Sweet and salty caramel crunch cookies

A deliciously satisfying treat!

I find the combination of sweet and salty absolutely irresistible. These cookies are simple to make but absolutely delicious. The chips will stay crunchy for a day or so but even after they soften they still add a huge pop of flavour to complement both the cookie dough and the fantastic salted caramel baking chips. I like to use ripple chips so they hold their shape a little bit more and you can actually see them in the cookies. Next time, I plan to try making these with crushed pretzels instead of the chips; I think that will be an equally delicious variation. These cookies freeze well, in case you’re thinking you might make a double batch. If you can’t find salted caramel baking chips, you could substitute with butterscotch chips or toffee bits and sprinkle a few flakes of sea salt over each cookie to balance the flavour. If you like these cookies, you may also want to check out these over-the-top Carnival Cookies!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups crushed potato chips *
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups salted caramel Chipits

* It takes about 5 cups of chips to make 2 cups crushed. Open the bag, press out the air and clip the top closed. Press bag firmly against the counter with your hands to crush the chips.

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one), cream the butter, sugar and molasses together, beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended.
  • Add the crushed potato chips and blend again. Add half the flour and stir to mix it in, then add remaining flour and the salted caramel chips and blend until incorporated.
  • Drop dough by teaspoonfuls (use a small cookie scoop if you have one) onto the lined cookie sheets, placing about 1.5 inches apart.
  • Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, until browned. Remove from oven and place cookie sheets on a wire rack; let cool for 3 minutes then transfer the cookies to another wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
  • Cooled cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days at room temperature or refrigerated for up to 2 months.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

 

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Posted in baking, cookies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Chive cornbread waffles

Spice up chili night with this family-friendly side dish

I grew up eating – and loving – cornbread so it was a little disappointing to discover a while back that my husband and kids didn’t really enjoy it. It took a while to figure it out, but when I noticed they only cut pieces from the outer edges of the pan, I realized it was the crispy bits that they really enjoyed. The solution? Pour that cornbread batter into a waffle maker. The result: super easy and fast cornbread waffles that offer the perfect amount of those coveted crispy edges. If your family likes things spicy, you can add up to 2 tablespoons of drained, finely chopped pickled jalapenos to the batter. If you’re wondering about chili recipes, here are two of my favourite: a quick vegetarian version and a yummy Texas-style chili.

cornbread waffles with chives

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup finely minced chives or green onion tops
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup regular milk combined with 1 tbsp white vinegar)
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp honey

cornbread waffle with chives

Directions

  • Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chives in a mixing bowl
  • In a large glass measure or a second medium-sized bowl, combine buttermilk, butter and egg until combined. Pour into dry ingredients then drizzle honey over top; stir to combine.
  • Let batter rest for 10 minutes while waffle iron heats up to medium-hot (not the highest temperature). At the same time, preheat oven to 225F and place a wire cooling rack over a baking tray; set aside.
  • Brush hot waffle iron with canola oil or spray with cooking spray. Use a ladle to pour waffle batter into compartments (mine takes 1/4 cup batter per waffle) Cook about 4 minutes, until lightly browned. Use a silicone spatula to gently ease them out of the waffle iron and place on the wire cooling rack. Transfer rack and baking tray to warmed oven.
  • Once cooled, leftover waffles can be wrapped and stored in the fridge for 3 days or the freezer for 3 months. Reheat them in the toaster or oven.

Makes 8 – 10 waffles, depending upon the size of your waffle iron.

cornbread waffles with chives

 

 

Posted in waffles | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

A hearty way to start the day!

Enchiladas are such a popular meal at our house that I recently decided to create a breakfast version. My timing was perfect as we had a houseful of overnight guests and I wanted something tasty that I could assemble the night before, then just pull out of the fridge and pop in the oven. This dish is so easy to make and everyone who’s tried it just loves it. You can swap in chopped ham or crumbled, cooked sausage meat for the bacon if you like, or swap in black beans for the meat if you prefer, for an equally delicious vegetarian option.

breakfast enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 mL) diced cooked bacon, divided
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped green onion, white parts included
  • 3 cups (750 mL) grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, divided
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup (250 mL) 10% cream
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) each salt and pepper
  • 8 corn or flour tortillas ( 6 inch / 15 cm size)
  • Sour cream and salsa, to serve

Method

  • Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 inch (22 x 33 cm) baking dish with canola oil or cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a medium sized bowl, combine the bacon and green onion; remove 1/4 cup of this mixture for topping the casserole and set aside. Add 2 cups (500 mL) of the grated cheese and stir to combine.
  • In a second medium sized bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, milk, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Spread about  1/3 cup (90 mL) of the bacon and cheese mixture in the centre of one tortilla (form a line with the mixture) and roll up the tortilla to enclose the filling.
  • Place into the prepared baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
  • Pour egg mixture over the top and then scatter reserved bacon and green onion mixture over the top of the tortillas.
  • Cover with foil, and store in fridge for up to 12 hours, until ready to bake.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until eggs are set (jiggle the pan to check).
  • Remove the foil, top with remaining 1 cup (250 mL) of shredded cheese, and bake about 5 – 8 minutes more, until cheese is completely melted.
  • Serve hot, passing sour cream and salsa at the table.

Serves 6 – 8

make-ahead breakfast enchiladas are easy and delicious

 

 

Posted in Breakfast, brunch, easy Mexican dish, easy Tex-Mex dish, eggs | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Making the most of fall and winter vegetables

Great ways to enjoy fresh flavours all year round!

I don’t know about you, but in the summer I seem to live off salads. I crave them for their fresh, bright flavours and the satisfying crunch that comes from eating raw food. I do like to cook with the seasons, however, to take full advantage of locally-grown produce, so that means that salads tend to appear less on my menus in the fall and winter, replaced by heaps of root and other sturdy vegetables.

winter vegetables such as beets carrots are so versatile and delicious

Over time, I’ve learned to truly love (and even crave!) ingredients like cauliflower, turnip, carrots and beets, all of which are readily available throughout the fall and winter. Some people mention to me that they can’t think of creative ways to serve these vegetables; I’m sure some of them, just like me,  do not enjoy eating beautiful produce that’s been either overcooked or slathered in an overpowering sauce. To solve your winter vegetable woes, I’ve come up with a few fun ways to enjoy root and other seasonal vegetables and I’m happy to share them with you.

Roasted beet and garlic pesto

roasted beets, garlic and walnuts make a delicious pesto

Crunchy curried cauliflower pickles

curried cauliflower pickles

Quick pickled turnips, Lebanese-style

Tunisian carrot soup with mint and dukkah

carrot soup flavoured with ras el hanout and garnished with mint and dukkah

Dairy-free cinnamon buns

Dairy free cinnamon buns

Root vegetable carpaccio with lemon-thyme vinaigrette

root vegetable carpaccio

Posted in vegan, Vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Creamy macaroni and cheese with kale and bacon

A delicious twist on a comforting family favourite!

My family has always loved homemade mac ‘n cheese and it’s no wonder. After all, isn’t it just like a warm, creamy, comforting, satisfying hug in a bowl? I tend to always use the same basic recipe I developed years ago and then experiment with lots of different additions; this week’s new combination really hit it out of the park. In the right proportions, the simmered, tender kale adds a nice pop of colour and flavour, without overwhelming the dish. And bacon – why not? I like to prepare this in single-serving casserole dishes which is a great way to ensure everyone gets their fair share of bacon; individual portions are also ideal as a make-ahead option for busy families with staggered mealtimes.

creamy macaroni and cheese with kale and bacon

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (500 mL) small pasta (macaroni or shells are great)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (500 mL) milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) smoked or regular paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups (500 mL) grated extra old white cheddar
  • 2 cups (500 mL) finely chopped kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1 cup (250 mL) diced cooked bacon
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh breadcrumbs or Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons (15 mL) bacon fat or butter, melted

 creamy mac 'n cheese with kale and bacon

Method

  • Cook noodles in a medium pot of salted, boiling water until just tender.
  • While noodles are cooking, make cheese sauce:  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  • Gradually whisk in milk, paprika and a dash of salt & pepper.
  • Simmer, stirring often, for 4 minutes, until smooth and thickened. Stir in the grated cheese until blended, then stir in the kale. Let simmer on low for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Prepare topping in a small bowl by combining breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons melted bacon fat or butter. Set aside.
  • Add the drained macaroni to the sauce, stirring to mix well.  Pour half the mixture into a greased 8 inch (20 cm) square casserole dish (or four 1.5 cup/375 mL oven-safe dishes), then sprinkle with half the bacon bits. Top with remaining noodle and sauce mixture, then sprinkle remaining bacon bits and breadcrumbs evenly over top.
  • Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are browned & cheese sauce is bubbly. (You’ll need to bake a bit longer if you’ve prepared the mac ‘n cheese ahead of time and refrigerated.)

Serves 4.

mac 'n cheese with kale and bacon

Posted in Main DIsh, Make Ahead, Pasta, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Building better biscuits

Technique tips for the best baking powder biscuits ever!

I’ve always loved making and eating what I grew up calling tea biscuits but have since learned are more commonly referred to as baking powder biscuits. They’re a little different than scones in that they are usually less sweet (here’s one of my favourite scone recipes, by the way), making biscuits more versatile. You can serve them with soups and stews, or slather them in jam and/or whipped cream. The one aspect of preparing biscuits that I never particularly enjoyed was using a pastry cutter to work the butter into the flour. It seemed like an instrument of culinary torture and not particularly efficient; the recommended alternative, a pair of knives, was even worse. I tested a new method a while ago and am happy to report that it was fantastically easy and resulted in better biscuits too. This new and improved technique: make sure the butter is well chilled (15 minutes in the freezer after measuring) then use a box grater to shred it directly into the flour mixture. A couple of quick tosses with your fingers and you are ready to add the liquid and form the dough. So much faster and simpler!

Another important tip for fluffy, light biscuits is to ensure your baking powder is fresh – its shelf life is actually less than one a year. One final key technique when making biscuits is to cut them cleanly. If you are using a circle (biscuit) cutter, take care not to twist it as you press down on the dough or as you pull the cutter up out of the dough. A clean cut will keep the biscuit’s layers from getting compressed; as a result it will puff up higher and more evenly in the oven. Use biscuits to crown a pot of stew, slather them with butter and jam or stuff them with ham and cheese, to name just a few of the limitless possibilities. Happy baking!

better baking powder biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons (20 mL) baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) very cold salted butter
  • 2/3 cup (180 mL) milk or buttermilk

tea biscuits

Method

  • Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • Place flour, baking powder and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  • Grate the cold butter into the bowl and toss with your fingers to combine.
  • Add milk and stir quickly to form a shaggy dough.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 4 – 6 times to pull mixture together into a ball.
  • Use your hands to pat mixture down into a rectangle of 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thickness.
  • Cut with a 2” (5 cm) circle cutter and place on prepared baking tray.
  • Shape scraps into a ball, pat down again and cut additional biscuits. These will not rise as much as those in the first cutting, but they’ll still be delicious.
  • If desired, sprinkle the tops of the biscuits with a few pinches of white sugar.
  • Bake in the preheated oven 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown on top.
  • Remove tray from oven and transfer biscuits to a wire rack.

Makes 12 to 15 biscuits.

best ever baking powder biscuits

 

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Soba noodle salad with creamy peanut sauce

A quick vegan-friendly meal that makes great leftovers!

A few times each week, I try to make a dish that can do double-duty as dinner one night and lunch the next. This is my new favourite “intentional leftovers” meal. It is so quick to prepare and I just love the combination of the tangy peanut sauce and crisp, raw vegetables. Soba noodles are a staple in Chinese cuisine; today most of them are made from a combination of white and buckwheat flour but at specialty food stores you should be able to find all-buckwheat noodles, which are gluten-free, if that’s important to you or your guests. You can also substitute with your favourite wheat, corn or rice pasta but you’ll need to adjust the cooking time for the noodles accordingly. Adding in thin slices of cooked chicken would also be delicious for a non-vegan version of this dish.

Soba noodles raw vegetables peanut sauce vegan

Ingredients

  • 6 cups (1500 mL) vegetable stock (or chicken stock if not making vegan)
  • 12 ounces soba (340 g) or other flat noodles
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) sriracha sauce (or to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large red or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) thinly sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) coarsely chopped peanuts
  • Cilantro leaves and lime wedges for garnish

Soba noodles blend nicely with raw vegetables and a tangy, creamy dressing

Method

  • In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil. While stock heats, put the peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and sriracha in the bottom of a large bowl.
  • Add the soba noodles to the boiling broth and cook for 4 minutes. Drain in a colander placed over a clean bowl to catch the broth that drains off; reserve the broth and set aside.
  • Run the noodles under cold water and shake to remove excess liquid then set aside.
  • Whisk 1/2 cupof the reserved hot cooking broth into the peanut butter mixture until well blended. Add the drained noodles to the bowl and toss gently to coat. Add another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the reserved broth until the sauce coating the noodles is smooth and creamy but not runny.  Refrigerate any remaining broth and it can be used when reheating leftover noodles.
  • Taste and season with black pepper, additional soy sauce, sriracha or rice vinegar to suit your tastes.
  • Gently stir into the noodles most of the sliced peppers, all of the zucchini and green onion plus halfs of the peanuts. Transfer noodles and vegetables to a broad serving dish and garnish with cilantro leaves plus remaining peppers and peanuts.
  • Serve with lime wedges on the side; the noodles are equally delicious warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

Soba noodles all dressed up with raw vegetables and a tangy, creamy peanut sauce - a great vegan dish that everyone will love!

Posted in Asian, family-friendly main dish, gluten-free, meal I can make in 20 minutes, One dish meals, Pasta, vegan, Vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments