Monday, December 16, 2013

Crepes - Secret Recipe Club

Welcome to my last SRC post of the year! My group is on vacation in January, but we'll resume our fun in February.

This month I was assigned a blog called The Bad Girl's Kitchen. I believe this is run by Min but several bloggers post there.

There were SO many recipes to choose from too! The Baked Donut Holes looked delicious, but in the end, I decided to go with breakfast. This is a super easy recipe for crepes. Only 4 ingredients! And then I made a little blueberry sauce to go with them.

You can serve crepes with fresh fruit, Nutella or syrup, but my favourite way is to sprinkle some sugar on them, then roll them up. The blueberry sauce is also really nice. You can replace the blueberries in the recipe with any other type of berry. 

Secret Recipe Club

Makes 8 crepes

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon water
3/4 cup 2% milk
3 large eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted & cooled
1/2 cup all purpose flour

Start with the sauce. Place all the ingredients in a small pot and simmer over medium heat until it thickens slightly. I just let it cook the whole time I'm making the crepes.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the crepes and set aside. 

Heat a nonstick pan (or crepe pan if you have one), over medium heat. 

I brush the pan with a little butter, then, quickly pour in 1/3 cup of the batter and swirl the pan. My crepes never turn out perfectly round. Does anybody really care? 

When the surface of the crepe starts to look a little dry and the bottom has a little colour on it, you can attempt to flip it. I find that metal utensils slide under much easier than plastic ones, because the crepes can be a bit sticky. Be gentle, don't scratch your pan. Cook just for another minute then turn out onto a plate and repeat with the remaining batter. 

Crepes look fancy, but they're easy. Give them a try next time. I prefer them over pancakes.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christmas Cookie and Sweets Round-up

Here are some of my favourite things to make and give away at Christmastime. Enjoy!

Cookie Recipes

Chewy Coconut Cookies
Eat Shrink and Be Merry Peanut Better Gingersnaps
Raisin Cookies
Robin Hood Chocolate Chip Cookies
Best, Big, Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Almond Spritz with Raspberry Jam
Angel Crisps
Gingerbread Cookies
Cranberry Hootycreeks - cookies in a jar
Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Almond Wrapped Dried Fruit Biscotti ( Whole Wheat ) 
Double Duty Chocolate Chip and Raisin Cookies (Whole Wheat)
Saffron Infused Cinnamon Raisin Biscotti
The Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Chip Rugelach Cookies 
White Chocolate Raspberry Slice Cookies
Sugar Cookie Cutouts
Kourabiedes (Greek shortbread)
Brownie Roll-out Cookies
Small Batch Mint Chocolate Cookies
Small Batch Peanut Butter Cookies (Weight Watchers)
Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies
Small Batch Brown Sugar Cookies
Soft Sugar Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chips
Cardamom Tea Cakes
Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Nutella Glaze

Sweets and Dessert Recipes

Brownies and Blondies
Black Bean Brownies
Peanut Brittle
Extra Buttery Lemon Cranberry Scones
Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Bars
Chocolate Rum Truffles
Hot Chocolate on a Stick - Fudge Balls
Magic Cookie Bars
Christmas and New Year Cake Ball Pops
Baked Mini Chocolate Cinnamon Doughnuts (donuts)
Baked Cake Doughnuts (donuts)
Cranberry Coconut Lemon Squares
Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Blondies
Sugar Plums
Easy Layered Mint Fudge
One Bowl Maple Walnut Brownies
Peanut Butter Cups

Monday, November 11, 2013

Quick Pickled Beans - Secret Recipe Club

Welcome to another episode of Secret Recipe Club!

This month, Suzanne gave me her own blog to choose a recipe from. I was originally going to make her Jazzy Coleslaw, but then I noticed the giant bag of beans I bought at Costco had to be used up before the beans went bad. So I decided to make quick pickled beans instead. I've loved pickles my entire life.

Suzanne is the hostess for my group (Group B) and likes to travel. Now the title of her blog Thru the Bugs on My Windshield makes complete sense to me. She takes a lot of photos through the windows as she's travelling. I've done this as well, but never noticed any bug splats. I'll pay more attention next time!

I added some tarragon to the recipe because tarragon is really nice with pickles, and the beans I used are the skinny french beans (purchased in a 2 lb bag from Costco). Suzanne also pickled some asparagus, and I think you could also use this recipe to pickle other vegetables like sliced cucumbers.

My pickling spice mix has many different things in it including bay leaves and cloves. The flavour of pickling spice is unique. Your pickles won't taste anything like a jar of dill pickles that you'd buy at the store.

And finally, the jar I used was one that I saved from a store bought spaghetti sauce. It was 700ml (about 24oz). I used enough beans to fill the jar. I'm guessing almost a pound of beans because it was almost half the bag, but I didn't measure.

Secret Recipe Club

Quick Pickled Beans
Adapted from Thru the Bugs on My Windsheild
Makes 1 Jar (or 2 smaller ones)

1 lb skinny green beans, trimmed
1 garlic clove, smashed or sliced
1 dried red chili (or 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes)
1/2 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup cold water
1 heaping teaspoon pickling spice
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

Place the beans, garlic clove and chili into a clean glass jar.

In a small pot over medium heat, bring the rest of the ingredients up to a boil.

Pour the mixture into the jar and put the lid on. Turn the jar upside down a few times.

Refrigerate for about 4 days before eating. Suzanne says they'll be good for a month in the fridge, but will they last that long? Probably not!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Indonesian Pork

This pork dish was really delicious. You can use pork tenderloin, but I got some other cut of boneless pork from Costco (I can't remember the cut - it looked like a loin when it was cooked anyway) and it worked out just fine. It was lean as well. I also didn't have any limes, so I used lemon, and I had no cilantro. I just happened to have everything else hanging around though.

I covered my pan instead of placing the pork in the oven. Sometimes I'm just lazy that way. It would have taken extra effort to dig the oven proof pan out of the cupboard (it's at the bottom of the pile). Then I'd have had to put it back after.

Indonesian Pork
Adapted from
(This blog is published in Polish, scroll down the pages for English)
Makes 4 servings

1 lb pork tenderloin (or thick piece pork chops)
1/4 cup apricot preserves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 lime (or 1/2 a lemon), juiced
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk together the apricot preserves, garlic, coriander, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, peanut butter, lime juice, orange juice, crushed red pepper and black pepper. Try to get the mixture smooth.

Place pork in bag with the marinade and squish it around a bit. Seal the bag and squeeze out the air. I refrigerated mine overnight.

Over medium high, heat the oil in large non-stick pan. Sear the pork on all sizes for a few minutes per side. Mine could have browned a bit more but anyway. Once seared, cover he pan and continue to cook for about 15 minutes (turning once) or until cooked through. If you decided to dig out your oven proof pan, you can bake the pork at 375F instead. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

The original recipe suggests that while the pork is in the oven, you can bring the marinade to a boil and let it thicken up a bit to make a sauce. But I just ended up drizzling the pan juices over the meat after I sliced it.

Garnish with cilantro or parsley if you want to get fancy.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ground Chicken and Pasta Soup

It's soup season! I had some ground chicken that I pulled out of the freezer the other day, and I didn't know what to do with it. I think you can make soup out of pretty much anything, don't you think?

This wagon wheel pasta is fun too. It expands a lot though, so don't be tempted to add more.

Preheat the oven to 375F.
Roll out a tube of Pillsbury crescent roll dough.
Use a pizza cutter to make strips.
Put some sauce, garlic powder and cheese on top.

Twist the strips and put them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
The cheese sticks to the sauce so twisting these isn't as hard as you might think.
DO NOT use foil. My mistake. They didn't come off easily.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Ground Chicken and Pasta Soup
Makes 6 servings

1 large onion
1 sweet red pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 lb lean ground chicken (or beef)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
650 ml (22oz?) jar pasta sauce (I used basil) 
4 cups chicken broth
Parmesan cheese rind (optional) 
1 1/2 cups dried Rotelle pasta (or whatever shape you like)
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Shredded mozzarella & Parmesan for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Fry the onion, red pepper, garlic and ground meat for several minutes, until the meat is cooked through.

Add the Italian seasoning, pepper flakes, salt and pepper and stir.

Stir in the sauce and broth, then add a Parmesan cheese rind if you have one. You can keep them in the freezer once you've finished the cheese, and use them for soup. I picked up that tip from The Food Network.

Let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes, then stir in the pasta. Cook until it becomes tender (but not mushy). The cooking time will depend on your pasta.

Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan.

Serve hot with some extra Parmesan and mozzarella grated on top.

I also made bread sticks using Pillsbury crescent roll dough, pasta sauce, garlic powder and mozzarella. But I don't recommend baking them directly on foil. Use parchment or they WILL stick. We had a hard time getting them off the foil.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie - Secret Recipe Club


And, welcome to another Secret Recipe Club post. This month I got a fabulous blog called Mostly Food and Crafts written by one very crafty lady. Danielle is a mom of 2 beautiful kids, and I like that she gets them involved in her cooking and crafting.

In addition to all the great recipes Danielle has posted, there are also a ton of wonderful crafts to try out. A Thankful Garland and Tablecloth would be great projects for Thanksgiving. And her Thanksgiving Platter is super cute! It’s the perfect project to do with your kids and keep around for years to come.

I was looking for something seasonal this time around, because here in Canada, today is Thanksgiving! I might be tempted to add a little more pumpkin next time to get a bit more pumpkin flavour. Or maybe use only half a banana. But this was one of the best flavours of smoothie I think I've ever had.  

My 6 year old made that beautiful turkey at school. Thought I'd share.

Secret Recipe Club

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
1 Serving

1/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 banana
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon  honey
4 ice cubes

Place all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. That is all.

Gooseberry Patch Recipe Round Up

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Apple Recipe Round-up

Here in Ontario, apple picking season is coming to an end. Now what will we do with all those apples we harvested? Here are some wonderful ways to use apples besides making apple sauce.


And here are some other pretty cool apple ideas.
For more Autumn Ideas, please visit my
Autumn/Halloween/Thanksgiving board on Pinterest.

decadently dark candy apples
Decadently Dark Candy Apples by Country Living

triple dipped smores apples
Tripple Dipped S'mores Apples by Country Living

ghostly coconut covered apples
Ghostly Coconut-Covered Apples by Country Living

Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies
Salted Caramel Apple Handpies by Just A Taste

Mini Caramel Apples by from glitter to gumdrops

Chocoalte Dipped Apple Slices by 
The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife
(The original recipe from Rosa Rot is no longer posted)

Shrunken Heads in Cider
Shrunken Heads in Cider by Martha Stewart

Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream

Last week, I entered my first cupcake competition, which was put together by the fun committee in the building I work in. I decided to do something seasonal and use apples. While I wasn’t in the top 3 (and I’m pretty sure the winner’s cupcake mix was from a box), I did get an honorable mention and won myself an IPod speaker that lights up. It’s pretty cool!

You can make your own apple chips to go with these cupcakes, or you can buy them in bags from the store if you don’t want to spend 3 hours making them. I only baked one apple so I didn’t have enough slices to place a whole one on each cupcake (I guess we sampled too many), so I broke them up.

If you’re not planning on serving these right away, you can refrigerate the cupcakes after they’re frosted. Just be sure to let them thaw out a bit before trying to put the apple slices on top, the frosting will be very firm straight from the fridge. I’m not sure if the apples will stay crisp if you put them in the fridge.

Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream
Adapted from Chow & Brown Eyed Baker
Makes 24 cupcakes

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup buttermilk, room temperature
3 medium apples, peeled and grated (about 3 cups grated)
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Apple chips for decoration.

Preheat the oven to 350F and line 2 muffin tins with paper liners (for 24 cupcakes).

Wisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter on medium high speed for about 2 minutes until it fluffs up a bit. Add the sugar and vanilla, and beat for another 2 minutes. It was supposed to become light and fluffy, but that never happened for me, it looked crumbly.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each egg. This is where mine got light and fluffy!

On low speed, beat in the buttermilk until well combined. Does it look curdled to you? It will, but that’s okay, everything will work out in the end.

Now, use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour just until combined, then stir in the apples.

Divide the batter among the 24 prepared muffin cups (I used an ice cream scoop), and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat the butter on medium high speed for 5 minutes. Yes, 5 minutes. Don’t give up. It will become fluffier.

Add the sugar and cinnamon slowly (I did about 5 additions) on low speed.

Now, add the vanilla on low speed, and once incorporated, increase the speed to high and beat for another minute or two. The frosting should be nice and thick. Place it in your piping bag or spread it onto the cooled cupcakes with a spatula. I sprinkled the frosted cupcakes with a bit of cinnamon sugar too. 

Top each cupcake with an apple chip (or a piece of one).

I made my own apple chips (you can do this in advance and store in an airtight container). Just preheat your oven to 200F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner or some parchment, and use a mandolin to get even slices from an apple. Place the slices in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Mix together a little cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle on both sides of the apples.

Bake them for 2 or 3 hours, turning once or twice in the process, until they are crispy.

Apple Pancakes

Here's still one more way to use up those fabulous apples of the season. Use a cooking apple for this (I used McIntosh) because they won't have long to cook.

I took my favourite pancake recipe, added a bit of maple extract and dipped the apple slices in it. You can dip about 3 apples. I didn't count how many pancakes I got out of it, but the 4 of us ate and we could easily feed another 3 or 4 people. Serve them with some fresh fruit if you like.

Whenever my mom used to make apple pancakes, we'd always just sprinkle them with sugar and eat them like that, but my kids like syrup of course. Also, I leave the skin on the apples, and use a mandolin to slice them because it's faster. Watch your fingers.

Apple Pancakes
Adapted from
Serves 6-8 people

1 3/4 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon maple extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
3 cooking apples, sliced to about 1/8" (use a mandolin)

In a measuring cup, measure out the milk and add the vinegar. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Don't be alarmed by the vinegar (you won't taste it) or the curdled look. You could replace this mixture with 2 cups of buttermilk if you want to.

Mix the dry ingredients with a whisk. Make a well in the centre and add the milk mixture. Add the eggs and butter then whisk until well combined.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Brush on some butter. Dip the apple slices one at a time into the batter until they're well coated.

Drop a few pancakes into the pan (don't overcrowd it or you won't be able to flip them easily). Cook for a few minutes until bubbles appear on the surface and it starts to look like it's getting dry, flip and continue to cook for another minute or two until the second side is golden. Repeat with the remaining apple slices.

Place the cooked pancakes onto an oven proof plate and keep them in the oven on very low heat until they're all cooked and ready to serve.

Cranberry Orange Bubble Bread

The scent of fresh bread lingered for hours after I made this delicious recipe! 'Tis the season to eat cranberries right?! Serve it warm with butter, jam or honey. Yum!

This was originally a bread machine recipe, but I don't have one so I made it the old fashioned way. For bread machine instructions, please visit That's My Home.

Cranberry Orange Bubble Bread
Adapted from That's My Home
Makes 16 pieces

3 cups flour

2 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk room temperature
1 egg
1 tbsp margarine
3/4 cup dried cranberries

In a measuring cup, measure the milk and microwave for about 40 seconds. You want it warm but not hot. Add to it the yeast and sugar. Stir then let sit for about 10 minutes until frothy. 

In the meantime, combine flour, grated orange zest, salt, egg, margarine and cranberries with your hands until crumbly.

Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir with your fingers until a ball is formed. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 2 minutes. Add flour as needed. 

Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic. Let rise about 1 hour. It should be doubled in size.

Roll into a log then cut in half. Cut the halves in half and so on until you get 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball then place them into a 9" lightly oiled spring-form cake pan. Cover and rise for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the spring-form immediately, then let cool slightly before eating.

Imagine what you can do with this fluffy dough? How about cinnamon and raisins? Or maybe just add some grated cheddar and herbs? yum!

Pickled Vegetables

My mother-in-law served these up with dinner tonight. She made them about a week ago and they are so good! If you love pickled things, you'll love these. They have a little bite to them because of the jalapenos.

She doesn't know the measurements, but she did tell me what went into this beautiful jar. I guess it's just one of those recipes that you have to eyeball and hope for the best. I would guess it's probably 1:1 for the vinegar and water.

cauliflower, cut into bitesize chunks
cellery, sliced
carrots, cubed
Persian cucumbers, sliced
garlic cloves
jalapenos, seeded (or not, it's up to you) and sliced
cider vinegar
boiling water

Place all the vegetables into the jar. Mix the vinegar, water and salt and pour over the vegetables to about 1/2" from the top of the jar. Seal it and let it sit in the cupboard for at least a week. My MIL says you don't have to refrigerate these ever. I probably will though. I tend to refrigerate most things after I open them, unless the label specifically tells me not to.

I suppose if you wanted to make many jars, you should go through a canning process of some sort. But I'm not an expert on that. These would make a pretty awesome Christmas gift! Hmm. Maybe I need to do some research on this canning business.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Apple Kuchen

I really like Apple Kuchen. The bottom is a thin cake and the apples bake right into it. It’s also another great way to use up those apples you’re going to pick this season.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I found this recipe for Apple Kuchen (if it’s yours, let me know). I really liked it, but I liked my mom’s better of course.  

Apple Kuchen
Makes 18 servings (I think – it depends how you cut it)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9x13 baking sheet (I also line with parchment).

Wisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon peel, nutmeg and salt and set aside.

Add the milk, butter, egg and vanilla, then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes until well blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Arrange apple slices over the batter.

Place all the topping ingredients into a bowl, and use a fork to mix until it’s crumbly. I use my fingers sometimes. Sprinkle the topping over apple, and bake for about 40 minutes or until lightly golden.

I prefer to eat it completely cooled.