Sunday, December 30, 2012

Spinach Arugula Salad with Pomegranate, Blue Cheese and Pistachios

This salad is so simple but so good! You can add beautiful and impressive to its description too! I dress it with a store bought creamy balsamic vinegar dressing (by Okanagan Falls) but I'm sure other dressings will work too.

I love the way the pomegranate seeds burst with their juice inside your mouth, the creaminess of the tangy blue cheese on your tongue and the crunchiness of the pistachios...mmmm.

I've listed amounts in the recipe but really guys, it's a salad. Just put in the amounts you have on hand or whatever feels right.

Serves 6


4 cups spinach leaves
4 cups arugula
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup roasted pistachios (I use salted ones from Trader Joe's)
seeds from 2 medium pomegranates (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup dressing of your choice (more or less depending on your tastes)


Toss everything together. Divide and serve.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snowman Hershey Kiss Cake - An easy way to decorate a Christmas themed cake!

Candy Cane Hershey Kisses are an easy way to make a cake more festive!

Just wanted to show you an easy way to make a festive cake. Using candy cane Hershey Kisses (tm), a few sprinkles and a candy snowman, I made this three layer, 6 inch cake for the cake walk at the school Christmas Market last week. (The picture isn't very good because I only had my phone to snap a pic!)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Foodie pen pals reveal - November 2012

Everything was delicious!

My second month of Foodie pen pals and I still love it :) this month my pen pal is Julia. Julia is a Film Production student from Toronto, studying in Montreal. I LOVE Montreal! I used to take the train with my Dad and sister to Montreal from Halifax once a year or so when I  was a kid but sadly haven't been there since my university days :( I'd love to go back someday.

Julia sent a great package filled with amazing treats! Peanut butter with white chocolate (um...YUM), a Lara bar, dried fruit that my son ate before I tasted even one piece, an amazing speculoos Belgium chocolate bar, wasabi peas (I mentioned how much I love them), a granola like bar and some great oat crackers. Thanks so much Julia!

For December Lindsay is trying something different and very generous. Instead of the pen pal pair up she is asking pen pals to instead donate what they would normally spend on treats to victims of hurricane Sandy. What a great idea! Please click here to find out more!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lebkuchen Cookies - Daring Bakers November

The Daring Baking Challenge this month was Christmas Cookies. Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

Sadly, the only recipe I had time to try was Lebkuchen. It is a holiday baked treat from Germany that has a long history. This recipe is adapted from The Pink Whisk. Although I was sad to only try one of the many recipes Peta offered I was happy that I chose this one! They are delicious. This Lebkuchen recipe produces a soft cookie that tastes like spiced gingerbread. The flavour improves as the days go by! I didn't have dark brown sugar, only light, so I added a tablespoon of molasses to the recipe. I also added almond flavouring to the glaze. Yum! 


6 tbsp  honey
½ c dark brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 c plain flour, sifted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
3 tbsp ground almonds

To ice:
¼ c  icing sugar sifted
1 tsp water
1 - 2 tsp almond flavouring (depending on how strong you’d like it)

Makes about 36 cookies depending on cookie cutter size.


1.   In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, spices and baking soda.
2.   Beat the egg in a small dish.
3.   In a medium sauce pot, over low heat, add the honey, sugar and butter. Stir until the butter and sugar have melted. Remove from the heat.
4.   Add half of the flour mixture and half of the egg to the pan and stir to combine. Repeat.
5.   Stir in the ground almonds until combined. The dough will be sticky.
6.   Place the the dough in a large Ziploc or container  and refrigerate for at least 3 hours but up to 24 hours!
7.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
8.   On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to ¼ inch thickness and cut into desired shapes. I used small 1 to 1-1/2 inch cookies cutters.
9.   Place on a tray covered with parchment paper or a silpat leaving about an inch or so between cookies.
10. Bake in the oven for 8-9 minutes until golden brown.  Ccool for five minutes on the baking sheet before carefully transferring to a cooling rack.

Combine sifted icing sugar, water and flavouring. You want it to be quite thin. Line up the lebkuchen on a wire rack (place wax paper underneath for easy clean up) and use a pastry brush to lightly glaze the cookies. If desired, add a second coat. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Quick and Easy Jam Muffins

I love quick and easy recipes. I love them even more when they are a bit healthier than everyday varieties of the same thing. 

This muffin recipe is made with whole wheat pastry flour and flax seed to boost the fiber content and has less oil than other similar recipes. Despite this healthier version there is still lots of flavour! I use my own home made raspberry-lime jam but any variety will do. If you don't have turbinado sugar substitute regular granulated (same amount).
Healthier and more flavour than store bought!

Makes 12 muffins.


2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c turbinado sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp ground flax seed (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3/4 c milk
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 c jam


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray 12 muffin tins with baking spray.
  3. In medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, flax, salt and cinnamon.
  4. In another bowl, lightly whisk egg, milk,and  oil.
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the egg mixture. Stir just to combine.
  6. Add jam and stir to combine (as little stirring as possible to prevent tough muffins!)
  7. Divide among muffin tins (about 2/3 full).
  8. Bake for 22-25 minutes.

I love the colour of the batter before baking!

Leave off the butter for fewer calories!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cookie Recipe

This is my go to chocolate chip cookie recipe. In fact I've posted it before on the blog. The difference this time (other than putting smarties on the top) was turning the dough into a chocolate base rather than leaving it plain. By taking out a little flour and adding cocoa you, my dear baker, will get a sinful double batch of chocolate with every bite! And who could say no more chocolate??!!?!?

If, for some crazy reason, you want to try the non-chocolate version just omit the cocoa and add 2 tbsp more flour. Oh and grab a box of smarties to add to the top :)
What's better than milk and cookies???? NOTHING!

Makes 4-5 dozen cookies (depending on how small you make them and how much dough gets eaten before they make it into the oven!)

1 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c tightly-packed brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 c all-purpose flour
½ c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant coffee (optional)
16 oz. good quality dark chocolate chips (I use two full bags of chips)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.
  2. In large bowl, cream sugars and butter until light and fluffy - about 3-4 minutes if using stand mixer.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until each is incorporated (30 seconds)
  4. In small bowl, dissolve coffee into vanilla.
  5. Add vanilla into egg and butter mix and beat for another 30 seconds. Scrape down sides.
  6. In another bowl whisk the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda until combined.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix until just combined.
  8. Add the chips.
  9. Using hands (make size of walnut) or preferably small 1 or 1-1/2 inch ice cream scoop place cookies on sheets.
  10. Bake approximately 12 minutes. They should be golden and not too firm.
  11. Cool 5 minutes and remove to racks to continue cooling.
  12. Enjoy!

My 8 yr old daughter loves getting in on the photo shoot!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jalapeno and Cheese Cornbread

I'm no cornbread expert but I love this recipe! It's a little spicy and the cheese  adds great flavour. It's even better the next day. We ate it with home made baked beans but the next day it was also great along side a spinach salad. If there were any left over my plan was to make them into croutons....maybe next time.
You know it's good when they can't wait for the photo shoot to end!


2 cups cornmeal
2 1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 large jalapeños
1 c grated sharp cheddar
1/3 c grated Parmesan


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  3. In a bowl, combine cornmeal and milk; let stand for 10 minutes. Stir after 5 minutes. 
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. 
  5. Add the cornmeal mixture, eggs and melted butter into the dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in jalapeños and cheeses.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bite Me Peanut Butter Cups Recipe

Peanut butter cups are one of my favorite chocolate treats. The salty sweetness of the peanut butter cream enrobed in chocolate is taste bud heaven. 

As much as I live the manufactured version I've always wanted to try making them at home. When I read Michael Smith's version in his cookbook, Chef Michael Smith's Kitchen - 100 of my Favorite Easy Recipes, I decided to go for it!

I made them with in two batches - one Callebaut milk chocolate and the other Callebaut dark. I recommend going with the dark version as the milk chocolate was just too sweet with the inside mixture. Also, his version has waaay too much nutmeg. Below I suggest using just 1/8 tsp or leave it out altogether. It's not listed below but I also recommend trying adding some chopped peanuts for added texture - about 1/3 cup.

The recipe below includes all of my changes I used in my version. They are delicious and get better after a day or two in the fridge so they when you want to prepare dessert ahead of time!


20 ounces (625 grams) dark chocolate, chopped – the best quality you can afford
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup cream cheese
¼ cup icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg - optional

What to do

  • Using silicone muffin liners – these work better than paper or foil but they can be used if silicone is not available. If using paper or foil muffin liners place in muffin pans for stability.
  • Using a double boiler, or a bowl that fits snugly over a pot, place the chocolate over – not in – barely simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. This will ensure that the chocolate doesn’t burn! Turn off the heat.
  • Use a small pastry brush paint the inside of each muffin liner with a tablespoon or so of the chocolate.  If using standard size liners, only paint half way up or so. The coating should be thick enough to harden into a strong shell and certainly not see through.
  • Please note that you will need to leave a third of the chocolate in the bowl in order to have enough to cover the cups!
  • Refrigerate the shells until the chocolate sets and hardens. (about 15 minutes).
  • While shells set, put the peanut butter, sugar and cream cheese in your food processor and process until smooth or use a mixer. Scrape down the bowl. Add the honey, vanilla and nutmeg. Mix until smooth.
  • Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the peanut butter mixture into each hardened shell. Level them a bit with the back of a spoon and make sure you leave a ¼ to 1/8 of an inch or so of visible shell so the top will stick. Refrigerate until the filling is chilled (about 15 minutes).
  • Return the remaining chocolate once again over simmering water and stir until smooth. Spoon a thick layer of the melted chocolate over each of the cups to seal the edges completely. Refrigerate until firm, then pop out from the silicone liners or peel away the paper ones.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Foodie Penpals - October!

Foodie PenPals. Have you heard of it? It's a great program run by Lindsay over at the Lean Green Bean. She started it in September 2011 with 30 participants and it has grown to over 1300! Now that's success! In a nutshell each participant receives a foodie pen pal to send a little foodie related package that shouldn't cost more than $15 (not including shipping). It can be home made goods, local  food items, or other foodie related treats. Then each person sending a package also receives a similar package (though not from the person they sent one too). Organizing it must take a lot of dedication and effort and Lindsay does a great job of pulling everything together!
My first Foodie Penpal package! Thanks Danielle!

This month was my first time participating in the program and it was so a lot of  fun. I loved going to Granville Island and buying little things for the package I sent to Kayla at KitchenofKy. And just as much fun was receiving my food pen pal package from Danielle of Eating Running Living

Danielle sent some amazing items - none of which I had tried before! The chocolate lasted about 5 minutes before I tore it open. It was fantastic - and really smooth - yum. My favorite thing by far was the Chicago style popcorn. Have you ever tried it? It sounds crazy but it's caramel corn and cheddar popcorn mixed together. It tastes amazing! In fact, we went out and bought another bag a couple of days later :)

I didn't share the chocolate or the popcorn with the kids but I did let them try the other bars. They loved those and I only ended up with a bite of each! We all loved the granola with dried strawberries and pieces of chocolate and the naan crackers were great with hummous!

Thanks Danielle for such a great introduction to Foodie Pen Pals!

Want to become a foodie penpal? Read this from Lindsay:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 

-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 
If you’re interested in participating for November, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. 

You must submit your information by November 4th as pairings will be emailed on November 5th!

*If you're from somewhere besides the US, Canada or Europe and want to participate, send me an email and I'll see if we get enough interest this month!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Simple Tomato Soup to Welcome Fall

Summer extended its stay in Vancouver this year - warm, sunny days made us forget that fall would have to  return to our beautiful city. Of course, fall in Vancouver means quite a few grey, cool, rainy days. Fall has indeed returned over the last week.  Although we will continue to complain about the rain as all Vancouverites do, we'll also remember the sunny and dry days of September. September allowed us to extend our growing season a bit and helped our own backyard to produce a bumper crops of apples, radishes, carrots and tomatoes.

Our apple tree was also popular with the neighbourhood squirrels, birds and the occasional raccoon! The birds also loved the seeds from our sunflower plants that we hung to dry! 
Our Cox's Orange Pippin apple tree.

This little bird had a great afternoon feast on our sunflower seeds!

After the feast she rested in our vegetable garden.

We still have quite a few beautiful tomatoes growing!

Besides eating our tomatoes in salads and salsa, I've been making this simple  and delicious tomato soup. I've used up to three pounds of tomatoes in this recipe. You can also use it as a pasta sauce!


  • 1 celery stalk,
  • 2 medium carrot, peeled
  • 2 small onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2lb fresh tomatoes, skinned, roughly chopped into large pieces
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt

What to do

This tomato soup recipe makes about 6 cups.
  • Dice the celery, carrot, onion and garlic, roughly all the same size.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil. Carefully drop the tomatoes into the water for one minute or until skin bursts. Remove the tomatoes and place into a bowl of ice water.  You should be able to peel the skins quite easily now. 
  • Chop the tomatoes into large pieces and place in large pot or dutch oven.
  • Layer the carrots, celery, onions and garlic onto the tomatoes.
  • Add the basil and sprinkle salt on top.
  • Drizzle the olive oil on top.
  • On medium heat, bring soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for one hour.
  • Using use an immersion blender, blend soup to desired consistency. (Beware – if you use a blender to do this make sure your soup has cooled completely to avoid the heat of soup blowing of the blender lid risking burns and a huge mess.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lemon Raspberry Tart

For thanksgiving we made a Turducken! With such a rich bird(s) plus the regular sides of potatoes, roasted veggies, creamy carrots, buns and salad, I wanted to offer a variety of desserts that included something lighter tasting. We had pumpkin pie, homemade peanut butter cups (ok richest dessert EVER...recipe coming soon) and this simple lemon tart garnished with raspberries.

The recipe is adapted  from The Art of Perfect Baking by Flo Braker. The key is to roll the pastry very thin (1/8 inch). The filling is very simple and the tangy lemon flavour can't be beat after a heavy meal! You should note that the pastry recipe almost triples what you need for this recipe but just store the remainder in your freezer for your next tart.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2-1/2 c flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2  c sugar
1 egg, large
1 tsp vanilla

Pan: 9 inch quiche pan with removable bottom.

What to do

  • In a small bowl, mix the eggs and vanilla to combine. Set aside.
  • Add flour, salt and sugar into large stand mixer bowl. Mix on the lowest speed to combine.
  • Cut butter into half inch pieces and scatter over dry  ingredients.
  • Mix on low speed until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs (2 minutes).
  • With the mixer on low speed add the eggs and vanilla slowly but steadily until the dough comes together. This should take about 40 seconds.
  • Knead the dough for a minute or two until it is smooth.
  • For this tart you will need to weigh out 9  oz or measure a scant cup of dough.
  • Wrap the extra dough and freeze for up to one month.
  • Press the remaining dough into a 5 inch disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  • Bring dough to room temperature and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Using a lightly floured work surface, gently roll out the dough so it is approximately 11 inch wide and 1/8 inch thick. Carefully fit the dough into the pan. Trim the overhang by rolling the rolling pin over it.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes BUT after 5 minutes check the pastry for blistering. If there are air pockets forming prick the pastry with a fork in 4 or 5 places. Continue baking until set.

2 eggs
6 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 c sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cooled to room temperature
zest from two lemons

What to Do

  • Slightly beat eggs in a medium sized bow. Add sugar and whisk. Add lemon juice and whisk again. Add melted butter and zest and mix for the last time.
  • Pour into pastry shell and bake for 16-18 minutes more. The filling will bubble towards the end of the cooking time.
  • Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. Carefully release the tart from the sides of the pan. Cool completely.
  • Add the raspberries in any design desired. Serve!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Turducken Thanksgiving

So a few weeks ago, my husband and I were thinking about what to serve for Thanksgiving. Usually we do turkey but every now and then we like to try something a little different... like the year we made beef a la mode (thanks Julia!). This year we were batting around the idea of smoking a pork shoulder or ribs but still hadn't made a final decision. The morning after this conversation I received an email asking me if I'd like to try an Echelon frozen turducken for Thanksgiving and then blog about my, hello, providence, is that you? 

Now, in case you have never heard of turducken, it is a duck stuffed inside a chicken stuffed inside a turkey! That's a lot of bird! This turducken is produced by a Canadian company called Echelon and in between each bird is a layer of Italian sausage stuffing (because we don't want the pigs to be left out of the holiday season). 

Our 12 lb turducken arrived frozen solid so we had to defrost it in the fridge for 5 days - that's right FIVE days! 

It's going into the oven at 10 am so it can roast long and slow. I'll give you the play-by-play as the day goes on...

10:07 am 

OK, it's in the oven. And I have to say I already like that all I had to do was open the packaging, put the bird(s) on the roaster and put in it in the oven at 225 degrees F - no stuffing, no seasoning, no mess!! Well, ok, I did sprinkle a little smoked paprika on it but it's already seasoned so wasn't really necessary :)

11:10 am

It smells yummy already!


Well, this play by play is gonna be boring cause other than smelling great, this turducken is smooth sailing. I don't have to baste it, foil it, or really even look at it!

2 pm

Turducken is still in the oven and browning nicely. I also have lots of time to peel and dice the veggies I'm going to roast on the barbeque - yams, parsnips, onions, beets, fennel and squash. 

3 pm

Turducken smells great still! And now I'm making the Gruyère mashed potatoes. Once they're done I'll keep them warm by placing them over a bigger pot of simmering water - that way they won't dry out or burn. 

4 pm

I cheated and bought gravy at a local soup shop - as much as I love home-made gravy the last minute prep of it gets in the way when I'm trying to get everything on the table. I made cranberry sauce yesterday so it's ready to go and I bought half baked buns on Granville Island so they can be popped into the oven once it's closer to eating time.

5 pm

The turducken is officially roasted! I've taken it out of the oven and I'm going to let it sit for 45 minutes. From what I've read giving the turducken enough time to rest can mean the difference from a bird that is easy to carve to one that falls apart (no bones to keep it together). With the extra minutes my  MILs delicious creamy carrot dish can go into the oven. 

5:45 pm

Hubby takes off the turkey legs and wings (the only thing that has bones). He then makes a long cut down the turducken to cut it in half. It looks like nothing I've ever seen before! It's easy to see the different birds and there is lots of stuffing between the layers. Hubby says the key to successful carving is slicing the turducken thicker than a normal turkey slice. 

Our 12 lb turducken fed 6 adults and 4 kids with enough leftovers to feed everyone again so I'm sure it would easily feed 10-12 adults. 

The Italian sausage stuffing was amazing! I pretty sure it helped to keep the turducken moist. It was definitely moister than a regular turkey. To be honest, I'm not sure I could differentiate the tastes of each bird and the italian sausage stuffing was quite pronounced. BUT I loved the overall flavour of it. I think a turducken is a great way to impress guests and it certainly is a conversation starter. 

Overall impressions

  • I loved the ease of preparation of the turducken - defrost and pop in the oven.
  • Moister than a regular bird. 
  • Easy to carve - no bones!
  • Comes with stuffing - one less thing to worry about!
  • Feeds an army!
  • Everyone is eager to try it!

The Echelon turducken was a hit with my guests young and old(er) so I definitely recommend it if you are even thinking about trying one. Check out their site to find out where you can buy one for your next special dinner party.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Graveyard Halloween Brownies

These brownies were a hit with my kids...and really  how could they not be?? Brownies, icing, cookies, and green candy all in one dessert equals kid nirvana! 

The only special equipment you'll need is the skeleton candy mould. The one I used is made by Wilton and I bought it at Michael's craft store. The skeletons are easy to make - you just melt the candy, pour it in the mould and let set. I made them in both green and white but the kids liked the green ones better so we used them in the graveyard (and ate the white ones while we worked - i.e. I worked and they watched...and ate :)

The gravestones are also easy to make! I just used store bought chocolate wafers and cut off a little of one end. I iced them with some store bought icing that I had tinted grey with just a smidge of black food colour gel. 


1 tub white icing (3/4 c)
1 tub chocolate icing (or approximately 1-1/2 c)
1 sleeve chocolate wafers (9 oz/255g)
1 bag green candy melts
black food colouring

For brownies

1-1/2 c butter, unsalted
2-1/4 c sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 c flour
1 c cocoa
1/2 tsp salt

What to do
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. This is important because you'll want to remove the brownies from the pan in one piece.
  • Over low heat, melt butter in a saucepan.
  • Add sugar and stir until well combined and some sugar dissolves. It will still be thick and 'sugary' looking.
  • Cool the mixture to room temperature.
  • Place in large mixing bowl.
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat until well combined- about 4 minutes.
  • In another bowl, sift together.
  • Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Pour batter into pan and smooth with spatula.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Don't over bake!
  • Cool completely before moving on.
Candy Skeletons
You'll need the mould and a bag of green candy melts. Follow directions for melting the candy and moulds that are on the packages. Make 2 sets of skeletons (i.e. 4 skeletons)

Putting the graveyard together
Gently release the cooled brownies from the pan and place on your serving platter or tray. Frost the brownies with your chocolate icing - this doesn't have to look perfect because you are going to cover it up!

Put aside 11 whole cookie wafers. Put the rest in a Ziploc bag and crush them into crumbs with a rolling pin (my 6 yr old son used a hammer from his tool kit - who says baking isn't masculine???!). Sprinkle the crumbs over the iced brownies.

Using a sharp knife, cut off about 1/2 inch or 1 cm of the ends of the wafer cookie so it resembles a grave stone. You won't need all 11 cookies but you'll want to have a few extras just in case the cookie crumbles!

Tint 1/2 c white icing gray by adding a couple drops of black food colouring. Then use a small spatula to cover the fronts of the headstones with the gray icing. If desired, use some of the left over white icing to write on your gravestones!

Place two headstones on the back row of your graveyard. Gently press them into the chocolate icing to secure. Then place some skeleton pieces in from each headstone. (The entire skeleton is quite big so you will probably just use part of one per grave). Squish some of the "bones" into the crumbs to make it look like they are coming out of the earth. 

Repeat with remaining headstones and skeleton pieces.

Boo-tiful, right?

Happy Halloween!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Easy Halloween Pizza Recipe

This boo-tiful Halloween pizza will be a hit with the kids!

The other day I shared my favorite pizza dough recipe. So today I thought I 'd share a pizza we made using the dough! Isn't it cute? 

I bought pre-sliced cheddar for the jack o'lanterns and thinly sliced a block of mozzarella for the ghosts. I used cookie cutters to make the actual shapes.To make the eyes and mouth I cut up a couple of olives. 

The only "trick" to this pizza is knowing you can't add the ghosts and jack o'lanterns BEFORE you bake the pizza! If you do the cheese shapes will melt into nothingness! So, add your favorite pizza toppings (not too thick or leave a few flat sections) and bake until done. Then take it out and add the ghosts and pumpkins. Quickly place the pizza back in the oven for 30 seconds or so until the cheese just barely begins to melt. Remove from oven wait a few minutes for everything to set and then serve!  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Easy Pizza Dough Three Ways

Clockwise from the top:
White pizza dough with oregano and thyme,
plain white pizza dough and whole wheat dough.

For years, we've been making the same pizza dough - the recipe came with my bread maker. It's definitely better than store bought versions and is easy to prepare as you just throw everything into the pot and press a button. But a few months ago, I  tried Mark Bittman's food processor pizza dough and fell in love with pizza all over again. 

Not only is his version just as easy as my old recipe, it tastes a million times better! Yes, you have to let it rise for awhile but you can make it ahead of time and let it rise in the fridge if you don't want to stick around and watch it. Usually I make multiple batches and freeze a couple for future use.

To Mark's recipe, I often add my own herbs to the dough for added flavour and/or add whole wheat flour for a slightly healthier version. The whole wheat version is a bit denser but still amazing. Try these and let me know what you think! Check out his original article here.

Pizza Dough Three Ways

Adapted from “How to Cook Everything: The Basics”

Makes two pizzas.


3 cups all-purpose (more for kneading)
2 teaspoon fast-rising yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 c warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil

What to do

  1. Place flour, yeast, salt in your food processor and pulse three times to mix.
  2. With food processor set on low-medium speed, slowly add water and oil through the feed tube.
  3. Mix until the dough comes together to form a ball. (You can add a little more water if it is too dry or a tsp or two of flour if too wet).
  4. Remove dough knead a couple of times on a lightly floured surface.
  5. Spray dough with a little cooking spray and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area of your kitchen for 1-2 hours - until dough has doubled in size. 
  6. If desired you can through it in the fridge for up to 8 hours instead of in a warm spot for 2.
  7. Or freeze dough for up to 2 weeks. (Bring to room temp before proceeding.)
  8. Punch dough down and divide in two.
  9. Roll half of dough on a floured surface - roll as thin as you can (within reason - you don't want to have all your ingredients falling through!
  10. Add your topping - sauce, cheese, herbs, veggies etc
  11. Repeat with other half of dough.
  12. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about  15 minutes. The under side of your crust should be golden and cheese bubbling.

Tips: Throw a tbsp of cornmeal on your baking sheet to prevent sticking.

Variation #1

Herb crust:
Add 1-tsp of your favorite herbs to the flour, salt and yeast step. Proceed as directed.

Variation #2

Whole wheat version:
Use only 2-1/2 c all purpose flour and add another 1/2 c of whole wheat flour. Proceed as directed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cookbook Review: Vegan Indian Cooking by Anupy Singla

I like meat and dairy. Life without beef tenderloin, baby back ribs, ice cream or butter is just unimaginable... for me. But that doesn't mean I can't see the benefit of moderation and mixing my family's menu up with healthy vegetarian and vegan dishes. So when I was given the opportunity to review and try a few of the recipes from Anupy Singla's new book, Vegan Indian Cooking, I without hesitation said yes.

Ms Singla does a great job at explaining her vegan journey and her belief in everyone making their own choices. I especially like her description of all the spices and other ingredients used in Indian cooking and in her home. The book is well written and easy to read.

140 recipes are offered - everything from spice blends to drinks to breakfast to small plates, stews, rice dishes and veggies. Lots of variety that is sure to appeal to many including those of us who aren't Indian or Vegan afficienados!

Lots of great pictures accompany the recipes which are easy to follow and I like that different options and substitutions are offered for many ingredients just in case they are not available in your area.

I decided to try two recipes: Chickpea Poppers and Baked Samosas. They both turned out amazing. Even my six year old loved the poppers and ate them for school snacks most of the week. I found when I wanted the satisfaction of a chip but not the empty calories these really did make a pretty good substitute!

And the samosas were soooo delicious! Potatoes, peas and spices wrapped up and BAKED in golden crust  - a new comfort food for sure! The only comment I have is that is says it makes 12 medium samosas but I honestly would classify them as small, appetizer size. Although it doesn't say in the book, I asked Anupy via Facebook if they could be frozen and she said "yes" - unbaked - so I will definitely be making and freezing a few batches to have on hand for nights when we just can't decide what to have for dinner and drop in guests.

With permission, I have included the popper recipe but I think you should buy the book for the samosa recipe!
Chickpeas coated with spices just before going into the oven.

After they come out - crunchy and spicy!

Chickpea Poppers

from Vegan Indian Cooking: 140 Simple and Healthy Vegan Recipes by Anupy Singla
published by Agate Surrey, July 2012

Yield: 4 cups


4 c cooked chickpeas or 2 (12-ounce/341 gram) cans chickpeas
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp coarse sea salt
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cayenne pepper or paprika, plus more for sprinkling

What to do

1. Set an oven rack at the highest position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up.
2. Drain the chickpeas in a large colander for about 15 minutes to get rid of as much moisture as possible. If using canned, rinse first.
3. In a large bowl, gently mix together all the ingredients.
4. Arrange the seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on the baking sheet.
5. Cook for 15 minutes. Carefully take the tray out of the oven, mix gently so that the chickpeas cook evenly, and cook another 10 minutes.
6. Let cool for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the cayenne pepper or paprika.

PS: Anupy is currently on a book tour and will be stopping in Vancouver, BC at Barbara Jo's Books-to-Cook store on October 13th 2012. Click here for more info!