Monday, December 16, 2013

Spinach, Mushroom, Sundried Tomato Egg Cups

Spinach, mushroom and sundried tomato egg cups recipe

I made these delicious little egg cups to share with my 4-week Holiday Challenge group!  We are all supporting each other and getting a head start on our New Year's resolutions.  The plan that we are following includes carb cycling, which I have mentioned here before, and these egg cups are a perfect option for low carb days.  They are packed with protein and veggies, and full of flavor.  Who said "diet" food had to be boring!? Okay, it's not really a diet that we are on, it is more of a lifestyle change.  We are building good habits through our choices every day.

Anyways, regardless of whether you do carb cycling or not, these make a great mid-morning or afternoon snack to keep the hunger pangs away while you are running around getting ready for the holidays!

Spinach, Mushroom, Sundried Tomato Egg Cups

Makes 6 cups

1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 cup chopped spinach
1/3 cup diced sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil!!)
4 egg whites
2 whole eggs
1/3 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray 6 muffin cups with olive oil cooking spray.

In a small pan, saute mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat.  Once the mushrooms have softened, add the garlic and saute until the garlic turns golden (not brown!).  Remove from heat and add the sundried tomatoes and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk, Parmesan, pepper, and thyme.  Add the spinach and mushroom-sundried tomato mixture.  Stir well to combine.  Divide the mixture into 6 muffin cups (about a 1/3 cup of mixture per cup).

Bake for 20 minutes at 350°F.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Sangria

Holiday Sangria recipe

It's that time of year again!  The holiday season is upon us.  Time for festive gatherings with our family and friends.  What better way to celebrate than with some tasty sangria?  It is easy to put together, looks impressive, and will fill your guests with holiday cheer. This Holiday Sangria is quite sweet, so feel free to adjust the flavors as necessary.

Holiday Sangria recipe

Holiday Sangria

2 bottles dry Reisling
1 bottle hard pear and apple cider (add just before serving)
1 cup non-alcoholic apple cider
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Honeycrisp apples, thin slices
1 cup cranberries
Rosemary sprigs

Stir together the wine, juices, and maple syrup in a large jug.  Add the fruit and rosemary sprigs, then chill for 3-4 hours or more before serving.  Just before serving, add the hard cider and stir well.

Holiday Sangria recipe

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Streusel

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Streusel recipe

I'm officially a pumpkin pie convert.  For years, I didn't eat it at all, but now I am fully on board with pumpkin pie.  This pie is awesome.  You should make this (in addition to this apple pie) for Thanksgiving.  Your family and friends will be very, very impressed. Trust me.

This pie was part of my contribution for the Friendsgiving potluck dinner that I hosted this weekend.  It was a lovely evening with some great friends.  Delicious food, copious wine, and some Cards Against Humanity made for a memorable night.

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Streusel recipe

Pumpkin Pecan Bourbon Pie

From Food & Wine

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature divided
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup pecans halves
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
3 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup bourbon
Pie Crust (see below)

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, combine 4 tablespoons of the butter and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar with the flour and pinch into moist crumbs. Stir in the pecans.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the remaining stick of butter and 3/4 cup of brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the pumpkin puree, egg yolks, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt, then beat in the milk and bourbon.

In a stainless steel bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry, then fold into the pumpkin mixture until no white streaks remain.

Pour the custard into the pie shell. Sprinkle the pecan streusel on top. Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 1 hour, or until risen and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool and serve.

Pie Crust

1-1/3 cups pastry flour (I used self-rising, so my crust was extra puffy)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, freezer cold, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, freezer cold
1/4 cup ice-cold water, or more as needed
1 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

Put the flours, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  Add the cold butter and shortening to the dry ingredients.  Use your hands to break up the shortening into several smaller clumps and get them coated with flour.

Pulse 9 to 12 times or until the butter is in pieces slightly smaller than a pea.

Combine the ice-cold water and vinegar in a small bowl or measuring cup.

Gradually pour the water and vinegar mixture through the feed tube while pulsing 10 to 12 times. Take the lid off.  Use your fingers to see if you can clump the mixture together to form a dough.  The dough should not come together to form a ball while you are pulsing it in the food processor, but should form a clump between your fingers.)  Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the food processor.  If the dough seems too dry, add more water a few teaspoons at a time.

Remove the dough from the food processor, form it into 2 discs - one slightly larger than the other, wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before rolling it out for the pie crust.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Vanilla Orange Scones

It is time for another Secret Recipe Club reveal! This month, we were assigned to Tara's Multicultural Table.  Tara's blog is full of recipes that originate from all over the globe - from Thailand, to Russia, to Mexico, to Germany.  There are delicious treats from the four corners of the world, and it made it very difficult to choose.  I will be going back to Tara's blog again and again to help expand my cultural foodie horizons.

In the end, I went with a treat from my ancestors culture - scones!  Sometimes, you just have a craving for something and it is hard to shake it.  When I saw this recipe for Vanilla Orange Scones on Tara's blog, I knew that I needed to make it.  My craving was definitely satisfied, and I will be making these again for sure.  These delightful treats are easy to make and would make a great addition to a holiday brunch!

Vanilla Orange Scones

From Tara's Multicultural Table

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 orange
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 cup milk + extra for brushing
1 egg yolk
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment or lightly grease.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange zest. Cut the cold butter into pieces and add to the flour using a dough blade, two forks, or your fingers until the dough has a crumb texture and no pieces are larger than a pea.

In a small bowl, beat together the milk, egg yolk, and vanilla extract (or seeds from vanilla bean). Pour into the dry ingredients and gently stir just until the mixture comes together.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough about 3 times and divide into 2 halves. Pat one half down until it is a 3/4 inch thick circle. Cut into 4 or 8 wedges. Repeat with other half.

Place scones on prepared baking sheet, about 1/4 inches apart. Brush the tops with milk. Bake in preheated oven until golden, 15-18 minutes. Let cook on pan 5 minutes before removing to wire rack.

In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, orange juice, seeds from vanilla bean (or extract), melted butter, and heavy cream. Dip the top of each cooled scone into the glaze or drizzle the glaze over the scones.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hot Buttered Rum Apple Pie

Hot Buttered Rum Apple Pie recipe

Prepare to go to pie heaven.  I'm usually not one to mess with tradition (though oddly enough, our family favorite basic apple pie recipe still isn't on the blog), but this pie needs to have a place at your Thanksgiving feast.  It is a bit time consuming, but so totally worth it.  Volunteer to bring the pie, if you aren't hosting this year, and wow your friends and family.  If you are hosting, farm this recipe out to a reliable relative.

This pie is slow cooked and bursting with flavor. The apples get pre-caramelized then doused with rum, butter, and brown sugar.  I'm telling you... it is good.  Thanks again for the cookbook, Crystal!

If you need any other Thanksgiving recipe ideas, all of the K&K recipes are tagged with Thanksgiving.  We have pie recipes, the best turkey ever, and your side dishes (except for mashed potatoes) covered!

Hot Buttered Rum Apple Pie recipe

Hot Buttered Rum Apple Pie

From the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

For the crust (a 9" double crust pie shell):
2-2/3 cups (12-1/4 ounces / 350 grams) pastry flour (I used self-rising, so my crust was extra puffy)
2/3 cup (3-1/2 ounces / 100 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, freezer cold, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, freezer cold
1/2 cup ice-cold water, or more as needed
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

Put the flours, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  Add the cold butter and shortening to the dry ingredients.  Use your hands to break up the shortening into several smaller clumps and get them coated with flour.

Pulse 9 to 12 times or until the butter is in pieces slightly smaller than a pea.

Combine the ice-cold water and vinegar in a small bowl or measuring cup.

Gradually pour the water and vinegar mixture through the feed tube while pulsing 10 to 12 times. Take the lid off.  Use your fingers to see if you can clump the mixture together to form a dough.  The dough should not come together to form a ball while you are pulsing it in the food processor, but should form a clump between your fingers.)  Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the food processor.  If the dough seems too dry, add more water a few teaspoons at a time.

Remove the dough from the food processor, form it into 2 discs - one slightly larger than the other, wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before rolling it out for the pie crust.

For the pie filling:
8-10 apples, I used Empire and Cortland
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (regular will do)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

To finish for baking:
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Peel and core the apples, and slice them to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. The trick is to cut them into flat pieces rather than wedges, so that your slices lay flat in the pie and the amount of air between slices is reduced, so that your top crust doesn't collapse when cooked (to do this start by slicing straight down one side of the apple, then slice again on the other three sides so that the core is a shaped like a square rather than a circle.)

Place two large sauté pans over medium-high heat and dived the 1/3 cup sugar evenly between them.  Cook the sugar, without stirring, until it melts and then caramelizes and turns amber in color, tilting the pans a little to swirl and distribute the color and adjusting the heat as needed.  (As soon as the sugar melts, it will quickly start caramelizing, so be ready to add the apples as soon as it turns amber.)

Add the apples, dividing them between the pans, and saute until they are about half cooked and the juices released boil away so that no liquid remains (8-10 minutes).  Toss and stir the apples regularly while they are cooking so they cook evenly on both sides.  When the apples are done, they should have some give, but should not fall apart.

Transfer the apples to a bowl and allow them to cool completely to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

When the apples are cooled, add the brown sugar, rum, butter, cornstarch, vanilla extract, spices, and salt and toss to combine.

Roll out your pastry between lightly floured wax or parchment paper until it is about 12-inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick.  Peel off the top layer of paper. Fold the pastry circle into quarters, and transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate, unfolding gently and lightly pressing the dough down and into the sides of the pan. Trim the excess dough so that there is a 3/4 inch to 1 inch overhang.  Roll the second (smaller) piece of pastry into an 11-inch circle.

Put the apple pie filling into the pastry lined pie plate.  Transfer the smaller pastry circle to the top of the pie (you can pre-cut some shapes into the top for ventilation and then later attach them with starch water).  Roll the bottom crust overhang up over the top crust, and seal the edges together.  Use your finger or the handle of a butter knife to crimp the edges together.

Brush the top of the crust and the edges with heavy cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Put the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips, place in the oven, and bake for 30 minutes.  Tent the pie with foil and continue to bake for 1 hour.  Remove the foil and bake for 30 minutes or until the pie is golden brown.  (Total baking time is 2 hours.)  Remove the pie from the oven and cool for at least an hour before serving.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Apple Pie Protein Shake

Apple Pie Protein Shake

Just a quick little shake recipe for you to prove that I haven't forgotten you.  I've been living off of shakes the past few weeks.  They are so easy, quick, and chock full of goodness.  This shake has lots of protein and vitamins, plus it tastes like fall! (Though the weather here feels more like winter.)  I often add spinach to this shake to sneak an extra serving of greens into my day, and I promise that it tastes just the same as the original version.

I'll have another delicious, and decidedly more decadent, apple recipe for your Thanksgiving feast next week on the blog!

Apple Pie Protein Shake

8 ounces milk of your choice (skim milk or almond milk work well!)
1 scoop Vanilla protein powder (I use Vemma's Bode Shake)
1 Honeycrisp apple, peeled and diced
1 banana
1/2 tablespoon almond butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of teaspoon nutmeg
Optional: handful of baby spinach

Blend ingredients until smooth! Serve and enjoy!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Spinach Turkey Meatballs

Spinach Turkey Meatballs recipe

Hi, there K&K readers! Yes, I'm back. I must sound like a broken record, because I have to keep apologizing for slacking off on the blog posts.  But, I spent the day unpacking and I whipped up a batch of delicious and healthy meatballs for you.  And, I finally found my cord to connect my camera to my computer so that I can upload pictures again! Yay, that's one of the other reasons for the lack of posts lately.

These meatballs are packed with flavor and so easy to throw together.  You can serve them with tomato sauce or plain, or you could even throw some into a delicious soup.  When I make a batch of tomato sauce, I always make sure to freeze some for later, and that is what I used here.  You could even make a double batch of the meatballs and freeze them in the sauce for later, for a simple weeknight meal!

Hopefully, now that my house is unpacked I will have more time to cook in my big, beautiful new kitchen!

Spinach Turkey Meatballs recipe

Spinach Turkey Meatballs

450 grams extra-lean ground turkey
1 cup finely chopped baby spinach
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 egg white
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Freshly ground salt and pepper

To finish: Tomato Sauce

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Place a rack on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet and spray with olive oil cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients until distributed evenly throughout.  Form the mixture into small balls and place a few inches apart on the baking rack.

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 375F.  When the meatballs are cooked through, transfer them to a pot with 2 cups of tomato sauce.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes, then serve!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Morning Glory Muffins

It is time for a Secret Recipe Club reveal day! And I am posting this late. Life has been more than chaotic lately, as I am sure you all have realized from the lack of posts here on K&K Test Kitchen.  With a move for my mom and a move for me, neither of us K's have had much time to spend cooking... not to mention that both of our kitchens are barely unpacked.

But duty calls, and even though I am late, I wouldn't miss posting for SRC!  Especially since this month our assigned blog was Fried Ice and Donut Holes, an adorable blog written by Melissa, a teacher and passionate baker.  Melissa's grandfather used to tell his grandchildren to behave or they'd be having fried ice and donut holes (aka nothing) for dinner.  Her blog is full of amazing recipes and these Morning Glory Muffins are definitely evidence of how awesome her blog is.  Now excuse me while I go stuff my face with muffins and continue to peruse Melissa's awesome recipe collection!

Morning Glory Muffins

From Fried Ice and Donut Holes

1/2 cup Raisins
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger (I used freshly grated ginger)
1/4 teaspoon Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 cups Peeled, Grated, Carrots (I used 2 large ones and probably could have used a 3rd)
1 Apple, peeled, cored, and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup Shredded Coconut
1/2 cup Chopped Walnuts
3 Eggs
1/4 cup Honey
1/3 cup Canola Oil
2/3 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Orange Juice, freshly squeezed (1 medium orange was the perfect amount)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare about 15-16 muffin tins by lining them with paper liners or spraying them with non-stick spray. In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water and set them aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Stir in the carrots, apple, coconut, and walnuts. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, honey, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and orange juice. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until just incorporated. Drain the raisins and gently fold them into the batter. Divide the batter between the wells of the prepared muffin tins, filling each well about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes in the tins, then remove and cool completely on a cooling rack.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Osso Buco

Life has been crazy for both of the K's!  In the last two weeks, Kelsey and I (Kim) have both moved to new homes. Needless to say, cooking has not been a high priority; but this lovely Osso Buco was a result of cleaning out of the freezer!  I had bought the veal shanks months ago for a dinner party that did not materalize! Instead, I cooked this flavorful dish for our special guest, Kelsey, Tim and I as one of our last meal in our Arlington home.  Osso Buco has long been a favorite of my husband and he declared this the best dinner that I have ever made. Kelsey and I were in agreement that it is was pretty fabulous! If you are in need of an elegant dish for guests, you should give this recipe a try!

Osso Buco

adapted from Fine Cooking

5  2 inch-thick veal shanks
Kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 cups finely diced yellow onion (about 2 medium onions)
1 cup finely diced celery (about 2 stalks)
3/4 cup finely diced carrot (about 2 small carrots)
1 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped, juices reserved
2 cup low-salt beef broth, more if needed
1 large sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
2 Tbs. veal demi glace
2 Tbs. cornstarch 

For the gremolata:
3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Tie the veal shanks around the middle with kitchen string (if they’re not tied already) and season them with salt. (Several recipes that I checked suggested to let the shanks set with salt for up to 2 hours before cooking but I only let my shanks set for 30 minutes while prepping veggies.)  Put the flour in a dish. Dredge the shanks very lightly in flour, thoroughly shaking off the excess.

Have ready a roasting pan or baking dish large enough to hold the shanks in a single layer (I used my Le Creuset  or a 9x13 will work well). In a large heavy skillet, heat 3 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. Put three veal shanks in the pan and sear until nicely browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Move the shanks to the roasting pan. Repeat with the remaining shanks.

Wipe out pan with paper towels (it’s fine if the browned bits remain in the pan bottom; just wipe away the used oil). Return the pan to medium heat and add the butter and remaining 1 Tbs. of oil. When the butter is melted, add the onion, celery, carrot, oregano, half of the garlic and 1 tsp. salt. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the wine, and cook, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon, until the wine is reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes

Stir in the tomato paste and demi glace. Add the tomatoes with their juices, the broth, thyme, bay leaf, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Bring to a boil, and pour the contents of the pan over the shanks. Make sure to pile the vegetables on top of the shanks so the flavor cooks into the meat.  Place remaining garlic on the tops of the shanks.  Cover tightly with lid or heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Braise the veal in the oven until fork-tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours, checking the liquid occasionally. If it has cooked down, add enough broth to keep the level about halfway up the shanks. To check for doneness, pierce a shank with a fork. The meat should pull apart easily. Taste a morsel—it should feel soft and tender. Do not overcook, or the veal will fall apart.

Gently brush most of the vegetable bits off the shanks. With a wide, flat metal spatula, carefully transfer the veal shanks to a dish. Strain the pan juices through a medium-mesh sieve into a saucepan, pressing hard on the solids with a spatula to extract as much sauce as you can.  I took the solids and placed them in a small blender and pause them for 5 or 6 time to turn them into a liquid and added this to the sauce.  Bring the sauce to a simmer.  In a bowl, combine the cornstarch with a ladle of the sauce.  Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the rest of the sauce and cook briefly to thicken. If you’re working ahead, stop here (see Make-ahead Tips for reheating).

Make the gremolata:

Just before finishing the sauce and serving, combine the parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. Add two Tbs. of the gremolata to the sauce. Remove the strings from the shanks. Serve the osso buco topped with the sauce and a small sprinkling of the remaining gremolata. ***I actually forgot to make the gremolata so it is not pictured on my Osso Buco! I understand that this makes a big difference but my dish was tremendous without it.

Make Ahead Tips

To make the osso buco ahead, braise the veal and strain and thicken the sauce with arrowroot. Wipe the roasting pan clean, return the shanks to the pan, and pour the sauce over the shanks. Let them cool at room temperature for an hour, cover well, and refrigerate for up to two days. (I made my dish in the morning.) To reheat, cover the pan with foil and set in a 325°F oven until the shanks are hot, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a dish, then make the gremolata, adding it to the sauce and sprinkling it over the shanks.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

CulinAerie's Autumn in Normandy Cooking Class

Top left:  Mussels in Garlic Cream Sauce                    Top right: Chicken Normandy in Cider with Leeks
Bottom left:  Potatoes with Bacon Lardons                                                 Bottom Right:  Banana Tart Tatin  

Oh la la, what better date night is there than going to a couples cooking class!!!! Lucky for us, our blogger daughter, Kelsey and her foodie sister, Taryn gave their dad and myself a gift certificate for the Culin Aerie cooking school for Christmas! Since we are moving on to a new city, we decided we had to pick a class and go before leaving the DC area. The date night and couples classes are quite popular and we had only one choice, Couples Cooking: Autumn in Normandy with Chef Instructor Wendi James. The menu of Mussels with Garlic Cream Sauce, Normandy Chicken with Cider and Leeks, Potatoes with Bacon Lardons, and Banana Tart Tatin looked like a fine choice and we were so excited to finally set a date for the class.

We were most impressed by the school and how efficiently everything was run. We noticed that all the seats were stocked with your own burner and the necessary ingredients were prepped and ready. But first we had to make the difficult decision of white or red wine. Chef Wendi demonstrated all the dishes then had each couple cook their entire menu: course by course so that you could enjoy each dish while the next was cooking. I must say it was a most enjoyable night. The fun part was watching my husband get so into it. He said it was the best thing we had done in the city over the year we were there. Each of the dishes were fabulous; the mussels and garlic cream sauce begged to be sopped up with a warm baguette, the apples, cider, leeks and chicken were a heavenly combination, the potatoes and bacon always a great combo, and the Banana Tart Tatin was a good twist on Apple Tart Tatin and a truly easy dessert to finish the delicious meal. Overall we would give it a 10 out of 10! The experience was fabulous, the food delightful and the staff were friendly, helpful, and attentive.

A special thank you goes out to our two amazing daughters!  Dad and I loved our date night and it was the prefect gift idea!

Mussels in Garlic Cream Sauce

1# mussels, cleaned & debearded
1 tablespoon butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup ale
1/4  cup chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add shallot and garlic and saute over
medium to high heat until translucent and fragrant.
2. Add mussels and cook on high heat for 1 minute.
3. Add ale and chicken stock and cook until reduced and mussels begin to open.
4. Add heavy cream and cook until slightly thickened.
5. Remove from heat and top with chopped parsley.
6. Serve immediately with toasted baguette.

Chicken Normandy in Cider with Leeks

2 tablespoons butter
1 apple, peeled, cored, sliced
flour for dredging
salt and pepper
2 chicken breasts and/or thighs, bone-in, skin-on
1 small or  1/2 of large leek, julienned
1/4 -1/2 onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup Calvados or Apple Brandy
l/2 -1 cup cider
l/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup heavy cream

1. Salt chicken and set aside.
2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saute pan over medium to high heat.
Add apples and saute until light golden brown. Remove from pan.
3. Dredge chicken in flour to coat. Tap off excess flour. Add remaining butter to
the saute pan and place chicken in skin side down. Cook over medium to
high heat until skin is crispy and golden brown.
4. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add onions and leeks and saute
about 5 minutes until beginning to brown. Use a wooden spoon to help
loosen the caramelization on the bottom of the pan.
5. Off heat add the Calvados. Return to the heat and reduce by half.
6. Add the cider and bring to a boil. Add the thyme and salt and pepper.
7. Arrange the chicken breasts in the pan skin side up. Make sure the skin is not
submerged in the cider.
8. Cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes.
9. Remove lid and add cream. Bring to a boil and reduce until slightly thickened.

Potatoes with Bacon Lardons

12 oz Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled (optional), cut in wedges lengthwise
1.5 oz slab bacon, cut into lardons
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon butter

1. Blanch potatoes in boiling salted water approximately 5 minutes.
2. Cook bacon lardons over low heat until rendered.
3. Off heat toss the potatoes with the bacon. Add the garlic, thyme, and butter.
Place in a 350F oven approximately 20-30 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and season with salt and pepper.

Banana Tart Tatin

2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 banana, cut into W slices
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
6" round puff pastry


1. Melt the butter in a 6" saucepan. Add the sugar and stir gently just to
combine. Cook over medium to high heat approximately 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and very carefully arrange banana slices to cover bottom
of pan.
3. Sprinkle with cinnamon and cover with puff pastry circle. Gently tuck in
edges and prick top with a fork several times.
4. Bake at 350F approximately 15-20 minutes.
5. Allow to cool 2 minutes and then invert onto a serving dish.
6. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sweet Potato, Kale and Black Bean Quesadillas

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Black Bean Quesadillas recipe

Did you know that yesterday was National Kale Day!? I totally should have posted this recipe for you yesterday, because these quesadillas are a fantastic way to enjoy kale.  The sweetness of the pototoes, the creamy texture of the black beans, and the garlicky kale really come together to make something special.  I will share the salsa recipe with you soon too, because it is fantastic with the quesadillas, in tacos, or spread over chicken.

Have you tried Food for Life's Ezekiel brand products? I really love the Ezekiel sprouted grains bread, but recently found these tortillas and really enjoyed them.  I also saw English muffins at the grocery store the other day, so I might have to try those too!  The products are gluten-free and full of goodness.

Sweet Potato, Kale and Black Bean Quesadillas

Adapted from Cookie Monster Cooking

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Dash of cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 head Lacinato kale, chopped coarsely (thick middle rib removed)
1 small can organic, low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
6 Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

Toss cubed sweet potatoes with one tablespoon olive oil and spices, then roast on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20 minutes at 400F.

Saute garlic in remaining olive oil, then just before it starts to brown, add the kale and saute until slightly wilted. Stir kale into the black beans. Season with salt and pepper. Then add the roasted sweet potatoes.

Warm tortillas slightly until they are pliable.  Spoon the sweet potato, kale, and black bean mixture onto half the tortilla.  Sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese.  Fold the tortilla over.  Place the quesadilla onto a heated skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Heat until cheese is melted. Flip and brown the other side.

Serve with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (recipe to follow) and sliced avocado.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Maple Walnut Cookies

It is another Secret Recipe Club reveal day!  This month, we were assigned the blog A Healthy Jalapeno.  Laura, the author of A Healthy Jalapeno, loves cooking and is a self-described "health food junkie."  She has adorable dogs and lots of yummy recipes available on her blog.  With our latest attempts to focus on healthier eating, we were excited to explore Laura's blog... but then we found this perfect fall recipe and just had to try it out.

It is exciting that Kelsey and I are actually doing this post together.  She had a conference in Arlington and needed me to do the actual baking for the Secret Recipe Club.   We decided that we would half the recipe as there are only three of us to eat the cookies.  I was very excited about the Maple Walnut cookies as my favorite ice cream is Maple Walnut, so this combo is a favorite.  The recipe was very easy and after I halved the recipe, I decided that a little more flour was needed to make the dough stiff enough to roll.  We decided that we loved the flavor and that the cookies were not overly sweet.  These will be really good with a nice cup of tea on a fall afternoon.  Thank you, Laura!

Maple Walnut Cookies recipe

Maple Walnut Cookies

From A Healthy Jalapeno, recipe has been halved

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg white
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup oat flour
1/3 cup raw walnuts, crushed

Granulated or organic sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg, syrup and vanilla. Mix until well blended. Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir into mixture, add walnuts and combine until well blended. Shape into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart and flatten slightly.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cool on wire rack.

Serve warm and possibly even with a glass of hot apple cider. Yum!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Little People Apple Muffins

Kid-friendly Apple Muffins recipe

It has been a while since we've shared a family favorite with you on the blog, but this recipe should make up for that.  These "little people apple muffins" have been my favorite since I was in pre-school. Yes, that is a long time ago, and I still love these muffins.  These tiny, delicious muffins were the perfect size for my little person hands as a 4 year old, and they still satisfy years later now that I am a big person.

I did adapt this recipe a little bit, cutting the oil slightly, switching oat flour for some of the regular flour, and using apple cider instead of apple juice. You are going to love these!  They taste like fall.  Go pick some apples and make these muffins this weekend!

Apple Muffins recipe

Little People Apple Muffins

From Kim

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup oil
½ cup apple cider
2 ½ cup apples, peeled and diced small
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup ground oats (pulse 1 cup old fashioned oats in a food processor until finely ground)
1 tablespooon baking Powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup pecans

Combine brown sugar, eggs, oil, and apple juice.  Add apples and vanilla.

Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Add to the

sugar mixture and stir well.  Add pecans.  Line muffin tins with paper or spray the

tin with nonstick spray.  Fill 2/3 full.  Bake at 400 for 12-15 mins.  Check after 10

minutes to make sure they do not burn bottom.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Paleo Maple Pumpkin Bread

Paleo Maple Pumpkin Bread recipe

Did you know you could make bread with ground up almonds?? I didn't, until I made this delightful, Paleo pumpkin bread!  It is moist, nutty, and spicy.

Now that it is officially fall, I'm sure that you will be inundated with pumpkin recipes. Even if you aren't Paleo, or gluten-free, or dairy-free, you should try this recipe.  It has tons of protein and healthy fats, and obviously it is delicious.

Your house will smell divine too after baking this. No need for pumpkin spice candles when you can bake pumpkin bread!

PS - you may be wondering "why Paleo?" It is not that I'm trying the Paleo Diet, I just wanted to mix things up. This bread fits into my "clean eating" regime and it also happens to be gluten-free, and I know that some of our lovely K&K readers are celiac, so sometimes it is nice to switch things up so that everyone can enjoy the recipes that you find here!

Paleo Maple Pumpkin Bread

Adapted from Paleo Newbie and Elena's Pantry

1-1/2 cups blanched almond flour (ground almonds)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of cardamom
Dash of allspice
1 cup pure pumpkin purée (not the kind for pies!)
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In a smaller, separate bowl, whisk eggs gently, then stir in pumpkin purée, vanilla, melted coconut oil, and maple syrup until well combined.  Pour the wet mixture into the larger bowl with the dry mixture, and stir until all of the dry mixture is incorporated.

Pour the batter into a parchment lined 8" loaf pan (I didn't line my pan, lining it let's you take the loaf out of the pan easily to cut it!).

Bake the loaf for 35-40 minutes at 350°F.  Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fall Favorites

Since I haven't been very prolific in the kitchen lately, I thought I would share some of my favorite fall "throwback" recipes today on the blog!  Fall may still be a few days away, but the cooler weather here has me dreaming of pumpkin / squash, Halloween decorations, and cozy sweaters.  Click the links to go to the original post and view the recipe.

Easy Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal: A cozy way to start the day!

Easy Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:  These are so simple and so delicious!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup:  I actually made the squash soup this week, and was reminded of how easy and delicious it is!

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese:  A lighter take on my favorite comfort food.

Pumpkin Cupcakes: These are perfect for Halloween parties!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Chocolate Strawberry Overnight Oats

Chocolate Strawberry Overnight Oats recipe

It seems that K&K Test Kitchen is turning into a breakfast blog.  Breakfast has been the only meal that I have consistently experimented with this summer, and as the most important meal of the day, it is always good to keep it interesting.

Earlier this summer, I posted a version of overnight oats.  Before we get to fall temperatures and want to make regular oats (I know some of you are experiencing extreme heat still and this is the perfect breakfast for a heat wave), I wanted to share this extremely decadent and delicious version of overnight oats.  It might feel like you are eating dessert for breakfast, and that is perfectly fine in my book.  Except this breakfast is packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats!  This breakfast is also perfect for those on the run, just make it in a mason jar and take it along with you on your way to work, school, the gym, etc.

Chocolate Strawberry Overnight Oats

1/3 cup oats (the type doesn't really matter, but I use old fashioned)
1/3 cup sugar-free chocolate almond milk
1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 banana, mashed
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 teaspoon chia seeds

1/4 cup fresh strawberries, quartered
1/2 tablespoon chocolate chips
Small handful of chopped walnuts

In a jar or resealable container, stir together the ingredients until well combined.  Refrigerate overnight. Top with fresh strawberries, walnuts, and chocolate chips in the morning, and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Peach Bourbon Crumble Bars

Peach Bourbon Crumble Bars recipe

This is what I will affectionately call a "tone it down" recipe.  You won't see many more like this for a while, because I am cleaning my eating up again for the fall.  I fell off the wagon a little bit the past little while and have fallen into the habit of eating treats too often.  Treats are definitely okay in moderation in my book, but I was not exactly in the "moderation" zone!  But, if you are going to have a treat, it might as well be awesome, right?!

These bars are a delicious combination of salty, sweet, and tart.  The fresh peaches balance out the buttery, pecan-studded crust and the bourbon just gives these bars a little something extra special.  I couldn't help it but eat several of these myself.  Try them before the end of peach season and you'll understand why!

Peach Bourbon Crumble Bars

5 peaches
3 tablespoons high quality Kentucky bourbon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon flour or cornstarch
1-3/4 cup flour
1-1/4 old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cold butter, cubed

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Peel and slice the peaches.  Pour bourbon and one tablespoon brown sugar over the peaches and let them soak while you prepare the crust.

Whisk together flour, oats, remaining tablespoon of brown sugar, pecans, baking soda, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter, until the mixture is crumbly and starting to come together (don't be afraid to use your hands!) Press half of the mixture into the bottom of a greased or parchment lined 9x13 inch baking pan, layer peaches over, then crumble the rest on top.

Bake at 350°F for 30-35 mins.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Kale and Spinach Greek Yogurt Dip

Kale and Spinach Greek Yogurt Dip recipe

One of the saddest things about living in good ole Canada is our lack of Trader Joe's.  It is really sad.  I love Trader Joe's and Whole Foods (we don't have one of those either).  I used to be able to eat a bag of TJ's dark chocolate covered pretzels in one sitting.  So maybe it is a good thing we don't have TJ's here...

Anyways, the nice thing is that it is sort of easy to figure out how to recreate your favorite TJ's products at home (start by Googling).  While on vacation in the U.S. back in July, I discovered the absolutely delicious Kale and Spinach Greek Yogurt dip from Trader Joe's.  I think we went through 2 or 3 tubs of it while I was on vacation (approx. 10 days), because it was so good, and I loved it so much.  Of course, I had to figure out how to get my dip fix once I got back to Ottawa.

So, I made this dip for my friend's birthday party at the cottage (along with this yummy summer boozy Arnold Palmer and these cookies). It is way better than the TJ's version, so go make it immediately.

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!! Hope your weekend is safe, fun, and full of delicious food!!

Kale and Spinach Greek Yogurt Dip

Inspired by Trader Joes, from How Sweet It Is

1 container of plain 2% Greek yogurt (or about 2 cups of your favorite)
3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup finely chopped kale
1 cup finely chopped spinach
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
2 garlic cloves, smashed, then finely minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well to combine. Chop everything as finely as possible.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving for maximum flavor!  Serve with chips, crackers or vegetables.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Triathlon Training and Race

Hi K&K readers!  This is a non-food related post today, but it's also a post that may explain why the blog has taken a bit of a backseat this summer.

Over the weekend, I competed in my first triathlon ever! It was an amazing experience and I had so much fun.  The crazy part is that I think I am hooked on triathlon now!

I think that I've mentioned before that I had always wanted to do a triathlon, and pretty much ever since I retired from swimming about 7 years ago, I kept telling myself and others that I really wanted to try it. Well, it took me 7 years to put those words into action and actually train.


At the start of my training, I attended a triathlon clinic and I highly recommend trying to find one if you want to get into the sport.  We learned all the nuts and bolts of race day, went over training plans, and did drills for each sport.

I followed a training plan, where I ran, biked, and swam twice a week each.  One day was a tempo workout (building up speed toward race pace) and one day was a long, easy workout.  I kept my schedule pretty flexible so that I could do what felt best that day. I took one day off a week.  After a summer of training alone, I'm definitely ready to start training with other people!

Learning to bike with clipless pedals was quite an experience, though not nearly as scary as I had built it up to be in my mind.  I went out on the grass at first and fell a few times while trying to clip in and out.  Note to self: clip out before the bike comes to a stop.  After gaining some confidence and going out on the road, I only fell once and luckily a nice lady with a first aid kit in her car saw it happen! Haha. It is amazing how at ease I feel on my bike now.  It is still definitely where I have the most room for improvement, but I am excited to see my progress from May until now.

Loving swimming again and learning that I really like running were pleasant surprises that resulted from my training as well.  I realized that I thought I hated running, but what I really hated was running on the treadmill.  Ottawa has tons of gorgeous trails and having nice scenery to look at really helped on those long runs!

I have mentioned Tone It Up a few times, and the really fun thing was that Karena, one of the trainers, put together a triathlon training program for the TIU community! Karena was a serious triathlete and after seeing the TIU check-ins, she decided to get back into racing herself.  It was a great resource to have and of course the TIU community has been so supportive!

Race Day!

The day of the race was so much fun.  All the nerves, excitement and adrenaline that I used to get before big
swim meets came back to me.  My race, the Sprint Triathlon, was later in the morning, so I had a chance to watch some of the other athletes compete in the Olympic Triathlon and the Duathlon.  My race was a blast.  It was so fun to get out and compete and put my body to the test.  I felt like my training paid off and I was really happy with my results. I placed 2nd in my age group and 7th overall for women.  And as a former swimmer, I am happy to report that I was the first woman out of the water!! Woo!

The best part of the day was having two friends with me!  They both decided that they would compete as well and both did really well!! I think they are both hooked on the sport now too, so I am super excited to have some training partners!

Also, if you've ever thought about doing a triathlon, do it! There were people of all levels of fitness and experience at the race.  It was such a fun atmosphere, with everyone cheering for each other, and excited for each other. Why not try it?

Next Steps

The next step for me and my training partners is to find some more athletes to train with.  I am going to join a local triathlon club this fall in order to have some people to swim with and to work on my cycling.  Come January, we will switch over to training for spring and summer races.  We will also do some strength training this fall and winter. I really like the results that I have been getting from barre and will continue that, but may also add some CrossFit into the mix. You can bet that I will be keeping myself fueled up as well, so don't worry about this blog.  We will have plenty of delicious, healthy recipes coming your way!!

Thanks for following along!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie

It's time for Secret Recipe Club again! Each month, the SRC members are assigned another member's blog to explore.  We all pick a recipe to make and share, exposing our readers to lots of fun new blogs! This month, I was assigned Life on Food, a blog written by Emily.  Emily and I are about the same age, and we both happen to have studied Economics.  Obviously we both also loooove food!  Her blog has tons of delicious recipes and as usual I had a hard time choosing (my email to myself with links to choose from had at least 6 recipes).

Let me tell you, this month was an adventure in terms of SRC.  I had finally decided on a recipe to make from Emily's blog: Coconut Zucchini Bread, and then I decided to make some toast before making dinner.  Well, I don't own a toaster, so I make my toast in the oven.  And guess what, my oven caught on fire!! Like, the element at the bottom literally had a hole burnt completely through it. Needless to say, it was Friday afternoon, and my landlord didn't answer his phone.  Of course, I had left my recipe til the last minute (not even as bad as normal though to be honest), so I quickly had to come up with something else to make from Emily's blog -- something that didn't require baking or even using the stovetop (my range is old and kind of scary, so I didn't want to take any chances).

Well, it was like the heavens opened and pointed me in the direction of this smoothie recipe.  You see, I had also just recently been discussing the topic of Starbucks' fall menu and when it would return, especially given the cooler temps we've been having here in Ottawa.  My favorite thing on their fall menu is the Pumpkin Spice Latte.  So when I saw Emily's smoothie recipe, I knew it was meant to be and the best possible outcome of my oven disaster.  Plus, I had just made a batch of cold brew coffee and I obviously have a well documented love of smoothies.

This smoothie definitely satisfied my fall cravings!  It was delicious! Thank you Emily!

Once my oven is fixed, I have a long list of recipes to try from Emily's blog! Seriously, go check her blog out!  Your tummy will thank you!

Pumpkin Spice Latté Smoothie

From Life on Food

1 frozen banana
1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
1 cup coffee (I used 1/2 cup cold brew, since it's a bit more concentrated)
1 cup coconut milk (I used unsweetened)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
*I also added 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder

Add all ingredients in blender. Run till smooth, about 3 minutes.

See the rest of the SRC Posts below!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tipsy Peach Tea Lemonade

Tipsy Peach Iced Tea Lemonade recipe

Happy Friday friends!! Can you believe that it is nearly the end of August?? I can't! Where has the summer gone? I say we squeeze the last drops of summer out and make the most of the remaining sunny, warm days! Sound good?

Well, speaking of squeezing, I have a freshly squeezed, delicious cocktail to share with you today.  Put this on your weekend menu or save it for those Labor Day parties (or both!).  This fancy version of the Arnold Palmer is my new favorite summer cocktail.  It is so good.

I made up a batch of these to take my friend's birthday party at the cottage and they were the perfect sipper for sitting on the dock and enjoying the sunshine!

Tipsy Peach Iced Tea Lemonade recipe

Tipsy Peach Ice Tea Lemonade

Adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

6 tea bags
1-1/2 cups water

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (no pulp)*
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
plus 4 cups water

1-1/4 cup vodka
1 peach, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
5-6 sprigs of fresh mint

For the tea: Either boil water in a small pot, then add the tea bags and let steep for 4-6 minutes OR place the tea bags in a bowl and pour boiling water from a kettle over them, then steep for 4-6 minutes.  Remove the tea bags and cool, then add the tea to a large jug.

For the lemonade*:  In a small pot, combine sugar and 1 cup water.  Over medium-low heat, stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the syrup to cool, then add it to the jug.

Squeeze lemons (approximately 7-8 lemons) and strain the juice, until you have about 1 cup of lemon juice.  Add the lemon juice and 4 more cups of water to the jug. Stir well to combine.

The lemonade and tea mixture can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated.

A few hours before serving, add the vodka, sliced peaches, lemon, and a few sprigs of mint to the jug.  Serve over ice and enjoy!

*You could also use lemonade from concentrate if you want (go for about 5-6 cups or to your taste). I think freshly squeezed is better, but it is a tiny bit more time consuming.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

# 500 Peaches and Cream Ruffles

Wow, this is the 500th post of the blog and I almost feel bad that Kelsey is not writing this one.  K and K Test Kitchen is really her baby and she so graciously asked me to be a part of it.  It has been months since I (the other K and mother) contributed a blog post for Kelsey! She has been so busy that I should have stepped up sooner to help out. This week she is in Montreal for a conference and doing the final week of workouts before her first sprint triathlon, so cooking is not on her agenda. She was so happy that I said I would find something as she feels she has be slacking on the blog. So I apologize too for not being a bigger help to her.  A special thank you to all the followers that have been along for the journey!

Tim and I are visiting our friends in Merritt, BC and we picked up a case of peaches to bring to them. Over the weekend two more cases were given to Jean (my host) and so we decided that something had to be done with the peaches. When I came upon this recipe in the Canadian Living cookbook, it was with strawberries and I know it would be delightful with peaches. The Peaches and Cream Ruffle was wiped up to be dessert. This recipe did not disappoint and Jean said, "it was fitting for a fancy restaurant and it was so easy to make!" The actual hardest part was keeping the guys from eating the wafers before we got to dessert!

P.S. I think Kelsey would approve of this choice and the pictures were done with my iPhone!

Gorgeous peaches from the Geddes farm in Kelowna, BC

Peaches and Cream Ruffles

Recipe adapted from Canadian Living’s Country Cooking

3 cups peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced and drizzled with lemon juice
½ blueberries
1-1/2 cup whipping cream
Icing sugar


¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup butter
¼ cup corn syrup ( substituted honey )
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp finely chopped almonds
½ tsp brandy or vanilla

Wafers: In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, butter and corn syrup; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Combine flour with nuts; add to sugar mixture along with brandy and mix well. Drop batter, 1 rounded tsp for each wafer, to form three rounds about 3 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Bake, 1 sheet at a time in a 350 F oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown and bubbles break but don’t fill in. Let cool for 1 minute or until easily lifted with a wide spatula.

Remove 1 wafer at a time and using both hands, quickly pinch edges to create ruffled appearance. Repeat with remaining batter to make 12 wafers. Let cool.

To assemble spread 2 tbsp of cream over 1 wafer per serving. Top with peaches and a few blueberries and another 2 tbsp of cream. Top with another wafer and repeat layering of cream and fruit. Top with another wafer and garnish with whipped cream, icing sugar, peaches and berries! Make 4 serving

Friday, August 16, 2013

Healthy Maple Coconut Oat Bars

I have a major sweet tooth and one of my favorite things to do lately is figure out ways to satisfy it, while also trying to stay "clean and lean."  These maple coconut bars pack a serious flavor punch and they aren't the worst for you.  Plus, lately I have been obsessed with anything coconut flavored and these definitely hit the spot for me.

I've been really intrigued by coconut flour lately, so I bought a small bag of it from the bulk section of my local health food store.  Coconut flour absorbs liquid like a sponge, so when substituting it for other types of flour, make sure you increase the liquid in the recipe.  Here, I switched out brown sugar for maple syrup, so that did the trick. You also only need about 1/3 of what you would use for regular flour. Here 1 cup of flour became 1/3 cup of coconut flour, which reduces the overall carbs in the recipe.  Finally, coconut flour is amazing.  It is rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats!  It is a great gluten-free option too.

Healthy Maple Coconut Oat Bars

1/2 cup unsweetened, toasted coconut flakes
1-1/4 cups oats
1/3 cup coconut flour
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Blend together maple syrup and coconut oil until creamy.  Add the vanilla protein powder, salt, and coconut flour and blend until well combined.  Stir in coconut and oats.

Press the mixture into a parchment lined 8x8 inch baking dish.  Bake for 20 minutes at 375F.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tomato Watermelon Salad

Tomato Watermelon Salad recipe

You all must be pretty hungry. I haven't shared a new recipe with you in so long, and I'm sorry for being such a food blogging slacker. Let's just call it quality over quantity.

This salad was a huge hit at the family BBQ we had while out in Seattle. It has this unexpected pairing of sweet, salty, and tangy flavors.  I was really surprised at how well watermelon worked with what is basically my all-time favorite salad (tomato and cucumber with basic balsamic vinaigrette).  Anyways, the watermelon really makes this salad special.  It is light and refreshing, and full of flavor.  We still have over 40 days left of summer, so put this on the menu at your next BBQ or picnic!

Tomato Watermelon Salad

Adapted from Women's Health magazine
Serves 4 (I doubled this)

2 cups watermelon, diced
2 cups mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 cups English cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup sweet onion, thinly sliced (I used Walla Walla onions)
10 basil leaves, chiffonaded
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber and onion.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then season with salt and pepper.  Add the basil just before serving.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ultimate Summer Salad

Ultimate Summer Salad recipe

Last weekend, I went down to the farmers market and went a little crazy.  I'm pretty sure I bought $40 worth of fruit, vegetables, and miscellaneous things (dill pickles...). I love that the farmers market here is so full of fresh produce and has such an amazing variety.  After wandering around the market, stopping at almost every stand, I had a basket laden with goodness and was excited to get into the kitchen.

Almost every single magazine that I bought for my vacation (I only buy magazines when I'm going on the plane), Food & Wine, Self, and Women's Health had a recipe for a veggie packed salad with a light vinaigrette.  I took elements from all three and added my own pizzazz for what I shall deem the "ultimate summer salad."  This salad is fresh, bright, spicy, crunchy, and delicious. You could add almost any vegetable you want to it. In fact, I actually bought radishes and avocado and forgot to put them in the salad. Go crazy! Go fresh! Go hit up your local farmers market this weekend!

Ultimate Summer Salad recipe

Ultimate Summer Salad

3 ears corn, kernels cut off the cob
1 red pepper
2 cups green beans, cut in pieces
1 cup shelled, frozen edamame beans
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes
1 jalapeno, sliced in thin slices
1-1/2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon raw honey
Zest from one lime
10 leaves basil, chiffonaded
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Roast red peppers, cut into thick strips, and corn with a drizzle of olive oil and some sea salt at 400°F for 10 minutes.  When the peppers are done, dice and add to the salad.

Boil green beans and edamame beans for about 3-5 minutes.  Drain the water, then immediately submerge beans in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Whisk together dressing ingredients: lime juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime zest, and honey.  Pour over the vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with basil.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Fresh Mango Ice Cream

Secret Recipe Club Mango Ice Cream recipe

It is Secret Recipe Club time again!  This month, I was assigned Asiya's blog Chocolate and Chillies.  Asiya is a fellow Canuck and has a beautiful blog full of healthy, delicious, Halal recipes. Her cooking is influenced by her Indian heritage, but you'll also find a wide array of recipes from around the globe. You can bet that everything is infused with tons of flavour!

I always have a hard time choosing what to make from my assigned blog, and this month was no different. I think my decision was made in part due to the fact that I was sitting in my apartment and sweating while I looked through her blog for something to make. When it's hot, all I want is something nice and cold.  I don't want to turn on my oven and I want it to be easy.

So when I saw her recipe for Mango Ice Cream, I was sold. ICE CREAM! No machine required? Sign me up!

When you have a teeny, tiny apartment like I do, buying another piece of kitchen equipment is totally out of the question.  Unfortunately for this ice cream lover, it means I just can't justify buying an ice cream maker.  So I was very excited to try this recipe, and even more excited because the recipe only requires 3 ingredients!

The ice cream is fantastic, while it looks a little drippy and soft in the photo, it actually hardens up quite nicely (I need to retake photos when I have a little bit more time, was running out the door and took photos before the ice cream set properly).  It is really tasty, and I definitely lucked out with the juiciest, most delicious mangoes to puree for it. Give this easy, summery recipe a try and go visit Asiya's blog when you have a few minutes!

Fresh Mango Ice Cream (Eggless, No Machine, Low-fat)

From  Chocolate and Chillies

1 can evaporated milk, chilled overnight in the fridge (I used 2%, though you could try skim as well)
3/4 cup sugar
4 ripe mangoes (look for champagne, Artualfo, or other small mangoes)

Pour the chilled evaporated milk into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on high speed for 40 seconds.  Slowly add the sugar while whipping the evaporated milk.  Put the bowl in the freezer for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, puree the mango (I used my immersion blender for this).

Once the hour is up, whip the ice cream for 1 minute at high speed.  Carefully mix in the pureed mango with a spatula.  Put in the freezer for 1 hour.

Again whip the ice cream on medium speed for 1 minute.  Transfer to a container and freeze until set.

For more great recipes from Secret Recipe Club members, check out the blog hop below!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Chia and Buckwheat Cereal (Homemade Holy Crap)

My boyfriend loves Holy Crap Cereal.  You maybe heard about it from the show "Dragon's Den" or perhaps if you live in Canada, you've seen this cereal at your local health food store.  If you live elsewhere, you may have come across Qi'a (which I hear is actually being sold at Costco now, from one of my TIU sisters).

Anyways, both cereals are full of wholesome, delicious ingredients, packed with fiber, protein, and Omegas. The problem... they are expensive!! The BF pays like $14 a bag, which is only 8 servings!  Not to mention, Holy Crap also has hemp hearts, and guess what, I'm allergic to hemp products, so I can't even eat the cereal.

To remedy the cost issue, I decided to go to the bulk section of my local health food store (Herb & Spice) and purchase the ingredients (after consulting the back of the Holy Crap bag).  To remedy the issue of my hemp allergy, I decided to substitute some other high protein, high healthy fats ingredients - quinoa flakes and flax seeds. (Not a perfect substitute for the amazing hemp hearts, but still gluten-free!)

In the end, I was definitely happy with the result.  The cereal is crunchy, nutty, and I feel good eating it, because I know that it is good for me!

The BF just came home from work (he works 3 weeks, then has a week off at home), so he hasn't tried his "man cereal" yet, but I will update you when he has.

Chia and Buckwheat Cereal

Inspired by Holy Crap Cereal and adapted from Veg Girl RD
Approximately 20 servings (of 2 tablespoons)

3/4 cup buckwheat groats
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries (look for unsweetened or apple juice sweetened)
1/4 cup organic sultana raisins
3 tablespoons dried apples, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Stir ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

To serve, mix 2 tablespoons of cereal with 4 tablespoons of liquid (almond milk, coconut milk, regular milk, your choice) and lots of fruit!

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