Saturday 9 December 2017

Double Chocolate Port and Caramel Cookies #ChristmasCookies

Here it is....the final day of #ChristmasCookies Week.  This is the second of the two boozy creations I made for this event.  Port and chocolate are natural companions to me, so when my husband suggested I try making something like this, it took much less convincing than the "Old Fashioned Cookie."  The beauty of these cookies is that they aren't overwhelmingly port-like.  I can definitely still taste it, but my husband just barely detects the flavor.  It reminds me a bit of when you add a bit of coffee to a chocolate cake or brownie batter.  It enhances the chocolaty-ness of it.  If you aren't told that it's there, you may not know it.  But it's there....and it really enhances their deliciousness.

Friday 8 December 2017

The Old Fashioned Cookie #ChristmasCookies

Here we are, nearing the end of #ChristmasCookies Week.  Tomorrow will be the last post for me in this event.   It seems I've left two boozy ones for the end.  Tomorrow's cookie will feature port, and today's is featuring bourbon.  Both were my husband's idea, so let this sentence show as official credit  to him for this creation.

He is a big fan of cocktails, and an Old Fashioned is definitely up there on his list.  I can't say I'm in full agreement.  I enjoy the garnishes involved (orange and cherries are delightful), and clearly I can get on board with simple syrup (who doesn't love sugar?), but the addition of bitters and bourbon really, really thwarts it for me, lol.  I'm just not a bourbon fan.  Bring me ALL the other spirits.  I'm not picky.  It's just that bourbon nears the bottom of my list.  And bitters, well...why?!  Ugh.

Ok, I know I'm not selling this cookie very well right now, but I just needed to give you that intro to prove that as a non-Old-Fashioned fan, I can attest that this cookie is actually delicious!  People who do love the traditional cocktail will also love the cookie, and even non-believers like me can get on board, because, well, it's a cookie.  And even with the bourbon and the bitters featured in the drizzle, it is quite tasty.  It's a fun and unique cookie.

This recipe has been a labor of love.  The first recipe I tinkered with resulted in nothing more than an old-fashioned rock.  Quite literally, a rock.  You probably could have driven a car over it and it wouldn't break.

The second attempt resulted in pancake like and very, very greasy cookies.  Not delightful at all.

The third was just right.  Here it is!

The Old-Fashioned Cookie

1/2 cup vegetable shortening (such as crisco)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp bourbon
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 heaping tbsp candied orange rind (yup, those weird little bits sometimes featured in fruit cake)
Halved glace or maraschino cherries for garnish

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp bourbon
dash of bitters

-Cream together shortening and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg and bourbon and beat well.
- Combine flour, baking soda, powder, and salt.  Stir into the butter and sugar mixture.  Stir in orange rind.
-Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Add a cherry slightly off-centered on each cookie.
-Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
-Cool on wire racks.

-Whisk together the glaze and drizzle over-top of cookies before serving.  Enjoy!

  • Almond Spice Christmas Wreath Cookies by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
  • Black Forest Brownies by Palatable Pastime
  • Chewy M&M Cookies by Kate’s Recipe Box
  • Chocolate Orange Blossoms by Family Around the Table
  • Chocolate Marshmallow Meltaways by Jolene's Recipe Journal
  • Gingerbread Madeleines by Strawberry Blondie Kitchen
  • Greek Baklava by House of Nash Eats
  • Honningkagehjerter by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
  • Lemon Ginger Crinkle Cookies by Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice
  • Lemon Pizzelle Della Sondra by Girl Abroad
  • Grandmas Lily’s Thumbprints by A Day in the Life on the Farm
  • Mocha Biscotti by Books n’ Cooks
  • No Bake Christmas Tree Cookies by Cooking with Carlee
  • No-Bake Eggless Chocolate Salami by All That’s Jas
  • Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies by Simple and Savory
  • Peppermint Meltaway Cookies by Making Miracles
  • Peppermint Sandies by Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids
  • Strawberry Cake Mix Cookies by Soulfully Made
  • The Old Fashioned Cookie by Making the Most of Naptime
  • White Chocolate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies by The Bitter Side of Sweet
  • Thursday 7 December 2017

    Dark Chocolate Dipped Orange Biscotti #ChristmasCookies

    I can't believe it's already Day 4 of Christmas Cookies Week, as hosted by Ellen from Family Around the Table.  It's kind of weird that this wasn't the first recipe I posted, as this was the first Christmas cookie I made this year.  The minute I tasted the dough (yup, I'm a raw dough eater, and I'm still alive...) I knew this would be a winner.  It got me so excited to make all the cookies I had brainstormed for this event!

    I make some sort of biscotti every year, and this year I wanted to marry two of my favorite flavors for it.... orange and chocolate.  I know that not everyone is a fan of this flavor combo, but I LOVE IT!  I feel like in most households, in the hierarchy of greatness of a box of chocolates, the last to go are the orange creme ones.   They're the sad, lonely, stale little morsels at the end of the box.  It's crazy.  That's where I come in and destroy them.  With my stomach.  That's right friends - the orange creme chocolates are always the first to go if I crack a chocolate assortment open.  So lets just say I eat a lot of them between December and January.  I eat all of mine first, and polish off all the lonely ones that reside at every gathering I go to.  Oink oink.

    Anyways, if you're someone like me, and you LOVE orange and chocolate, I have you covered with this cookie.   If not, sorry - come back tomorrow for something else.  Or, as I hope you've been doing all along, check out everyone's cookies for today.  As usual, there are some showstoppers!

    Wednesday 6 December 2017

    Chocolate Coconut Almond Dipped Shortbread #ChristmasCookies

    Christmas Cookies Week continues!  I'm so excited to share today's cookie, and I'm definitely getting a little concerned about my freezer space when I see several more amazing cookies that I can't wait to try in today's roundup.  Thanks again to Ellen of Family Around the Table for hosting this event!

    Almond is one of my favorite flavors year round, but there's something about the holidays that really makes me love it even more.  It has always been a staple in my Christmas baking, and it brings back so many nostalgic memories of trays heaped with goodies at holiday gatherings.

    Sponsor Nielsen-Massey provided me with Pure Almond Extract
    When sponsor Nielsen Massey sent me a complimentary bottle of their pure almond extract, I was thrilled!  I always use it in my holiday sugar cookies, and it's a necessary ingredient in countless bars.  I thought I'd try my hand at creating a new-to-me cookie using my new almond extract.

    To make today even better, Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors is giving one winner a set of their pure flavors: 2-oz each of Orange, Lemon, Peppermint, Almond, Chocolate, Coffee, Rose Water, and Orange Blossom Water.  This giveaway is open to residents of both the US and Canada.  Ensure to enter at the bottom of this post!

    Tuesday 5 December 2017

    Cream Cheese Cookie Cups #ChristmasCookies

    Welcome to my second contribution to #ChristmasCookies Week!  Today I'm sharing a basic sugar cookie, filled with a cream cheese icing, topped with a little Christmas gummy candy.  You can switch up the color of the filling or candy topping to suit your tastes, or to match a holiday color scheme.   I think some sort of holiday chocolate would be fantastic on these as well.  Thanks again to Ellen of Family Around the Table for organizing this event.  Throughout the week there will be countless delicious cookies to check out, and I encourage you to take a look each day.

    Monday 4 December 2017

    Raspberry Filled Coconut Snowflakes #ChristmasCookies

    Welcome to Christmas Cookies Week!  Ellen from Family Around the Table has organized a fantastic group of bloggers to share some of their favorite holiday cookie recipes.  I participated in a similar group last year and got so many delicious ideas!  One of the most popular cookies that I gifted came from this type of event, so I always love seeing what everyone has to offer.    I encourage you to check out all of the links at the bottom of my posts each day.  I guarantee there will be something that catches your eye!

    The first cookie that I'm featuring is one that I have to give credit to my husband for.  Although it ended up a little "too shortbread like" for him, we considered it delicious.  His brainstorming gave me 3 of my 6 cookie ideas this year.  When my imagination was really struggling, and I asked him for cookie ideas, he rattled off three ideas within a couple minutes.   This was one of them.  He originally said "a sandwich cookie with red in the middle with some sort of snowy substance sprinkled on top".  I attempted a sandwich cookie, and it failed miserably, but I took his general idea and put it into a classic thumbprint/thimble cookie instead.  I added coconut (because adding coconut is what I generally do to make the world happier), and this cookie was born! 

    Wednesday 8 November 2017

    Brownie Mix #FoodGifts

    There's nothing more personal than a homemade gift.  I think they're especially good for those hard-to-buy-for people on your lists.  Some people seem to have everything, so it can be overwhelming searching through the copious amounts of nick-nacks and gadgets that flood the store shelves during the holidays.  The best homemade gift (in my opinion), is that of the food variety.  It's a consumable, so it's not going to sit on a shelf and collect dust until it eventually gets donated or tossed in the garbage.  Ugh...there's just so much unnecessary waste because we all have this need to buy that perfect something for people when it's actually really hard to find a gift that people actually want!

    I am definitely guilty of what I describe above, so I'm trying to get better at really trying to think and find out exactly what a person wants or needs.   For those people who seem to have everything, today's post contains links to some super fun and creative homemade food gifts ideas, as gathered by Ellen at Family Around the Table.  We all have to eat, right?!   Check them all out, and maybe a few of the ideas will jump out at you as being a perfect treat for someone special to you.

    I've been working on a few homemade projects this year, including this homemade brownie mix.  I tweaked a few ingredients in my usual favorite brownie recipe to make it shelf stable, and then put it in a festive jar, with a little note describing how to prepare.  With this mix, you only add eggs, vanilla, and a little bit of milk, and after baking you've got perfectly soft, fudgy brownies.  I've even included a little package of ingredients to mix up with milk and a bit of vanilla to glaze the top with.  This will be the perfect homemade gift for any chocolate lover in your life!

    Thursday 2 November 2017

    Spinach Phyllo Bundles

    One of my favorite evenings to host is an appetizer party!  It's so much more casual than a big dinner, and if you're hosting other families with children, it seems to work well to get the kids to eat a variety of items too.  I find that kids like to snack in packs anyway, and are constantly looking for something in the kitchen while I'm prepping dinner, so I prefer to linger around, have a few drinks, and snack away while visiting.  It is also a great opportunity to prep a lot of stuff in advance, and really just be using the oven on and off for the evening too.   At this time of year, I usually prep a couple appetizers a week to have on hand in the freezer.   With the holiday season fast approaching, it's so awesome to just pull a few things out when people pop by for a visit.

    This is one of my all time favorites.  They are basically my take on spanakopita.  Everyone loves them, they're easy to prep and freeze, and they bake up in about 20 minutes prior to serving.  They're great to pull out to have for a weeknight dinner, too! 

    Sunday 22 October 2017

    Haunted Halloween Mini Cake #HalloweenFoodFun

    Last year I really got into the Halloween spirit, and was making spooky treats for weeks leading up to it.  Check out this Spooky Brownie Haunted House and these Eyeballs, which were just a couple.  Suddenly, I look at the calendar and see that Halloween is just around the corner and I haven't done anything!   I also agreed and have been looking forward to being a part of this Halloween roundup of spooky stuff, as hosted by Family Around the Table.  But I was stumped for a recipe.

    I turned to the experts... the kids.  When I asked them what they thought would be a great Halloween food, they both yelled "CAKE!"  In case you're wondering, cake is usually a front-runner answer in my household, so I tend not to consult these experts for all cooking inspiration.  Since we had no real reason to make cake, and no imminent company to help us eat such a treat, I ended up making a mini one.  In the end, I think this is actually a great way to make a themed cake for Halloween or other special days where there are already enough treats.  I mean really, even if I was taking this cake to a Halloween get-together, how much cake does one need?  I already eat my bodyweight in those little mini candy bars at these events.  There is already sugar overload all around you.  So contribute to it responsibly, by making a mini cake.

    Since a cake is a blank canvas, how to decorate a mini-cake for Halloween is really up to you.  Halloween is a time of year that offers super fun and decorative candy, so it really can be as easy as just sticking some candy in your frosted cake (my kids love this kind of thing, and then they can actually do it themselves).  Or, you could just use orange frosting and then throw some black sprinkles on it.  I even saw some fun ideas out there where you make an easy stencil (like a spider, or bat), and sprinkle cocoa on a white cake to make a creepy sillouette.   You could also do a ghost stencil on a chocolate cake using powdered sugar to sprinkle and make the sillouette.

    On the day I made this cake, my Halloween candy stash was at zero. What I did have were sprinkles, and white candy melts (the exact age of which was questionable).  I also knew I had black food paste....a color I don't really have any use for normally.

    With these items, the kids and I concocted this:

    Tuesday 17 October 2017

    Italian Bread

    It's Tuesday.  And it's fall.  After the crazy wind this past weekend, there are almost no leaves left on the trees now.  This time of year always means I'm using my slow cooker way more, and the baking going on here increases exponentially.   If my kitchen smells like something comforting for supper, I immediately feel warmer.  Fresh bread is no exception to this.  I love the smell of fresh bread at anytime of year, but it is even more incredible on a chilly, blustery day.  That's why I chose to make one of my favorite Taste of Home recipes this past weekend.  It's called "Mom's Italian Bread".    I'm sharing this for Taste of Home Tuesday this week, as hosted by Jolene's Recipe Journal.  Check out what else is being shared at the bottom of this post!

    Mom's Italian Bread

    Saturday 7 October 2017

    Apple Cake #CookbookMonth

    I may have a bit of a cookbook hoarding problem.  Just last week I did another purge of my collection.  Five lonely little books had to go.  If I haven't made anything out of them for a year or two, they have to make room for the newcomers.

    Some books, however, will likely be safe forever.  These books are usually the ones that bring back special memories (I'm looking at you, Purity Cookbook, circa 1967).  I remember very fondly this tattered old book as being the first book that I baked chocolate chip cookies out of when I was probably 8.  If you're doing the math, no, I haven't aged suddenly.  My mom had a copy of it that was given to her by my grandma.  A few years ago, it was put back into print, and it was the best Christmas gift I could have asked for from my mom.

    Others are ones that I simply collect.  I have Atco-Blue Flame Kitchen Holiday Cookbooks dating to the late 80s.  Every now and then I find one at a garage sale or on kijiji and am thrilled when it's a year I'm missing.  Anyone out there have a 1992 or 1994 they would like to part with?!  ......Ugh.  I'm such a cookbook nerd.

    Anyways, my point is that I am passionate about cookbooks.  It's #CookbookMonth, and Amy from Amy's Cooking Adventures  is hosting a Cookbook Compilation roundup. She thought it would be fun to pick a recipe from a favorite community or compilation cookbook of some sort, and I agree!  Check out all the links at the bottom of this post, where you can find faves from a variety of talented bloggers.  I immediately wanted to take part because some of my favorite cookbooks are community compilation types.   I thought it would be so easy to pick a favorite recipe and write about it.  Well, I was wrong.  I have DOZENS of compilation cookbooks.  Since each one of these is still on my bookshelf, and survived all the purges over the years, it means that there are easily hundreds of faves in all of these books combined.

    So, instead, I simply chose to try a new recipe out of one of them.  The book I chose is one that practically lives on my counter at this time of year.  It's called "In Season - A harvest of Okanagan recipes from Davison Orchards & friends".  I bought it on one of our summer trips to Vernon, British Columbia several years ago.  According to the foreward of the book, Davison Orchards has been around since 1933.  It's one of our favorite stops when we're in the area.  There's a petting zoo for kids, lots of fresh produce for sale, preserves, and pies.  Oh, the pies......   Anyways, on one of these trips, I purchased this cookbook, which contains beloved recipes from the Davison family, their friends and neighbours.  Every year, when I have an excessive amount of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, peaches, pumpkin, apples, or pears, this cookbook is my go-to source for ideas.  I have never made a failure out of it.

    Thursday 17 August 2017

    Rustic Fruit Pies

    My favorite new dessert this summer is a super quick fruit pie.  I always see photos on Instagram of delicious looking galettes, but I don't like that word.  It sounds too fancy shmancy for me.   They sound daunting.  I like hearing that things are rustic.  It sets the bar nice and low..... and then your mind is blown when you realize how damn delicious they are!  So, seeing all of these super delightful pastries inspired me to make several impromptu batches of my own.   Even my husband, (who isn't a big pie fan,) has to admit that they are a nice little treat.

    Peach.  Definitely the house fave

    Tuesday 1 August 2017

    Chicken Parmesan Slider Bake

    After another long hiatus I'm participating in this week's edition of Taste of Home Tuesday, as organized by Jolene from Jolene's Recipe Journal.  Be sure to check out the other recipes shared this week at the bottom of this post!

    I love when the cover recipe of a cooking magazine is something awesome.  (Well, obviously it's always something awesome, or it wouldn't be on the cover).  I guess what I mean is that I love when it's something awesome that I would actually in pretty much when I get home.   I really need to up my slider game, because there are so many amazing recipes out there for them.   One of these is the cover recipe from the all new Taste of Home special edition titled "Make & Take", for the Chicken Parmesan Slider Bake.  This magazine is such a great edition to pick up for all of the summer gatherings still to come.  There are a lot of stunning looking and delicious sounding recipes!  This one is no exception.

    My favorite summer magazine!  

    Friday 28 July 2017

    Maple Mustard Turkey Burgers #NationalHamburgerDay

    Summer means more grilling!  Did you know that July 28th is National Hamburger Day?  I seems like every single day is a "day" for something.  But Hamburgers?  I had to jump on board by sharing a new burger recipe I came up with a couple of weeks ago!  Heather, from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks has kindly gathered a handful of fantastic burger recipes from other burger loving bloggers.  There is so much burger magic all in one place!  Be sure to check them all out at the end of this post...

    Now, we normally eat a lot of beef in our household so I was looking to switch it up a bit with a different meat.  Ground poultry is so versatile.  And lean.  And just delicious!  Since it doesn't have a very high fat content, I thought adding a glaze would be a good idea to amp up the greatness even more.  My obsession with maple has been well documented in the past, so I won't bore you with the backstory of my choice.  See Morning Maple Muffins, Maple Pepper Glazed Chicken Wings, and Gingersnap Maple Pecan Ice Cream for further rambling about the awesomeness of maple.  It's essentially the first sweet flavor that pops into my mind....

    Maple mustard turkey burger with melted white cheddar

    The simplicity of this burger, with the sweet sticky maple mustard glaze is definitely going to become a new favorite here!   Dress these up with any additional toppings you would like.  I highly recommend white cheddar (who doesn't love gooey, melty cheese), and bacon....because it's bacon.  Additional dijon mustard doesn't hurt, either.

    Monday 10 July 2017

    The Health & Happiness Cookbook Review

    A couple of months ago I received the most wonderful gift from Kimberley Copithorne - a copy of her recently published book, The Health and Happiness Cookbook.   I first came across her blog, Prairie Winds Life, when she joined the Food Bloggers of Canada.  I'm also a fairly new member, and when she was welcomed to the group, I immediately checked out her blog.  It caught my eye because she lives reasonably close to Calgary, on a ranch outside the Rockies.   Sigh.....can you imagine waking up to those mountains everyday?  What I soon discovered after poking around her blog was that she basically cooks and bakes all the foods of my dreams.  Seriously.  You need to check it out.  NOW.

    Since I've been conversing back and forth with Kimberley for the last few months,  I've also learned that besides being food twins (my claim, not hers), we have kids that are essentially the same age.  I'm now kinda-sorta that creepy fan  that's like "lets be friends, let's be friends!!"  We're definitely hanging out soon.  Why did I share that here?  I don't know.  I'm just super pumped to meet her in person.

    Here is the part where I need to tell you (I kind of already did), that I received this copy from Kimberley for free.  I am under no obligation to write anything (good or bad) about what I think of it.  All opinions are strictly my own.  I am not being compensated to tell you how darn amazing every page is.

    So, about this book:

    The Health and Happiness Cookbook is inspired by the Health and Happiness Society book series, written by Katie Cross.  I haven't read this award winning Chick Lit book series, but I can assure you I will.  In the foreword to the cookbook, both Katie and Kimberley stress the pursuit of a balanced and happy lifestyle, where it's ok (and encouraged!) to enjoy both healthy and nutritious foods, as well as the odd treat.  And trust me, after sampling one of the recipes from the chapter Healthy Girl-Power Recipes, I can assure you that Kimberley's healthy choices are so delicious that you can essentially call them a treat too :)

    The recipes throughout this book are inspired by the characters in Katie Cross' book series.  (For those interested, these titles include Bon Bons to Yoga Pants and I Am Girl Power).  You can find out more about them and the author at  The recipes in the cookbook are grouped into chapters according to the characters that inspired them.  How fun is that?!  I picked one recipe from each chapter to try and tell you about here.  On that note, let me say it was almost impossible to pick one per chapter.  I basically could have cooked my way through the entire book (trust me, I will).  This is one of those cookbooks where every single page is flagged.  Read on to see the delicious discoveries I've tried so far!

    the book you all need

    Monday 26 June 2017

    Sweet Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream

    A few weekends ago we were sitting in the backyard visiting with company.  Suddenly, I heard the faint music of an ice cream truck....almost indistinguishable, but it was there.    A few minutes later it got a bit louder, and yes, everyone agreed that they could hear it was mere blocks away.  You see, I'm in my mid thirties.  When I hear an ice cream truck I may as well be mid three's.  Yes, single digit 3's.  Toddler age.   I grew up on a farm and there were no ice cream trucks.   Even when I moved to an urban setting I've always lived on streets where there aren't a ton of kids.  My current address has a lot of families, but apparently the ice cream man hasn't got the memo that his sales would increase exponentially if he just drove up my street.  Or just in front of my house.

    My point is, I love ice cream.  Once again, the ice cream man didn't show up last weekend.  Not shocking.

    In the meantime, I'll continue to buy ice cream novelties from the store, and continue creating my own ice cream inventions.   My most recent creation combines my love of sweet summer cherries and rich chocolaty goodness.  This flavor combo also happens to be my favorite DQ Blizzard treat (it's actually chocolate covered cherries in the case of the DQ blizzard).    It's not on the menu anymore, but a polite request for one is almost always granted :)

    Here's the recipe for my latest ice-cream love...

    Monday 19 June 2017

    Grilled Peanut Lime Pork

    Last week I pulled a bag out of my freezer of what I thought contained chicken breasts (I was going to make one of my new fave grilled items that I raved about a few weeks ago, the Bacon & Cheddar Chicken Sandwiches).   However, I clearly was not paying attention when I pulled out the bag because what I really grabbed was a small chunk of a pork loin I portioned out a few weeks ago.  I think my lack of labelling in my freezer is a bit of an issue....

    Or is it?

    I had a sudden bolt-of-lightning-brain-wave when I saw the three lonely little limes sitting on my counter.    I also had some cilantro growing like a rogue weed in my little patio herb garden.  What goes with lime and cilantro?  Peanuts!  Boom.  A delightful little marinade came together in my brain.  Then in a bowl.  Then to the fridge.  Then to the grill.  Yes, friends....this delicious concoction of grilled pork deliciousness is just that easy.

    Peanut-lime pork

    Monday 5 June 2017

    It All Begins with Food - Cookbook Review

    Those that know me, know that I'm all about balance.   Well, that's a bit misleading.  My actual scale is probably tipped a bit too much in favor of sugar.  And chocolate.  And pasta.  It's not that I don't eat whole, clean foods, but I definitely eat a little bit of everything in moderation.  I probably would eat a lot cleaner with a little bit of inspiration.  I have my tried and true recipes for my family, and when I create new things, it's usually on the dessert spectrum.  I love the idea of eating better, but I need guidance.

    So, when I was sent a copy of Leah Garrad-Cole's first family cookbook, It All Begins with Food, I was definitely inspired.  Leah is the founder of the nationally-renowned brand, Love Child Organics. Please know that although Appetite by Random House generously provided me with a copy of this book, all views expressed here are my own.  I was under no obligation to review this cookbook, nor am I being compensated for doing so.

    Let me start off by saying that this book will be my new go-to baby shower gift.  If you know me personally, and are pregnant, this book is coming your way.  There are a few of you who's surprise I just spoiled, and I'm sincerely sorry.  This book covers eating for all stages of family life - from first foods, toddler finger foods, full family dinners, sides, and healthy snacks and treats.  Not only does it cover a fantastic range of foods, but the book itself is gorgeous.  Every photo pops and is so clean and bright.  It almost makes me want to renovate my kitchen to be as light and airy looking as every beautifully shot photo in the book.

    Tuesday 23 May 2017

    Bacon & Cheddar Chicken Sandwiches

    Every now and then I just have to shout from the rooftops about an awesome Taste of Home Recipe!  I am so excited to share this one, because it was definitely one of the biggest surprises in awhile. 

    Have you ever read a recipe and thought, hmmmm...this sounds too is this really even a recipe?   I recently came across one where this was my thought process.  I read the ingredients.  Some chicken, a bit of spice, mayo, mustard, cheese....So what?  It's just a sandwich.   But, I had all the ingredients, so why not give it a shot?

    Oh.  My.  Goodness.  This sandwich is not just a sandwich.  It's HEAVEN ON A BUN!  I'm going to be grilling these up all summer!

    Wednesday 17 May 2017

    Rhubarb Crumble Ice Cream

    This past week, two amazing worlds collided!  Rhubarb.  And ice cream.  Rhubarb is my returning springtime friend, especially now that I have my own plants again.   It's definitely no secret that I love ice cream.  I make it year round, but the warm weather makes me feel like it's a little more appropriate to be making now.  I made my Gingersnap Maple Pecan variety on many days this past year while the snow was flying.  Let's think of that flavor as my cozy eat-in-front-of-the-fireplace variety.

    If you've followed this blog you'll also know that I am also a huge fan of Tiger ice-cream.  This strange orange and black licorice combination that some people haven't even heard of is one of my favorite bring-me-back-to-my-childhood varieties.

    This new flavor screams spring and summer to me.  I'm hoping this will become my serve-to-company-for-a-backyard-bbq-dessert variety.

    Friday 12 May 2017

    Lime Cheesecake with Toasted Coconut

    Last week was Cinco de Mayo.  We had a party to go to that night and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to make a cheesecake that I've been thinking about lately.  I'm starting to have a thing for all things lime.  I used to be pretty meh on limes....I'm not sure what has changed.  I can't get enough of them now!  After a recent trip to Mexico it seems that my need for this citrus deliciousness has increased even more.

    So I have a newfound love of limes.  And I have a love for cheesecake that spans years.  Cream cheese was on sale last week.  It was a perfect storm.

    There's nothing more to say here.  Just get in your car, on your bike, or walk to the nearest store and obtain all the provisions to make this.  Then have a little fiesta and eat the whole thing!

    Lime Cheesecake with Toasted Coconut
    Here's the recipe:

    Tuesday 9 May 2017

    Rhubarb Berry Upside-Down Cake

    It has been a very long time since I've participated in any Taste of Home Tuesday recipe reviews.   I tried out a new upside-down cake recipe yesterday, and figured it was time to give another one a shout out again.  If you enjoy rhubarb, you will LOVE this!  I've had this recipe flagged for quite some time....ever since I received the Taste of Home Cookies, Cakes and Pies cookbook last fall.  So, when yesterday looked to be a perfect rainy baking day, and I had just enough rhubarb poking out of the ground, it was the perfect time to give this one a go.

    Taste of Home's Rhubarb Berry Upside-Down Cake

    Thursday 13 April 2017

    Classic Peanut Butter Confetti Bars #EasterRecipes

    Butterscotch chips.  Peanut butter.  Rainbow marshmallows.  I feel like everyone has encountered these magical ingredients thrown into one delicious little treat.  If you haven't, my mind is blown.  I don't even know where this recipe originated.  I imagine it was one of those back-of-the-label recipes from one of the companies that sells one of the ingredients I just listed.  I've always associated this square with Christmas.  I'm not sure why.... they aren't red, green or white.  They have no rum or eggnog in them.  Sure enough though, they've been on the majority of holiday baking trays I've encountered in my lifetime, and are a staple to my holiday treat rotation every year too.

    So the other day, as I was trying to think of a spring-like treat to whip up on a sunny Friday afternoon, it hit me.  What is more spring looking than an array of pastel colors?  Five minutes later, (seriously, five minutes later), these perfect treats were chilling away in the fridge.

    Tuesday 11 April 2017

    Creamy Coconut Mini Tarts #EasterRecipes

    It's no secret that I love coconut.  I can't get enough of it!   I was thinking about how awesome it would be to have a bite-sized little coconut pie.  I've seen recipes where people use sugar cookies as a mini crust.  I was thinking of this late one night when I should have been sleeping.   I had a batch of sugar cookie dough that I hadn't used sitting in my freezer.  I know, that's weird.  One day I was on a mission to make some cookie cut-outs but got distracted by another project, so into the freezer it went.  Perfect.  I popped it into the fridge to thaw when this idea struck me, and by the next afternoon it was ready to work with.

    This beautiful little cup is everything I imagined it would be and more.  It is truly a bite-sized little coconut-cream-pie-sugar-cookie piece of perfection.  These would be a fantastic dessert for a spring brunch, or a baby or bridal shower.  They're light and fluffy and look so pretty on display.  They make a big batch of 48, so they're perfect for a crowd.

    Friday 31 March 2017

    Thai Quinoa Salad

    I first made this salad last summer for our annual stampede BBQ.  The original recipe actually comes from Campbell's (yup, the soup).  Over the course of the summer I tweaked the ingredients and quantities used to suit my tastes.   Then, winter hit us hard.  I sort of forgot about this delicious little salad because the slow cooker and warm, comforting dishes took over this household.

    Monday 13 March 2017

    Brownie Mint Cream Cheesecake

    Brownies.  Oh...chewy, rich, delectable brownies.  I have to say they rank right up near the top of my all-time favorite desserts.  Or dessert components.  That's right...I often break desserts up into components when I think about them.  Take for example, any pie.  You've got the crust component. The filling component.  And then a top-crust component.  Or maybe that top-crust is a meringue.  Or maybe it is a streusel.  Or maybe it is some sort of whipped topping component.  Who knows?   What I do know is that there are probably millions of potential combinations of crust/filling/topping components.  Throw on some kind of a garnish such as toasted coconut or chocolate shavings and there's another component.   I'm no mathematician, but that is a frighteningly obscene number of delicious options out there just waiting for us to taste.

    I'm rambling.  My point is simply that the brownie is a magical dessert option, either alone, or as a component.  In this case, I used it as a base component to this super quick, no bake deliciousness that I have called the Brownie Mint Cream Cheesecake.  You're welcome.

    Tuesday 7 March 2017

    Crusty Homemade Bread

    I came across this delightful little bread recipe over the weekend.  It came up on my Facebook feed, and it jumped out at me immediately.  This is an unbelievably simple and delicious five ingredient bread from Taste of Home.  That's right, this isn't my recipe.  I wish I could take credit, because it's so awesome. Seeing this on Saturday was perfect, because it has been awhile since I baked bread, and I haven't participated in a Taste of Home Tuesday since last year.  So here we go..... if you're scared of bread, don't be.  I've made lots of it, and this is one of the simplest (yet best) bread recipes I can recall!   The outside is so crispy, and the inside is so soft and chewy.

    My take on Crusty Homemade Bread from Taste of Home

    Friday 3 March 2017

    Mint Sprinkle Ice Cream

    Mint ice cream is right up there on my list of favorite ice creams.  It seems I've only ever posted about all of this frozen deliciousness in the winter.  The never-ending western Canadian winter.    I've said it before though.... ice cream has no season.  (see Tiger Ice Cream and Ginger Maple Pecan Ice Cream)

    So here I am, with snow on the ground, making more ice cream.  My daughter asked for the "minty" ice cream.  We JUST finished the last of the 5 different quarts of ice cream we made for her ice-cream themed birthday party, so I was totally prepared with my captain-no-fun-mom response of N-O.   Then it dawned on's March.  March means St. Patrick's Day.  Green minty ice cream would be so festive.  And you know what would amp up the festiveness even more?  Rainbow chocolaty bits!   I also have an abundance of this item in my pantry due to the ice cream themed birthday party that took place in mid-January.  (See....Ice cream has no season!)  Buckle up everyone, this is gonna blow your mind.  The recipe below is for a half batch, which is actually perfect because after it churns it makes just under 3 cups. That is the perfect amount to have a treat, but not have it linger in your freezer and tempting you every night after the kids go to bed.  That is serious business.

    Minty Ice Cream
    -1 cup heavy whipping cream
    -1 cup half and half cream
    -1/2 cup sugar
    -1/2 tsp mint extract
    -Green food coloring paste (such as Wilton), as desired.
    -1/3 cup assorted rainbow sprinkles OR mini chocolate chips (if you're not looking to create a festive Leprechaun-ish batch)

    -Whisk together the creams, sugar, extract, and desired amount of food paste (a little goes a long way!)
    -Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions. Mine takes about 25 to 30 minutes.  Just before it is complete, slowly pour in sprinkles and process just until combined.   Don't add them too early, or the colors will run.
    -Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for approximately 4 hours, until firm.


    Sunday 5 February 2017

    Brownie Maraschino Cheesecake Bars

    I've been playing around with cheesecakes involving brownies and mint, but I took a break from that to try and create something a lot more seasonal looking.  With Valentine's Day approaching, I went searching through my kitchen for things pink, red and white.  Luckily, I always have ample cream cheese, and I had a jar of maraschino cherries leftover from Christmas.   I threw together the brownie base I've been experimenting with and BOOM.  These lovely little treats were born.  Cut them small because they are deliciously rich.

    Brownie Maraschino Cheesecake Bars

    Thursday 2 February 2017

    Winter Comfort Food from Taste of Home's 100 Family Meals

    It's the end of January, and it feels like it has been a long winter so far.  You wouldn't think it, because as I write this the temperature outside is well above freezing.  The snow is melting and the streets are slushy.  However, this was NOT the case for nearly the entire month of December, and at least the first ten days of January.  During those cold snaps, I cooked a LOT of comfort food for my family.  I prepared a lot of the usual suspects that we love (such as chili, slow cooked pasta sauces, and short ribs to name a few).  I realize as I listed that I don't have any of them on my blog.  They seem so ordinary because I make them so regularly that I never think to write about them.

    This post serves double duty today.  First, I want to share three recipes that scream cold weather comfort food to me.  If there's one thing I know about living in Alberta, it's that it WILL get cold again, despite the fact that it's gorgeous out today.

    Tuesday 10 January 2017

    Quinoa Caprese Salad with Chickpeas

    Happy New Year!

    It's over a full week into the New Year.  I ate my body weight in delicious food over a week-long span from December 23rd until January 1.  I felt sad to get rid of our beautiful Christmas tree.... to not have someone to go and see, or have someone come and visit on a daily basis, but normal life has to go on.  Along with resuming a normal routine means getting back on track and not eating a pound of chocolate a day.  Or filling my belly with cream cheese or meat-laden appies until I can barely breathe.  Less wine.  Less beer.  Less rum.  Gasp!   Oh glorious holiday season....I'll miss you.

    So, moving along... What is the polar opposite of chocolate, eggnog and cream cheese?   Quinoa. Vegetables.  Legumes.   I know, it sounds so sad.  Trust me though, this salad will make you feel like it's all going to be okay.   It will feel refreshing to eat normally again.  Routine is better :)

    To me, quinoa is like pasta or rice but with less guilt.  I feel like I'm eating a not-so-great-for-me white carbohydrate when I eat it.  I've successfully tricked my taste-buds!  I often make a Greek version of quinoa salad, but this time I had slightly different ingredients on hand.   This past week my fridge had some lonely looking grape tomatoes, a few sad little basil leaves, and a container of mini bocconcini that hadn't gotten used over Christmas.  I combined all of these with a little lemon, balsamic vinegar, quinoa and my fave add-in, the mighty chickpea, and this salad was born:

    You will need:
    1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
    1 cup water or low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
    1 can (19oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    1 container (130g) mini bocconcini
    1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
    1/3 cup coarsely chopped basil
    2 tbsp lemon juice
    1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp oregano
    coarsely ground pepper, to taste

    -Bring quinoa and water (or broth) to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for approx 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  Allow to fully cool.

    -Combine cooled quinoa, chickpeas, bocconcini, tomatoes and basil in a medium sized bowl.   In a measuring cup, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, oregano and pepper.  Drizzle over quinoa mixture and lightly toss.  Serve immediately and refrigerate any leftovers.