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

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Football Cake for a Football Party

I recognize I've not been around of late.  I went on vacation to Portugal and I've been in a major crocheting frenzy of late, making gifts for Christmas.

All of the above plus my new role of team momanager of my youngest man's football team.  It has been a blast actually.  My little guy has fallen in love with Football!  who knew?

Our little motley crew of players have done pretty well.  We made it to the championship game.  While we didn't take the title we gave the opposing team a workout and made them fight for the win.  I was really proud of little guys. (all 10 year olds)

I promised the team at half time last week that if they played their hearts out 2nd half we'd have a party.  Tomorrow is the day.

My little guy helped me decorate this one.  He did the football field.   All of this is real cake.  Football is pound cake (two of them carved into shape)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sour Cream Pancakes. A Bed and Breakfast treat

My mum and dad run a B&B  here in Northern Ontario during the summer months.  Our family cottage built by my Grandad and added onto over the decades is now host to families and couples from around the world.

This recipe has become one of the favorites of all guests, children and adults alike.   It originates from my mum's pre B&B days when she ran a charity.  One of the fundraisers for the charity was a cookbook.  I don't know who contributed this one but it is fantastic.   Substitute plain yogurt for sour cream if you don't have the sour cream.  I have also changed the original to use buttermilk instead of regular milk.  (we are buttermilk fans in our house).  Add some fresh fruit if desired.  The possibilities are endless.  Mum has been known to add chocolate chips for a special treat.

You can also mix the dry ingredients, pre prepped and stored in zip bags for faster prep on busy mornings.

1 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1 egg
2 tbsp sour cream, heaping  (or plain yogurt)
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp melted butter

Sift together dry ingredients.  Mix egg, milk and sourcream.  Pour over dry ingredients, add the melted butter and mix.   Spray a hot skillet with Pam cooking spray and cook.  Makes approx 12 pancakes (silver dollar size).

They were delicious

Friday, July 8, 2011

Harry Potter Sorting Hat Cake (aka 10th birthday cake)

Yet again my little guy has a birthday.  Since we didn't get to do a fun cake for my daughter in May or my teenager in June I actually had time to bake a cake today for my little man's 10th birthday on Sunday.

Harry Potter was again a theme and this time a sorting hat was to be made.  I had zero clue how to approach this so I basically started winging it.  I made 6 layers of cake (used 5, plus a couple of ramekins to make the tip, and a giant marshmallow).   Buttercream icing between the layers and chocolate fondant covers it all.

This went significantly more smoothly than I anticipated actually.  I am grateful the hat is old and mishappen as my fondant ability is not great so it all kind of works.   All in it took me about an hour and a bit to ice, carve and finish up.

Carving the cakes

Dirty layer of buttercream for under the fondant

Fondant layered on and molded as best possible

A few embellishments for our little Gryffindor

One happy little man

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chicken with Cranberry Almond, Havarti Stuffing

Once again we have another delicious chicken recipe.  The original (Rose Reisman) recipe called for Chicken Supreme with skin but I altered it to a light breading instead.  Some of the measurements are altered as the original recipe served 4 and I need it for 6.

My youngest lad has lately become somewhat fascinated with all things cranberry.  He wanted me to make this one last night but I opted for the Tomato/Olive Chicken combo in yesterday's post instead.

Tonight I gave in and made this one and it was absolutely delicious.  The sauce is delightful and the chicken combined with the stuffing is perfect.  If only they made a "light" white wine with few calories....oh to dream.

Again, easy to prepare, and fast.   All in about 45 minutes (with kids running up to the market to pick up ingredients I had run out of).   These measurements were to serve 6.

1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (six breasts)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup skim milk

3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup toasted almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup shredded light havarti cheese

1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup thawed concentrated orange juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

fresh chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
Make a horizontal slit in each piece of chicken to form a pocket for the stuffing, making sure not to slice all the way through.

To make the stuffing, in a food processor, chop the cranberries and almonds.  Add the cinnamon and olive oil and finally havarti and process for a minute or so.

Stuff into the chicken breasts and secure with toothpicks.

In a small bowl combine the egg and milk and scramble well. Dip each chicken piece in to coat and then coat with breadcrumbs

Lights coat a large non stick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium high heat.  Lightly coat all of the breaded chicken with cooking spray.   Cook for approx 3 minutes on each side of chicken until golden brown and transfer to a foil lined cookie sheet.  (spray sheet with cooking spray).

Place in oven between 20-30 minutes until an interior temp of 165 F is reached.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce by whisking the maple syrup, orange juice,  honey, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and Dijon together in a small saucepan.  Add the cornstarch and whisk well.  Bring to a boil reduce the heat and simmer for about a minute until just slightly thickened.  Spoon over the cooked chicken.  (It is delicious over rice as well)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chicken with Tomato, Three Cheeses, Olives

This lighter fare kick we are on has been wonderful but dang....I love breaded food.  I can't tell you how much I love fried breaded chicken, fried breaded pork chops, chicken wings, oh and veal cutlets...oh how I love an artery hardening veal cutlet with a sprinkle of lemon juice....heaven.

It's been a stressful week.  I had to fly up north to care for my Mother in Law (she is fine).  My daughter was having an issue that was best dealt with by me so I flew her up with me (happy Birthday honey), and we reset the gardens all weekend.  It was a week of trying to stay light on the fly so to speak.  That said I needed some comfort food tonight.

Anyhow...true to the spirit of keeping it light and trying to lose weight.   Woohoo (I have lost a little over 4 lbs now).  This is a lightened up version.   I can't tell you how good this recipe was.  It turned out far better than I thought it would taste wise.  It was scrumptious and the kids all wanted 2nds.
I should note.  This recipe took about 1/2 hour from start to finish.   Quick and delish

I got my inspiration from Rose Reismans' Family Favorites cookbook.  I changed the cheese types, tomato variety and olives to suit our own tastes.  The original recipe called for Havarti, Goat Cheese, and Parmesan, plum tomatoes, and black olives.  I used Asiago, vine tomatoes, and green olives with the little red pimentos in them.

It was fantastic!!   Without further adieu.

Ingredients: (serves 6)
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 egg
2tbsp skim milk
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup diced vine or plum tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded asiago
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped green olives
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp dried basil
3 tbsp chopped basil fresh
2 tsp vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Lightly coat a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray.
Pound chicken to 1/2 inch thickness
Beat the egg and milk together.  Dip each chicken piece into the mixture and then coat lightly with breadcrumbs on a seperate plate.
Lightly coat a non stick skillet with cooking spray, add the oil and place over medium high heat.   Cook each piece of chicken until browned and almost cooked through (approx 3 minutes per side).   Transfer to the casserole dish.
Combine the tomatoes, asiago, goat cheese, parmesan, olives, garlic, and dried basil in a bowl.   Spoon over the chicken.  Cover and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through. (internal temp of 165 F).   Garnish with fresh basil and serve with vegetables.     After the 10 minutes remove the cover and bake an additional 3 minutes.

This one is sure to please.

Chicken breaded.

After browning in the skillet

Tomato and Cheese mixture added

Yummy out of the oven

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ravioli Caprese Lightened up. (Chicken and Basil Ravioli)

One of our favorite recipes is Ravioli Caprese from Giada's Everyday Italian.  It's a wonderfully light tasting recipe.  It is however not that light calorie and fat wise so I wanted to try "lightening it up" tonight.

What resulted was a delightful surprise.  Minimal difference in flavour and even lighter tasting.

We used Wonton wrappers for this recipe instead of making the dough from scratch this time and I used light ricotta cheese and a broiled chicken breast as opposed to rotisserie from the store as in the original recipe.

While not big changes it was enough to lighten up the fat content and reduce the calories a bit.

The original recipe is posted HERE.    My changes are as follows.  As always my portions are to feed a family of six (plus a neighbour child tonight who begged to stay after seeing them made)

You can always take these portions and freeze extras on a cookie sheet then place them in a ziploc bag in the freezer to make a quick and easy dinner.  Halving the recipe works too.  I use the original measurements for the sauce without doubling.


1 tub Light Ricotta Cheese
2 eggs
approx 1 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken breast (use a processor to shred it).  This equates to about 1 cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup grated parmesan
4 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
grated ground pepper to taste

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Wrappers:  One 220gram package of wonton wrappers.  (approx 75 wrappers)

For the Filling:   Combine all the ingredients in a medium bown and stir to combine.  I use my kitchenaid mixer to combine them all well.

Place the wrappers working with about 12 at a time on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Have a small bowl of water and pastry brush nearby.

Place approx 1 tsp (a smidgeon more.  I use a small cookie scooper) into the center of each of the wonton wrappers.
Use the pastry brush to lightly brush water along two edges of the wrapper and fold to create a triangle.  press closed and set aside on a seperate cookie sheet until ready to use.

To make the sauce, simply place the ingredients into a skillet and heat the sauce on low.

Once all the wrappers are filled  have a pot of low boil water ready.  Place about half the wontons in the water and let low boil until floating and ready (about 3-4 minutes).   Drain the wontons and place in the skillet with the sauce, lightly coating before removing to serving dish.  Repeat with the balance of the wontons.

The result is delightful and significantly less work than making the dough by hand as well.  This took me about an hour from start to finish.   Making the dough rolling it out etc, generally takes me about 2-3 hours to make this recipe.

Light Cinnamon Crepes with Fruit and Cheese. Scrumptious

We had the pleasure of having my parents here for Easter weekend this year.  This is the first time in 15 years that we've been able to spend Easter together so I was thrilled as were the kids.   Since we don't have them here very often I wanted to make a delicious brunch for them.  Of course we are still trying to stay "light" and I worked through some recipes lightening them up.  In addition to the crepes we also made a Chicken Spinach Frittata.  Recipe here

These were absolutely delicious!!!  I got to test my new crepe pan and play in the kitchen.  The filling light and scrumptious.  Fresh fruit finishes it up beautifully...  Ricotta cheese is spectacular with fresh fruit on it's own.  Add in a little crepe and it pushes it over to top in goodness.

Crepes. (makes approx 15)

These can be made a day ahead of time.  Everytime I've made crepes the first one always goes caplooey so I just toss the first one (actually one of the kids gladly accept it to taste test. )  You can cut the recipe by 3rds to reduce quantity of crepes

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 pinches of salt
2 1/4 cup buttermilk
6 tsp vegetable oil
3 large eggs (or 3/4 cups liquid egg replacement)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 Tub Light ricotta cheese
2 oz light cream cheese (about 1/2 bar)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
3 cups of fresh fruit   (strawberries, banana, blueberries, raspberries, etc)

To make the crepes.
Combine the dry ingredients and mix well, set aside
In a seperate bowl combine the milk, egg, and oil.   With an electric mixer add the dry ingredients to the wet mixing gradually until smooth and combined.   Cover and refridgerate for 30 minutes

Lightly coat a non stick skillet or crepe pan with cooking spray and set over medium heat.  Using approx 1/4 cup of the batter, pour into the pan and tilt in all directions so the batter covers the pan.   Cook for approx 1 minute and lift the edges with a spatula to test.  Flip when the bottom is lightly browned.  I always use my silicone icing knife and a spatula to flip.  I am not a flipping master.  Set the crepes aside.   I use parchment paper to seperate the crepes.  I have tried plastic wrap (they get stuck together and hard to seperate the plastic),  wax paper (just doesn't work, paper gets soggy) and have ended with parchment paper being the best solution.   

For the filling, combine the ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a bowl, mixing with electric mixer until well combined.  Add the maple syrup and combine well.
Fold in half of the mixed berries gently.

To assemble, spread approx 1/4 cup (maybe a little more) of the filling onto each crepe and roll up.  Lightly coat a large non stick skillet with cooking spray over medium heat.  Brown the crepe on all sides for about two minutes.  Serve with the balance of berries.

Spinach Chicken Frittata

Frittatas are one of those easy breakfast items that let you use up all kinds of leftovers in the fridge.  I love frittatas.  They are nutritious and delicious.   You can generally use whatever you want in them after the basic eggs/cream combo to create your own unique versions.

I always have cooked chicken breasts in the fridge.  I love having them available for a quick lunch, to toss in salads, or make a quick meal.   This time instead of using heavy cream in the recipe to lighten it up I used 2% evaporated milk and it worked perfectly.  (next time I might even try evaporated skim milk)

Just as a note.  I don't measure any of this while I'm making other than the eggs and evaporated milk everything else is pretty much whatever I have on hand.


1 cooked chicken breast cut in small cubes
12 eggs
1/2 cup 2% evaporated milk
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 cup chopped brocolli (small)
1/2 red pepper chopped.
1 cup shredded cheese (your choice, sometimes I use goat cheese, feta, mozza, cheddar)

Beat the eggs and milk until well "scrambled".  Add in all the other ingredients and mix well.

Pour into a  greased 10-12 inch round oven proof dish (can be a skillet)  I use an oven proof flan dish.  I generally spray the pan with cooking spray.  Sprinkle some of the shredded cheese over the top of the mixture.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F, for approx 45 minutes.   Remove from oven and let sit for five minutes before serving.   This feeds my entire family with leftovers.  Yesterday I made it for 8 and we still had leftovers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easy Creamy Lemon Meringue Pie

Who says low fat has to taste badly?    Today was a major cooking feast in the kitchen using up produce and meat in the fridge.  We have cream of broccoli soup, cream of cauliflower and carrot soup, (both made with low fat condensed milk, vs cream) beef stew, low fat mac and cheese and we needed to add a little sweet to our lives today.

I found a lower fat creamy version of Lemon Meringue Pie on Rose Reiman's  website this afternoon.  

My daughter's little friend showed up and asked if she could help in the kitchen so we went at it.  This recipe is very easy.  My young ladies learned how to seperate egg yolks and whites, how to whip egg whites into yummy meringue (which they say is like goopy marshmallow "stuff"), zest a lemon and hand squeeze the juices. 

This recipe took very little time to make and while we haven't tastes the finished product quite yet, there were lots of little fingers testing the filling/meringue and base along the way.  Numberous thumbs up were achieved.

From the filling it is almost more like my Creamy Key Lime Pie  but I suspect lower in fats.  I was tempted to make it without the meringue as I'm not a huge meringue fan but given the first kick at the can so to speak, we made as directed.

1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (I used graham wafer crumbs)
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 can + 2/3 cup low fat sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
3 egg yolks (saving the whites)

3 egg whites
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
3 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly coat a 9 inch pie pan with cooking spray (I didn't do this)
To make the crust simply combine the crumbs with the water and oil in a small bowl.  Pat into the pie pan along the sides and bottom

For the filling, comine the sweetened condensed milk, lemon zest, lemon juice and egg yolks until smooth and combined.  Let it sit for 10 minutes until it thickens a bit.   Pour into the pie pan and bake for 20 minutes or just until the mixture is set.

While the pie is baking make the meringue.   Combine the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and water in a mixing bowl.   Beat on highest setting until stiff peaks form (about 7 minutes).   Spread over the lemon filling immediately upon removing the pie from the oven.

Increase the oven temp to 375 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes until just lightly browned.  Chill until cold and cut into 14 small slices.  

Yes...SMALL slices.  I'm learning it's not necessarily what I'm eating but the portion size of said foods.  We are definitely "lightening" up our dishes with some easy alternative ingredients  but really it's monitoring portion controls.

I don't really need large portions of food so on that front I'm lucky.   I just needed a little bit of tweeking.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mediterranean Burgers with Feta Cheese

Day 3 of healthy eating with another winning recipe from Rose Reisman's website.

Tonight I actually made a variety of dishes including a "light" baked macaroni and cheese, and cream of broccoli soup.

I'm going to concentrate on the burgers though as they were exquisite!!!  The kids could not get enough of them.  I used approx 2 lbs of ground beef and doubled the recipe for my family.  I made the patties smaller to yield approx 18 patties

Absolutely no need to have a bun although my oldest told me a small fresh bakery dinner roll made was tasty with it as well.

Again under 300 calories and I can't even begin to describe how good these patties were.


1 lb extra-lean ground beef
1 egg
1 tsp dried basil  (I used fresh Basil (about 1 tbsp) and (1/2 tsp) oregano)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 Tbsp seasoned dry breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp ketchup
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 1 oz)

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 1 oz)
1/4 cup light cream cheese (about 2 oz), softened
3 Tbsp low-fat plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp water (I omitted the water)
1/2 tsp dried basil  (I used fresh basil)

To make the burgers, combine the ground beef, egg, dried basil and oregano, breadcrumbs, ketchup, garlic, onion and feta in a large bowl and shape into 4 burger patties. Grill or sauté in a pan lightly coated with cooking spray. Cook on 1 side for 7 minutes, then turn over and cook 3 to 5 more minutes or just until beef is done.  I grilled mine on the bbq.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a food processor and purée until smooth.  I simply used a hand blender

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Orange Glazed Pork Tenderloin, Cranberry stuffing

As we venture into the lighter fare these days in my home here is another fantastic dish.

My 9 year old LOVED it!!   I  found this on The Art of Living well website.  I have been working through some of her recipes as I try to shed some of the weight gained since quitting smoking.  If you get a chance you really should  check out her website.  It is quite amazing.  Full of healthy, delicious recipes, smart alternatives to restaurant foods while eating out, and a positive outlook for healthy living. 

I recognize I need to diet, but I hate that word and I love food.  By that I mean flavourful food, not necessarily food in large quantities.  From my experiments with some of Rose's recipes thus far, healthy doesn't have to mean bland.

This recipe was delicious.  Under 300 calories per serving. (This recipe serves 6). 

Simple to make and quick.   It took me about 10 minutes to prep it and approx 1/2 hour to make.  It was served with sushi rice (1/2 cup)  and steamed asperagus.  

My one note about this recipe.  The glaze is amazing but strong!  A teeny tiny bit will do quite nicely.  The little of bit of orange with the cranberry is fantastic but too much can be overpowering.

1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, butterflied

2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
2 tsp walnut (or olive) oil
1 oz diced brie

2 Tbsp orange juice concentrate
2 Tbsp red currant or black currant jelly
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic

3 Tbsp chopped parsley

1.Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with foil lightly coated with cooking spray.

2.To make the stuffing, combine the cranberries, walnuts, cinnamon, cloves and walnut oil in the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse on and off until the mixture is crumbly. Add the diced brie and pulse once or twice, just to combine.   I didn't use my processor for this step.  I chopped the cranberries and used some coursely ground walnuts, chopped the brie and mixed it all well.

3.Open the pork loin like a book and stuff with the fruit and nut stuffing. (If you would like to make this easier to roll, first pound the pork to a 1/4-inch thickness before stuffing.)I just cut mine. Secure with either kitchen string or toothpicks. Set a large, nonstick grill pan or skillet lightly coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat and sear until browned on all sides, about 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Place on the baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked to medium (until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 145°F). Let rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.  I am not sure why so many recipes call for non stick pans but I don't own any anymore so I simply use a light coat of Pam in my steel skillets.

4.Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by combining the orange juice concentrate, jelly, vinegar, olive oil, orange zest and garlic in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat for 1 minute and drizzle over the sliced pork. Garnish with parsley.

For nutritional information and more information visit  you can also follow Rose on Facebook at

Friday, April 15, 2011

Harry Potter Movie Night Magical Dinner Theme

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was released today on DVD.   New  Harry releases are always exciting days here in our household.

What happens when you have a mom who loves the books and movies as much as her kids?   A day of fun, frivolity and magical adventures in the kitchen.

We start the festivities with Luna Lovegood's Pie (aka Shepard's Pie).  (Recipes at the end of the post)

Here we have a young wizard casting a spell on mom's stove because our house elf has disappeared

Of course  no magical meal is complete without desserts.  Our young witch is casting an enchantment charm on these today

A beverage is a must indeed.   Butterbeers all around.

A fine evening ahead for the lot of us.

Shepard's Pie Recipe

3-4 lbs extra lean ground beef
1 large onion (chopped finely)
2 carrots sliced
1/2 bag of frozen corn
1 box sodium reduced beef broth
1 can tomato paste
pepper to taste
a few dashes of worchestire sauce

approx 8 new potatoes, boiled, mashed. (I always add 1/2 block of cream cheese to my mashed potatoes)

Brown the meat and onions in a large skillet or dutch oven.  Add the box of beef broth, worchesterire and about 3/4 can of tomato paste, as well as the carrots.   Let simmer for about an hour.

Cover with the mashed potatoes and bake for approx 45 minutes to one hour in the oven at 350 F.

Cupcakes.  Use your favorite cupcake recipe and any of the buttercream icing recipes listed here in the blog.   I made the scarves, hats and brooms out of premade fondant today.  (normally I make it on my own but got to it a little late today)

Butter beer.   Lots of labels available online for downloads.   To make the butter beer.

Clear Cream soda and butterscotch flavor to taste.  It's really that simple.   Grown up versions of butterbeer.   Clear cream soda and butterscotch schnapps.

For some fun with the kids and an extra special movie night ahead.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Marnie's Cheesy Meat Lasagna

Since many have asked for this recipe after seeing me post the pic on Facebook, so here you go.

I was so excited yesterday I haven't really left the kitchen since the morning.  I'm not one for fancy cookware as my old beat up cheapie stuff has served me well over the years.  It was time however to start replacing some of my 20 year old cheaper stuff finally.  I treated myself to Le Crueset.  Three french/dutch ovens.  One round one 3.3L, and two ovals 5qt, and 7qt size.  I also picked up a lasagna pan, and a cute kiwi coloured kettle.   My old saucepans also needed replacing and I picked up a beautiful set of stainless saute pans, stockpot, and saucepans.

I just HAD to get in the kitchen.   It started by making my spaghetti meatsauce.  Here

I made a pork roast for dinner and then some lasagna last night to have for dinner tonight.   Today I started making Coq au Vin which I'll blog about tomorrow.  My first time making that one.

Without further adieu my lasagna recipe.  It's really quite simple.  Sometimes I use homemade pasta, other times simple box noodles.   Last night I combined both spinach and regular lasagna noodles to use up 1/2 boxes in the cupboard.

Here is what I do.  For a large size as illustrated, I'll use approx 1 1/2 boxes of noodles.  Boil as directed with a little olive oil in the water. and rinse with cold  tap water.  Leave in strainer.

Place a thin layer of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan topped with a layer of noodles.
Spoon some fresh ricotta cheese and spread as evenly as possible over the noodles.   Generously spoon more meat sauce over the ricotta cheese.  It will all mix up together and that's okay.

Sometimes I'll even take a full tub of ricotta, pour into a large mixing bowl and pre mix with a generous amount of meat sauce. 

Layer your multiple cheeses over the sauce mixture.  I shred mozzarella, emmental,  parmesan, provolone.  I don't sweat if I'm missing one.  I often have asiago in the fridge and will mix a little of that in too.

Place another layer of noodles on top of the shredded cheese and start again.

Shredded Cheese

I usually get about 4 layers of noodles for a pan, sometimes one more.

Back at preheated 350 F oven for 45 minutes uncovered.
Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

This recipe freezes beautifully.  Often I will take the leftovers (or make two) and cut them into those small tin foil containers with lids and freeze. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Horde Original - Arancini Light. Italian Rice Balls reworked

I don't know if any of you have tried Arancini but they are spectacular.  Italian appetizers.  Basically a deep fried rice ball stuffed with proscuitto and such.    In Sicily they also have peas in them but I've never had that version.

You may or not know but I quit smoking in January (YAY ME).  I'm sure if you are a reader of this blog you will notice I'm not exactly a calorie counter.  I never really have had to be but turning 40 and now quitting smoking has put me into a position where I need to lose some of that middle age, quit smoking weight gain.  

The truth is you can reduce the calorie/fat intake of alot of food with some simple adjustments that don't affect flavour that much.  I'm sure there is more I can do to make this a super skinny choice but I'm me and I still need that deep flavour of non "light" versions of ingredients.

This brings us to arancini.  This is an insanely labour intensive dish when made the traditional way.  It would take me all day and is wicked heavy on the calories.     I killed two birds with one stone yesterday playing in the kitchen.

A light version of Arancini that takes significantly less time to make.   I wanted to try working this into a casserole to reduce the work but at the same time be lighter and tasty.

It worked.  The kids LOVED it.  My husband who doesn't actually like Arangini loved it!   It was filling and oh so good.  Without further adieu.  It's a little sideways from traditional Arangini but tastes delish.

Start with cooking approximately 5 cups of rice (you would be safe with 6). I used brown rice as opposed to the traitional white sticky rice.

You will also need a couple cups of shredded light mozzarella cheese,  grated pecorino, grated parmagaen, finely shredded asiago cheese, and bread crumbs

While the rice is cooking, prepare the meat mixture.
1.5 lbs of ground chicken
approx 10 leaves of fresh basil, chopped finely.
1 cup finely grated asiago cheese
1 cup of lean pancetta cut into small pieces
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/4 cup pecorino cheese grated
1/4 cup parmagaen cheese grated
2-3 chopped tomatoes

In a skillet, brown ground chicken with garlic.  Set aside in a large metal bowl.  In the same skillet brown the chopped pancetta until a little crispy.  Combine with chicken.   Add the basil and cheeses and combine well.  Add tomatoes and mix well. Set aside until rice mixture is ready.


Rice Mixture.
5-6 cups of prepared brown rice
1/3 cup egg whites
1/4 cup pecorino cheese
1/4 cup parmagean
1 cup shredded "light" mozzarella cheese. (skim milk mozza)

Combine all the ingredients well.

Layer bottom of casserole dish (9 x 13) with parchment paper or spray well with Pam.   Using half the rice mixture make a layer along the bottom of the dish. Press Mixture down.   

Add a thin layer of shredded mozza cheese.  Next pour the meat mixture and layer it evenly.   Again place a thin layer over the meat mixture.

Take the other half of the rice mixture and again layer that on top of the meat/cheese layer, pressing down again. 

Sprinkle mozza cheese, and a  little of the grated cheeses over the entire mixture.  Lightly sprinkle evenly, about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs over the final layer.

Bake at 350 degrees F for approx 45 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. 

A little bit of work but not nearly as much as the traditional dish.  Calories are reduced significantly as a result of no deep frying.

Give it a try and let me know how it turns out.  Always open to suggestions and tweeking.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Strawberry Buttermilk Scones. (It's still snowing but I need to feel like Spring and this helps)

I am tired of cold weather and snow.  Very tired.  After our recent trip to Florida I'm hankering for warmer weather and sandals.   Since I can't do much about that I made some Strawberry scones today.  Something about fresh fruit just makes it feel more springlike.  I can imagine the warm breezes even if I can't feel them.

The trick to successful scones is very cold butter and not overworking the dough.  A little easier said than done when adding fruit but it worked out well.  This is the first time I've added fresh fruit to my traditional buttermilk Scone recipe found HERE.

For this recipe follow the above recipe for the dough.  I will repost the ingredients here.  Note.  I always double this recipe for my family.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbl sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbl cold butter (3/4 of a stick) cut into small pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tbl sweet milk

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add butter pieces to dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or two dinner knives, cut butter into flour until the mixture takes on the size of small peas. Make a well in the center of mixture. Pour buttermilk into the well. Using a fork, pull the mixture into the buttermilk to form a soft dough. Turn out dough onto a floured surface. Knead gently. Cut into shapes using biscuit cutter or heart-shaped cookie cutter. Brush tops with sweet milk and bake at 425 for 12 min or until lightly browned. Yield: 8 scones, approx. 2 1/2" in diameter Recipe can be doubled.

Simply cut up about 8 fresh strawberries and work them into the dough prior to cutting in the final knead stage.

Also note:  This dough can be easily made in a kitchenaid mixer (my preferred method).  Simply add the butter first, then all the dry ingredients and mix with paddle mixer until it's cornmealish.  Add the buttermilk and mix on low until just combined.  Knead final together on a floured surface and follow as above for cutting.

Here is how they look prior to heading into the oven.  Baking time did not change.  425 degrees F for 11-12 minutes.

They taste delicious and have given me a little spring in my step today so to speak.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Yummy Spaghetti Sauce. Tomato/Meat/ Basil - Acid reduced

I love a good tomato meat sauce for pasta.  I'm not going to get into the whole debate of sauce vs gravy.  For this sauce I use fresh produce when available and the added carrot reduces the acid so my husband can enjoy it with his reflux issues.

This is a traditional meat sauce for pasta.  You can use this sauce on any kind of pasta be it gnocchi, spaghetti, rotini, rigatoni, ravioli...etc etc.

A staple in my home.   After a wonderful relaxing vacation I need some home cooking.  My mom made some excellent meals while we were visiting but too much junk food was consumed when we weren't at their house.  We had a 20 hour drive yesterday and today I craved carbs and comfort food. 

My sauce is very simple, with Molisana sausage added to give it some extra zip and flavour.

Two cloves of garlic, minced
Two small cans of tomato paste
Two 690 ml cans of simple tomato sauce
Two 796 ml cans of diced tomato
Two pounds of extra lean ground beef
Two pounds of lean ground veal
(one shredded carrot to reduce the acid)
Fresh basil to taste (usually about 10 fresh leaves chopped)
1 jar of Molisana Sausage cut into small bits

During the summer when we have access to fresh tomato from the garden I use those instead of canned.

This is a one pot recipe.  No need to clean extra right?  

Brown the meat with the garlic in a large saucepan.  Reduce heat ( I"ll do a post on meatballs later this week)
Once browned add the two cans of tomato paste and mix thoroughly on low heat.
Add the rest of the liquid ingredients, shredded carrot and basil.  Stir all together and add the sliced sausage.

Simmer on low stirring regularly for approx 3 hours until desired thickness has been reached.  Serve over your favorite pasta.

Tonight we are having Rotini, with a side of salad.  Yummmmy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Grandma's Favorite Peanut Butter Cookie recipe as made by her 10 year old Granddaughter

Tonight we are preparing for a 22 hour straight drive to Florida to visit my parents for 10 days of glorious relaxation.  Golf, golf and more golf for all of us,  a couple of days at Universal Studios for some movie magic fun, and more golf.  We have been doing this drive almost yearly now for at least 8 years, skipping only one year when my appendix decided to blow up the day before departure.  We have it down to a science.  We stop for biobreaks/petrol, that is pretty much it. 

Long drives require snacks.  We always pack sandwiches made with buns from my Sour Cream Bread dough.  Veggie sticks like cucumbers, carrots, and celery.  Fruit salads (that we pick up on the US side of the border.  They get a little sticky if you bring fresh fruit...even though all our fruit at this time of year actually originates out of the US...odd).  We bring cereal bars, juice boxes etc.  A must is always the The BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe anywhere.  

The young lad making the Chocolate Chip cookies this evening.  He has been deemed the Chocolate chip cookie making King of the house.  Not too bad for 9 years old.

We Must must must have Buttermilk Scones.

It was determined that we must make Grandma's Peanut Butter Cookies this year.   My kids identify their Grandmas in an unusual way.  We have "Camp" Grandma (my mom), and "House" Grandma (my husband's Mom).  Camp Grandma got this name because they spend the summers at "Camp"...not a summer camp, but what 99% of the population refers to as a Cottage.   Unless you are from Northern Ontario and it is called a "Camp".   Believe me. When I moved to Southern Ontario my classmates thought my parents owned a summer camp facility.  No.  .   My daughter asked me to email Grandma to get her recipe so she could try it tonight.   The best thing to do is simply a copy and paste of the email my mom sent back to my daughter verbatim.  It is priceless


(discovered this recipe when Grandpa and I got married and they were the first cookies I made)

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter or margarine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (depending on the kind of flour you use)

1. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter or margarine and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.

2. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Beat till well combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.

3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla till combined.

4. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour.

5. Shape dough into 1-inch balls.

6. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten by making crisscross marks with the tines of a fork. (dip the fork in either flour or hot water so it does not stick to the batter)

7. Bake in a 325* oven for 9 - 12 minutes or till bottoms are lightly browned.

Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Have fun

Mixing up the dough

Pressing the criss cross pattern

Small round balls made

Finished cookies.  Yummy.  I don't think Grandma is used to making cookies for a 22 hour drive with 6 in the car.   Recipe requires doubling.  Next batch to commence.  (real time update:   Daughter decided that patience was best left to others, and tried to remove cookie tray without oven mitt only using a tea towel.  It did not go well.  One tray of cookies smushed on the floor, One little girl with freezing cream on her arm now covering a small burn, One bruised ego, and 12 cookies remaining uncooked.  A second batch indeed required.   Tears have been kissed away, and a smile has returned.  We'll do batch two tomorrow.  A Pic of the surviving cookies. 

For your amusement.  Grandma's email printed out.  Bless her heart.

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