Friday, April 22, 2011


I was talking to my sister on the phone yesterday but she had to go because her cake was ready to come out of the oven and I thought "Yes - I need cake too!".  Unfortunately what I wanted was gingerbread and ice cream and I didn't have all the ingredients to make it.  Feeling too lazy after work to go grocery shopping, my cake craving had to wait til today to be satisfied.

Anyone who knows me well, knows I would really rather cook than bake.  But sometimes, you just have to have cake so I have few really simple recipes that are my standbys.  This gingerbread is one - it is dark and delicious and very gingery!!

1/2 cup molasses
1 cup white sugar
1/2 butter or margarine
1/2 cup hot water
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp greshly grated ginger
1 beaten egg

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  Prepare a 9 inch square pan - spray with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper.  In a medium saucepan, gently heat the molasses, sugar, water and butter (or margarine). Once the butter melts, take it off the heat and let it cool a little.  Grate the fresh ginger into the pot.  The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons but I love ginger and I always add a tablespoon.

In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and freshly grated nutmeg.  Then stir the molasses mixture into the flour.

Beat the egg into a small bowl and temper it so you don't  get scrambled eggs!  I add a little bit of the batter to egg and then stir the egg into the batter.  Pour this batter into your prepared pan.  Bake at 300 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. 

Cut the gingerbread into 9 squares and serve with ice cream, whipped cream, fresh fruit or a sprinkling of icing sugar.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Twice-Baked Potatoes

For dinner tonight, we had twice-baked potatoes.  I love these!  They are so tasty that I make enough for 2 dinners when I make them. They taste great just  popped in the microwave or oven to heat up. Your ingredients are....

This recipe makes enough to serve 4.  Bake 2 large russet potatoes, cook 4 slices of bacon and add green onions, grated cheddar, salt, pepper, sour cream, salt, pepper and dried or fresh herbs.  Cut the potatoes in half, scoop out the cooked potato and mix it with the bacon, 2 sliced green onions, 4 Tbsp of  grated cheddar cheese, 3 Tbsp of sour cream, salt and pepper and herbs.  If I had fresh herbs, I would use a Tbsp of parsley or dill for example.  As I didn't have any fresh, I  used 1/2 tsp of dried savoury.  I spoon the mixture back into the potato skins and bake into a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

See what I  had for dinner.....;) Delish!

Lemon Squares for the United Way!

I am the "United Way baker" for the month of April at work.  We had a fundraiser and sold tickets and the winner receives home baking from a different person every month for a  year - Yum!  I am making lemon squares which are delicious and easy - my 2 requirements for baking!

The ingredient list is....

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, cold and diced
1/4 cup sugar

1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
Grated lemon rind
Lemon juice
Icing sugar

This recipe requires a food processor but it is really a one bowl and one pan recipe which is great for cleanup!  Start by preheating the oven to 325 degrees and prepare your pan.  I like to use non-stick spray and add a sheet of parchment paper to a 8 or 9 inch square pan.  This makes it simple to lift the squares out in one piece to cut them up.

In the food processor, add all the ingredients for the base - flour, sugar and diced, cold butter (you can substitute hard margarine if you like).  Pulse to make a crumbly mixture and pour this into your prepared pan.  Press the mixture into the bottom of  the pan and then bake it  for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the topping in the food processor.  You don't need to clean the bowl - just add all the ingredients at once.  The sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, the grated rind of one lemon and the juice of one lemon.  Pulse until it is frothy.  It smells heavenly - fresh, light and lemony. 

Take out the base after 20 minutes.  It will still be very light in colour - you don't want it browned.  Pour the topping over it and put it back in the oven for 25 minutes.

When it is set and very lightly browned, take it out and let it cool completely before dusting with icing sugar.

Once it  is cool, you can lift it out of the pan with parchment paper and cut into squares. These freeze very well and we often keep some in the freezer for unexpected guests.  I'm taking them into work tomorrow for Vivian - I hope you enjoy them!!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Grandma's Secret Salad Dressing

I am going to share Grandma's Secret Salad Dressing with you.  It is a tangy substitute for mayo and can be used in salads or sandwiches.  I often mix it with mayo for salads but I use it on its own for tuna salad, salmon salad, etc.  It's delicious and has very little fat.

The ingredient list follows...

1 egg
1 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
pinch of salt
pat of butter

Mix beaten egg with sugar.  Mix flour and dry mustard with water and whisk until there are no lumps.

Put the egg mixture and flour mixture in a saucepan and whisk to combine.  Add the vinegar and pinch of salt to the pot and whisk while heating until the dressing thickens.

Take off the heat and stir in a pat of butter.  This will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Enjoy!

Spring is Here - Potato Salad

It was a beautiful spring day today and I needed to celebrate with a summer supper. It was the perfect time to make potato salad. The radishes at the grocery store were like gorgeous jewels and I had to buy them.

This is a simple recipe (although I don't really have a recipe). The ingredients are potato, eggs, celery, onion, red pepper and those gorgeous radishes. They are all mixed together with mayo and my Grandma's salad dressing but I'm getting ahead of myself here. I made enough to fill a large mixing bowl (or enough for our dinner and to take some to my sister, Connie's house for theirs ;)

Cook and cube the potatoes. Boil 6 or 7 eggs. Cut up the vegetables - a quarter of a red pepper, finely diced, a stalk or two of celery sliced, 3 Tbsp of sweet onion finely diced, 2 green onions sliced and half a dozen radishes cut into crescents.

In a large mixing bowl, add all the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and if you have fresh dill and parsley, add them! I use dry herbs even if I don't have fresh as it adds to the flavour.

The eggs are one of the most important ingredients. I chop them up in the salad and place slices on top as well. I use my handy dandy egg slicer to slice up all the peeled boiled eggs. If they haven't peeled well, those are the ones I chop. Once I save the slices from the middle of each egg that have the most of the yolk showing, I chop up the slices from each egg and add those to the salad as well.

I add about half a cup of mayo and half a cup of homemade salad dressing. Once it is stirred up, you'll know if you need a bit more.

Spoon your salad into your serving bowl and top with egg slices.  I like to sprinkle some paprika over the top as well....then taste some summer!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ham and Cheese Quiche

Tonight's dinner was quiche and salad. I thought I'd give you my basic recipe for quiche. Then you can change ingredients to make any style of quiche you like. I often use a quiche to make an easy supper and use up leftover ingredients from my fridge.

Shopping list...

5-6 eggs
2 Tbsp cream
1 tsp mustard
1/2 cup grated cheese
2 Tbsp finely chopped sweet onion
3-4 sliced mushrooms
4-5 Tbsp of diced ham
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 pie shell

Whisk the eggs and cream and mustard together til smooth and frothy. Stir in grated cheddar cheese, onion, mushrooms, ham and dill. Pour into a prepared pie shell. I haven't mastered pastry making yet. I'm sure you'll see my attempts at that soon through this blog. If you can't make pastry, I'd advise you to buy a prepared shell at the grocery store or like me, you could ask your Mom to make it! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake the quiche 25 to 30 minutes. The centre needs to be firm and the top browned. If the pastry is getting too brown before the filling bakes through, put some foil over the edge of pastry.

I served the quiche with crispy watercress, dressed with my mango vinegar dressing. The eggs, cream and mustard are always constants but you can change the type of cheese (mozzarella, Gouda, Jack, etc) and the type of meat (cooked bacon, salmon, shrimp) and vegetables (green onions, tomato slices, partially cooked asparagus, spinach, etc) and herbs (parsley, savoury, basil, etc). Try different combinations - use up leftovers from the fridge and experiment - you'll be surprised how good it tastes!