October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Our puggle Cooper -- a delicious banana split!!

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

I've been seeing apple everything all over the blogosphere and couldn't wait to whip up something very fall-like for breakfast this weekend. Having just run out of blueberries, I thought apple would be the perfect addition to my pancakes. I used a slightly different recipe than usual, so these were a bit denser than the buttermilk pancakes, but yummy in a completely different way. 

I used honeycrisp apples for these because I had them on hand, but making these with tart apples would be best so the apple flavours really stand out. Served best with warm syrup, slippers and a good book.

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded tart apple
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp white sugar


  • In a large bowl, combine butter, egg, milk and apple
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar
  • Stir flour mixture into apple mixture until just combined
  • Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat
  • Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle using a 1/4 cup for each pancake
  • Brown on both sides (flip once bubbles appear on the surface)
  • Serve hot
Recipe from allrecipes.com 

October 27, 2010

Yorkshire Puddings

Yorkshire puddings originated in Yorkshire, England -- just 100 miles away from the town my maiden name originates from -- so I have a minor personal attachment. It doesn't hurt that I grew up with these for those good ol' meat and potatoes dinners on Sunday nights.

These were the perfect tool to slop up the shallot gravy I served on roast beef. In fact, these were so good, T and I couldn't stop eating them, so if you're serving more than two, you might want to make a double batch!


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil    
  • 1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 

  • Preheat oven to 450 F. Into each cup of the  muffin pan pour enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom, and heat pan in oven. It is critical that the oil be really hot (it will take 2 to 3 minutes and will be on the border of smoking), otherwise the Yorkshire puddings will not rise: you will have Yorkshire Pucks.
  • Sift flour and salt into a bowl.
  • Beat eggs well; then stir in milk and vegetable oil.
  • Make well in flour, pour in egg mixture and beat until smooth.
  • Pour batter into hot pan, filling the cups 1/2 full; the oil should be sizzling at the edges of the batter.
  • Bake at 450 for 20 minutes until Yorkshire puddings rise and are golden brown.
Makes 6 - 8.

October 26, 2010

Pork Tenderloin with Apple Crust

We have a freezer stocked full of meat. I buy it at the grocery store when it's on sale, it immediately goes in the freezer and then it is forgotten about until the next week when I add to the stash and inevitably say "OH! I forgot I had that chicken!" It's a vicious cycle.

So last week, T. took out some pork out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge. Two days later when I was looking for something to make, I had this lovely, thawed pork tenderloin to dress up.

We don't eat a lot of pork, but I know that it pairs well with apples. I had a recipe in my file that I had made a note to adapt and the apple crust was born.

  • 2 pounds of pork tenderloin (where I bought it, two pieces came together)
  • 2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs (or you could add your own seasoning to plain ones)
  • 2 apples peeled and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Mix bread crumbs, garlic and apple in a bowl. Slowly add olive oil to reach consistency that would be moist enough to stick to the meet when pressed.
  • Place pork in shallow baking pan and press the crumb mixture onto all sides until pink is no longer showing, usally 1/4 inch thick.
  • Bake for at least 35 minutes until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F, or until there is no pink when the pork is cut.
  • If crust still isn't as crispy as you'd like, leave it under the broiler for five more minutes.
  • Let pork rest for 10 minutes covered in tin foil before cutting into 1/2 inch slices.
Recipe adapted from http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Easy-and-Elegant-Pork-Tenderloin/Detail.aspx

October 24, 2010

Hearty Winter Soup with Sausage and Tortellini

I have been on a soup kick the past few weeks. Every Sunday, I like to make a big pot of soup that we enjoy throughout the week for dinner. It's a quick and easy meal (mostly due to the french stick we scarf down with it), it's healthy and always satisfying.

As you can no doubt see, I usually gravitate towards cream soups -- cream of leak and potato, cream of cauliflower, cream of squash -- so this week I wanted to make something with pasta in it. Specifically tortellini -- cheese-stuffed are my favourite.

It wasn't long before I found a hearty recipe on http://www.allrecipes.com/ and I simply adapted it to what I had on hand. You could easily make substitutions or additions, depending what your family likes. There's no going wrong with this one, but here's what I did:

  • 3 mild italian sausages
  • 1/2 package fresh tortellini
  • 10 stalks of asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Pan-fry the sausage until cooked. Let cool and cut into bite sized pieces. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, melt the butter and sauted the onion and garlic. Cook until onions are transluscent.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, white wine, chicken stock and tomato paste. Stir and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add the tortellini, sausage and asparagus and let simmer until tortellini is cooked.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • If desired, top with shredded cheese and serve with crusty bread.

October 22, 2010

Roast Beef with Shallot Gravy

On Sunday nights, I like to spend time in the kitchen. I could be happy in there all afternoon making a nice dinner and dessert for my family. When choosing my recipe, I consider a few things: is this something I need a good chunk of time to cook? Is this something I could make during the week? Will there be leftovers? Will it be worth it?

For this one, the answers were yes, no, yes and yes. In a nutshell, it took a while, it was worth it and there were definitely leftovers.

The gravy was warm and delicious, the roasted shallots a perfect texture and flavour for this dish. It really takes the traditional meat and potatoes dinner up a few notches.

  • 2 pounds beef tenderloin
  • 7-8 shallots, halved lengthwise and peeled
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 3/4 red wine
  • 1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 9" pie plate, toss shallots with half the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast shallots until they are a deep brown colour and very tender, stirring occassionally. About 30 minutes.
  • Pat beef dry and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. In a large roasting pan, coat with the remaining olive oil and brown beef on all sides on medium to high heat.
  • Transfer pan to oven and roast beef for about 30 minutes per pound. Transfer to platter and tent loosely with foil.
  • While beef is cooking, in a large pot, comine beef broth and wine. Bring to a boil. Cook over high heat until the volume is reduced by half; about 30 minutes. Whisk in tomato paste and set aside.
  • Once beef is finished, place roasting pan over high heat on stove top. Add broth mixture and bring to a boil; stir to scrape up any browned bits. Transfer to a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer.
  • Mix 1 1/2 tbsp butter and flour in a small bowl to form smooth paste; whisk into broth and simmer until sauce thickens. Whisk in remaining butter. Stir in roasted shallots.
  • Cut beef into 1/2 inch slices. Spoon sauce over beef.
Recipe adapted from http://www.allrecipes.com/

October 20, 2010

Marble Cake

My mom always used to make marble cakes for the volunteers at figure skating competitions, so I have lots of fond memories of this dessert. 

It's similar to a pound cake in that it doesn't need any icing, but it is moist and very dense. It goes perfectly with a big, tall glass of milk or a piping hot cup of tea as a late afternoon snack or dessert after a lighter meal.  


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a cake pan
  • In one bole, mix butter and sugar until creamy
  • Add eggs, one at a time
  • In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder
  • In a measuring cup, pour the milk and add the vanilla
  • In small increments, add some of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture, followed by some of the milk mixture, mixing until just combined before adding more. Always start and end with the flour mixture
  • Pour 3/4 of the batter into a cake pan
  • Add the cocoa to the remaining cake batter and mix
  • Drop by spoonfuls over top of white batter. Using a knife, swirl the cocoa batter to incorporate it in a marble effect
  • Bake in oven for 30 -35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean

October 19, 2010

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

It's getting cool outside and there's nothing I love more than a big bowl of soup. Soup is surprisingly easy to make. During the fall and winter, something I like to make every Sunday because it lasts for a few days and whatever is left over freezes really well. 

This was the first time I'd made cauliflower soup and it got rave reviews from T. This is definitely a keeper.


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 4-5 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Melt the butter a large pot. Add the onions and let cook for a couple of minutes before adding the carrots and cook for another few minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about five minutes before adding the cauliflower and apple. Let simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes and carrots are soft.
  • Let cool before either blending in batches using a blender or using an immersion blender directly in the pot.
  • Once blended, add cream, nutmeg and salt and pepper.

October 17, 2010

Grilled Cheese with Honeycrisp Apple

Grilled cheese and tomato soup is one of my favourite comfort foods. It's the perfect antidote to a cold and rainy day. I saw Martha Stewart on Oprah the other day and she said the "next big thing" is going to be the grilled cheese bar at parties, so I thought I would step up my grilled cheese from the regular white bread with a Kraft single, so something a little more grown up. 

The apple in this made it a perfect complement to the cream of cauliflower soup I made last week.


  • 2 slices of rye bread
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese (I cut it from a brick, so use your judgement on how much cheese this is!)
  • 6 thin slices from a honeycrisp apple


  • Slather one side of each piece of bread with butter
  • Lay the bottom layer down in a frying pan on low heat, butter side down
  • Place half the cheese down on the bread in a single layer
  • Top with a layer of apple
  • Top with the remaining cheese and then the second piece of bread with the butter side up
  • Cook on medium-low for about five minutes
  • Flip and cook on the second side for about 3 minutes
** I found it easiest to flip the sandwich with tongs, which helped keep the sandwich together

October 11, 2010

Mocha and Peppermint Cupcakes

I recently celebrated my birthday on a work day, so I took the opportunity to make some special cupcakes for my team to enjoy. My "signature" cupcakes are cherry chip with a pink tinted icing and I'm embarrassed to say that they're straight out of the box and can respectively. They cost about $5 and they're really very good -- especially when you pipe the icing. But I am expanding my culinary horizons and took the from-scratch recipe from Annie's Eats and they were certainly worth the effort. 

I particularly enjoyed the icing. When I told a couple of people how I made it, they called it "seven minute icing." I'm not sure where the name came from as it took more than seven minutes to make, but it was light, fluffy, not too sweet and piped well. Another birthday down and another new recipe under my belt!


For the cupcakes:

  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2-3 tsp espresso powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
For the frosting:
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 3/4 plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  • To make the cupcakes: preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffin tins with paper liners.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a measuring cup, combine the milk, coffee and peppermint extract
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment. Blend in the eggs one at a time. Alternately mix in the dry and liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients until just combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners and bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • To make the frosting: combine the egg whites and sugar in a heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F and the sugar has dissolved. 
  • Transfer the mixture the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature -- about eight minutes. 
  • Reduce the speed and add the butter, two tablespoons at a time. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue beating on med-high until smooth again.
  • Stir in the peppermint and vanilla extracts and mix until just incorporated. 
  • Frost cupcakes as desired and serve!

October 9, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

Looking for something different to make with pumpkin? I made these out of the blue on a Sunday morning (which in our house, always features pancakes), but this could easily be part of a special Thanksgiving brunch. They are a dense and decadent pancake, perfect for a cold morning and would be delicious served with whipped cream and toasted pecans. 

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp vinegar

  • In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, spice and salt.
  • Combine dry and wet ingredients just enough to combine.
  • Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake.
  • Brown on both sides. Serve hot with whipped cream and pecans.

October 8, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Spice

It's pumpkin season in Ontario. There certainly hasn't been a shortage of pumpkin recipes this year, put no matter if it's pumpkin pie, muffins, cupcakes or bread, there is a lot of consistency in the spices and many of the recipes call for pumpkin pie spice. Not wanting to buy an entire jar of pumpkin pie spice, I found a recipe to make my own using ingredients in my own spice cabinet. Pumpkin crisis averted!

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


  • In a small bowl, mix together the spices 
  • Store in an airtight container

October 6, 2010

Shrimp Alfredo

I was looking for a special dinner for a Sunday night, and I stumbled upon the most decadent pasta I have ever had -- shrimp alfredo. I usually don't gravitate towards cream sauces, favouring a lighter tomato sauce or even a white wine sauce, but this one seemed to be calling my name. 

Balanced out by the lightness of fresh pasta, this was delicious, but can only be served in small quantities due to the richness and definitely served with a salad with a simple vinaigrette dressing. If you're looking for a treat though, this is it and to top it off, it's pretty fast and easy. 

  • fresh linguine pasta
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp onion,diced
  • 4 tsp garlic, minced
  • 30-40 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
  • fresh parsley and lemon for garnish


  • Cook pasta in large pot of boiling water until al dente, drain
  • Melt butter in a large saucepan. Sautee onion and garlic over medium heat until tender
  • Add shrimp and saute over medium-high heat until shrimp turn pink
  • Stir in half-and-half and parmesan stirring constantly until sauce thickens
  • Toss in linguine and sprinkle with black pepper
  • Garnish with parsley and lemon

Recipe from www.allrecipes.com 

October 4, 2010

Chicken with Balsamic Vinegar, Garlic and Mushrooms

It's easy to gravitate towards the same, simple chicken dish week after week. For me, it's my chicken parmesan which I now have down to a fine science. But I am always looking for something new and different to challenge myself in the kitchen and to serve guests. 

A while ago, I found this recipe online and the first thing I loved about it was that I had all the ingredients on hand (the number one reason I make a recipe!). I was serving this for company, so I liked that it was something that I could mostly make ahead and with the exception of thickening the sauce near the end, it was a dish I could put in the over and still spend time with my guests. The balsamic vinegar thickened nicely and created a really nice "gravy" type sauce, presentation-wise it looked great and it tasted good, too! 

What chicken recipes do you gravitate towards?

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme

  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat and saute chicken until it is nicely browned on both sides
  • Remove the chicken and put in a single layer in an oven-safe dish
  • In the skillet, add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Add the vinegar, broth, bay leaf, garlic and thyme. 
  • Pour over chicken and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes
  • Transfer chicken to a warm serving platter and cover with foil.
  • On an element, simmer the sauce over medium high heat, slowly adding flour and whisking slowly until sauce begins to thicken.
  • Discard the bay leaf and pour mushroom sauce over chicken and serve

Recipe adapted from www.allrecipes.com 


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