Sunday, December 6, 2009

Peppermint Bark

I made this for the first time last Christmas and it was a huge hit. Given how easy it is to make, I definitely plan on making this a usual holiday treat. This year was even a little easier, as I had gone through the experimentation steps last year to figure out the best way to crush the candies. After the first few attempts ended with peppermint shards flying all over my kitchen, I decided that putting the candies inside three ziploc bags (each bag inside another) and then gently crushing them with the bottom of my glass measuring cup was the best method.

Peppermint Bark

12 oz. white chocolate
24 hard peppermint candies, crushed

1. Line baking sheet with waxed paper.

2. Microwave chocolate on 70% power for 1 minute. Continue at 20 second intervals until completely melted.

3. Pour crushed candies through strainer into bowl of melted chocolate. Reserve larger pieces that did not fit through strainer. Stir chocolate to incorporate peppermint shards.

4. Spread mixture to desired thickness on prepare baking sheet. Sprinkle with reserved pieces. Press in lightly.

5. Let stand until firm (refrigerate if needed). Break into pieces.

Toffee Bars

These are basically like chocolate-chip cookie bars, so I'm not sure why they're called Toffee Bars, but that's what I've always known them as. They're definitely decadent, but definitely delicious.

Toffee Bars

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped nuts

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and egg yolk.

3. Stir in flour and salt. Gently fold in nuts and chocolate.

4. Press dough in ungreased rectangular pan.

(Forgot to take a final photo- whoops! Use your imagination!)

5. Bake 25-30 mins.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sinful Mac'n'Cheese

Hooo-boy was this good! Nate protested me making it, saying that mac'n'cheese is not a meal unto itself, but I would happily eat this for several dinners in a row. The recipe uses three different kinds of cheese, and some pretty fattening dairy products but is definitely worth it. But Nate might be right...serve some kind of vegetable with it, okay?

Sinful Mac'n'Cheese

1.25 c. elbow or other short noodle
2.5 oz. cheddar cheese, cubed
1 tbsp. + .5 tsp. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. dry mustard
pinch ground pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch nutmeg
1/3 c. sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tbsp. yellow onion, shredded
3/4 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. half'n'half
2 shakes Worcestshire sauce
1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 c. parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350. Bring large pot of water to boil. Sprinkle with salt. Add noodles and cook al dente according to instructions.

2. Grease 8x8" baking dish. Drain noodles and pour them into dish. Sprinkle with cubed cheddar cheese and mix gently. Set aside.

3. Combine flour, salt, mustard, peppers and nutmeg into bowl. Add sour cream and egg. Wish in onion, half'n'half, cream and Worcestshire.

4. Pour over macaroni. Combine shredded cheese and cover macaroni. Sprinkle parmesan on top.

5. Bake until set around edges but still saucy in the middle, about 30 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes.

Orange Chicken and Rice

I will admit, this dish turned out to be something totally different than what I was expecting. The title and ingredients made me think this would be a lighter version of the kind of orange chicken you get from a Chinese takeout. It actually turned out to be a mildly-orange flavoured curry. Not at all Nate's kind of thing, but I found it enjoyable.

Orange Chicken and Rice

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken pieces
2 tbsp. oil
1 med. onion, coarsley chopped
14.5 oz chicken broth
1.5 c. orange juice
1-3 tsp. curry
2 cloves garlic
dash of cinnamon
3 tbsp. raisins
1/2 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. rice, white or brown

1. Saute chicken and onion in oil until brown. Add broth, orange juice and seasonings. Cover and simmer 45 mins.

2. Add raisins, peas and rice to pot, lower the heat and cover.

3. Cook until rice is done, ~25 mins. Add water and broth if necessary.

Beef Stew with Noodles

This was a nice, hearty meal that would be lovely to come home to on a cold fall day. I really enjoyed this, but Nate felt like it tasted like chicken soup with beef awkwardly added in. I'll leave it up to you to decide.

Beef Stew with Noodles

1 tbsp. oil
2 lbs. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 med. onion, sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp. flour
3 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth
1/2 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
2 med. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
2 c. egg noodles
3 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. red wine vinegar

1. Heat oil in dutch oven over high. Add beef, season with salt and pepper and cook until seared and browned, ~6 mins.

2. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is softened, ~5 mins.

3. Stir in flour until beef and onion are coated and cook another minute. Add broth and 3 cups water, stirring and scraping up browned bits. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook until beef is tender, ~25 mins. Add carrots and potatoes and cook until potatoes are tender, ~10 mins.

4. Add noodles, cook ~8 mins. Season with salt and pepper, stir in parsley and vinegar.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I made these a while back but somehow forgot to post them- thankfully, I DO have photos for this one!

Again, they're quite easy to heat-up as leftovers, and were fairly easy to make in the first place. Enjoy!


1 lb. pizza dough
1 pkg. broccoli, chopped and thawed
1 c. marinara sauce
1.5 c. shredded mozzarella
2 oz. thinly sliced Genoa salami, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil. (*note: I forgot to do this in the picture!)

2. Divide dough into 3 pieces. On lightly floured surface, stretch each piece first to 3x4" oval then 6x8" (let dough rest briefly in between).

3. Strain water from broccoli. Transwer to towel and pat dry.

4. Scatter broccoli over dough, leaving 1/2" border. Sprinkly with cheese, salami and 1/2 c. sauce.

5. Fold each side over onto top and then place each stromboli seam-side down. Cut slit in top to ventilate and brush with oil. Bake 25-30 mins. Use remaining sauce for dipping.

Emily's rating: 10 out of 10
Nate's rating: 9 out of 10

Blackberry Puffs

I made these for a wedding shower at work and they were a surprisingly big hit. Even better, they were amazingly easy to make, but look quite nice when finished.

Unfortunately, I was in such a hurry to make them that I totally forgot to take photos! However, these were so delicious that I just had to post the recipe. Next time I make them, I promise I'll make proper documentation!

Blackberry Puffs

Flour for work surface
1 pkg. (17oz) puff pastry
3 c. blackberries (about two small containers)
3 tbsp. sugar
1 c. marscapone

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to approx. 9x12" rectangle (you can eyeball it). Trim edges and cut pastry into 12 3" squares. Place pastry on a large baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 15 mins.

2. Transfer sheet and to oven and bake until pastry is puffed and golden brown, 12-15 mins. Let cool, then split each pastry horizontally to create a top and bottom piece.

3. In bowl, mash blackberries and sugar with fork ntil juice but still chunky. Spread marscapone on pastry bottoms. Top with blackberry mixture and pastry tops. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Emily's rating: 10 out of 10
Nate's rating: 10 out of 10

7-Layer Mexican Lasagna

I've never been a huge fan of lasagna, but given that I've been trying to develop some more casserole recipes that are beef-centric (Nate really doesn't like any other kind of meat), this one seemed worth giving a try.

It wasn't out of this world amazing, but it was definitely satisfying, and kept well for leftovers and lunches throughout the week. Plus, it's super colourful.

7-Layer Mexican Lasagna

6 large flour tortillas
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp. cumin
1 c. enchilada sauce
1 large red onion
1/2 each of green, yellow and red pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fajita seasoning
1 pkg. frozen corn
2 c. shredded cheese (I used medium cheddar)
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13" dish and line bottom with 4 tortillas, trimming edges as necessary.

2. Brown meat, seasoning with cumin. Once thoroughly browned, add enchilada sauce and heat through. Set aside.

3. In separate skillet, heat oil, add onion, peppers and garlic. Sprinkle with fajita seasoning. Cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add corn and heat through. Set aside.

4. Spoon meat mixture over tortillas in dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 cheese. Place remaining tortillas on cheese. Spoon veggies on top. Sprinkle remaining cheese.

5. Bake for 30 minutes. Garnish with cilantrio and serve with guacamole and sour cream.

(Sorry- forgot to take picture once it came out of the oven! Use your imagination!)

Emily's rating: 8 out of 10
Nate's rating: 7.5 out of 10

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Banana Bread

Nate has a really bad habit of buying a large bag of bananas during our weekly grocery shop, and then never actually eating any of them. Instead, they sit on our counter throughout the week getting progressively blacker and squishier. Normally I just toss them out (after berating him once again for having purchased them in the first place), but this week I decided to make some banana bread. I find the darker and squishier the bananas, the more moist and delicious the bread.

Banana Bread

2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 4)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven 325 degrees. Evenly grease loaf pan.

2. Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

3. In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Reduce speed to low; alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, occasionally scraping side of bowl with spatula. Beat just until blended.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool loaf in pain on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Shrimp Lasagna Rolls

These beauties are courtesy of a great food blog that all of you should be checking out, Annie's Eats. While I made a few adjustments to her original recipe, I am very grateful to have stumbled across this fantastic dish.

Basically, this is kind of a fancy upgrade of the vodka shrimp penne I posted a few weeks ago. Stuffing the lasagna rolls with a shrimp-ricotta mixture takes these to a whole new level; one I would totally recommend!

Shrimp Lasagna Rolls

8 lasagna noodles
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
2-3 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
pinch of nutmeg
1 3/4 c. vodka sauce, divided
shredded mozzarella

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Bring large pot of water to boil. Add lasagna and cook until partially tender, about 8 mins. Drain and set aside.

3. Heat oil in large skillet over med. heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Add garlic and shrimp to skillet and saute until shrimp are cooked, about 4 mins. Set shrimp aside to cool, then chop coarsely.

4. Mix chopped shrimp, 1 c. ricotta cheese, parmesan, egg, basil, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

5. In another bowl (bigger than the one I used!), combine 1 1/2 c. vodka sauce with remaining ricotta. Stir until smooth.

6. Spread remaining vodka sauce over bottom of 8x8" baking dish. Using clean work surface, lay out lasagna noodles. Spread shrimp over full length of noodle (I found it best to leave about 1/2" at each end).

7. Roll up and place seam-side down in dish.

8. Spoon creamy vodka sauce over top. Top with mozzarella.

9. Bake for 25 minutes.

Emily's rating: 9 out of 10
Nate's rating: 9 out of 10

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tomato, Chickpea and Arugala Salad

I rarely plan meal-sized salads, simply because I have this mental block that salad can't be filling enough on its own. I logically know this is wrong, but I have a lot of trouble getting over it. Hopefully, salads like this one will help with that. This has more than enough protein and other nutrients to fill me up, but it's still light enough to make me feel good about eating it.

Tomato, Chickpea and Arugula Salad

4 c. baby arugula or other mixed greens
1 (15 oz.) can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 c. walnuts, toasted if desired
1/2 c. ham, finely diced
2 tbsp. red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. whole-grain mustard

1. Combine lettuce, chickpeas, tomatoes, walnuts and ham. Toss.

2. Whisk together vinegar, oil and mustard. Drizzle dressing over salad immediately prior to serving.

Parmesan-crusted Asparagus

I feel like this is a fairly common staple, but I thought I would post it just in case this beauty isn't part of your regular vegetable rotation. My favourite twist is to drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over the asparagus right before serving.

Parmesan-crusted Asparagus

1 lb. asparagus, washed and trimmed
1/2 c. fresh parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Spread asparagus out on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Shake pan to coat spears evenly.

3. Sprinkle cheese on spears. Shake pan to coat evenly. Make sure none of the spears overlap.

4. Bake for 20 mins or until parmesan has formed golden crust. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar immediately prior to serving.

Chicken and Lentil Stew

As I'm sure you can tell from the selection of recipes I've posted so far, I really enjoy so-called 'comfort foods'. The problem with most of them is that they're not usually very healthy, so I'm always looking to find dishes that check both the 'comfort food' and 'healthy' boxes. This certainly fit the bill.

Chicken and Lentil Stew

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
3/4 c. dried lentils
1 (14 oz.) can of chicken broth
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. basil
1 tbsp. lemon juice

1. Heat oil over med. heat. Cook chicken 5 mins on each side. Remove from skillet and set aside.

2. Place onion in skillet. Cook 5 mins. until tender. Mix in carrot and garlic. Stir in lentils and broth and season with salt. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 mins.

3. Return chicken to skillet. Cover and continue cooking 20 mins (add water if too dry). Season with rosemary and basil. Continue cooking for 10 mins. Stir in lemon juice and serve over rice.

Emily's rating: 8 out of 10
Nate's rating: 7 out of 10

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