Recipes we love!

A post about a whole lot of deliciousness (and beer) (and steak) (and England!)

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

When Sweetie and I got married (which now seems like a gazillion years ago) we decided to divide our honeymooning time between Paris and London England.  And while I realize that honeymooning overseas sounds rather posh and quite expensive, we definitely traveled as cheaply as we could.  Our hotel rooms were very basic (but clean!), we feasted on baguettes and cheese while lounging on park benches each day at lunchtime (bliss!) and visited street vendors for food nearly every night, and we thoroughly enjoyed and experienced both cities (but in a rather non-fancy and exceedingly thrifty sort of way.)

Sweetie did make one food related splurge, however.  When we wandered into a small pub one night down some random narrow cobblestoned street in London, Sweetie spied something on the menu that he really really wanted to try.

Steak and ale pie.

Yep.  Steak.  Plus beer.  In a pie.  It was love.  English hospitality-style culinary love.  And, five years later, Sweetie still speaks fondly of the best meal he had during our two weeks overseas.

So when a coworker (hi Laura!) recently mentioned that she’d found (and successfully tried) a very simple recipe for Steak and Guinness pie (courtesy of the wonderful and amazing Mr Jamie Oliver), I knew what I had to do:  I had to make Sweetie a spectacularly yummy and special Valentine’s Day supper, featuring (of course) Steak and Guinness pie.

(Laura has an awesome blog over at The Cozy Project btw. Definitely check her out!)

I won’t completely rewrite the recipe here – it was quite easy to follow (despite a few English-isms that I interpreted along the way.)  Instead, to keep things super simple, here is the link to the (delicious!) recipe…

The Fantastic Jamie Oliver’s Steak & Guinness Pie

And here’s my Steak and Guinness pie, all steak-y and Guinness-y and good.

Simple steak and ale or steak and Guinness pie recipe from Jamie Oliver

In the end, it actually turned out rather impressive-looking, if I do say so myself (especially considering I’d never ever worked with puff pastry before.)  I had a bit of pastry left over after covering the filling, so I improvised with a twisty rope border thingy (technical baking term) around the edge, and (being Valentine’s Day and all) I even added a (admittedly, kinda sad-looking) little puff pastry heart on top.

It was cute.  And tasty.  Yep, all in all it was a very successful English-honeymoon-nostalgia-filled Valentine’s Day meal.

And now I really really really want to go back to England.

Sigh.

But, regardless of whether we’re honeymooning overseas, or stuck in the midst of a gray, snowy, cold, miserable, seemingly never ending, O-M-G-will-spring-just-hurry-up-and-get-here-already Canadian winter, at least we have pie.  Wonderful steak and Guinness pie.

Thank you Jamie Oliver!  (And Laura too!)  :)

 

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A rerun for Valentine’s Day (but a really good rerun – like, when your favourite episode of Friends comes on, and you know you’ve already seen it, like, 20 times, but you just can’t get enough of hearing Ross exclaim that they were “on a break”, so you settle in to watch it yet again… It’s THAT sort of rerun) (just without the bad 90′s fashion)

Posted by on Feb 13, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I don’t normally re-post past blog posts (since, if you’ve already read all 478 of my rather rambling posts on all of the various things that I’d like to do to my kitchen, do you really need [or, quite honestly, want?] to re-read all of my kitchen gnatterings a second time?  I’m guessing the answer to that is a big fat capitalized NO.)  BUT, in honour of Valentine’s Day (and in recognition of the fact that, sadly, baking is the only real way I put any major effort into my favourite heart-themed holiday) (sorry Sweetie!) I thought I’d delve into the archives for a really tasty Valentine’s Day recipe (which doesn’t just have to be reserved for Valentine’s Day – if you throw caution to the wind and pour the canned cherries on top of the cream cheese filling all willy-nilly and haphazardly and without attempting the adorable, but not at all necessary, heart-shape as suggested, this cheesecake is still just as yummy – I promise!)

(The heart just makes it super cute.  And I love super cute things.)

Have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

 

The cheesecake incident (and other Valentine’s Day tales)‏

Once upon a time, a long long time ago (pre-marriage, pre-home ownership, pre-multi-cat clan) I made Sweetie a cheesecake for Valentine’s Day.  Sweetie and I had only been together for a few months at this point, and I was quite proud of my pretty little cheesecake (and rather excited to show him my culinary skills!)  It was perfect!  I carefully decorated the top with a cherry pie filling heart, and lovingly stashed it away in the fridge so it would set and be ready for Valentine’s Day supper.

Then Sweetie came home from work.  And then Sweetie went to look for a snack.  And then…  I heard a shriek come from the kitchen.

“Oh no!  Sweetie?” I heard Sweetie exclaim.  (And, yes, Sweetie calls me Sweetie.)  (Barf, I know.  We’re gross.)

“Yes?”  I replied, a little concerned by the panic in his voice.

And then came the saddest question ever: “You have another cheesecake, right?”

I ran to the kitchen.  There, upsidedown and on the floor in front of Bertha (the archaic electricity-sucking poop-coloured brown fridge that dominated our apartment kitchen) was my cheesecake.

It was a traumatic moment, I’m not gonna lie.  And I did not, in fact, have another cheesecake.

It was a very sad Valentine’s Day indeed.

But, as always, life must carry on.  And it did, sans cheesecake.  Sweetie and I moved out of our ugly-fridge-filled apartment and bought our first house.  We got married.  We sold our first house and bought another house.  And in the midst of all this moving and marrying we adopted a few cats along the way too.

Yes, cheesecake incident or not, life has been good.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, and in remembrance of that sad, sad day many years ago, I delved into my recipe pile last night and made a cheesecake (much like the ill-fated floor-bound cheesecake of yore.)  The recipe is super easy.  It’s my mom’s cheesecake recipe (a well-loved recipe I remember her making throughout my childhood) but, truth be told, I’m pretty sure it’s actually quite likely Philly’s recipe, or Kraft’s recipe, or something like that.  (Dear cream cheese makers and/or Kraft execs, I apologize if my mom plagiarized your recipe and called it her own.  It’s very tasty!  Thank you!)

Here’s the recipe…

 

INGREDIENTS

1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust (or if you’re really ambitious – I am not – you can make your own!)

1 envelope of Dream Whip (prepared)

1 cup icing sugar

1 8oz package of cream cheese (softened)

1 can of cherry pie filling

METHOD

1.  Prepare Dream Whip according to package directions.

2.  Add icing sugar and cream cheese.  Beat until smooth.

3.  Pour cream cheese mixture into graham cracker pie crust.

4.  Refrigerate (far away from clumsy husbands) until set (a couple of hours should do!)

5.  Top with cherry pie filling.  (Heart shape adorable, but optional.)

6.  Devour.

 

And here’s what my finished little heart-adorned Valentine’s Day cheesecake looks like…

No bake cherry cheesecake recipe for Valentine's Day baking

Cute, eh?  :)

That cheesecake is chilling in the fridge as we speak.  And Sweetie has officially banished himself from our kitchen until suppertime, as he does every Valentine’s Day.  He knows he only gets one Valentine’s Day cheesecake each year.  And he also knows he’s prone to dropping things.  Delicious things.

Yep.  He’s not taking any chances.

Hope your Valentine’s Day is full of love, and food-related incident free.  :)

 

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The cheesecake incident (and other Valentine’s Day tales)‏

Posted by on Feb 14, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Once upon a time, a long long time ago (pre-marriage, pre-home ownership, pre-multi-cat clan) I made Sweetie a cheesecake for Valentine’s Day.  Sweetie and I had only been together for a few months at this point, and I was quite proud of my pretty little cheesecake (and rather excited to show him my culinary skills!)  It was perfect!  I carefully decorated the top with a cherry pie filling heart, and lovingly stashed it away in the fridge so it would set and be ready for Valentine’s Day supper.

Then Sweetie came home from work.  And then Sweetie went to look for a snack.  And then…  I heard a shriek come from the kitchen.

“Oh no!  Sweetie?” I heard Sweetie exclaim.  (And, yes, Sweetie calls me Sweetie.)  (Barf, I know.  We’re gross.)

“Yes?”  I replied, a little concerned by the panic in his voice.

And then came the saddest question ever: “You have another cheesecake, right?”

I ran to the kitchen.  There, upsidedown and on the floor in front of Bertha (the archaic electricity-sucking poop-coloured brown fridge that dominated our apartment kitchen) was my cheesecake.

It was a traumatic moment, I’m not gonna lie.  And I did not, in fact, have another cheesecake.

It was a very sad Valentine’s Day indeed.

But, as always, life must carry on.  And it did, sans cheesecake.  Sweetie and I moved out of our ugly-fridge-filled apartment and bought our first house.  We got married.  We sold our first house and bought another house.  And in the midst of all this moving and marrying we adopted a few cats along the way too.

Yes, cheesecake incident or not, life has been good.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, and in remembrance of that sad, sad day many years ago, I delved into my recipe pile last night and made a cheesecake (much like the ill-fated floor-bound cheesecake of yore.)  The recipe is super easy.  It’s my mom’s cheesecake recipe (a well-loved recipe I remember her making throughout my childhood) but, truth be told, I’m pretty sure it’s actually quite likely Philly’s recipe, or Kraft’s recipe, or something like that.  (Dear cream cheese makers and/or Kraft execs, I apologize if my mom plagiarized your recipe and called it her own.  It’s very tasty!  Thank you!)

Here’s the recipe…

 

INGREDIENTS

1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust (or if you’re really ambitious – I am not – you can make your own!)

1 envelope of Dream Whip (prepared)

1 cup icing sugar

1 8oz package of cream cheese (softened)

1 can of cherry pie filling

METHOD

1.  Prepare Dream Whip according to package directions.

2.  Add icing sugar and cream cheese.  Beat until smooth.

3.  Pour cream cheese mixture into graham cracker pie crust.

4.  Refrigerate (far away from clumsy husbands) until set (a couple of hours should do!)

5.  Top with cherry pie filling.  (Heart shape adorable, but optional.)

6.  Devour.

 

And here’s what my finished little heart-adorned Valentine’s Day cheesecake looks like…

No bake cherry cheesecake recipe for Valentine's Day baking

Cute, eh?  :)

That cheesecake is chilling in the fridge as we speak.  And Sweetie has officially banished himself from our kitchen until suppertime, as he does every Valentine’s Day.  He knows he only gets one Valentine’s Day cheesecake each year.  And he also knows he’s prone to dropping things.  Delicious things.

Yep.  He’s not taking any chances.

Hope your Valentine’s Day is full of love, and food-related incident free.  :)

 

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Best/easiest/swirliest chocolate bark ever (all snazzed up with a little pompom prettiness!)

Posted by on Dec 19, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

My traditional Christmas gift of choice for friends has always been baked goods of some sort.  Last year I made fancy little chocolate truffles, peanut butter cookie reindeer, and chocolate cookie bark.

I didn’t take any pictures of last year’s treats, but luckily my friend (and happy cookie recipient) Shawn did.

Christmas cookies and treats homemade in tins

And it got Instagram-ed.  :)

(Related confession: I haven’t yet figured out Instagram.  I should probably work on that eh?)

This year, I’m skipping the somewhat time-consuming (yet adorable!) pretzel-antlered cookies, and the crazy delicious (and rather pretty!) chocolate truffle balls, and I’m going straight to the bark.  Partly because it’s everyone’s favourite.  Partly because I haven’t had time yet this year to make multiple Christmas-tin offerings.  (Has the Christmas season been insanely busy for anyone else this year?  Or is it just me?)  (Maybe it’s just me…)

My bark recipe?  It’s Kraft’s.  (Shhhh…  Don’t tell!)  And it’s absolutely delicious.

Kraft’s Chocolate Cookie Bark

In a nutshell, bark-making looks a bit like this:

Melt this…

Baker's chocolate white and semi-sweet

Add this (plus a wee bit of peanut butter)…

Crushed oreo pieces

Drop (or dollop, if you prefer) randomly on wax paper…

Chocolate bark pre-swirl

Make super swirly…

Chocolate cookie bar recipe

Refrigerate and break into pieces.  Poof!  Bark!

The most important component (that isn’t listed in the ingredients?)  LOVE.  And a dash of Christmas cheer. And a pinch of merriness.

(Cheesy?  Yep.  True?  Yep again!)

But, if you ask me, even more important than the bark itself is the bark delivery mechanism.  If I delivered delicious cookie bark in a plastic baggie, would it be just as delicious?  Likely.  Would it be as special?  Absolutely not!

Last year I packaged up my Christmas yumminess in pretty teal canisters.  And they were cute with a capital C.

Christmas baking in teal and red and green tins

(Thank you again to Shawn for immortalizing the pretty multi-tin package I left on his front porch.)  (And yes – I’m a bit of a Christmas cookie drop-and-dash kinda elf.)

This year I’ve moved beyond my tin-lined comfort zone and stepped things up a notch.  I’ve moved on to glass containers.  Fancy eh?  Cue “ooooohs” and “aaaaaahs.”

I found these glass jars at HomeSense for $3.99 each.  $3.99!

Inexpensive glass jars

And with a wee little bit of yarn wrapped around the middle, and a couple of coordinating pompoms attached (I chatted a bit about my pompom obsession HERE), the once rather utilitarian glass jars become cheery bark-ready vessels.

Pompoms and yarn decorating glass jar - easy Christmas project

Cookie containers at Christmas with red and green pompoms and yarn

Easy diy Christmas cookie containers

I think they’re even cuter once filled with super swirly bark…

Glass containers decorated for Christmas with bark

Glass containers Christmas yarn craft

Yep!  I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out.  :)

Chocolate bark in lovely containers

So there!  Dear friends, please consider this your 2012 Christmas-baking delivery preview.  Coming shortly to a front porch near you!

Very shortly, in fact.  Only six more days to go!  :)

 

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The best hamburgers ever (happy first full week of summer!)

Posted by on Jun 25, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I don’t barbecue.  Propane plus flames equals a terrifying combination if you ask me.  (Yep – I’m that girl.)  Luckily, Sweetie loves to barbecue.  And not just in the summer – he’s barbecued in the snow, the freezing rain, and in torrential rainstorms…  He is quite a barbecuing trooper, truth be told.  (And I’m a very lucky girl.  :)

My (well, our) favourite grilled grub?  Hamburgers.  Joy-burgers, to be exact.  Just a couple ingredients, but infinite yumminess.  Once grilled to perfection (a la Sweetie) they look like this…

Recipe for barbecued hamburgers with Montreal steak spice

Here’s how all that deliciousness happens!

 

INGREDIENTS

-1 large pound of extra lean or lean ground hamburger (aside – am I the only one who uses the term “a pound of hamburger” to refer to the package and not necessarily the actual volume/weight?  Sweetie thinks this is weird.  Growing up, any package of hamburger, even if larger than a pound, was “a pound.”  SO, for this recipe, you can either use a traditional [ie: actual and, well, normal person] pound, or a large-ish pound [which for me means about 0.6kg])

-1 egg (lightly beaten)

-1-2 tablespoon of crushed soda biscuits (another aside: I love soda biscuits) or oatmeal (if you don’t have soda biscuits on hand) (but I always have soda biscuits on hand)

-1 tablespoon secret ingredient (keep reading for the dramatic reveal!)

 

METHOD

1. Mix all four ingredients in bowl, and shape into tennis ball-sized balls (I usually get about 5 hamburgers from a large pound of ground beef.)

2. Flatten burger-balls between your palms, making the centre thinner than the outsides (this helps them cook better!)

3. Grill until fully cooked, inside and out (an undercooked burger is a sad burger)

4. Prepare on a bun (with lots of condiments.)

5. Eat.

6. Rub tummy and smile.  :)

 

And that secret ingredient?  (Queue dramatic drum roll…)

…It’s Montreal steak spice!  Which looks like this:

Montreal steak spice hamburger recipe

This is the President’s Choice version (available at Loblaws, Superstore, Zehrs and No Frills stores, and maybe others!), but Club House makes an identical spice (and I’m sure others do too – I think I’ve even seen it at the Bulk Barn in the past.)  This stuff is AWESOME.  And it will make your hamburgers peppery and garlicky and amazing.  Really really.  Really.  Leaving you with this…

Montreal Steak Spice barbecued hamburger recipe

Yum…  That there is summer on a plate, if you ask me.  :)

So there you have it!  My (no longer secret) barbecued hamburger recipe.  Perfect for a summer supper (I love my burgers with plain potato chips on the side, truth be told, but the healthy adult in me recommends a lovely side salad.)  (Unless you love plain potato chips as much as I do!)  And equally perfect for a blizzardy day.  So long  as you have a die-hard griller willing to brave the elements (like my Sweetie.)  (I really am a lucky girl!  :)

 

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Microwave Risotto (so easy! so good!)

Posted by on Apr 19, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Have I told you yet about my most favourite recipe ever?  No?  Oh!  Let’s chat, k?  :)

I heart risotto.  A lot.  But I hate putting a lot of effort into food (which, sadly, risotto generally demands.)  The solution?  Microwave Risotto.  Like, made entirely in the microwave.  Really.  This is the ultimate (ridiculously!) simple and (amazingly!) delicious comfort food.  We eat it as a main course.  We eat it as a side dish.  I’ve brought it to work on potluck day.  I’ve made this for company.  I have this cold for lunch the day-after.  It is SO GOOD.

I’m not sure of the exact origin of this recipe (if it’s yours, please tell me!) but I’ve been making this for years.  It came through one of those email recipe chain letters (way back in pre-Pinterest times) – you know, those emails where some friend would add your name to some list and forward it to a bunch of other friends, and you then were expected to email a recipe to 5 people (who you probably didn’t know) under the promise that, like, a hundred-ish people would then send you a recipe within seven days.  Remember those emails?  Yeah.  I didn’t really like those emails either.  This is the only recipe I think I ever received from one of those recipe chain letters.  Luckily for me, it’s fantastic.  :)

I’m pretty sure the original microwave risotto recipe included mushrooms, not green peppers.  But, well, I think mushrooms are squishy, so I use green peps instead.  :)  I’ve also substituted a couple cups of frozen broccoli/cauliflower (thawed), and that’s yummy too.  Or I’ve added corn.  Or I’ve added asparagus.  This is a pretty casual recipe (if a recipe can be casual?) so I generally just use what I have on hand.  It’s pretty hard to screw this up!

 

Microwave Risotto

INGREDIENTS

1-2 tbsp butter

Half an onion, chopped

1 large green pepper, washed (of course), seeded and chopped

2 cloves of garlic (or 1 tsp of the pre-chopped-in-oil stuff)

1 cup arborio rice (or some other short grain rice)

2.5 cups of beef broth (I usually just use bouillon)

Grated cheese (about a cup?)

 

METHOD

1.  Melt butter in a large bowl in microwave

2.  Add onion, green pepper, and garlic to bowl.  Stir to coat with melted butter.  Microwave uncovered for 5 minutes.

3.  Add rice and beef broth to vegetables in bowl.  Stir.  Microwave uncovered for 25 minutes, stirring once midway.

4.  Add cheese.  Stir.

5.  Eat.  Enjoy.  Marvel at how simple that all was.  :)

 

And, when you’re done, this is what it looks like, all risotto-ed up…

Recipe for microwave risotto

In case it doesn’t look like there’s much in my bowl…  ummmmm, yeeeeah.  You’re right.  I didn’t remember to take pics until the next day and this is all that was left from the night before.  Ooops.  So yep!  It’s JUST that tasty.  On the well-known comfort food scale of 1 to 10, this is definitely a 10.5.  Maybe even an 11.  It’s like happiness in a bowl.  Like a big risotto hug.  Sound weird?  Trust me.  Try it.  You’ll see.  :)

 

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