Thursday, 26 April 2012

Chunky Fudge Squares

1/2 cup whipping cream
8 oz (250 g)chocolate fudge, cut into pieces
3 cups broken shortbread cookies
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup melted butter
  1. Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with tin foil or parchment paper.
  2. Place whipping cream in a small pot and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Add fudge and stir until melted.  Set aside
  3. Combine broken cookies, dark chocolate chips and chopped pecans in a medium bowl and pour over a little more than half of the fudge mixture (you need just enough to coat cookies).  Pack mixture into prepared baking dish and place in refrigerator for 1 hour or until firm.
  4. Combine remaining fudge mixture with melted butter and drizzle over-top of cookie bars.   Chill.  Cut into 1 inch squares and serve.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Dark Chocolate Pecan Squares

A simple and yummy dessert

1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening, cold
3-6 tbsp ice water
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
2 cups toasted pecans
3 eggs
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup golden corn syrup
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  1. Crust:  Blend flour and salt in a medium size mixing bowl.  Cut chilled shortening into 1/2” cubes.  Mix in chilled shortening cubes into flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some small pea sized pieces remaining.  Sprinkle half of ice water over the flour mixture.  Using a fork, stir and draw flour from bottom of bowl to the top, distributing moisture evenly.  Add remaining water, 1 tbsp at a time until dough is moist enough to hold together.
  2. Flatten dough into 1/2” thick round disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
  3. Preheat oven to 375F.
  4. Roll chilled dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14” square.  Transfer dough into a 9”x9” square baking pan. Trim edges to height of baking dish.  Roll edge under so dough comes 3/4 of the way up the sides of the dish.
  5. Filling:  Spread melted chocolate over the bottom of the dough.  Refrigerate to set.  Cover with pecans once cooled.  
  6. Whisk together eggs, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl.  Whisk in corn syrup.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour over pecans.
  7. Bake in preheated oven until filling is puffed, about 50 min

Monday, 23 April 2012

Presto Pizza!

Homemade Pizza, doesn't get much better than this!

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups diced vegetables
1/2 cup diced lean ham
1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  1. Place a large baking sheet upside down on middle rack of oven and preheat oven to 425F. Butter 1 or 2 more large baking sheets.
  2. Crust:  In a large bowl, combine all purpose and whole wheat flours, baking powder, oregano and salt.  Pour in milk and butter; stir with a fork until soft dough forms.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead a couple of times just until smooth.  Divide into 6 pieces.  Roll or pat 3 pieces into 6 inch circles and place on prepared baking sheet.  
  3. Topping:  Spread pizza sauce on each crust, leaving 1/2 inch border.  Sprinkle with ham and vegetables as desired.  Sprinkle with half of the cheese. 
  4. Place pizzas on baking sheet on top of hot baking sheet in oven.  Bake for 12 to 15 min or until crust is golden, toppings are hot and cheese is bubbling.  meanwhile repeat with remaining 3 pizzas.  

Friday, 20 April 2012

Chunky Chocolate Cookie Squares

A simple dessert everyone loves! Switch the nuts to almonds or omit if you don't like them

2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup golden corn syrup
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg 225 g semi sweet chocolate cut into large chunks
¾ cup chopped pecans, divided
  1. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. In bowl beat butter and brown sugar untl fluffy.  Gradually beat in corn syrup, then egg and vanilla.  Beat in flour mixture until blended.  Stir in half the chocolate chunks and ½ cup pecans.
  3. Spread evenly in a greased 15 x 10 x 1 “ baking pan.  Sprinkle with remaining chocolate and pecans.
  4. Bake at 350F 30 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool. Cut in squares and store in air tight container with wax paper between the layers.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Chocolate Tiramisu

Enough about the kids - back to chocolate :)!  Nothing healthy here - but definitely yummy!

2 cups cold coffee
1 container (500g) mascarpone cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled
36 - 40 Italian ladyfinger cookies
1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Place cold coffee in a shallow bowl. reserve
  2. In a separate bowl, beat mascarpone and condensed milk until well combined.  Reserve.
  3. Whip cream in a large bowl until it holds stiff peaks.  Add vanilla into whipping cream.  Gently fold into reserved mascarpone mixture until combined.  Lightly swirl in melted and cooled chocolate.
  4. Dipping both sides of each ladyfinger cookie into cold coffee, line bottom of a 9”x13” baking dish with 18 ladyfinger cookies in 3 rows, trimming edges if necessary.  Spread half the chocolate swirled mascarpone filling, about 2 cups on top.  Dip remaining ladyfinger cookies in coffee and arrange over filling inpan.  Spread remaining mascarpone filling on top.
  5. Chill covered with plastic wrap, at least 4 hours

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Fish Tacos

Another really great kid friendly one although they may not go for the fruit salsa - just leave it off if they won't eat it

1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 lb fish fillets - salmon or whatever they will eat
1/4 cup canola or olive oil
2 tbsp lime or lemon juice
1-2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper if needed

1 pkg taco shells or small flour tortillas

Fruit Salsa
1 kiwi, finely chopped
1/2 cup mango, finely chopped
1/2 cup pineapple, finely chopped
1/4 cup purple onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp lime juice

  1. Put the onions in the bottom of a medium baking dish and top with the fish fillets, canola oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  Cover and set aside for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for an hour or two.
  2. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large skillet set over medium high heat.  Add the fish fillets and cook for about 3 minutes on one side, then flip and cook for another 2 minutes, or until just cooked through. Set aside on a plate or keep warm in a 200F oven.
  3. Add a little more oil and saute the onions, until soft and starting to turn golden.  Set aside in a separate bowl, or add to the fish.
  4. to make the salsa, combine the fruit, onion, cilantro and lime juice in a medium bowl; gently toss to combine and refrigerate until needed.
  5. To serve tacos, flake the fish with a fork and load taco shells or soft flour tortillas with some fish, and onions and top with fruit salsa.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Fish Sticks for Kids

It is so important for kids to eat fish - but it is so difficult to get them to eat it.  I have a 4 year old who thinks that french fries are a meal on their own!  Even she gobbled these up.

1 1/2 lbs salmon

Teriyaki Marinade:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar or honey (or maple syrup)
2 tbsp lime or orange juice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed

Ginger-Orange Marinade:
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp grated fresh ginger

  1. Cut fish fillets into strips or into cubes; place them in a bowl or large resealable bag.
  2. Stir together marinade ingredients and pour over the fish, tossing gently to coat the fish evenly.  Refrigerate for an hour or up to several hours.
  3. When ready to cook, soak bamboo skewers in water for at least 10 minutes to prevent them from burning.  Preheat the oven to 425F.
  4. Thread the fish pieces onto the skewers, leaving about 1 cm between chunks or winding strips back and forth in an S shape.  Place skewers on a baking sheet about 2.5 cm apart.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, until just cooked through

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Potato Fish Cakes

An easy way to get the kids to eat fish!

Vegetable oil
1 - 12 oz fillets of salmon or your favourite fish
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 large baking potatoes
2 eggs, whisked together
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 - 2 tbsp butter

  1. Preheat a saute pan or skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add a tbsp of oil, just enough for a thin layer to cover the entire pan
  3. Season the fish with salt and pepper and carefully place them in the pan.  Sear the fillets on both sides until they're golden brown, crispy and cooked through.
  4. Boil or steam the potatoes
  5. Toss hot potatoes into a mixing bowl.  Using a potato masher, mash them until smooth.
  6. Add the salmon, eggs, mustard and green onions.  Season with more salt and pepper if required.  Beat with a wooden spoon until everything is well combined and then form the mixture into evenly shaped cakes.
  7. Dredge them in the flour.
  8. Clean out the skillet and preheat over medium high heat.  Add another bit of oil and 1-2 tbsp of butter.  When the butter melts and sizzles, add the fish cakes.
  9. Pan-fry until golden brown and crispy on both sides.

Spinach Meatballs

Want to get some veggies into your kids - these work well!

Freeze uncooked meatballs for a quick meal during the week.  You can cook them from frozen.

1 1/2 lb - 675 g lean ground beef or turkey
1 pkg chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1 slice whole wheat bread, chopped into crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 egg
1 tbsp ground flax seed
salt and pepper

  1. Put all the ingredients into a large bowl, season and mix it all together by hand without overworking the mixture.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 F
  3. Roll the meat mixture into walnut sized balls and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. 
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through.  Alternatively cook the meatballs in a heavy skillet drizzled with canola or olive oil and set over medium high heat.
Use for spaghetti and meatballs - delicious!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Double Potato Gratin

3 lb (1.5 kg) Yukon Gold or baking potatoes (about 6 large)
1 lb (500 g) Sweet Potatoes (about 2)
1 tbsp butter, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  1. Peel potatoes and sweet potatoes.  Cut them into slices 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of a 9 inch baking dish and cover with half the butter.  Arrange a layer of regular potatoes over bottom of dish.  Sprinkle potatoes with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary.  Continue to layer and sprinkle potatoes until you have used half the potatoes.
  3. Arrange sweet potato slices on top, sprinkling with oil, salt, pepper and rosemary after each layer.
  4. Continue to arrange remaining potatoes in layers on top of sweet potatoes, sprinkling after each layer.
  5. Butter another piece of parchment paper with remaining butter.  Place paper, butter-side down, on top of potatoes.  Weigh down paper with a heavy oven proof dish or foil covered bricks.
  6. Bake in a preheated 425F oven for 1 hour, or until potatoes are tender.  Remove weights and the top paper.  Let potatoes sit for 5 minutes.  
  7. Invert dish onto a serving platter and remove remaining piece of parchment paper.  Serve with the best looking side up. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry season is fast approaching.  Nothing is as good as freshly picked strawberries and I love going to the local farms to pick them.  They taste so much better than what you get in the stores.  Here is a fun change to the regular strawberry shortcake.

6 cups fresh strawberries
¼ cup sugar
1 square semisweet chocolate
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter
1 beaten egg
2/3 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
Select 4 strawberries; set aside.  Slice the remaining berries.  Combine sliced berries and ¼ cup sugar; set aside.  Melt semisweet chocolate.  Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.  Spoon melted chocolate over the bottom half of each reserved strawberry.  Place on baking sheet; refrigerate till needed.
For shortcake, in a mixing bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in the butter till mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Combine egg and milk; add all at once to dry ingredients and stir just to moisten.  Spread dough in a greased 8 x 1 ½ inch round baking pan, building up edge slightly.  Bake in a 450 oven for 15 to 18 minutes or till done.
Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove from pan; place on a serving plate.  Beat whipping cream and the 2 tablespoons sugar on medium speed of electric mixer till soft peaks form.  Arrange some sliced berries atop cake.  Spoon whipped cream over top.  Arrange chocolate coated strawberries atop whipped cream.  Serve shortcake warm.  Pass remaining sliced berries.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Pork and Sweet Peppers on Noodles

1 lb (500g) boneless pork loin
2 tbsp sweet paprika, divided
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter, divided
2 sweet peppers (red, yelllow, green or orange) cut into thin strips
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth or stock, divided
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups milk
8 oz extra broad egg noodles
1/2 cup plain yogurt not fat free
Chopped fresh parsley
  1. Trim off fat from pork and cut across the grain into 1/4 inch thick strips.  In a bowl, sprinkle pork with half of the paprika and 1/4 tsp each, salt and pepper.  In a large skillet, melt half of the butter over medium high heat.  Brown pork strips in three batches, adding more of the butter as necessary; transfer to a clean bowl.
  2. Reduce heat to medium.  Melt remaining butter in skillet; add sweetpeppers, onion, remaining paprika and 1/4 cup of the broth to a skillet and saute for about 3 min or until onion is softened.  Stir in remaining broth.  Whisk flour into milk and stir into skillet, increase heat to medium high; bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping up any brown bits stuck to pan.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, for about 5 min or until sauce is thickened.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles for about 6 min or until tender but firm.  Drain well.  Return pork and accumulated juices to sauce.  Simmer, stirring often for 2 min or until just of pink remains in pork.  Remove from heat, stir yogurt, then stir into sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide noodles among serving bowls; spoon sauce on top and sprinkle with parsley.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Chocolate Pumpkin Squares with Maple Whipped Cream

Decadent and wonderful

2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 can (14 oz) pure pumpkin
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon and nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Maple Whipped Cream
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
In bowl, combine cookie crumbs and cinnamon.  Drizzle butter over top and stir to combine well.  Press crumb mixture into bottom of parchment paper lined baking pan.  Bake in 350F oven for about 10 minutes or until set.  Let cool.
Meanwhile, in large bowl, using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in pumpkin, eggs and vanilla until combined.  Add flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and beat on low until just combined.  Pour mixture over chocolate base and return to oven for about 20 minutes or until tester inserted in centre comes out clean and top is firm to the touch.  Let cool completely.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Maple Whipped Cream:
In a bowl, whip cream and maple syrup until slightly firm peaks form.  Cut into bars and serve each with some of the whipped cream.