This is the Horde. Below are our Recipes. Thanks for sharing our Kitchen

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Homemade Nutella

Over the holidays I had a craving for Nutella.  I love Nutella as do my kids.  The stores were all closed so I decided to play with some new toys I'd gotten for Christmas and try and make some.  I found a recipe online that is allowed to be shared and the credit for this goes to Su Good Sweets Here    I have to say it was excellent.  The kids have really enjoyed it and I used in the the Aebelskiver Recipe posted below...totally yummy

Here is the recipe

Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread (easy version)

Yield: about 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups)

2 cups whole raw hazelnuts
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
up to 1/4 cup vegetable or nut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Toast until the skins are almost black and the meat is dark brown, about 15 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color.

2.Since the skin is bitter, you’ll want to discard them. Wrap the cooled hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel or paper towel, and rub until most of the skins have come off. Don’t fret if you can’t get off all the skins.

3.Process nuts in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until they have liquefied, about 5 minutes. First, you will get coarsely chopped nuts, then a fine meal. After a little while, the nuts will form a ball around the blade, and it will seem like you only have a solid mass. Keep processing. The heat and friction will extract the natural oils, and you will get hazelnut butter!

4.When the nuts are liquified, add in the sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Slowly drizzle in enough oil to make a spreadable consistency. Since the mixture is warm, it will be more fluid now than at room temperature.

5.Transfer the spread to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for1-2 months. For best results, stir the chocolate-hazelnut spread before using.

Danish Aebleskiver - Pancake Balls with fillings

My mother in law is Danish.   She makes all kinds of traditional Danish dishes, desserts and meals.  I've learned how to make Danish soup but that's about it.  I'm going to get her to teach me how to make a couple of desserts while she is visiting.

She made something called Aebelskiver years ago in a little pan.  Basically they are round ball shaped pancakes and you need a special pan for them.  I've seen some cheapy ones on infomercials but have been told to stay away from them from the expert.  

My husband found me an awesome pan for Christmas and bought it for me along with a cookbook.  I tried to make some the other day and I did quite well for my first kick at the can I think.  I made another batch tonight as well.  I filled these ones with nutella and then some with apples/cinnamon.  These are made as a snack in Denmark...a very yummy snack I might add.

I used a basic recipe tonight.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs seperated
1 cup milk (I used skim)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, milk, melted butter and vanilla.  Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture and using a wooden spoon mix until well blended (it may be a little lumpy)

Using an electric mixer in a seperate bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff but not dry peaks form.  Using a rubber spatula fold half the egg whites into the flour mixture to lighten it.  Add the other half and fold it in until no white streaks remain.  The egg whites give them their light airy appearance and taste.  Use the batter immediately.

Heat the pan over medium low heat.  Brush butter into each cup and fill with about a tablespoon of batter.  Working quickly drop the filling into the center and cover with another dab of the batter.  Using wooden skewers flip the batter over while still pretty liquidy to cook the other side.  Keep flipping until fully cooked.  It only takes but a minute or two.

Fill each cup
and add filling quickly

After more batter has been added

After a quick flip with the wooden skewers

Sprinkle with icing sugar or dip in maple syrup

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Grandma Buddy's Famous Polish Pierogy

I am blessed with a range of cultures in my ancestry.  Holidays are when these cultures would emerge at the dinner table.  Christmas was never complete without Grandma's Pierogy.  Everyone requested them and she never failed.  At 80 years old she would roll out the dough by hand, and make these delicious mainstays of our family gatherings.  As we got older we'd have limits though.. ONLY TWO EACH!!! or she'd whack you with a wooden spoon.

My grandma taught us to make pierogy many times.  She'd host Pierogy making parties to teach us all but it always fell on her lap.  I knew how to make them but they are very labour intensive and there was just something about grandma's pierogy that was better.  (Other than the year she deviated from tradition and put shrimp in them...blech).

Now that Gran is gone, Christmas just doesn't seem like Christmas without her pierogy so one year I pulled out my recipe collection and found my hand written scratchily written Grandma recipe.  I imagine she is smiling down as we labour over them and somehow, making all these foods that my grans' made, makes it seem like they are here with us.  

We take a few shortcuts that make it easier, but I always get the kids involved.  We have our pierogy assembly line.  Usually get a few hundred made in about 2 hours working the way we do.  This year?  Oldest at work, youngest sick with fever, I made them with my two middle kids.  We just finished an hour and a bit and we got about 100 or so made.

Without Further adieu...the recipe.  It's sort of one of those handful of this, and "to taste" of that but I've tried to ballpark measurements for you.  In the end of the day, the best part is tasting the filling and adjusting as you go along but the essentials are potato, onion, and cheese.

Grandma Buddy's Ingredients.
8-10 medium to large size new white potato
3-4 cups shredded sharp ("old") cheese
1 large shredded onion (pureed is even better)
pepper to taste

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup water

Peel and boil potatos until thoroughly cooked.  Drain and mash until smooth.  I use a kitchenaid mixer.  Add the shredded cheese while the potato is still hot, as well as the onion, and mix on low-medium until smooth.  Add pepper to taste.  Taste periodically to see if it needs more cheese or not, pepper etc to your liking.

For the wrappers.  In the mixer place the flour and salt.  In a seperate bowl lightly scramble the eggs with the water and pour slowly into the mixer.  I use the triangular paddle for this on low speed.   Let the mixer combine and beat it until well combined.  Remove from the mixer and knead until smooth.  Cut the dough into small sections (maybe 5ths). can roll it out by hand until thin, cut with a mason jar lid and carry on, or do what we do.  We use an old fashioned hand cranked Pasta maker.

We start off rolling it at setting seven and finish at setting 5.  This gives it enough thickness to allow it to be pulled a bit for pinching.

Once rolled it goes to the board and is cut out with Mason Jar lids.  A heaping teaspoon of filling added and then you fold up the edges pulling a bit as you do and pinch them closed. 

Just like above.  Prepare a cookie sheet by spreading flour all over it.  Place the Pierogy in lines and when full, place in the freezer while the next tray is filled.  Once filled remove the semi frozen ones and place in a ziploc bag, sealing and placing back in the freezer.  Best part of this is they don't stick together and are now ready whenever you are.

To cook.   Have a large pot of boiling water ready.  Place about 12-15 in the water one at time and reduce the boil to about 8 once they start to boil up again (remember, they are frozen). Let them boil until they float.  Remove with a slotted spoon, and place on a readied skillet with butter.  Fry for just a few minutes on medium low heat until desired.   My grandma always fried them with Butter, Bacon, and onions.  We don't do the onions but bacon is a must.  I usually precook the bacon and add it after the fact though.  Serve with sour cream and love every savory bite.

Some people like them just boiled with butter...I'm a grandma purist. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nunsfarts AKA Pet de Soeurs

My grandma passed away without passing on the secret to nun's farts.  This is a traditional Canadian treat with a rather interesting name.  There are lots of references to how they got their name, but one is not quite sure how the name really came about.  I always just thought it was cute and funny, and even my Catholic school Sister nun's had a sense of humour about them.

I have tried to figure them out.  They are really quite simple, but today I failed miserably. Given I have said I will even post my failures here they are. They taste amazing but look well...awful.  I took a pic of the best of the lot, but most of them have pretty much fallen apart.

This is the best of the bunch.  They do/did taste really good though.  Since they have all disappeared I figure looks can be deceiving.  I will figure this out at some point though.

I have always made these with premade pie dough, and I've been trying to make my own pie dough for the first time this year.  I made a couple of good batches of pie dough.  This one was not quite up to snuff which may have made the difference.

I'm pretty sure my kids are going to be totally devasted by the fact that we'll have to eat them vs. giving them away.  LOL.

I have zero measurements for this but maybe if someone has them they can send them to me and I'll credit you with an actual real recipe.

This is how I make them.  Roll out Pie dough to 1/4 inch thick.  Spread out a couple tablespoons of soft butter, sprinkle generously with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Roll it up, cut into 1 inch sections and transfer to a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.   Let cool on the cookie sheet for about 3 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

They taste divine.  Although I blew this batch, (and the last one), I will keep trying.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, Peppermint Cream Cheese Filling

I have to tell all my readers.  I saw this in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine and just HAD to try them.  I love Red Velvet cake and have a recipe posted for it Here .   I thought...Wow, these would make fabulous cookie gifts sure to wow if they tasted as good as they looked.  I can say, Indeed they do!!

The end result is a cakey type cookie with a delicious filling.  Vibrant red (even though my picture may not reflect that).

Without further adieu.  The directions.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons red food colouring (I use Spectre gel)

Peppermint and Cream Cheese Filling (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.  In a large bowl beat the butter for 30 seconds, add the brown sugar, baking powder, cocoa, and salt.  Beat until well combined.  Add the egg and vanilla, scraping the sides occasionally until combined.  Alternately add flour and buttermilk, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.  Stir in the red food colouring.

Spoon dough from a rounded teaspoon (I used cookie ice cream scoops) onto the cookie sheets approx 2 inches apart.  Bake in the preheated oven for 7-9 minutes or until the edges are set.  Cool on cookie sheet for two minutes then remove to wire rack and let cool.

Spread Peppermint Cream cheese filling on the flat side of a cookie.  Top with remaining cookies, flat side down pressing very lightly together.

If desired sprinkle with crushed candy canes. ( I sprinkled the candy canes on half of them while they were  just out of the oven to ensure they held.

Peppermint Cream Cheese Filling
In a large bowl, combine two 3 oz packages cream cheese, softened, with 3 tablespoons of butter.  Beat on medium to high speed until light and fluffy.  Add 1 tsp of Peppermint extract.    Gradually,beat in 3 cups powdered sugar.  Add milk (I use whipping cream because I find it whips better), I tsp at a time to make a filling of spreading consistency.

To store:  Layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container, cover.  Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Let cookies stand at room temp for 15 minutes before serving.

10 fingers and toes up for this one!!!!  They are tasty and look delightful!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Buttertarts and Buttertart Mini's ~ A Canadian Classic

This is one of those Very Canadian treats.  Buttertarts!  My grandma used to make them all the time and it was always a fight over who would get the last one. 

I think the best thing I can equate it to is it's similar to a Pecan Pie for my American friends and readers.  You really must try this recipe.  You will never regret it.

My gran's recipe disappeared after she passed away.  Try as I might to find a copy I've not been able to.  So, I scoured the net looking for one, asked friends for their gran's recipe if they had one.
I wanted to make a tried and true recipe.  My friend JDurnford passed along her Grandma's recipe, and I ended up combining it with several others I found online to pretty much come up with a version I thought might work.  INDEED it did!!  I made them as mini's because they will be going into the cookie gift tins.  
The recipe makes approx 24 regular muffin cup buttertarts, or 48 mini ones. These bake up really quickly so if you are in a hurry use a premade shells or dough.

Pastry Shells (as taken off the back of my lard box)
1 lb lard
6 cups pastry flour (5 1/2 all purpose flour)
2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tbsp vinegar
Cold Water

Mix together flour and salt
Cut in lard with pastry blender or 2 knives until a course oatmeal like texture is achieved
In a one cup measure lightly beat the egg, add the vinegar and cold water to bring it to 1 cup (250 ml)
Gradually stir the liquid into the flour mixture. Add only enough water to make the dough cling together.

Gather into a ball and divide into 6 equal sized portions.  If desired, wrap unused portions and freeze.  Roll out the dough on a pastry cloth or lightly floured surface.  Chill for 1-2 hours if sticking.

Roll dough to approx 1//8-1/4 inch thick depending on the size of the muffin tins. (1/8 for mini, 1/4 for standard).   Cut dough with a round glass or cookie cutter and mold them into greased muffin tin (I use Pam)

1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans (if desired)
1/2 cup raisins (if desired)

Combine all the ingredients and mix well.  Spoon mixture into the prepared shells.  If using mini's about a teaspoon worked well for me.  For larger ones, fill the cup to a little more than 1/2 full.  No more than that.

Mini's I baked at 375 F for 10 minutes, removing from oven and letting cool to touch before transfering them to a cooling rack.  This avoided them setting and sticking to the pan if any of the filling had expanded above my dough line.

Standard one instructions were to bake anywhere from 375-400 F for 10 minutes.

These were so good.  A+ in this house.  The kids walked in the door and tasted them immediately.  Two thumbs up from the junior contingent.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eggnog Nutmeg Sugar Cookies

I decided I wanted to try a few new cookies this year. As we give about 90% of the cookies we make away as gifts, I wanted to add something new.

First up this year was the Eggnog Nutmeg Sugar Cookie. I usually buy the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas cookie magazine every year, and it didn't disappoint. I find one or two recipe that become a classic.

I find the icing on this one a smidgeon sweet so I may to play with it a bit for our own tastes. The recipe called for 3-4 tablespoons of eggnog in the icing. I increased it about 6 tablespoons for easier spreading and a thinner layer.

My daughter (aged 9) and spent the afternoon in the kitchen making these.


½ of a vanilla bean split in half lengthwise or 2 tsp vanilla (I used the seeds of the whole vanilla pod)

1 ¼ cups butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg or ½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp salt

1 egg

1 tbsp dairy or canned eggnog

3 ¼ cup all purpose flour

Eggnog Icing

Coarse sugar (optional)

  1. Using the tip of a sharp knife, scrape pulp from the vanilla bean pod and set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high for approx 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, eggnog, and vanilla pulp or vanilla until well combined. Beat in the flour slowly until well combined. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill 1 hour.

  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the dough balls to ¼ inch thick. Using fluted round 3 inch cookie cutter, cut out dough. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper ½ inch apart. Bake in preheated oven for approx 8 minutes or just lightly browned. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Spread cookies with Eggnog Icing and sprinkle with sugar if desired. Makes approx 24 cookies.

Where I deviated (as I always do). I used a whole pod of vanilla seeds, and I like my sugar cookies thin and smaller. I rolled mine a little thinner that ¼ inch, and found baking them for 5 ½ minutes PERFECT! Oven temps vary so keep an eye on them. My first batch I put in for 7 minutes and they nearly burned. I used a smaller cookie cutter about 2 inch diameter which yielded about 75 cookies.

Eggnog Icing. In a medium bowl, stir together 3 cups powdered icing sugar with ½ tsp vanilla. Stir in enough eggnog to make and icing of spreading consistency. The recipe called for 3-4 tablespoon of eggnog. I used approx 6 tablespoons.

To store: Layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container: cover. Store and room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Introducing Peppermint Nivek Dream Cookies

Thanks to those who sent in suggestions for the new cookie I created and posted

The name is a combo of a couple so our honoured winners are JenJellyBeans and Alleghany.

Thanks JJB for the laugh, and thanks Alle for flipping it into something we can use. You two are awesome.

You will both be getting a set of awesome cookie cutters from my favorite Kitchen obsession store!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Totally Fun Gingerbread

The Kids had a ball doing these.

For icing I used the same icing as I did for the Sugar Cookies see recipe here and decorator gels I bought at Golda's...NOT a good idea. They work really well but don't dry well's taking forever to set. This morning some are still sticky.  The icing is fine, just don't use the gels.

3 cups Flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2/3 cup butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg

Stir together, flour, ginger, soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and set aside.
Beat butter, add brown sugar, molasses and beat until combined. Add in the egg and mix well. Add in the flour mixture slowly and mix until just combined.

Divide dough in half, cover, and refridgerate for about an hour or so. Roll to 1/4 " thick on floured surface and cut out your various cookies.

Bake at 375 for 6-7 minutes. Lightly greased cookie sheets or parchment papered.

Have fun painting them with the kidlets. That's all I got for you at the moment. Have a few more I"m going to try this week I think. All of these recipes freeze really well.

Chocolate Ganache Snowflake Cookies

These cookies make a fabulous gift sure to wow. Sugar cookies (regular and chocolate) sandwiched with Chocolate Ganache.

Use regular sugar cookie recipe posted below. "Ultimate Sugar Cookie" recipe

Split dough in half Refrigerate half the dough and mix 1/2 cup cocoa powder into remaining half.

Refrigerate after completely mixed.

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup whipping cream......warm it on the stove until it just starts to bubble. Add 4 oz bittersweet chocolate (baker's) and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool.

Fill cookies and sandwich them together. Yummy.

I used two different sizes of snowflakes and made bite size ones with the center cutouts. Just make sure you use a solid cookie on the bottom...LOL. You can use any kind of shape you like, but I'm fond of the snowflake

Ultimate Sugar Cookie

This is a fantastic basic sugar cookie. They taste fabulous and are wonderful for decorating.

Sugar Cookie Base recipe
1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
Beat butter on med-hi for 30 seconds or so. Add Sugar, baking powder, salt. Beat it up, add egg and vanilla until combined and smooth. Beat in flour until well combined.
Divide dough in half cover and refridgerate for 1-3 hours. Preheat oven to 375. Roll dough to 1/8/ or 1/4 inch (your preference) and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
I use parchment paper on my cookie sheets for these. (Almost forgot...when rolling the dough..make sure the surface is floured well, and the rolling pin. If you notice it starting to stick...sprinkle some more flour on the top of the dough and/or rolling pin.)
Bake for 8 minutes or edges are set. First batch I put in for 8, subsequent batches only 7 minutes.
3 cups icing sugar
2-3 tabls milk
1 tsp vanilla Combine in mixer. is where I deviated. That was wayyyy too thick, so I added milk a tablespoon at a time until it reached a consistency I liked. Added the food colouring. (gels/not the stuff from the grocer) and painted it on using cheap dollar store paint brushes. I use the gel based food colourings as it gives a much stronger colour. For the pink I only used one drop of red (and even that was a bit much...I didn't have any pink left). For the red it was only two or three drops, green two drops and such) For this one you can always use a Royal Icing as well. It's easy and dries hard 2 cups of icing sugar 3 tbsp of water That's it....good for painting or smoothing. I used this one for the gingerbread men but thinned it out a little more. (just add water a 1/2 tsp at a time until you get your consistency)

Coconut Rum Meringues with Lime

I made these as I had egg whites left over from the biscottis (vanilla ones...not the chocolate ones posted) and wanted to use them up.

You can substitute Ameretto for the rum and eliminate the lime for a different taste (really really good)

2 egg whites
1 tblsp coconut rum or 1/4 tsp coconut flavouring
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup flaked coconut
1 tsp finely shredded lime peel

Place egg whites in medium bowl...let stand at room temp for 30 min preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil..set aside Add coconut rum, vanilla, and cream of tartar to egg whites and beat with electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar beating on high speed until stiff peeks form.

Gently fold in coconut and lime Drop 1 inch mounds of coconut mixture from a teaspoon 1.5 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake both sheets on seperate racks in oven about 10 minutes or mounds are set. Turn off oven and let cookies dry in oven with door closed for 30 minutes.

Makes about 36. Transfer to wire racks and let cool. Stor in airtight container at room temp for about a week or freeze up to 3 months.

Bittersweet Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti - excellent

These are a fabulous recipe that have become a standard Christmas cookie in our house. I don't even like biscotti but this one is delish. Makes a wonderful homemade gift to anyone. I always package them up and include the recipe.

Bittersweet Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti.
1/3 cup butter (softened)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 2/3 cup flour
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, chopped
4 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped

Chocolate dip
6 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped
2tsps shortening.

Preheat oven to 375 - lightly grease cookie sheet. (I generally always use Pam or parchement paper)

Beat butter on mdm/hi for 30 seconds, add brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and cocoa powder and finally beat in the flour until well combined. Add in hazelnuts and chocolate pieces (4 oz) and mix well until thoroughly blended. Divide the dough in half.

On a floured surfave shape each into a roll (however long...around 9-10 inches) so they are about 1.5 inches in width. Place rolls 4 " apart on prepped cookie sheet for and slightly flatten the rolls so they are about 2 inches wide.

Bake for 20-25 minutes can cool on cookie sheet for 45 minutes. Reduce temp in oven to 300 Once cooled....cut each roll diagonally into 1/2" thick pieces. Cut carefully with a serrated knife. Place back on cookie sheet flat.

Bake at 300 for 8-10 minutes and then turn them all over and bake again for another 7-9 minutes until moisture is removed. Transfer to wire rack and cool for about an hour.

Dip Instructions.
You can use the microwave and melt the 6 oz of chocolate and shortening on 1/2 power for 1-2 minutes but I prefer to do it on the stove.

If you don't have a double boiler what I do is use a metal mixing bowl and small saucepan. Pop some water in the saucepan and place the metal mixing bowl on top. Turn on the element and get the water boiling in the saucepan with the metal bowl and chocolate pieces in place. Keep stirring until melted and combined with the shortening.

Dip the end of the biscotti into melted chocolate and place on waxed paper or parchment paper and let stand until it's well set.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Help Me Name my New Cookie, Contest. White Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies

I've been working on this recipe for a few days. Originally my thought was to put a twist on the traditional peppermint bark with a cookie base.

I would love to hear some creative suggestions for the name of this delightful new cookie. Please post comments with some suggestions. The winning cookie name will win a set of Christmas cookie cutters.

I thought, instead of bark, how about a white chocolate ganache with some peppermint extract and topped with crushed candy canes. Well....the white chocolate ganache didn't turn out so well. I forgot that white chocolate doesn't have the same composition as regular chocolate and a straight conversion from my basic chocolate ganache left me with a runny mess. I ended up more than doubling the white chocolate so I have whacks left over. That's okay though since my family ate over 40 of my cookies already!! So much for gifts....grrrr.

I also had to tint the white chocolate red/pink as it went a little too yellow during the process and didn't look nice. It tastes fabulous though!

The end result is wonderful combination of flavours. A crisp white chocolate sugar cookie, a layer of white chocolate ganache and crushed candy canes to top.

I'm going to split this into ingredients and instructions for each section respectively.

White Chocolate Sugar Cookie (source
2 ¼ cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 oz. white chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In small saucepan over low heat, melt the white chocolate and set aside.

In small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt (so they're well combined) and set aside.

In large mixer bowl beat butter and sugar until creamy. Blend in egg and vanilla extract. Beat in melted white chocolate.

Gradually beat in flour mixture until soft dough forms. Shape dough in ball; flatten to 3/4" thickness.

Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 15 minutes* until firm.

On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to desired thickness. Bake until edges are golden (approximately 7 minutes). Let stand 2 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets and cool completely.

*Note: You MUST be able to roll and cut the dough after the 15 minute refrigeration time, or it will set up too much and won't roll out well.

White Chocolate Peppermint Ganache
18 oz pure belgian white chocolate, broken into small pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp butter
1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract (or more to individual taste)

Place broken up white chocolate in a medium metal mixing bowl. Be sure the bowl is clean and very dry.
In a small saucepan place the cream and butter into pot bringing to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmered pour over chocolate. Let sit while the chocolate melts (a few minutes), stir until smooth. Add the peppermint extract and thoroughly combine.

Let cool to room temperature. Once the heat has dispensed you can cover with plastic wrap.

You will need approx 4 larger size candy canes to top. Crush them in a plastic bag with a meat mallet (that's what I do)

Assembly Instructions.
Once the ganache is cooled and set it should be spreadable and remain smooth. Spread evenly on cookie to desired thickness. A little more than 1/8" works well. Sprinkle crushed candy canes over the top of the cookie. Spread the cookies out over a parchment paper on cookie sheets and allow to completely set. You will find the ganache will set further and harden a little more. This is good!!

This recipe yields approx 75 medium sized diamond shaped cookies. Store in layers between waxed paper in an airtight container. Based on past experience these should freeze well for up to 3 months.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Colourful Peppermint Meringues

It's Christmas cookie time!! The kids and I always make all kinds of different cookies and make gifts of them for teachers, their agent, dance instructors, neighbours etc.

Picked up the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookie edition again this year and found a few in there I'm testing this year. I have several from years ago that have become classics. I'm also inventing a new cookie. Working on it in my head and will experiment today as well.

Here is the first cookie tested this year. It's colourful and nice and light. I piped these out of an icing bag using a large star tip. The instructions say to bake at 200 F for 90 minutes. I placed 1/2 the batch in the oven and the other half in my convection oven at 225 F for 60 minutes. The convection oven ones turned out better (no browning or colour change at all)


3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pure peppermint extract
3/4 cup sugar


Preheat oven to 200F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl combine egg whites, cream of tartar, salt and peppermint extract. Whip on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar (about a tablespoon at a time), beating on high until stiff peaks form.

With a small clean paintbrush, paint stipes of red food colouring paste on the inside of a large (18") icing bag. Using a large star tip on the end. Very carefully spoon the meringue into the bag. Pipe 2" stars onto prepared cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.

Bake in preheated oven for 90 minutes or until meringues appear dry and firm to a light touch. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. I slide the parchment off the cookie sheet and onto the wire rack until the cookies are cool enough to remove without sticking, then let cool completely.

Store in layers seperated by waxed paper in an airtight container. Can be frozen up to 3 months.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bacon and Egg Pastries with Cheddar

I know I've been remiss to post anything of late. My camera is not functioning well.

However. I have been busy experimenting a bit in the kitchen. I bought my mom a Breakfast book this past weekend as she and my dad run a bed and breakfast.

This one turned out very well. I actually made it for dinner tonight. It was quick and easy, and the kids LOVED it!! The recipe called for ready made pie dough. Feel free to use it. I will also include a recipe for a simple pie dough. I'm hoping to find another one as Christmas nears but this one worked well for it's purpose today.
Butter (for greasing)
1 lb, prepared, basic pie dough
all purpose flour for dusting and rolling
2 tbsp dijon mustard
12 lean bacon slices, diced, cooked, and drained well
12 small eggs
salt and pepper
1 cup grated old cheddar cheese
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin pan (deep)
Roll the dough out to a 1/4 inch thickness, on a lightly floured counter and cut out 12 circles (I used a a large drinking glass and rolled a little thinner to expand them. (approx 5 inch diameter). Use the dough to line the individual muffin cups, gently pleating the sides as you ease them in.
Brush 1/2 tsp of dijon mustard into each of the prepared muffin cups. Distribute the bacon evenly throughout the cups.
Break the eggs into a bowl. Gently spoon each of the yolks into each cup. Spoon egg white into each cup filling approximately 2/3 of the way full. Don't overfill. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with shredded cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the egg is set and cheese is golden brown. Serve warm and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Excellent and quick.
Pastry Dough (source:
Ingredients for one double-crust 9 inch or 10 inch pie:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup (a stick and a half) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup of all-vegetable shortening (8 Tbsp)
6-8 Tablespoons ice water (please note I only used 2 tbsp Ice water)

1 Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse 4 times. Add shortening in tablespoon sized chunks, and pulse 4 more times. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no bigger than peas. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over flour mixture. Pulse a couple times. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, keep adding water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing once after each addition, until the mixture just begins to clump together.
2 Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface. Divide the dough into 2 balls and flatten each into 4 inch wide disks. Do not over-knead the dough! Dust the disks lightly with flour, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 2 days before rolling out.
3 After the dough has chilled in the refrigerator for an hour, you can take it out to roll. If it is too stiff, you may need to let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature before rolling. Sprinkle a little flour on a flat, clean work surface and on top of the disk of dough you intend to roll out. Using a rolling pin, apply light pressure while rolling outwards from the center of the dough. Every once in a while you may need to gently lift under the dough (an icing knife works great for this) to make sure it is not sticking. You have a big enough piece of dough when you place the pie tin or pie dish upside down on the dough and the dough extends by at least 2 inches all around.
4 When the dough has reached the right size, gently fold it in half. Lift up the dough and place it so that the folded edge is along the center line of the pie dish. Gently unfold. Do not stretch the dough.
5a If you are only making a single crust pie, use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough to within 1/2 inch of the lip of the dish. Tuck the overhang underneath itself along the edge of the pie dish. Use your fingers in a pinching motion, or the tines of a fork to crimple the edge of the pie crust.
5b If you are making a double crust pie, roll out the second disk of dough. Gently place onto the top of the filling in the pie. Use a kitchen scissors to trim the overhang to an inch over. Fold the edge of the top piece of dough over and under the edge of the bottom piece of dough, pressing together. Finish the double crust by pressing against the edges of the pie with your finger tips or with a fork.
6 Use a sharp knife to cut vents into the top of the pie crust, so the steam has a place to escape while the pie is cooking. Optional Before scoring, you may want to paint the top of your crust with an egg wash (this will make a nice finish).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Foccacia Bread and Pizza Recipe

I was hoping to post a cool Halloween Cauldron Cake today but sadly it never got made. We had to cancel our Halloween party due to the flu my youngest contracted.

Pizza was requested for dinner tonight so I'm posting my version of Pizza for you instead.

A friend of mine passed along a Foccacia Bread recipe years ago and while I rarely make it to use as bread (sometime pannini) I do use it as my base for Pizza dough. I make my dough in a breakmaker under dough setting.

Foccacia bread

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp chopped or minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 pinch ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup water
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tbsp bread machine yeast
Bake in oven for 8 minutes at 425 degrees F.
If you make the bread without pizza toppings, place dough on greased baking sheet, and pat it down to 1/2 thick rectangle, brush the top with olive oil and spring parmesan cheese and cup of mozzarella cheese. Preheat oven.

For Pizza I take the dough and usually divide it into two. I allow it to rise for about 1/2 hour, and then form the round dough bases on a well floured surface. I place two Pizza Stones in the oven for about 10 minutes while preheating and working on the pizza's themselves. Preheat oven to 425 F when you start to make the pizza's.

Spread some cornmeal on the pizza stone and transfer the pizza onto the stone. Bake for approx 11-13 minutes.

Roll your dough to approx 1/4 inch thick. Pinch around the sides to ensure the ingredients don't slide out. Spread pizza sauce on the dough

Pizza 035

Add ingredients as desired. I use cooked chicken, pepperoni, green and red peppers, and mushrooms, and course plenty of mozzarella cheese. Please note, I usually double the recipe above and divide into three for our family. I also substitute one third of the white flour for whole wheat, and use both regular mozzarella and soya mozzarella for a bit of a healthier option.

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Sprinkle more cheese over the top of the ingredients.

Here is the pizza all baked up. Note the dough rises quite a bit so making it as thin as you can prior to baking will give you a thinner crust.

Pizza 041

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dark Chocolate and Pumpkin Cheesecake


It's Thanksgiving weekend up here in Canada so I am busying myself with prepping for a meal for 30. We are having a pseudo family reunion and celebrating two anniversaries in addition to thanksgiving. We have a lot to be thankful for.

My contribution for the feast will be my family favorite mashed turnips with brown sugar, cinnamon and maple syrup, my grandmothers famous pierogies, and a dessert. I chose one I've been wanting to make for years and thought it would be perfect for this weekend.

I pulled out my Death by Chocolate cookbook by Marcel Desaulniers and got cracking today. This cookbook is full of decadent over the top, sinfully rich chocolate desserts. Without further is the recipe. I can tell you...I trimmed the pumpkin cheesecake to fit better and gave it a taste. DELISH!!! I've never had pumpkin cheesecake before so was unsure what to expect. Pumpkin pie but better!!! I dipped a second trimming into some ganache and that just put it over the edge of scrumptious.

I also cheated a smidgeon. I've been ill this week and didn't feel like baking the cookies for the crust so I sent the teen lad out to the market to pick up chocolate fudge cookies. I'm going to omit that part of the recipe but I'm sure it is worth it if you have the time.

Chocolate Pecan Cookie Crust
1 cup pecan pieces
6 Deep Dark Chocolate Fudge cookies
1 tsp unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate Cheesecake
8 oz semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1/4 cup brewed coffee, full strength (hot)
3/4 pound cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pumpkin Cheesecake
2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
1 lb cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree (make sure it's pure pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Semisweet Chocolate Ganache
1 cup cream (whipping cream)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp granulated sugar
12 oz semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit.
Toast the pecan pieces for 6-8 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature upon removal. Lower the oven to 300 degrees. In a food processor chop the cookes and the pecans until they are crumbs (should yield about two cups of crumbs). Set aside until needed.

Coat the bottom of a 9" by 3" springform pan with 1 tsp of melted butter. Use your hands to press 1 cup of crumbs to a uniform an level thickness on the buttered bottom of the pan. Set aside.

To prepare the chocolate cheesecake. Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler. (Here is where I cheat. I don't have a double boiler. What I do is boil water, pour into a large metal bowl, put my chocolate pieces in a smaller metal bowl and place in the boiled water..make sure the water isn't high enough to spill into the smaller bowl.) Pour the hot coffee into the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes( about 6-8). Stir the chocolate until melted and combined with the coffee.

Combine cream cheese, sugar and salt in mixing bowl with the paddle attachment. Beat on low for a minute, medium for 2 minutes, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 2 minutes on medium, followed by 2 minutes on high.

Add eggs one at a time ensuring it's well mixed between additions. Beat on high for about 20 seconds between each addition and scrape side in between as well.

Add vanilla and beat on high another minute until nice and smooth. Add the chocolate mixture and mix for another 20-30 seconds on medium. Remove from the mixer and using a rubber spatula pour into prepared springform pan, spreading evenly. Set aside at room temperature while preparing the pumpkin cheesecake.

For the pumpkin cheesecake, pour 1 tsp of melted butter in another springform. Cut out and place a piece of parchment paper down. Pour another tsp of butter on top of the parchment and spread to cover.

Place 1 lbs of cream cheese in the mixer and prepare as above to the conclusion of the egg additions. Mix pumpkin puree, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves for the final step. Pour mixture into prepared springform pan.

Place a small cake pan with 1 inch of water on the lower rack of the oven. This helps keep the moisture in the oven and prevents the cheesecakes from cracking (I learned this watching Marcel's show years ago!!). Place both cheesecakes in the oven on the center rack for approx 1 hour. Check them at 1 may need to go an addition 10 minutes depending on your oven.
Turn off the oven and keep the cheesecakes in the oven for an additional 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for approx 20 minutes at room temp. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for an hour keeping them in the springform pans.
In the meantime prepare the ganache. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and place in a metal bowl. Heat the cream and butter and sugar in a small saucepan until near boiling point. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute then stir until smooth. After it cools cover with plastic wrap. Do not put in the fridge.

Once cakes have cooled you may remove them from the pans carefully.

To assemble the cakes. Chocolate on the bottom, place enough ganache over the chocolate cheesecake to allow the top layer to be placed above. To remove the pumpkin cheesecake I take another spring form base and place it on the top of the cake. Flip it and remove the bottom springform base and parchment. Line up the cake with the chocolate layer and then place on top of the ganache. Spread remaining ganache over the top of the pumpkin layer and spread around the sides of the cheesecake.

Place remaining base crumb mixture around the sides of the cake. Top with sour cream mixture for an extra decadent touch. (3/4 cup sour cream, 2 tbsp brown sugar), and pecans around the top.

I can't wait to try all these flavours together for the first time. I've never made this one before and am thrilled with the way it turned out!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey Cupcakes

Today I was literally a kid in a candy store. I hit the bulk barn bulk food store. My husband was laughing at me as I got insanely excited about finding bloodshot eyeballs, skull candy, bloody bones candy, candy corn etc.

The ideas were just plowing out of my brain on top of each other for halloween as my daughter is having a party this year. I can't wait!!! (just to make some fun treats).

In the meantime though we are celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving this weeknd. It will be a busy week of getting ready. i just couldn't help myself though and made some cupcakes tonight. I decided to use the candy corn and made some turkey cupcakes with my two youngest (aged 8,9)

They look a little mutated (and possibly phallic in some cases) but I am claiming innocence on all of that. I passing the buck to my kids. HA.

Anyhow, our turkey cupcakes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pound Cake Extraordinaire. Melt in your mouth.

pound cake 006

This pound cake is a little extravagant...okay, a lot extravagant. If you are looking for a simple pound cake this will also do the trick but it was my 16th anniversary today so I wanted it a little fancier.

I have never made pound cake before, but I've seen them use it so much on Cake Boss and various cake decorating shows I decided to try it. In trying to find a good recipe I learned pound cake is named as such because it uses a pound of flour, a pound of butter, pound of egg, and pound of sugar. I even weighed my eggs once cracked just to check. Sure totalled a pound.

This recipe is fantastic. I will credit Soul Food for the recipe as this is where I found it and it's simply perfect as is. No changes necessary.

Here is the recipe

3 cups cake flour
6 large eggs
1 pound butter, room temperature, softened
1 pound sugar
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

I always use a kitchenaid mixer for baking.

Sift the flour, baking soda,and baking powder
into a large mixing bowl.

Stir in salt and the sugar. Add the butter. Add the eggs, whole. At this
point I break out my mixer and begin mixing on
slow. Slowly add the buttermilk and vanilla. After it's thoroughly combined turn up the mixer to medium, and high for a few minutes each. If it's a little
thick add just a touch more buttermilk but it should be thick. If you don't
mix things thoroughly you will have lumps that will form air bubbles in your mixture and leave holes in your finished cake.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

This recipe makes quite a bit of cake. I used a medium and small hex shape deep pan, and still had a bit of batter left over. A large Bundt cake pan, plus a loaf pan would probably work too. Spray the pans with Pam cooking spray, and bake for about an hour to one hour 20 minutes. Check the cakes at the hour mark. When a nice golden brown they are complete and toothpicks come out clean.

For my extravagance I made the Italian Butter cream that I posted about yesterday. Cut the cakes into layers and used custard and strawberries between the layers. Iced the layers with the butter cream icing and topped with blueberries and strawberries. I refrigerated the cake and it was mouthwateringly good.

pound cake 002

pound cake 005

Pound cake is great for carved cakes, or you can just slice a piece plain. You can dress it up really any way you wish.

I wish I could make my cakes look like Cake Boss' but at least they taste divine!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Italian Buttercream Icing.

The first time I tried to make this it wasn't exactly a failure but it turned into 7 hours of frustrating, "I'm not going to give up" hell. The final result came out well but I went through 12 lbs of butter, dozens of eggs, and many phone calls to my friend who was attempting to help me through my culinary crisis.

I am once again attempting to make Italian Buttercream to go onto a pound cake. No special occasion just feel like baking today. I made the mistake of watching cake boss this morning and felt the need to make something sweet. Nothing fancy today, just yummy (hopefully).

As I type this the egg whites and sugar syrup are getting beaten in the mixer for their required 10 minutes (or until cool). Last time I tried to make this recipe it was disaster and I'm pretty sure I know why. 40 degree (celcius), high humidity I think killed all of my chances of success.

It's cool today so I shall once again attempt. I am also trying a variation on the last recipe as I really don't want to waste 6 lbs of butter if it failed. It's scaled back so we'll see how it turns out.

Here is the recipe. I have no source for this as I found it in a comments section in some remote corner of the internet. I know it's half metric and half imperial, but I have a dual scale so it makes it a little easier. BTW...invest in a good dual scale...I can't believe how much time I save with it vs trying to convert by hand.

Italian Buttercream

750 grams. granulated sugar
1/4 litre of water
6 oz. egg whites
2 1/2 pounds of soft butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Instructions say, whip the egg whites until fluffy and peaks appear. Bring the sugar and water to a boil and slowly pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites. Continue to beat on high for 10 minutes or so or until the mixture is cooled and sort of resembles liquified marshmallows.

I did that...turned out crystalization of sugar, it was perfect....Doesn't it look perfect?
Beef Stew Italian icecream 007

Then you are supposed to add the butter one tablespoon at a time into the mixture. The mixture turns soupy but then fluffs up again after the butter has been whipping awhile. we go. THIS would be where I screwed up (I think). Soupy is one thing, liquid flying all over the kitchen is another thing all together.
Beef Stew Italian icecream 009
I decide to throw a tea towel over the mixer while it's doing it's thing because I'm getting pelted with drops of ingredients even on low. I continue to lift the tea towel and toss in the butter one tablespoon at a time. I feel a drip, look over to the other side of the mixer and think...oh dear sweet lord I've done it again.
Beef Stew Italian icecream 010 Beef Stew Italian icecream 011
THIS is what it looked like. What a mess!! Not to be deterred I continue. I decided to change paddles from the whipping paddle to the mixing paddle. That seemingly works and slow it down to level 1 while I continue adding the butter. Starting to look better's coming.
Beef Stew Italian icecream 012
I get through all the butter and look at my mixture...SUCCESS it worked!!!, then I tasted it. Damn....not to successful, it's like eating pure butter. I suspect my egg/sugar mixture has saturated my poor tea towel and not enough was left in the actual bowl to work.

As I type, I'm boiling some more sugar syrup, and will cool it down completely and try to add some. Praying I don't screw this up.......

I've rethought this problem. I think I'm going to whip up some more egg whites and add the sugar mixture to it, and add a little bit to my buttercream...

I ended up not doing either...sort of a combo. I cheated. I made some more sugar/water combo, let it cool completely. I added about 4 tblsps worth to the buttercream and about 1 tbsp Wilton's meringue powder. This worked. It's not nearly as buttery now.

I'm going to say at this point, I would reduce the butter quantity to two lbs vs 2 1/2.

It is acceptable now. This particular batch is going to be used on a vanilla pound cake, with fresh blueberries and strawberries so not too sweet will work fine.
Here is the final finished product, complete with finger marks for taste testing.
Beef Stew Italian icecream 013

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pizza Scone Recipe (Great Lunch Idea)

Here is the Pizza Scone recipe I promised last week. I've had a bit of an insane week and have spent barely anytime in the kitchen.

This is a great idea for lunches. The kids love it. You can change it up and add ham and cheddar cheese instead of mozza/pepperoni/pizza sauce. It's quick and easy to make and takes less than half an hour start to finish. I often make this first thing in the morning when we realize that #2 son has forgotten to make bread the night before.

The kids loved this one so much my oldest son's football team requested a few of them for practise one day.

Pizza Scones
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons margarine/butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large egg whites
1 cup or so of cut up pepperoni, not in slices but cubed from the slices
1 cup (approx) shredded mozzarella cheese
pizza sauce

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and mix it so it's kinda cornmealish Combine the buttermilk and egg whites together and add it to the dry mixture Add the pepperoni and cheese and mix again.

On a pastry board or whatever. Put down some flour, take the dough out and knead it a couple of times (about 4 times). Make sure it's lightly covered in flour. Shape it into a flat round circle and cut it into triangles but don't seperate the pieces (bake it as a circle)

Spray a cookie sheet with Pam and slide it onto sheet or cut it into triangles on the sheet) Brush pizza sauce over the top (not too much) and bake at 400 degrees for 20 min.

The one pictured above I sprinkled some extra mozza cheese on the top.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Back to School Lunch Ideas

With four kids and a husband to pack lunches for everyday you try to keep things fresh, easy, and fast. You also don't want to run into the monotany of a salami sandwich daily so we try to keep things varied, but easy daily. Given we have two in elementary and now two in highschool there are also issues with the older two "looking cool" for school. Fortunately the wide and varied lunches we prepare have gotten envious looks from my oldest's highschool football team so I think we are doing alright. (I even had a request to make pizza scones for the team at one point).

Now that school is back I'm spending the day getting prepared for the weekly lunches. Spending part of a weekend day prepping everything makes whipping together lunches in the morning a snap. Things to always have on hand

Cut celery
Carrot sticks
Broccoli heads
Salad dressings
Bacon bits

We try to keep our lunch waste to a minimum so rarely do we have prepared foods and we use these fantastic starfrit containers with snap down lids that never come off until intended. No smelly bags from inadvertant food spillage!!

Standard things we put in the lunches.

A small container with fresh veggies. Be they carrot/celery, broccoli, peppers. A side small starfrit container with some salad dressing for dipping.

Mixing is up is important. We also cut up fresh fruit ahead of time so we can have a container of that available if they want it.

Treats for lunches include, homemade chocolate chip cookies which can be seen In this post

Cupcakes (any number of the ones posted and those to come)

A slice of cake if we've made one.

Drinks are all done in refillable containers. Often we'll put the drinks in the freezer the night before so they are semi frozen in time for school and thaw out as the day goes on but they still have a nice cool drink. Lemonade, juice, etc.

Now for the fun part. Main course with lunch. Sunday nights I usually have a tray full of chicken breasts cooking in the oven. Used to make chicken salad sandwiches or buns. Cut up into wraps for something different with peppers, lettuce, and some cheese. This makes life so much easier.

Salads: Caesar, garden, whatever, the lettuce is already washed and ready to go. Rip it up, toss it into containers and add whatever you want to it. We already have all the veggies washed, cut up in containers in the fridge so the choice is endless. Cut up some chicken for protein and good to go!

Rice: Make some rice balls of white/brown rice, throw in some cut up chicken or pork, or beef, some veggies on the side and instant bento box.

Pizza scones...this is always a favorite. I'll make some later this week to show you how it's done. I usually just make these in the morning if I feel like it. 20 minutes and they are prepped and ready to go.

Tomorrow's lunch will consist of Chicken Salad on a homemade bun, carrot and celery sticks, chocolate chip cookies with lemonade drinks.

Wednesday will be Caesar's salads, rice balls, Amaretto cupcakes, apple and banana slices and a drink.

I also try to stay away from deli meats as they have so much sodium and nitrites in them I think too much of that is a little harmful. Other thinks we do is cook a beef roast on Sunday to use in sandwiches, pork roast, etc. Spice up the sandwich with some cut peppers, or make a wrap, add a little salsa and cheese and new ideas come out.

My chicken salad sandwich is a little different than the standard fare.
First I use shredded cooked chicken breast
Add shredded carrot and celery
Toss in a handful or two of bacon bits, some mayonaisse, a pinch of salt, and it's good to go. The bacon adds some nice little zest to it.

Chicken shredded

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Chicken with shredded carrots, celery, and bacon bits added.

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Now on the homemade buns with lettuce

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Sandwich all Packed up in the nifty Starfrit containers. 

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