Sunday, October 28, 2012

Double Baked Potatoes

As the weather gets cooler and the nights get darker, I find that I just want comfort food. Pasta, chicken pot pie...and these potatoes!

What makes these different than regular potatoes is that they are scooped out after they are baked the first time, and the flesh is basically mashed into mashed potatoes...then you stuff the filling back into the empty potato skin! Oh, and then top them with bacon and cheese. How much more comforting can you get?

When I was taking the pictures for this post, my sister suggested that I should name them "Double Bacon Potatoes". "Double Bake-on Potatoes, get it?! Because they are double baked and they have bacon!" she said. Cute...but I thought it would confuse people. There is only one type of bacon. I'm sorry. 

Whatever you choose to call these baked potatoes, one thing that I know you'll call them is delicious.

Double Baked Potatoes
Makes 4 servings
  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (I used low fat)
  • 2 Tbsp. cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp. onion salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked (substitute bacon bits if you want)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
In an oven heated to 450 degrees, pierce potatoes and bake for one hour. Remove from oven and let cool.

Once potatoes are cool, cut in half and scoop out the flesh, being careful not to scoop all the way through, otherwise you may break the skin.

Put potato flesh into a large bowl and mash. Add sour cream, cream cheese, milk, onion salt and pepper. Spoon mixture back into empty potato skins and top with bacon and cheddar cheese.

Return potatoes to oven for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jack-O-Lantern Quesadilla

Can you believe that Hallowe'en is almost here? I can't! It seems like October has flown by. It won't be long before my house is filled with fun-sized chocolate of the great things about having a little sister is being able to steal her Hallowe'en candy!

In preparation for Hallowe'en, I've wanted to make a few "spooky" recipes. There are so many great Hallowe'en recipes out there (just check out my Pinterest board!) and they're so easy to make!

This past weekend, I made these Jack-O-Lantern Quesadillas. They're so adorable, and kids will love them (I know my sister did!). I made these with just cheese, but feel free to add whatever other fillings you like! Black beans would be good - they would take the Hallowe'en theme to the next level by making them black and orange!

These quesadillas would make a perfect Hallowe'en lunch or pre-trick-or-treating dinner. Whenever you choose to make them, they will be enjoyed by everyone!

Jack-O-Lantern Quesadillas
Makes one single-serving quesadilla

  • 2 small tortillas (I used whole-wheat, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • additional fillings of your choice
Preheat broiler.

Using a sharp knife, shape the top of the tortillas into a "stem" shape for the pumpkin.

On one of the tortillas, cup out a jack-o-lantern face. You can make it spooky, silly, happy...whatever you like!

Sprinkle the cheese over the uncut tortilla, and place the "face tortilla" over top. Put quesadilla on a foil-lined baking sheet and place under broiler for 4-6 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkin Granola

Lately, my family seems to always have granola in the house. Ever since I first made Fruit & Nut Granola, I've made a batch of it almost every weekend! It really is good, and it's fun to switch up the add-ins with every batch I make. This week, I decided to switch it up even more and make pumpkin granola!

It seems like there are SO many pumpkin recipes popping up on the internet these days, and I'm not complaining! I love's definitely one of the fall flavours I look forward to most. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread...why not pumpkin granola!

Another thing that's great about this granola is that it's a bit healthier than your regular granola because there's no oil. The pumpkin puree acts as a binder, so you don't really need it. Which is good...because a healthy breakfast means that you can eat more of that fall comfort food we all love. It all evens out.

Pumpkin Granola
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 
  • 1/3 cup each dried cranberries and raisins
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, salt and pecans. Stir to combine and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, brown sugar, applesauce, honey and vanilla. Mix well, then pour into bowl with oats. Stir until all of oat mixture is coated, then pour onto two baking sheets lined with parchment. 

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, then stir and bake another 20 minutes. 

Enjoy the granola...and the amazing smell that will fill your house!

Monday, October 15, 2012

What's in My Lunch Box?

Wow, it feels like I haven't posted something new in forever! I've been busy lately, and haven't actually cooked a whole lot. I made a few things, though, so you'll be seeing those up here shortly! With the fall weather now in full swing, I've been making more fall-ish recipes (if that gives you any kind of a hint!).

These are a few lunches that I packed last week:

First up, an after Thanksgiving lunch with a leftover Rosemary Clover Roll, crackers, tortellini with pesto and parmesan, raspberries, apricots, teddy crackers and an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.

And in this lunch box, a waffled bacon and cheese panini, carrots, kiwi, strawberries, crackers and a Moosewood Brownie.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Making Pie: A Step-By-Step Tutorial

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for pie crust. When I posted it, it was the first time I had ever made pie from scratch. Since then, I've made several more pies, and I've discovered a few tricks and tips that help make a perfect pie every time. At first I thought of just editing my original post, but then I changed my mind and decided to make a tutorial instead. So, without further ado, let's get started.

Begin by making pie dough. I like to use this recipe, but feel free to use whatever recipe you like. When making the dough, here are some helpful hints:

  • Make sure the shortening (or butter, if that's what your recipe calls for) is fully chilled. This can be tricky with shortening, because when you get it at the grocery store, its room temperature. You can quickly chill it by sticking it in the freezer. Just don't forget about it!
  • Use cold water when preparing the dough. This is so the fat doesn't melt. You need those chunks of shortening/butter to make the pie crust flaky! I usually just get a glass of ice water, then use what I need. 
  • Chill the dough! The first time I made pie, I chilled it for 30 minutes. It got cold enough, but after a short amount of time it got really sticky and difficult to work with. Now I like to chill the dough for at least and hour and a half. This is easy if you plan ahead! Just make the dough in the morning and pull it out when you're ready to make the pie. That way, the dough is easy to work with.
Okay. Now, after all of that text, time for pictures!

Once the dough is made, roll it into two balls (top and bottom), flatten into discs and throw 'em in the fridge.

Once the dough has chilled for at least 90 minutes, take out disc at a time so the other doesn't get too warm. Now here comes my favourite new trick! Unwrap the dough and place it on a long sheet of plastic wrap, then place another sheet on top and start rolling.

I actually love this trick so much. For one, you have no messy flour-covered surface to clean up, and two, the dough doesn't stick, so once it's rolled out, it's easy to get off the counter and into the pie plate! I take the top layer of plastic off, then flip it, dough side down, into the pie plate. Then I peel off the top layer of plastic because nobody wants that in their pie.

Next, do the same thing with the other half of your dough. Once it's rolled out, put your filling into the prepared pie plate, then top it with the other half. If you want a full crust on the top, just roll the dough as you did with the first half, and flip it the same way.

If you want a lattice pie crust, roll the dough and cut it into eight equal strips. I don't really know how to explain how you weave the lattice, so check out the great step-by-step pictures over on Brown Eyed Baker.

Next, you're going to brush the top of the pie with one beaten egg, then sprinkle the crust with sugar.

Then, pop the pie in the oven according to the recipe's directions, and when you take it out, you will have a beautiful pie!

It looks almost too good to eat...almost.

Friday, October 5, 2012

What's in My Lunchbox?

From reading the "stats" of my blog, I know that I have a wide variety of readers from all over the world...everywhere from Russia to Japan to right here in Canada. To all my Canadian readers, are you super excited for Thanksgiving this weekend? I know I am! I can't wait to cook up a storm in the kitchen with my family...and then enjoy what we made!

I hope that you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving, and without further adieu, here are a couple of lunches from this week:

This was mine - a swiss cheese and veggie sandwich on whole wheat bread, some snap peas, grapes, trail mix and a little pumpkin candy for dessert!

In Liv's planetbox, there was some leftover baked macaroni and cheese, carrots, Gala apple slices, cheerios and a Moosewood brownie.

That's all for now - come back next week and hopefully you'll see some Thanksgiving leftovers in these lunch boxes!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Moosewood Brownies

Last summer, my family took a road trip to NYC. It was a great vacation, and we had lots of fun. The city was fantastic, but we also had lots of fun on the places we stopped along the way. One of those places was Ithaca, New York. It is well-known for Cornell University, but also for one of the most famous vegetarian restaurants, The Moosewood Restaurant. We ate there on our one night in Ithaca, and it was a really fun experience. The menu changes nightly, so you never know what you're going to get!

One thing on the menu that doesn't change, though, is the Moosewood Brownie. Since the menu at the Moosewood is pretty healthy, you feel like you can indulge in dessert. Two of us ordered them, and they were so good, we wished we had all ordered one! On our way out, we purchased a copy of The Moosewood Cookbook, and luckily, the brownie recipe was in it!

These brownies are dense, fudgey and super delicious! They're also made with brown sugar, which is something I;ve never seen in a brownie recipe before. Maybe that's the secret to making them so scrumptious...

Moosewood Brownies
Makes 16 brownies
From The Moosewood Cookbook

  • 3 oz. (3 squares) unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring until combined and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla.

Crack eggs one at a time straight into saucepan, beating after each addition until fully incorporated. Stir in the flour and continue mixing until smooth.

Pour batter into a greased 8 x 8-in. pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Zebra Cupcakes

As I mentioned in this post, a week ago was my sister's birthday. So even though we had cake on her real birthday in addition to the amazing cake she helped me bake for her party, she wanted to bring in cupcakes to school to share with her class. Well, anyone who knows my sister at all knows that she is obsessed with zebras (did you notice the purple zebra ribbon tied around the kit kat cake?). It all started when she was three and saw the movie Racing Stripes. It's actually a pretty funny movie, but after you've been forced to watch it dozens of times, the humour wears off. So, when I saw a recipe for zebra cake, I knew that I would have to make it some time. Instead of a whole cake, though, I adapted it to cupcakes!

Okay, in that picture, they remind me more of cows than zebras...but wait until you see the inside! These were a hit with Liv's class, but really, how many ten-year-olds aren't going to appreciate a cupcake? Especially during school! 

These yummy cupcakes are like a cousin of marble cake, but the layers are just arranged differently. 

Look how cute they are! When you make the 9-inch round cake recipe, you can definitely get more layers in, and it looks even more zebra-ish, but I think these cupcakes still look really good! They're great for the zebra fanatic in your family, or just as a fun treat!

Zebra Cupcakes
Adapted from Yummy Odds
Makes 24 cupcakes
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 oz. baking chocolate, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with liners.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with sugar, vegetable oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Pour in flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Remove two cups of batter and place in separate bowl. Stir chocolate into this batter, leaving the remaining batter plain.

To make zebra effect, spoon a bit of chocolate into a muffin cup, then add some vanilla over top. It showuld look like a "bull's eye". Continue layering until cupcake liner is 3/4 full (for an example, look here).

Bake for 15 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Once cupcakes are cool, frost with your favourite frosting recipe. I used the recipe seen here.

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