Monday 30 November 2015

Pineapple Jelly

I think I just discovered something that is going to revolutionize my life.   I love ham, grilled pork chops, pork ribs, grilled chicken........  I could go on and on.  My favorite food group is definitely meat.  I would give up any other food group (even grains, my sweet little carbs), before giving up meat.

What goes deliciously with grilled pork and chicken?  SWEET GLAZES.  A lot of my favorite marinades, BBQ sauces, and glazes have some sort of sweet component such as orange juice, pineapple juice, brown sugar, or ketchup.

Where am I going with this?  Mint jelly with lamb.  Apple jelly with pork roast.   What about ham with PINEAPPLE JELLY?  What about pork chops or chicken basted with PINEAPPLE JELLY in the last couple minutes of grilling?  I'M SHOUTING ABOUT PINEAPPLE JELLY!!!!  SHOUTING!!!

I didn't even realize that pineapple jelly existed.  I don't know why.  There are tons of recipes out there for it.  A lot of them call for fresh pineapple to be cut up really finely and drained through cheesecloth, which is usually what you do with berries after cooking them to render the juice.  I happened to find one that just uses a carton of store bought pineapple juice.  Yup.  That's all.  Juice, sugar, and pectin.

I made it during a naptime and was thrilled with the results!  I found the recipe via Pinterest, which lead me here.  This recipe made 5 x 250 ml (1 cup) jars for me, and was so easy.

Pineapple Jelly

3 1/2 cups 100% pineapple juice
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 box of powdered pectin (I used Certo)

Sterilize all jars, lids, rings and tools.  Combine juice and Certo in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat.  When it reaches a boil, stir in sugar.  Return to a full, rolling boil (you shouldn't be able to stir it down), and continue boiling for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Skim any foam off the top and pour into warm jars, leaving approximately 1/4 inch headspace.  Ensure the rim is free of any sticky liquid and top with lids and rings.  Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Note:  The original recipe adds 1 tsp of margarine or butter to reduce foaming.  I don't find that this helps, so I omitted this.  The original recipe also omits processing in a boiling water bath.  I have also done this in the past, but I just like the peace of mind that comes with this extra step.

Monday 23 November 2015

Chocolate Coconut Blizzard Bars

It's that time of year -  I have a backlog of things that the kids and I have been baking that I really want to blog...... BUT, this one had to jump right to the front.  I created this little morsel on the weekend and I feel like it's going to revolutionize my Christmas treat rotation.   I combined two of my favorite things:  nanaimo bars and coconut.  Now, I realize that many of these bars already have coconut in the base.  That's what inspired me to create these.   If only I could make something with a coconut base, with a fluffy filling sandwiched underneath a rich and chocolaty topping.  Then, what if I garnished it with some chopped coconut candy bar?

The result would be THIS!!

Coconut Blizzard Bars Base:
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup cream of coconut*
2 cups chocolate baking crumbs (such as Oreo)
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add cream of coconut, baking crumbs, and coconut.  Gently stir until it is an even consistency (it will appear quite wet).  Press firmly into a 9x9 inch pan.  Place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to set up, and prepare the filling.

*Look for cream of coconut in the liquor mixers aisle of the grocery store.  I use Coco Real brand.  Don't confuse this product with coconut cream, which is an unsweetened, thicker coconut milk.

1/4 cup softened butter
2 tbsp cream of coconut
1/4 tsp coconut extract
2 cups icing sugar
1 to 2 tbsp milk

Cream softened butter with an electric mixer.  Add cream of coconut and extract.  Gradually beat in icing sugar, and then enough milk until it is a soft spreading consistency.  Spread evenly over chilled base layer.

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 standard (57g sized) packages coconut filled candy bars (such as Bounty in Canada, or Mounds in the US)

Combine chocolate chips and vegetable oil over low heat in a small saucepan.  Stir frequently until completely melted.  Remove and allow to cool until just warm to the touch.  Spread evenly over filling.  Coarsely chop coconut candy bars and sprinkle over warm chocolate.


Wednesday 28 October 2015

Bacon, Cheddar and Onion Perogies

While perusing Instagram the other day, I came across a contest from ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen. It's pretty simple.... just post a picture of your favorite way to eat perogies and hashtag it as #BFKperogies.  Maybe that potato prize pack will be sounds like a random drawing, so that means no, it will not be, as I have the worst luck in the world at contests.  But a girl can hope.  I will never splurge and buy myself a potato ricer, so the one that comes as part of the prize pack is my best shot.

So this is what my life has become......

Just jokes.... I was actually really excited and got right on the perogy making.  Give me a reason to bake and cook and I will!  It was like it was meant to be.  I had 1/4 pound of bacon in my fridge needing a reason to be fried. I have about 50 lbs of potatoes in my basement compliments of my parents freakishly great 2015 potato season.   The day was overcast and gloomy.  What a great nap-time to be inside and perogying.

After peeling, boiling and mashing the potatoes, frying the bacon, caramelizing the onions and grating the cheese.... I started to remember why I buy perogies.  I really, really remembered why I buy perogies when I started rolling out the dough, filling them, and pinching them shut.  An hour into my toil I only had 50 perogies to show for it.......

However, at dinner time, with a massive dollop of sour cream and some more caramelized onions, I totally remembered why I'd rather make them.  I cannot describe the taste difference between a homemade little morsel of perogy goodness and a store-bought one.  They're just better.  I know that's a very, very vague description of it, but that's all I can say.  The dough is more tender.  The filling is more flavorful.   They're just better.

Even 1 out of 2 children loved them.  50% is better than 0%.  100% of husband loved them.  Success.

Here's the recipe:

Bacon, Cheddar and Onion Perogies (yields about 50 perogies)

For the Dough:
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil

Stir the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl.  Add egg, water and canola oil and stir until it forms a soft dough.  If it's too sticky, add more flour, 1 tsp at a time.  Conversely, if it's too dry, and more water, 1 tsp at a time.  Knead on a floured surface about 15 to 20 times, just until it holds together and isn't sticky.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest on your counter for about 30 minutes.

Prepare your filling why you wait:

For the Filling:

3-4 medium potatoes (I've used all varieties, but my favorite are Yukon Gold)
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/4 pound bacon, diced
1/2 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar

Prepare potatoes by peeling and quartering them.  Place in a medium sized pot with salted water, just and boil for approximately 20 minutes, until fork tender.  Drain and mash.

Meanwhile, place diced bacon and onions in a pan and fry until bacon is just crisp, stirring often so onions don't burn.  Drain excess grease.

Combine mashed potatoes, bacon and onion mixture, and shredded cheese in large mixing bowl.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  This is your filling.  I tend to eat several bites with a spoon at this point.  You know, to make sure it's safe for everyone else :)

To assemble:

Using a sharp knife, halve your dough and leave one piece covered with plastic wrap.  Roll to approximately 1/4 inch thickness.  Using a 3.5 inch biscuit cutter (if you don't have one, you can use a jar ring, the top of a jar, a pint glass, etc), cut out circles for your perogies.  Place approximately 1 heaping tsp of filling in the middle of each dough circle.  Fold the circle in half and firmly pinch the outsides together to seal your perogy.  Work quickly in this step because a moist dough makes this much easier to do this.  Also, be sure that you don't overfill your dough, because if the filling is bursting out the seams, it makes it tricky to pinch these little guys shut.  Repeat with remaining dough, and re-roll scrap dough once more if desired.

As you finish assembling the perogies, lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet (I use parchment on the bottom so they don't stick).  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer.  Once frozen, they can be stored in a zipped lock bag for several months and you can pull out the number you need when you are ready to cook them.

To cook:

Place in a large pot of boiling, salted water.  Cook for about 5 minutes (until they float to the top).  Serve with sour cream, bacon bits, or caramelized onions, if desired.  Sometimes I fry them in butter after the boiling step too, just to make them even more delicious :)

Perogies fried in butter with caramelized onions

Saturday 24 October 2015

Can't-Eat-Just-One Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite things.  My usual recipe is more of a cinnamon "knot".....where you dip a rope of dough in butter and a brown sugar/cinnamon mixture, and repeatedly knot the dough to form a gooey nugget of deliciousness.  I'm actually a bit surprised I haven't posted these, as they are my go-to recipe that I learned from my mom.

For a change though, I decided to try the Taste of Home recipe "Can't-Eat-Just-One Cinnamon Rolls". Every Friday, an ingredient challenge is launched as part of Taste of Home's Cook's Corner message board.  I don't participate in this as often as I'd like, but this week the ingredient was Yeast.  I was having people over for coffee this morning and I thought it would be a good chance to try a new recipe.

My usual cinnamon knots are so drenched in brown sugar and cinnamon, and so sticky that they don't really need a frosting.  I was pretty pumped that this had a frosting component.  It didn't disappoint!  I really like that the recipe makes 24.  If you're ever making a brunch for a crowd, this would be a perfect recipe because they bake up beautifully in two 9x13 pans, and are frosted warm and ready to serve basically right out of the oven.  I think they'd make a great addition to a brunch buffet.  My usual recipe makes about 15, and sometimes that's just not quite enough :)

Here is a quick re-cap of the original recipe, found here

For the dough:

2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup 2% milk
1/3 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour (I used the full 3 1/2 cups)

-Mix yeast, sugar, and warm water together in a small bowl.  Set aside.
-Beat the milk and pudding together on low speed for approximately 1 minute.  Let sit for an additional minute before adding the egg, melted butter and salt.  Add 2 cups flour and mix on low to medium speed until smooth.  Stir in remaining flour to form a soft dough.
-Knead dough for 6 to 8 minutes (or about 4 to 5 in your mixer with a dough hook).  Once it is smooth an elastic, place in a greased bowl and allow to rise, covered, for about one hour.  I like to do this in my oven with the light on, so that it's draft free and slightly warm.
-After the dough has doubled in size, punch down and roll into 2 rectangles (approximately 18x10 inches) on a floured surface.

For the filling:

1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Melt butter.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.  Brush half of the butter on each rectangle. Evenly sprinkle sugar over top and roll up, starting with the longer end.  Cut each roll into 12 slices and place in greased 9x13 pans.  Allow to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Bake rolls in a preheated 350F oven for 20 minutes.

For the frosting:

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp water

Beat the frosting ingredients together and spread on warm rolls.


Wednesday 30 September 2015


I haven't made salsa in about 3 years.  A couple of years ago I was just too pregnant to care about anything but stuffing my face with some sort of cracker/chip/tortilla/any carbohydrate loaded with salsa.  Last year I definitely had the tomatoes from the garden ready to do it but then my appendix decided it wanted to nearly explode.  That experience really waylaid my salsa making.  

So, here I am, with a decent batch of tomatoes with salsa written all over them.  No ginormous belly holding me back.  No exploding organs holding me back.  To add to this turn of great luck, peppers were also on sale this week.  I even have a bunch of cilantro at the bottom of my crisper begging to be used before it turns into a green river at the bottom of the drawer....... 

The time is now.

Ready for salsa

My kids spent approximately an hour chasing each other with snakes yesterday afternoon.  Somehow two dollar store plastic snakes in the toybox were resurrected yesterday and more time was spent loving these toys yesterday than their entire existence.  Again, it's like the moon and stars were aligning....Because that's about the amount of time I spent chopping all of the veggies required for this delicious recipe.  I've used my food processor in the past, but I just don't like the consistency of the results.  I like a nicely diced salsa.  Not the haphazard chopped mess that the food processor provides.  If I was making more than one batch I would change my tune.  Or if the snakes weren't out in full force.  I had the time though, so I hand chopped.  

Now that's an hour of chopping

Here is what you will need:

7 cups diced ripe tomatoes (I don't peel mine.  Some recipes do)
5 cups diced mixed sweet green, yellow, orange and red peppers 
3 cups diced onions
1.5 cups diced jalapeno peppers.  I leave the seeds in one or two of the peppers for a little kick
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
6 cloves finely minced garlic
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
1 can of tomato paste (the little 5 oz can)
1 tbsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp oregano

Gently mix all of the above ingredients together in a large heavy pot.  Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil.  Simmer, uncovered, for one to one and a half hours.  The mixture should reduce and become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  

Fill sterilized, small jars (I used 1 cup jars this time, I often use 2 cup sizes) to within 1/4 inch of top. Make sure the rims are free from any salsa splatter, and seal with new, sterilized rims.  Twist rings over top of jars until finger-tight, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

This recipe makes exactly 9, one cup jars of salsa.


Golden Oatmeal Bread

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh bread baking.  Nothing is cleared as quickly off of my kids' plates at lunchtime than fresh bread dipped into some kind of soup....or smothered in peanut butter.  Sometimes both.  Eeew, I know, that's weird, but if they're eating happily, I don't stop them!

Sometimes I throw a bread recipe into my breadmaker before we head out in the morning to run errands or meet up with friends.  I come home to a perfectly baked loaf, just waiting for the munchkins to tear into.  On the weekends, I'll make up the dough and split it into two loaf pans, and I slice it up for sandwiches and freeze the other loaf (much more civilized than the ravenous vultures eating piece after piece after a big morning at the zoo or playground).

The only bread recipe so far that i have created (bread is a tricky beast sometimes, so I usually stick to a published recipe), I like to call Golden Oatmeal Bread.   Molasses and brown sugar give the loaf a very light golden color, while the oatmeal gives it a little bit more of a hearty, chewy texture than your standard whole wheat or white loaf.  This recipe bakes up consistently great time after time.  It's dairy free for those that can't indulge in the best food group since meat, and it can easily be made by hand, with a mixer, or done all in the breadmaker.   It basically meets every requirement for awesomeness.

To make:

1 & 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 & 1/4 tsp yeast
3 tbsp canola oil
1 & 1/2 tsp salt
3 & 2/3 cup flour
1 cup quick cooking oats

If you're making this recipe in a breadmaker:  Toss all of the above ingredients in.  Press start.  Walk away. Eat away at your 2ish lb loaf of bread.

If you are making it in a mixer:

-Combine warm water, molasses and brown sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit for about 5 minutes, until foamy.
-Add canola oil, salt, and flour, one cup at a time and combine on low (I use my dough hook here to avoid the inevitable "poof" of flour that envelopes my workspace if I use any other attachment).  Add oats and continue mixing on low until combined.  Allow the mixer to work its magic on the dough for about 5 minutes.  Add up to 1/3 cup more flour as you go if your dough is looking too sticky.
-Put the dough into a greased bowl and allow to rise in a draft free place for approximately 45 minutes to one hour (until doubled in size).
-Punch dough down and split into two halves.  Shape and place into two greased standard loaf plans.  Allow to rise again in a draft free place for about 45 minutes (or until double the size).
-Bake for approximately 25 minutes in a preheated 375F oven, until golden brown.
-Place on wire racks to cool.  Enjoy!

You can also make these loaves by hand.  Substitute "wooden spoon" for dough hook attachment, above.  You'll have to knead your dough for 8-10 minutes instead of letting the mixer work its magic.


Tuesday 29 September 2015

Pumpkin Carrot Muffins

One of my favorite food personalities on TV is Anna Olson.  I don't think I've ever had an Anna Olson recipe flop on me.  My favorite fall-themed muffin is no exception.  This recipe uses a full cup of both pumpkin and carrots, and they are so moist and tender.  They are spiced perfectly with a little bit of cinnamon and ginger, both of which even the most beginner bakers always have on hand.  They whip up so quickly and easily every time!

Anna's original recipe pairs this with a vanilla frosting, but I find these so flavorful and moist that no frosting is needed.   What?!  Shocking!!  Anyone who knows my love of sugar would be shocked to think that I would dare turn down a frosting on anything, but these truly don't need it.  This recipe makes 18 regular sized muffins for me each and every time.  I whipped up a batch at the beginning of naptime today and am so excited to see my oldest eat carrots, despite her hatred of them.  Maybe I'll grab a cup of coffee and enjoy one (or two) myself when they wake up....

Pumpkin Carrot Muffins - without frosting - adapted from original recipe, courtesy of Anna Olson

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup golden brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pure pumpkin
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup very finely grated carrot

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly combined.  Stir in pumpkin, sour cream, and vanilla.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger.  Stir into wet ingredients until just combined.  Fold in carrots.

Fill paper lined or greased muffin tins 3/4 full.  Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, or until slightly golden.


Wednesday 16 September 2015

Chocolaty Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

I make chocolate chip cookies so often with the kids that it is a real mystery why they are not listed anywhere on this blog.  We make them at least monthly and there is always a supply in our freezer.  This is precisely why I wanted to change it up the other day when we were contemplating making some cookies to send with my husband on a roadtrip.

I was craving a brownies too.  Like the BEST brownies I have talked about in the past here on this blog.  Those are almost all done on the stovetop though, and my daughter was anxious to help.  I wanted to come up with a cookie that kind of tasted like a brownie, but with a chocolate chip component.  That was my intent.....  but then I found some peanut butter chips in my cupboard and that idea went out the window.

So, behold:  A brownie-like cookie,  bursting with peanut butter chips!  I've gotta tweak them a bit to make them chewier, but in the meantime, these will NOT disappoint.

1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups peanut butter chips

Cream butter and shortening together until light and fluffy.  Add sugar and vanilla and continue creaming thoroughly.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth and fluffy.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a medium sized bowl.  Add gradually to creamed mixture.  Stir in the peanut butter chips.

Drop by teaspoons onto parchment lined cookie sheets and bake in a 350F oven for approximately 12 minutes.  Do not overbake, or they will be too crispy.  I like a chewier cookie. When you remove these from the oven, allow the cookies to firm up slightly on the pan before transferring to wire racks to cool. Enjoy!

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Dill Pickles

My parents live on a farm and have a huge garden every year.  I always hope to be visiting in late August or early September to get my hands on some of the cucumber bounty.  My friends and I made some dill pickles together a few years ago, and although buying the beautiful cucumbers from a local farmers market is wonderful, it certainly adds up quickly.  Our pickle making was such a success that soon it became a tradition.

This year, we were visiting at just the right time and I got to make pickles with my mom.  I haven't done that since I really just pretended to help as a kid.  It really is SO simple...especially when you can do it alongside the person that taught you almost everything you know in the kitchen.  In the end I came away with 15 quarts of pickles.  My mom said she has done about 50 so far this year since....
She can't see anything go to waste!

This easy pickling brine is courtesy of my friend, Janay.  I think it's her dad's recipe.  My mom can't believe the salt to vinegar ratio (apparently hers is much lower), but these are DELICIOUS!  Sorry mom, this is the recipe we're using :)

To make 15 quarts, I multiplied this recipe by 2.5  So in theory, this recipe should make approximately 6 quarts of packed pickle jars.

7 cups pickling vinegar
7 cups water
1/2 cup pickling salt

Peeled Garlic
Lots of cucumbers*

Use as many cucumbers as you have or want to pickle and make your brine accordingly.

Thoroughly wash and sterilize all of your equipment as you would when canning anything. (Including the measuring cup you'll be pouring brine with, and tongs that you will be using to lift your lids out of their water bath).

Get your brine going by mixing vinegar, water and salt in a large pot over high heat.

In warm jars, toss a couple cloves of garlic, and a sprig of dill (think the stalky seed part, not just the herb you're used to seeing in cooking.  See photo below).  Pack cucumbers on top.  Put larger cucumbers on the bottom and save those tiny ones for packing spaces near the top.

Pour boiling brine over top of packed cucumbers.  Ensure you wipe the rim of your jars so that no salty brine mixture is there.  Your lids won't seal if there is any spillage there.  Add a sterilized lid to your jars and tighten a ring until it's just finger tight.  Don't overtighten as the air needs to escape when the seal sets.  I recommend having your lids sitting in a little pot of boiling water so they are clean, warm, and handy to just throw on your jars.  The less heat you lose in this step, the more likely you'll get a good seal.  Once they seal you can tighten the rings more if you like.

There are varying schools of thought on processing dill pickles.  I am with the school of thought that sterilized tools and jars, boiling brine and copious salt with a good seal is sufficient.  Boiling pickles in a water bath only serves to take away from the "crunch" factor of your pickles later because it essentially cooks them.  Note, this is probably not the "official" word from any organized health organization, but do your own research and decide.  I don't process, nor does my mom.  Nor did my grandma.  Or great grandma.   A couple have died from old age.  Not from bad pickles.  NOTE:  My thinking does NOT apply to other canned goods such as tomatoes and other non-salty things.  Process that business. Definitely.

I usually test the first jar in December or so for a batch made in late August or early September.

Happy pickling!

Use this dill. Photo courtesy of:

15 quarts of pickles all done and waiting for those seals to "pop".  Once they cooled off, all had sealed.  I got panicky because it took longer than usual....but all sealed!

Friday 4 September 2015

Autumn Apple Pie

I can't believe I'm using the word "autumn".  I can smell fall in the air.  You can definitely feel it when you go outside in the morning.  I especially feel the fall season approaching when people start asking you whether or not you need any apples.  Everyone's apple trees are starting to drop their bounties on to the ground.  I managed to get my hands on over 50 lbs (probably more?) of apples from someone wanting to unload their produce.  I have peeled apples, baked pies, or made applesauce for almost every naptime for the past week.  There are 24 cups of sliced apples bagged up in my freezer.  And I still have at least 10 lbs of apples to go!

Everyone that I come into contact with takes home a pie.  This is my no-fail apple pie recipe.  It's perfect because it's not too sweet.  Even with a really tart apple (which these seem to be), it is just right with a scoop of ice cream to sweeten it up.  Or cheddar.  My husband really likes cheddar with apple pie.  Delicious!

Here is my foolproof recipe:

Pie Filling
6 cups peeled, coarsely chopped apples
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp flour

Mix sugar, spices and flour together in a large bowl.  Add apples and gently stir to evenly coat.  Pour into prepared 9 inch pie shell.  Add top layer of pastry.  Pinch together and seal pie with your fingertips.  

Pastry for a double crust pie;
3/4 cup crisco shortening
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp cold water

Cut shortening in with flour and salt until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Add water, one tablespoon at a time until it just holds together.  Split into two equal balls, and flatten into 1/2 inch disks.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for approximately 30 minutes.

Bake pie for 55 minutes at 350F.  Be sure to bake on a cookie sheet, as I find apple pie often lets a few delicious juices escape while cooking.  This will scorch and smell terribly if it burns in the bottom of your oven!!!!!  Trust me, I had an incident last week where I got cocky and didn't use a cookie sheet underneath.  Let's just say the self clean feature got a good workout!


Wednesday 19 August 2015

Golden Oat Pancakes

My youngest refuses to eat scrambled eggs.  Or fried eggs.  Or boiled eggs.  Or poached eggs.  His distaste for eggs is actually just one of hundreds of his dislikes.  It's so frustrating, because eggs are such an easy, nutritious breakfast food.

However, he loves both oatmeal and pancakes.  I have a tried and true pancake recipe that I use frequently.  It's easy to change up the flour, or even hide some ground flax in it.  However, even I'm getting sick of plain pancakes.  

A few weeks ago I came across a new pancake recipe to try, courtesy of Taste of Home.  I am currently a volunteer field editor with this awesome magazine.  The field editor group was challenged to test out a set group of recipes and provide our feedback.  One of these recipes was Golden Oat Pancakes.   It was a HUGE hit with both of my kids.  It's a nice hearty change from our everyday recipe.  Served with some chopped fruit and a bit of maple syrup, these are a fantastic breakfast!  I've made them several times since finding the recipe, and they're consistently great.  

Golden Oat Pancakes - courtesy of and adapted from Taste of Home Magazine. LINK to the original recipe.

1 cup oats*  
1 and 1/3 cups milk
3/4 cup all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten**
2 tbsp canola oil***


 *The original calls for old fashioned oats.  I have used both old fashioned and quick oats.  The old fashioned oats make for a bit of a delicious, chewy texture, while the quick oats make for a bit lighter.

**The picky kid eats eggs in things.  Just not plain.

***The original recipe calls for 3tbsp oil.  I find 2 tbsp plenty.  Just a preference.

(1) Mix oats and milk and let stand for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a medium sized bowl.  

(2) Add eggs and oil to the oat mixture and lightly stir.

(3) Add oat mixture to dry ingredients, and lightly stir just until moistened.

(4) Cook on preheated griddle or frying pan until golden brown.


Tuesday 18 August 2015

Not So Pretty Peach Jam

Summer canning season continues.  This time, I'm posting this peach jam, despite the fact that it looks like an epic failure.  I've made plenty of jam in the past, and this has never happened to me.  All of the delicious peachy pieces floated to the top after processing, and it looks, well.....gross.

See??!   As my youngest would say..... eeeew.

Let me assure you that this jam is DELICIOUS!  However, I certainly wouldn't give this away.

I went to my good friend, Google, to see where I went wrong.  I must say, it made me feel a lot better.  Apparently this is a really common problem with fruit jam.  The most likely cause?  I didn't chop my fruit finely enough.  It is also helpful to stir the jam mixture occasionally for 5 minutes after taking it off heat, prior to pouring into hot, sterilized jars.

In this case, I used my food processor, but didn't want to make it into a complete pulp, so I just pulsed it.  Next time I'm going to be more aggressive with that pulse button.  It's a shame, because this jam is really, really tasty.

Google tells me to stir it all up to uniformly distribute the fruit prior to serving.  Sounds like a plan.  Next time, I hope to have beautiful, uniform jam.  Stay tuned, I'll try again another day.

In the meantime, here is a DELICIOUS recipe for Peach Jam.  Pulverize those peaches, people.

Peach Jam (adapted from Bernardin Canada)

4 cups FINELY chopped or crushed peaches
1/3 cup lemon juice
7 1/2 cups sugar
2 pouches liquid pectin

Prepare peaches, and immediately mix with lemon juice to prevent browning.  Add sugar, and stir continually over medium heat until boiling.  Add pectin.  Return to a rolling boil, and cook for 1 minute.  Pour into sterilized jars, leaving about 1/2 cm head space. Add lids and rings.  Process for 10 minutes, plus additional time as recommended for your altitude.  Here's a handy guide.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Peach Jalapeno Jelly

A few weeks ago my husband's aunt came through Calgary with a big bag of the most delicious looking peaches ever.  They smelled and tasted AMAZING!  She lives in the Okanagan and these peaches are TO DIE FOR!   Even though these peaches were so juicy and amazing, unfortunately I was the only person in the house eating them in any quantity.  The kids were trying to help, but my daughter just took a liking to cherries and has been gorging solely on them, and my son, well, he refuses to eat most new things.

Now.....What to do with the peaches before they went bad?  We just ate a lot of pie..... (see Saskatoon Streusel Pie).  I would be the only person to take down a cobbler, and I certainly don't need that.  So, I went to Pinterest in search of a peach jelly recipe.  I've been on a bit of a jelly making roll lately, so I thought I'd keep that going.   What did I stumble upon?  A peach jalapeno jelly.  I love jalapeno jelly.  It's a perfect snack with cream cheese and crackers!  It's a staple oh-I-need-a-quick-appetizer-for-this-unexpected-company snack.  So I gave it a whirl!  This recipe is adapted from minced blog.
I have re-written what I did, below.

7 or 8 large peaches (or about 10 small to medium sized)
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 jalapeno peppers
1 cup apple cider vinegar
5 cups sugar
1 package of liquid fruit pectin (I understand that these only come in one size)

To prepare your peaches, blanch in boiling water for 1 minute.  Immediately put them in an ice-water bath to cool off.  The think skin should peel right off in a couple of big pieces.

Remove the pit from the peaches and coarsely chop.  Put in a large pot with lemon juice.  Use a potato masher to squish them into a lumpy puree.  Add the vinegar and chopped jalapenos.  I left the seeds in half of them.  I think next time I'll leave the seeds in all of them for more heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Turn heat down just to keep it at a simmer, and allow to boil for about 20 minutes.  Mash every few minutes.

Strain the juice using a fine cheesecloth, or a jelly bag.  I highly recommend a jelly bag, which is available by the canning materials at many grocery stores.  Do not squeeze the bag.  Just let it drip into a bowl until you have 2 cups of juice.

Bring the juice and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan.  Quickly stir in liquid pectin and return to a hard boil,  Boil and stir for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and skim foam, if necessary.

Fill warm, sterilized 8 oz/1 cup jars to within 1/4 inch of top.  Wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth and gently put on sterilized snap-lids and rings.  (I suggest keeping your snap-lids in a pot of boiling water, ready to put on the filled jars).  Process in a boiling water canner as suggested for your altitude.  It is generally recommended to be 10 minutes at sea level.  I do 17 minutes for Calgary.

After jars have processed, remove from canner and allow to fully cool, undisturbed, for 24 hrs.  Ensure all jars are sealed, and refrigerate any that didn't.


Thursday 30 July 2015

Saskatoon Jelly

My crusade with the saskatoon berry continues.  Saskatoons are plentiful in Alberta, yet I have no recollection of anyone I know ever making saskatoon jelly.  I swear my mom has made every kind of jelly under the sun, but no saskatoon jelly.  I remember my Auntie Jean making saskatoon-rhubarb jam, but that's about it.....

So off to Google I went, trying to find a recipe.  The first hit was Kraft Canada, a very dependable and easy-recipe website.  How could this fail??  Well, it didn't.  It is amazing.  It's like saskatoon pie when I spread it on toast...with none of the seeds.  Where has this been all my life?????

Here's a link to the recipe.  I followed it exactly, and have reproduced it here:

3 and 1/2 cups prepared juice (About 3 litres of berries)
1/2 cup lemon juice
7 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 pouches Certo liquid pectin

-Wash and thoroughly crush about 3 quarts (3 L) ripe Saskatoon berries. (I used 4 litres, and used a potato masher to crush while heating. )

-Heat gently until juice starts to flow; simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Place in jelly cloth or bag and squeeze out juice.

-Measure 3 1/2 cups (800 mL) into a large saucepan. Add lemon juice.
-Add sugar to juice and mix well.

-Place over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
-Immediately stir in pectin.
-Return to a full rolling boil and boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
-Skim foam if necessary.
-Pour quickly into warm sterilized jars filling up to 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) from rim.
-Seal while hot with sterilized 2-piece lids with new centres.


Note that I required 4 litres of berries to get that much juice, but I'm sure it all depends on how juicy your saskatoons are.

Also, I realize that is an OBSCENE amount of sugar.  One thing I've learned about canning/preserving though, is don't mess with the ratios.  I'm not a scientist and I wanted my jelly to gel.  So I just went with it.  Just don't think about it.  I'm sure commercially prepared jellies have just as much.

This made 8, one cup jars of jelly for me.  The other jars in the background are Nanking Cherry Jelly.  I was on a jelly making roll.


Wednesday 22 July 2015

Saskatoon Streusel Pie

Saskatoon season continues!  I was at my parents' farm last weekend and came home with 12 litres of them.  Yesterday I made some Saskatoon Berry Jelly (which I will post soon), and today I made some Saskatoon Berry Pies.  I had so many saskatoons that I doubled it up and made two pies! One is for a BBQ I'm hosting, and the other I'll bring to my friend Alex, who just had a baby last week :)

I wanted to make two pies but only had enough shortening for one double crust pastry.  Planning fail. However, this pie is a perfect candidate for a streusel topping.  Mind you, what pie isn't a candidate for streusel topping?!

This pie is just so summery!  Pair it with some vanilla ice-cream or  throw it in a bowl with a splash of heavy cream and I'm immediately brought right back to my childhood.  Enjoy!

Saskatoon Streusel Pie (makes 1 pie)
9 inch pie shell (recipe follows)
7 cups saskatoons
2 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp corn starch
1 recipe streusel topping (recipe follows)

Bring water and sugar to a boil in a large pot.  Stir in berries and lemon juice.  Return to a boil, and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Spoon 1/4 cup of hot liquid into a small bowl.  Whisk in the cornstarch to make a smooth liquid and then return to the berry mixture. Continue to stir over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until thickened.

Pour the filling into prepared pastry.  Sprinkle with streusel topping and bake in a preheated 350F oven for approximately one hour, or until filling is bubbly and pastry is golden brown.

Pastry -adapted from the Crisco Vegetable Shortening box
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp cold water

Mix flour and salt together.  Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until it forms very coarse crumbs.  Add the cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, until the pastry just holds together.  Split into two portions and shape into a small disk.  Cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This makes pastry for one double crust pie, or two pies with streusel topping.

Streusel Topping
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp cold margarine or butter

Mix together the flour and sugar.  Cut in the cold margarine or butter with a pastry blender until it forms coarse crumbs.


Tuesday 14 July 2015

S'more Inspired Cupcakes

We had our annual Stampede BBQ this past weekend.  I made SO much food.  However, one of the few things I actually snapped a picture of were my S'more Cupcakes.  It's a shame that these are all I snapped a picture of, because they truly were the easiest thing I made.   My hours of work into the pork ribs, baked beans, macaroni and greek salads and other desserts are completely undocumented!  Maybe next year :)

Anyways, I started with my favorite chocolate and vanilla cupcake recipes.  I've raved about the chocolate cake recipe before.  It's from Taste of Home magazine.  Here is a link to the recipe, for probably the 3rd or 4th time on this blog.  It's THAT good!  This recipe makes approximately 15 cupcakes, and is copied here:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cold water
Confectioners' sugar

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Using a spoon, make three wells in the dry ingredients. Pour oil into one, vinegar into another and vanilla into the third. Slowly pour water over all. Beat on low speed until thoroughly combined (batter will be thin.)
Pour into a greased and floured 8-in. square baking dish. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

Originally published as Moist Chocolate Cake in Reminisce July/August 1997, p45

My favorite vanilla cupcake is something I've only just recently discovered.  It is still being tweaked, so I'll post it once I'm completely happy with it!

Since I was cooking for an army of people, I cheated and bought some chocolate frosting to pipe on top.  Sprinkle the swirls with some crushed graham crackers, add a square of chocolate, and a couple of mini marshmallows, and voila!   These were delicious!

All ready to serve.  These were SO easy!

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Soft and Chewy Ginger Cookies

Canada Day turned out to be a rainy morning here last week, so we quickly abandoned our plans to head to the park and celebrate in the morning.  Instead, we got together with our neighbors for some much needed coffee and play time!  The girl that lives next door is just the sweetest thing, and she touched my heart when I heard the story of what she said to her grandma a few months ago.  I won't repeat the whole thing, but the basic idea is that grandma found out that her cookies " just aren't as good as Shannon's."  Say WHAT?  Move over grandma.  There's a new baker in town.

Anyway, hearing this story has put tremendous pressure on me to continue to bake new and exciting things for her.  Yup.  I feel the need to be loved and respected as a baker by this 4 year old.  After all, kids are so damn truthful.  Or shall I say blunt.  I've disappointed wee neighbour girl since this epic compliment, and well, it didn't feel so hot.  I joke, I joke.  Sort of.....  

I haven't made ginger cookies in ages (since Christmas when she devoured my red and green sprinkle coated ones), so I thought it was time.  Since becoming a new Volunteer Field Editor for Taste of Home Magazine, I am trying to make even more of their delicious recipes than I used to back when I was just a wannabe Field Editor.  So out came this recipe.  Big Soft Ginger Cookies.  They didn't disappoint.   Here's the recipe, reproduced from the website.

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Additional sugar


  • 1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
  • 2. Roll into 1-1/2-in. balls, then roll in sugar. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen.

Nutritional Facts

1 cookie equals 111 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 19 mg cholesterol, 98 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 1 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 fat.
Here's my photo

Note that I flattened these with a fork, just before baking.  The recipe doesn't state to do so, but I like a flatter, chewier cookie.  They bake up a little higher and likely more true to the "big soft" cookie description per the original recipe if you don't flatten.

The 4 year old's review:  A little too salty.  Yeah, all that salt?? on the outside.  She didn't care for the sugardust her cookie was leaving behind on her fingers.   Fair enough.  

Silly girl.  That's my favorite part.

Monday 29 June 2015

Pulled Pork Pizza

As long as we're home for dinner, every Friday is pizza Friday here in our household.  Given how often I make pizza, I am constantly on the lookout for topping ideas that will be different from the classics.   One unique topping that both my husband and I love is pulled pork.   This is always a hit because it's not often that we have leftover pulled pork lying around.

My husband and I also host an annual Stampede BBQ.  Every year, one of the highlights is the all-day smoked, juicy, melt in your mouth deliciousness that is pulled pork.  Since we make SO much at once for this event, it is not unusual for there to be a few pounds of leftovers.  I portion it out and freeze to use in enchiladas, sandwiches, or on pizza Friday, pizza.

The pulled pork I used on this pizza, below, is not from our big annual BBQ nearly a year ago!  We had a smaller BBQ a few weeks ago with our neighbours (which is the same event where the Melt in Your Mouth Doughnuts were devoured).  The pork leftovers from this event were used to top the pizza featured in this post.  It was oh so smoky, gooey, and delicious!

Pizza Dough (this makes enough for 3 thin crust, or 2 regular crust pizzas)
2 & 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 & 1/4 cups warm water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups all purpose flour (I often use half white, half whole wheat)

Dissolve the sugar in warm water.  Sprinkle the yeast on top, and allow to sit in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes, until foamy.  Add the olive oil, salt, and 1 cup of the flour.  With a whisk, beat until smooth.  Add the remaining flour, a cup at a time, until you have a soft dough.   Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.  Cover the dough and let rest in a warm place for about 25 minutes.  While the dough is resting, prepare your toppings:

Pulled Pork Pizza With Caramelized Onions (Topping)
2 medium sized red or yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 tsp sugar
2 portions pizza dough
1/2 cup pizza sauce
2 tbsp BBQ sauce
2 cups leftover pulled pork
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Melt the butter in a large frying pan.  Add the onions, and cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the onions are starting to evenly brown, sprinkle with the sugar and continue browning until golden and sweet, approximately 5 more minutes.  Set aside.

Shape each portion of dough onto a greased pizza pan.  Combine pizza and BBQ sauce in a small bowl, and spread evenly on top of each pan of dough.  Sprinkle one cup of pulled pork, and half the onion mixture onto each pizza.  Top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake in a preheated 400F oven for approximately 20-25 minutes (depending on how browned you like your crust).  Enjoy!

Monday 22 June 2015

Saskatoon Berry Cheesecake

This past weekend I went to a baby-que....what seems to be the latest trend in baby showers.  It's a Jack and Jill style baby shower, where, rather than sit in a circle cooing over the baby and eating finger sandwiches with females of all ages, you bring your whole family and eat delicious BBQ, drink tasty bevvies, and generally have a great time.  I even went to one a few weeks ago where there was a keg.  I hope this trend is the wave of the future.  I enjoy these significantly more than the sit-in-a-circle-pass-the-cards-and-presents-around type of showers.

Anyways, for this particular baby-shower, I was delighted to be asked to bring dessert!   I thought a cheesecake was in order, as well as a couple dozen cupcakes (which I won't write about here).  I already spammed Facebook and Instagram with a photo of my daughter decorating said cupcakes, so that's plenty of internet action on that already.

I had some Saskatoon berries in my freezer from last summer (thank you, Mom), and I decided I'd incorporate those.  I used one of my favorite cheesecake recipes, added some Saskatoon filling based on my recipe for Saskatoon pie filling, and voila.  So, here it is:


1 & 3/4 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine

2 & 1/2 packages (8 oz or 250g each) cream cheese (I use full fat, because it's cheesecake, just enjoy it)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp vanilla
2.5 tbsp flour

Saskatoon Topping and Filling**:

**Note that this makes MUCH more than you actually require.  Save the rest in your fridge for a couple of weeks to put on pancakes or waffles!  Or, just eat with a spoon when no one is watching.

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon
4 cups cleaned Saskatoon berries
2 tsp corn starch

First, make the saskatoon filling by combining the water and sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for two minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the berries and lemon juice.  Bring back to a boil and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove about 3 tbsp of hot liquid from the berries, and combine with the cornstarch in a small bowl.  Return to mixture and stir to thicken for about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

For the Cheesecake:

Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted margarine.  Press into the bottom and about an inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.  Bake in a preheated 325F oven for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and sugar in a stand mixer (or using a handheld electric mixer,) until light and creamy.

Beat in cream, vanilla, and flour, and then scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Beat in eggs one at a time, beating until just incorporated after each addition. Scrape down the side of the bowl to ensure all batter is an even consistency.

Pour half of the batter over the graham crust.  Dot 1/4 cup of saskatoon filling in various places on top of the batter, and then cut through it with a butter knife, swirling it throughout the batter.  Pour the remaining batter on top, and then repeat with about 1/4 cup more filling as before.

Post-swirl.  Baked

Place cheesecake in the center of the oven, and bake for 20 minutes.   Decrease heat to 300F, and continue baking for 25 minutes.  At this point the cheesecake should appear set, and jiggle slightly in the middle.  Then, turn the oven off, and allow the cheesecake to remain in there for 2 hours.  Resist the urge to open the door, as your cheesecake will finish setting up with the residual heat. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about an hour longer on a wire rack, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Thoroughly chill before serving.  I recommend AT LEAST 3 hours. Cut and serve with berry topping.