Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cardamom Vanilla Tea

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So simple, so good.

A former work colleague of mine would occasionally bring a cup of this delicious tea into work for me. Her husband makes her a cup every morning!

Makes 2 cups of tea.

Ingredients

1.5 cups water
1 cup milk
2 black tea bags
2-3 cardamom pods
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 vanilla bean pod

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a small sauce pan.
  2. Simmer for 20 – 30 mins. 
  3. Remove tea bags and pods.
  4. You can also add a little bit of fresh ginger if desired. Enjoy!
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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Mango Blueberry No Nut Granola Recipe

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Every few months I make a batch of granola. The kids eat it with yogurt or milk. They also love taking it to school as a snack at recess. For this reason, I make it nut free.

This time I used coconut oil. At room temperature, it is solid but as soon as it hits 76 degrees it will begin to liquefy. By heating the oils and the spices, the spices bloom and their flavors and aromas are released. Your kitchen will smell great!
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This makes a big batch of granola so I usually distribute half of it into small snack bags so they are ready for lunch boxes or snacking at anytime. The other half of the batch goes into a big container that we keep on the counter for easy kid-access!

Note about coconuts from this Health Canada site: A coconut is a seed of a fruit and nutmeg is obtained from the seeds of a tropical tree. Coconut and nutmeg are not considered tree nuts for the purposed of food allergen labeling in Canada and are not usually restricted from the diet of someone allergic to tree nuts. However, some people have reacted to coconut and nutmeg. If you are worried, consult your allergist before trying coconut or nutmeg products. 

I also make sure anyone who eats it knows there is coconut oil in it.



Ingredients

1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup coconut oil
1 c maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp cardamon
1 tsp salt
8 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup wheat bran
1 cup milled flax
3/4 cup dried blueberries
1 cup dried mango, chopped

Optional
1/2 tsp fleur de sel

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In medium sized pot combine oils, maple syrup,vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.
  3. Stir over medium-low heat until just simmering and remove from heat. Watch carefully and be careful not to burn yourself.
  4. Combine oats, wheat germ, bran and flax with salt.
  5. Pour oil mixture over oats and stir until well combined.
  6. Spread granola on two large cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden. While baking, stir granola every ten minutes to ensure even baking.
  8. Remove from oven.
  9. If desired, add sprinkle of 1/2 tsp fleur de sel. 
  10. Cool completely.
  11. Place in large bowl.
  12. Add dried fruits and combine.
  13. Store in air tight containers.
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Enjoy!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Grandma's Easy Date Squares Recipe


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Date squares? Have you ever had one? Is it a dessert you associate with your great aunt Agnes? Date squares seem to have become something of an "old-fashioned" dessert. Date squares or matrimonial squares (some say because they were made with so many "dates". Get it? You gotta go on a lotta dates to get married???) as they are known in some parts of Western Canada have been around since at least the 1930s.

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They are made from a layer of sweet, gooey dates that is sandwiched between two layers of buttery golden oats.

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My mom used to make them when I was a kid but I hadn't thought much about them since then. That is, until my 9 year old son saw a bag of dates at the grocery store. He wanted to try them. They were on sale so I bought two bags since my brain flickered with the idea of date squares. Turns out my son didn't like dates straight out of the bag (no surprise). That left me with two bags of dates and the brain flicker turned into a brighter light (luckily I didn't have the urge to walk into it).

I knew the kids would love the oat mixture - it's pretty much a crumble topping but I wasn't sure about the dates in the middle. Would the texture be appealing? In a word. YES. Yes, it would . Granted the dates are mixed with enough sugar to make them sweet and delicious and taste bud friendly to almost anyone.

I think date squares deserve a new minute in the sun, another 15 seconds of fame and it starts right here. Try this recipe. Let me know what you think of them. I know you'll love them (so will your great aunt Agnes so be sure to share)!



Ingredients

2 cups dates
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup brown sugar (can reduce or increase this amount to suit tastes)

1-1/2 cups large flake oats
1-1/4 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon

Instructions


Fruit Mixture:

  1. Place dates, water, juice, baking soda and sugar in sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Using a fork or potato masher, squish the date mixture a bit to form a coarse paste.
  6. Cool.

Oat Mixture:

  1. In large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, oats, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.
  2. Mix with hands,
  3. Cut butter into 1 inch pieces and add to bowl.
  4. Using your hands, rub and mix butter and other ingredients together until you have a  crumbly mixture that will hold together if squeezed.

Making the squares:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with non stick spray.
  3. If desired, line with parchment or nonstick foil, letting it hang over edges for easier removal later. 
  4. Place half of oat mixture in bottom of dish and use your hands to firmly press mixture evenly over bottom.
  5. Add all of the cooled date mixture on top of crumble and spread evenly (I use an offset spatula).
  6. Add rest of oat mixture over dates.
  7. Gently press down to cover fruit.
  8. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, until top is golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  10. Either cut in pan or remove by pulling overhanging foil.
  11. Cut into desired number of squares.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Double Chocolate Candy Cane Bark

Need an easy, delicious sweet treat for dessert or a hostess gift? Try this! Any bag of chocolate chips will do and in any flavour. A few crushed candy canes and maybe a few extra sprinkles and you're done!

Ingredients
  • 3 bags of milk chocolate chips
  • 3 bags of white chocolate chips
  • 1 bag skor bits
  • 5 candy canes, crushed
  • various sprinkles or other candies (smarties) or crushed cookies


What to do
  1. Melt chips in separate bowls or sauce pans (careful not to burn them).
  2. Spread melted white chocolate on a cookie sheet that has been lined with a silpat.
  3. Sprinkle 1/2 of skor bits over white choclate.
  4. Spread melted milk chocolate over white and spread with a light hand.
  5. Sprinkle with more skor bits, candy sprinkles and crushed candy canes.
  6. Place in fridge until set.
  7. Break or cut into pieces.
  8. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Bacon Wrapped Turducken for Sunday Football

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There are days for salad with no dressing and a squeeze of lemon. Sunday football and  especially Grey Cup on Sunday November 29th, isn't one of those days! Football calls for a little bit of decadence and a whole lot of easy. Easy dishes, that is. Because who wants to send the day in the kitchen when you could be watching the game? GO EDMONTON!

A perfect fit with game day feasting is a turducken! Specifically, a bacon wrapped turducken. That's right, a duck wrapped in chicken wrapped in turkey, wrapped in bacon I'll give you a minute to think about that........drooling yet? How about a layer of stuffing and another inside layer of bacon??!!!! Sorry vegetarians, this is not your kind of meal. Carnivores, jump for joy!

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Echelon Foods has added just such a turducken to it's line of deliciousness. I've been a big fan of their turduckens for awhile now and have served them at previous Thanksgiving dinners- both the roast and the whole beast.  Our guests are always impressed!

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But it's for more than the holidays. In fact, it's perfect for any game day and is sure to make a huge impression on your guests - a definite touchdown. It's easy to make - just defrost and throw it into your oven for four hours. And since you are putting such a show stopper on the table, you can add other premade or easy to make side dishes to round out the feast.

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For our buffet, I made a quick batch of orange infused cranberry sauce, simple cheesy potato skins, raw veggies, chips, salsa, guacamole (store bought), date squares that I had made earlier in the week, all of our left over Halloween candy, and a few other dishes. Trust me when I say, the bacon wrapped turducken was the MVP of the game! The outer layer of bacon comes out crispy and the birds on the inside are quite moist.

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I loved that with a little pre-planning I could watch the game with guests and not get stuck in the kitchen.

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I highly recommend any of Echelon's turduckens but the bacon wrapped turducken roast will definitely score a touch down at your next football (or hockey or baseball or basketball or whatever sport you're into) feast. Echelon will deliver your bacon wrapped turducken frozen solid to your door (the dry ice is an added bonus!). You can start defrosting right away (it will take 2-3 days to thaw so factor that in  to your timing) or put it in your freezer until you need it.

Our roast easily fed 12 people and none went away hungry!

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Note: I received a bacon wrapped turducken for review but opinions, as always, are my own.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Harry Potter Birthday Party Part 5: The Cake

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If you missed our other Harry Potter Birthday Party post, check them out:


Such a simple cake but the kids loved it!

It's a simple five layered chocolate and vanilla cake with vanilla frosting.

It's covered with marshmallow fondant. Let me be clear, I dislike regular fondant and try to avoid it like the plague! It tastes awful. When I use it, I make figurines (e.g. on our Plants vs Zombie cake) but would never cover a cake in it. But I had heard rumours that marshmallow fondant is not only easy to work with but also tastes waaaay better. So what the heck, I thought, let's try it.

It doesn't taste like marshmallows but it is sweet and pleasant tasting. More importantly all the kids (and my husband) ate it and liked it - not one peeled it off the cake! That says something!

It was easy to work with. Even though I rolled it a bit too thin, it still adhered to the cake well and it was easy to smooth out.  The ribbons on the bottom of the cake hid a bit of messiness around the edges of the cake!

After it was covered, I added a bit of color gels to pieces of extra fondant. After rolling them out and cutting them into shapes (you can use whatever cookie cutters you have on hand or even cut them free style with a knife), I wrote on them with edible ink. The kids gave me their favorite spells and quotes from the Harry Potter books and movies and I just copied them onto individual fondant pieces. If you rub a tiny bit of water on the cake or the back of the fondant piece it will be easy to adhere it to the cake!

Note: Make sure you make the fondant a day or so in advance - it makes it much easier to work with.

Here are the sites I referred to when making our marshmallow fondant:
Great Video by My Cupcake Addiction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaKqSND8sPc


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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Grammie's Ginger Snaps



Only nine ingredients and a little bit of time stands between you and these spicy, sweet ginger snaps. These are so easy to pull together. My kids love rolling them in the sugar and placing them on the baking sheet. I prefer to use raw sugar to roll the cookies in - it's crunchier than regular granulated so it adds a great texture element.

The video below was made by my 11 year old - I think she did a great job - don't you?

video



Ingredients

3/4 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
2.5 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt

1 cup extra granulated sugar or raw sugar in bowl for dipping cookies

Instructions

  1. Cream butter and 1 cup sugar well.
  2. Beat in egg.
  3. Mix in molasses.
  4. In another bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.
  5. Add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
  6. Shape into 1 inch balls.
  7. Roll in sugar and on baking sheet.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
  9. Cool on pan for 5 minutes and then transer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.