Monthly Archives: October 2010

Project Food Blog #6: Voting Opened!

It’s challenge six already! It’s gone by in a blur, but I’m now past the midpoint in Project Food Blog and I couldn’t be happier! Well actually that’s not true. I’d be happier if you helped me get to challenge seven! Check out my lovely picnic and cast your votes!

If you’re not already a member of Foodbuzz all you have to do is…

     

1.
Head on over to foodbuzz.com and click on “Join Foodbuzz” at the top.
     

2.
Create an account with a username, email and password. Painless right?
     

3.
Then go here and vote for me by clicking that purdy little heart above my banner.

Voting will be open from Monday, October 25th until Thursday, October 28th. You only get to vote for me once, but if one vote just doesn’t feel like enough then you could go a step further and “like” my entry, for those of you on Facebook, and even “tweet” about it, for those of you on Twitter. Those buttons are right next to the little heart.

To keep up to date with my future entries to Project Food Blog and my goings on at Foodbuzz then become my friend. We can be BFFs. Or you can check out my official contestant profile here.

Thank you everyone for helping me get this far! Let’s go all the way!

The Picnic: Inside Out.

I’d like to thank everyone who helped me get this far in Project Food Blog. I appreciate all your support in all its forms! Thank you!

“For this challenge, you’re tasked with creating a delicious meal that will travel well and still look great. From picnics and school lunches to bento boxes, or any other meal on the go, you need to whip up an entree, side, drink, and dessert to enjoy after hitting the road. Be sure that your meal fits inside the Project Food Blog Road Trip Cooler.”


Have you ever wistfully watched a sunset stained with roses and violets while sipping a glass of wine? Have you ever savoured a simple chocolate bar on the waterfront, salty breeze in your hair and sand beneath your feet? Have you ever bitten into an apple and let the juices run down your chin on a lazy afternoon absentmindedly swaying on a creaking porch swing?

Twitterpated birds are the best dinner companions. Fresh air is the sweetest spice to add to any meal. A park bench is the perfect table setting. The fading glow of the sun rivals any candlelit dinner. Food is best enjoyed in the presence of nature, humbling and beautiful.


The picnic is the traditional way to bring the inside out and eat at nature’s table. There’s nothing traditional about this picnic. I’ve expanded on simple picnic food to elevate your experience. The plain sandwich has been spiced up and transformed into the Curried Egg Salad Sandwich. Chips and dip have been revamped into sweet and spicy Peach Salsa with baked Pita Chips. The simple glass of juice has been stirred into a bubbly frenzy and become Sparkling White Grape Peach Juice. The average Rice Krispies square has been reinvented into a nutty and flavourful Brown Butter Maple Pecan Crispy Treat.

Nature is in a constant state of flux and I’ve pulled my inspiration for this meal from that fact. Nature’s ever changing landscape offers a unique and beautiful tablescape. Go outside and enjoy the fresh air. I think you’ll find your food tastes a little bit sweeter, a little more satisfying.

Curried Egg Salad
Makes about 5 sandwiches.

Source: My imagination.

8 eggs, hard boiled, cooled and shelled
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp curry powder
5 sandwich buns, sliced
Lettuce of choice

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In a large bowl break up the hard boiled eggs using a fork until they’re about the size of peas. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, red pepper, green onion, salt, pepper and curry powder then mix it all up. Depending on how moist you like your egg salad you might want to add more or less of the mayonnaise and mustard.

Spread about 1/3 of a cup of egg salad onto each bun and top it with some lettuce.

Peach Salsa and Pita Chips

Source: My imagination.

2 large peaches, peeled and chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
2 – 3 tbsp jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp lime juice
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

5 pitas sliced into triangles
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste

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In a large bowl combine the chopped peaches and tomatoes, red pepper, cilantro, onion and jalapeno pepper. Toss the mixture with the honey, lime juice, salt and pepper.

Refrigerate the mixture until you’re ready to serve it. It’s best if made the day before and refrigerated overnight to really bring out the flavours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.

Brush the pita slices with olive oil using a pastry brush then sprinkle them with salt. Flip them over and do the same on the other side.

Bake them for 5 – 7 minutes, but make sure to keep an eye on them because they burn easily. They should be lightly browned and crispy. Let them cool slightly before serving them with the salsa.

Sparkling White Grape Peach Juice

Source: My imagination.

10 peaches, sliced
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cup water
2 pound white grapes
4 cup Sprite

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In a large pot combine the unpeeled sliced peaches, sugar and water. Cover the pot and set it on low heat so it’s just below the point of simmering. Let it cook for about an hour, checking it occasionally to stir it and make sure it’s not boiling.

While the peaches are cooking mash the grapes in a separate pot. Heat the pot to a simmer on medium while stirring and mashing periodically. Let them cook for about 10 minutes.


With a potato masher squish any peaches that are still whole then strain both the peach and grape mixtures through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Let the juice cool in the refrigerator before combining it with the Sprite and serving.



Brown Butter Maple Pecan Crispy Treats

Makes 16 squares.

Source: My imagination.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
16 large marshmallows or 1 3/4 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
5 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal

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Butter a 9 inch square baking dish and set it aside.

In a medium sauce pan melt and cook the butter on medium heat for about 6 – 8 minutes, stirring frequently. When it’s ready the foam subsides, the butter turns amber brown and you smell that delicious caramel scent.

Turn off the heat then add the maple syrup and marshmallows. Stir it until the marshmallows melt and the mixture becomes smooth.

Quickly fold in the chopped pecans and Rice Krispies then pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top using an oiled spatula making sure to press it evenly into the corners. Let it sit and cool for at least 20 minutes then cut it into 16 squares. Enjoy!

Project Food Blog #5: Voting Opened!

It’s that time again! Voting time! Please take a moment to check out my Project Food Blog fifth challenge entry and vote for me. It’s about pizza and love and all that fun stuff. I’m sure you’ll like it!

If you’re not already a member of Foodbuzz all you have to do is…

     

1.
Head on over to foodbuzz.com and click on “Join Foodbuzz” at the top.
     

2.
Create an account with a username, email and password. Painless right?
     

3.
Then go here and vote for me by clicking that purdy little heart above my banner.

Voting will be open from Monday, October 18th until Thursday, October 21st. You only get to vote for me once, but if one vote just doesn’t feel like enough then you could go a step further and “like” my entry, for those of you on Facebook, and even “tweet” about it, for those of you on Twitter. Those buttons are right next to the little heart.

To keep up to date with my future entries to Project Food Blog and my goings on at Foodbuzz then become my friend. We can be BFFs. Or you can check out my official contestant profile here.

Thank you so much for your votes and lovely comments!

That’s Amore!

I am so grateful to have advanced to the fifth round of Project Food Blog! Thank you everyone who voted for me! I appreciate the support of my loyal readers and new friends.

“One recipe, 100 variations! We’re challenging each of you to put your own spin on the same recipe. How you do it is up to you. Will you try out some molecular gastronomy techniques? Share a super-secret trick? Or re-envision the dish from a different perspective? You’ll be asked to put your own spin on pizza. For the purpose of this contest and challenge, we are defining pizza as having a solid base, a sauce and at least one topping.”

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie… That’s amore!

Everyone knows that song. It’s about finding love in the unlikeliest of places. It’s about being suddenly seized by love. Some people find love in a darkened movie theatre, at the bottom of a box of chocolates, between intertwined fingers or in a perfect slice of pizza.

Some people might not consider pizza classy or romantic like flowers, chocolates, jewelry or fancy dates. Don’t get me wrong. I love roses, cordial cherries, diamonds and filet mignon as much as the next girl. But it’s pizza that holds a special place in my heart.

When my boyfriend and I were separated by 3,373 km (2096 miles) the telephone was our only connection. One evening after a long day of work, tired and just a little lonesome, I was talking to my honey over the distance when there was a knock at my door. I wasn’t expecting anyone. Intrigued, I swung open the door.

There in my doorway was a pizza delivery guy holding a pizza. For me. My pizza. Free of charge. Lee had called my favourite pizza place and ordered my favourite pizza. Even two provinces away he was still doing such sweet and thoughtful things for me.

Now that miles have shrunk to inches and everyday is filled with reasons to fall deeper in love, I thought I’d learn to make his favourite pizza.

This is my first attempt at making pizza. Oh sure, I’ve had a lot of experience eating them. Ordering them. Burning them. Even accidentally baking a frozen one with the cardboard still under it then proceeding to violently and vehemently slice through it. Gives a whole new meaning to cardboard crust, doesn’t it?

This time I had motivation. This time it was perfect. I love that man, he loves me and we both love this Chicken Pesto Pizza.



Chicken Pesto Pizza

Makes 2 medium pizzas.

Source: Crust adapted from Annie’s Eats’ Basic Pizza Dough.

1/2 cup water, warm
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
4 cup bread flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water, room temperature
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp cornmeal

2 cup basil leaves
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Black pepper to taste, ground
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts, grilled and sliced into thin strips
5 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup red pepper, chopped
3 cup mozzarella cheese

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Note: This recipe makes enough dough for two pizzas but I like to freeze one half of dough for later. You can choose to make two pizzas now and double the pesto and topping ingredients or work with what I have listed below and just make one pizza.

In a medium measuring bowl sprinkle the instant yeast over the warm water.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment stir together the bread flour and salt. Add the room temperature water and olive oil to the yeast bowl and gradually pour it into the flour mixture while it’s mixing on low.

Once it’s mixed into a cohesive dough switch to the hook attachment and knead the dough on low for about 5 minutes or until it’s smooth and elastic.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning it once to ensure all the dough is coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit undisturbed to rise until it’s doubled in size for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

While your dough is busy rising you can prepare the pesto. In a food processor combine the basil leaves, garlic cloves, toasted pine nuts, parmesan, fresh ground black pepper and olive oil. Blend all the ingredients until there are no more chunks. Refrigerate the pesto until you’re ready to top your pizza.

Preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees and position a rack in the center.

Press down the doubled dough to deflate it then transfer it to a floured work surface. Cut it in half evenly then wrap one half in plastic wrap and store it in a freezer safe resealable bag to freeze for another time. Or, if you’d prefer, you can make two pizzas at once. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 10 – 30 minutes.

Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit your pizza stone then sprinkle it lightly with cornmeal. Lightly flour your hands and shape the dough gently using the backs of your hands to stretch and form it without tearing it with your fingertips. If the dough springs back too much when you’re trying to shape it then let it rest for another 15 minutes and try again. This should relax the gluten and make it easier to work with. Your goal here is to form the dough into a circle 10 – 12 inches wide with a slightly thicker 1/2 inch rim for the crust.

Brush the olive oil onto the crust with a pastry brush. This gives the crust a golden sheen and makes it crunchy.

Spread an even layer of the prepared pesto sauce over the pizza, making sure to avoid the crust. Sprinkle half the cheese over the pesto and arrange the toppings over top. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese to finish it off.

Slide the parchment paper onto a cutting board then onto the preheated pizza stone and bake it for 8 – 12 minutes. The cheese should be bubbly and the crust should be golden brown. Slice and enjoy!

Love Muffin: Peach Cheesecake.

Could someone please tell me why it is that I can have grey hairs and acne breakouts at the same time? That doesn’t seem fair does it?

It should be one or the other. Not both. At the same time.

It’s like my body can’t decide what age I am. One minute I’m thirteen with a book report due on Of Mice and Men and the next I’m sixty-five dashing out to Denny’s for the early bird special. Make up your mind!

It seems like the general public can’t decide what age I am too. I get carded all the time when the rest of my table doesn’t even get a second glance. Door to door salesmen ask me when my parents are going to be home. True story. So I tell them six, maybe seven o’clock so they leave me alone to wallow in my self-pity.

The one that bothers me the most is the wide-eyed looks I get from perfect strangers when my boyfriend of thirty-three introduces to them his girlfriend of twenty-four. Age is just a number. I’ve known people far older than me that are also far less mature. Lee and I are on the same level mentally, why do we need to be the same age?

I know. I shouldn’t complain. It’s a compliment. It will be useful when I get older.

For now I’m going to keep dying my hair and washing my face.

This topic really doesn’t segue into muffins. At all. So I’m not going to try.

I made muffins. So there! They’re awesome. They have peaches and cheesecake in them. Did I mention they’re awesome?



Peach Cheesecake Muffins

Makes about 2 dozen muffins.

Source: My imagination

3 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup peaches, peeled and chopped

1 250g pkg cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line a muffin tin with muffin liners.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt then set it aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until it’s light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until each is just incorporated. Alternate the addition of milk and the dry ingredients by thirds, making sure not to over mix each addition. Finally add the chopped peaches and mix it in lightly.

In a separate bowl with an electric mixer beat together the cream cheese, sugar and flour until it’s smooth.

Spoon a heaping tbsp of the peach batter into the prepared muffin tin then spoon a heaping tsp of cream cheese mixture on top. Repeat these steps once more then run a knife through the top two layers of peach and cream cheese to create a marbled effect. Bake them for 15 – 20 minutes until the tops are a nice golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer them to a cooling rack and enjoy!

Project Food Blog #4: Voting Opened!

You remember that pretty cake I baked for you? The one with the chocolate filigree and orange mousse? It was only yesterday. Yes that cake! I would be so appreciative if you could be so kind to vote for me to advance to the next round of Project Food Blog! You’ve been so good at it so far!

If you’re not already a member of Foodbuzz all you have to do is…

     

1.
Head on over to foodbuzz.com and click on “Join Foodbuzz” at the top.
     

2.
Create an account with a username, email and password. Painless right?
     

3.
Then go here and vote for me by clicking that purdy little heart above my banner.

Voting will be open from Monday, October 11th until Thursday, October 14th. You only get to vote for me once, but if one vote just doesn’t feel like enough then you could go a step further and “like” my entry, for those of you on Facebook, and even “tweet” about it, for those of you on Twitter. Those buttons are right next to the little heart.

To keep up to date with my future entries to Project Food Blog and my goings on at Foodbuzz then become my friend. We can be BFFs. Or you can check out my official contestant profile here.

I am so grateful for you all! I couldn’t do this without you!

Paint With Chocolate; Sculpt With Orange.

I made it! Challenge four! Thank you so much to my loyal readers and new friends who took the time to vote for me. I appreciate all your support and words of encouragement.

“Sure, you can take a pretty picture. But your task here is to go above and beyond and use photography to create a step-by-step, instructional photo tutorial. It could be anything from how to bone a chicken to how to make your favorite recipe, but your photos need to guide the reader through the steps. For this challenge, you’ll want to go well beyond the 2 photo minimum with at least 6 photographs.”


More often than not food blogs are salt and peppered by impossible yet beautiful photographs. Fantastically layered slices of cake. Intricately detailed lattice pie crust. Perfectly frosted cupcakes. Food bloggers present their subjects in such a way that they transcend food and transform into art.

Edible art.

Like any art form it can be broken down into steps and taught. As an artist I’ve always believed that art is both a talent and a skill. Those that aren’t born with the ability can learn it.

Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali and Leonardo da Vinci. Helene Dujardin (Tartelette), Heather Baird (Sprinkle Bakes), and Hannah Queen (Honey & Jam). All artists with different styles and subjects.

For those of you who bitterly complain that you can’t draw a straight line or sculpt mashed potatoes I give you this tutorial. Follow these step-by-step photos to create your own masterpiece.

Chocolate Génoise Orange Mousse Cake

Source: Adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Moist Chocolate Génoise.

8 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup water, boiling
8 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup cake flour (or substitute)

1 cup whipping cream
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup orange zest, finely grated
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp unflavoured gelatin

1 ounce semisweet chocolate

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To Make the Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9 inch spring form pan and set it aside.

In a small heavy sauce pan combine the chopped chocolate and water then bring it to a slow boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove it from the heat once it thickens to a pudding consistency and stirring leaves temporary lines in the surface. Set it aside and let it cool to room temperature.


In a large bowl with an electric mixer and the whisk attachment beat the eggs and sugar until they triple in volume. Gently but quickly fold in the cake flour half at a time until it’s just incorporated. Next fold in the cooled chocolate mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared spring form pan and bake it for 30 – 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. The top of the cake will rise while baking then lower slightly when it’s done and feel springy to the touch. The sides will also shrink as they pull away from the pan.


Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow it to sit for 10 – 15 minutes before releasing the cake from the spring form to cool completely.

Once the cake has cooled level it off with a cake leveller or a long serrated knife then place it on your cake plate. Wrap a ring of parchment paper snugly around it and tape the ends together to create a vessel to pour the mousse into.

To Make the Mousse:

In a large bowl with an electric mixer whip the cream until soft peaks form. Put it in the refrigerator to chill and use when you’re ready.

In a small sauce pan on medium heat combine the orange juice, zest and sugar. Stir it until the sugar dissolves then mix in the gelatin and remove it from the heat. Let it sit for 5 minutes then fold in the chilled whipped cream.

Pour the mousse on top of the Chocolate Génoise with the prepared parchment paper edge. Allow it to chill in the refrigerator 2 – 3 hours until the top is set and no longer shiny.

Carefully remove the tape and peel off the parchment paper to reveal the mousse.

To Make the Chocolate Filigree:

On a piece of paper sketch out your desired design for the filigree. It doesn’t have to be overly fancy. Even the simplest design is impressive when drawn in chocolate on cake.

In a small bowl melt the reserved ounce of bittersweet chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir it up with a spoon until it’s all melted and smooth. Fill a small piping bag fitted with a tiny round tip with the chocolate.

With a steady hand pipe the chocolate onto the set mousse in quick even strokes. It’s ok if it doesn’t quite turn out like you wanted. With a little improvisation you can turn mistakes into perfection. Then stand back and admire your masterpiece of edible art. Enjoy!

Last But Not Least.


These Apple Chips are possibly the easiest thing I’ve ever baked. Four ingredients. That’s all you need to make your own chips. It would be interesting to play around with the seasoning to create savoury or sweet combinations. I may keep that in mind for the future. This may not be the last time you see these crispy things.

And they’re baked, not fried, so you don’t have to feel guilty about stuffing your face. Which is good because they’re insanely addictive. As long as you have cinnamon, sugar and a little time to waste you’ll be rewarded with the most delicious snack.

If you’re lazy, as I am sometimes, you could always buy Apple Chips but, be warned, they’re pretty pricy for a tiny little bag. Plus if you buy them you won’t be able to perfume your house with the amazing scent of apple and cinnamon. Possibly the greatest smell in the world.

Last, but certainly not least, here is the appetizer recipe from my Autumn Dinner Party. These Apple Chips are perhaps the most anticipated item on the menu so I hope I didn’t leave you in suspense for too long.

Apple Chips
Makes 4 cups of chips.

Source: My imagination.

4 Apples
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

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Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

Using a mandoline or a sharp knife slice the apples as thin as possible and put them in a large bowl. Make sure to pick out any seeds you find. After slicing and transferring each apple to the bowl drizzle some of the lemon juice over the exposed slices to keep them from browning.

In a small bowl whisk together the sugar and cinnamon.

Spread the apple slices in an even single layer on the prepared baking sheet. It’s ok if the slices are touching as long as they’re not overlapping too much since they will shrink. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture liberally over top of the slices then flip them over and do the same on the other side.


Bake them for about 1 – 2 hours depending on the size of your apples. At 30 minute intervals flip and switch the racks of the baking sheets to assure they bake evenly. When they’re finished let them cool completely on the baking sheet. Once they’re cooled you can store them in an airtight container or devour them all in one sitting. Enjoy!

Apples and Cranberries and Pears! Oh My!


I must have The Wizard of Oz on the brain or something. Imagine if Dorothy, Scarecrow and the Tin Man had encountered these fearsome fruits on their journey along the yellow brick road. I’d say that’s preferable to lions, tigers and bears.

But then again, that would probably make for a pretty lame movie. More like Veggie Tales than the story we all know and love.

Maybe if Dorothy could have tasted this Pear Walnut Salad or this Apple Cranberry Chicken she wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to get back to Kansas. I’m betting Auntie Em didn’t know how to make Apple Cheese and Potato Cakes like me. Just saying…

As promised here are my recipes for the entrée of my Autumn Dinner Party. I could have separated them into three different posts, but why leave you in suspense? I’m not a cruel person. Also they’re best enjoyed altogether, so here you go!

Pear Walnut Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
Serves 4 -5 people.

Source: My imagination.

1/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp onion, chopped
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
1 cup olive oil

8 cups fresh mixed greens
1 pear, thinly sliced and cored
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/4 cup feta cheese

Note: The dressing can be made ahead of time or even the day before as a time saver.

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In a food processor combine all but the olive oil and puree it until it’s smooth. Gradually add the olive oil and mix it until it’s well blended.

In a large bowl add the mixed greens and sliced pear. Toss it with enough dressing to coat everything then sprinkle the top with the walnuts and feta cheese. Serve the remaining dressing at the table.

Apple Cheese and Potato Cakes
Makes 4 cakes.

4 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
4 McIntosh apples, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs

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In a large pot combine the chopped potatoes and apples then cover them with cold water and bring them to a boil. Once the water boils reduce the heat to a more manageable medium high heat and let them simmer for about 30 minutes until they’re tender.

Drain off the water then add the butter, salt and pepper and mash them with a potato masher until the lumps are mostly gone then whisk it until it appears creamy. Allow the mixture to cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Liberally oil a large frying pan and heat it on medium high heat. Once the potato mixture is cooled off mix in the green onion and cheese. Form about 4 1 inch thick patties then dredge them in the bread crumbs. Fry them in the prepared pan, turning them once until each side is golden brown and crispy.



Apple Cranberry Chicken

Serves 4.

Source: My imagination.

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup apple juice
1/2 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 apple, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Grease an 11 x 9 inch casserole dish with cooking spray then set it aside.

Heat a large frying pan on medium high heat then add the oil and butter. Brown the chicken breasts on each side while caramelizing the onions and season them with salt and pepper.

Once they’re sufficiently browned transfer them to the prepared dish along with the onions and apple juice. Sprinkle the top with the fresh sage and thyme then roast the chicken uncovered in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes or until the juices run clear.

In the meantime, combine the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and heat it to a boil, making sure to stir it to dissolve the sugar. Add the chopped apple and cranberries and let it simmer until the cranberries pop, about 10 – 15 minutes.

Remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly and thicken before serving it on the chicken. Enjoy!

Tarts and Trees.


As if my Autumn themed dinner party marked some sort of turning point in the season, all the leaves have fallen from the trees and the weather is growing even cooler.

The trees are beginning to resemble those spindly claw-like hands grasping urgently for what could only be small children to snack on. Nature has become a skeleton of it’s former self. Reminds me of those apple trees in the Wizard of Oz that attacked Dorothy. Trees with attitude.

Before I start quoting the scene word for word then cackle shrilly like the Wicked With of the West let’s move on.

As promised, here is one of my recipes used in my recent Autumn Dinner Party. I know you’re hungry for more so I will post the dinner and appetizer recipes soon! For now I thought we’d start with dessert and work our way backwards.

We all know dessert is the best part right? Right!

Brown Butter Tarts with Toasted Pecan Crust
Makes 5 individual desserts.

Source: Adapted from my family recipe.

3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and medium ground
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold
1 egg yolk

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Note: This recipe could be used for individual small tarts or one large 9 inch tart but the below instructions are for the individual tarts.

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and position a rack in the center. Butter the bottom and sides of your tart forms then set them aside on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, ground pecans, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the egg yolk then press the crust firmly and evenly into the prepared tart forms.

Bake the shells for about 5 – 10 minutes until they’re light brown. While that’s going in a medium sauce pan add the butter then cook it on medium heat for about 6 – 8 minutes until the foam subsides, the butter turns amber brown and you smell that delicious caramel scent. Remove it from the heat allow it to cool.

When the tart shells are done turn the oven down to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl mix together the brown butter, eggs, brown sugar, maple syrup and vanilla then pour it into the tart shells.

Bake the tarts for another 10 minutes until the bubbling slows and the filling is set. Allow it to cool completely on a cooling rack until you take them out of the forms and serve it. Enjoy!