Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christmas Baking Ideas

Well it is that time of year again. My favourite time of the year, Christmas!!!

I love to bake all year round but especially at the holidays.
It fills me with so much love and holiday spirit not only to bake all the goodies I grew up eating but also making new recipes that will hopefully bring memories in the years to come.

Here are a few of my all time favorites...

COOKIES, it just isn't Christmas without a pile of cookies.

Ginger Krinkles, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Cranberry Pistachio Cookies, Cranberry Orange Thumbprints, Sugar Cookies and Whipped Shortbread. All very good options.

A good Holiday Bar or Square is a must.

Nanaimo Bars, Only at Christmas Brownies, Butterscotch Marshmallow Squares, Sugar Cookie Bars and Gingerbread Bars. Ohhh I want one of each right now!

Then there are the holiday cakes and cupcakes...

Cranberry Orange Muffins, Egg Nog Mini Muffins and Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Sauce. Oh that sauce... You will love it!

Then there are the tarts and other delicious treats.

Butter Tarts, Almond Bark, Peanut Butter Balls, Mincemeat Tarts and Puppy Chow. ALL of these are must haves for me!

Then to wash it all down some of my favourite holiday drinks.

Cranberry Sparkler, Egg Nog Smoothie and Christmas Sangria. All are perfection but it isn't the holidays until I have had 1 or 4 or those Cranberry Sparklers!

Now I just have to decide which of all of those lovely treats to make, decisions, decisions.

What are you all making this year? Family favourites, new ideas?
I can't wait to get in the kitchen and start baking!!

Happy Holidays!


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Cheddar Biscuit Topped Chicken Pot Pie

I have always been a fan of Pot Pie. Traditionally we always make one after a big Chicken/Turkey dinner.

Normally my mom used the left over mashed potatoes as a topping or sometimes she made a pie crust for the top. When I saw this biscuit topped version I flipped! I LOVE biscuits, especially cheesy ones!

The butternut squash is a wonderful addition to this pot pie; it adds a nice creamy sweetness that I really liked. I don’t think I will ever make a pot pie without it again.

What you need,

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 cup butternut squash, cubed
2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
½ red pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh herbs (I used sage, thyme & rosemary)
5 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup flour
1¾ cup chicken stock
½ cup milk (I used 1%)
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

For the biscuits,
2 cup all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tbsp. sugar
1¼ cup buttermilk
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter an 8x10 baking dish and set aside.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Sauté the onions for 3-4 minutes until they start to soften.  Add the squash and red pepper and cook for 10 or so minutes until they are fork tender. Add the mushrooms and cook 3 minutes more.  Stir in the garlic and herbs. 

Make a well in the centre of the veggies and melt the butter, add the flour and cook for 2 minutes until it is lightly browned.  Slowly whisk in the stock and milk. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Let it cook for a couple of minutes until it thickens up.  Stir in the chopped chicken and peas, stir to combine.

Use a little more stock if the mixture seems too thick.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Make the biscuits by combining the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter or a fork to incorporate the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

Add the buttermilk and gently stir just to combine.  Gently fold in the cheese.

Top the pot pie with the biscuit mixture. Just drop the dough by the ¼ cupful all over the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the biscuits are golden and crisp and the pot pie is bubbly and thick.

Let the pot pie stand for 5 minutes before serving.

This was total comfort food. We loved it! I took it for lunch all week and it was just as good as day one.

This dish would be super cute for a dinner party baked in individual ramekins. Just make a nice salad on the side and you have a great dinner.

I suggest you try this pot pie version now, you are really gonna love it!



Sunday, November 13, 2016

Fresh Apple Bundt Cake

It has been dark and rainy here for what seems like weeks… I know that it is still better than -30 and snow but after a while the grey really gets to me.

I decided to cheer myself up with a pretty little dessert.
This Apple Cake was the perfect thing. It is tender and dense in the centre and nice and crisp on the outside.

It is so easy to whip together and it tastes so very good! It really did brighten my mood!

What you need,

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
3 cups apple, peeled and diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a Bundt pan liberally with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil. Whisk in the eggs one at time. Stir in the vanilla.

Add the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir until fully combined.

Gently fold in the apples.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a tooth pick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then run a knife around the edges of the cake and tip onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

This cake is so simple but so delicious! It is great on its own but it is even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! 
I am not used to having an apple dessert that doesn't have cinnamon in it. This was a nice change, but a teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon added to the batter sure wouldn't hurt.

What a great way to use up those apples and to brighten a dark day.




Recipe from Taste of Home Magazine

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Chicken Parmesan Spaghetti Bake

Always with the pasta recipes… sorry, I can’t help it. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of time it would be pasta!

I have always been a fan of the classic Chicken Parmesan and this is such a great version, baked all in one dish together!

I made a Caesar salad to go with and it made a perfect Sunday supper!

What you need,

250 grams of dry spaghetti
1 tbsp. butter
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. olive oil
1 jar of your favorite Marinara Sauce
1 cup mini bocconcini balls
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup Panko crumbs

Start by heating the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan with butter.

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Once it is cooked, drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of butter. Place the cooked noodles into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Meanwhile in a large non-stick skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Season the chicken pieces with the Italian seasoning. Fry until golden brown and just cooked through, 5-6 minutes.

Scatter the cooked chicken over the spaghetti noodles.  Then scatter the bocconcini cheese around the chicken.

Pour the sauce all over the whole thing in an even layer.

Top with the Parmesan cheese, then the panko crumbs.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the whole thing is hot and bubbly. You can broil the whole thing for a couple of minutes at the end just to crisp up the top if you like.

Serve right away.

This was a great dish, I love Chicken Parmesan and this was a great version, and a lot healthier than the original.

It made great left overs too, which I love!