Saturday, December 31, 2011

Quinoa with black beans and mushrooms

It's almost a new year so that means new resolutions about eating healthier and exercising more. I can't help you with the exercise part but here's an easy recipe featuring quinoa and beans which will increase your fibre intake and if you use it as an entree you can skip a red meat serving!

3/4 c quinoa
1 can black beans
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup corn kernels
4 cloves garlic, chopped small
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 c water
1/2 c white wine
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
2 tsp oil
2 tsp butter

What to do
1. In a large pot, add oil and butter to sauté onions and mushrooms over medium heat for 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic, ginger,cumin,chipotle and salt and pepper. Sauté for 1 minute.
3. Add quinoa, water and wine.
4. Bring to boil.
5. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
6. Add beans and corn and heat for additional 5 minutes.
7. Serve.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

How was your Christmas? Merry, I hope!

I know many of us will have a tonne of leftovers. For me, the best part of Christmas leftovers are turkey sandwiches and turkey pot pie! Here is an easy recipe for pot pie. I like a thick and hearty filling so I use leftover gravy and pretty much any other leftover veggies. The crust uses frozen butter to create the flakiest crust that you will ever taste.

2-1/2 c flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup frozen butter
12 tbsp ice cold water

2 c turkey, chopped
1/2 c carmelized onions
1 c cooked yams, diced
1/2 c carrots
1/2 c peas
any other veggies you have left from dinner could also be added
1-1/2 c gravy

What to do

  • In a large bowl, stir or whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.
  • Using a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour bowl. (this is not fun, but well worth it)
  • Toss the butter and flour mixture together.
  • Add the ice water by the tbsp so evenly spread over butter-flour mixture.
  • Using your hands (take off your rings!), mix and knead the mixture until it comes together in a smooth ball.
  • Divide the dough in two, wrap each in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate at least an hour, perferably overnight.


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, gebtly mix all of your left overs together. Season as required.
  • Take dough out of fridge and let warm up slightly so you can more easily work with it (15 minutes).
  • Flour your working surface and your rolling pin.
  • Roll out the first wrapped dough so it fits into the bottom of the 9 inch glass or ceramic pie plate.
  • Add the turkey mixture.
  • Roll out the second half of the dough and place on top of pie.
  • Tightly crimp the edges of the two layers of dough together so they form a tight seal.
  • Slice four vent holes in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape.
  • Bake for 60 minutes.
  • If you find the crust browning too much wrap edges in foil.
  • Let sit 10-15 minutes before serving.

Note: Any leftovers should be reheated in the oven as microwaving it will make the crust soggy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thumb Print Cookie Recipe

Thumbprint cookies are so simple and easy to make. They are also the perfect recipe when the kids want to help in the kitchen. Their little thumbs are the perfect size for making the needed jam holder!

Makes about 20 delicious cookies.

1-1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups  flour
3/4 cup jam (any flavor)

What to do
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
  • In a large mixing  bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
  • Beat in egg yolks, vanilla and salt.
  • In another bowl whisk flour and salt. 
  • Gently combine flour and salt into creamed ingredient bowl.
  • Form dough into 1-inch diameter balls.
  • Place 2 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets.
  • Press down center of each with your thumb or back of spoon.
  • Fill centers with about 1 teaspoon of your jam.
  • Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.
  • Cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reindeer Kit Kat and M&M Cake

I saw this cake on Pinterest last year and put it in my mental recipe box for this Christmas.  I didn't save the recipe but, to be honest, you don't need one. It's all about the decorating! I have had a tonne of compliments on this cake but anyone can do it. I used a 2 layer, 10 inch round chocolate cake that I made from scratch but you can use a cake mix, a smaller diameter cake, or any flavour you desire. Again, I used homemade chocolate frosting but store bought would save time (and let's face it, who isn't time crunched this month???)

It took about 8 kit kats to cover the outside of the cake (you'll have to break the bars into "2s" to easily shape to the outside of the cake). I used about 3 cups of mint M&Ms to top the cake. I found the "pooping" reindeer at a local grocery store and I am not sure if itis available outside of Canada??? But any cute toy or bigger chocolate would work (I also bought a 4 or 5 inch chocolate bear from Lindt that will be gracing the top of my next kit kat cake.) I tied it with cute ribbon and voila a super festive cake was completed!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reindeer Cake Pops

1 9-inch round or square cake, I used chocolate
3/4 c icing, I used store bought vanilla
24, 6-inch lollipop sticks
1 package chocolate melting candy
30 or more pretzels, I used chocolate covered ones
red smarties
edible ink pen
small candies for eyes
Styrofoam to stick pops into so they stand up

I'd be totally lying if I said these were easy! They are not. The crumbling of the cake and forming the little balls of cake mush is easy and the melting of the candy coating isn't too hard either. Coating the deer heads takes a little finesse and a few practice runs. BUT those damn antlers put me on Santa's naughty list for sure -thanks to the expletives that came out of my mouth while trying to find a way to easily attach them to the heads!! Hopefully, Santa will forgive me!

(The Christmas tree cake pops that I made last year were waaaaay easier to make so I recommend that recipe if you are nervous or a cake pop virgin.)
These are adapted from Bakerella's beautiful reindeer cake pops.
What to do
1. Crumble cake by hand into a sand like consistency (if you have a few hard end pieces that don't want to crumble, eat them - or use a food processor).
2. For me the key to cake pops is adding the right amount of icing - too much and you end up with a sickly, sweet ball of mush. But add the right amount and they will be loved by kids and adults! I start with 1/2 cup of icing and mix it in with a silicone spatula. Often I will end up adding another 1/4 cup of icing so that the mixture is just "wet" enough to just stick together when formed into a ball.
3. Using a 1 inch cookie scooper, I form the cake mixture into 20-24 balls (I also use kitchen latex gloves so it isn't so messy) and place them on a cookie sheet.
4. Refrigerate the balls for at least 20 minutes but preferably an hour so that they harden up a bit.
5. Melt candy coating according to directions. (gotta be honest and say that I melt them over very low direct heat.)
6. Add 2 tbsp of vegtable shortening - this will thin the candy coating a little. If it is still too thick add a bit more shortening.

7. Get your lollipop sticks out. Take one stick and dip one end in the candy coating (1cm or 1/2 inch) and then poke it into the cake ball. Push it in so it is at least 3/4 of the way into the ball. Place back on cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining balls.

8. Place all of the balls back in fridge for 15 minutes.

9. Get a piece of styrofoam ready.

10.Remove from fridge and, one-at-a-time, dip the cake pops into the candy coating. Make sure the whole ball is covered. Gently tap off any extra coating.

11. Place the coated cake pop into the styrofoam so it stands up and can dry. Repeat with all of the remaining balls.

12. The candy should dry rather quickly or you can place them back in the fridge until you are ready to finish them.

13. Here is where you will learn from my frustration. To affix the antlers, cut pretzels in half (or not - I did both ways - half and full). Now, using some melted candy coating, place some of it on a spoon or in a little bowl. You want it to start to firm up a little - this way it will dry rather quickly and you won't be stuck holding the antlers on those cute little heads for an eternity while it dries. I tried sticking the antlers through the chocolate with limited success - sometimes the pressure cracks the coating. So, once the coating starts to firm up, dip the end of an antler into the coating and using it as "glue" stick it to the cake ball head.

14. For the eyes, I used some small white round sprinkles I had on hand. To add the pupil I used a black colored edible ink pen.

15. The nose is a red smartie. Both are added using a little bit of candy coating glue, just like the antlers.