February 26, 2011

Decadent Chocolate Pudding

Two years ago, before I started really cooking, I would have been completely satisfied ripping open a package of Jello powdered pudding, adding some milk and calling it dessert. 

Now, I'm much more interested in what I'm eating. I'm finding the more I cook, the less interested I am in pre-packaged foods. Without even thinking, I've stopped eating Kraft Dinner (which I honestly used to love), canned soup, salad dressing, pre-made oatmeal -- all in favour of making these foods myself. I enjoy knowing what's going into my food and trying to make it as fresh as possible. 

One more step in that was making this decadent chocolate pudding. Making it from scratch can't even compare to a package. The flavour is richer and more choclatey, the texture is thicker and dense. And, most surprisingly, I felt much more satisfied after a single serving than I would have with a whole box of packaged stuff (not that I ever ate a whole box...). So I'm finding that I'm not only enjoying the process of cooking more, but I am certainly enjoying the results!

What do you make from scratch that you used to buy pre-made?

Decadent Chocolate Pudding
Serves 6

  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • In a medium bowl, sift together the cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Stir in the sugar. Add the egg yolks and pour in 1/2 cup of milk. Whisk until combined.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining two cups of mils and the heavy cream over medium heat until the mixture just comes to a boil. Slowly whisk the milk mixture into the cocoa mixture.
  • Rinse out the saucepan (but don't dry to avoid scorching) and return custard mixture to the saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the vanilla. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, cook until the custard has thickened slightly (Martha said until about the consistency of mayonnaise, but mine never got that thick and turned out great). Do not let it boil and don't worry if lumps form.
  • Pour the custard through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Add the chopped chocolate in two batches, stirring until thoroughly melted after each addition.
  • Divide the pudding among six ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and chill at least four hours or overnight before serving. 
  • Garnish with whipped cream if desired.
Recipe from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics

February 21, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

I don't eat a lot of ethnic food and have a real aversion to spice (though I am working on it!), but I do love Mexican. I discovered it when we were on our honeymoon and have always been keen to make things on my own so I can moderate the spice to my palate.

This recipe was the perfect one to fill a Sunday afternoon, and it is a lengthy one, but well worth it. I used a whole roast chicken and made it the day before, so it cut down a little bit on the time. But I do like being in the kitchen for a few hours, just focusing on the ingredients. Nowhere else does time fly like it does in the kitchen. I blinked and I was putting these little guys in the oven and 40 minutes later I was enjoying them slathered with sour cream -- as all spicy food should be. 

These enchiladas were a real hit. Find the time and go make them. You'll thank me, for sure.

Chicken Enchiladas
Serves 4-6

  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tsbp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cooked roasted chicken, shredded 
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded monteray jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 12 soft tortillas

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat ad cook the onion for a few minutes until translucent. Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar, a cook a few seconds. Mix in the tomato sauce, water and chopped tomato. Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until slightly thickened, about five minutes.
  • Strain the sauce through a large mesh strainer in to a medium bowl, pressing down to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer the reserved solids to a large bowl and set aside. Season the sauce (the liquid that was squeezed out) with salt and pepper. This is the enchilada sauce.
  • Add the shredded chicken to the bowl with the onion and tomato mixture. Add in a 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, 1/2 a cup each of the shredded cheeses and the cilantro. Stir to combine.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Oil a 9 x 13" baking dish with cooking spray. 
  • Stack the tortillas on a plate and microwave for 45 seconds until warm and pliable. Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in the centre of the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla around the filling tightly and place in the prepared baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas.
  • Place baking dish in the oven uncovered for 7 minutes until start to brown slightly.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Remove the enchiladas from the oven and pour the sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheeses. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and bake for another five minutes, until the cheese is browned.
  • Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  

Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats

February 17, 2011

Carrot Cupcakes

It has been one busy couple of weeks! I feel like I have had absolutely no time to sit down, let alone cook and blog. I got into a bit of a food rut too -- I have been eating a lot of cereal and scrambled eggs. Yikes. I think I had a bit of February blues, but these carrot cupcakes were just what the doctor ordered.

I needed something that would get me back in the kitchen, that was sweet and satisfying, that was relaxing and easy to make. These hit all the marks. I can't even begin to tell you how delicious the icing is, too. It's a thick cream cheese icing and it's so amazing. The best part? The recipe makes lots so you can slather it on thick and still have enough to lick off the back of your spoon. After all, that's the best part, no?

Carrot Cupcakes
Serves 12


  • 1/2 pkg (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put cupcake liners in 12 muffin cups.
  • In a bowl, beat together the eggs, white sugar and brown sugar and mix in the oil and vanilla. Fold in the carrots. 
  • In a separate bowl, mix in the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. 
  • Mix the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until evenly moist. Fold in 1/2 cup of walnuts. 
  • Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in vanilla and gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Mix in heavy cream. 
  • Ice each cupcake and sprinkle with remaining walnuts.
Recipe adapted from All Recipes

February 8, 2011

Roasted Carrot Soup

I have been roasting a lot of vegetables lately -- beets, brussels sprouts, peppers, garlic, Roasting makes it taste like a completely different vegetable, which was essential when I decided to make this carrot soup. Carrots are one of my least favourite vegetables. They just taste... healthy. But roasting! Oh, friends, roasting this little guys made all the difference. The soup was yummy (cream certainly didn't hurt) and refreshing. And T even said he thought he could see better.

Roasted Carrot Soup
Serves 4-6

  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into two inch chunks
  • 1 belgian endive, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger, or to taste

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a single layer on a cooking sheet, place the onion, carrots and endive and brush liberally with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables until they are deep golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  • Transfer all the vegetables to a large saucepan and add the bay leaf and the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the carrots are very soft, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, discard the bay leaf, and puree the vegetables until smooth (with an immersion blender or a regular blender).
  • Add the cream, season with salt and pepper and stir in the ginger. 

Recipe from Martha Stewart, The New Classics

February 4, 2011

Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs

One of the things T is constantly asking for is meatballs. As I am always looking for new recipes, I'm reluctant to do repeats, but then I found this recipe for stuffed meatballs. What could be better than a surprise of cheesy goodness inside a meatball? I made these extra large and served them over a bed of fresh pasta and they were devoured. If there were any left, I know that they would reheat well, too.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs
Serves 5
Printable Recipe


  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, two smashed and one chopped
  • 2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp orgeano
  • 1 pound lean ground meat (I used turkey)
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into 20 1/2 inch cubes
  • salt and pepper
  • In a medium bowl, soak the bread crumbs in milk
  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic and cook until golden, about two minutes. Add the tomatoes, season to taste with basil, oregano and salt and let the sauce simmer over low heat.
  • To the bowl with the breadcrumbs, add the beef, chopped garlic, parsley, parmesan, egg and 1 tsp of salt. Stir until combined. Place about two tbsp of the mixture in your hand and press a mozzarella cube into the centre. Shape the meat around the cheese forming a ball. Repeat with the remaining meat and mozzarella.
  • Stir the sauce and raise the heat to medium-low. Carefully place the meatballs in the sauce, submerging them completely. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook without stirring for 20 minutes.
  • Once the meatballs are cooked, serve meatballs and sauce over fresh pasta.
Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray Magazine

February 2, 2011

Salmon with Shallot Vinaigrette

I am always looking for easy weeknight meals to make. So, this past weekend, I culled the "weeknight meals" section of all my old Real Simple magazines and ripped out this goody. We had lots of salmon in the freezer from a large piece we got at Costco and the cut into fillets, and I had basically every other ingredient in the house with the exception of the rice vinegar. I love when things come together easily! 

This was a very simple salmon dish -- simply pan frying the salmon and topping it with a flavourful vinaigrette. Fast, easy and healthy. You could even make it faster if you had a few extra minutes earlier in the day, you could make the vinaigrette in advance.

Salmon with Shallot Vinaigrette
Serves 4
Printable Recipe


  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 4 tbsp plus one tsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into four pieces


  • In a small bowl, combine the shallots, vinegar, dill, 4 tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Heat one teaspoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Cook in pan until opaque throughout, 3-5 minute per side.
  • Serve salmon with the vinaigrette on top.
Recipe from Real Simple magazine, September 2009


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