal challenge time again.  That’s 3 meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner with a seasonal ingredient.  If you followed it last month, you will remember I had a hard time with the ingredient, figs. This time the ingredient is a little more up my alley.

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This month, the lovely ladies who started this challenge (Stephanie and Consuelo) choose butternut squash.  The possibilities are endless, and these puppies are in every grocery store and home garden up here and Canada right now!  So for my first meal, I’m making you breakfast. But not just any breakfast, these waffles.

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When I saw them, I was skeptical.  I’ve made similar waffles and the flavor just didn’t come through.  So I adjusted the recipe, and omitted the topping.  The secret, fresh sage.  Sage brings out the real flavor of butter nut squash, and goat cheese… but that’s another meal… maybe lunch, or even dinner.

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For now, pull up a chair, and dig into this stack.  Maybe I didn’t eat all of these, but I polished off at least 4.

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Butternut Squash and Sage Waffles

[Adapted from http://www.beyondthepeel.net/2010/08/butternut-squash-waffles-with-mapled-apples-and-walnuts.html]

1 Cup of Butternut Squash, pureed.
1 ¼ Cup 1% Milk
2 Eggs
1/3 Cup of Vegetable Oil
1 ¾ Cup of Flour
3 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
5-6 Fresh Sage Leaves

For the pureed butternut squash, there are several ways to do this.  The way I do it, for a simple puree is, peel the squash with a Y peeler (trust me it makes it way easier) , then chop it up into 1 inch pieces.  Boil it in water for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain the water, and puree in a blender. Allow to cool completely

In a large bowl mix together the cooled butternut squash and milk together.  In a smaller bowl , beat eggs, and add to the butternut squash mixture.  Mix until combined.

In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking powder and cinnamon.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the butternut squash mixture.  Add the chopped up sage leaves.

Heat your waffle maker according to the manufacturers directions.  When its fully heated, pour the recommended amount of waffle mix.

Pile the waffles 8 high, and add butter and syrup and dig in!

Spicy Sausage Pasta

This pasta!

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I found this pasta a while ago, and it quickly became a favorite in this house.  It takes a lot to become a staple on our menu.  MR. PBandO can be a particular eater.   I know I’ve mentioned this before.  I will say this, he has finally stopped making faces at the mere mention of a new meal… like a 2 year old

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I think he actually asked me once, why I couldn’t  just stick to 4 or 5 standard meals…. Seriously!  That would be like locking me in food hell.  No way!  As I’ve said  he has come a long way and I always try and have a backup meal for him… or pizza is a phone call away.

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Back to this pasta. I’m actually getting hungry talking about it.  Like I just realized I have 2 whole cut up spicy sausages in the freezer, begging to be thawed and ready for this pasta.  Sorry I gotta go, and make this pasta, … again!

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You should too.

Spicy Sausage Pasta

[Adapted from http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dinner/spicy-sausage-pasta.html]

1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Medium  Onion, Diced
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
2 Spicy Sausages. Cooked and Sliced
1 Teaspoon Each of Salt and Pepper
2 Cups of Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 Cup of Tomato Sauce
½ Cup of Cream ( I used 5%)
2 Cups Dry of Penne Pasta
1 Cup of Cheese ( I used a Cheddar and Mozzarella Blend)
2 Green Onions, Copped

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic, cook until onions are softened, about 4-5 Minutes.  Add cooked sausage, salt and pepper and cook for 30 more seconds.

Pour chicken broth, tomato sauce, cream and pasta into the skillet and stir until combined.  Allow the mixture to come to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Stir occasionally..

Stir in the cheese and green onions and enjoy

Enjoy!!

Apple Pie (Sky High)

I made PIE!

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Pie and I are friends.  We used to be….. lets say frenemies.  I loved to eat pie, I just could make one.  I get into the pie debacle with this quiche.

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I think I get my love of pie from my Dad.  So it’s only fitting that I make a pie on his birthday.

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My dad passed away last year, and he is pretty much the inspiration for this blog. Well at least the name.

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Apple pie was his favorite.  My grandmother used to make pie for him on special occasions.  It wasn’t the best pie (sorry grandma) . Don’t get me wrong, I would still eat it!.  But the crust was all soggy and the apples didn’t have much flavor.I remember one year, after my grandmother passed, my sister made a perfect apple pie.  The crust was flaky and buttery and the apples melted in your mouth.  Between mouthfuls my father uttered “its good, but the crust is to crispy”….REALLY dad!

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He was not afraid to tell you what he thought.  He often handed out all kinds of advice to random strangers, sometimes even to my friends.  He once told my friend not to get a sit down job when she was older, need I say more… he told another friend that if she lost weight, she would lose it all over, which was a good thing, what did that even mean?  He wasn’t trying to be mean, he just thought he was being helpful.

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There wasn’t a cashier at a grocery store, or receptionist at a doctors office, or a lady at a shoe store that he didn’t chat up, or became quick friends with.  I miss you daddy!So this pie is for you dad.  I’m pretty sure the crust is a little soggy

[Adapted from My Grandmother and http://www.marthastewart.com/344255/old-fashioned-apple-pie%5D

Pie Crust

2 ½ Cups of Flour
1 Teaspoon of Sugar and Salt
1 Cup of Cold Butter, Cut Into Cubes
½ Cup of Cold Water (2 Tablespoon extra if needed)

Pie

6 Granny Smith Apples, and 6 Macintosh (I used 6 Mac’s for the sogginess , you can use 12 Granny’s)
¾ Cups of Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Flour
2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon of Nutmeg
¼ Teaspoon of Cloves
2 Tablespoon of Lemon Zest
2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1 Egg

 

Whisk , Flour, salt and sugar, in a large bowl.

Using a pastry blender, (or 2 knives) blend the butter , until it resembles crumbs.

Pour the cold water into the butter/flour.  Mix with your hands until it comes together.  Add the extra water if needed.

Transfer to a floured work surface, and form into 2 disks.  Wrap in plastic, and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

After an hour, remove the dough.  Roll out on a floured surface, just big enough for a 10 inch pie plate.  Place in the pie plate.  Roll out the top crust, and place on a parchment paper.  Cover both pastry with plastic, and let them both harden in the fridge.

Core, peel and chop all 12 apples, and place in a large bowl.  Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a small bowl.  Pour over the apples, with the lemon juice and zest.  Mix well.

Pre-Heat oven to 375 degrees

Pile all the apples into the pie plate. (it will be quite a pile.).

Make vent holes into the top crust and place on top of the pile of apples. Crimp the edges.

Beat the egg, with a tablespoon of water and brush over the pie.

Bake for about an hour.

Allow to cool completely before cutting into it.

Chicken Hand Pies

I love fall… TV

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I’ve been waiting way too long for all my shows to come back.

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Don’t get me wrong I have enjoyed the long lazy days of summers, by the pool, relaxing with the family, backyard parties, camping.

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But now its on to the good stuff… TV!

Chicken Hand Pies (1 of 1)-8Supernatural, Murdoch Mysteries, Grimm,  Warehouse 13, Lost Girl and oh I found a new show, Sleepy Hollow.  I never said my taste was any good. TV isn’t the only thing I love about fall.  I love the weather, especially for running, not to cold , not to hot.  And I need to be running, what with all this yummy comfort food coming back in style.

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Like these oh so cute chicken hand pies, they’re small, which totally justifies eating a lot of them, like maybe 3?  Why am I so hungry!

http://www.marthastewart.com/344205/savory-chicken-pocket-pies and http://www.marthastewart.com/326897/basic-pastry-dough

1-2 Chicken Breasts
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
½ Cup of Chopped Onions
½ Teaspoon of Salt and Pepper
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
2 Teaspoons of Herb de Province
2 Cups of Fresh Spinach
1 Egg, 1 Tablespoon of Water

Pastry

2 ½ Cups of Flour
½ Teaspoon of Salt
1 Cup of Cold Butter, cut up into cubes
3 Tablespoons of Cold Water

To prepare the pastry, whisk flour and salt into a large bowl.  Cut butter into the flour, using a pastry blender or 2 knives.

Pour water onto the bowl and mix, until it comes together ( I used my hands).  Shape into 2 disks, and place in the fridge.

Shredded Chicken

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add 1 tea bag and let soak for 2 minutes.  Remove the tea bag.  Place chicken into the pot and boil on low for 25 minutes, or until no loger pink.

Using 2 forks, shred the chicken, set a side.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat.  Add Onions, and garlic, and cook until translucent.  Add chicken, add Herb de Province, cook for 5 minutes.

Toss in spinach, cook until wilted.

Pre-Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Take dough out of the fridge, on disk at a time.  Roll out dough on a floured surface to ¼ inch thick.  Cut dough into 5 -6 inch circles.  I used a soup bowl and a knife to cut the shape out.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of chicken onto the pastry circles.  Moisten the edges of half the circle. Fold into a half circle , and press the edges down with a fork. Cut a few slits in the top for air to get out

Whisk the egg and water together, and brush it over top of the chicken pie. This will make the top all brown.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are all brown and smelling awesome.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Birthdays!

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I just celebrated mine over the weekend.    With every passing birthday I do a self-check… am I old?  We all ask ourselves this question as the years roll by.  When I was 20 I thought OMG,  OMG, I’m no longer a teenager.  I was half excited and half scared.  Now I had to start growing up.   YUCK. (BTW I’m still “growing up”.

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Although I survived my 20’s, I remember 29 being a rough year.  The anticipation of 30 was scary.  The year I turned 30 I had made it such a big deal in my 29th year, when it happened, it was nothing.

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So far my 30’s have been the best.  I know who I am, whom I love and I have achieved quite a bit.  While I can always complain, my 30’s have been about reaping the benefits of all the self-discovery (and mistakes) of  my 20’s.

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OK enough about all this self-reflections stuff, on to these cupcakes.

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I didn’t make them, but I ate them like it was my job (as they say on the weight watchers commercial)

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My beautiful and talented step –daughter made them for me.    All her, with no help… well I may have put them in the oven and taken them out… in her defense, our oven is on an angle and her arms are shorter than mine.  Besides, she has seen me burn myself enough times to be leery of the oven.

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These were sooooo good, I may have eaten  3… oOK4… 4 ½… I swear.  Don’t judge me ;)

[Adapted from http://www.howsweeteats.com/2010/02/cookies-and-cream-cupcakes/]

Cupcakes

½  Cup of Butter (at room temperature)
1 Cup of Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
1 ½ Cups of Flour
1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
½ Cup of Milk
10 Oreos

Frosting

1 Cup of Butter (at room temperature)
2 ½ Cups of Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
2 Tablespoons milk
10 Oreos

Cupcakes

Pre-Heat Oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins with pretty liners.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar, set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs with vanilla.  Pour into butter mixture, mix until blended. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk (ya I said whisk, thank you Joy) flour, salt and baking powder.

Pour ½ the flour into the large bowl with the butter mixture.  Now pour and mix ¼ of the milk. Repeat with the last of the flour and milk.

In a large Ziploc bag, smash the Oreos, until they resemble crumbs.  You want some bigger pieces for crunch factor.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins, using a large spoon, or an ice cream scoop.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes clean when inserted.

Allow the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack in the muffin tin, for 5 minutes.  Remove them from the muffin tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Frosting

 

In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add vanilla and milk, mix until combined.

In another large Ziploc (or the one you used before) smash the Oreos.

Fold the Oreos into the frosting.

Frost as desired.

Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

Confession time again.

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I like a lot of desserts, I never discriminate.  Heck I’ll even eat coconut, which was super gross, and right up there with beans and wieners… Hated both growing up.  But times have changed, and so have my taste buds.

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I could never understand why anyone (Mom) would eat pralines and cream ice cream over chocolate or super kid (shout out to all Canadian 80s kids)  I am now one of those people.  If there is something different on the menu, I’m trying it.

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One thing I have always loved and that has never changed over the years… confession time.. Rice pudding!!!

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L O V E it!  I could live off this stuff, that and a big glass of tomato juice… ya I know, I ‘m disgusting … Join me , won’t you!

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Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

½ Cup of Short Grain Rice (the same kind you use for risotto)
¼ Brown Sugar
4 Cups of Milk
1 Vanilla Bean

In a medium sauce pan, heat milk.  When milk is heated , not boiling, add brown sugar, stir until its dissolved.   Pour in rice.  Turn heat to low and cover.  Cook for 50 minutes.  Stir every 10 minutes or so.

Its ready when almost all the milk is absorbed.

Serve it hot, or put in a bowl.   Place a piece of plastic directly on top of the rice, so it wont create a film.

Pan Seared Fig Stuffed French Toast Grilled Cheese and a 3/1 Challange

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Welcome to the 3rd and final day of the 3/1 challenge. As I posted for the last 2 days, I was invited to join in with these 2 lovely ladies (http://honeyandfigskitchen.com/ and http://www.eatmytortes.com/) in a 3/1 challenge.  3 meals,1 seasonal ingredient.  This was a challenge for me… Figs were the ingredient.  Not the easiest thing to find in Canada.

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But, I rose to the challenge, and I searched high and low and far and wide… well maybe I’m being a tad dramatic.  It did take me awhile, but I found them, and I made 3 really yummy meals.

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This has to be my favorite of the 3.    Day one I made a really nice pizza, then I made some awesome honey roasted fogs over granola.

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Today I present , Pan seared fig stuffed french toast grilled cheese.  It was awesome.

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It was totally worth almost getting kicked out of the grocery store for… Oh I didn’t really mention that in yesterday post , did I.    Well as I said, in yesterday, I finally found a decent batch of figs, but I made sure all the figs in my package were fresh, I proceeded to sort through all the packages, and at the end, I was approached my a produce employee, and ask what I was doing.  I simply informed him I was doing him a favor by sorting out the bad figs… then I walked away…. quickly

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I’m sure he’s still standing there wondering why the crazy lady just messed up his fig display.

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Worth it… I can’t believe this sandwich exists.  I finished making it and photographing it and then I inhaled it,  ya, not sugar coating that… it wasn’t pretty, but oh so delicious.

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Bring on the next challenge!

[Adapted from http://www.canadianliving.com/food/__dairy_goodness/anyday_magic/french_toast_grilled_cheese.php]

This Makes one Yummy Sand-which, you can double the ingredients if you want to share.  I wouldn’t, keep it all for yourself.

Pan/Pot Seared Figs

1 Tablespoon of Butter
2 Tablespoon of Honey
1 Tablespoon of Brandy (optional)
2-3 Ripe Figs, cut in half

The French Toast Grilled Cheese

1 Egg
¼ Cup of Milk
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
2 Slices of Raisin Bread
Bree Cheese , slices into 4-5 pieces

In a small pan, or pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add honey, brandy (if using), and figs.  Stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, pan sear the figs,  until slightly mushy (it’s a cooking term… I think).  Remove from the heat, and set aside.

In a pie plate or cake pan, whisk, eggs, milk and cinnamon.  Dip and soak the raisin bread for about 5 minutes.

In a small frying pan, over medium heat,  coat with butter, or cooking spray.  Place the bread in the pan , and cook until brown, about 5 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side.  Remove from heat. Right away place the Bree cheese and a couple of the pan seared figs on one half of the French toast, and place the other piece on top, Making a sandwich.

Cut in half and pour the remaining figs over top.  Drizzle with honey, and stuff your face!

Honey Roasted Figs with Homemade Granola over Greek Yogurt and 3/1 Challange

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Day 2 of the 3/1 challenge, everyone…  I have never blogged 2 days in a row…it’s weird.

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As I posted yesterday, I was invited to participate in a 3/1 challenge, that’s 3 meals (breakfast , lunch and dinner) with a seasonal ingredient.   Figs are on the table.

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Figs, as I mentioned in my previous post, this has been a challenge for this little Canadian girl.  I hunted down my first batch, only for them to be squished, found a second batch,,,, barley , and was able to salvage 2 out of 8.

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So all last week, I went from grocery store to fruit market, back tp grocery stores… and the 6th grocery store had, not 1 but 2 kinds of figs… sweet.

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This time I was not taking the package at face value, so I proceed to open evey pack of 8 figs and poke them… ya I said poke them… to see if they were fresh.

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So you need to picture me standing in the produce isle, with about 10 packs of figs open, and me mixing and matching the ones I wanted.  It took me about 10 minutes.

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So I left the grocery store happy as a …. Let’s say fig. and I made us this for breakfast.    I was really impressed by the homemade granola, I was eating it right off the pan… and the flavor of the granola with the honey roasted figs, I think I may have found my new breakfast.

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[Adapted from http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/granola-honey-yogurt-figs-50400000115199/]

For the Granola

1 Cup of Quick Oats
¼  Cup of Pecans, Chopped
1 Egg White
1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla
2 Tablespoons Packed Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg
2 Tablespoons of Maple Syrup

For the Honey Roasted Figs

½ Teaspoon of Vanilla
3 Tablespoons of Honey, Divided
8 Ripe Figs, Cut in quarters
1 Cup of Greek Yogurt (or as much as you want)

Pre-Heat Oven to 300 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix oats with chopped pecans. In a smaller bowl whisk egg white, maple syrup with vanilla, Pour over oats and pecans. Mix with a fork

In another small bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add that to the oat mixture with a fork.

Spread on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 20 -25 minutes.

Mean while, In a small bowl mix, honey, vanilla and figs.  Pour on to a sprayed baking sheet, and set aside.

Remove the granola from the oven.   Try and leave some for the recipe, I had a hard time not eating it all.

Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake the figs for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven.

To assemble, place as much of the greek yogurt into a bowl, add ¼ to ½ cup of granola, and spoon the honey roasted figs over top.

Fig Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese and a 3/1 Challange

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Hello Everyone.  Guess what!  I was invited to participate in the 3/1 challenge.   I’m so excited to be a part of this.   I was invited to participate in this challenge by this lovely lady,  Stephanie from http://www.eatmytortes.com/.  She started the challenge with Consuelo over at http://honeyandfigskitchen.blogspot.ca/.   2 really great site.  Check them out!

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So the challenge is to make 3 meals, a breakfast, a lunch and a dinner, with a seasonal ingredient.

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This month the ladies choose figs.  Ummm I live in Canada…  Figs are not in season up here.  So that meant this was really going to be a challenge.

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So the hunt was on.  I was lucky enough to find my first batch of figs at my local grocery store… but…. by the time I got them home they had been squished by my other groceries.  So I went back… no more figs.

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So Mr. PBand O, being my hero and all, drove me around, and I was able to find a second batch.  This batch of figs had 8 in the pack and I salvaged …..3

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So I sliced them up and put them on a pizza for Dinner!  Totally worth the fuss, I wish we had lots and lots of fresh figs here.

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More to come over the next 2 days, but in the mean time, make this for dinner, its yummy!

Fig Pizza With Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese

[Adapted from http://www.marthastewart.com/317026/fig-pizzas]

Pizza Dough

¾ Cups of Hot Water
2 Teaspoons of Honey
1 Package of Active Dry Yeast
2 Teaspoons of Olive Oil
2 Cups of Flour
1 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Teaspoons of Cornmeal

For the Toppings

4 Slices of Bacon
1 Large Onion, sliced thinly
2 Teaspoons of Sugar
At Least 3 Ripe Figs
½ Cup of Goat Cheese

 

Mix the honey into the hot water, until blended.  Sprinkle the yeast over top the water.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  You will notice it gets all foamy on top.

In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. When the yeast mixture is foamy, add the olive oil and stir.  Pour the yeast mixture over the flour and blend with a spoon until it comes together.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for a couple of minutes.  Place the dough in a separate bowl that has been greased with olive oil or cooking spray.  Cover and let stand for 30-45 minutes, or until double in size.

Meanwhile, in a medium pan on medium heat, cook the bacon, and set aside.  In the same pan, toss the onions in, sprinkle sugar over top. Stir frequently until the onions are brown, but not burnt. Set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Roll out the dough on a floured surface, shape to fit your pan.  Spray your pan with olive oil or cooking spray , and sprinkle cornmeal if desired.  Poke the dough with a fork.

Spread the onions, bacon, figs and then crumble goat cheese on top.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes,  or until the bottom is brown.

 

Chicken Cheese Steaks

What did you do this weekend?

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I went on the Wiggle Waggle Walk-A-Thon!  Say that 5 times fast.

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I love dogs, and I realized a long time ago that I am way to emotional when it comes to helping out our furry friends.  I could never volunteer at a humane society.  I would be crying every time I dog was brought in hurt, or every time a dog got adopted, I would be asked to leave due to excessive crying.

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So I resort to other methods of helping out.  Like donating old dog blankets, beds, food and going on wiggle waggle walk-a-thons.  I just wanted an excuse to type that again.

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The walk went….. ok …… my dogs are … ok….. at walking.  Besides the fact that MR.PBandO strained his pectoral muscle…. Ya I said peck…. I wanted to type boob, but guys don’t have boobs… well some do.. but he doesn’t…. I digress.

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So I was on my own, he came with, but then had to abandon me at the starting line.  In the end I  my usual yappy, pulling  dogs, ended up being to overwhelmed by all the doggy company that they behaved quite well. I would totally do it again… I think, as long as no one pulls a boob, or a peck.

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Oh you know what’s perfect after a 5 km walk with thousand dogs…. Supper yummy easy, gooey , cheesy sandwiches, perfect post wiggle waggle walk-a-thon…. had to fit it in one last time

 Chicken Cheese Steaks

[Adapted from http://www.marthastewart.com/315858/chicken-cheesesteaks-with-peppers%5D

2 Cups of cooked Shredded Chicken

1 Large Onion, Cut into strips

1 Red Pepper (or Green, Yellow or Orange), Cut into strips

2 Cloves of Garlic

4 Hoggie Buns

4 Slices of Provolone Cheese

Mayonnaise (optional)

Butter

To prepare shredded chicken, I usually buy 2 bone-in chicken breasts and boil them in a medium pot of tea, for about 20-25 minutes. Then remove it from the tea, and shred it with two forks.

Heat the olive oil in a medium pan, add onions, garlic and peppers.  Cook until the onions are translucent. Toss in 2 cups of cook shredded chicken into the pan, and heat through.

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.   Divide the chicken mixture into 4 piles. Place 1 slice of provolone on each pile.   Place the cookie sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted

To assemble the sandwiches, Cut the hoggie buns down the middle, trying not to cut all the way through.  Using a spatula, place each pile of chicken onto a hoggie bun.

Now you have a choice, you can serve it like this, or you can fold each sandwich and roll it tightly in tin foil and bake for 10-15 minutes. Then serve.

Apricot Sorbet

Well its official, summer is over! All the kids are back to school, the days are getting shorter, and the weather is slightly cooler.

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It’s funny, even though summer isn’t officially over until September 21st (I think), you still feel like it’s over after Labour day weekend.  I think it’s years of conditioning that the start of the school year triggers in all of us.

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I am sad to see it go, and for the first time ever, I’m really not looking forward to snow.  I know, I know, I’m jumping ahead of myself, I mean my pool is still open.

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So in a last stitch effort to hang on to summer, I made this for us.

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Can I confess something to you… before this recipe, I had never actually bitten into, or tasted an apricot.  No really, and I almost forgot to while I was making this.  Just before I threw all of the apricots into the water, I remembered and put one in my mouth.  Not bad, but I prefer it in this sorbet.

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Happy end of summer!  Welcome my favorite time of year… Fall!.

P.S. did you happen to notice my little friend taking a peek at my apricots?

Apricot Sorbet

[Adapted from http://www.annies-eats.com/2009/06/25/apricot-sorbet/]

15 Ripe Apricots
1 Cup of Water
1 Cup of Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla

Slice up the apricots. (cut in half, remove the pits and cut into slices).

Boil the water in a small sauce pan, turn down to a simmer and add the cut up apricots, and let cook for about 10-15 minutes.

Take off the heat and add sugar.  Pour mixture into a small bowl and place plastic wrap on top, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour (or until cool) .  *** note:  Make sure the plastic wrap is touching the mixture to prevent a film from forming on top.

Once cooled, stir in vanilla, and puree.

Pour into your ice cream maker, and continue on with the manufacture instructions.

Once finished in the ice cream maker, pour into a freezer safe container and freeze for 4 hours minimum.

I found it easier to scoop out if you let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes first.

Steak and Peppers Over Rice

I am living the single lady life this week!  Wait.. should I be telling all my imaginary internet friends that?  I mean I am living the single lady life  (with 2 huge guard dogs) this week.  Much better.

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I don’t know why , but I seem to get a lot done when I’m all alone.  Its not like Mr.PBandO its hovering around me, preventing me from doing stuff.  Maybe its because I miss him, and I’m just trying to keep busy…. Awww…… ok that’s enough mushy stuff.

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The other thing that happens when I’m on my own…. I can cook, bake, grill, fry anything I want.

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I can cook up some curry, fry up some fish, I can even throw together some liver and onions. … well maybe not…

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Mr. PBandO left last Wednesday, and in true, ‘I’m cooking just for me’ fashion, I made pumpkin curry, fish tacos, sweet potato gnocchi… you get the picture.

But tonight, I was craving something simple.  And then I remembered this recipe. It’s actually one of Mr. PBandO’s favorites… well he likes it… which is huge in this house…. he can be… how do I put this… particular.

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This is super easy to throw together.  Definitely one of my go to meals. So if you’re in a pinch, this is your next meal.

1 lbs of Steak Strips
½ Teaspoon of Paprika and Garlic Salt
.1/4 Teaspoon of Salt, and Pepper
1 Tablespoon of Flour
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
11/4 Cups of Low Sodium Beef Broth
2 Tablespoon of BBQ Sauce
2 Teaspoon of Brown Sugar
½ Teaspoon of Ground Thyme
2 Peppers (Green, Red , Orange or Yellow), Thinly Sliced
1 Medium Onion, Thinly Sliced
Your favorite Rice

Place Steak into a ziploc bag, and add paprika, garlic salt, salt , pepper and flour.  Shake, until the steak is coated.

On medium heat, add the olive oil in large skillet, then add the coated beef and cook until the outside is browned, and no longer pink.  Add the peppers and onions, cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

In a medium bowl, mix low sodium beef broth, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and thyme, until combined.  Add to the skillet.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for 5-10 minutes if the sauce seems watery.  Cook the Rice in the mean time

Serve over Rice

Chocolate Zucchini Banana Bread Muffins

The end of another fabulous stay-cation.

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My sister came to visit, and we did so much stuff.  The city you live in is a hidden gem!  Trust me, I found mine.

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We went to a haunted walk, mini golf, go a pedicure/manicure, shopping (40% off my favorite store …Roots), took the dogs to the dog park and had our first, hopefully not our last, neighborhood pool party; we even went for high tea.

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I had so many plans for new recipes to try out on my sister…. She is not picky at all, but we were so busy, all I managed to whip up was these!

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They were a huge hit!  Seriously I don’t have any left… maybe a few that I hid in the freezer.

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We also had an incredible s’more cheese cake, which my wonderful step –daughter made for us.  Seriously.. the best cheesecake ever!

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So if you don’t have your own fabulous step-daughter to whip up this awesome cheesecake, make these muffins, there not bad!

[Adapted from http://forkvsspoon.com/archives/2490]

Chocolate Zucchini Banana Bread Muffins

½ Cup of Cocoa
1 ½ Cup of Flour
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon of Baking Powder
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
½ Cup of Vegetable Oil
½ Cup of Sugar
½ Cup of Brown Sugar
2 Eggs, Beaten Slightly
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
2 Cups of Shredded Zucchini (About 4 Large) *I used 8 small white zucchini
2 Ripe Bananas
½ Cup of Mini Chocolate Chips

Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 18 muffin tins.

Shred zucchini and pat dry with paper towel; I put mine in a strainer and left a paper towel on top. Smash the bananas in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In another large bowl, mix together until combined, white sugar, brown sugar, vegetable oil, 2 eggs slightly beaten, and vanilla.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until well combined. Fold in zucchini and bananas.  Finely mix in chocolate chips.

Using a large spoon, divide the batter between the 18 muffin tins.

Place in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes clean when inserted in the middle.

Cool on a wire rack.

Roasted Cherry Tomatos and Ricotta Cheese on Crusty Bread

What did you do this weekend?  I started my stay-cation number 2.

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You may remember a month or so ago that I announced I was taking a stay-cation for the first time … and I really enjoyed it.  I have like a billion weeks of vacation built up and I thought, it worked out so well the first time, why not do it again.

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So far I have made chocolate spongy muffins,  zucchini banana chocolate chip muffins ,creamy French zucchini soup, meatballs, shredded chicken and rubbed up some ribs, which is marinating in the fridge as we speak for tomorrow night’s dinner. While I did this, My dogs did this.

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Time for my new favorite snack!

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I eat this for a snack , I eat it after yoga,  I eat this for lunch, eat this any time.

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I was a ricotta hater before this, choosing to avoid the bland tasting cheese at all cost.  In my lasagna, no way,  put it on crusty bread with roasted tomatoes..  um ok!

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I have not looked back.  I love the combination of the hot roasted tomato smooshed into the ricotta cheese, spread over a hot toasted crusty bread… I’m actually taking pause in the middle  of writing this post and getting me some of this.

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So if you’re hungry, please, join me.  It’s so yummy, then take a nap.

Roasted Cherry Tomato on Crusty Bread with Ricotta

[Adapted From http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/gardening/grilled-cherry-tomato-skewers/]

Cherry Tomatoes (3 per slice of bread)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Light Ricotta cheese
Crusty Bread

Turn your oven on broil.

Put as many tomatoes  as you want in a bowl and drizzle olive oil over top (just enough to coat) and season with salt and pepper.

Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 5-10 mins.  Check then constantly so they don’t burn.

Brush some olive oil on the crusty bread and place in the oven for a few mins, just until toasty.

Remove tomatoes, when you hear them popping and the skin is splitting.

Spread the ricotta cheese on the crusty bread and place the tomatoes on top (3 per slice), then smoosh them into the bread.  Watch out, the juice will squirt out and its hot !!!

Very Berry Frozen Yogurt

I’m handing out advice! Museum advice!

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When was the last time you went to a museum?  Was it recently?  Or are you one of those people has to reach back into their memory bank to a high school trip, or maybe even grade school trip?

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I’ve been trying to get out there and visit some local museums.  Monday was a holiday Monday here in Canada, so I took the opportunity to venture downtown, to snap a couple of pictures and visit one of the many museums Ottawa has to offer.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, as well was super annoyed by it.  Hence the advice part.

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My first piece of advice is, go really early, like right when it opens, or really late, about 2 hours before close.  This is to avoid the crowds of creaming prepubescent, little people, who frequent the museums, with day camps and schools.  I’m not talking about the kids that attend with their parents; they seem to have a handle on their little people.  It’s the camp counselors and school volunteers that are pathetically try to control these droves of children and doing a really horrible job at it.

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Don’t get me wrong, they don’t have an easy job of it.  I am not delusional in thinking I could do better.  I’m just saying if you want a nice peaceful, enjoyable time… avoid the mid-day school/camp rush.

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My second piece of advice is, go alone!  I have never gone to a museum alone, and I have always felt rushed or board.  This time was amazing, I could stare at something as long as I wanted or I could skip whatever I wanted, and I had no one to judge me.  I could have ran through and looked at nothing, or I could have spent 3 hours looking every inch of the museum over.  I actually did the latter.

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Still trying to think of a good way to segway into this recipe… I don’t have one… sooo here is some yummy very berry frozen yogurt.  After all, it is still summer!!

Very Berry Frozen Yogurt

[Adapted from the cuisinart ice cream maker manual]

1 Bag of Frozen Mixed Berries, Thawed (about 500g)
¾ Cup of Milk
1/3 Cup of Sugar
4 Cups of Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla

Puree the thawed berries and strain them to get rid of any seeds.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the milk and sugar with a hand blender for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the yogurt, berry puree and the vanilla, until combined.

Pour into your ice cream maker and follow the manufatue’s  instructions.

Once it’s all done in the ice cream maker, put it into the freezer, for about 4-8 hours, or until you think it’s hard enough.  Now go to the museaum and by the time you get home, I’ll be all ready to eat.

Asparagus Pizza

Apparently I’m on an honesty kick.  Last week I confessed that I was healthy, this week I’m going to admit something that will probably get me black listed in the food blog community.

Asparagus Pizza

I DO NOT LIKE QUINOA!!!  Actually I hate it, but my dad always said “ we don’t hate things, we dislike them”  Sorry dad, but I really, really, really HATE it.

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Please don’t hate me… I just can’t stand the stuff. I just don’t see what all the fuss is about. It has no flavor, and the texture… blahhhh.

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If someone out there has a perfect quinoa recipe,  and you think you can convert me,  please send it my way, I will try it.  I really do want to jump on the bandwagon.  I want to be like all the cool healthy kids.

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In the meantime, I will just have to stick to something I know I love.

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PIZZA… I looove pizza, you can put whatever you want on it…   and the texture and flavours are awesome.

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Maybe I should put quinoa on a pizza… Hmmmmm… and the hamster is off and running.

Asparagus Pizza

[Adapted from http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2010/05/shaved-asparagus-pizza/]

6-10 Asparagus (depends how much you like it)
1 Cup of Fresh Mozzarella
2-3 Green Onions
½ Cup of Pizza Sauce
Your Favourite Pizza Dough

Pre-Heat Oven to 350 degree

Prepare your dough (weather that be thawing it, or making it from scratch).

Take the asparagus and shave it, set it aside.  How you ask…. You need to buy a Y peeler.  I tried it with a regular peeler, didn’t work.  Y peeler is good for peeling butternut squash too.

Chop up some green onions.  (save the ends, stick them in a glass of water and watch ‘em grow)

Grate your fresh mozzarella.

Assemble the pizza.  Spread the pizza sauce all over the dough. Sprinkle half of the cheese.  Add the shaved asparagus and green onions., sprinkle the remaining cheese.

Pop it in the oven for 15 20 minutes, or until the crust is brown on the bottom

Strawberry Jam

Sooooo I need to confess something… or rather admit something.  Apparently people who know me, will say they already know what I’m about to tell you… I guess I’m sort of admitting it to myself.

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I am a healthy and fit person!  There I said it!  I don’t know why I have been avoiding admitting that.  I guess when I finally let go of my one un-healthy vice last year… I had to admit it

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I guess I just don‘t want to come across as one of those … “look at me and my healthy lifestyle” people.  I do eat well, I Run 4 days a week, and do a 15 -20 min strength training before my run, and I have recently signed up for hot yin yoga.  If I read that in someone else’s bio, I would be all.. “show off”  or “snobby healthy person”

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But I guess there is nothing wrong with being healthy.  When I was younger, I was not healthy!!! I prided myself with eating fast food every day and being lazy, everyday!!

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Every healthy decision I have made as been due to an injury, or a health issue.

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I started eating better due to my IBS (irritable Bowel Syndrome).  I started strength training, due to my lower back issue, that was caused my fracturing my tail bone,  and I threw running in for some cardio to round out the workout… I quit smoking because my running was getting harder….I am starting Hot Yin Yoga, because I am having joint issues during my running.  So I guess you could say I’m only being healthy because I’m getting old and I don’t like the way it feels… bet that than doing nothing.

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Oh and since I so  selfishly just made you read a whole bunch of crap about how healthy I am  … see it does sound snobby… here is some jam… and it has lots of sugar…. Not healthy at all.  Unless you eat it in moderation… .. that’s if you want to be healthy.

Strawberry Jam

2 Quarts of Strawberries (about 8 cups)
½ Cup of Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon of Butter
1 Package of Pectin
7 Cups of Sugar
12 ½ Pint Mason Jars With Lids (1 Cup)

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees

Hull the strawberries.  What I mean is, cut the tops off and slice in half, and cut out the centre.  I know, It’s a lot of work.

Spread out the cut up strawberries onto a cookie sheet, and crush the strawberries with a potato smasher.

Arrange mason jars on a baking sheet, and heat in the oven for 10 minutes

Place the lids (not the rings) into a pot of boiling water.

Boil water in a very large pot (this is for the sealing of your jam jars)

In a large pot, on medium heat,  pour the crushed strawberries in.   Add the lemon juice,  ½ teaspoon of butter (reduces foam),  and pectin.  Stir until pectin is dissolved.

Turn heat to high, and boil strawberries to a rolling boil, for about a minute.

Add the sugar, and continue to boil for one more minute.

After the 10 minutes is up , take the jars out of the oven.

Pour jam into jars, leaving a ¼ inch at the top of the jar.  Place the lids that were boiling on top and screw on the rings as tight as you can.  **** use tongs to handle the lids, they were boiling to sanitize them.

Place the jars, as many as you can, into the large pot of boiling water, and boil for 10 minutes.  The water should cover the jars. Remove the pot from the heat and let the jars sit in the water for 5 more minutes.

Remove the jars and let cool.  Repeat with the remaining jars of jam.

As the jars cool, the seal should pop the lids top in (this kind of scared me)

Bacon and Sage Butternut Squash Risotto

What a beautiful weekend!!  What a beautiful week.

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We had a stay-cation this past week, and normally I don’t do stay-cations.  My theory is if I wanted to be home for a week I’ll  go get sick.  Basically I just think I’ll be bored… like when I’m sick.   I am the worst sick person.   I get so bored that I end up baking, cooking, cleaning, or doing laundry.  Which just prolongs the whole “staying at home being board while I’m sick” thing.

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But this year we decided no trips.  We had a big year last year… Calgary stampede, Banff and a wonderful visit with my sister, installing our beautiful new pool, and then the trip to New York at New Years.  So we decided we would take it easy this year.

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So I reluctantly took some time off without any plans…. Well I’ll just say it… it was the best!!! I did so much stuff and yet nothing of real importance at all.  Plus it was super hot, so most of my nothing/something ended up being in the pool…. Sweet!

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It also gave me time to make this!  I’m always reluctant to make risotto, mainly because it takes a time and technically it’s an appetizer….but not this week… all the rules went out the window.  I think I actually had ice cream one morning.

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And it’s totally a dinner and not an appetizer…. Make this… even if it seems like a lot of work… or just take the day off and do nothing but make this.

Bacon and Sage Butternut Squash Risotto

[Adapted from http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2013/02/butternut-squash-risotto-with-pine-nuts-balsamic-drizzle-and-fried-sage.html%5D

1 Small Butternut Squash
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
½ Teaspoon of Nutmeg
4-5 Strips of Bacon
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
3 Small Shallots
4 Chopped Fresh Sage Leaves
1 Teaspoon of Minced Garlic
1 Cup of Risotto (Short Grain Rice)
½ cup of White Wine
4 Cups of Chicken Broth
1 Tablespoon of Butter
1/3 Cup of Parmesan Cheese
Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Take a Y peeler (you can do it with a regular peeler, but I recommend you get a Y peeler), peel off all the skin on your butternut squash.  Cut the butternut squash into 1 inch cubes.  I just made that sound easy.. It’s not, unless your grocery store sells it pre-cut up…. Mine does and I love this!!!

Toss with nutmeg and olive oil.  Spread out on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes.

While the butternut squash is baking, cook the bacon until crispy.   When cooled chop into tiny pieces.

Remove the butternut squash from the oven and puree it with a food processor or blender. Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, heat the olive oil.  Cook the shallots, until they are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sage, and cook for 1 minuter.

Pour in the rice, and cook for 3 minutes, stir constantly or they will burn.

Pour in the ½ cup of wine.  Stir until liquid is absorbed, about 2-3 minutes.

This is hard part…. or rather the boring part….

Pour in the chicken broth a ½ cup at a time.  You have to wait for the liquid to absorb before you pour in the next ½ cup.  This took me about 22 minute.  You have to stir it frequently, or it will burn.

When all the liquid is absorbed, remove the pan from the heat.  Add the butter, squash and Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle the bacon on top and serve.

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