About This Blog

I like food. A lot. In this blog, I will divulge all my delicious recipes, giving you a full list of ingredients, step-by-step instructions, and notes to help you successfully make the dish. Feel free to try these at home, and let me know how it went in the comments for the dish! If you have any questions, I will answer them as quickly as possible. If you use my recipe and discuss it on your site, please link back to this blog. Happy eating!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The "Use Your Leftover Beef" Tortilla

We recently made my fantastic Velveeta Mac and Beef casserole (which you can see in a previous post), and I had a bunch of leftover ground beef. I needed to find something to do with it.
So we decided to make a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, mozzarella cheese, and (for me) jalepeños. It was fantastic and delicious and very heartwarming after a long day at work.
So really, this post is not so much a recipe, as a discussion about leftovers.
I think breakfast burritos work really well for leftover beef -- eggs and beef go so well together!
But I think that the best way to think about leftovers is not just to eat them as they were originally cooked, but to try and turn them into something else! Hence the burrito.
How do you use your leftovers? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Dessert Tower

I made this dessert something like a year ago, before I started this blog, and the photo went into the archive, never to be seen again...
Until I saw it, like a flash! on Richard's screensaver. And that's when I realized this treasure must be dug up and revealed to the world.
So here it is; the dessert tower. Built with layer on layer of deliciousness, it's fun, messy, and awesome for any time of year.

1 package puff pastry sheets
1 package Jell-O instant vanilla pudding
1 container Cool Whip, thawed
1 container blueberries

Cook puff pastry according to box instructions.
Make pudding according to box instructions.
Allow puff pastry to cool to handling temperature and cut sheets into squares.
Stack Dessert Tower as desired, using pudding, Cool Whip, and berries.

As with every dessert, this one has a lot of room for some wiggle. Different flavours of pudding can be used, different berries. Chocolate chunks can be placed in the Cool Whip. Experiment with your Tower, and let me know how it goes!
Be sure to serve/eat the Towers just after assembling, or the pastry can get soggy.
This is a great party dessert! Simply cook and cut the pastry and set on a table with all kinds of fixin's. Let your guests assemble their own Towers for maximum delicious happiness!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Thanks for reading!
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them below. Don't forget to let me know how your Tower turned out!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Blondies With Dark Chocolate and Chopped Almonds

I've sort of been in the mood to bake recently. I've been dwelling on the idea of chocolate. Chocolate cookies. Chocolate cake. Chocolate everything.
But I couldn't decide what to make, so I put it off. Finally, today, shopping day, I made my decision; I wanted to make something I haven't done before. Something amazing and delicious and new.
Enter the Blondie.
I've never made blondies. In fact, I've rarely had them. Still, they have a certain charm to them that I cannot resist. So, when we went shopping, I picked up some extra butter. It turns out it was the only ingredient I really needed, although now I am out of brown sugar...
These are so fun and delicious, and mine are extra thick -- I used a 8x8 pan instead of a 13x9, since I don't own the latter (*hint hint Christmas gift! hint hint*). As a result, the cooking time was a little longer than I expected, but it worked out perfectly. The consistency is great, the flavours are wonderful, and they fulfilled my need to bake.
So, without further ado...!

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted completely
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
dark chocolate drops (optional)
chopped raw almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 Celsius).
Grease and flour baking pan.
Add brown sugar to mixing bowl. Melt butter completely, and add to sugar, stirring until the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.
As sugar mixture is cooling, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl.
Beat eggs and vanilla into sugar mixture, making sure to incorporate completely.
Add flour mixture little by little. Mix until batter becomes thick.
Add chips and nuts, as desired.
Pour batter into baking dish, making sure to spread evenly.
Bake between 20-25 minutes (13x9) or 35-40 minutes (8x8), or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Allow blondie cake to cool in pan for about 5-10 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely, cut and serve.

Play around with the additions to your blondies. For example, you can do a butterscotch-walnut combo, or use multiple chocolates.
I used a secret ingredient in mine to make them extra delicious, but I can't tell you what it is!! Play around with flavours in your blondies -- add spices or extracts that you think will work well.

Thank you for reading! I hope I've inspired you to be a little adventurous in the kitchen!
If you have any questions or comments about this recipe, please leave them below.
Do forget to follow this blog to learn about all the yummy things happening in my kitchen!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Independence Day Done Different: Chicken Spring Rolls and Spicy Mushroom Soup

So, the fourth of July was last week (this post would have come sooner had I not spent Friday to Tuesday in New York with family). For foreigners who don't know, this is the day that we have deemed Independence Day, where we celebrate the birth of America as we know it (sort of) by grilling, swimming, and drinking beer.
Richard and I have been doing a lot of the grilling thing this summer, eating many a hot dog and cheeseburger (or more accurately, BISON cheeseburgers) as the result of my friend Nichole coming over for dinner a lot. Usually she wants food and offers to buy stuff, so I try to stick to the easy stuff.
As a result of the frequent grilling, I decided to break the rules of Independence Day and make spring rolls. I teased my Facebook friends with this photograph, taken from my phone after shopping for the meal:

Now, I had never made spring rolls before, so I was a little concerned about using the rice papers in which the innards would be wrapped. As it turns out, the worry was a little premature, as they were fairly easy to manipulate.
Since I had never made spring rolls before, I debated for a long while as to whether I would make crispy (deep fried) rolls, or fresh ones. These each require different techniques to be employed, and I had to make sure I was able to make the best dish possible with my available equipment. So I went with fresh.
Another thing I was concerned with was dipping sauces, which I'll discuss a little later. The short version is I wanted a sauce for the spicy food lovers (i.e. mostly just me) and something sweet for basically everyone else.
That said, let's get down to the nitty gritty:

Fresh Spring Rolls:
Boneless chicken tenders
Green leaf lettuce (Note: I picked up a head from the organic section of my grocery. Keep in mind that it's not iceberg lettuce we're using here -- Green leaf has considerably less water, and generally doesn't come in the neatly packed head of lettuce you find packaged)
Carrots, cut into thin strips
Green onions, chopped
Fresh Cilantro
1 package spring roll wrappers

Cook chicken tenders thoroughly in butter or oil, using salt and pepper to season, to taste. Be careful not to char the outside, but do brown it a little.
When cooked, let chicken rest and cool for five minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut into strips.
Soak spring roll wrapper in water until it becomes pliable. Place on a paper towel to remove excess water.
Place green leaf lettuce on wrapper, add chicken, carrots, onion, and a spring of cilantro on top.
Garnish with sliced fresh cucumber.

Mushroom soup
1 to 1.5 pounds mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin
1.5 inches fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
32 oz (4 cups) low sodium vegetable stock
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Ground white pepper
Ground mustard seeds
Butter or oil
Rice noodles

Warm butter or oil, garlic, and ginger in large pot.
Add mushrooms to pot and cook until tender, stirring often.
Add stock and seasoning, to taste.
Bring soup to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
Pour soup over rice noodles and serve immediately.

These thin rice noodles work really well -- they cook right when you pour the hot soup on.

Dipping Sauces:
As I mentioned before, I wanted to make dipping sauces for this recipe, so I decided to stay fairly simple. For the sweet sauce, I just watered down a bit of Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory and Brown Sugar BBQ sauce to a better dipping consistency.
The spicy sauce contained House of Tsang Szechuan Spicy Stir Fry sauce, soy sauce, and white pepper, brought to dipping consistency with just a touch of water. It was really delicious. Just the right amount of hot to go with the milder flavours in the spring rolls.

The whole ensemble looked like this:

Ignore all the clutter on my table!

This meal was super delicious, and perfectly light for the hot summer weather of July 4th. This meal is also one of the healthier ones I've made, with lots of veggies to soothe the palate. Overall, this meal was simple to make, delicious to eat, and a wonderful success for a first shot at spring rolls!

Spring rolls are so diverse, so if you choose to make some, play around with your flavours! Chicken is a great protein, but you can try just about anything, from pork to shrimp to tofu for a vegetarian option! 
My best advice for the spring rolls is to be sure you use some sort of herb in them. I used cilantro, but mint would have been a great choice, too. Consider your protein carefully when paring up flavours for your rolls. 
When I made the soup, I actually added ground ginger to it, because I had a hard time tasting it. Whilst strongly tasting the ginger certainly doesn't have to be a goal for you when making this soup, if you want to, I suggest adding some more of the fresh stuff, or just have ground ginger on hand.
White pepper was great for this soup. It has a sharper, more distinct flavour in my experience, especially when you don't have it often. Experiment with the amount -- you might be surprised at how much of the spice suits your fancy!
With dipping sauces, the sky is the limit. Mine are pretty simple, but you can up the ante for yours if you wish. Try making more complex sauces, or heating yours up to give it more character.

As a final note, For anyone who looked at the initial photo and wondered how limes and heavy cream would figure into this recipe, they don't. I made lime possets for dessert, but didn't actually take a photo this time. You can find my recipe for lime possets here

Thanks for reading! I hope these recipes have inspired you to try something new in the kitchen, or to think about food for holidays a little more differently! As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.
Don't forget to follow this blog to learn about all the delicious things happening in my kitchen!

P.S. Over the holiday weekend, I have obtained a pasta crank! I'm so excited to use it, I can barely think straight. Finally, my dream of making butternut squash ravioli can come true!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Grilled Flank Steak With Red Wine Mushroom Sauce

Memorial Day was last Monday, and I wanted to try something new to celebrate.
Momma Brayton gave us a big flank steak at some point (who knows how long ago that was), and I finally took it out of the freezer, thawed it, and seasoned it. But the real reason I made the steak was so I could try my hand at making a red wine mushroom sauce. And it was fantastic.

Flank Steak Marinade
Ground black pepper
Garlic powder
Worcestershire sauce
Dried rosemary

Red Wine Mushroom Sauce
1 package mushrooms
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup low sodium beef broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp butter
Olive oil
Ground black pepper
3 large garlic gloves, minced
Dred thyme

Olive oil
2 medium-sized knobs of butter
Ground black pepper
Dried rosemary
3 large garlic cloves, crushed

One or two days prior to cooking, marinate meat, wrap in plastic wrap, and put in fridge.
Heat grill to medium heat.
Season potatoes in large bowl, excluding butter.
Pour potatoes onto aluminum foil, add butter, and cover with more foil to create a package. Place on grill and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Add flank steak about five minutes after potatoes, and cook to desired doneness.

To Make Sauce:
Add butter, oil, and minced garlic to medium or large pot.
Bring to medium heat and sauté garlic until soft and fragrant.
Add mushrooms, salt, and pepper, and cook until mushrooms are tender, stirring often.
Add thyme and red wine. Cook down until about 50% reduced.
Add beef broth. Cook down until about 75% reduced.
Remove from heat, slowly add heavy cream with stirring. Add more salt and pepper if needed, add parsley.

Don't those potatoes look scrumptious?

Red wine mushroom sauce

We like our steak between rare and medium rare. Look how juicy!

Pay a lot of attention to the sauce. Mushrooms stick to the pot very easily if you don't stir often. One trick you might want to try is just to sauté the mushrooms on a lower heat, and turning it up when you add the wine.
Since I planned this meal last minute, we didn't have the chance to go to the liquor store for straight up wine, and we bought a cooking wine from the grocery store. This worked just as well, but cooking wines often contain salt, so adjust your recipe accordingly. 
If you can't obtain a low-sodium beef broth, you can use regular beef broth but again, adjust the salt you add to the sauce.
Before you add heavy cream, you must remove from heat! The cream can curdle in the presence of high heat.
If you are unsure about the temperature of your meat, cut into it and take a look! Our flank steak had multiple thicknesses, so we had to check the temperature of ours twice.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully you're inspired to make a delicious meal trying new techniques!
If you have any comments or questions, leave them below.
Don't forget to follow this blog to keep up-to-date on all the yummies coming out of my kitchen!

Grilled Chicken Avocado Sandwiches

Richard and I are really into avocado lately, especially after that taco night.
We made this little number for lunch, using marinated chicken tenders. Creamy, delicious, flavourful yumminess ensued.

Cut and trimmed chicken tenders (not breaded)
Swiss cheese
Whole wheat buns

Honey mustard
Ground black pepper
Chili powder
Garlic Powder

Marinate thawed chicken tenders overnight.
Bring grill to medium heat.
Grill marinated tenders until fully cooked, turning once to keep juices in the meat (3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness of tenders).
Assemble sandwich!

This is a very easy-peasy recipe, but it's become one of my favourites. The flavours work so well together, and didn't require any condiments (If you want some, obviously feel free).
Make sure to use an avocado at the correct ripeness. There are some really helpful tools on the Internet that can help you pick the right one from your grocery store.
Mix it up with this sandwich! Add tomato, spinach, or whatever tickles your fancy. For the daring, I recommend a few slices of granny smith apple.

Thank you for reading! I hope this quickie recipe has inspired you to make your own delicious summer sandwich.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Don't forget to follow this blog to keep up-to-date on all the yummies!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Beef and Chicken Taco Bowls

I don't normally buy into holiday hype, falling into making "traditional" foods to celebrate. I don't even celebrate Easter. But lately, thinking about Cinco de Mayo has gotten me pondering my own heritage; far from Mexican, but I can't help but consider some of the Guatemalan foods my father is more accustomed to.
Although things like tacos tend resonate more firmly "Mexican" than anything, my father used to tell us about when he would eat similar foods, made with homemade corn tortillas. I don't have the knowledge to make my own tortillas, but I wanted to give some exploration to my culinary heritage, and what better excuse than Cinco de Mayo?
So I developed a meal plan after reading some recipes, twisting them up, and building my own flavours. I know I haven't shown you any photos yet, but bear with me. The wait is worth it. :)

I wanted to have a variety of tacos/flavours to this dinner. The obvious choices were ground beef and chicken. I thought briefly about adding hot sausage to the mix, but I decided against it. I figured we had enough food with the other two (I was right).
Before I get into the nitty gritty of this dinner, I want to make one note: This would definitely be a fantastic meal for having guests. One could easily run away with the amounts, making enough for one extra guest, or ten, or even more.
So, let's get down to it:

Beef taco mix:
1-1.5 pounds ground beef
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Ground black pepper
Chili powder
Worcestershire sauce

Chicken taco mix:
Boneless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into small pieces
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Honey mustard
Ground black pepper
Chili powder
Garlic powder

4-inch flour tortillas (listed as "Fajita Size" on the package)
Chopped lettuce
Diced plum tomato
Diced avocado
Chopped jalapeño
Shredded mild cheddar cheese

Old Orchard cranberry pomegranate frozen juice concentrate
Fresh blueberries

When chicken breast is thawed, trim and cut into small pieces. Put pieces into a bowl, add enough honey mustard to saturate all pieces. Add salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder as desired, mix thoroughly. Pour chicken onto piece of plastic wrap, wrap up, and put in fridge for two hours (or longer if you want).
When you're ready to cook, start by chopping up all your fixings:

Jalapeños. Or, as I like to call them, Jallies.

Regular old lettuce

Sexy Avocado. Yum; I wish I liked avocado more.

Regular old tomatoes.

Put fixings in the fridge until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).
Warm tortillas in microwave (about 30 seconds per stack of five; flip stack halfway through).
Fold tortillas into cups of muffin pan, being careful not to break them.
Bake tortillas for 10-15 minutes until tops have browned, and cups have hardened into shape. Here's what they'll look like:
Don't they look good already?
Meanwhile, cook chicken and beef in separate pans:
Add garlic and butter or oil to each pan, bring to medium heat.
Add beef to pan, add seasonings as desired.
Add chicken to pan.
Stir meats often, being careful to cook thoroughly.
Transfer chicken to serving bowl.

Scrumptious, yes?
Drain beef of grease, pour into serving bowl.

Berry Spritzers
These drinks were the perfect sweet addition to this flavourful meal; and they were simple to make! Just add some of the juice concentrate to a tall glass, fill with Sprite, and plop some blueberries in. The best part is that the blueberries soak up the mix, so when you eat them at the end, they taste like the fruit and the mix together. Delicious!

Don't they look yummy?

Look at those blueberries, bubbling away.

With all the cooking and prep done, the ensemble looks like this:

The whole shebang on my really messy card table.
Ready to finally see what these bad boys look like, all made up?

Front bowl: beef, cheese, lettuce, and avocado

Chicken bowl: with lettuce, cheese, and jalapeño

These bowls were absolutely delicious! They're fun to make, fun to eat, and a fantastic meal for get togethers. The only minor issue is that they are really messy. I mean, really messy. Keep a plate underneath and a fork on hand!

My pictured taco bowls were only two out of many combinations. Have fun mixing things up; including the meat in a bowl!
Other meats could certainly be used. I'm still wondering what it would have been like to have sausage in there...
We used plain old lettuce and tomatoes, but you can season them up if you want; instead of just tomatoes, make a fresh pico de gallo, or add lime and seasonings to the lettuce just before use.
You'll probably have leftovers -- we have a ton of leftover beef from this recipe -- so find fun ways to use them up. One of my favourite ways is to heat up some beef and put it on a sandwich with fried egg and cheese. Delicious.
If you're doing this meal for a party, ask what people would want for their fixings, or ask them to make some to bring. Getting guests involved in the meal makes everyone enjoy it more.
Of course, you can add salsa to these taco bowls. We decided not to, partially because they were already so flavourful, and partially because they were already so messy!

Thank you for reading! I hope I've inspired you to try this in your own home! If you have any comments or questions about this meal, please leave them below. And don't forget to follow this blog for updates on all the Yummy things happening in my kitchen!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cheesy Velveeta Mac with Ground Beef Casserole

A simple, delicious, cheesy dinner. This is a modification of a version I found a recipe for a while ago in a magazine my mother sent me. The original recipe called for Kraft macaroni and cheese, but I thought it was unfortunately bland, and the beef was dry when using the instructions in the recipe. So I modified it, and it came out way better.
This made a really nice "easy dinner night" meal for my house, but it would also be great as a dish for get togethers. It also goes really nice on flour tortillas!

1 box Velveeta shells and cheese
1 pound lean ground beef
Dried oregano
Ground black pepper
Garlic powder
Worcestershire sauce
Shredded mild cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F (about 175 C).
Cook Velveeta as directed on package.
As pasta cooks, add small amount of butter or oil to fry pan and bring to medium low heat. Add beef.
Add seasonings as desired.
Cook beef until no pink remains. Bring to low heat and stir occasionally.
When pasta is ready, pour into a casserole dish.
Drain beef of grease, add to casserole dish.
Stir mixture in dish until well mixed.
Add shredded cheese to top.
Put in oven and bake between 5 and 10 minutes, or until cheese on top is melted.
Serve with garlic bread or tortillas.

The amounts in this recipe gave two nice-sized bowls as shown in the photo. If served as part of a larger meal, it will yield more servings.
Experiment with the cheesiness of this dish by adding more or less cheese, or different kinds. Since Velveeta cheese is sold in blocks in grocery store dairy sections, you may wish to add slabs of Velveeta for extra creamy cheesiness.
My biggest suggestion is to maintain moisture in the beef, so don't drain/cook off all of the grease. Dry beef can really kill this dish, so take care when you're removing the grease.

If you have any questions or comments about this recipe, feel free to leave them below!
Make sure you subscribe to this blog to keep up to date on all the yummies things happening in my kitchen!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Vegetable Stir Fry with Imitation Crab

Momma Brayton got us a very nice hand-hammered wok for Christmas. It's been sitting on top of our shelf-pantry since then, and I occasionally looked at it and sighed with the dreams of an amazing wok-cooked dinner. And I planned.
And here it is. I finally seasoned the bloody wok and made this spectacular stir fry. This meal has actually lasted multiple days. I usually plate big and then the leftovers get placed in a container.
Anyway, I made the sauce for this mostly by just dumping stuff in, so there are no real measurements. It's "to taste," really!

Stir fry (not sauce)
Button mushrooms, cleaned (These were sold in our supermarket in very small packs, so I got three. You can use larger mushrooms, but quarter them)
Baby carrots, about one half of a package (You can cut these if you wish -- I left them whole)
1 can baby corn, drained
Sticky Asian rice
Chopped fresh garlic -  2 medium cloves
Corn oil (or other oil)

Low sodium soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Iron Chef General Tso sauce and glaze
House of Tsang Szechuan spicy stir-fry sauce
Sesame seeds

One package imitation crab meat
1 good-sized knob of unsalted butter
Sesame seeds

Follow rice package instructions to make rice. Use a rice cooker if possible. Begin cooking rice before starting stir fry.
Add enough oil to wok to cover bottom. Bring heat up to medium-high. When oil is hot, add garlic.
Add carrots, turning heat down slightly. Carefully add small amount of water, soy sauce, and Worcestershire, and stir constantly for two minutes. Allow liquids to steam carrots on medium/medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, melt butter in large pan and add crab. Pan fry at medium-low heat, tossing occasionally.
When carrots are sufficiently steamed, add baby corn and mushrooms. Add a very small amount of water, more soy. Steam, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
Add sauce ingredients to discretion, saving sesame seeds until last. Stir thoroughly and very often.
Serve immediately, adding remainder of sauce to the top of the dish.

Imitation crab is entirely optional to this dish. You can substitute anything else.
More or different vegetables can be added to this dish, as long as you adjust for their cooking. For example, cooking time will be reduced if you omit carrots or cut them.
Some other vegetables you might want to add include: peppers, water chestnuts, bok choy, or onions.
My sauce had a nice sweet and spicy flavour that didn't detract from the natural flavours of the vegetables. Adjust your sauce as desired.

If you have any comments or questions about this recipe, feel free to leave them below. Don't forget to follow this blog to keep updated on all the delicious things happening in my kitchen!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Creamy Hungarian Mushroom Soup

We had so many mushrooms! Usually, we just cook them up with something, but lately, I've been in a Using-Mushrooms Slump.
Whilst searching for some healthy soups on the Internet, I stumbled upon a recipe similar to the one I used. Since I modified it slightly, I will post my recipe here. I was super excited when I read the original -- it sounded delicious, and the photo included sealed the deal (Check out the original recipe here). Also, this would not only use up our mushrooms, but we actually had to buy another package for it!
So here's the recipe: I will write my version first, and then write variations, including one for vegetarian eaters.

1 1/2 pounds of mushrooms, washed and cut thinly (Yes. That much)
1/2 of small sweet onion, diced
7 medium to large red potatoes, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 tbsp dill weed
2 tbsp Paprika (Preference is for Hungarian Paprika, see notes below)
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
about 3/4 tsp salt
about 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups low-fat milk
Olive oil

Mix spices and flour in a small dish and set aside.
Pour olive oil into a large pot and bring to medium heat.
Add mushrooms and onion; stir constantly. When water begins to fill the pot, turn heat up to medium-high. Reduce stirring, and allow water to evaporate; about 10-15 minutes.
Add potatoes, spice/flour mixture, broth, and milk.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are cooked through and tender.
Serve immediately with whole wheat rolls or light salad.

Hungarian Paprika is preferred because it gives the soup a fuller, richer flavour. We were able to find it in our regular Giant Eagle supermarket, so keep an eye out for it at your own local grocery store.
For a more vegetarian dish, use vegetable broth instead of beef.
The original recipe calls for sour cream to be added at the end. This can thicken the soup and give it a little bit of acidity. If you decide to add it to this recipe, add 1/2 cup at the very end, but BE CAREFUL. If sour cream is added to a very hot substance, it tends to curdle. Instead, take the pot off the heat, let it sit for about a minute, and slowly add the sour cream, with plenty of stirring.
This soup is already full of complex and wonderful flavours, but you can mix it up by varying the amount or kinds of spices to add.
It's super important to stir the mushrooms and onion constantly at the very beginning of this recipe -- even with plenty of oil, there is a risk of sticking to the bottom of the pot.

If you have any questions or comments about this recipe, please feel free to leave them below!
Don't forget to follow this blog and get all the latest recipes coming out of my kitchen!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Beef and Vegetable Soup

Have I mentioned how much I like soup lately?
Since my friend went to Philadelphia for five days, she gave me some meat that she was worried would go bad whilst she was away. One of those things was a package of grass-fed beef for stews. So there's only one logical thing to do, right?
I developed this recipe after reading about twenty other ones, taking some of the ideas that were recurring, and adding a few touches of my own. The result was a filling soup with intensely flavourful broth that doesn't overpower the flavours of the solid components.

Stew beef, cut into smaller bite-sized pieces
One bag baby carrots, cut in half
Ten red potatoes, peeled and cubed
Market District Beef Stock
4 mid-sized garlic cloves, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
Worcestershire sauce
Butter or olive oil
Salt, ground black pepper, dried rosemary to taste

Melt butter in large pot over medium heat, heat garlic for roughly twenty seconds.
Add beef and enough Worcestershire sauce to cover pot bottom. Simmer beef in sauce until nearly cooked through.
Add carrots and potatoes, followed by stock and bay leaf. Add seasonings and more Worcestershire to taste.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Remove bay leaf and serve.

Notes: I know that it is common to use bay leaves in a soup that simmers for a prolonged time period, but in this case, using it in a fifteen minute soup allowed just enough flavour to be incorporated that it didn't clash with the other flavours.
I didn't actually measure how much Worcestershire sauce I used in the second half of this recipe. I sort of just dumped it in, let it simmer a bit, and based it on the smell. Since I wanted a stronger broth, I added quite a bit. If you want a milder flavoured broth, add less Worcestershire.

If you have any questions or comments about this recipe, please feel free to leave them below. Be sure to follow this blog so that you can get all the latest delicious updates!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cappuccino Cookies with Chocolate Drops

My latest culinary experiment comes in the form of these two little gems; the cappuccino cookies. I've been meaning to try out this recipe for a long while, but I haven't had the motivation. Since today has gone awry in dumbfounding ways, I decided it was time for some happiness, in the form of fattening, delicious treats.

1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/4 cup corn syrup (I actually don't have that. I used a common substitute -- 1/4 cup of honey)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp instant coffee powder
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Dark chocolate drops (optional)

Beat brown sugar and butter at medium speed in an electric mixer until well blended.
Add eggs, corn syrup (or honey), vanilla, and coffee. Beat until well blended and fluffy.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a separate bowl.
Add dry mixture gradually to wet mixture until well blended.
Divide dough in half, rolling each half into a log about two inches in diameter.
Wrap in wax paper and freeze for two hours.
Heat oven to 350F (about 175C).
Cut dough logs into one-inch thick slices.
Place cookies on lightly greased cookie sheet, place a chocolate drop in the centre of each cookie, and bake for twelve minutes or until golden brown.
Cool for two minutes on sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Notes: This recipe made thirty-two cookies, in my case. They come out nice and thick, with a light crisp on the edge, and soft in the middle. the chocolate drop is a very nice touch to the light coffee flavour of the cookie (I made some without the drop).
You can choose to cut them thinner if you wish, just be sure to adjust the baking time accordingly.
This cookie is really nice when dipped very quickly in a spot of milk. It soaks up the liquid very nicely and retains the flavour, making a great cookie even better.
I would recommend this to people who don't even like coffee, since the flavour isn't overwhelmingly strong. I imagine it would be a fantastic breakfast treat for anyone who doesn't have the time to make something before work or school.

If you have any questions or comments about the recipe, please feel free to leave them below.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Roasted Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Another soup, since I spent a lot of fall and this winter being in love with soups. This one took a little more time, since we oven roasted the vegetables.

Ingredients: 1 sweet potato, peeled and halved
                     1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
                     4 shallots, peeled and halved
                     olive oil
                     5-6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
                     chicken stock (About one container, or 3-4 cups)
                     salt, ground black pepper
                     heavy cream (optional)
                     snipped chives, for garnish

Directions: Heat oven to 375F (190C)
                   Brush cut side of sweet potato, squash, and shallots with olive oil and place on non-stick baking pan (i.e. cookie sheet). Distribute garlic gloves amongst them.
                   Roast vegetables for about 30-40 minutes, or until tender. Allow to cool briefly.
                   Spoon flesh away from squash halves, cut sweet potato, and peel garlic cloves.
                   Add vegetables to large pot containing stock and bring to a boil.
                   Add salt and pepper, to taste.
                   Simmer for about 10--15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
                   Transfer soup to blender and blitz until smooth (This may need to be done in batches).
                   Transfer soup back to rinsed pot on low heat, add heavy cream and more seasoning, if needed.
                   Serve with snipped chives and ground black pepper as garnish.

Notes: This soup was amazing. The robust taste of the roasted vegetables really gave a hearty feeling to the meal, and made us looking for more.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please let me know! Give us a follow, and be the first to know when we cook up something delicious!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hot Sausage Burgers with Homemade French Fries

We have a TON of sausage in the house. In the summer, Momma Brayton brought us something like five packages of sausages -- four of links and one of patties. They're the big package of links, too, with like, twenty sausages in them. We are down to two packages of links. I keep trying to find new ways to use them, so I, personally, don't get bored of sausage forever.
Since it's winter now, we don't use our grill -- we brought it into the apartment for the colder months. Still, when I was thinking about dinner this afternoon, it came to me -- we can put those patties to use. So, here's how we did it.

Ingredients: 1 package of hot sausage patties
                     5 Russet potatoes
                     Cheese (we used pepper jack for this)
                     Fresh, soft Kaiser rolls
                     Olive oil
                     Salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 425F (about 220C).
                   Wash potatoes. Cut into strips, keeping them thin so cooking time can be kept short.
                   Place strips in large bowl, coat with olive oil and seasonings.
                   Place strips on cookie sheets (You may wish to grease these -- we had to).
                   Bake for 25-35 minutes, until browned on the edges, turning over once.
                   Whilst potatoes cook, add butter or oil to a nonstick pan and bring to medium-low to medium heat.
                   Cook patties, turning once (should be about 5-8 minutes per side, based on pan heat and thickness of patty). If needed, cut patty open to check for doneness -- undercooked pork can cause illness, so be sure to cook thoroughly!
                   Reduce heat slightly, add cheese and allow to melt. Move to Kaiser roll.
                   Serve whilst still hot. Add extra seasoning to fries if desired.

Notes: The recipe here is for two servings, which consisted of two patties, and a bowl of fries. Five good-sized potatoes will make more than two servings, and we stored the rest in the refrigerator. Further, if your cookie sheets are way better than my abused old guys, you might not have to grease those, so operate at your discretion.
           As always, exercise caution when cooking pork -- it cannot be cooked to different degrees, like beef, and eating undercooked pork can make you very ill, so always be sure to double check for doneness!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup

This was the first soup I ever made. Really, I'm not a very big soup person, so it has to be really good for me to want it. Since I had never made soup before, and every time my old boss made it, everyone loved it, I decided I wanted to give it a go. There are a lot of ways to add variety to this dish, so I'll first note how I make it, and then tell you how you can adjust it for yourself.

Ingredients: 1 butternut squash; peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes
                     1/2 cup diced sweet onion
                     3/4 cup diced carrot
                     1 large, or 2-3 mid-sized garlic cloves, diced
                     1 small knob of butter (about 1/2 tsp)
                     Olive oil (about 3-4 tbsp)
                     3-4 cups vegetable stock
                     Salt, ground black pepper, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, to taste

Directions: Add butter, olive oil, and garlic to a large pot, and put under medium heat for about 20-30 seconds after butter melts. At this point, the smell of garlic will be much stronger.
                   Add onions, and sauté until tender. Add carrots and squash, followed by vegetable stock.
                   Bring soup to a boil, add seasonings (I usually start with about a teaspoon each), boil for thirty seconds, reduce heat, and simmer for about fifteen (15) minutes or until squash is tender.
                   Carefully add soup contents to a blender and puree. This should be done in batches, and may require a separate pot. Make sure the soup is thoroughly pureed, and place back over low heat.
                   Carefully taste soup and add more seasoning, as needed. Serve immediately with biscuits, croissants, garlic bread, or other bread.

Note: If your soup is not quite as thick as you would like it, you can add heavy cream to it after it has been blitzed. Be sure to add it over low heat, with constant stirring to allow the soup to thicken up.
         Many would not think cinnamon is a good seasoning for this soup, but I find that it adds a level of complexity to the flavour that is both interesting and delicious, as it gives a little bit of sweetness to the nutty hints of this very autumn-y soup.
         One very common variation is to roast the squash. Although I have not done this for this recipe, I have roasted vegetables for a soup, and it definitely changes the flavour. If you do this, cut the squash in fours (two halves for the stem and two halves for the bulb), and remove the seeds. Coat the flat (face-down) sides with olive oil. Roast in an oven preheated to 350F (about 180C) for 20-25 minutes, or until the flesh is tender and be scooped from the skin easily (Be sure to allow the squash to cool a bit so you don't burn yourself!). This can then be added to the soup at the appropriate step.
        This soup can be garnished with snipped chives if desired. Additionally, fresh ground black pepper can be used. We're too poor for a pepper mill right now, so we have the pre-ground stuff, but definitely use fresh-ground if you can -- it will enhance the flavour afforded by the spice.

Lime Posset with Raspberries

I wanted to start this blog off with something sweet and delicious. There are few things I love more in the world than scouring the Internet and magazines for new recipes I can learn. Cooking and baking is one of my favourite things to do, and I love food! So the first recipe I'll start with is the posset. Very easy, very quick, and great to make in advance.

Ingredients: 200 ml (about one pint) of heavy cream
                     4 tbsp granulated sugar (caster sugar will work, too, but I use granulated)
                     The juice of three limes
                     The zest of one lime
                     Raspberries, for garnish

Directions: Zest one lime. Set aside.
                    Roll each lime on a table or countertop, pressing firmly with your hand. This will make the lime easy to juice via the squeezing method. Use a citrus juicer if you have one. If juicing by hand, place a strainer over a container to keep pulp out of the juice. Set juice aside.
                    In a small saucepan, pour heavy cream and add sugar. Over medium to medium-high heat, bring mixture to just boiling, and stir constantly for two and a half minutes.
                    Remove from heat. Add juice and zest, stir.
                    Divide mixture between two ramekins.
                    Place ramekins in refrigerator and chill. Minimum chilling time should be between four and five hours. Leaving overnight allows for complete setting of the dish.
                    Before serving, place fresh raspberries on the set surface.

Notes: This recipe can be done with a variety of fruits, namely lemons and even oranges.
            If the boiling mixture is not constantly stirred for the full two and a half minutes, the sugar may not fully dissolve. Further, the heavy cream may become overheated or even burn.
            There is room for creativity in this recipe. I once made this with a homemade pomegranate syrup. Although there was no zest to strengthen the flavour, the posset had the nice reserved taste of the syrup, making for a calmer-tasting treat.
          If this dish sits at room temperature for an extended period, it will begin to soften, and sort of melt, so keep this in the fridge until it's serving time!