May 30, 2010

Best-Ever Brownies with Million Dollar Icing

The classics never go out of style and I believe the same can be said for a good brownie recipe. My mom cut this recipe out of a newspaper in the 1970s and its the same recipe she's been using ever since. They're moist and delicious filled with chopped walnuts, but what makes this recipe really special, is the icing. It's like silk. Decadent and smooth, it certainly takes the cake on these brownies.

One word of warning though, brownies can get dry very quickly so be sure to watch and test  after about 20 minutes.



  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp milk or cream
  • 2 tbsp hot coffee



In a large bowl, melt butter and add white sugar, brown sugar and cocoa.

Beat in eggs, one at a time.

In a separate bowl, blend flour and baking powder and fold in -- by hand -- into the butter and sugar mixture.

Add vanilla and walnuts by hand.

Bake in a buttered 9 x 13 pan at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.


In a mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar and cocoa and mix until smooth.

Add vanilla, milk/cream and hot coffee.

Mix further until like silk.

Spread over cooled brownies. It looks like it won't be enough, but it will cover the pan with a little left over to taste while icing!

May 24, 2010

Easy Cheesy Tortellini Bake

I love East Side Mario's Cheese Cappelletti. When I used to go for dinner with my skating team at competitions, we would get 30 orders of it. Thinking about it actually makes my mouth water. It is that good.

Well, I have stumbled upon a really close second. It's cheesy and delicious and the awesome thing is that this is hardly even a recipe really because it has just FOUR ingredients. It was such a no-brainer I wasn't even thinking of blogging about it (really, it's hardly cooking), but it is so good that I couldn't keep it to myself.

It would be really easy to personalize this dish by adding tomato, different kinds of cheeses or even different pasta. This is going to be a staple in our house for sure.

  • one can tomato soup
  • one can milk (fill up the empty can of tomato soup to measure)
  • one package of fresh tortellini
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


In an oven safe dish, pour tomato soup and equal amount of milk. Stir. 

Add UNCOOKED tortellini -- yes, straight out of the package. 

Stir to coat. 

Place in oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Stir once or twice during this time so all tortellini cooks evenly.

At 40 minutes, spread mozzarella over top and put back in oven on Broil for 10 minutes until cheese is bubbling and browning.

That's it. So easy, so amazing.

May 22, 2010

$9 = Happiness

I have only been really into cooking for about a year and a half -- since I got my mixer -- but I have been collecting recipes for awhile. I rip them out of magazines (Food & Drink and Real Simple, mostly), get them online ( and a lot of writing them down over the phone with my parents.

All of these recipes ended up in a single folder that recently has been getting out of control. It became ridiculously hard to find anything in it and every time I opened the drawer, recipes would spill everywhere.

So a few days ago, I spent $9 at the dollar store and just over an hour at the dining room table and have finally organized this beast of a recipe collection.

How did I do it?
  • I pulled out any recipe I thought I would never actually make 
  • I sorted the rest into sections -- meat, pasta, brunch, dessert, salad, soup
  • I got two floppy binders, 10 dividers and 50 clear plastic paper protecting sleeves (I'm sure there's a more official title for those)
  • I put each recipe in a sleeve (these can be used on both sides)
  • I used the dividers to organize the sections

I can't tell you how much better I feel about this. It's just so neat and organized and easy to use while I'm cooking. 

Do you have any great ideas on how to organize your recipes?

May 21, 2010

Classic Lasagna

A classic lasagna is something everyone should have in their cooking repertoire, but who knew it was so easy?

This recipe is my mom's traditional lasagna and while it's not difficult to make, it's what my mom calls "fiddley." Honestly, I don't know what that means, but this recipe is easy, delicious and easily feeds 14 people.

I made this in a 10 x 20 pan, but you could easily half it for a couple of weeknight dinners and you can also freeze individual pieces for a healthy frozen entree that lasts for three months.


  • 2 pounds ground beef (I used extra lean)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 jars of your favourite tomato sauce (I used Presidents Choice primavera)
  • 3 tsp each of basil and oregano
  • 10 lasagna noodles
  • 2 tubs ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


Chop onion and put in large pot. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink -- about 15 minutes. Drain liquid off.

Add both jars of tomato sauce, basil and oregano. Let simmer for flavours to meld.

In a pot of salted, boiling water, cook 10 lasagna noodles. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Put each tub of ricotta in a separate bowl and mix in an egg into each.

Start to assemble layers in a buttered lasagna pan:

  • place five noodles as the bottom layer
  • spread one tub of ricotta across layers of noodles
  • spread half of meat
  • spread 1/2 of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • top with five more noodles
  • spread other tub of ricotta
  • spread other half of meat
  • top with remaining cheese
(bottom layer of noodles)

(noodles with ricotta)

Bake covered with tinfoil for 60 minutes at 325 degrees. Bake uncovered for another 30 minutes. Take out when cheese is brown and bubbling.

May 19, 2010

Chicken Stuffed with Havarti and Asparagus

Asparagus is in season and I'm looking for ways to use this delicious vegetable. As a new cook, I am usually a stickler for a recipe, but I branched out and adapted a chicken cordon bleu recipe and instead of stuffing chicken with swiss cheese and ham, I used havarti and asparagus. In a word? Awesome.

This, I think, is the start of a slate of stuffed chicken recipes. Any recommendations?


  • five chicken breasts
  • five slices of havarti (from the deli)
  • 10 spears of fresh asparagus
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch


Cut the bottoms off your asparagus and put in a microwave safe bowl with a little bit of water for about two-and-a-half minutes to cook them slightly.

Lay out your chicken, crack an egg into a bowl, put your bread crumbs in another bowl and wrap two asparagus spears in each slice of havarti.

Slice the chicken length-wise leaving a hinge on it. Insert a roll-up of cheese and asparagus.

Dip in egg followed by a dip in the bread crumbs and lay flat in a buttered oven-safe dish.

Repeat with each chicken breast. If you want, you can put toothpicks in at the seam to secure the chicken closed.

Put in oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

When there is about 10 minutes left for the chicken, in a pot, whisk together the heavy cream, wine, bouillon cube and cornstarch. Bring to a boil and then let simmer, whisking often while the sauce thickens.

Once you've plated the chicken, spoon a couple tablespoons of the cream-wine sauce on top of the chicken.

Download a printable recipe for Chicken Stuffed with Havarti and Asparagus

May 16, 2010

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

Urban legend: Risotto is hard to make and those who dare to brave it will become slaves to their stove for hours to stand and stir.

I recently made risotto and when I told people I made it, the answer was always: "But isn't it hard to make? And doesn't it take hours?" No! It is not hard to make. And no! It did not take hours but a mere 35 minutes.

Before taking on this challenge, I did some reading, and I learned that unlike regular rice, risotto can absorb a lot of liquid and that you add about three to four times the amount of liquid to rice. But to make the risotto perfect and delicious, you need to add the liquid warmed in really small volumes, about 1/2 a cup at a time. Before you can add more, you need to wait for the previous liquid to be absorbed.

This was my first time making risotto and it turned out great, but it does require some patience and it's not a fix-it-and-forget-it -- you do need to be in the kitchen and able to stir every few minutes. But trust me, the result was worth it!

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 tsp butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 6 cloves of garlic (I like a lot of garlic!)
  • about 20 shrimp
  • 10 stalks of asparagus
  • pepper to taste


In a pot, combine the chicken stock and water on medium heat. You want it to be warm when you add it to the risotto because it will absorb better. I used a ladle to transfer the liquid over to the risotto.

In a shallow but large pan, melt three teaspoons of butter on low to medium heat, add garlic and sautee the diced onion until soft.

Add the risotto and coat with the butter until it's "toasted," about three minutes.

Add the wine and stir until absorbed.

Increase heat slightly (I never went past medium) and add in broth-water mixture about a 1/2 cup at a time. Stir frequently until liquid is absorbed before adding more. This process should take about 30 minutes of stirring and adding liquid slowly.

In another pan, melt some more butter and add garlic. Sautee shrimps about 4 minutes until pink. Add chopped asparagus for the final few minutes to soften.

Cook rice until tender and mixture has a creamy consistency.

Add cream, parmesan and pepper and shrimp and asparagus. Stir until mixture is creamy, about 2-3 minutes.

Download a printable recipe for Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

May 13, 2010

Tortellini with Sausage and Peppers in a White Wine Cream Sauce

This pasta dish is rich and delicious and perfect for a cold, rainy night inside with a glass of wine. 

I am still working on my organization in the kitchen and this recipe certainly tested my skills. At one point, I had something on each of the four elements on the stove. But everything came together (after some tense moments!) and it was a great dinner. The clean up? Not as great...

  • One package of fresh tortellini (or another cheese-stuffed pasta)
  • 2 mild italian sausages
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3/4 cup cream (10% is best, but if you have higher, you might want to dilute with milk)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine (optional)


Remove the casing from the sausages by slicing it down the centre and peeling it off. 

(yes, the recipe says two sausages, but I cooked five to have them on hand, but didn't think about the pics!)

Break into pieces and put into frying pan and cook for about 15 minutes, until cooked through.

Julienne the peppers and roughly chop the onion so the pieces are bite sized.

Heat the 2 tsp of oil in another frying pan and sautee the peppers and onion.

In a large pot, boil salted water and cook the pasta.

In another pot (whew!), mix the cream and the parmesan cheese and heat until it thickens up. Add the garlic and white wine and stir.

Drain the pasta and return to pot. Pour cream sauce over the pasta.

Serve the pasta and top with some of the peppers, onion and sausage.

Download a printable version of Tortellini with Sausage and Peppers

May 11, 2010

Double Tomato Bruschetta

Bruschetta are often a bad idea at parties. They can be messy and difficult to eat with in front of people, but I made these for my family for Mother's Day and they were devoured so I think they might be worth it. 

For me, the trick to a good bruschetta is the bread. When the bread is too toasted, that's when it gets difficult to eat. So these ones I worked to not over toast and I think I found the perfect balance to toasty by still soft to easily bite into without it crumbling apart. 

I also used only fresh ingredients for the topping and I think it made all the difference. Our local fruit market sells these huge bags of fresh basil for $1.99 and it really was much better than using dried. This is certainly a keeper!

  • 6 tomatoes (most recipes recommend Roma tomatoes because they are less juicy inside, but I used regular tomatoes because they were redder and I simply scooped out the seeds and juices)
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • french baguette
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


Prep all the ingredients -- dice fresh and sundried tomatoes, garlic and basil.

(I scooped out all the middle of the tomato because you don't want all that extra liquid)

Mix tomatoes, garlic, oil, vinegar, oil, basil and salt and pepper together. Let rest for 15 minutes while flavours blend together.

(this smells amazing!)

Set your oven to broil.

Slice the french stick into 1/4 inch slices. The bigger the angle you cut them on, the bigger the piece will be. (I used one and a half french sticks to get 20 slices, which was the perfect amount for the topping).

Paint each piece of bread with oil on one side and lay flat, oil side up, on a baking sheet and broil for two minutes until getting very lightly toasted.

Remove from oven and top each piece with the tomato mixture and then some mozzarella cheese and put back in oven (still on broil) for five minutes until cheese is melted and bread is toasted but still soft.

Remove from oven and place on platter and serve to a hungry crowd (who are already armed with side plates and napkins!)

Download a printable version of Double Tomato Bruschetta

May 9, 2010

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

I love a good potato -- mashed, baked, scalloped, for me, potatoes are often the highlight of a meal. These rosemary roasted potatoes are simple to make and pretty much go with anything. They're crisp on the outside but are soft and moist on the inside.

They're also a fix it and forget it side. I do them as a side for both dinners and brunches and they turn out great every time. 

  • any kind of potatoes, cubed
  • oil to coat
  • dried rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
**quantity of ingredients are dependent on amount of potatoes


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a bowl, place cubed potatoes and coat with oil, shake on rosemary, salt and pepper and mix to cover 

Pour onto baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes until soft on the inside with a crispy outside.

May 6, 2010

Rhubarb Crunch

Rhubarb used to grow in my aunt's backyard. She used to make the most delicious rhubarb pies, so now that rhubarb is in season (starting late April to early May in Canada), I thought I would make it as a dessert for a visit from my aunt and grandma.

This turned out pretty well, but the recipe below is with my recommended changes. It's a light dessert and the sweetness of the sugar (lots of sugar), is balanced well with the tartness or the rhubarb.


  • 4 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 1 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
Sugar sauce:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp vanilla


Chop rhubarb and set aside

Mix together flour, oats, cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter.

Press half into a buttered baking dish -- about 8.5 x 11"

Make the sugar sauce. Mix together the sugar, corn starch and cold water in a pan, stirring  until bubbly, clear and getting slightly thick -- do not let it get too thick. Whisk in the vanilla.

Pour on top of the rhubarb and coat. Pour the rhubarb into the baking dish overtop of the crumb crust.

Top with remaining crumb mixture.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes until topping is brown and edges are bubbling slightly.

(a very happy customer!)

Download a printable version of Rhubarb Crunch

Recipe adapted from The Farm Chicks

May 4, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are simple, easy cookies that taste a little bit like Christmas with cinnamon and nutmeg. I whipped these up in no time on Friday night, a perfect, after dinner snack. Not only were they delcious right out of the oven, they actually tasted better the next day as all the flavours had really come together. Now all I need is a glass of egg nog!


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (note that this is more than 1 bag)
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In another bowl, beat butter until soft and creamy. Beat in brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time and add vanilla.

Reduce speed and stir in flour mixture in three stages. Mix in chocolate chips and oatmeal.

Drop tablespoons of dough onto a greased baking sheet.

Bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees, for 10-12 minutes until golden and slightly firm to the touch.

Let cool to a wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Download a printable recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe from The Mixer Bible


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