Thursday, April 25, 2013

Whole wheat pumpkin muffins

These are great muffins. Not overly sweet and the whole wheat pastry flour gives them a wonderful texture not to mention extra fibre. My kids love them. Often I will make 36 mini muffins instead of the traditional size because the they are perfect when you just need a bite to take the edge off of hunger pains when dinner is still an hour away. They also travel well for snacks on the go. Mini ones usually bake in about 13-15 minutes.

Adapted from "Whitewater Cooks with Friends"


1-3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cardamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 c canned pure pumpkin
1/3 c milk
1/2 c mini chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 c toasted pumpkin seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Beat butter for 4 minutes.
  4. Add sugar and beat for another 2 minutes  and it's fluffy and light.
  5. Add eggs one at a time for 30 seconds each. Scrape down batter from sides between additions.
  6. Add pumpkin and vanilla. Beat until well combined.
  7. Starting and ending with flour alternate flour and milk (3 flour additions; 2 milk). Stir each addition until just combined.
  8. Stir in chocolate chips.
  9. Divide batter evenly amongst 12 greased muffin tins.
  10. Sprinkle some pumpkin seeds on top of each muffin.
  11. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a tooth pick comes out clean.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cookbook Review: Championship BBQ Secrets for Real Smoked Foods by K Pullman and J Fertig

Buffalo-style Hot Wings

We, like so many Canadians and Americans, are caught up in the smoked meat craze. And really how could we not?  There are BBQ restaurants, food trucks, TV shows and smoked meat competitions all within a sauce dripping arm's length of us all. And  the meat can't be beat! The taste of a piece of bark on a pork butt or brisket is heaven on earth.

So when I bought my husband a Weber Bullet Smoker I  pretty much took the crown of  Best. Wife. Ever. 

We've smoked pork, beef, chicken and turkey so far with amazing results and jealous stares from our neighbours. So when I was offered the chance to review Championship BBQ Secrets for Real Smoked Foods by Karen Putman and Judith Fertig I jumped on it.

This is the 2nd edition of the 400 page cookbook/how-to-smoke anything resource. 

Karen Putman was a chef and well respected, award winning BBQ competitor who passed away in 2011 but certainly leaves an amazing legacy to anyone who has an interest in the BBQ world.

The 2nd edition has added more tips and secrets from Karen's friends. 

The book itself is 400 pages and those pages are filled with useful tips, tidbits and information that even seasoned slow cooking meat veterans will enjoy. There are tips on different types of equipment, how to's about getting started, what you need to know if you are thinking about entering a competition,  how to create your own signature rubs and sauces, and of course great tips on each type of meat you want to smoke plus loads of recipes. It's a lot of information but is presented in an easy to read and easy to use format. There are also great step-by-step photos on how to prepare charcoal, meats etc. And of course there are mouth watering photos of many of the recipes too.

The recipes cover the gamut from rubs and sauces to sections on each meat - pork, beef, poultry,and  lamb. There are also cold smoking recipes and recipes that are truly different like tofu and almonds and even "smoky deviled eggs"!

I like this book. In fact I love it. Lots of great info and recipes that I've already ear marked to try over the coming months. Unfortunately, the recipe I tried while reviewing the book fell short. I'm hoping it was the one dud in the otherwise great read.

We decided to try the "Buffalo-Style Hot Wings" recipe. It was super simple with only 4 ingredients. It was easy to slap the marinade together and throw on the wings but the execution didn't work. The recipe says to place them in a single layer in an aluminum pan and then smoke them in the pan. Well that led to a lot of grease from the chicken and marinade. There was so much that the underside of the wings didn't hold the marinade, formed a wet, unappetizing skin and definitely weren't "hot" as promised. We ended up throwing the wings on the BBQ grill after smoking to crisp them up a bit. 
Too much grease was captured in the pans.

The undersides of the wings didn't look appetizing.
The taste of the meat, however, was phenomenal, smoked poultry is simply something everyone must try (well, except vegetarians). My husband thinks it would have been much better if we hand poked holes in the bottom of the pan so the grease could drip out or just put the wings directly on the smoker grill. Despite the disappointing result we will not be throwing this cookbook in the trash. We will be trying more of the recipes and the rubs/sauces. I know there are many other great recipes that can be smoked out. 
So we grilled them to crisp them up.

A little extra sauce and they were good to go!

If you or someone you know is smoking enthusiast I recommend this book. It has something for everyone and every skill level.

Book Infomation:Championship BBQ Secrets for Real Smoked Food 
2nd Edition
Karen Putman and Judith Ferig
Published by Robert Rose Inc
isbn: 978-0-7788-0449-9

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Curried Coconut Milk Prawns

Curried Coconut Milk Prawns - an easy week night meal
This recipe is great on its own or served over either rice or Israeli couscous. You could also add a tablespoon of your favorite curry paste instead of the curry powder. It also works with chicken or pork.

Serves 4ish.


2 cans (13½ ounces/400 ml) of coconut milk
2 tablespoons (30 ml) or so of medium curry powder
1 ½   teaspoons (5 ml) of soy sauce
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
2 cups frozen peas or edamame
3 cups fresh spinach
1 cup chopped pineapple (preferably fresh)
1 pound (450 g) of fresh or thawed frozen medium prawns, shells off but tails can be left on if desired (see pic), deveined


  1. Over medium heat sauté onions and curry powder until onions are translucent. 
  2. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for another minute.
  3. Add spinach and pineapple and continue to sauté until spinach is just beginning to wilt.  
  4. If your pan is big, add the coconut milk, otherwise transfer the mixture to a large pot and add the coconut milk. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat. 
  5. Add soy sauce. 
  6. Stir in the peas and prawns. Lower the heat until it is barely simmering. Continue stirring until the prawns are cooked through (curled and red - about 5 minutes).
  7. Serve or its own or over rice/couscous.
Israeli couscous

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Honey Oat Muffins

My kids love these muffins! I thought the cardamom might be a little overwhelming but it isn't. The cardamom flavour is definitely stronger in the batter than in the baked muffin but it still adds a nice little "something-something" to this snack. The honey shines through in this recipe and can be tasted in every bite. You can also use maple syrup instead of honey. Of course, if you want to use less the sugar leave out the chocolate chips.

I've also occasionally used one pack of individual instant oats (any flavour) when I've been out of regular oats. I use whole wheat pastry flour but you can use all-purpose flour though it might make a slightly more dense final product (not that there is anything wrong with that).

Makes 12 muffins.


3/4 cup quick or instant oats
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar or turbinado sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (all purpose can be substituted)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup plain yogourt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

On medium low heat combine honey, oats, cinnamon, cardamom and vanillla. Heat until honey is warm. Remove from heat.

In large mixing bowl beat together sugar, eggs and oil on medium high speed for 3 minutes.

In small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Add half the flour mixture to the egg bowl and stir on low speed until just combined. Add the yogourt and mix again. Add the oat mixture and stir. Add the last of the flour and chips. Stir just until combined.

Evenly divide amongst muffins tins and bake for 15-17 minutes until golden and tooth pick test comes out clean.

Cool for ten minutes in tins and then remove muffins from tin and cool completely on wire rack.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Foodie Penpals - March

Another great month with Foodie Penpals!

This month Emilie from Find Your HealthSpot sent me a lovely package filled with great treats. Teas, amazing chocolate (didn't even last long enough to take a picture of it), a raw vegan snack with cocoa and cranberries, and a delicious energy bar. Thanks Emilie. Check out her blog here.

One of the items she sent was a strawberry tea bloom from David's Tea. The kids loved watching it bloom (I don't have a clear teapot so I used a bowl). It took about 8 minutes for it to bloom completely. The tea itself tasted great too - it was light and tasted fresh and (surprise) strawberry-like. I also loved it on ice.
The strawberry bloom.

Strawberry bloom submerged in boiled water.
Starting to bloom.

Love the pinky finger!

And now it's time for some details about Foodie Penpals.  In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:

-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 Penpals is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. 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 from the US or Canada and are 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 April 4th as pairings will be emailed on April 5th!

*If you're from Europe, please CLICK HERE ( to signup.