Friday, December 25, 2009

Baked French Toast

This is a Christmas morning tradition at my house. It's so easy. I prepare it the night before and let it sit in the refrigerator. Then, I pop it in the oven and let it bake while we open gifts. By the time we get hungry, a fancy breakfast is ready and waiting. Just add syrup, microwave bacon, and fruit. I used an artisan organic French bread for this particular batch because it was the only loaf left at the grocery store on Christmas Eve.


6 eggs
3 cups milk
1 loaf French bread, sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated orange zest
1/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup brown sugar


1. In a 4-cup mixing bowl, beat eggs with a fork. Add milk until the level reaches at least 4 cups.
2. Mix in cinnamon, orange zest, cranberries, and sugar.
3. Butter a 9x13 glass or casserole dish.
4. Cut bread into smaller pieces, (halves or thirds) arrange in the pan.
5. Pour the egg mixture over the bread. With hands, or the back of a large spoon or small plate, squish the bread into the egg mixture until it is flattened and well saturated.
6. Cover with plastic wrap and set heavy plates on top to keep the bread saturated in the liquid. Keep in the fridge until morning.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake for 35 minutes.

Inspiration: I've read recipes like this in magazines, but mostly, I made this one up.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dirt and Worm Cake

I made this childhood classic for a play date we were having. I didn't have a flower pot, sand pail, dump truck or wagon handy, so I simply served it in a bowl. It was definitely a hit.


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 packages instant vanilla pudding mix
3 1/2 cups milk
1 12 oz container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 package of chocolate sandwich cookies with creme filling

  1. Chop cookies very fine in food processor. The white cream will disappear.
  2. Mix butter, cream cheese, and sugar in bowl.
  3. In a large bowl mix milk, pudding and whipped topping together.
  4. Combine pudding mixture and cream mixture together.
  5. Layer in flower pot, starting with cookies then cream mixture. Repeat layers.
  6. Chill until ready to serve.
  7. Add artificial flower and trowel. Enjoy!

Granny's Frikadellars

These meatballs are a hit with my husband and my preschooler. My husband loved them and raved about them. I don't dare tell him it's apple sauce, wine and ketchup making them taste like that. And they are the easiest meatballs I've ever made because they brown in the oven by themselves. I plan to brown all my meatballs this way from now on.


1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 cup apple sauce
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper
4 tbsp minced onion
2 eggs
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 pound ground beef
6 tbsp white wine or water

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Combine the bread crumbs with egg, 4 tbsp apple sauce, 1 tbsp ketchup and seasonings. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Add meat and onion, blend.
  4. Form into 1-inch balls and arrange in a shallow baking pan.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Combine remaining applesauce, ketchup and wine. Spoon over meatballs and bake 10 minutes longer.
Inspiration: Granny gave me this recipe in a recipe book she made for my wedding shower.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ghostly Brownies

I'm so proud of myself for actually trying this recipe only days after discovering it, rather than stashing it away and forgetting about it. I first saw it at my sister-in-law's house in a Robinhood Flour recipe booklet. Then I was happy to find my own copy of the booklet at the grocery store.

This recipe was definitely a challenge to my culinary skills, or lack thereof. The brownie part was easy; I did it with my toddler. The meringue was harder, perhaps because I tried doing it with my toddler. I thought we could separate eggs using our egg separator gadget. I would crack the eggs while she held and tapped the separator. Then she would watch the meringues fluff up in the mixer.

Instead, she got confused and dumped the egg yolk into the mixer instead of the compost. Another time she bumped me while I was cracking the egg and the yolk broke into the whites. Then I didn't read the recipe carefully and I added the sugar before beating the egg whites to soft peaks. A big mistake. I got out Play Doh for my kid and started over by myself.

Piping the meringue ghosts was difficult too, or rather messy. I should have filled my piping bag completely and then piped. I filled as I went and every part of my hands ended up covered in meringue. I got the job done, but it was a mess. Definitely something I couldn't do with a toddler.

This is definitely a dessert to please any toddler. It's something that would be great to take along to any Halloween party or event.


1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
3/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup chocolate chips

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp corn starch
16-20 chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch spring form pan.
  2. Melt chocolate chips with butter. Reserve.
  3. Whisk eggs with sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat in chocolate and butter mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  4. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven.
  5. Once brownies are made, beat egg whites using mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in sugar, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in corn starch. Spoon 1 cup meringue over baked brownies. Place remaining meringue into piping bag with a ½” plain tip, or place in heavy plastic bag and cut a ½” hole in one corner. Pipe about 8-10 ghostly shapes over the prepared brownies. Add chocolate chips to the meringue peaks for eyes.
  6. Bake again in preheated oven 10-12 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned.

Inspiration: Robinhood Flour recipe booklet

Monday, October 19, 2009

Grandma's Chocolate Frosting

I was so impressed when I tried this icing on a cupcake at a Halloween party, I had to ask for the recipe right away. I made the icing the very next day for cupcakes for a Halloween play date. It was so rich and smooth and yummy. I think the instant coffee gives it a richer flavour. I will make this recipe again and again.


1 stick (4 oz) butter or margarine
3 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Heat milk for about 30 seconds in microwave until hot. Stir in vanilla and instant coffee until dissolved.
  2. Cream together margarine, sugar, and cocoa powder. Add warm milk and mix on high speed until fluffy.
Inspiration: Megan and How to eat a Cupcake

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Elaine's Pumpkin Bread

We had this pumpkin bread at my cousin Elaine's house for Thanksgiving. Everyone there agreed it tasted better than the pumpkin pie from Costco. It had all the flavours of pumpkin pie but in a cake format. The recipe here calls for one less cup of sugar than the one elaine gave me. I can't handle the idea of three cups of sugar. I think it tastes just as good with less.


3 1/3 flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 can (16 oz) pumpkin puree
Raisins and nuts optional

  1. Preheat over to 350 F.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients.
  3. Make a well, pour in the wet ingredients.
  4. Mix until smooth.
  5. Pour into three greased and floured loaf pans.

Inspiration: Elaine's aunts recipe

Friday, October 16, 2009

Teriyaki Beef Burgers

This is the best twist on a burger ever. The original recipe called for half beef, half ground chicken, but the idea of mixing those two meats didn't appeal to me. Also, instead of adding three tablespoons of the sauce, I made two batches of the sauce: one for in the meat mixture and one for basting. We loved the extra flavour. I also added a splash of whiskey to the basting sauce, to make it like TGIF's Jack Daniels teriyaki grilling sauce. These didn't last long at our house at all. Definitely impressive.


2 lbs ground beef
1/3 cup dry plain bread crumbs
1/3 cup green onions, minced
1 egg
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp soy suace
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ginger root, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sesame oil
6 hamburger buns
Lettuce, tomatoes and other burger toppings


  1. In mixer, combine beef, bread crumbs, onions, and egg. Mix well.
  2. in small bowl combine ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger root, garlic and sesame oil.
  3. Add 3 tbsp of the sauce to the meat and mix well. Reserve the rest of the sauce to brush onto burgers while grilling.
  4. Shape meat into 8 patties. BBQ until cooked through, while basting with the sauce.
  5. Serve with your favourite toppings.

Inspiration: Burger She Wrote, pg 163, Crazy Plates.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Chicken Shawarma

This recipe was originally for serving as a pita sandwich. I adapted it to serve over a bed of rice. It took a long time to get a photo for this dish. I think it's because this is so good it always gets eaten before any pictures can be taken. My husband loved this dish. My daughter loved this dish. She even mentioned it to our neighbour. "You could come over to our house for dinner. My mom makes good food," she said.


1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp allspice toasted and ground
1 tbsp coriander seed toasted and ground
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp fresh chopped summer savory
1 onion, grated
2 lb. chicken thighs, skin removed, bones removed and pounded to even thickness
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a Ziploc lock bag and marinate in the fridge for at least an hour, or over night.
  2. Cook in a frying pan, breaking the meat into small pieces as it cooks.
  3. Serve over rice, garnished with garlic yogurt sauce.

Inspiration: Christine Cushing's recipe

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Double Chocolate Layer Cake

I read about this recipe on this blog and had to try it. The blog author had done a showdown between this chocolate cake recipe and Martha Stewart's recipe. Chef Ed Kasky's recipe, which won the taste-test, has received more than 1,200 comments on Epicurious.

It has quite a following. I had to know what all the fuss was about, so I tried the recipe. It was good. Better than good. And it was easy too. Too easy. I've never had such a magnificent time icing a cake. The ganache goes on easily and tastes sublime. This will most certainly please every chocolate lover.

I may have spoiled the look with sprinkles, but I was taking the cake to a toddler play date. And well, toddlers love sprinkles. I also put raspberry jam in the middle instead of more icing. I used 9-inch round cake pans instead of 10 because that's what I have.



3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 tsp vanilla

Ganache frosting:

1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter


Make cake layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.
  2. Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
  3. Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  4. Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Make frosting:

  1. Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.
  2. Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency).
  3. Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.
Inspiration: From Chef Ed Kasky, as published in Gourmet Magazine, March 1999.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Cindy's Mom's Sponge Cake

The first time I tried this cake, it was so good I had to have the recipe. My sister-in-law served it with blueberries, strawberries and whip cream. I so glad she shared. She says it
s actually her mom's recipe. The orange zest flavour makes it really stand out. I don't own an angel food cake pan, so my version probably didn't turn out perfectly. In fact, it stuck to the pan and made a big mess. But the cake made for very lovely strawberry shortcake.


1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup water
1/2 vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp orange rind zest
7 egg whites

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease angel food cake pan with butter.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.)
  3. Separate eggs, dropping the yolks onto the flour mixture and the egg whites into the bowl of the stand mixer.
  4. Whisk the egg whites in the mixer until stiff peaks form.
  5. Hand whisk egg yolks, water, oil, vanilla and orange zest into the flour mixture.
  6. Gently fold egg whites into cake batter. Pour into pan.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until fork comes out clean.

Inspiration: Cindy's handwritten cookbook

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Grilled Chicken with Balsamic Tomato Sauce

I couldn't find the picture, but I liked this recipe for how good it was and, of course, how simple it was to prepare. I love simple yet tasty dishes. This is another I'd like to remember. It came from one of my parenting magazines.


1 tbsp olive oil
6 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes, with juice

  1. Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add chicken and cook on each side until juices run clear. Remove chicken and keep warm.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. And the remaining ingredients, stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Cook sauce until slightly thickened, about three minutes.
  4. Serve chicken with sauce spooned on top.

Inspiration: Canadian Family magazine, May 2009 issue.

Shepard's Pie

I've never made this dish before, but occasionally I crave it, therefore I wanted to find a keeper recipe. This one fits the bill for now. It's simple, not too fussy. I think I skipped the paprika and parsley garnish for extra simplicity.

2 pounds potatoes, such as russet, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp sour cream, or softened cream cheese
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup milk or cream
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 3/4 lbs ground beef
1 carrot, peeled and chopped into circles
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup beef broth
2 tsp Worcestershire
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp fresh parsley leaves, chopped

  1. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream. Add the cream mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth.
  2. While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to hot pan with beef. Season meat with salt and pepper. Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes.
  3. Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook veggies with meat 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. In a second small skillet over medium heat cook butter and flour together 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables.
  5. Stir in peas.
  6. Preheat broiler to high.
  7. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned. Top casserole dish with chopped parsley and serve.

Inspiration: Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals from the Food Network web site.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cranberry Sauce Pot Roast

This is a great recipe to make to use up leftover cranberry sauce and to have a break from poultry. The original recipe suggest cooking it in the oven, but I used my crock pot so I could fix it and forget it. Plus, we like that fall apart tenderness that happens in the crockpot.


1 tsp canola oil
4 lb top sirloin roast, trimmed of fat
1.2 tsp salt
1 can (10 oz) low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup cranberry sauce wtih whole cranberries
1/2 cup ketchup
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
8 medium potatoes, unpeeled, halved
4 large carrots, quartered


  1. Heat oil in large non-stick pan, sprinkle roast with salt, and brown roast on all sides.
  2. Mix together broth, cranberry sauce, ketchup, onion soup mix, garlic, mustard powder, marjoram, thyme, and pepper in medium bowl.
  3. Pour over roast in crock pot. Add carrots and potatoes.
  4. Cook on high four 4-6 hours.

Inspiration: The Roast of Christmas Past, Crazy Plates cookbook

Roasted Turkey Roll

This is a pork recipe that I thought would be good on turkey. I was right. We had these rolled turkey breast roasts in the freezer to eat up. This recipe is supposed to be done over a BBQ as well, but I did it in the oven. It was worth remembering, so here it is.


1/2 cup apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 tbsp honey mustard
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 roast Turkey roll, or pork tenderloin


  1. Combine all ingredients, except meat, in a small bowl.
  2. Pour the marinade over meat in a big Ziploc bag. Marinate in refrigerator for two hours.
  3. Roast in the oven at 375 F until its done according to a meat thermometer.

Inspiration: Love Me Tenderloin, pg 121, Crazy Plates cookbook

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Hawaiian BBQ Beef Short Ribs

Again, I made this recipe to help fulfill my husband's request for Hawaiian BBQ. These were pretty good. We love beef short ribs around here. I added pineapple to the crock pot as well.


1 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
2/3 cup sherry or wine
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp all spice
3 tsp fresh ginger
2 tsp fresh garlic
1/2 cup ketchup

3/4 brown sugar
3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 soy sauce

  1. Cook short ribs in crock pot for 6-8 hours with marinade ingredients.
  2. Grill ribs on BBQ for 10-20 minutes, basting all sides with sauce three to four times.

Inspiration: An culmination of online recipes.

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken

So simple and so good. After experiencing Hawaiian BBQ at a restaurant, my husband requested it at home. I tried this recipe and was pleasantly surprised. The fresh ginger is what makes it work. I never actually used fresh ginger until this recipe. I hooked.


6 chicken thighs
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp fresh ginger

  1. Marinate the chicken thighs with the rest of the ingredients for 30 minutes.
  2. Place them on the grill over medium heat. Grill thighs until juices run clear.

Inspiration: BBQ with Bobby Flay, Food Network web site

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vegetable Strudel

I am determined to master filo and puff pastries. Anything in buttery dough tastes so good, but is a little tricky to work with. I am learning and determined. This was good, a little moist, lots of vegetables. This recipe also called for spinach but I omitted it for simplicity.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
1 red pepper, finely sliced
1 green pepper, finely sliced
2 zucchinis, sliced
2 slender eggplants, sliced
salt and pepper
6 sheets filo pastry
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, finely sliced
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbsp sesame seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 415 F.
  2. Line a rectangular baking dish with tin foil and brush with melted butter.
  3. Saute onions, peppers, eggplant, eggplants in olive oil until brown and tender.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
  5. Brush one sheet of filo pastry with melted butter, top with a second sheet. Repeat with remaining pastry, brushing with butter between each layer.
  6. Place vegetable mixture, cheese and basil in a row along one edge, about 5 cm in.
  7. Fold the side over the filling and roll tightly.
  8. Transfer the rolled strudel to baking sheet, seam side down. Brush with remaining butter. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Best served hot.

Inspiration: The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pizza Soufflé

It's a good thing I typed out this recipe immediately after making it; that's when I noticed it calls for two types of cheese. I quickly pulled the soufflé out of the oven and added mozzarella. I hope the disruption doesn't affect how it rises. I had to type out the recipe right away because of all the foodstuff my daughter spilled onto the recipe while cooking. I've never made a soufflé before, so I'm not sure how it should turn out. For toppings, we added green onion and tomatoes. Surprisingly, this dish turned out a lot like pizza that you eat with a knife and fork. It has a crust and all the pizza taste. You could really make it something with the right toppings.


2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 milk
3 eggs
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 can pizza sauce
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Pizza toppings of your choice


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter casserole dish.
  2. In electric mixer, using whisk tool, whisk together flour, salt, milk.
  3. Whisk in eggs and melted butter.
  4. Pour batter into casserole dish.
  5. Spoon on pizza sauce to create a marbled look.
  6. Sprinkle with toppings.
  7. Top with cheese
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Inspiration: Cheese advertisement in parenting magazine.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Taco Salad

My friend Megg served this to me at a play date. So yummy. I was hooked after I tried this salad. It is so good. It's hard to believe you can call it a salad. It's the dressing and chips that make it.


1 head iceberg lettuce
1 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 lbs ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
2 tomatoes, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions
1 bag plain Doritos or
1 (16 ounce) bottle Catalina dressing

  1. Brown ground beef and add taco seasoning according to package directions.
  2. Drain and let cool.
  3. Chop lettuce, tomatoes, pepper, and onions.
  4. Put into a large bowl.
  5. Add cheese and crushed chips.
  6. Add cooled ground beef.
  7. Pour Catalina dressing over all of it 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Inspiration: Megg

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Old-fashioned Popped Popcorn

I am Done--with a capital D--with microwave popcorn. It's bad for you. It tastes gross. And it's so costly compared to how much popcorn you can make with one jar of kernels. Next to computer ink, microwave (and movie) popcorn is such a ripoff. Making your own popcorn is as fast, if not faster, than the microwave version too. The only downside is having a pot to wash. The dishwasher makes that no big deal.

popping kernels
canola oil
butter, melted

  1. Pour a puddle of oil in a pot with a lid, 1-2 tbsp, to thinly coat the bottom of the pan.
  2. Sprinkle popping kernels in pot, enough to make one-layer of kernels on the bottom of the pot.
  3. Give the pot a shake to coat the kernels in oil.
  4. Heat on high, with the lid on, but slightly ajar, so steam can escape.
  5. Shake the pot occasionally to prevent sticking.
  6. When popping begins to slow, remove from heat. Keep the pot lid on until all popping has stopped.
  7. Season with melted butter, salt, or other seasonings.

Inspiration: My childhood

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I'm on the lookout for an awesome, amazing over-the-top carrot cake recipe. I haven't found it yet, but I did find this recipe for Carrot Cake Cupcakes. I've made them twice now, and both times, the cupcakes didn't last. They were devoured before the sun set. I found the recipe online somewhere; I can't remember where, so I wrote this recipe from memory. I like that it doesn't have tons of sugar. It could easily be turned into sheet cake or layer cake too.

When I first made the recipe, I reduced the oil to 3/4 cup and didn't include walnuts. The cupcakes were nice and firm, with rounded tops ideal for icing. The second time I made the recipe, I added 1 cup oil, vanilla and a whole can of crushed pineapple instead of half a can. (I figure if I have to open a can of something, it's better to use it all.) With the extra oil and pineapple, the cupcakes turned out flat, super moist and soft, almost too soft for icing. They were sweet enough with icing.



1 cup oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup carrot, finely grated (not shredded)
1 cup golden raisins, soaked in water for 15 minutes if dry
1/2 cup pineapple, crushed
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Beat oil, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla in electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon. Add to egg mixture and beat for two minutes.
  4. Mix in carrot, raisins, and pineapple.
  5. Bake for 18 minutes and let cool completely before icing.
  6. In food processor, beat cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Add more icing sugar if necessary.

Inspiration: Some blog somewhere.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Herb Chicken in Puff Pastry

Simple and delicious. This was a great recipe to make with my toddler. She helped roll the dough and paint the egg wash.

1 package frozen puff pastry
1 egg
1 tbsp water
Black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves
2 tbsp butter
1 container (4 ounces) garlic & herb cream cheese spread
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

  1. Thaw the pastry sheet at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Stir the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.
  3. Season the chicken with the black pepper, if desired. Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until it's well browned on both sides. Remove the chicken to a plate. Cover the plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  4. Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 14-inch square. Cut the pastry sheet into 4 (7-inch) squares.
  5. Spread about 2 tablespoons cheese spread in the center of each pastry square. Top each with 1 tablespoon parsley and a chicken breast. Brush the edges of the pastry squares with the egg mixture. Fold the corners of the pastry squares to the center over the chicken and press the edges to seal. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet. Brush the pastries with the egg mixture.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastries are golden.

Inspiration: Pepperidge Farm web site

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Chicken and Bean Casserole

Yum! This is the kind of dish that my husband and child love equally. I love it because it's easy to throw together. It's also the kind of dish that I'm reluctant to tell my husband how it's made for fear that he will turn his nose at it. Ketchup and mustard? Yes, those are the simple ingredients that really make this dish. The recipe suggests this is a great one for leftover chicken or turkey, but I rarely have that on hand. It didn't take long to saute some chicken for this recipe.


1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp mustard
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
1 16 oz can red kidney beans, drained
1 can baked beans


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat; add onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until celery is tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, vinegar and salt in small bowl.
  4. Add chicken and beans to skillet; stir well. Pour ketchup mixture over chicken and beans; stir to coat.
  5. Spoon mixture into a medium casserole dish. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 35 minutes.
Inspiration: Easy Everyday Cooking card

Leyla's Hot Cocoa

My daughter loves hot chocolate. I mix it with mostly milk so it turns out to be relatively harmless way to get her to drink milk. Recently, I ran out of the instant kind. When she requested hot chocolate again, I thought I'd try this recipe for hot cocoa. I like it because I know what's in it and it's less sweet, and very, very chocolately. In my opinion, this is great, low-fat way of fulfilling a chocolate craving. I used Ghirardelli Premium Baking Cocoa. I heated it with only 2/3 of the milk. I added the last 1/3 at the last minute to make it the right temperature for my toddler.


1 1/2 tbsp cocoa
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk


  1. Mix cocoa and sugar together.
  2. Pour milk into a small pan. Stir in cocoa mixture.
  3. Heat until steaming.

Inspiration: Ghirardelli Premium Baking Cocoa tin

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Vanilla Buttercream

This buttercream is a great alternative to the Wilton buttercream I learned to make for icing cakes. That recipe called for vegetable shortening and I'm trying to avoid ingesting shortening where possible. If I can't wash it away easily, I don't want to eat it, and shortening doesn't wash away easily. I halfed the recipe, because I only made 18 cupcakes. It was plenty. I also froze and refrigerated this recipe and it was great.


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 to 8 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar to reach desired consistency.
Makes enough for 30 cupcakes.

Inspiration: Martha Stewart web site.

Simple Citrus Fruit Salad

My daughter loves grapefruit so I thought this recipe I clipped fro the newspaper would be a hit. I had to use two grapefruits because she ate so much as I was preparing the salad. Plus, I've never made a fruit salad until now. This recipe makes a lot so it would be good to share with a larger group.

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1 grapefruit, sectioned peeled, cut
2 oranges, sectioned, cut
1 small pineapple, cut into chunks
1 banana, slices
1 apple, cut into chunks
1 pear peeled, cut into chunks


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve brown sugar into grapefruit juice.
  2. Add all fruit and toss gently to combine thoroughly.
  3. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Inspiration: The Hamilton Spectator

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Three-Ingredient Sticky Baked Chicken

OK, so mine didn't look like the magazine photo, but it tasted pretty good. Maybe there was too much soy sauce; I'd cut back. It made the sauce look less red and a tad salty. It was very simple and well received by the whole family.

3/4 cup chili sauce or ketchup
6 tbsp soy sauce
6 tbsp maple syrup
12 boneless skinless chicken drumsticks

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line baking dish with foil for easy clean-up.
  2. Whisk ketchup, soy sauce, and syrup together in a small bowl.
  3. Pour sauce over chicken to cover completely.
  4. Bake 25 minutes or until juices run clear.

Inspiration: Canadian Family magazine

My Mom's Spaghetti Sauce

I've been eating this spaghetti sauce my whole life. My mom used to make it in huge batches and freeze it in Tupperware in the chest freezer. She'd probably triple this recipe or more when she made it.

The original recipe calls for diced tomatoes but I find you get a saucier sauce by using at least one can of crushed tomatoes. I also adjust the sugar to taste, to cut the bitterness of the tomato paste. 


1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, or crushed tomatoes
2 cans tomato paste
2/3 cup water
4 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried marjoram
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper


  1. In a large sauce pot, cook ground beef, onion, green pepper, celery and garlic, drain fat. Add everything else.
  2. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until desired consistency.

Variation: Add red peppers, zucchini, carrots, etc.
Inspiration: Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

These are my favourite oatmeal raisin cookies. I got the recipe from the lid of a Quaker Oatmeal container. I stopped using the container long ago to store oats; but I've been reluctant to throw away the container until now, because I didn't want to lose the recipe. The recipe is called "Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies." They live up to that name.


1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
3 cups uncooked oats
1 cup raisins


1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Beat together butter and sugars until creamy.
3. Add eggs, vanilla; beat well.
4. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and mix well.
5. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
6. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Cool one minute on cookie sheet before removing.

*For bar cookies, bake 30 to 35 minutes in ungreased 13x9 metal baking pan.

Makes four dozen.

Inspiration: Quaker Oats Oatmeal canister

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sugar Cookies

I've never successfully made sugar cookies until today. I am quite pleased with how these turned out. They are soft to bite and firm to hold and decorate. I didn't decorate them because I am out of icing sugar. I imagine I could alter their flavour nicely with lemon or orange zest too. The biggest challenge was rolling the dough out with my toddler. She kept making finger prints, or half cookie cutter cuts. It was quite fun. And she was pleased to discover that this dough tastes a lot better than her play dough. You're supposed to chill the dough in the fridge for an hour; I never did this because I didn't read the recipe fully until now.


1/2 lb butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until light and fluffy,a bout three minutes.
  3. Add egg and continue beating. Add vanilla, salt, flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until all mixed in and a nice ball of dough has formed.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut desired shapes.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cookies are lightly golden around the edges.
  6. Transfer to wire cooling rack and cool completely before decorating with icing.

Inspiration: Kuhn Rikon Cookie and Cupcake Decorating Set

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Best Cabbage Rolls Ever

This rarely happens to me: I tried a new recipe for something I've never attempted to make before and the results were fabulous. Simply fabulous.

These are like no cabbage rolls I have ever tasted. The sauce is deliciously sweet and sour. The difference is the unexpected ingredients: carrot, raisins, wine and lemon juice. Yum! I will never try another cabbage roll recipe.

The first time I made this recipe, I didn't use savoy cabbage. The recipe turned out OK, but on my second attempt, I discovered savoy cabbage is far easier to work with and fits in my Dutch oven better. It's the kind with the crinkly leaves. I use the same pot to soften the leaves as I do to cook the cabbage rolls, my Dutch oven.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it cooks in only one-and-a-half hours. I polled my family members about their recipes and it seems they cook them for two to three hours in the oven. This recipe also calls for eight gingersnaps and 2 chunks of sour salt in the sauce, but I didn't add any. I couldn't imagine having cookie bits in the sauce and I don't own any sour salt (pickling salt) so I substituted regular table salt. Also, I used red wine instead of white, because that's what I had open.


For the Rolls:
1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup white rice
1/2 cup water
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 head savoy cabbage
salt and pepper

For the Sauce:
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Juice of a large lemon
Salt to taste
1 cup vegetable juice, or water


  1. Bring a big pot of water to boil with 1 1/2 tbsp of salt.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, rice, water, carrot, onion, and garlic. (I use my electric mixer.)
  3. Cut out the stem of the cabbage. Add the cabbage to boiling water, stem side down, and boil until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse the cabbage under cold water to cool it off.
  4. Place an 1-inch thick chunk of the meat stuffing in the hollow of the leaf. Wrap it like a burrito. Wrap it loosely, as the rice will expand.
  5. Place each roll into the bottom of dutch oven, stacking them as needed.
  6. In a saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onions and brown.
  7. Add the wine and simmer for five minutes on low heat.
  8. Add the tomatoes, water, raisins, brown sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a boil.
  9. Pour sauce over cabbage rolls in the Dutch oven. Add vegetable juice until the rolls are submerged in liquid. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Shake the pan every 30 minutes to prevent sticking.
Inspiration: Joy of Cooking

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Braised Short Ribs

My almost two-year-old daughter can't get enough of these ribs. She gobbles up this beef so fast. My husband too. I've made this recipe twice now. The second time was near perfect. On New Year's Day. I made them in the Crockpot instead of the oven. The Crockpot was easier and made the meat fall apart tender. The only short-coming was that I didn't make enough.


3 pounds beef short ribs, boneless, trimmed of fat
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/4 cup shallots. chopped
3 tbsp garlic, chopped
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup BBQ sauce


  1. Combine all the ingredients, except BBQ sauce, in the crock pot. Make sure cooking liquid covers the beef. Cook on high for 4-6 hours until beef is tender.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 F. Using tongs, transfer beef ribs to a roasting rack in a pan lined with tin foil. Baste ribs with BBQ sauce. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes to create a crusty exterior
Inspiration: Joy of Cooking

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Cheese Ball

A definite must for New Year's celebration at our house. Cheese balls are really simple, but have lots of visual interest and taste. They are great to take along for a hostess gift too.

2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 package (8 oz) light cream cheese
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

  1. Place all ingredients, except for pecans, inside mixing bowl. Mix until well blended.
  2. Place cheese mixture into the center of a piece of plastic wrap, or waxed paper. Form into a ball.
  3. Roll ball in the pecans. Chill in the refrigerator.
  4. Serve with assorted crackers or raw vegetables.

Inspiration: Cuisinart food processor recipe book

My Banana Bread Recipe

It's actually a Zucchini bread recipe that I've adapted for banana bread. I love zucchini bread but I never make it. I make banana bread to use up old bananas. This recipe makes two loaves. It's easy to cut in half. I think it's best to make two loaves and give one away.


2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 cups mashed ripe banana
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. 2. Grease two loaf pans and set aside.
  3. 3. With an electric mixer, beat together eggs, oil sugar, vanilla at medium speed until foamy.
  4. 4. Add banana. Beat until lumps dissipate.
  5. 5. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and soda, and cinnamon. Gradually add to egg mixture.
  6. 6. Stir in chocolate chips or nuts.
  7. 7. Bake for 60 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes two loaves.

Inspiration: Easy Everyday Cooking Recipe Card