Archive for October, 2011

I was recently snacking on some caramel popcorn (well it was my daughters) and became inspired to find a quick and easy similar style recipe to make for the Annual Family Halloween Party we attend every year.   I came across a popcorn on a stick recipe that has marshmallows in it. Fantastic.

So I set out to make this recipe for the party. Tip: you can buy the lollipop sticks at Michael’s.

Adapted from Canadian Family

Popcorn Balls on a Stick

6 cups popped popcorn
2-3 cups marshmallows (I used a combo of big/small ones)
2 tbsp butter
3/4 cup Halloween sprinkles
softened butter

20-24 Lollipop sticks

Put popped popcorn in a bowl. Remove un-popped kernels and set bowl aside.

Put butter into a glass bowl and put in microwave. Heat 40-50 seconds or until butter is melted. Add your marshmallows and cook for another 40-60 seconds or until marshmallows are melted. Mix well and pour over popcorn stirring to combine. With buttered hands start forming your balls (approximately golf ball size).

NOTE: the original recipe called for chocolate chips to be stirred in. I tried this and the hot marshmallow mixture melted the chocolate chips and I ended up with a brown gooey mess. I also added in a couple teaspoons of the Halloween sprinkles which worked out well.

Next roll your popcorn balls in the sprinkles and place on cookie sheet. Note: you can also roll them in coconut. Once all your popcorn balls have been sprinklified, push your lollipop sticks into them. And BOO-YA they are ready to eat!

If not serving right away you can individually wrap them in baggies or plastic wrap until ready to eat. Or if giving out to the kids, keep them wrapped.

Not the greatest photo but it shows the finished product!

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Pomegranates have been spotted in the stores for the past several weeks now.  Excited.  My girl and I love them AND the exta bonus of antioxidants!  The only downside to a pomegranate is peeling them.

And so in our quest to find an easier way….some time ago we discovered the technique of peeling them under water.  Easy and next to no mess. Brilliant.

This is something everyone needs to know.  Watch the video and see how it’s done!

Peeling a Pomegranate

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Sometimes ingredient combinations in recipes make me go hmmm and it’s most likely because I am not a trained chef with a trained palate. This recipe was one of those. I could not wrap my head around a balsamic/clam juice/caper sauce combo. And so I planned on this recipe but kept putting it off until finally my fresh basil went bad and I knew it was time to get cooking before my asparagus went south too.

I am thrilled to report this recipe turned out fabulous. The aroma that filled the house while it baked in the oven made our mouths water. I used cod for this recipe…the original calls for haddock. Use a fresh fish with some substance (not sole) so it stands up the cooking.

Adapted from Rachael Ray

Baked Fish with Asparagus

Olive Oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, diced
2 lbs fresh white fish (cod, halibut, tilapia, haddock)
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp capers
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup fresh basil (shredded) or 2 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup clam juice

1 lb asparagus

Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat a large oven proof pan over medium heat. Add a splash (1 tbsp) of oil to the pan. Add fennel seeds, shallots and garlic cooking for about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile rinse the fish and pat dy. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large measuring cup or small bowl mix the capers, tomatoes, 1 tbsp oil, balsamic vinegar, basil and clam juice. Add mixture to pan and let cook for 3-5 minutes.

Then add your fish into the pan. Spoon sauce over fish and transfer pan into preheated oven. Bake fo 15 minutes or until fish is cooked through.

While fish is cooking steam your asparagus (approximately 8-10 minutes for tender crisp). When done put into a serving dish or on a plate and season with about 1 tbsp oil, some salt and pepper.

When fish is done serve it with basmati rice (soaked up sauce nicely) and the steamed asparagus. So darn good I can’t wait to make it again!!

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Beef Paprika

My mom used to make this when I was growing up (30+ yrs ago). Oddly enough I am not a huge beef eater. But husband is and so we do eat our share of beef! Being a flavour hound I have tweaked this recipe a little bit and it is delicious!

Beef Paprika

2lbs beef stew
2-3 tbsp oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp flour
2 cups beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
Pinch of brown sugar & pinch of pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp paprika (regular or smoked)

In a large pan or dutch oven heat 1 tbsp of your oil over med-high heat. Add your beef in two batches ensuring each batch of beef is nicely seared. Remove from pan and set aside. Add a little more oil to the pan if needed and add onions & garlic cooking until soft. Return the beef and juices to the pan. Sprinkle in flour and cook for 1 minute. Add stock, tomato paste, marjoram, caraway seeds, sugar, paprika, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on low for approximately 2 hours or until meat is tender. Add more stock if you need it.

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with your favourite starch (egg noodles, mashed potatoes, rice or even spaetzle).

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This Pasta dish is good hot and cold the next day. I love sundried tomatoes and pesto. If you make your own pesto – fabulous, use it in the recipe. Otherwise pick up your favourite pesto for this dish.

Adapted from Canadian Living

Chicken Pesto Pasta

15 sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil, & drained on paper towel)
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp oil
5 cups farfalle
3/4 cup pesto
pinch of salt & pepper
2 tbsp toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Let’s begin
Cut your chicken crosswise into strips making them about 1/4 inch each. Put oil in a pan and heat over med-high. When oil is ready add chicken stirring often for 5 minutes or until no longer pink inside. I typically give my chicken a quick pinch of s&p while in the pan. Move pan off heat.

In pasta or large pot start your boiling water. Once boiling salt your water and drop your pasta cooking for 7-8 minutes or until al dente. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, set aside and drain your pasta. Return it to the pot and add sun dried tomatoes, chicken, pesto, salt, pepper and the cooking liquid cooking for an additional minute to combine and warm everything. Pour into serving dish and garnish with nuts and parmesan cheese.

This should make 4-6 servings. If you love them you can also garnish with sliced olives.

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I had a pork tenderloin sitting in the fridge for a couple of days taking up space.  Original plans were to stir fry it but it never happened.  Sometimes inspiration takes awhile.

With an activity night upon us and my pork about to be evicted I decided to mix together a maple syrup/mustard glaze and BBQ it instead.

Husband helped by making the seasoning rub (ok and doing the BBQing). He did not measure and so these are estimates only.

Seasoning Rub
1/8 tsp seasoning salt (we use the msg free salt)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp steak, pork or meat spice mix
1 tbsp oil

Mix seasonings and oil together in bowl and rub into your pork tenderloin. Set aside on counter.

The Glaze

1 tbsp dijon type mustard
1 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
2 tbsp maple syrup (I use the real stuff)
1 pork tenderloin

I had some garlic dijon mustard in the fridge that needed some adventure. If you don’t have this just use regular dijon mustard. Mix mustard(s) and maple syrup together in a bowl. Set aside with pastry type brush for glazing later.

Grill pork over low heat on natural gas BBQ for about 30 minutes or until a thermometer registers 170F. At about 15 minutes start basting with your glaze. Continue to baste (and turn pork) every 5 minutes until pork is done. If you have leftover glaze disgard. When done put your pork on a platter and tent it for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.

The flavour is lovely!

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I got my Martha on when I first made these cupcakes several years ago. It was Halloween and we made Creepcakes ….what fun!!  The cupcakes were easy and turned out fabulous!  The creepcake decorating…a little more tedious.   And so they became our stand by vanilla cupcake recipe that we make regularly throughout the year. I haven’t altered this recipe – it needed no changes (to suit our family).  

What works for me:
I tend to leave my eggs out and let them come to room temperature before using them in this recipe.  I also like to make the mini cupcakes as the kidlets love them!

Recipe Source: Martha Stewart

Vanilla Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp softened butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar (white)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line cupcake pans with liners.

Next whisk (and/or sift) your flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a seperate bowl (mixer bowl if using an electric mixer) cream your butter and sugar (with paddle attachment of electric mixer) OR a regular hand mixer; until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time (scraping down bowl) and beat in vanilla.

Add your flour mixture and milk alternatively to the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Pour your batter into the liner filled muffin tins filling only until about 3/4 full (they will overflow if too much). Bake until golden, tops spring back to touch and/or a toothpick comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes for large cupcakes. My mini cupcakes take approx. 10 minutes to bake.  Once done transfer pan to wire rack cooling completely before icing.

For large cupcakes this recipe makes 1 dozen.  For mini cupcakes 2-4 dozen.

We always use buttercream icing to decorate these cupcakes!

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I’m not sure why I haven’t posted this one before.  Made it for dinner guests in the past..making it for dinner guests this weekend.  It’s so simple and rustic.  Finishing this dish with a Balsamic Drizzle gives it an elegant appearance when you bring it to the table.

Balsamic Drizzle is not something many have heard of. I first heard about it from a cookbook by Robert Rainford (2006).  Rachael Ray uses it in this dish and it is fabulous and easy to make!

Adapted from Rachael Ray

Roasted Chicken & Sausages

4 pieces bone-in chicken thighs/legs attached
1 lb sausages (I love spolumbos with this dish)
3 tbsp oil
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, 2 of them finely chopped
8 sprigs fresh thyme, 4 of them finely chopped
12 baby potatoes
6-8 shallots, halfed and peeled (spanish onions would work as well)
1 lb bunch black seedless grapes snipped into small clusters (do not take them off stems)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Balsamic Drizzle

First Step make your Drizzle
2 cups of Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp Brown Sugar

You can make this without the brown sugar…it’s your choice. Put the balsamic vinegar into a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce to low and let simmer 20-30 minutes. It should become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. At this point you should have approx. 1/2 cup. Let cool. Pour into storage container and keep in fridge if not using right away. Otherwise set aside until ready to use.

Main Dish
Preheat oven to 425F. In a large roasting pan add your chicken, sausages and 1-2 tbsp of your oil. Toss to combine. Season with chopped rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.

In a bowl toss the shallots, potatoes, black grapes and remaining oil. Add another pinch of Salt & Pepper and place in roasting pan with the meat. You can either bundle your rosemary/thyme sprigs or just toss them into the pan.

Roast 45-60 minutes until meat juices run clear and meat is crispy on the outside.

To serve arrange everything nicely on a clean platter adding pan juices. Lightly pour on your balsamic drizzle and bring to the table. With this dish you could serve some steamed broccoli, asparagus or a green salad of sorts! Enjoy!

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Another recent, very tasty vegetarian meal made and devoured (by myself and the visiting vegetarian)!   It’s pretty simple to put this dish together! Serves 4

Adapted from Chatelaine

Vegetable Coconut Curry

1/2 cup red lentils
500g green beans trimmed and cut in half
2 tbsp Indian Curry Paste
1/2 – 3/4 can coconut milk
Pinch of salt
2 Japanese (or chinese) eggplants
1 tbsp oil (canola, olive oil or veg)
1 small spanish onion, sliced
lemon wedges
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
naan (also optional but sooo delish)

Combine lentils with 2.5 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and continue to simmer uncovered until lentils begin to soften (about 8 minutes). Meanwhile steam green beans until tender crisp. Mix curry paste with 1 tbsp water and add to lentils. Stir in coconut milk and pinch of salt. Simmer uncovered until thickened.

Slice eggplants in quarters lengthwise and then cut them again into 2 inch wedges. In a fry pan heat your oil and add your onion cooking until softened.   Then add your eggplant flesh side down and cook until tender….approx. 6-7 minutes.  Add your green beans and toss. 

To serve divide between 4 bowls topping with lentils.  Garnish with lemon and cilantro.  Eat with Naan. YUM!

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I am not really a leftover person. I can typically only handle 1 maybe 2 days of leftovers and even then that’s pushing it. Husband on the other hand could live off them all week. And so I must make our leftovers interesting….well for at least one meal 😉

Today for lunch we had leftovers!!  Here is what I came up with:
Serves 2-4

Leftover Pork, Rice and Spaghetti Noodle Fry

BBQ’d Pork Chops (Leftover from spicy orange porkchops and really not that spicy)
1 cup Leftover buttered spaghetti noodles, roughly chopped
1 cup Leftover Basmati Rice
1/2 cup Leftover Peas, cooked
Parmesan cheese, handful shredded
1/2 tsp Oregano
Seasoning salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp Butter

Put your butter into pan and melt over medium heat. While butter is melting start slicing (thick or thin) your pork chops. Add rice and chopped spaghetti noodles to the pan and cook approx. 5 minutes stirring a couple of times. Add your sliced pork chops, parmesan cheese and oregano to pan. Mix well and let cook another 5 minutes. Finally add your cooked peas, stirring to combine and cook until just heated through (about 1-2 minutes).

You could really add any leftover vegetable to this meal, so feel free to experiment with your leftovers!

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