Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Orgasmic Mars Bar Fudge

I heart sugar. For me there is no substitute. So when I find a way to add MORE sugar to something that is already basically pure sugar, I'm all over that like.... sugar on sugar! The Orgasmic Caramilk Fudge I (and some of you) have made before is one of the tastiest fudge recipes I've ever come across, so naturally I felt the need to mess with it.

I stood in front of a very large candy display and pondered which delicious chocolate bar would be improved by surrounding it in a delicate creamy-fudge layer. After several minutes of hmm-ing and haw-ing the Mars bar screamed out "pick me! pick me! I want to be wrapped in fudge! oh pleeeeease pick me!". So I scooped up 8 bars and ran like the dickens back to my kitchen. I adjusted some other flavours and voilà, a whole new fudge to make you scream out "Yes! Yes! Yesssssss!"

Orgasmic Mars Bar Fudge

2 c. packed brown sugar
1 can condensed milk
3/4 c. butter
1 c. icing sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
8 Mars bars
2 squares semi-sweet Baker's Chocolate, melted


1. Microwave sugar, milk and butter for 8-9 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.
2. Add icing sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and mix with a hand mixer for 4 minutes.
3. Be quick for next step, as mix hardens. Place 1/2 of the mixture into a well greased 8x8 pan.
4. Lay the Mars bars out to cover the fudge mixture
5. Pour the rest of the mixture on top and smooth with a spatula
6. Using spoon or piping bag (a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped works well too) drizzle the top with melted chocolate.

Set aside 30 minutes.



Saturday, October 17, 2009

Turkey Pot Pie

I hated pot pies when I was little. HATED them. My mom would wait until there was a 50¢ sale and stock up on frozen chicken and turkey pot pies from the grocery store. They were bland and runny, and the crust was thick and hard, and if you were lucky you'd get 1 or 2 pieces of rubbery chicken in them. At the time I was branded "picky" but I like to think I just had discriminating taste at a young age! My mom was a busy wife and mother who worked 2 jobs so I was just happy to see my her let alone expect gourmet dinners. As a stay at home mom I have the time to fiddle around with cooking (and this blog) so I thought I'd give pot pies another try with my leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

I haven't mastered pie dough yet, nor did I have the energy to try (post Thanksgiving cleaning/tidying/digesting) so I used some refrigerated pie dough to save time... and as busy moms we need to make life easier whenever we can. I made these individual size (in a "Texas size" muffin tin) as my husband declared that he wasn't a fan of pot pies and I'd be eating them alone, but this could easily be adapted to one big family-sized pie if you don't want to bother with playing with the dough.

Bursting with chicken, veggies and a creamy sauce baked in a flaky, light pie dough, these pot pies are mmmmmmmm!

before the oven. I need to work on my edge crimping technique! Notice my fingernail impressions? soooo professional looking.

Turkey (or Chicken) Pot Pies

2 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 med. potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
2 c. cooked turkey or chicken, chopped (a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store is a great time-saver if you don't have leftovers)
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp poultry seasoning
2 c. turkey or chicken stock
1 c. heavy (whipping) cream
salt & pepper to taste
3 Pillsbury® unroll-and-fill pie crusts (I needed 3 for my large size muffin tins, you may need less)
1 egg, beaten


1. Over medium heat melt butter and add onions, carrots, celery and potato. Sauté until tender.
2. Add chopped turkey or chicken and heat through.
3. Add poultry seasoning and flour and cook for about 2 more minutes.
4. Add stock, cream and frozen corn and season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
6. Roll out the pie dough and cut out circles roughly 2 times the size of the diameter of the openings.
7. Press the dough into the muffin compartments along the sides and bottom making sure there are no holes and that it's even.
8. Fill the dough with the chicken mixture even with the top.
9. Cut circles out of the remaining dough slightly larger than the size of the diameter of the muffin openings.
10. Pinch the dough together to seal the top and sides making sure there are no openings.
11. Make a slit in the top of the pie and brush the tops lightly with the beaten egg.
12. Bake at 350˚F for 30* minutes or until golden brown.

* Time varies depending on the size of your pies and your oven.

Delicious, creamy, turkey and veggie filling!



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Magic Soup

Whenever I'm sick, before I reach for the tissues or cold medication, I go straight to the freezer to see if I have any of this soup left. If I don't, I start to make it ASAP. It's another one of my Gran's recipes, she's truly my biggest cooking inspiration. This soup was always in her fridge once the weather started to cool down. I call it her Magic Soup cause this soup can cure any cold almost over night. I don't know what it is, maybe it's the chicken, maybe it's the veggies, or maybe it's just the idea that it's magic, but whenever I've been sick and had this soup I'm better the next day.

With Thanksgiving this past weekend, I found myself with a rather large turkey carcass and a whole lot of leftover turkey so I seized the opportunity to make my own stock for a big batch of soup.
Stock simmering

Stock is really easy to make. Take your bones and put them in a big pot and cover with water. You need some flavours to add depth to the stock so the next thing to add would be Mirepoix, also known as the Holy Trinity of cooking: carrots, onion and celery. No need to dice or be fussy with this, just a rough couple of chops is good. I was preparing the veggies for my soup at the same time so I also threw in the skins of the onion and carrots and the base of the celery, you're not eating them, they're just for flavour and will be strained out later. I also like to throw in a lemon or two to brighten up the stock. The last thing to add would be your herbs. Salt and pepper along with bay leaves, thyme and anything else you like can go in. Simmer the stock for a couple of hours to get all the flavour out of the bones, veggies and herbs.

Cool down your stock and strain it to removes all the bones, skin, and cooked veggies and then let it sit (you can even do this overnight in the fridge) and skim off the fat that rises to the top. And voilà, your very own homemade stock, perfect for Magic Soup!

Magic Soup

4 c. chopped chicken or turkey, cooked
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 tbsp. butter
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 c. small pasta (I use pasta stars but any will do)
1/2 c. short grain rice
8-10 c. of water or stock
salt & pepper to taste


1. Melt the butter in a large pot and sautée to onion, celery and carrots for a few minutes.
2. Add the chicken and continue to sautée for 2 minutes.
3. Add stock or water.
4. Add the tomatoes (with juice), pasta and rice.
5. Cover and bring to a boil and then reduce temperature to low and allow to simmer until pasta and rice are cooked.

Enjoy right away or freeze in small batches for when you really need it!

*Note, my grandma was never a stickler for a recipe with this soup, she threw in whatever she had, cabbage, beans, macaroni, peas, etc... let your pantry be your guide!

My favourite way to have a bowl of soup!



Saturday, October 10, 2009

Grampie Brown's Potato Dressing (Stuffing)

Some of my fondest memories of childhood take place at my mom's parents' house around the holidays. My mom comes from a big family (she has 11 siblings) and we love to get together. One memory all my cousins and I share is of our grandfather in the kitchen.

My Grannie made the day to day meals but when it came to special occasions she was pushed out and my Grampie took over. (Yes, I'm a 30-something year old who still calls her grandparents Grannie and Grampie!) Their house is small and it has 2 main living areas, one in the back and one in the front, and in between them is the kitchen. Our moms tended to stay in the front room with our dads in the back room watching whichever sport was in season.

To get to either parent we had two options: 1. go through the basement, but it had a large unfinished part that was cellar-like and spooky, or 2. sneak through the kitchen when Grampie had his back turned. Option 2 never worked. He always caught us and would wave his big spoon and yell "Get out of the kitchen you kids!", it was just too small for us to be constantly going through it (there are 26 of us!) and he was trying to keep anyone from getting burned. But when it was time to eat we were welcomed into the kitchen. And the first thing we all went to was Grampie's dressing! We fought over it, still do in fact. A holiday isn't a holiday without it.

Just before my husband and I got engaged he lost his job where we lived and got a new one eight hours away in a new town. The thought of leaving the only home I'd ever known scared me, but most of all I knew I'd miss my family, especially around the holidays. I asked my mom for Grampie's recipe for stuffing knowing that without it I'd be more homesick than ever on special occasions. We make it back for Christmas most years but I haven't been to a family Thanksgiving in 5 years. This recipe makes me feel close to my family on Thanksgiving. I hope you give it a try this holiday season and see why my cousins and I will stop at nothing to be the first in line to scoop some up onto our plate!

Happy Thanksgiving~

Grampie Brown's Potato Dressing (* Stuffing)

6-8 Russett Potatoes (Russett make for a fluffier mash than a waxier potato like New Potatoes) peeled and chopped
1 med. onion, diced
1/2 c. butter, melted
6 slices fresh white bread, cut into small cubes
1 1/2 tbsp ground sage
1 1/2 tbsp dried savory
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Peeled, chop and boil the potatoes until fork tender.
2. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot and put back on the burner for a few seconds to evaporate any excess water.
3. Remove the potatoes from the stove and place into a large bowl. Using a hand masher, smash the potatoes into a course meal.
4. Melt the butter in the microwave and add to the mashed potatoes.
5. Add the onions and bread cubes and mix together.
6. Add the spices and season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Put dressing into an oven safe dish and cover and place into a 350˚F pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
Serve alongside poultry. Makes a great substitute for mashed potatoes although I always make both! It's also excellent stuffed inside the bird.

* Dressing and Stuffing are the same thing, Stuffing is just Dressing that's been cooked inside the cavity of the bird.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lilianna's Caramel Apple Mini Pies

I am always looking for ways to get my kid(s) involved with cooking. My gran had me up on the counter stirring batter and dumping ingredients when I was knee high to a bug's eye, and I loved it. Lily's 3 so knives are a no-no, but stirring and dumping are well within her skill set.

I went with her class to the apple orchard last week and have been staring at the apples she picked with her own little hands ever since wondering what we were gonna do with them. Eat them as is and enjoy their naturally crisp and slightly tart taste? Make apple sauce? Or perhaps a pie.... yep, a pie.

The apples (as I said) were a little tart (for a child's palate) so I thought what better to add to them than a healthy dose of caramel! I had some mini tart shells in the freezer so I pulled them out cause I would have lost her interest completely if I had to make pie dough, and their tiny size is perfect for little ones.

I'm going to do this post a little different cause I went a little picture happy...

The ingredients*: apples, tart shells, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, brown sugar, caramel dip (* not pictured, butter, flour & egg, cause I'm not used to taking this kind of picture)

When I told Lily we were going to make apple pies this is what she did. She was very proud that she made them all by herself.

I chopped up the apples and she put them in the pot. She also helped me line up the tart shells on a baking sheet and fill them with the apple mixture, and then she watched them closely while they cooked.

Lilianna's Caramel Apple Mini Pies

5 apples, peeled, cored & chopped into small pieces
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground if possible
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
splash of water
1/4 c. caramel apple dip
12 frozen tart shells
1 egg


1. Peel, core and chop apples and put them in a small pot.
2. Add spices, butter, sugar, flour and mix. Add a splash of water and put on the stove at medium temp. and cook until the apples are tender.
3. Add caramel apple dip to the cooked apples and stir to mix.
4. Fill 6 of the tart shells with the apple mixture.
5. Beat egg with a wee bit of water and brush rims of the filled tart shells.
6. Remove the remaining 6 tarts from their aluminum plates and invert over top the filled tarts pressing the edges together to seal.
7. Make a little slit in the top of the pie with a knife and brush tops with more of the egg/water mixture.
8. Bake in a preheated 350˚F oven for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown.

Serve warm with cinnamon whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

Makes 6 mini pies.

enjoy cooking with your kids!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

French Onion Soup

Nothing says comfort food when you're sick like a big steaming bowl of soup. I haven't posted anything in a while cause there's been a nasty cold bug going around our house (kept me busy!), so with a sore throat and stuffy head my thoughts turned to warm bowls of good (and easy) eats.

My usual stand-bys are chicken & rice or a nice corn chowder, but this time my cold was craving something else. I couldn't get french onion soup out of my head, which is weird cause I've only had it once or twice in my entire life (crazy, I know). So with this obsessive thought rattling around in my brain I was on twitter and low and behold, one of my favourite tweeters posted that she had just made some french onion soup and put it on her blog. Christy Bright of Beach Brights writes an amazing home decor blog (her house is GORGEOUS!) so I figured if she has such good taste with decorating she must make a tasty bowl of soup.

I followed her recipe, making just a couple minor tweaks for the palate of my sometimes picky eaters, and we ended up with a lovely dinner that wrapped us all in comfort. Thanks Christy!

Christy's French Onion Soup adapted from Beach Brights, my additions in orange

1/4 c. butter
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp. white sugar
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. red wine (use a good quality wine, I used Wolf Blass Yellow Label)
2 (10.5 oz) cans condensed beef broth
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 French baguette or any other crusty bread (I used Whole Clove Garlic Artisan Bread)
8 ounces sliced Swiss cheese (I used Gouda)

Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan. Stir in sugar. Cook onions over med heat for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Stir in flour until well blended with the onions and pan juices. Add water, wine and beef broth; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low. Cover soup and simmer for 10 minutes.

Cut four 1" thick slices of bread from the loaf. Toast bread slices at 325˚F until browned, about 10 minutes (I butter these toast slices before browning). Reserve the remaining bread to serve with soup. Ladle soup into four 12-oz oven safe bowls. Place 1 slice of toasted bread on top of the soup in each bowl. Fold the cheese slices and fit onto toasted bread slices. Place soup bowls on a cookie sheet for easier handling. Broil at 425˚F for 10 minutes, or just until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Makes 4 servings.