Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Holidays from K&K!

Was Santa good to you? Just in case he wasn't and because you are all on my "Nice List" this year, K&K Test Kitchen is giving away a gorgeous Anthropologie apron and potholder set.

I gave this set to my mom (the other K) and my sister (and myself too!) for Christmas. In order to spread the holiday cheer a little further, I'm giving a set to one of my lucky readers as well. You will be able to cook without fear of splashes and splatters, and look stunning in the kitchen.

  • First, if you haven't already "liked" K&K on Facebook, click here:  If you do already "like" us, suggest the page to a friend.
  • Second, leave a comment on this post, with an answer to this question: 
    • "What was your favorite holiday food/drink (Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, Kwanzaa...)? Turkey and stuffing? Cookies? Cocktails?"
The giveaway will end one week from today on Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 3 p.m. (EST). I will randomly select a winner and announce the result Sunday evening! Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Test: Ina Garten's Fruit Salad with Limoncello

Christmas day breakfast is a big deal in our house. After the presents are opened, we always have a yummy breakfast to power us through the afternoon and our tradition of going to the movies. This year, we are going gourmet: creme brulée french toast, maple-peppercorn bacon, and fruit salad with limoncello from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics. My sister was in charge of the french toast, and the other K was in charge of the bacon. Since the two K's were the only ones up early on Christmas morning, I took over the fruit salad.  The first thing I discovered was that we didn't have any lemon curd and since Ina's recipe suggested using "a good lemon curd" for this breakfast salad, I decided I had to make it from scratch. I didn't think it was possible, but I actually may have shown up the Barefoot Contessa by making this fresh, creamy curd instead of buying some from the store. (Although let's be honest, she probably has an entire freezer full of fresh lemon curd available.)

The fruit and yogurt was delicious, although this may be better as a dessert! It is quite sweet and the best bites are towards the bottom of the bowl, where things get a little boozy. The lemon curd can be served on shortbread, toast, or be used as a filling in tarts.

Lemon Curd
From Fine Cooking

3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, about 2 min. Slowly add the eggs and yolks. Beat for 1 min. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks.

In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until it looks smooth. (The curdled appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts.) Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 min. It should leave a path on the back of a spoon and will read 170°F on a thermometer. Don't let the mixture boil.

Remove the curd from the heat; stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming and chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.

Fruit Salad with Limoncello
From Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics by Ina Garten

7 oz. Greek yogurt
1/3 cup good bottled lemon curd (or use recipe above)
1 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
2 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. limoncello liqueur
1 banana, sliced
(Fresh mint sprigs)

For the lemon yogurt topping, whisk together the yogurt, lemon curd, honey, and vanilla and set aside at room temperature.

For the fruit salad, carefully toss together the berries, sugar, and limoncello. Allow them to stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes to let the berries macerate with the sugar and liqueur. Gently fold the banana into the mixture.

Serve bowls of fruit with a dollop of lemon yogurt on top.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Test: Maple Sponge Toffee...Disaster? No!

The second part of the holiday surprise for my co-workers was meant to be Maple Sponge Toffee from Butterfly Food, but I forgot the butter, which didn't turn out to be too much of a problem. The toffee was really tasty. I also tempered the chocolate again. However, I recommend adding the butter to your's if you decide to make this recipe!

Thanks to Nigel, there is also a video for this recipe (and I even forget to mention the butter on it!). There will be more video recipes to come in the New Year!

Chocolate Maple Sponge Toffee
from Butterfly Food

2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
120g butter
1 tbsp baking soda
400g dark chocolate, melted

Place the sugar, honey, maple syrup and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and stir with a metal spoon until the sugar is dissolved. Place a candy thermometer in the saucepan and simmer for 7-8 min or until mixture reaches 150c. Remove the thermometer and pan from the heat. Add the baking soda and mix until golden and foamy. Pour into a 20cm x 30cm lined baking tin. Set for 30min. Melt chocolate in a double broiler then spread over the toffee and let set for 1hour or until set. Remove from tin and break into pieces.

Family Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

After talking to my mom about the adventurous day she had with my aunt and cousins when they baked their holiday cookies, I decided I had to make these peanut butter balls. Apparently these were the big hit of the day, and although I didn't have quite the experience they did (12 Bellevue firemen showed up to my aunt's house!), I think my version turned out just as yummy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls (Snowballs)
From the cookbook my mom (K) made me!

1 cup peanut butter (I used natural, chunky)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Rice Krispies
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional if you use chunky PB)
170 g dark chocolate
170 g milk chocolate

Cream together butter, powdered sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Add Rice Krispies and nuts. Roll into small balls. 

Melt together the two types of chocolate in the microwave, removing every 20-30 seconds to stir. 

Dip peanut butter balls in the chocolate mixture. Use a slotted spoon or fork to remove the balls and place them in a baking dish lined with wax paper. Chill in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens. Serve immediately or keep refrigerated in an air-tight container. 

Holiday Test: Peppermint Bark

One of my favourite holiday treats is peppermint bark. For some of my colleagues, I made a double chocolate peppermint bark this week to spread some holiday cheer. I tried to temper the chocolate so that it would not have to be refrigerated since I took it in to work. If you don't want to temper the chocolate, you can just melt it, but then the bark will need to be kept in the refrigerator and will melt easily when you touch it. I'm not sure if my tempering process worked as well as I hoped, but the bark turned out quite well and didn't melt when I left it out overnight.

The beginning of the tempering process for the white chocolate
Read the Ghirardelli directions and watch the video that is linked at the bottom. It is very helpful and makes the tempering process a lot easier than I previously expected. Thanks to Daffodil Lane for sharing this Chocolate Peppermint Bark on Flickr.

Final product!
 White and Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark

600 g Dark Chocolate
500 g White Chocolate
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
Crushed Candy Canes

Cover 2 jelly roll pans with wax paper.

Chop two-thirds of the dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a metal bowl, which will be used as the top part of a double boiler.

Heat water to hot, not boiling, in a medium-small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Place the bowl of chocolate over the pan. Stir chocolate constantly until it reaches between 110F and 115F. When it reaches the temperature, remove from heat and place on a towel. Then, stir in the rest of the chocolate (should be chopped, but only into medium pieces). Continue stirring until the chocolate is melted.

Spread chocolate onto the prepared pan in a thin layer. Let harden for 15-30 minutes. You can put it in the refrigerator to harden the chocolate faster.

Repeat the tempering process with the white chocolate. Once the white chocolate is tempered, mix in the peppermint extract and the crushed candy canes. Spread the white chocolate mixture over the hardened dark chocolate.  I sprinkled some of the extra candy cane pieces on top as well.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Roast Lemon and Herb Chicken

All the credit for this recipe goes to Nigel, since he was the master chef for the Roast Chicken. He's been talking about making this chicken for a long time, and we finally had a chance to make it recently. It turned out really well, although N claims that we could try to make it healthier next time by using less butter.

Roast Lemon and Herb Chicken

1 whole chicken
4 tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper
3 lemons, quartered

5 red potatoes
2 large carrots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, whole
2 shallots, halved

Preheat oven to 450F.

Rinse chicken and place in a glass baking dish. If chicken legs are tied together, unhook legs. 

Prepare rub for chicken:
Chop herbs (sage, rosemary), mince garlic, and then mix with chili powder, salt, pepper, and juice from a quarter of a lemon. 

Massage the entire chicken with butter, including under the skin of the breasts, and legs. Then, massage the rub over the entire chicken and under the skin of the breasts and legs.

Cut remaining half of lemon into chunks and stuff into cavity of chicken. Rehook legs using the string. 

Mix carrots, potatoes, salt, and pepper with some olive oil. Arrange in the baking dish around the chicken. Place the rest of the lemon quarters, shallots, and whole garlic cloves around the dish.

Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, this will help seal in the juices. After 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 350 and cook for about another hour. Every so often, baste the chicken with the juices from the bottom of the pan.

When the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wild Rice and Chicken Soup

My apologies for the plethora of soup and cookie recipes lately! It is definitely winter here in Ottawa, and the only thing I want to eat is soup! Today we had quite a bit of snow, and I was informed that this was only just the beginning. Besides that, Nigel has gone to Toronto for the week, and I can justify making soup for one person, since I know that I will be able to eat it for lunch AND dinner again tomorrow. This wild rice and chicken soup was a bit of an experiment. I was starving on my walk home, so I decided to stop in at Herb & Spice, a grocery store on the way to my house. My purchase was a bit odd- wild rice and swiss chard for the soup, juice berries (candy), and echinecea tea (just to have for winter sicknesses). So, the soup was an experiment. I decided to use beef broth to make it a bit heartier than chicken or vegetable broth would have made it, and the choice of herbs was just based on the fact that I had fresh rosemary in my fridge.  The result was actually decent, though I would suggest a few tweaks based on your own taste. I ended up adding a lot of water, because the rice soaked all the liquid up, so the broth wasn't quite as flavourful as it could have been. It was a nice, hearty soup though, and I won't mind having it for lunch tomorrow.

Wild Rice and Chicken Soup

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 small yellow onion
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar, separated
2 cups carrots, sliced
1 1/2 containers, low sodium beef broth (I only used one... but recommend another half)
2 cups water
1 cup wild rice
2 chicken breasts, oven roasted
1 bunch red swiss chard, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste (for chicken and soup)

Pre-heat oven to 350. Cut chicken breasts into a few pieces and arrange in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Cook for about 25-30 minutes. When cooked, let cool, then shred chicken on a plate.

While the chicken is cooking, in a stock pot, heat oil on medium-high. Add chopped garlic, onions, and herbs. When the onions start to soften, add 2 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar and the carrots. Stir for another minute or two.

Add broth, water, and rice to the pot and bring to a boil. Once the soup starts to boil, turn down to medium and cover with a lid. Let the rice cook for about 15-20 minutes. (Add a little bit more water if soup gets too thick). Next, add shredded chicken. Wait a few minutes to add swiss chard and the remaining 2 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar. Once the swiss chard wilts, you can serve the soup!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Broiled Grapefruit with Cinnamon

Just a quick post on a Sunday morning... 

This morning I finally got to make this Broiled Grapefruit that I saw on the Kitchn a few weeks ago. It just seemed like such an odd, yet intriguing flavour combination, and I've been dying to try it. The result was an easy, warm, and flavourful breakfast that maintained the tartness of the grapefruit, but that had touches of sweet, cinnamon-y goodness. Nigel and I both agreed that we'd have to make it again soon. 

Broiled Grapefruit with Cinnamon Sugar 

1 large ruby grapefruit
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

Heat the oven to broil. Cut the grapefruit in half across its equator. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut around the inside edge of the grapefruit half. Then make small, deep cuts next to each segment's membrane, to loosen the fruit from the membrane. (If you have serrated grapefruit spoons, this step is less necessary.)

Sprinkle each half with cinnamon sugar and put in an oven-safe dish, sugar-side up. Broil for 15 minutes, or until the top turns quite brown and caramelized. Let cool for 5 minutes and eat while warm.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cookie Exchange!

On Thursday evening, I hosted my first holiday party and what better way to celebrate the holidays, but to have a cookie exchange. We had a really lovely evening, with dinner, wine, good conversation, and plenty of sugar! Thanks to the girls for sharing their recipes!

Kelsey:lemon Italian cookies recipe

Lemon Italian Cookies

(from Wegmans Menu Magazine Holiday 2004 via Laura Rebecca's Kitchen)

1 cup shortening (if desired, use butter in place of half or all the shortening)
1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp sour cream
2 1/4 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 cup confectioners' sugar (feel free to add more sugar to get the right consistency, I used about 1 1/2 cups)
2-3 Tbsp warm milk
1/2 tsp lemon juice (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together shortening and sugar in medium bowl until light. Add eggs, sour cream, lemon extract, vanilla extract, and lemon zest; beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl. Combine flour and baking powder; add to mixture in bowl and beat just until moistened.

Shape dough into small balls, using about 1 level Tbsp for each. Arrange about 1 inch apart on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. (Press down slightly or the tops will crack) Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Do not over bake. Remove from pans and cool.
Combine confectioners' sugar and milk in small bowl; whip lightly with spoon until smooth and slightly thick. Add lemon juice if desired; stir briskly until well-combined. Dip tops of cookies into icing; decorate with sprinkles if desired. Let set until icing is dry to the touch. Store in closed container.
Yield: approximately 4 dozen cookies.

chocolate candy cane cookies recipe
Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

1 cup of butter
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of white granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
Pinch of salt
8 candy canes, crushed (go for traditional peppermint)


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cream the butter and sugars together for about two minutes at medium speed or until well incorporated and light in color.

Add the egg and the vanilla extract until well incorporated, about a minute. Be sure to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl halfway through.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Add to the butter mixture slowly, and beating at medium speed, stopping once all of it is incorporated (do not overmix).
Fold in the crushed candy canes.
Take small spoonfuls of the dough and roll into one inch sized balls and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for -12 minutes. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.


Christmas Fudge
One package of chocolate chips
One package of butterscotch chips
One cup peanut butter
Approx. half a package of mini marshmallows

Melt chips together in microwave, stir in peanut butter and add marshmallows. Pour in pan and let chill.

Tip: don't overheat the chips as it will melt the marshmallows.


Raspberry Cheesecake Cupcakes(makes 24 cupcakes)

3- 8oz packages of Philadelphia cream cheese
5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1tsp. vanilla
Mix all together.  Line cupcake tins with paper liners.  Fill ¾ full with filling.  Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes (filling will sink).

1 cup sour cream
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla

Mix all together.  Put topping on cupcakes.  Place frozen/fresh raspberries/strawberries on topping.  Put back in oven for 6 minutes.


Skor Bars
1 box Ritz crackers, crushed
1 bag Skor bits/chipits
1 can (approx 14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
Chocolate chips
- Crush crackers into small chunks (If using larger Skor pieces, you'll want to crumble those up too.)
- In a large bowl, mix crackers, Skor bits, and milk. (You may wish to add some chocolate chips, too!)

- Press into bottom of greased 9x13 pan.

- Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes

- Cool in the pan. Drizzle with melted chocolate or cream cheese icing. Chill before cutting into squares.  Very rich and very sweet, so cut into small pieces!


10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (1 1/4 sticks)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
additional sugar for sprinkling tops
1. In large mixer bowl beat butter and sugars, salt and lemon zest until very fluffy and well blended.
2. Gradually sift in flour and mix well. Sprinkle lemon juice over dough and lightly knead until dough holds together. If the dough is too dry, add a few more drops lemon juice, the dough should just come together- do not over moisten it.
3. Press into an 8" x 8" pan and pierce deeply with a fork in a decorative pattern. Bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes or until just slightly darker at the edges. Turn out of the pan while still warm and cut into bars and sprinkle with sugar. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a rack.

Raspberry Poinsettia Blossoms

¾ cups butter or margarine, softened
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box (4 serving size) raspberry-flavoured gelatine
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons yellow candy sprinkles
1. In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, gelatine and egg with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. On low speed, beat in flour.
2. Shape dough into 1 ¼ -inch balls. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour

3. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. On ungreased cookie sheet, place balls about 2 inches apart. With shape knife, make 6 cuts in op of each ball about three-fourths of the way through to make 6 wedges. Spread wedges apart slightly to form flower petals (cookies will separate and flatten as they bake). Sprinkle about 1/8 teaspoon yellow candy sprinkles into centre of each cookie.

4. Bake 9-11 minutes or until set and edges begin to brown. Cool 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

Chewy Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Oatmeal Cookies
1 lb butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
Mix together the butter, egg, vanilla, and sugar. Add in the dry ingredients and blend well. Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Cookies Part 1: Chewy Molasses Spice Cookie

The holiday baking season has officially started! Tonight I made the first batch of cookies, Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies from Angela via the Tasty Kitchen. I will probably have to make these again, since they were delicious and they are already almost gone! These cookies were also very quick and easy to make.

Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies
from Angela via the Tasty Kitchen

2 cups All-purpose, Unbleached Flour
1-½ teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
½ teaspoons Nutmeg
½ teaspoons Ground Clove
¼ teaspoons Ground Ginger
½ teaspoons Salt
1 cup Sugar
¾ cups Unsalted Butter, Softened (1 1/2 Sticks)
1 whole Large Egg
¼ cups Molasses
½ cups Sugar (for Rolling)

1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and salt. Place ½ cup sugar on a plate to roll your cookie dough balls in.

2. With an electric mixer, beat butter and remaining cup of sugar until combined. Beat in egg and then molasses until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in dry ingredients, just until a dough forms.

3. Pinch off and roll dough into balls, each about 1 tablespoon. Roll balls in reserved sugar to coat.

4. Arrange balls on baking sheets, about 3 inches apart. Bake, one sheet at a time, until cookies puff and turn a golden brown, edges of cookies should be slightly darker, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool 2-3 minutes on baking sheets; transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 4 days.

1. Do not under cook or your cookies will be mushy. The cookies should puff 2-3x the end size, then start to flatten almost immediately once removed from the oven.
2. Cook them one sheet at a time. I know this takes a lot longer, but it is the only way to evenly cook them and get a nice cracked cookie.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos

Today, I made slow cooked pork tacos for dinner. It's now been almost two months since I bought my slow cooker, and sadly, this is only the third time that I've used it. The concept of using a slow cooker is a bit strange to me still, especially since I had to start making dinner at noon today! It was totally worth it though and actually, this dinner was fairly easy to make, despite the long cooking time. The tacos turned out really well, and the pork was tender and didn't dry out. Two thumbs up for these (another hit from Serious Eats), and now I have another reason to use my slow cooker!

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos
From Serious Eats

3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/3 cup cider vinegar
Kosher salt
1 pound pork butt (we used pork rib roast)
1 carrot
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, quartered
3 tablespoons bottled or homemade barbecue sauce
1 chipotle pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce, minced, plus extra sauce (we used Chipotle sauce only)
1/4 medium red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lime
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar (or use more cider vinegar)
2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil
4 flour tortillas
1 avocado, cubed

1. Mix together brown sugar, ground coriander, vinegar and 1 ½ tablespoons salt in bowl large enough to fit pork. Add pork, toss to combine, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

2. Add half of carrot, garlic, and onion to bottom of slow cooker. Add pork and 2 tablespoons juice from marinade. Pour ½ cup water over pork. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for about 8 hours. Pork should be very tender and shred easily. Transfer to bowl, leaving vegetables behind. Shred with two forks. Add ½ teaspoon salt, three tablespoons broth, and barbecue sauce. Stir in minced chipotle and adobo sauce to taste. Season to taste with salt.

3. Meanwhile, combine 1 teaspoon salt, sugar, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and oil in large bowl. Julienne or shred remaining half of the carrot on large holes of box grater, and toss with cabbage to combine. Allow to sit for at least one hour. Season to taste with more salt, sugar, or vinegar.

4. Serve pork, cabbage, and diced avocado with warm flour tortillas, passing extra lime wedges tableside.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dr. Oz's Maple & Mustard Chicken with Maple Brussels Sprouts

Last Sunday night, we needed something a little healthier to eat for dinner. We went to the store thinking that we would make some sort of dijon mustard sauce, but when we got home, I ended up finding this Dr. Oz recipe for Maple & Mustard Chicken. As I've told you all before, we have a lot of maple syrup to put to use, so expect a lot of recipes that use maple syrup. This chicken turned out fairly well and the brussels sprouts (my own) were the best I've made yet. I wasn't thrilled with the chicken the second day when I took it to lunch, but Nigel said his was good again (he is a boy though...).

Maple & Mustard Chicken
from Dr. Oz

3 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
3 large chicken breasts, bone-in, skin removed

Whisk mustard, maple syrup, 1 tbsp. olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat evenly with the mustard mixture. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place chicken in a glass baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Maple Brussels Sprouts

2 cups brussels sprouts, cut in quarters
3 tbsp. butter
Salt and fresh cracked pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. maple syrup

Melt butter in a frying pan. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Put brussels sprouts in the pan and cook until they become slightly browned. Put the cooked brussels sprouts in a small bowl, and pour the maple syrup on top.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nigel's Turkey Meatball Soup

If you haven't noticed, we've been eating a lot of soup lately. In the past few weeks, we've had this soup twice. It is so easy to make and both times it was delicious. Nigel is the master of this soup, both times he made it for me while I was at my Monday night hockey game. The soup is also great for lunches and one pot made enough for 2 dinners and 2 lunches. We didn't make the turkey meatballs ourselves, so that cuts down a lot of the prep time (the President's Choice brand are an awesome alternative to homemade). Feel free to adapt yours with other vegetables or beans, or even leave out the bulgur wheat.

Turkey Meatball Soup

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
2 cups, diced carrots
1 tsp. oregano
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 small can, tomato paste
1 large can, diced tomatoes
1 carton, beef broth (try to find one with low sodium)
1 can, white kidney beans
1 cup, cracked bulgur wheat
1 1/2 lb. mini-turkey meatballs, cut in half
5 handfuls, baby spinach

Sauté garlic, shallots, and carrots in olive oil in the bottom of a large stock pot until shallots soften. Add spices and cook for about 30 seconds until they become fragrant.

Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, broth, and beans to the pot (heat should be medium-high). After the soup begins to bubble, add cracked wheat. The wheat needs to cook for at least 15 minutes.

Turn the heat down and add the meatballs (they should have been pre-cooked and cut in half). Cook about 5 minutes and then add the spinach. After the spinach wilts, serve with Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The other night, Nigel and I were craving sweets and as it turned out, I magically had all of the ingredients necessary to make homemade, from-scratch brownies! We were still in recovery mode the other night after a fantastic trip to New York to visit my friends, so the last thing we actually wanted to do was bake. However, I was able to make the brownies tonight after work and they turned out better than any I've ever made from a box. They were rich and delicious, and it is possible that there won't be any left by tomorrow night!

Fry's Cocoa Brownies

1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup Fry's cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt (don't use salt if you use salted butter) together in a bowl and set aside.

In a medium-large saucepan heat butter over medium heat. When melted, remove from heat and stir in cocoa powder, blending until lumps disappear.

Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla to the cocoa mixture, then add dry mixture and the chocolate chips. Blend well and pour into a greased 8x8 metal baking pan.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until a knife comes out of the centre cleanly.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Old Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue

Topping off a delicious meal was a fantastic fall cake! If you want to try something new this year for Thanksgiving, I'd highly recommend this as an alternative dessert (or an additional one...)  The cake was actually relatively easy to make. The best part was the meringue, I was practically licking the bowl (do not attempt this at home... there are raw eggs in there) and even after it baked, it was perfect- not dusty like some meringues according to N.

The recipe came from Food 52, a neat blog where they have a category every week and users vote on the best recipes. This cake was a winner of the apple cake category. My version is slightly different- fresh grated ginger, dried cranberries, maple syrup, and nutmeg were my additions/substitutions. I also ran out of brown sugar when making the meringue, so the cake had white sugar instead.

Cake and Meringue layers, so pretty and so yummy

Old Fashioned Apple Cake

For the Meringue:
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
For the Cake::

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar + 3 tbsp. pure maple sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large, Granny Smith apples, cored and grated on the large holes of a box grater
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 cups spooned and leveled all-purpose flour

Position a rack in the middle level of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9"x9" baking pan or casserole dish.

To make the meringue, place the egg whites, brown sugar and water in the top of a double boiler. Put enough water in the bottom of the double boiler to touch the bottom of the top pot. Over high heat, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until peaks form, 3-5 minutes. Set aside.

For the cake, beat together butter and brown sugar until fluffy; add egg yolks and blend well. By hand, stir in baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, grated apples, walnuts and raisins.

Fold in the flour, blending well but being careful to not overmix.

Spoon batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Spread meringue evenly over the batter. Bake until top is crisp, about 45 minutes. If you serve it while warm, the meringue will crack when you cut it, but that's a good thing. If you want nice, neat uniform slices, serve the cake the next day.

Gorgeous meringue topping, just out of the oven

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

The Maple Peppercorn Pork Chops were just one aspect of a lovely dinner I made today. I made a green bean salad to serve with dinner. I thought something lighter tasting would go well with the rich pork chops. Nigel and I also ate a lot of the Boursin as a snack while everything was cooking, oops!

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

1 1/2 lb. green beans
1/2 carton cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Boursin Herbed cheese

Dressing (Make this to taste)
4 tbsp. Olive oil
3 tbsp. Red wine vinegar
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tsp. sugar

Steam green beans only until bright green, then blanch in a bowl filled with ice water.

Whisk dressing ingredients together, be sure to taste as you go and adjust vinegar and lemon juice to your preference.

Pour dressing over beans, tomatoes, and cheese and mix together.

Maple Peppercorn Pork Chops

A few weeks ago my mom (K) and dad gave me a container of amazing maple syrup! They got huge jug of pure Canadian maple syrup as a gift and lucky for me they had to share it with me, or else they'd never finish it. I've been looking for ways to use this liquid yumminess and remembered a recipe for Maple Peppercorn Porkchops on Serious Eats! These pork chops were to die for...

Maple Peppercorn Pork Chops
From Eggs on Sunday via Serious Eats

2 bone-in, thick cut pork chops (about 1-inch thick)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup (Grade B or Dark Amber)

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, season the pork chops well with 3/4 teaspoon of the salt. Pour the oil into large ovenproof skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the chops. Cook the chops for four or five minutes on each side, until they are well browned.

Flip the chops, and then carefully transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook them until their temperature reaches 145°F, about 2 to 4 minutes. Check with a instant read thermometer. Set the chops aside and cover with foil.

Place the skillet back on a burner and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the shallot, thyme, and the rest of the salt. Cook until the shallot is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.

Pour in the vinegar, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits. Reduce heat to a simmer, and let reduce for 2 minutes. Then add the maple syrup and the crushed black pepper. Return to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes.

Serve sauce over pork chops.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Turkey Meatloaf Stuffed with Spinach and Mozzarella Cheese

As the second "K" in the K & K food blog, I have sadly not pulled my weight in trying out new recipes for the blog. I was informed by Nigel, Kelsey's #1 sous chef, that I needed to add something new to the blog. So he shamed me into following through with my promise to do so. Over the last six months, Tim and I have decided to eat less "4- legged animals" so it has challenged me to use turkey and chicken in new way. So when Tim ask for meatloaf for dinner, I hit one of the food blog listed on the K & K site, the Skinny Chef. I found this Turkey Meatloaf recipe and it sounded like it had all healthy ingredients and was lower in fat than traditional meatloaf. It was an easy recipe to make as it was put together in 15 minutes and it only called for 45- 50 minutes of cooking. The bonus to this recipe was that it was delicious. Both Tim and I loved the flavor of it and it is a definite keeper of a recipe. I need to thank Tim, my food taster and photographer for taking the picture to add a visual for all the foodies out there.

Enjoy, Kim


Serves: 8 Update (not sure it would feed 8 unless you only want one slice)
2 cups packed baby spinach leaves
1 pound ground turkey ( I used 1 and 1/2 lbs. as we wanted leftovers)
1 cup oats (not quick cooking; I used steel cut oats which worked fine)
2 egg whites
1/8 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup non-fat milk
1/4 cup minced parsley
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup grated part-skim mozzarella
2 tablespoons ketchup or barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Heat a large, dry skillet over high heat. Add the spinach and 2 tablespoons water. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, until the spinach wilts. Set aside. Place oats into large bowl, along with eggs, milk and soy sauce. Stir well to coat and soak about 10 minutes. Add ground turkey, parsley, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and paprika. Mix well.
Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray and smooth half the meat mixture into the pan. Top with spinach. Sprinkle over cheese, then press the remaining meat over top and cover with ketchup or barbecue sauce. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the meatloaf is no longer pink in the center, test by inserting a knife. Rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

****I cooked it 50 minutes and we felt it was a little overcooked but it could be our oven cooks "hot". I would test it at 40 minutes next time. ******

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"What do you want to call our soup?" Soup

Today was a rainy, cold, dreary day in Ottawa - a perfect day for some delicious, comforting soup!  After looking at a few recipes and not being satisfied, we decided to wing it at the grocery store and create our own recipe. The result was way better than either of us expected. I know I'm definitely looking forward to the leftovers!

"What do you want to call our soup?" Soup

One bunch, carrots
2 large beets
4 red potatoes
2 bay leafs
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water, from the steamed vegetables (ours was a beautiful pink from the beets!)
1 can brown lentils
5 links, mild Italian sausage
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup red wine (we used a Malbec)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
3 large handfuls, baby spinach

Chop your vegetables (carrots, beets, potatoes) and steam for 5-7 minutes, add carrots and beets first.

Add steamed vegetables to chicken stock, spices, and lentils (rinse first) in a large stock pot. Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes.

While the vegetables and stock are cooking, cook sausage over medium-high heat until outside is brown, but not completely cooked. Take sausage off the stove and cut into discs. Add back to pan along with olive oil, diced garlic, and onions. Cook until sausage is browned, then add the wine and brown sugar. Cook until wine starts to reduce.

Separate about 2 cups of the broth from the soup pot into a small bowl and mix cornstarch in until lumps are dissolved. Add back to the pot.

Add sausage, garlic, and onions to the soup pot and simmer over low heat for 5 more minutes. At the last minute, add the spinach to the pot. Serve with some Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

2 Kinds of Chili

A few weeks ago, I organized a Chili Cook-off for our workplace charitable campaign. The event was more of a success than I expected and we raised about $300. Though my chili didn't win, it was still fairly good and the espresso and honey gave it a unique flavour.  This week, Nigel decided that he wanted chili again, so I made a more traditional ground beef chili (it was delicious!).  As with any spicy dish, season to your taste and feel free to kick things up a notch with extra chili powder, hot sauce, or peppers.

Two-bean Vegetarian Chili with Espresso
1- 15 oz. can red kidney beans
2- 15 oz cans black beans
1 1/2 cans diced tomatoes
1 red pepper, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 yellow onion
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tbsp. ground cumin
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup honey

Saute onions, garlic, jalapeno, carrots, and red pepper until onions and carrots are tender. Add espresso and chili powders. Next, add tomatoes, beans, vinegar, and honey. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.
Since I was serving mine the next day, I refrigerated the chili and then re-heated in a crockpot for about 3 hours on high.

Meat Chili
1lb. lean ground beef
2 cans red kidney beans
1- 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1- 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with spicy red peppers (or jalapeños)
1 small yellow onion
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tbsp. Mexican chili powder
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cracked bulgar wheat
Splash of Louisiana hot sauce

Cheddar cheese and/or sour cream to serve

Brown ground beef on medium-high heat. When it's almost done cooking, add the Mexican chili powder, then set aside.  In a pot, sautee onions, garlic, and jalapeño in olive oil until onions are soft. Add tomatoes, kidney beans, vinegar, and chili powder to the pot and bring to a simmer. Drain the fat from the ground beef and add to the pot. Add the bulgar wheat and cook for 20 minutes until it is tender.

Serve with cheddar cheese and corn bread too!

Roasted Chicken and Squash Soup

roasted chicken and squash soup recipe

It snowed here yesterday in Ottawa- October 22! Since I've been slacking on the posts lately, I decided to make something "fall-ish," even though it is apparently already winter here. This soup is so tasty, the flavours all work really well together and the soup tastes fresh and light, but is actually very filling. Another hit recipe from Serious Eats.

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium dice
1 medium yellow onion, cut into medium dice
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1-2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
Fresh cilanto, for garnish

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 425°F. Arrange the squash, onion, and chicken on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat and roast until the chicken is cooked through and squash is tender, about 30 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a plate to cool enough to handle, then pull the meat from the thighs, discarding the bones and skin. Chop into cubes and set aside.

In the meantime, combine the squash, onions, and chicken broth in a medium pot. Add the cumin and coriander and bring to a simmer. With a potato masher or wooden spoon, mash up the soup (it will still be somewhat chunky), then add the lemon juice. Add the chicken pieces, then season to taste with salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice. Ladle into bowls and top with fresh cilantro as a garnish (or if you don't have cilantro, cayenne pepper adds a nice little kick).

Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Butter

The original plan was to make Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls for brunch today, but the kitchen activities last night plus a hockey game to watch meant that I didn't consider that I needed yeast and to let the dough rise for a few hours... SO the solution was to see what I did have in my cupboard. The result was some amazingly delicious and super easy Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Butter. The pancakes were a bit of a cheat, given that  I used Aunt Jemima's Buttermilk Pancake Mix as a base and they were inspired by Dorie on Serious Eats.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Aunt Jemima's Buttermilk Pancake Mix (about 1- 1 1/2 cups)
Water (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tbsp. dark rum
2 tbsp. brown sugar

Mix ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk. Adjust amount of water in order to make a fairly thin mixture. Let sit for about 5 minutes before cooking. Heat a tablespoon of oil in an iron skillet and cook each pancake at medium-high. When bubbles break through the surface in the middle of the pancake, flip to the other side.

Serve with cinnamon butter and maple syrup!

Cinnamon Butter
Also from Serious Eats

4 tbsp. butter at room temperature
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Stir together ingredients until well blended. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Capital Cupcake Camp 2.0! (Vegan Mint Chocolate Cupcakes)

Today was Capital Cupcake Camp 2.0 at Ottawa's City Hall in benefit of Women Alive and The Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa. The event was a huge success, raising over $6,000.  There were over 100 amateur and professional bakers there offering up tasty, unique, and beautiful cupcakes.  It was a very fun event and I definitely plan to participate again next year in Cupcake Camp 3.0!

I entered as an amateur baker and decided to try to make Vegan cupcakes as a challenge to myself.  Today was my very first attempt at any type of Vegan baking.  The inspiration was this recipe (non-Vegan) and I adapted it based on some research into Vegan baking techniques. I admit that I was quite surprised by the results, and how moist the cake was despite having no eggs. The frosting turned out well too and the overall result was quite delicious!

Vegan category

Being interviewed by China Doll


Vegan Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
Yields 2 Dozen


2 cups sugar
1 ¾ cups flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup soy milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
½ cup boiling water

Chocolate Ganache

6 oz. dark chocolate chips (dairy free)
1 cup soya cooking cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Mint Icing

½ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup Earth Balance buttery spread
3 ¾ cup confectioners sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. clear vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp. mint extract
3 oz. soya cooking cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

FOR THE BATTER: In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the soy milk, oil, vanilla and vinegar, mix for 2 min. Stir in the boiling water. Batter will be thin. Pour into cupcake liners (about 3/4 full). Bake for 12-16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

FOR THE GANACHE: Chop chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.  Heat  soya cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour soya cream over the chocolate.  Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.  Add vanilla and salt. Stir until combined.   Let cool until at spreading consistency.

FOR THE FROSTING: To make the frosting, mix together the shortening and Earth Balance spread, until smooth. Add powder sugar, mix well. Add salt, vanilla, mint extract and soya cream and blend on low speed until moistened. You can add more powder sugar for a firmer frosting. Beat at high speed until frosting is fluffy.  Using a pastry bag, pipe the frosting on top of the ganache (if you don’t have a pastry bag, fill a Ziploc and cut a tip).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spicy Lime Fajitas

Two nights in a row this weekend, N and I made fajitas. The first night we made beef fajitas and cheated, using an Old El Paso fajita mix. The second night we decided that since we had all the ingredients still, we would try to make our own chicken fajitas. The marinade was a bit of an invention and the result was spicy, lime-y goodness. This is a really, really easy and fast meal and very tasty as well. 

Spicy Lime Chicken Fajitas

2 chicken breasts, sliced
1 bell pepper
(You could use onions too)
Soft tortillas

2 whole limes, juiced (so excited that I got to use my "new" old fashioned juicer)
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. sugar

Mix ingredients together and pour over sliced chicken strips in a plastic bag. Let marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes (or more). 

Cook chicken in a frying pan or skillet on medium/med-high heat. Once chicken is almost fully cooked, turn down heat a little and add sliced peppers (and onions if using). While the chicken is cooking, heat tortillas in the oven on 400.

Assemble fajitas with your choice of toppings:
Hot Sauce
Sour Cream

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

My mom (the other K... who is slacking in her posting!) was talking about making stuffed zucchini the other day for dinner while we were on the phone. I knew that I had a recipe somewhere in my collection for turkey stuffed zucchini, so I promised her that I'd send it on to her. In the process, I got to thinking that I'd really like to have stuffed zucchini for dinner that evening as well, so decided I'd duplicate the recipe on my side of the continent. The results were better than expected and thanks to my sous-chef Mr. King (have to get the K in there), the stuffed zucchini turned out to be a lovely dinner (and lots of leftovers for lunch!).

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

2 large zucchini (we used the normal kind, the original recipe used round zucchini)
1+ lb. lean ground turkey
1/3 lb. ground Italian sausage
2-3 tbsp. tomato paste (get the good stuff, I always have this on hand for soups anyways)

Add to taste:
Fresh basil
Red chili pepper flakes (for spiciness)

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Slice the zucchini length-wise and scoop out the insides with a spoon (be sure to leave the shells sturdy enough for filling later). Set aside zucchini "guts" and chop into smaller chunks for later.

Place the zucchini open side up on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes (continue to check though).

While the zucchini is baking, brown turkey and sausage in a frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add water to keep from sticking to the pan, but don't add any cooking oils. After the meat is browned, add the remaining zucchini and seasonings (peppers) and cook on medium. Add the tomato paste last to thicken the juices.

Remove shells from the oven and fill with meat mixture. Serve.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Another birthday at the office this week meant another excuse to make delicious sweets.  This time, the girls planted the seeds that something with mint and chocolate would be a good idea. Then during the afternoon, I got an email with a link to the Cupcake Bakeshop recipe below from the birthday boy. The truffle cupcakes sound delicious, but the mint idea made me think of a recipe for Mint Chocolate Cupcakes from Tasty Kitchen.  So, I decided to at least use the dark chocolate ganache from the truffle cupcakes, since all the best mint and chocolate combos have dark chocolate.  The cupcakes were really yummy and definitely worth making again! Thanks again to Nigel for helping!

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
From ManicMother on Tasty Kitchen

2 cups White Sugar
1-¾ cup All-purpose Flour
¾ cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
1-½ teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
2 whole Eggs
1 cup Milk
½ cups Vegetable Oil
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
¾ cups Boiling Water

FOR GANACHE (from Cupcake Bakeshop):
6 ounces (170 grams) Valrhona 85% cacao (or any bittersweet chocolate)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt

½ cups shortening
½ cups Unsalted Butter
3-¾ cups Confectioner's Sugar
¼ teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Clear Imitation Vanilla Extract
1-½ teaspoon Mint Extract
3 ounces, fluid Heavy Whipping Cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 min. Stir in the boiling water. Batter will be thin. Pour into cupcake liners (about 3/4 full). Bake 12-16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

Chop chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.  Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.  Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.  Add vanilla and salt. Stir until combined.   Let cool until at spreading consistency.

To make the frosting, mix together the shortening and butter, until smooth. Add powder sugar, mix well. Add salt, vanilla, mint extract, and whipping cream blend on low speed until moistened. You can add more powder sugar for a firmer frosting. Beat at high speed until frosting is fluffy.
Using a pastry bag, pipe the frosting on top of the ganache (if you don’t have a pastry bag, fill a Ziploc and cut a tip.) Yields 2 dozen cupcakes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Freestone Peach Pie

In Ontario, apparently there is one time of year to get delicious, juicy peaches, and that time happens to be now! (Thanks to Lisa for the heads up). Of course, besides being delicious by themselves, I thought these Freestone Peaches would make a lovely pie.  Peach pie happens to be my favorite kind, with the right peaches, it can be even better than apple pie!  The pie was delicious, though very, very juicy. Probably could have used more thickener (corn starch or flour). This pie also reinforced the fact that I prefer the Crisco pie crust recipe (just use the one on the box, but substitute half of the Crisco with cold butter).

Thanks to Nigel for the help peeling the peaches and eating the pie :)

Peach Pie
10 cups Peaches (freestone)
1 tbsp. cinnamon
Some lemon juice
Sugar (up to 1/2 cup)
Corn starch (I just put a few spoonfuls)

Boil some water. Pour the boiling water over peaches in a large bowl. Let sit for 15-20 seconds, then transfer peaches to a colander and rinse with cold water. The skin on the peaches should peel off very easily. Cut peaches into 8ths and put back into the original bowl (after draining the boiling water). Mix peaches with cinnamon and lemon juice. Add sugar and corn starch before filling the crust.

Crust (from the Tenderflake box)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 lb. Tenderflake
Water (ice cold)
1 tbsp. white vinegar
1 egg

Mix together flour and salt. Cut in tenderflake (lard) with 2 knives. In a measuring cup, lightly beat one egg, add water and vinegar to fill up to 1 cup mark. Slowly add water mixture to flour and lard, but only enough to get the flour to stick together. Make two equal sized balls and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Roll out each ball between 2 sheets of wax paper. Put one in the bottom of the pie pan and reserve the other to put over the peach mixture. Press the edges of the two crusts together along the edge of the pie pan. Paint a little egg or milk on the top of the crust.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes on 425 F and then turn down to 350 F and bake for another 35-40 minutes. (You may want to cover the edges of the pie crust to keep from burning.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Stuffed Roasted Poblano Peppers and Salsa Fresca

This weekend, I had Mexican food for the first time in ages at a lovely place called Ahora in Ottawa. It was almost like being back in California and it inspired me to make my own version of Chile Rellenos (the one thing they didn't have on their menu!).  I also really wanted to make tomatillo salsa, but unfortunately my favorite place to get produce only had 3 wimpy looking tomatillos, so I made regular tomato salsa instead.  The Chile Rellenos were lightened up a lot by skipping the breading and stuffed with chicken. They turned out really well and had just the right amount of spice!  The recipe wasn't really complicated, but it took me a long time to get organized.

Stuffed Roasted Poblano Peppers

2 boneless chicken breasts
4 medium to large poblano peppers
1/2 can diced tomatoes with jalapeños
1 cup shredded cheese (mix of chedder and monterey jack)
1 tsp. ground Mexican chili pepper

  • Roast the peppers under the broiler on a baking sheet. (Pay attention to them so they don't burn) Take them out of the oven and place in a plastic bag for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, peel the skin off the peppers, leaving the stem intact. 
  • While roasting peppers, boil the chicken breast. I added a few pats of butter to the water. Start with the water on medium-high, and when the water starts to boil turn the heat down slightly. The chicken  should reach a temperature of 180F. (I wish I timed this for you all... sorry!)
  • When the chicken is done cooking, remove from water and let cool. Using 2 forks shred the chicken breast. Dust with ground chili powder. 
  • Take the roasted poblanos and cut a slit down the side. Remove the seeds. 
  • Stuff peppers with shredded chicken and a few of the diced tomatoes. 
  • Arrange peppers in a glass baking dish (pie pan or 8x8), sprinkle more tomatoes around the peppers and cover everything with cheese. 
  • Bake until cheese is melted and serve.
Salsa Fresca

4-5 ripe tomatoes, diced and de-seeded
1 jalapeño, diced and de-seeded
2 cloves garlic diced
Cilantro (to taste, since I hate cilantro I only used a few sprigs)
Lemon or lime juice

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor and serve. Makes about 1-1 1/2 cups salsa. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Two Picnic Salads

Yesterday, I went on a picnic to the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park. Mackenzie King was the very eccentric Prime Minister of Canada during WWII.  His summer estate in Gatineau Park is really beautiful, and oddly enough, King decided he wanted his own "ruins," so there are fake ruins all over the property. It was a really nice place to have a picnic and there is also a tearoom there, so I will most likely go back again for tea!

The two salads both turned out really well. The Antipasto Salad was really good, and I'll probably be making it again next weekend!  The corn, tomato, and zucchini salad was good, but this corn and tomato salad is better!  The Antipasto is from Celebrate the Rain from the Junior League of Seattle and the Corn and Tomato is my own interpretation of several recipes.

Antipasto Pasta Salad
Serves 6 to 8

1/2 cup coarsely chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
2 small shallots, quartered
2 cloves garlic, halved
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1/2 cup coarsely chopped, pitted, brine-cured olives (I used an Italian mix)
1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
12 ounces dried penne
1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
1 1/2 cups seeded, chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, in thin strips (my addition)
1 cup diced fresh mozzarella (I used goat cheese)

Puree the dressing ingredients in a food processor.  With the blades running, slowly add the oil through the chute and process until smooth (I left mine a little bit chunky so that there were still visible pieces of sun-dried tomatoes in the salad).  Add salt and pepper to taste and pulse to blend.  Pour the dressing into a medium bowl, add the olives, artichoke hearts, and red peppers and stir to coat.  Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the penne to al dente, about 10-12 minutes.  Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink and run cold water over to cool the pasta, then drain well and transfer the pasta to a large bowl.  Pour the dressing and vegetables over, add the chicken, tomatoes, and cheese and toss to evenly mix.

The pasta salad can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated, though the cheese and tomatoes should be added just before serving.  The salad will be more flavourful, too, if allowed to come to room temperature.

Summer Vegetable Salad

4 ears of corn
1 1/2 cups diced and de-seeded heirloom tomatoes
2 zucchini, diced
3/4 cup light sour cream
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. basil, chiffonade
Salt and pepper

Cook the corn in boiling, salted water for about 5 minutes.  Remove corn and when cool, use a large knife to cut the kernels off the cob. Steam the diced zucchini until bright green, do not cook too long. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix Worcestershire sauce and sour cream together. Pour over vegetables in a large bowl, add salt, pepper, and basil and mix to coat the vegetables. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Buffalo Mozzarella & Summer Vegetables

This recipe from The Kitchn (well actually Morrell's Wine Bar) and the vegetables were intended to be for lettuce wraps.  I didn't have any lettuce, but did have a nice crunchy baguette (definitely normally don't have one of those either, but couldn't resist at the market the other day!) Either wrapped in lettuce or on a baguette, this vegetable mixture would make a great summer appetizer. The combination of vegetables, fresh mozzarella, vinaigrette, and capers was light and tasty!

Buffalo Mozzarella & Summer Vegetable Wrap
Serves 6

2 medium green zucchinis
1 red bell pepper
2 large portobellos
1 medium eggplant
4 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons capers, chopped
2 pieces fresh buffalo mozzarella
2 tablespoons basil, chiffonade
2 teaspoons balsamic syrup
12 pieces Boston Bibb lettuce leaves
salt and pepper to taste

1. Trim the ends of the eggplant and cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds.
2. Sprinkle each side with salt and place on a sheet tray lined with towels.
3. Place another sheet tray on top of the eggplant and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
4. Take the eggplant out of the refrigerator and wipe excess liquid and salt off with a towel.
5. Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut the zucchini lengthwise.
6. Place the zucchini round side up. Cut off the outer green of the zucchini leaving about 1/4 inch of the white inside attached. Discard the very center seeded part of the zucchini.
7. Trim and remove the seeds of the red pepper and cut into four equal size pieces.
8. Place the zucchini, red pepper, portobello mushroom, eggplant, garlic and olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
9. Place the vegetables on a sheet tray and place in a 350°F oven.
10. Roast approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until fork tender.
11. Remove from oven and let cool.
12. Dice each vegetable and mix in bowl with salt, pepper and red wine vinaigrette (below).
13. Spoon an equal amount of the vegetable mixture into each lettuce leaf.
14. Top with buffalo mozzarella, basil chiffonade, balsamic syrup, and capers.

Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil

1. Combine all ingredients except for the olive oil.
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