Monthly Archives: November 2011

Hearty Vegetable Stew

This recipe was so flavourful for a vegetable stew. My husband thought next time I should throw in some chicken. I guess you could, but the vegetables alone make a nice filling meal. The portobello mushrooms add a nice meaty flavour. It is necessary to remove the gills on the underside of each portobello cap, as the flavour and color of the stew will turn muddy. This recipe was taken from Cook’s Illustrated – The Best Light Recipe.

2 medium onions, minced
1 medium celery rib, minced
1 medium carrot, peeled and minced, plus 4 large carrots (about 1 pound), peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 teaspoon olive oil
9 medium portobello mushrooms (about 1 1/4 pounds), stems discarded, gills removed, caps halved and then sliced 1/2 inch thick
10 ounces white mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed and mushrooms halved
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 1/2 to 2 cups water
1 (14.5 ounce)can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes (about 4 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Ground black pepper

1. Combine the onions, celery, carrot, oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large Dutch oven.  cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
2.  Add the portobello and white mushrooms.  Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until all the liquid they release has evaporated, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, rosemary, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits; cook until the wine has reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
3.  Add the broth, 1 1/2 cups of the water, tomatoes with their juices, bay leaves, and potatoes.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; partially cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the stew is thickened and flavorful, about 1 hour.  If the stew seems too thick, add the remaining 1/2 cup water. 
4.  Off the heat, stir in the peas; cover let stand until the peas are hot, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the parsley and vinegar, and discard the bay leaves.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately. 

My Birthday!

The Grey Cup and my birthday landed on the same day. I’m not sure what was worse…football or me turning 40! It was a great 3 days (yes, I know I’m spoiled) of celebrating with family and friends. The highlight of my Sunday evening had to be my birthday cake. My husband went to Dessert Sinsations Cafe and bought a mile high lemon meringue pie. It was fabulous!! I thought one day I could duplicate this but with more thought, I may just leave this one to the professionals!

Big, Fat, Chewy Dark Chocolate M&M Cookies

This recipe is very close to my Cook’s Illustrated recipe that I make all the time.  This one uses more butter and more vanilla.  I did not chill my cookies as the dough was the same work quality I’m used to in my cookies. I also did not find any dark chocolate M&M’s, so I used Christmas M&M’s (perfect for my Christmas cookie baking blitz at the moment). This recipe was taken from a food blog site called Culinary in the Country.

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate M&Ms

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low until it smells very nutty and gets a light golden color. Let cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together melted butter and sugars. Beat in vanilla, egg and egg yolk until the color lightens and is thoroughly mixed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Pour dry mixture into the wet and use a large wooden spoon to stir together just until combined. Fold in the M&Ms. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 325

Scoop out dough using a 1/4 cup measure and place on parchment lined baking sheets. These spread a little so I only placed 6 per baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes, turning the baking sheet halfway through. The edges should be slightly golden with the center being puffy and a little undercooked. Remove and let cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes. Carefully place each cookie on a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 18-20 large cookies

Chocolate Waffle Cookies

This recipe was taken from  This cookie was fun and easy to make.  I like that it’s different from a regular cookie.  I cooked my batter in the waffle-iron for just over 2 minutes as I found they were still raw in the middle at 1 1/2 minutes.  I also did not use cooking spray as I found my cookies never stuck.

Makes 4 dozen cookies

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
18 tablespoons ( 2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus 2 tablespoons for icing
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup icing sugar, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
vegetable oil cooking spray

1. Melt chocolate with 1 cup butter (2 sticks) in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Let cool slightly.
2. Put eggs, vanilla, and granulated sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale, 4 to 5 minutes.  Mix in chocolate mixture, salt, cinnamon, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, and the flour.
3. Heat a waffle iron until hot.  Lightly coat grids with cooking spray.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon batter onto center of each waffle-iron square to make 1 1/2-inch rounds.  Close cover; cook until set, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack, bottom sides up.  Let cool completely.  Repeat with remaining batter, coating grids with cooking spray after each batch.  
4. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add icing sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons cocoa powder; stir until smooth.  Stir in milk.
5.  Gently dip 1 surface of each cookie in icing so that just the waffle lines (not gaps) are coated.  Repeat with remaining cookies and icing.  Transfer to wire racks; let stand until set, about 10 minutes.  Dust iced surfaces of cookies with icing sugar.  Cookies can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days.

Root Beer Cake

I am looking to make a new cake for my step-daughter’s birthday and I thought I would try this one. The root beer adds something to the chocolate and you must make the glaze. I had to add 2 more tablespoons of root beer into the glaze as mine came out more of a frosting. This recipe is taken from The New Food Processor Bible by Norene Gilletz.

1 1/2 cups regular root beer (not diet)
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sauger, packed
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Root Beer Glaze (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Pour root beer into a measuring cup and let stand 5 minutes.

2. STEEL BLADE: Combine flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in processor. Process until blended, about 10 seconds. Start processor and gradually add root beer, eggs, oil and vanilla through feed tube while machine is running. Process batter for 45 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Do not insert pusher in feed tube and do not over process.

3. Pour batter into sprayed 12-cup fluted tube pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until cake tests done. Let cool for 20 minutes, then invert cake onto a serving platter. When completely cool, drizzle with root beer glaze.

Root Beer Glaze
1 square (1oz/30g) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 Tbsp root beer
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

STEEL BLADE: Combine all ingredients and process 6 to 8 seconds to blend, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake.

Chocolate-and almond-dipped sandwich cookies

I am looking for a Christmas cookie to give away and I came across this recipe taken from The Bon Appetit Cookbook by B. Fairchild. It is a very rich cookie. The ganache makes way more then you need, so I would make half next time. The recipe asks for an oval cookie cutter but I just used a round one. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips for the filling and the coating.(1/4 cup equals 1 ounce) I made about 22 sandwich cookies.

1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup whipping cream
12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cups slivered almonds, toasted, chopped

FOR COOKIES: Place 1/4 cup sugar and slivered almonds in processor; grind almonds fine. Using electric mixer, beat butter and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla, and salt. Add ground nut mixture and flour; beat until moist clumps form. Gather dough together; divide in half. Shape each half into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

POSITION 1 rack in top third of oven and second rack in bottom third; preheat to 325F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out 1 dough disk between sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper to scant 1/4-inch thickness, sprinkling dough lightly with flour as needed to keep from sticking and occasionally peeling off top paper to remove wrinkles. Peel off top paper. Using 2 1/2×1 1/2-inch oval cookie cutter (or cardboard template), cut out cookies. If dough is soft, slide rimless baking sheet under paper and chill dough 10 minutes to firm. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Gather scraps and reroll dough, cutting out more cookies. Chill cookies on sheets 15 minutes.

BAKE cookies 5 minutes. Reverse position of sheets and bake until cookies begin to color, about 6 minutes longer. Cool cookies on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

FOR FILLING: Bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Let filling cool until thick but still spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.

Place half of cookies, bottom side up, on work surface. Spoon filling into pastry bag fitted with small plain tip. Pipe (or spread) filling over cookies, leaving 1/4-inch plain border. Top each with second cookie, bottom side down, and press to adhere.

FOR COATING: Stir chocolate in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Place toasted almonds in small bowl. Dip end of 1 cookie sandwich in chocolate, then in almonds. Transfer to sheet of aluminum foil. Repeat with remaining cookies. Let stand until coating is set. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container between sheets of waxed paper in the refrigerator.)

Lemon Chicken with Nutty Coating

I make this recipe a lot as lemon chicken is our favorite menu item at a Chinese restaurant, so it is great to be able to make it at home. This recipe was taken from The Complete Light Kitchen by Rose Reisman. I do not add the parsley.

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
2 Tbsp water or low-fat milk
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp water
1 tsp honey
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1. Working with one at a time, place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of waxed paper and pound to an even 1/2-inch thickness.
2. Combine the breadcrumbs, nuts, salt and pepper in the bowl of a small food processor and process until finely ground. (The finer the nuts, the better they will stick to the chicken.) Place on a plate. Whisk the egg and water or milk together in a shallow bowl.
3. Dip the chicken into the egg mixture, then coat well with the breadcrumb mixture.
4. Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking oil, add the vegetable oil and place over medium heat. Sauté the chicken until browned on both sides and no longer pink inside, approximately 8 minutes. Place in a serving dish, cover and keep warm.
5. Spray the same skillet with cooking oil and sauté the mushrooms until softened, approximately 3 minutes. Add the stock, lemon juice, rind, dissolved cornstarch and honey and reduce the heat to low.
6. Simmer for 3 minutes, until the liquid is reduced and the sauce thickened.
7. Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with parsley.

Roasted Tomato Soup

This soup is so good! I think it may be my new favorite. I made homemade croutons as well. This recipe was taken from Norene’s Healthy Kitchen by Norene Gilletz.

3 lb (1.5 kg) Italian plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise (12 to 14 tomatoes)
3 red peppers, seeded and cut in chunks
2 medium onions, cut in chunks
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp fresh minced basil (or 2 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp fresh minced thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
2 heads garlic (about 30 cloves of garlic)
4 cups vegetable broth or water
2 tsp sugar or granular Splenda

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Combine the tomatoes, red peppers, and onions in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, basil, and thyme; mix well. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on the baking tray, placing the tomato cut-side up. Cut a 1/4-inch slice from the top of each head of garlic, wrap each head in foil and place on the baking sheet. Roast vegetables, uncovered, for 35 to 45 minutes or until nicely browned, stirring occasionally.
3. Transfer the roasted tomatoes, peppers, and onions to a large pot. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the pot. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the sugar. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
4. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup while still in the pot, or purée in batches in a blender or food processor. If too thick, add a little water or broth. Serve hot or cold.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings (about 10 cups). Keeps 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Freezes well for up to 4 months.

Chocolate Banana Loaf

This recipe was in the Winnipeg Free Press Recipe Swap today, it looked so good that I had to make it. The banana adds a subtle flavour, as with the orange rind. This loaf is very chocolately and rich making it perfect for those chocolate cravings. I used Starbucks instant coffee.

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp instant coffee powder
2 eggs
1 Tbsp grated orange rind
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup well mashed banana (about 2 1/2 medium bananas)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat over to 325F. Grease a 5×9 inch loaf pan well. In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, cream butter, brown sugar and coffee powder until light and fluffy.
2. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in orange rind.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture alternately with mashed bananas, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips and spread into prepared pan.
4. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan about 10 minutes, invert onto a rack and continue cooling.

Herbed Cauliflower or Broccoli Soup

A great way for the kids to eat their vegetables! I used cauliflower. This recipe was taken from The New Food Processor Bible by Norene Gilletz.

2 cloves garlic
2 medium onions, cut in chunks
1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium carrots, cut in chunks (about 1 cup)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks (about 2 cups)
1 head cauliflower or 1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets (about 8 cups)
6 cups vegetable broth (or 6 cups water plus 2 tbsp instant pareve chicken soup mix)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp fresh parsley
2 tbsp fresh dill
2 tbsp fresh basil

1. STEEL BLADE: Drop garlic through feed tube while machine is running; process until minced. Add onions and process with 3 or 4 quick on/offs, until coarsely chopped.
2. Heat oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions and sauté for 5 minutes, until golden. Add carrots, potatoes and cauliflower or broccoli to pot. Add broth; it should barely cover the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover partially and simmer 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove solids with a slotted spoon and process in batches on the STEEL BLADE together with parsley, dill and basil.