Cinnamon & Ricotta Scones

You may have noticed I've been making a lot of scones and biscuits lately. They're quick and they're easy and they always taste delicious. These ones were no exception! I had some leftover ricotta cheese from my ricotta making experiment (in case you missed my post yesterday about making your own Ricotta Cheese, you can find it here) and looked for a way to use it up in scone. I found this recipe on West Side Baker and it didn't disappoint. If you have some leftover ricotta, or if you want to try out making your own ricotta, make these scones.

Cinnamon & Ricotta Scones
Minimally adapted from West Side Baker

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup sugar (coarse sugar if you have it)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and baking powder. Add butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg and vanilla. Add all at once to the mixture in the food processor. Pulse until dough just comes together.
  4. Turn dough out onto counter. Divide into two pieces. Pat each piece into a 6" round and then cut into 8 wedges.
  5. Place all  16 pieces on one large baking tray or two small baking trays that have been lined with parchment paper. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Brush with a little milk and then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until top of scones is golden. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Hope you enjoy these! We devoured them pretty quickly in our house.

This post has been linked up with Whatcha Baking Wednesdays over at Cajun Sugar Pie. Hop on over for a look at other yummy baked goods fellow bloggers have been whipping up this week.

This post has also been linked up with Fusion Fridays over at Jennifer Cooks. Head over there to check out all the Superbowl yumminess going on in the blog-world this week!
Happy Baking my Friends!


How to... Make Ricotta Cheese

I sometimes suck at taking pictures of the food I make. Sometimes out of laziness, sometimes out of lack of time and sometimes I just forget. This time I was lazy and I also forgot to take photos of my ricotta cheese until I was halfway through putting together a batch of scones (see my post tomorrow) that used up the rest of my homemade ricotta cheese. So I snapped a quick pic of the cheese, right before I put it into my scone dough. No effort = very bad results. But trust me, this stuff tastes about one million times better than this picture makes it look. SERIOUSLY.

I have never made cheese at home before. I've always seen other bloggers post about it and somehow thought it was out of my league. I don't know... I just always thought it was difficult and time consuming and that I'd have a bunch of batches that failed miserably (and wasted a lot of ingredients in the process). But after reading about Julia's experience on her blog Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body, I HAD to try this stuff out. She raved about how good it was even just spread on toast or crackers and boy was she right! Its so amazing. I ate it on toasted english muffins with jam or honey every day for a week. Then used the rest to make the above mentioned batch of scones. Mmmmmm!!! Make it! Right now!!!

One other thing to note about this at home cheese making process - its pretty economical. Buy yourself a $3 package of cheesecloth. It is washable therefore you can use it a bunch of times. Also, you can use whatever fat content milk you like! I made my first batch using high fat milk products (see recipe below), but you can use a combination like Julia to come up with a better-for-you version that tastes just as good. Making a batch with lower fat content milk products results in making a far cheaper batch of ricotta than you could ever buy in the grocery store. So get on it now and you can have yummy ricotta in less than 3 hours! Woot!

Ricotta Cheese
Recipe slightly adapted from Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Pour milks and salt into saucepan. Attach a thermometer to the side of the pan. Heat gently, stirring often to avoid scorching the bottom of the pan, until temperature reaches 190 degrees.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir very gently. Let mixture sit for five minutes - don't touch it for five whole minutes. Set the timer and just walk away.
  3. Double layer a cheesecloth and line a colander with it and place the lined colander over a large bowl to catch the whey. Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let strain for 2 hours.
  4. Scrape the ricotta from the cheesecloth into a small container. Chill the ricotta. It will firm as it cools, so the texture after it is finished straining will be completely different than the ricotta you scrape into your container.
Julia also notes that you can save the whey and use it by freezing into ice cube form and plunking a couple into your morning smoothie. Thats what I've been doing and it helps to keep you full longer because its a great source of protein.

Hope you enjoy this little tutorial! I will update my post with step by step photos next time I make this, because I will be making it again in the very near future!!

This post has been linked up with Fusion Fridays at Jennifer Cooks! Head over there to check out all the Superbowl yumminess that was whipped up this week in the blog-world. :)

Happy Cooking my Friends!


Parmesan and Black Pepper Biscotti

This is my favorite biscotti recipe. I've made it many, many times, but each time it has never lasted long enough to get a couple of photographs!! Hubby and sister eagerly devour it every time I make it. I know you're a little skeptical due to the fact that biscotti is usually sweet, but give this one a go! Its great with a nice chilled glass of white wine. I promise you, the entire batch will not last long in your house.

Since its Sunday and I want to go and do something today, I'm going to keep this post short! So here's the recipe - you must try this ASAP! Its a great way to use up leftover parmesan and it come together really quickly.

Parmesan and Black Pepper Biscotti
Recipe adapted from Food & Whine

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup finely grated parmesan (fresh stuff, not the powdered stuff, you need good quality for this recipe)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground, coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • extra parmesan and black pepper for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line large baking pan (or alternatively, two smaller baking pans) with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a large food procesor, pulse the flour, parmesan, baking powder, back pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper together until just combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with the whole milk. With your food processor running, gradually drizzle the egg-milk mixture through the feeding tube until the mixture comes together to form a slightly sticky dough.
  4. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball of dough out into a 10" long log. Place logs onto prepared baking sheet(s) and press to flatten slightly.
  5. Brush each log with a little whole milk then sprinkle with parmesan and additional coarse ground black pepper. Bake in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, until just golden and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool in pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
  6. Transfer logs to a cutting board. Using a large sharp knife, carefully cut into 1/2 inch slices. Place slices back on baking sheet with cut side up, about 1/2 inch apart. Bake in 350F oven for 10 minutes, then flip biscotti over and bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. Store between waxed paper in airtight containers for one week or freeze for up to one month.  
After sharing this recipe with you, I'm struck by the urge to make another batch of these delicious little treats.... Sunday afternoon activity?!! Enjoy your Sunday whatever you're up to!

Happy Baking my Friends!


Curry Turkey Burgers with Mango Chutney

Happy Saturday peeps! Hope your weekend is off to a good start. I've been racking my brain trying to come up with a "healthy" post for you this week after my healthy mac and cheese was an epic fail... I guess some things just aren't meant to be low fat and healthy right?! Is that the wrong attitude to have? Maybe I just need a better recipe... Any way, I was browsing through some of my instagram photos and found this one (apologies for the quality of the photo... I still haven't got the hang of taking photos with my iPhone yet) of Curry Turkey Burgers with Mango Chutney and an Asian Slaw Salad. This is definitely a lightened up burger and the asian slaw salad is a delicious substitute from ceasar salad or french fries. So this is going to constitute my healty post for the week - fitting into the light/ lower-fat category.

Even my hubby who has an aversion to lightened up versions of his favorite foods, really liked these burgers, so I am convinced that even your toughest critics will love these burgers and ask you for seconds. Oh yeah, and they're easy and quick to make, so its a win win situation. What are you waiting for? Whip these up tonight and feel good about your dinner.

Curry Turkey Burgers with Asian Slaw
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

For the Burgers
  • 1 1/3 lbs lean ground turkey or chicken (I used a combination of both)
  • A handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • A couple pieces of roasted red peppers, finely chopped
  • coarse salt
  • 2 tbsp mild curry paste or a handful of curry powder
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • Multigrain buns (4-6)
  • lettuce (optional)
  • guacamole (optional)
  • mango chutney
  • Light mayo (optional)
For the Slaw
  • 1 package prepared shredded cabbage mix (coleslaw mix)
  • 1/4 seedless cucumber, chopped
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, shredded
For the Dressing
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable/ canola oil
  1. Combine the chicken, cilantro, ginger, garlic, roasted peppers, salt and curry paste in a large bowl. Form into five patties. Brush or drizzle patties on both sides with a tiny bit of olive oil.
  2. Pan fry the patties in a non-stick pan for approximately 6 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Pile patties onto buns and top with lettuce, mango chutney and guacamole (maybe not if you're watching your fat intake), and light mayo (again - go easy on this if you're watching your fat intake).
  3. For the slaw, combine the cabbage, cucumber and basil in a large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients in a small plastic container and shake vigorously for one minute. Drizzle sauce evenly over vegetables and toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes and re-toss salad. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds if desired.   Serve with the turkey burgers.
I'm off to start up on my Saturday kitchen project... top secret productions in preparation for the February Secret Recipe Club!! Woot! Can't wait to share with you. :)

Happy Cooking my Friends!


January 2012 Daring Bakers' Challenge: Scones, aka Biscuits

Its time for the Daring Bakers' Challenge again! Last month you probably noticed I didn't post a Daring Bakers' challenge... I participated, but my attempt was such an epic fail that I couldn't bring myself to try again. Last months' challenge was to make sourdough bread - like real sourdough where you make your own starter to rise the bread without yeast. Mine bubbled away for a couple days on the counter, then the temperature dropped a lot one night and the house got too cold... I tried to revive it the next day, but it was not meant to be. My poor starter died!! Thus, no December 2011 challenge for me!
Oh well, this is a new month and something very familiar to me - scones, aka biscuits. I've made biscuits and scones many, many times using many different recipes. My standby recipe is still my baking powder biscuit recipe out of my (mom's) Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. These biscuits raise up mile high and always receive rave reviews whenever I serve them to guests. I have to say that the challenge recipe doesn't quite live up to my baking powder biscuit recipe, but its a pretty close second! It was fun to experiment with something new.

Blog Checking Lines: Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers' host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (aka biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens.

I've posted some pictures of the scones I made with Audax's recipe. They turned out well, but they weren't quite as good as my ultimate biscuit recipe (check back in February for a post with my ultimate biscuit recipe). Check out the Daring Kitchen website for the recipe or to join in with these great monthly challenges. You can further your baking skills in a constructive and supportive community of fellow bakers!!

One thing I found interesting was mixing up a batch of biscuits by hand. I never make my biscuits by hand - I always use my food processor. Thats where I get the best results! But do try whatever works for you.

Lastly, I grew up eating baking powder biscuits - my mom always made them for us, so they are a type of comfort food for my sister and I. I'm not sure if this is a Canadian tradition or just a family tradition, but we always served our biscuits warm, with some salted butter and drizzled with Roger's Golden Syrup. Mmmmm! Delicious. :)

In addition to checking out Aud's recipe, do check out the biscuit and scone recipe roundup I've posted below - these are some of my favorite biscuits and scones from previous blog posts I've done.

Blueberry & Lime Scones
Cranberry Oat Scones
Chocolate Scones
Banana Biscuits
Savory Scones
Almond Apricot Scones

Happy Baking Friends! Thanks for stopping by. :)


Lemon Sugar Cookies

A little while ago my hubby decided to upgrade our internet to an uber fast network. The last month or so though our internet has had nothing but problems. It cuts out all the time for no apparent reason and you have to reset the modem or wait a few hours for it to be restored. So hubby called the internet provider and asked them to send someone to fix the internet. Oh, yes, they're here tonight while I'm trying to write this post and control my CRAZY golden retriever at the same time. So, as you read this post, picture me, dragging my dog upstairs to my bedroom, closing the door to lock us in said bedroom and consoling my pup who is heartbroken that the repairman doesn't want to be BFFs. Ahhhh the joys of having a dog who will forever have puppy brain! Annyyyy who, on to the food!

Ready to get your bake on? Make these delicious and easy cookies! I made them for the ladies get together I hosted at my place on the weekend and they were a hit. Hubby has already insisted that I make another batch because he loved them so much. And he doesn't do that very often, so you know they're delicious. The best part about these cookies is that you probably have all the ingredients on hand in your pantry already! Wahoo for no trip to that pesky grocery store!!

Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies
Recipe minimally adapted from My Baking Addiction

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of one large lemon, finely minced
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar for rolling cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, soda, powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a mixer, beat together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice. Gradually add the dry ingredients until mixture is combined uniformly. Do not overmix.
  4. Form into 1 1/2 inch balls, roll in sugar and bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand on cookie sheets to cool for two minutes before removing to cooling rack to cool completely.
Pretty easy huh? They were sooooo delicious. Some of the best cookies I've made in a long time. They aren't overly lemony, so if you're looking for that pop of lemon flavour I would add some extra zest (double it!!) to the batter.

This post has been linked up with Whatcha Baking Wednesdays over at Cajun Sugar Pie! Pop on over there to check out what yummy desserts other bloggers are making this week. :)

This post has been linked up with Jane Deere's Fusion Fridays over at Jennifer Cooks. Have a wander over to her blog to check out some of the awesome things fellow bloggers are making, cooking and baking this week.

Happy Baking my Friends!


How to... Cut a Pineapple

Ever went to cut up a pineapple and found you weren't quite sure where to start? Or ever cut up a pineapple into perfect dice only to bite down into a hard piece because you didn't realize pineapples had cores? This how to post is for you! Even if you're just looking to fine tune your pineapple cutting skills to become more efficient, have a look at the step by step photos for some ideas on how to improve your chopping skills.

First off, be sure to pick out a ripe pineapple. Lots of the pineapples at the grocery store won't be ripe enough to be sweet and delicious for eating. So, be sure to choose your pineapple carefully. The best tip I ever received for picking out a ripe pineapple: choose a pineapple where the middle stalk pieces pull out very easily. If they do, its ripe and ready to eat!

Next: start out with your sharpest knife (make sure it's big enough) and a nice big cutting board. Slice off the top of your pineapple. Then flip it around and slice off the bottom as well so you have a nice flat surface to work with.

 Then stand the pineapple up on end and use your knife to slice off the skin, removing as little of the flesh as possible. Slice strips off all the way around the pineapple until it is completely peeled. You can use a melon baller or the end of a potato peeler to pick out the divets (the little brown spots) if they bother you!

 In the photo below, note the 1" circle in the middle of the pineapple. This is the core of the pineapple - it is hard and not very pleasant to eat. It runs all the way down the pineapple in the middle. In the next steps be sure to be mindful of where the core of the pineapple is.

Next, slice the flesh off the pineapple off on either side of the core. Set the two pieces of flesh aside for now.

Then with the remaining piece of pineapple, slice the flesh of the pineapple off, leaving the core behind. Discard the core. Take the pieces of flesh you've carefully carved away from the core and dice them into bite size pieces. Enjoy them on their own, put them in fruit salad, or make this healthy Pineapple "Ice Cream".

Hope you learned something during your visit today! If there's something you've been wanting to learn how to do in the kitchen, please leave me a comment and I will try to feature it in a future How to... post. :)

 Happy cooking my friends!


Broccoli & Cheddar Soup

Ahhh Saturday morning! I love sitting and enjoying a nice cup of coffee on the one day of the week I don't have to do anything. A simple thing to take pleasure in, but sometimes its just so nice to sit down and take a little breather. I still have lots to do today and tomorrow in preparation for having some of the office ladies over to my place tomorrow evening, but those things can wait while I drink my coffee. :)

Last night I was feeling a little drained after a busy week at work, so I opted for an easy and healthy dinner that hubby and I could feel good about after eating. I made a Broccoli & Cheddar soup from my new cookbook The Looneyspoons Collection by Janet & Greta Podleski. I have one of their previously published cookbooks called Eat, Shrink and Be Merry and quite honestly, I love both cookbooks. Janet & Greta do a great job lightening up everyday recipes without using obscure or expensive ingredients and this soup was no exception. The short ingredient list, easy preparation instructions and quick cooking time made this soup really appealing (not to mention the fabulous end result).

Broccoli & Cheddar Soup
Recipe adapted from The LooneySpoons Collection

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp  each dried tarragon and celery salt
  • 3 cups chicken broth (I used homemade turkey stock)
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed shredded old cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
  1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions and celery. Cook and stir until veggies begin to soften, about five minutes. Add garlic, tarragon and celery salt. Cook 30 more seconds until fragrant. Add broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for five minutes. Add broccoli and simmer for 7 more minutes, until broccoli and potatoes are tender.
  2. Carefully transfer soup to a blender. Puree until smooth and silky. Return pureed soup to pot over low heat. Whisk together milk and flour until smooth. Add to soup. Increase heat to medium and cook until mixture is bubbly and has thickened, stirring constantly. Add both cheeses, pepper, hot pepper sauce and salt. Stir until cheeses are melted. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Thats all there is to it. I'm pretty excited to enjoy a nice bowl of this leftover soup for lunch on this cold, rainy Saturday. Have a fantastic weekend peeps!

Happy Cooking my Friends!


Macaroon Madness Bars

After yesterday's "healthy" post, I have to catch up by posting something extra un-healthy today! Just kidding! I'm trying to post one healthy recipe per week going forward as I've had a number of requests from my readers for healthy recipes including - low fat, low sugar, diabetic friendly, gluten free and dairy free! I'm going to do my best to try to post a variety of these recipes over the next year. If there is anything you'd like to see me make, or you have a healthy recipe you'd like me to feature, by all means, please leave me a comment or send me an email.  I would love to hear from you!

I found this recipe on Jen's blog Food & Whine. She has a great online recipe box full of amazing recipes - so if you haven't already, do check her out. She doesn't post every day but whenever she does post I'm always excited to see what new recipe she is sharing because they're always good!! I made these macaroon madness bars and they're so delicious I just have to share them with you. If you love coconut, you'll fall hard for these little beauties. Jen notes that you should leave them overnight in the fridge before slicing them and she's right. I let them soften a bit to room temperature prior to slicing and they were a little messy to slice.

Macaroon Madness Bars
Recipe minimally adapted from Food & Whine

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup salted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can sweetened, condensed milk (14 oz)
  • 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
  • caramel syrup (I used store bought, but you can find a good recipe on Jen's post)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. For the base, line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Leave an overhang of parchment on each end to lift out of the pan easily after baking. Combine butter, flour, cornstarch, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Mix until mixture is well combined and crumbly. Press into bottom of prepared pan (use the bottom of a glass to really pack in the crust). Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. For the filling, over low heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and sweetened condensed milk. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in eggs. Fold in coconut and oatmeal until well combined. Pour over crust in prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown (center will still be a bit jiggly). If the center is too wobbly, cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. Cool completely. Cover, refrigerate overnight.
  4. Drizzle bars with caramel syrup. Place back in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. Then melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the bars. Refrigerate another 10-15 minutes. Finally, melt the chocolate and drizzle over the bars. Refrigerate another 10-15 minutes or until chocolate is firm. Remove from pan and slice into squares or triangles. Keep left over bars in the fridge, or freeze for later use.

Hope you enjoy these bars! I know we sure did. I've actually saved some of the leftovers in the freezer (and by freezer, I mean my patio - its -8 again today, so no need to take up valuable freezer space when I have a big one outdoors!!) for a girls get together I'm having at my place on Sunday. Oh its going to be a good time - we're going to get a valentines card making tutorial from one of the ladies and what kind of girls get together would be complete without a friendly chocolate tasting competition?! I'll let you know how it goes and obviously give you the DL on what kind of food I make next week.

This post has been linked up with Whatcha Baking Wednesdays over at Cajun Sugar Pie. Head on over to check out what other delicious desserts have been whipped up this week by fellow food bloggers.

This post has been linked up with Jane Deere's Fusion Fridays! Please stop by the Fusion Friday's link party to check out what everyone else was cooking up this week.

Happy baking my friends!


Pineapple "Ice Cream"

Hey Friends! How is your week going so far? Mine has been pretty busy and COLD! Yep, you heard me - friggin cold. We typically don't get much cold weather here, but tonight it is -8 celcius and I don't think I've seen temperatures that cold since last time I was up in Northern BC a few years ago. Regardless of the cold though, I'm bringing you a nice cold dessert that you can eat and still stay in line with you new years resolutions!!

 Folks - meet my version of pineapple ice cream with very little sugar and zero fat!! I add the spiced whiskey for a little extra flavour and also to keep the mixture from getting too hard in the freezer. If you're going to consume it right away, feel free to leave out the whiskey for an even healthier snack. You could also sweeten this dessert with a couple tablespoons of agave to make this treat with less sugar (other than the naturally occurring sugar in the pineapple that is).

Oh and did I mention how easy this is? Cut up your pineapple, freeze it, then combine frozen pineapple and remaining ingredients into your food processor and whirl until smooth and creamy. Ohhhhhh yes!!!

Pineapple "Ice Cream"
Recipe by Erin

  • 1 whole pineapple, cut up into bite size chunks and frozen
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp spiced whiskey
  • 3 heaping tbsp non-fat greek yogurt (preferably Liberte brand)
  1. Combine ingredients in food processor. Whirl until smooth. Enjoy!

Whats the weather like where you're living? Is it cold and wintery there too? Here's to staying warm this frigid winter week and hoping for warmer weather next week!

Happy Baking my Friends!


How To... Roast Peppers

 Once you're finished judging me for how dirty my oven is, take a look at my step-by-step photos to learn how to make roasted peppers. No more buying those expensive little jars at the grocery store (come on - $5 for the smallest jar?!). Roasted peppers are great to have on hand to top pizza, sandwiches & wraps or to blend up in pasta sauce or dipping sauces etc. They add a sort of gourmet flair that will always impress people and they're super easy to make yourself. I made mine indoors because its cold and snowy here, so no grilling for me, but you can definitely make these on the grill (in fact you should make them on the grill if you can!!).

So first step (pictured above) - place a couple of peppers in your oven (gas oven is best if doing this indoors). Set oven to broil. Close the oven door and check back every 5-10 minutes or so. Turn the peppers using tongs once each side starts to blacken (you don't want it to char - it should just start to go black). Once all sides have lightly coloured, remove from the oven and place in a heatproof bowl.

 Cover the bowl and let sit until cool enough to handle (I left mine about 20 - 30 minutes).

Remove the roasted peppers to a cutting board. Peel away the skin (it should come off super easy now that they've been steaming in your container for a little bit). Remove the stem and all seeds.

Then cut peppers into thin strips and refrigerate until you use them. They will keep for a week or so in the fridge. You can freeze them too and then you'll always have them on hand in case you need them in a pinch.

I bet you didn't know it was that easy did you?! Hope you learned something new today stopping by my blog. See you again soon.

Happy Cooking my Friends!


Creamy Spinach Dip

Alright folks - listen up: there is less than one month left until the Super Bowl!! Now, I am not really a huge football fan... I am more into the social aspects of the whole football thing, but the one thing I do know about football related events is my job at said events. My job when it comes to football and the Super Bowl is very important - I am the party planner, menu planner and chef extraordinaire!! So, my apologies to those of you who don't get caught up in the hype of the whole football thing, but leading up to the Super Bowl, there will likely be a lot of party dishes and appetizer ideas posted here... just sayin'!

But really, who can have enough appetizer recipes? I sure can't; I'm always bookmarking something for a later date or far off occasion. Sooo I'm sure you can put these recipes to good use regardless of whether you're into the Super Bowl hype or not.

I made this spinach dip for Christmas eve this year and it was a hit. I've made it many times and someone always asks for the recipe. So I'm going to share it with you! A little secret - its dead easy. So here we go:

Creamy Spinach Dip
Recipe minimally adapted from Cooking Light

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (recipe calls for fat free, but I always use full fat)
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan, divided
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 2 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine 1 1/2 cups mozza, sour cream, 2 tbsp parmesan, pepper, garlic, artichoke hearts, cream cheese and spinach. Mix until evenly blended. Turn mixture out into baking dish and level mixture into an even layer. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozza and 2 tbsp parmesan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Serve with fresh bread, crostini or tortilla chips for dipping. Consume while hot.

Mmmmmm.... lets all pause while we drool over this picture of creamy, spinach goodness!! This recipe originally called for using low fat everything - feel free to do that when you make it, but I never use low fat ingredients when I'm entertaining and this is no exception. In my experience, the full fat version ALWAYS tastes better!! But I do realize that some of us have resolutions to keep, so don't worry, I won't judge and your guests likely won't notice the subtle difference.

This post has been linked up with Jane Deere's Fusion Fridays Link Party! Stop by to check out what other creations my fellow bloggers have posted in Fusion Fridays. You won't be disappointed. :)

Happy Baking my Friends! Thanks for stopping by. :)


How To... Whip Cream in Under 60 Seconds!

Hello Friends! Hope your week is off to a fabulous start. I was out of town for work Sunday and Monday, but I'm back now (woot!) and also back to blogging. One of the things I'd like to blog more about in the coming year is how to do certain things in the kitchen - I'm not talking about certain recipes, I'm talking about skills we should all have so we don't have to buy the processed version or ideas for a better way to do something we might already do in our day to day culinary adventures. I posted a few how-to posts during 2011 (how to roast garlic, how to carmelize onions, etc), but I want to have more posts like that in addition to my usual recipes and wine suggestions.

So why not start the year off with something most of us love - home made whipped cream! Not that yucky processed stuff you spray out of a can. I'm talking creamy, decadent (and sinful) cream sweetened to taste with sugar and flavoured subtley with dreamy mexican vanilla. But sometimes we just don't have time to wait or maybe you don't want to listen to the stand mixer whip at full speed for 5 or so minutes while we wait for the cream to whip to the perfect consistency (if it even whips up properly on the first try).

Boy have I got a trick for you! If you're impatient like me, you'll love this one. Dump some cream in the small bowl of your food processor. Add some sugar and vanilla to taste (start with a couple tbsp sugar and a tsp or so of vanilla). Put the lid on and run the food processor until your cream whips to soft peaks. Check after 30 seconds to see how its doing - it will take just under a minute to be done perfectly every time. Just don't overwhip or you'll have butter. :)

Note that in my pictures, I'm whipping a very small quantity of cream (just enough for one mug of hot chocolate and then a couple extra spoonfuls for tasting - strictly quality control of course!!). This tastes perfect on a delicious mug of Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate.

Hope you find this useful! I know I was intrigued when I first saw this technique about a year ago (and yep, I'm just sharing it with you now!). Stay tuned for some great posts later this week.

Until then, Happy Baking my Friends!


Restaurant Review: Ignite Cafe, Langley BC

Daily Ignite Specials posted curbside
I work in downtown Langley (the old part) and its been really hard to find a yummy lunch place close to the office. Well, you can imagine my excitement when Ignite Cafe was opened by local owner Dan. Absolutely delicious food - aways fresh and everything is made from scratch! Check out Dan's facebook page to stay current on whats going on at Ignite and to see some photos of his awesome food.

This is a great little restaurant open for lunch on weekdays and dinner on the weekends (be sure to make a reservation for the dinner service - seating is limited). I've broken down my review of our most recent lunch experience at Ignite Cafe into the following sections: Restaurant, Location, Food, Service, Atmosphere, Price.

Ignite interior, viewed from front entrance
Restaurant: Ignite Cafe
Location: 5572 - 204 Street, Langley, British Columbia

Ignite wine list

The food at Ignite is always delicious (soup of the day is sooooo good!!). Dan sources ingredients locally and always has the freshest produce. He makes all of his soups, sauces and dressings from scratch and it shows - the taste is always superb. I recently had lunch at Ignite and my group tried the french onion soup, potato leek soup, the Ignite Burger (topped with avocado, proscuitto, yummy flavoured mayo and stuffed with provolone cheese), the Cajun Chicken Sandwich (topped with delicious cajun seasoning, avocado, delicious spiced mayo, roasted red peppers with a full chicken breast - thats right - a full chicken breast that is perfectly cooked - none of these pre-processed chicken patties here), and the daily special - Roasted Chicken Panini. All of these sandwiches were served with fresh greens topped with an absolutely divine homemade vinaigrette.
The only downside (if you can really call it that) is that there aren't any fries with the burger! But honestly, given the size of the burger, unless you have a HUGE appetite, you won't even miss them. And if you do have a big appetite, or if you're starving... probably if you talked really nice to Dan he would whip you up some kind of potatoey goodness to go along with the burger!!
Overall rating for food: 5/5
Soup of the day: Potato Leek

I've got nothing bad to say about the service here. They check back to your table regularly to make sure you have everything you need. Dan usually comes out to check on the tables even if he's got a server on staff that day - that’s what makes it special and makes the service so great. Its always personal - Dan remembers you and he'll take care of you when you're in his place. And you'll always get service with a smile. :)

Overall rating for service: 5/5

Soup of the day: French Onion

This cafe is cozy and makes the perfect lunch place. Not the most ideal location (its pretty hidden on a side street and street parking can be hit or miss) in the older area of downtown Langley, but the food makes it more than worth checking out!

I haven't noticed any music on at the cafe each time I've been in (maybe its on, but it must have been a little too quiet because I didn't notice!!) - it would add a nice touch to have some music playing while customers were there otherwise if there are only a couple tables of customers it can be a little awkward when you can hear everyone elses conversations!
Overall rating for atmosphere: 4/5
Special: Roasted Chicken Panini

Prices are super reasonable at Ignite. You get a huge burger for only $11! Most of the prices range from $7 - 16 (a little more for some of the daily seafood specials). Considering the locally sourced, fresh, healthy ingredients used in preparing the food, you're getting a bargain here.

Ignite also offers wine at reasonable prices starting at $28 per bottle or $6 per glass. For such a small place, they carry a decent variety of wine - most people should be able to find something they like to drink on the menu.

Overall rating for price: 5/5

Cajun Chicken Sandwich

Picture doesn't do the Ignite Burger justice!! Fantastic, huge burger!
As you can see, I like this place. So do my co-workers and my friends. I'll be back and I would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a great lunch place (or weekend dinner place) in Langley. See you there friends!
Another interior shot of Ignite Cafe
Ignite Cafe on Urbanspoon


Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Did you make New Years resolutions this year? What kind of resolutions do you usually make? I always make New Years resolutions, and I'm always dead set on achieving them... for about a month, then my motivation wears off and I revert back to my old ways. Part of that may be the fact that my resolutions are usually overly ambitious and I try to change overnight. The fact is that change takes time - it doesn't just hapen overnight, and developing new habits and ways of life is tough so you have to be patient with yourself. This year I haven't talked much about my resolutions, but I feel like I need to document them here. I made sure I didn't set too many goals for this year and that they are achievable for the most part. Here are my resolutions for the year - both personal and blog related:
  1. Improve my blog through the use of better photos and more frequent posting. Plan posts in advance and stick to my schedule.
  2. Be nicer. At home, at work, to my friends.
  3. Get active a minimum of four days per week. Doesn't have to be anything crazy, just get off my butt and walk the dog, do some crunches, go for a run or do a workout off my Nike Training App I just downloaded for my phone (its free and its awesome - go download it if you're wanting to get active - it is a great tool to help you be successful).
Reasonable right? I'm looking forward to improving myself in 2012 in little ways and eventually those little things will add up to big things. :)

Any way, on to what you came here for - the recipe!! Peanutty, chocolatey, creamy goodness in a mug... it is like a taste of heaven! Sooooo smooth and decadent. You probably won't want to share... its that good. But you should share because that's the nice thing to do (or, just double the recipe!!).

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
Recipe minimally adapted from Bonnie the Baker

  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk or 1% milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp smooth, creamy peanut butter
  • whipped cream, mini chocolate chips and mini marshmallows for garnish
  1. Mix cocoa, brown sugar, milk, cinnamon stick, and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until mixture is smooth. Simmer to let the cinnamon stick flavour the hot chocolate for a couple minutes. Lower the heat and stir in the peanut butter until smooth. Heat mixture to desired temperature, but don't simmer or bubble the mixture at all or it will get grainy.
  2. Pour into large mug. Garnish with whipped cream, mini chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. Makes one large mug.
This one is nice and easy to whip up on a week night and you will love to savor it while reading your favorite novel or browsing your favorite food blogs.

Happy Baking my Friends!