Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tiny Christmas/New Years post

A photo of my Christmas booty- 

The Christmas Turkey - only the second turkey I have ever cooked in my life. Not the best photo, but it was gorgeous and delicious. 

We had a traditional Christmas dinner this year, as one of our guests has some newly imposed dietary restrictions. We had roasted potatos, carrots, mashed turnips, stuffing and the most delicious brussel sprouts.

Sprouts with Pancetta 
2 lb brussel sprouts, cleaned and trimmed and cut in half 
2 tb oil 
4 tb finely chopped onion 
100g pancetta, chopped 
Steam the sprouts until just tender. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and pancetta and cook until the onions are softened and the pancetta is crisp. Add the spouts and raise heat to medium high, toss until combined and heated through. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

I'm sitting down with some cookbooks, trying to find something for dinner on New Years Eve and New Years Day.  No luck yet.  Something fun, delicious, easy.  That perhaps all 3 of us (ok, the baby) would eat.

New Years Resolution time!
Have you made yours?
I have 3 this year, although 2 are the same as always.
Lose weight
Become more organized
Plan at least 2-3 meatless meals per week.

Happy Saturday. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Baking with Robin Hood

The other Friday night we were sitting in the living room, relaxing.  The TV was on, I was flipping thru a cookbook, Scott was reading the paper, and Pax was playing with his cars.  Suddenly Pax stood up, threw his arms wide, and said "I have idea!  LET'S MAKE COOKIES!!!!!"

Who can argue with enthusiasm like that?

As Pax has gotten older (3 now!) he is showing more interest in what happens in the kitchen, much to my delight.  So when he wanted to do some baking, I was all for it.  And fortunately we had just received a promotional box from the lovely people at Robin Hood, full of baking goodies to try and write about.

Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Robin Hood Quick Oats, Eagle Brand Dulce de Leche, Crisco Shortening, a lovely wooden recipe box, and a bag of baking goodies, including a spatula, snowflake and round cookie cutters, sprinkles, and cupcake liners.

We read through the enclosed recipe booklet to choose what we wanted to bake.  We started with the Classic Linzer Cookies.

They were surprisingly easy to make, and once assembled, very impressive! We took some to a holiday brunch, and gave some as gifts. They were a hit.

I adore the cupcake lines that were in the package.

I couldn't wait to try them out with the Pumpkin Spice Muffins.  So good.

We also tried a savory dish from the booklet - Tuscan Inspired Pesto Pasta.

This was a real hit for dinner.  We loved the flavors, and the basic white sauce used in the dish was simple to make.

My final baking project and another winner were the  Millionaire's Shortbread Bars.  A lovely shortbread covered with ooey gooey delicious Eagle Brand Dulce de Leche, and topped with chocolate.  One of my co-workers declared it "The Perfect Dessert".

I was thrilled with all the recipes and products that we tried.  Everything was delicious and easy to make.

Head over to the Robin Hood website for lots of delicious recipes for the holidays and every day.  I've joined up to Robin Hood's Baking Hour - a project on the website designed to get families in the kitchen cooking together.  There are tons of recipes, ideas, crafts, and hints for having kids working in the kitchen safely.  Definitely worth checking out.  

Thank you, Robin Hood!

Friday, December 07, 2012

my father's daughter

I read a few strong reviews about Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook - my father's daughter. Strong enough that I put it on the top of my wish list. And then I was lucky to receive a book store gift card, and you can probably figure out the rest. 

I really like this book - I have cooked more out of it in the past couple of months than I have out of any book I own, probably ever. The recipes are well written and solid, and her stories are intriguing and heartfelt. 

 For me, this is not the perfect book. Gwyneth and I have differences in our palates - she eats a lot of seafood, which I don't. She also eats duck, but not beef or pork, and I am the complete opposite. But we have enough in common that I declare this book a winner, and one of my favorite cookbooks, ever. Hands down. Here's what I've made so far- 

Blythe's Blueberry Muffins
Roasted Cauliflower
Slow Roasted Tomatos (the extra crispy ones were my fault, not the recipes)
Vietnamese Prawn Sandwich
Best Stir Fried Chicken, and Kale Fried Rice with Scallions
White Bean Soup
Fried Sole Sandwich with Spicy Sauce and Pickles
Ten Hour Chicken

I love, love, LOVE this book, and have nothing but good things to say about it. I have a ton more recipes picked to try out, so you may see more photos of amazing dishes later, but for now here's what you need to know - buy this book.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Baci di Cioccolati - the best chocolate cookies

I rarely look at "stats" for my blog, but every year starting in November, my daily visitor numbers start to climb, when everyone begins looking for cookie recipes for holiday baking.  My number one post each year is always for shortbread - here - but I want to share another recipe with you today, in case you are looking for a simple, amazing, knock your socks off cookie recipe. 

My mom makes these every few years, and I made them a couple of months ago for a work potluck and handed out the extras to some co-workers, and the next day I had to make about 15 copies of the recipe to hand out, they were so popular.  These are delicious and truffle-like and gorgeous.

This recipe comes from the book Dishing: Calgary Women Cook.

Baci di Cioccolati
Rosemary Harbrecht

Makes 4 dozen

10 oz semi sweet chocolate
2/3 cup butter
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
   pinch salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried apricots, choppped
1 cup white chocolate chips

Gently melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler or microwave.  Let cool.

Beat the eggs and sugar together until thick.  Add the vanilla and melted chocolate and butter.  Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix well.  Fold in the dried fruits, and then the while chocolate chips.

Preheat the oven to 325'.  Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased or lined cookie sheet.  Bake 12 minutes, until the tops are crackly, puffy and shiny.  They will remain soft after baking. 

Saturday, December 01, 2012


My boy turned 3 last week.


We had dinner at home with my parents. I made Just Jenn's Teri Beef Chop Steak (love), with mashed potatos, steamed broccoli, and pineapple coleslaw.

All Pax was interested in though, was the cake.  

I am not artistic or good at decorating at all. But I was pretty happy with how this turned out. And Pax loved the toys and the smarties.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Food photos - Kamloops

Some photos from 2012: 

Bannock from the Kamloops Farmers Market

Chicken Satay with cucumber salad, rice and spring roll, Canada Day, Riverside Park

Vietnamese Sub, Canada Day, Riverside Park

Vietnamese coffee, Canada Day, Riverside Park

Italian Peach cookie 

Little gem lettuce from Kamloops Farmers Market.  Perfect size for a salad for one.

Pasta and meatballs, front, and margherita pizza, back, from the Italian Festival

Sausage making demo at the Italian Festival

Pasta demo, Italian Festival

Fresh pasta, Fratelli Deli 


Chicken and waffles, Masa's Bar and Grill, Sun Peaks

A use for leftover candied bacon - pancakes topped with strawberries and candied bacon

Cornerstone sushi roll from the very delicious Cornerstone Restaurant, downtown Kamloops

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Carpe Gelatin - Sieze the Jello

I wanted to make Broken Glass Jello for years and years. I thought I needed a reason - an occasion - that never appeared and I had resigned myself to the fact that I would probably never make it. But why did I think I needed to wait for some sort of special occasion? So I went ahead and made it for a Monday treat for my co-workers. It takes a bit of time to make, as you need to let the jello set, then cut it into squares, then more setting time for the final addition of the white jello. 

This was so fun to make and is truly gorgeous to look at. Everyone was quite impressed, and also, it tasted good too! I will make this again, for no particular reason. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Best dessert - Bacon Cheesecake

I had my eye on this recipe for bacon cheesecake for a while, but I was hesitant to make them. On one hand - bacon? cheesecake? really? On the other - when has bacon ever let us down? 

I made them for my boss' birthday and they were a huge hit. The cheesecake itself is quite nice, but the candied bacon just throws it over the top and makes them beyond amazing. I am not kidding.

I made them for my mother in laws birthday as well. I left a few bare in case the idea of bacon on cheesecake was too weird for the family. 

It wasn't, and they were devoured by all, including the kids, although Pax wasn't super enthusiastic, and stopped after one. He was the only one. 

Try this recipe!!!! 

My only adjustment to this recipe the second time around was to chop the bacon coarsely rather 
than have large pieces on top of each 'cake.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Hash browns in the waffle maker

I love breakfast and I especially love hash browns, so when I saw this over on Pinterest it sounded too cute not to try -making crispy hash browns in your waffle maker. I grated the potato and squeezed out as much liquid as I could. I added them to a bowl along with a good sprinkle of salt and pepper and a drizzle of oil. When my waffle maker was hot, I added a small handful to each side, spread it out evenly, and cooked it.

You end up with a cute crispy square of potato! Some of them were difficult to get off the waffle maker in one piece though. 

Scott's plate made me laugh - a potato cake with ham, scrambled egg, cheese and hot sauce.  Crazy looking but super good. 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Homemade Granola Bars

I had never really considered making granola bars at home until I came across this recipe. Everything about it just screamed "Perfect!"

                                                                Recipe: Granola Bars

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Yet another breakfast sandwich

Pax goes through stages where he loves avacado - "Cow", he called them. And because they are so good for you, I buy them when he asks. But every once in a while once we get them home he refuses to eat them. Kids! So I add them to my salads, make guacamole, and these yummy sandwiches -The CAT.

This particular sandwich has cheese, avocado and tomato with hot sauce on a toasted jalapeno bun. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bacon wrapped water chestnuts

This was a most delicious dish that a co-worker brought to one of our potlucks.  Delicious but so simple.

3 ingredients.

Water chestnuts
Soy sauce

Place the chestnuts in a zip top bag.  Drizzle in some soy sauce and let stand 30 minutes to a couple of hours.
Remove the chestnuts and wrap each in a half piece of bacon.  Dunk back into the soy sauce mixture again, then lay on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350' until the bacon is cooked and crisp.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Owl Cupcakes

This is one of the cutest and easiest desserts out there. You need nothing more than cupcakes, chocolate icing, Smarties or M&M's, and Oreo-style cookies.

The toughest part is separating the cookies cleanly so the white IS white for the eyes, and not covered in chocolate "dust".

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bread Baking Babes - Julia's Rose

This month's bread was chosen by Tanna from My Kitchen in Half Cups. She chose an absolutely stunning but amazingly simple bread for us. Julia's Rose. I must admit I was scratching my head a bit when I read the directions, but Tanna provided a video for us to watch which shows just how crazy easy it is to make the bread. Video here. (Note that the Chef makes small loaves and we made one big bread.)

I filled mine with butter, parmesan, oregano and garlic. Next time I will make a sweet version.
I accidentally overworked my dough so I didn't get a ton of rise, but it was delicious and beautiful. Please visit Tanna for instructions, and check out the participating Babes over on the right. Cheers!