Friday, December 21, 2012

Soft Caramels

This is another recipe I found on Pinterest that is a keeper for sure.  I love caramels and always wanted to make them but steered away because of the whole candy thermometer thing. This recipe I adapted from Last Night's Dinner is easy peasy, foolproof and you don't even need cream or a thermometer! Instead of drizzling with chocolate I sprinkled with Fleur de Sel.  Everybody just raves about them and you can't eat just one so make plenty!

Salted Caramels
(printable recipe)

1 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
2 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
fleur de sel

Prepare a 9 x 9 baking dish by lining with foil, and spraying liberally with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat until butter is melted, stirring frequently. Increase heat to medium high, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring constantly, until caramel has turned a rich amber color and thickened slightly. This takes about 15-20 minutes. Pour into prepared pan and refrigerate for 15 minutes then sprinkle with fleur de sel and return pan to fridge until completely cooled.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cherry Chocolate Kisses

This is going on my list of Christmas baking.  Every year I try to add something new and this year these Cherry Chocolate Kisses have made it to the list.  I found this cookie on Pinterest.  I have a few things from Pinterest that didn't turn out at all (like the mac and cheese in a cup)  but this one is a keeper!  They turned out just fabulous and were so easy to make.  They are basically a shortbread cookie with cherries added to the dough and you can whip them up in no time. Just make sure when you add the kisses when the cookies come out of the oven let them cool completely until they harden again, 'cause one little touch and they loose their form.  Come on, cherries and chocolate?  What's not to love! 

Cherry Chocolate Kisses

1 cup unsalted butter, softened, but still cool*****very important!
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons maraschino cherry “juice”
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling the cookies
36 milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.
3. Reduce the speed to the lowest setting and slowly add the powdered sugar and salt.
4. Add the cherry juice and the almond extract until combined.
5. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
6. Increase the mixer speed to medium and add the cherries.
7. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, and place the balls on a baking sheet, approximately 2 inches apart.
8.  Using your thumb, gently press each cookie in its center until the cookie is about 1/2-inch thick.
9.  Sprinkle each cookie with a little granulated sugar.
10.  Bake the cookies until the bottoms are lightly browned, about 14 minutes.
11. Once removed from the oven, immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie’s center.
12.  Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Servings: approximately 36 cookies

Adapted from The Curvy Carrot

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tortilla Soup

I know everyone says "it's that time of the year again" to make soup because it's fall, but the truth of the matter is I love soup all year round. Yes, even on hot summer days, I will eat homemade soup.  Yes, my family thinks I'm nuts, but what can you do. I love making soup and I love eating soup. I make tons of soup and freeze it. 
Now my friend Deccy (check him out, he's a gorgeous greyhound) from across the pond says his Momma's love spicy soup.  So I thought I'd post my tortilla soup recipe for them. I really think they'd enjoy it. You can't go wrong in my eyes with chipotle peppers, jalapenos and cilantro.  So if you like spicy, here's my recipe for tortilla soup which I think I adapted from a Cooking Light magazine, but I can't remember since it's on a scrap piece of paper! lol!

Tortilla Soup

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
8 cups of low sodium chicken broth
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
8-10 sprigs fresh cilantro or 8 frozen cilantro toppit cubes
1 sprig fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried oregano
pinch of salt
1 14oz. can of diced tomatoes
1/2 a medium jalapeno pepper seeded and cut into chunks
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce with 1 tbsp. adobo sauce
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Bring chicken broth, 2 onion quarters, 2 garlic cloves, cilantro, oregano and salt to a boil.  Reduce heat to low. 

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken breasts are done.

Remove chicken and set aside to cool.

Strain the broth through some cheesecloth and set aside.

In a blender, puree tomatoes, 2 onion quarters, 2 garlic cloves, jalapeno, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce until smooth.

Heat oil in large pot, add the puree and a pinch of salt.  Cook until dark, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, shred your cooled chicken. (I just use two forks)

Try to ignore the drooling hound at your feet.

Add strained broth to simmered puree mixture.

Give the hound at your feet some chicken to stop the drool until you have finished your soup.

Add the shredded chicken to the soup and heat through.  Crumble some tortilla chips on top.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Mom's Baked Rice Pudding

Our family loves having rice pudding for dessert.  It's nice and light, not too sweet and so simple to make. I always make extra rice when we have it for dinner so I can make this dessert. The only kind of rice pudding I have ever made is baked in the oven because that's the way my Mother and Grandmother did it. Hey, why mess with a good thing.  So hear is my Mother's recipe for Baked Rice Pudding.

Baked Rice Pudding
(printable version)

2 cups of hot cooked rice (I use Uncle Ben's but minute rice is fine)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2 1/2 cups of milk, scalded (which means steamy hot but not boiling.  I find two minutes in the microwave works perfect)
1/2 cup raisins in cinnamon (I just sprinkle some cinnamon into my measuring cup of raisins and give it a shake)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Blend eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl.

Gradually stir in the milk (not too fast or you'll cook the eggs!)

Add the raisins in cinnamon.

Then add your hot cooked rice.

Pour into an ungreased 1 1/2 quart casserole and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Place your dish inside a slightly bigger pan.

Then pour very hot water into the pan about 1 1/2 inches deep. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 70 minutes.

You won't be sorry you made this one!  I serve it warm with a bit of milk over it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

We absolutely love these cookies.  If your a lemon fan like I am you will love them too!  They are light, lemony and kind of in between a cookie and cake. I got this recipe from the show Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentis about 4 years ago and it has become one of my families favorites.

Here's what you'll need.

(printable version)

2 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 15 oz. container ricotta cheese (I used light)
3 tbsp. lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp. lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

For the cookies.

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

In mixing bowl combine butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

About 3 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time.

Beat until well incorporated.

Add ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest beating to combine.

 Slowly mix in dry ingredients.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper and spoon tablespoons of the dough onto the sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly brown around the edges. let cool on cookie sheets for 20 minutes. Then glaze.
For the glaze mix icing sugar, lemon juice and zest until smooth.  Spoon about 1/2 tsp. onto each cookie and spread with the back of spoon.

Let glaze harden before putting in containers. I got 56 cookies. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mom's Spaghetti Sauce

We love a big plate of spaghetti in our house.  It's one of my all time favorites with my Mom's homemade spaghetti sauce.  Since there were six kids in my family growing up and money was tight, for our birthday our Mom used to let us pick what we wanted for dinner.  It would always be her homemade spaghetti.  It was one of the first things I learned to make and still make a big pot once every couple weeks to this day. Just the smell of this sauce simmering makes my mouth water. The leftover sauce freezes well and is great to use for lasagna too!  You won't be disappointed in this spaghetti sauce.  I have the original recipe cards my Mother wrote this recipe on from her recipe box.  The only change I make today is to use 1 lb. of ground beef instead of two, it just depends on how meaty you like it. I know it looks like a lot of ingredients, but it is really easy to make and is well worth the time.

Here is my Mother's recipe for Spaghetti Sauce
(printable recipe)

2 lbs. ground beef (I use 1 lb.)
2  28oz. cans whole tomatoes
2  5 1/2 oz. cans tomato paste
1 large spanish onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
5 cloves of garlic chopped, or 2 tsp. garlic powder
1 medium can of tomato juice
1 can mushroom pieces, drained
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
6 whole cloves or 1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Brown ground beef.  Add onion, garlic, celery, green pepper and cook until softened.  About 5 minutes.  Drain off fat.  Add canned tomatoes (breaking up with spoon or hand), tomato juice, tomato paste and canned mushrooms.  Bring to boil.  Add poultry seasoning, onion powder, marjoram, salt, pepper, sugar, chili powder, cayenne pepper and cloves.  Reduce to simmer.  Let simmer for up to 3 hours.  The longer the better!  This sauce is always better the next day!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Salmon in Parchment

Salmon in parchment has got to be one of the fastest, healthy, elegant meals there is.  My husband loves salmon and I often make this for him when he comes home for lunch.  Serve it with some couscous or rice and vegetables and it's a very light healthy meal.  It's impressive enough for company served with a nice glass of chardonnay.

Here's what you'll need for each salmon filet

Salmon in Parchment
(printable recipe)

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees

1 salmon filet
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 - 1 tsp. dried dill
3 lemon slices
1 tsp. capers
olive oil for drizzling
square piece of parchment paper

Fold your parchment paper in half then open and lay your salmon filet in the middle close to the crease.

Spread Dijon mustard over salmon.

Sprinkle with dill.

Lay lemon slices on salmon, top with capers and a sprinkle of dill.. Drizzle with a little olive oil.

Fold parchment over salmon and starting at one corner, fold and crease on an angle going around the salmon until you get to the end.

Twist the end and fold under.

Place on a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your salmon. Place on serving plate and cut open being careful of the steam.  Serve right in parchment.  Beautiful!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Colored Deviled Eggs

I just think these are so cool for Easter Dinner! Thanks to Theresa over at Theresa's Mixed Nuts for posting them in her Eater Party Ideas post!

Colored Deviled Eggs
(printable recipe)

You can use your own Deviled Egg recipe if you want. Everyone likes theirs different.
If you don't have a one, here is mine.

6 Eggs
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tsp. green relish
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp dry mustard

Put eggs in pan and cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil.  Boil 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and place under running cold water.  Once cool. Peel and slice lengthwise.  Remove yolks and place in separate bowl.
Using a separate bowl for each color you want (I did three, pink, yellow and purple) add 1 cup of water, 1 tsp.  Apple Cider Vinegar and your food coloring to each bowl.  Stir to mix color throughout water. Add your egg white halves to each color and let sit about 10 minutes or until the color you want is achieved stirring around every now and then.  Remove and let dry on paper towels.

Meanwhile mash yolks with a fork and add relish, onion powder, mustard powder and mayonnaise.  Mix well and use teaspoons to fill egg halves.  Sprinkle with paprika if desired.
Refrigerate until ready to enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lasagna Soup

I came across this recipe awhile ago over at A Farm Girls Dabbles and had been trying to find the time to make it ever since.  With all the all the other soups I am constantly making, this recipe sat on the back burner.  I finally made it last week and we loved it so much I made it again yesterday!

So here is the recipe adapted from A Farm Girls Dabbles.  All of her recipes look so great I'd like to find the time to try them all.

Lasagna Soup
(printable recipe)

2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 lbs. lean ground beef or hot italian sausage
3 c. chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes (I only had plain diced tomatoes)
2 bay leaves
6 c. low sodium beef broth
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cheese Topping ( I did not use the cheese topping)

8 oz. ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add ground beef or sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.
Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and beef broth. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. The pasta will absorb the broth as it sits, for this I just added more beef broth to reheat. Right before serving, stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheese topping. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
To serve, place a dollop of the cheese topping in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.
Servings: 8

The leftovers froze well also.

Source: adapted from 300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds, as seen in the February-April 2011 edition of At Home with Kowalski’s magazine

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Foamy Peach Dessert

This was one of my Mother's favourite recipes.  She got it off of a box of Jello.  I still have that piece of Jello box with the recipe.  This is such an easy and light dessert.

Here's what you'll need:
(printable recipe)

1 14 oz. can of sliced peaches in fruit juice
1 pkg Jello raspberry powder
1/2 cup ice cubes
hand full of blueberries (this is my addition to the recipe)

Drain peaches reserving juice.  Add water to juice to make 3/4 cup.  Bring liquid to a boil.  Pour boiling liquid into blender.  Add Jello powder and blend on low until dissolved, about 1 minute.  Add ice cubes and blend on low until partially melted.  Add peaches and blend on high until ice is all melted: about 30 seconds.  Add a few blueberries to 6 dessert dishes and pour Jello mixture over.  Chill until set; about 1 hour.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Homemade Croutons

These are so easy.  They are really worth making as they come out light and full of flavour.  Great in a salad or on soup but we even eat them as a snack!

Here's what you'll need:
(printable recipe)

a few slices of day old bread cut into cubes
about 1/4 cup of butter
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. garlic seasoning ( I use Club House Garlic Plus)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Place bread cubes on baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes or until they start to lightly brown.  Melt butter and olive oil in frying pan until bubbly and add garlic powder and garlic seasoning; then toss in toasted bread cubes.  Toss to coat and place on paper towel lined plate to cool.

Note:  I have used all different breads including regular and whole wheat sliced bread.  But I do prefer slicing my own with breads such as Italian, French, Sourdough or my favourite Calabrese from the bakery section of the supermarket.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Crepes With Ham and Eggs

Canadian Living is one of my all time favourite magazines.  It is loaded with great recipes, stories, reviews and tips.This recipe is from the February 2012 edition that I picked up last weekend.  As soon as I saw their Sugar Shack Crepes with Ham and Eggs, I had to make them.  Oh boy!  Were they a hit!  This is a great recipe for brunch as you can make ahead and keep warm in the oven.    The only change I made was adding a 1/4 tsp. of baking powder to the crepe batter and lessening the refrigerate time..

Here's what you'll need:
(printable recipe)

8 slices of black forest ham
6 eggs
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tbsp. butter
maple syrup

Chive Crepes

2/3 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
1 tbsp. of fresh chives (I used dried chives)

Whisk flour and salt together.  Whisk in the 2 eggs milk and half the butter.

Strain into bowl and add chives. (You can skip the straining part if your batter is lump free)  Refrigerate for 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.  Heat 8 inch crepe pan or non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Brush with some of the remaining butter.

Pour a 1/4 scant cup of batter into pan swirling the pan around as you go to coat bottom with a thin layer.  Cook turning once, about 30 seconds per side.  Transfer to plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining butter and batter until all batter is gone.

You'll get about 8 crepes.
In same pan heat ham in batches turning once to heat through about 1 minute.  Transfer to plate and keep warm.
Beat together eggs, salt and pepper.  Melt butter in same pan and cook eggs stirring gently with spatula until large moist curds form and no liquid remains, about 3 minutes.
Top each crepe with a ham slice and one eighth of the scrambled eggs.

Roll up and serve drizzled with maple syrup.