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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Gluten-Free Tourtière

I always enjoy tourtière over Christmas, but it’s not a good menu choice for those with gluten intolerance. Even if they don’t eat the pastry, there’s no guarantee that the filling is gluten free. So I put together my own recipe. The bottom crust is a bit more crumbly than I’d like—I may try adding an egg next time, in which case I’ll update the recipe.

Corn Flake Crust

4 cups gluten-free corn flakes, finely crushed
½ cup butter, melted

Combine and press into the bottom and sides of an 8-inch pie pan with a fork. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Let cool.


½ pound lean ground beef
½ pound lean ground pork
½ cup apple sauce
¼ teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
black pepper to taste

Fry together beef and pork until light brown. Drain well (even “lean” ground meat is full of fat). Return to pan and add apple sauce and spices. Return to heat and continue to stir for another few minutes, until well-browned. Spoon filling into pie crust.

Upper Crust

3 cups mashed potatoes (made from instant is fine), thinned down with a little milk

Spoon the mashed potatoes over the meat. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.

Makes one 8-inch tourtière / 4 large or 6 medium servings

If you want to freeze this for later use, don’t add the mashed potatoes until you want to heat it for serving.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hot Buttered Maple Whiskey

When we were in Lincoln, New Hampshire, this fall, we ate at a place called Black Mountain Burger Co. Their burgers are great, by the way, especially the bacon brie burger, but what enticed me in the door was the Hot Buttered Maple Whiskey (or some combination of those words) on their menu board. I had one. It was delicious. This is not that drink—I asked, but they weren’t giving out the recipe—it’s my attempt to recreate it at home. Mine’s not the same, but it’s still pretty good, especially on a cold night.

2 teaspoons maple sugar
2 ounces hot water
3 ounces coffee cream (10%)
1 tablespoon butter
2 ounces maple flavoured bourbon*
sprinkle nutmeg
whipped cream (optional)

In a microwaveable mug, stir together the maple sugar and hot water. Add the cream and butter and microwave on high until the butter melts. Add bourbon. Top with whipped cream if desired. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

*Two ounces makes a potent drink. You can cut back a bit on the alcohol if you prefer. If you can’t find maple flavoured bourbon, add an extra teaspoon of maple sugar and substitute your preferred whiskey.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Home Schooling in the Kitchen: Time and Money Budgets

Some of my recipes are designed to be quick and easy. That generally means using already processed ingredients. While that can save time, it doesn’t necessarily save money. I’m thinking specifically of my recipe for Hearty Meatball Stew, which uses all pre-made ingredients. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Have your kids make the recipe on two separate occasions. The first time, have them make it as written, leaving out the frozen peas. The second time, have them make it from fresh ingredients. You can still use powdered gravy mix (soup stock from scratch takes a long time), but have them buy potatoes and carrots that they have to wash, peel and cut up themselves. Also, have them use a pound of lean ground beef, and form it into small meatballs (you want to make sure they’ll cook through). If they prefer larger meat balls, they’ll have to fry them up before adding them to the slow cooker.

Both times, have them keep track of how much time it takes to put together (don’t count the actual cooking time, as it will be the same), and how much the ingredients cost. Then they can answer the following questions:

Which version took longer to put together?
Which version cost more?
Which version did they think tasted better?

Which version do they think is healthier? Why?

Hearty Meatball Stew

Mix the ingredients together in the morning, and dinner’s ready when you get home. Just add a salad and crusty rolls. This one’s easy enough most kids can put it together, as long as they’re old enough to boil a kettle.

- 3/4 c. powdered brown gravy mix (enough to make up 6 cups of gravy)
- 6 cups water
- dash Worcestershire sauce
- 1 lb package of washed and peeled small potatoes
- 1 lb package of carrot chips
- 24 frozen meatballs
- 1 cup frozen peas (optional)

1.         Boil the water and pour it into a 4 quart slow cooker. Sprinkle the gravy mix on top and whisk in.
2.         Add Worcestershire sauce, potatoes, carrot chips and meatballs.
3.         Set cooker to high and cook for a minimum of 6 hours.
4.         Thirty minutes before serving, stir in the frozen peas. Makes 6 servings

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Cider Cake

Found this recipe in the Canadian Farm Cookbook (copyright 1911), submitted by a Mrs. L.E. Jarvis of Vittoria, Ontario. I didn’t know what to expect, as there was no description, or indeed instructions, just the ingredient list. However, since I had all the ingredients on hand except the cider, and that was easy to come by, I thought I’d give it a try. It’s actually quite good. Not only can you have it put together and baked in less than 45 minutes, but it forms a syrupy, jelly-like layer on the bottom that makes it something special.

1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup cider (alcoholic)
1 egg
1 teaspoon saleratus*
1 tablespoon butter

The first challenge was figuring out what saleratus was. Since the recipe also includes an acid liquid (the cider) I figured I could use baking soda, which worked nicely. I assumed standard cake mixing procedure would work, so combined the flour, sugar and baking soda, then added a tablespoon of oil for the butter (with only one tablespoon, it didn’t seem likely that I should cream it with the sugar). Last I poured in the cider. The mixture foamed up quite a bit, which is usual with acid liquid/baking soda combinations. I then poured the batter, which was quite thin, into a greased 8 inch square pan and baked it at 350°F for 30 minutes.

I suspect putting some sliced apples in the bottom of the pan before adding the batter would be a nice addition. Maybe a bit of cinnamon in with the flour would be good, also.

* use baking soda

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Crockpot Chicken Carcass Soup Stock

I’ve been looking at recipes for soup stock from bones for years, but could never bring myself to believe they’d actually work. Finally decided to give it a try as I had the remnants of a store-bought barbecued chicken in my fridge. It really does work! Most of the recipes I’ve seen, either online or in books, run pretty much the same, but I’ve adapted this to work in the slow cooker. Given you need to let the slow cooker run for 16 hours or so, it’s easiest to start in the late or middle afternoon.

1 chicken carcass*
6 cups water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
1 large pinch salt

Place carcass in 4 litre crock pot, and add water and vinegar. Turn cooker to high and let run for two hours. Add the rest of the ingredients. Leave on high and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. Once it reaches a steady simmer, turn it down to low and let it run until it’s run for 14-15 hours since you added the vegetables. It doesn’t have to be exact. Let it cool down, then strain (a colander and a large measuring cup are good for this), keeping the broth and throwing out the bones and vegetables.

You now have basic stock. If you’re not going to turn it into soup, freeze it until you’re ready to use it.

If you're dealing with a turkey carcass, double up on all the other ingredients.

* That includes all the scraps of meat, bits of skin, fat, cartilage that you can’t be bothered picking off the bone or are unlikely to eat

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Crockpot Cabbage “Rolls”

I love cabbage rolls, but there’s no way I’m going to the trouble of cooking cabbage leaves and then trying to roll up all the ingredients in them. So here’s my crockpot variation—all of the ingredients, but much less work. If you start assembling the ingredients at noon, it will be ready for dinner.

2 cups tomato juice (I use low sodium)
1 540 ml can Aylmer Accents garlic and olive oil (or 2 cups any stewed tomatoes)
1 cup diced onion
¾ cup uncooked rice
1 pound lean ground beef
8 cups chopped Chinese cabbage*

Combine first four ingredients in the bottom of a 6 litre crockpot. Crumble in the ground beef. Add the cabbage. Stir. The liquid probably won’t reach the top at this point. Don’t worry. Turn the crockpot on high and let it run undisturbed for two hours. Stir. Continue on high for another hour. Stir. Turn down to low and cook for another two to three hours. That’s it.

* You can use ordinary cabbage, but the Chinese cabbage has a less chewy texture

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Found and Tested: Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Baileys Irish Cream and Whiskey Caramel

While I was browsing the Rodelle website looking for their brownie recipe the other day, I came across the above-named recipe. It sounded delicious, so I tried it on the weekend. Yep, delicious. I wanted to pass it on, so I asked my contact at Rodelle, figuring I’d give them the copyright and credit and reproduce it here. (The link to the recipe on their website is HERE).

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. Turns out they’d got the recipe from another website, belonging to Peabody Rudd. HERE’s the link to her recipe—you’ll have to scroll down about a third of the page.

Guess what? It wasn’t original to her either. She said she’d modified a version of the cookies from the I am Baker website HERE and got the caramel part from Betty Crocker, HERE. Both of which came from yet another person. At that point I gave up trying to track down the original. But here are my notes on the process.

Cookie Part
The instructions say to roll the dough and then chill, but it works better if you chill first, then roll. This dough rolls (and rerolls) very well and I will definitely be using it again. Probably for Christmas cookies. Possibly as a base for cheesecake. I used a doughnut cutter for the top cookies (the hole in the middle allows the filling to show through) and a round cutter of the same size for the bottom cookies, dipping the cutters in cocoa first so they wouldn’t stick.

Frosting Part
I didn’t have any Baileys on hand, so I used brandy instead. It was scrumptious. This would also be good as frosting on cake.

Whiskey Caramel
I didn’t have any honey whiskey, so once again I used brandy. Do use a LARGE pot for the corn syrup and sugar mixture because when you add the cream mixture it expands rapidly. I couldn’t get the caramel to harden, probably because I didn’t take it up to temperature the second time—I was afraid of it boiling over and turning my stove top into a sticky mess. So I ended up with caramel sauce instead. I did dribble a bit on the cookies, but couldn’t get enough to stay on to flavour them. No matter, they were delicious with just the frosting.

I ended up with both frosting and caramel left over. They taste really good spread on waffles fresh out of the toaster.

Would I make it again? Very likely, though perhaps without the caramel.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Product Review: J & D’s Baconnaise

Saw a jar of this at our local gift basket store and just had to have it. It’s exactly what it sounds like, bacon-flavoured mayonnaise. And while it tastes like the real article, there’s no actual bacon in it so it can also be enjoyed by vegetarians.

Of course, it’s not exactly cheap, and at 80 calories the tablespoon, a bit rich to be used as a chip or vegetable dip. Not to worry, however. The flavour’s strong enough that you can dilute it with one to two parts light mayonnaise, bringing down the price and calorie count while still getting that bacon flavour.

Not only does it make a fantastic dip, it’s also great in grilled cheese sandwiches or on hot dogs or burgers. I’ve also used it in deviled eggs.

You can check it out on their webpage. I see they also offer a bacon scented pillowcase. Quite sure that is NOT a good idea.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Rodelle Gooey Fudge Brownies

(recipe courtesy and copyright Rodelle Inc.)

I returned from my latest excursion to Costco with an industrial-sized container of Rodelle’s Gourmet Baking Cocoa. It had a recipe for brownies printed on the label, so I figured I’d try it. It was so good I’m passing it on. You can also find the recipe on the Rodelle website HERE (though under a different name), along with several other recipes that sound interesting. The Cocoa Lip Balm, for one. The Rodelle Candied Bourbon Vanilla Bacon intrigues me as well.

½ pound butter
2 ¼ cups sugar
5 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons Rodelle Vanilla Extract
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon flour
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon Rodelle Cocoa Powder
¼ tablespoon salt*
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup chopped nuts (optional)*

* I left this out

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray (I just used a non-stick pan). Melt butter and sugar in a heavy saucepan on very low heat. Let the mixture slightly cool and transfer to a large bowl (I just used the saucepan). Add eggs gradually, mixing well. Add Rodelle Vanilla Extract. Sift dry ingredients together and add to egg mixture, stirring gently and minimally. Add chocolate chips and nuts. Pour into the pan (batter will be thin) and bake approximately 35 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool before cutting. Turn onto a surface and peel parchment paper off. Cut into squares and enjoy.

The recipe claims that it makes 12 servings but I think that must be a misprint since each serving would be roughly 3 x 3 inches. Trust me, they’re far too rich for that. I cut my batch into 24, which seemed reasonable.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Easy Pizza Pasta

Kids love to help out in the kitchen, and we all want our children to learn how to cook, but with today’s busy schedules finding the time to prepare meals together can be difficult. The slow cooker is a great solution to that problem. Not only is it easy to use but many meals require very little preparation time and while the food is cooking, you can be doing other things. The following recipe is simple enough that even the youngest can help. You and your kids can have this tasty and nutritious main course on the table in an hour, with only one pot to clean up.

- 1 lb box of rotini or other corkscrew pasta
- 3 cups (1 jar) of your favorite pasta sauce
- 6 oz of pepperoni
- 8 oz of shredded mozzarella cheese

1.            Empty the dried pasta into a 6 quart slow cooker. Cover it with boiling water, put on the slow cooker lid, and let it sit for 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can follow the package directions and cook the pasta on the stove top.
2.            Drain pasta into a colander. This needs to be done by the supervising parent as the pot is heavy and the water is still quite hot. Rinse under the tap and return the pasta to the slow cooker.
3.            Add pasta sauce and pepperoni to the crock pot and stir.
4.            Cook on high for 30 minutes.
5.            Spoon into serving dishes and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Makes 4-6 servings.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Easy Southwest Veggie Dip

I was out of dip for my veggies the other day, so I looked in the fridge to see if there was anything else I could use. Tried this combination and liked it so well I kept making it all week. As a bonus, it’s both cheaper and lower calorie than store-bought varieties.

2/3 cup mayonnaise style dressing (I use the light version)
1/3 cup tomato salsa (your choice of mild, medium or hot)

Stir together and serve. Keep unused portions refrigerated.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Easy Anytime Bruschetta

By keeping just three ingredients on hand, you can make bruschetta whenever you like.

1 Dempster’s OvenFresh baguette*
1 540 ml can Aylmer Accents petite cut stewed tomatoes, green pepper, celery & onion flavour
grated parmesan
black pepper

Strain the tomatoes—you can always use the juice for something else. Bake the baguette following the instructions on the package. Let cool.

Slice the baguette in quarter-inch slices. Do this on the diagonal if you want bigger pieces. Lay the pieces flat on a cookie sheet and pop under the broiler just until they begin to colour. Remove from broiler. Spoon tomatoes onto each slice. Sprinkle with parmesan and pepper and serve.

You can store them in the refrigerator for a short while, but they get soggy quickly.

*the rosemary and olive oil, or the roasted garlic flavours are especially good for this. Or you can use a regular baguette. I like the Dempster’s ones because I can keep them in the pantry rather than having to make a grocery run the day I want to make this—baguettes don’t stay fresh long.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Chocolate Shortbread

2 cups margarine*
1 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup corn starch
3/4 cup cocoa
2 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, cream margarine. Combine dry ingredients in a large cup or bowl. Gradually beat into margarine. Use a mixer if you have one, but it isn’t necessary. The batter will resemble chocolate mousse and be somewhat sticky to the touch. Form it into one inch balls and flatten with a fork on a cookie sheet, as you would for peanut butter cookies. Bake for 10 minutes.

If you like you can decorate them before baking with a piece of maraschino cherry, a hazelnut, or a large chocolate chip or rosebud candy.

Makes 7-8 dozen.

*Don’t substitute butter. I know regular shortbread is much better with butter but this actually works better with margarine and because of the cocoa you can’t taste the butter anyway.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Slow Cooker Meatball Subs

Years ago we lived across the street from an Italian deli, and every once in a while we’d run across and grab a couple of meatball subs. My current neighbourhood doesn’t have anything like that and I miss those subs. So I decided to make a homemade version. While the sauce wasn’t as spicy as I remember (and I used spicy red pepper flavour), the subs were still good. You could always add a little cayenne or hot sauce.

10 large Italian style frozen uncooked meatballs*
2 submarine rolls
6 slices mozzarella cheese, cut in half
2/3 jar your favourite tomato-based pasta sauce

Grease slow cooker and add pasta sauce and frozen meatballs. Cook on high for four hours, stirring occasionally to separate the meatballs as they thaw.

Once meatballs are ready, slice open rolls and lay cut side up on a cookie sheet. Broil for a couple of minutes until they just start to brown. Remove from oven. Cover one side of roll with meatballs and ladle on sauce to taste. Add half of the cheese strips to each roll (two layers). Put back under broiler long enough to melt the cheese. Close up rolls and serve.

Serves 2

* you can use smaller ones, just figure out how many you’ll need to cover the roll. If using cooked meatballs, one hour in the slow cooker should be plenty.

If your kids are old enough to use the oven, they could easily make these.