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Itch to pinch

Jan
4

Oh man. It has been a while. And do I have an itch to pinch. Pinch me some soft dough around a new scrumptious filling! With the new year upon us I hope to get back to the therapeutic task of working up a recipe, cooking and blogging about my efforts.

I just watched Jon Favreau’s Chef. An quick inspiring look into the beginning of a new approach for a chef to cook with his heart the simple, home cooked goodness that he loves and believes in.

When I think of home cooked goodness I think of the tireless energy and love my Mom and Dad put forth to put homemade meals on our table almost every night. Now, my boys at home, big and small, are my inspiration to feed their bellies and hearts. They are my motivation as well as my strongest supporters. They believe in me and teach me so much.

Just like Jon Favreau’s character takes a great risk with support from family and friends, I too hope to venture into some new recipes and projects with family by my side.

I’ll keep you all posted. Now excuse me while I scratch.

 

 

Honey Whisky BBQ

Aug
20

Did that get your attention? It got mine! My sister recently purchased a jar of this awesome concoction of a barbecue and dipping sauce. It was so good! It did not have a strong BBQ flavour but definetely smokey. Just thought I’d share a quick tidbit about it if anyone is planning to venture into British Columbia. We came across this sauce at a local Farmer’s Market at Fairmont Hot Springs, BC; unfortunately I am unable to add a website for your convenience as I was unable to find one. The  vendor was Jubilee Mountain Apiary Ltd., based in Spillimachen, BC. A treasure of honey jams, flavoured honey, and honey sweetener sticks were available to sample and buy. True to my form, the raspberry honey jam that I purchased was all but meant to be as I accidentally dropped the jar soon after I bought it.

I do plan to make this sauce based on the ingredients listed and then I will post my experience. Stay tuned for a cabbage roll recipe that includes this kickin’ sauce!

These are a few of my favourite things!

May
22

Rain and garden centres! This post is not a recipe but just a little ditty about my spring so far.

 

Spring has sprung with a fair bit of rain these past couple of months. Although some days were a mix of rain and snow, I still ventured out with my family as I love love love the rain! Experiencing the fresh air, the moisture and blossoming greenery all without having to load up on layers of clothing leaves me feeling refreshed and happy!

April showers bring May flowers. The flowers at the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert, Alberta are worth checking out, among other great things. My family and I along with my in-laws spent a day there one beautiful Saturday at the end of April to celebrate my hubby’s and mine 5th wedding anniversary.

Open and fully functioning now for over a year, the Enjoy Centre was developed by the Hole family and boasts a large greenhouse, a garden centre full of beautiful and colourful pots and plants and garden decor. But that is not all. There is also a home decor store, a kitchen gadget store, a bistro that cooks up local and organic fare, an organic and whole foods market as well as a local meat shop and of course, a spa. All this under one glass roof.

My hubby and I took advantage of spa treatments at The Water Garden while our little guy spent the morning with Papa and Grandma. I got a Mama Belly rub followed by a mini-pedicure (no massaging of ankles here!) and hubby got a relaxation massage then continued to relax on the large round swings in their Relaxation Room. Then we all met up for lunch at the bistro, aptly named Prairie Bistro, where Papa and Grandma treated us to an anniversary lunch! Being Alberta, majority of the menu boasted local meats but vegetarian options were also available. As we were going to have steaks that night, I opted for a greens salad with a simple vinaigrette and a spinach and artichoke hummus and foccacia crostini-type bread. Hubby got Reuben with smoked meat (look out next for a perogy recipe inspired by said sandwich!) and a salad as well, my little health bunny. My little guy got a chicken sandwich and salad that was not a kids’ portion but a tastier option than what was available on the kids menu. What little was left from his meal was shared between me and hubby. Dessert completed the meal with two portions of a Saskatoon berry crumble and many forks for sharing! The Prairie Bistro has a sit-down section as well as a deli-style section for those opting for food on the go.

 

Soaking up the rays at the Enjoy Centre

It is easy to spend a good portion of the day there as there is so much to see! Not only that, but sitting among all the real trees and plants and in the warmth of the sunshine coming in through all the windows made me want to curl up like a cat and take a nap. Sigh. A day at the Enjoy Centre is on my list of things to do this summer with my family again for sure! Check it out for yourself!

Take care and I’ll be back soon!

 

 

The Baked Perogy

Jul
23

 

Away from the hustle and bustle

 

“Milan’s beauty is in its’ courtyards” my brother-in-law would often say as we walked the narrow streets of Milan. My family and I recently spent 3 weeks there visiting my sister and her family. The city is after all a business and financial centre but still very European: the fashion, the cars, the architecture, and laid back lifestyle were all amazing and an awesome experience to be part of.

Besides the courtyards, my favourite spots to look into (and spend some time in) were the bakeries! Namely Princi and Bethlehem. Not only were the freshly made pastries and breads delicious, but the presentation of them was truly charming. You could see that there was alot of thought and care put into presenting the baked goods. We also popped into a little shop that sold beautiful marzipan, made to look like miniature fruit and other bubbly colourful things. I regret not having my camera on me at the time. I did take one photo of a marzipan fig that I bought to sample. Word of caution, when asking for a fig in Italy do not ask for a “fica” but a “fico”. The former vulgar slang for a part of the female anatomy.

Nestled inside this sugary fig is sweet sweet marzipan!

 

For this perogy recipe, I drew inspiration from the Bethlehem Bakery in Milan. My sister treated us to a wonderful sweet bread that was made with ricotta cheese and chocolate chips!! So yummy and divine. I decided to bake the perogy as that would ensure the contents would stay nestled inside. The baked perogy is also known as a “piroshki”, a Russian dumpling. Fillings can be either sweet or savoury.

For the baked perogy dough recipe I found this one online that was quick and easy. For the filling I added some vanilla bean and orange zest to add more flavour. Plus I love a chocolate and orange combination! I first prepared the filling a few hours or up to one night before to let the flavours really come together, leaving the vanilla bean pod inside once the seeds were scraped out, and removing it before filling the perogies.

Baked Perogy Dough Recipe

  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 full c. sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 2 additional eggs for egg wash

Filling

  • 2 cups of dry pressed ricotta cheese
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, split open and vanilla seeds scraped out; save the pod  (see tip below)*
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 cup of miniature dark chocolate chips

Method

1. First prepare the filling by using a fork to mash the ricotta. Next add the remaining ingredients and let the filling mix sit in the fridge for 4 hours or up to 8 hours. *(Tip: you can either leave the vanilla bean in the mix and remove later or you can leave out the pod and add it to your stored sugar to make vanilla sugar. Or along with 2-3 more pods add to vodka to make your own vanilla extract,ready to use in a few months. A great gift for the baker in your life!)

2. For the dough, make a well in the flour and add remaining ingredients. Work all together adding more flour or sour cream should dough be too sticky or too stiff. Form dough into a ball and let rest in fridge for an hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough when ready and use a 2.5 inch round cutter to cut out circles.

4. Add a tablespoon amount or more of the filling onto each perogy circle and pinch along as you would when making perogies.

5. Place the perogies on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

6. Paint each perogy with egg wash and pierce with a fork 2 times.

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.

8. Let cool and enjoy!

 

Before going into the oven

 

Goes great with a hot cup of coffee on a cool rainy morning

A doughless perogy (Potato Cake)

Apr
5

In a “pinch” and with 3 cups of left over mashed potatoes on my hands, what was a girl to do? Make some left over mashed potato cakes! This filling reminded me of a typical potato perogy filling but tonight was a quick supper night so a side of potato cakes it was.

The night before I cooked approx. 11 medium sized potatoes and mashed them, having added a tablespoon of butter, a tablespoon of greek yogurt and some fresh dill.

Tonight I added the following to 3 cups of left over mashed potatoes:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 1/2 cup of shredded old cheddar
  • 1 extra teaspoon of fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped white onion
  • ground sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp of oil for frying

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until soft and mushy. Add a little extra flour if mixture is too sticky.
  2. With 2 spoons, work the potato mix back and forth until little football shaped cakes are formed. Alternatively you can drop the mix (about 2 tbsp. worth) onto a heated and oiled pan.
  3. Cook each side until nicely browned and crisp. The middle will be soft.

And there you have it. A simple and easy way to use up some left over mashed potatoes! My little helper in the kitchen could not wait to get his hands on them!