food amongst family and friends

Cookie Friday! Vegan Oatmeal Fruit and Seed Cookies September 30, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Cookies,Quick and easy,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 1:03 pm
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OK, I don’t know if cookie Friday is actually a thing, but it should be. I’ve been actively resisting baking for a couple weeks now, since I’m the one who usually ends up eating most of it, but I broke down yesterday and gave this recipe a shot.  I’ve had this page open on my computer screen since she posted it on August 30, so I feel that, since I waited for a whole month, my willpower has been proven and it’s OK to eat the whole batch. These are great cookies, with too much oil in the recipe, so I am posting them the way I will make them next time. And I will make them again; the flavour and texture are bang on if you can ignore the oil seeping out the bottom and you like things soft and chewy with a crunch to the edge, plus they took no time to throw together, and I love the use of natural sugars (brown and maple syrup) instead of refined ones. Also, because there are no eggs or butter, I’m likely to be able to make some version of these, regardless of how recently I’ve been to the grocery store. If you are a chocolate fiend, you could happily throw in some chunks or smarties here to go for a trail mix style cookie as well. Happy baking!

1 cup oats

3/4 cup flour (I used all purpose, but spelt would work well here)

1/3 cup dark brown sugar (loosely packed)

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cinnamon

a pinch of nutmeg

1/4 cup each, dried cherries (or cranberries), pepitas, and unsweetened coconut

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup canola oil

1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicone.

2. Stir together dry ingredients (everything but the syrup, oil and vanilla) in a large bowl.

3. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine.

4. Roll into Tbsp sized balls for BIG cookies, or half that for a more normal sized cookie. Place 2 ” apart on cookie sheets and bake for 9-12 minutes, or until golden around the edges but still soft in the middle. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 giant cookies or 18 normal sized ones.





Ham Rotini Bake (aka ‘Cause fat tastes good pasta dish) September 29, 2011

Filed under: Ham,Pasta,Quick and easy — blisteringlydrunk @ 11:34 am
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Ham rotini bakeWhen I was a kid, I could never understand why my grandma’s cooking always tasted so much better than mine.  I mean, I get the obvious things, like her chicken and molly, or her perogies, but her toast?  Come on.  It wasn’t until I reached adulthood that I discovered her secret: fat.  She’d slather toast with butter, and deep fry her potato pancakes, and bake her perogies in a heart-stopping amount of butter mixed with onions.  So while I still cut calorie corners for many things (such as not adding butter to cooked veggies, and substituting yogurt for sour cream), I like a good dollop of fat every once in a while.  And this has it, let me tell you.  This is my doubled recipe, which served 3 of us for two meals.


2 c uncooked rotini
2 1/3 c milk
4 T butter
1/4 c unbleached flour
2 t chicken base (I used Better than Bullion)
1 t each salt and pepper
4 pressed garlic cloves
1 c cooked, diced ham
1 c shredded parmesan
1 1/2 c plain, thick yogurt (I used Liberté Méditerranée)

Pre-heat oven to 400°C.  Cook rotini until slightly undercooked.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet and melt butter, adding flour to make a smooth roux.  Gradually add milk, chicken base,  salt, pepper and garlic. Mix well and bring to a slow simmer, stirring until thick and bubbly.  Reduce heat and add ham, parmesan and yogurt.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Add the drained pasta, mix and bake in oven until heated through – about 15 min.  Cheers!  Ren

Ham rotini bake


Butter Chicken September 26, 2011

Filed under: Chicken,Mains,Make Ahead — blisteringlydrunk @ 10:26 am
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So the thing with butter chicken is that everyone has a way that they like it. I am not wild about grilled chicken breasts chopped up in a pre packaged sauce mix like you often get on a buffet table. If you are, that’s ok, but this recipe is not for you. If, like me, you want melt in your mouth chicken that has stewed in the sauce that was made from scratch and tailored to suit your tastebuds, then read on my friend.

I’ve adapted this from Dashka’s Gourmet Spices Cookbook II, which my mom gave me years ago, along with some amazing spices (easily the best garam masala I’ve ever found. Go to the link and order some now!). I’ve made this many times and it never fails to get the job done, although I have to recommend making it the day before you want to eat it, as the flavour will be much better that way. So, without further adieu . . .

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 cloves garlic

1″ piece of ginger, peeled

1 green finger chili, stem and seeds removed (more if you like it spicy, one just adds flavour without heat. You could also increase the red chili powder if you like, or alternately, if you want to reduce the heat, cut the chili powder in half. I’ve written this the way I made it, which both my children and my spice nervous parents ate and enjoyed)

1/2 tsp each, ground cumin and coriander

1 tsp each, garam masala, red chilie powder, and turmeric

2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

6 Tbsp butter or ghee

3/4 cup cream (I used 18%)

3/4 cup mediterranean yogurt

1/2 cup tomato sauce

2 heaping Tbsp tomato paste

Chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

1. Put ginger, garlic and green chili in your food processor and pulse until very fine (ideally a paste). Add all of the spices (including salt) and the olive oil, and pulse again, scraping down the sides as necessary, until you have a nice paste.

2. Stir the chicken with the spice paste until well coated, then cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.

3. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onions and stir until soft, then add chicken, making sure to get all of the spice paste in there. Cover and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.

4. Stir in cream and simmer for 5 minutes or so, to get it back to temperature, then add yogurt, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cover and just simmer for another 20 – 30 minutes, to help blend the flavours and soften the chicken. The original recipe calls for the addition of water, but I usually find that enough liquid comes out of the chicken and if I add the water, I just end up spending more time reducing the sauce. However, if it is too thick for your taste, a little water won’t hurt the flavour.

5. At this point I usually cool it off and pop it in the fridge, then just heat it through the next day before serving. If you don’t have that kind of time, it will still be good to eat right away, but even a few hours of sitting in a fridge will make a difference.




Ky’s Birthday Cake September 19, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Cakes,Desserts,Make Ahead — blisteringlydrunk @ 5:18 pm
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I’ve been such a slacker about posting and I have a massive backlog of summer recipes waiting for their day in spotlight. I took a look back and realized that 90% of my favourite summer recipes are desserts. Good? Bad? Probably best not to over-think it.

I made this cake for Ky’s birthday because it’s pretty and summery and, well, I needed to try something other than my fave chocolate cake (which I still haven’t posted, oddly enough). This was an easy cake – heavy like a pound cake with a light blackberry top and a tangy kick, thanks to the lemon zest. I borrowed the recipe from Bon Appetit and I highly recommend serving it with this bourbon ice cream. Make it tonight!


3/4 cup butter, room temperature, plus more for pan and parchment
2 1/3 cups cake flour (sifted, then measured) – I make my own with these directions
2 1/2 cups (or more) fresh blackberries
1/4 cup plus 1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
3 eggs, room temperature
2 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 – 2 t orange or lemon zest
1 cup buttermilk (shake it up!)
Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Use a 9″-10″-diameter springform pan

  1. Butter pan; line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter and flour the parchment and sides of pan.
  2. Lay berries in bottom of pan and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  4. Cream butter and remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar with a hand mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Then beat in vanilla and zest.
  5. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated.
  6. Pour batter over berries in pan and smooth the top.
  7. Bake at 350F until golden brown and cake bounces back when pressed gently with fingertip – about 1 hour 25 minutes for a 9″ pan and about 1 hour for a 10″ pan.
  8. Cool in pan 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Remove pan sides. Invert cake onto rack or plate and remove pan bottom, then peel off parchment.
  9. Dust top generously with powdered sugar and let cool completely.


Yummy Honey B Lamb Chops

Filed under: Lamb,Quick and easy — blisteringlydrunk @ 12:59 pm
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lamb chops

This summer when we were out at our cabin our neighbour came by bearing wine, steak and lamb chops (bless his soul).  Quite comfortable with dealing with the first two, I was a little at a loss as to what to do with the latter.  The only way I have heard to do lamb chops involves mint, and as I’ve said before, I do not believe in mint in anything besides beverages and desserts.  Sooooo, I did a quick hunt for something delicious that could be made from the contents of our kitchen and found this


1/3 c balsamic vinegar (thus the B in the name)
1-2 garlic cloves
2 T honey
3/4 c vegetable oil (I used about 1/2 c grapeseed and 1/4 c olive)
course salt and freshly ground pepper
8 lamb chops
2 T olive oil
2-3 sprigs chopped fresh rosemary

Fire up barbeque with med-high heat.  In your food processor, mix balsamic through honey, pulsing until blended.  With the machine still running, slowly add oil until mixture thickens to a smooth, pasty sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

lamb chops

I served these with barbequed carrots and dill and potatoes and chives (all slathered with butter, of course!)


Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle the rosemary on top.  Grill the lamb chops for about 3 min. per side for med-rare, or longer depending on thickness.  For our barbeque, and fairly thick Costco chops, I found 4 min. per side made perfect chops – although they might be a bit rare for some folks.  Serve these with the sauce poured over them.  So good.  Cheers!  Ren



Bourbon Ice Cream September 16, 2011

Filed under: Desserts,Make Ahead — blisteringlydrunk @ 7:27 pm
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To buy one or not to buy one? This is the great ice cream maker debate. Of course, it always seems to boil down to one question: will I really use it that often? I have the answer for you: no. Of course you won’t use it that often. This is not a multi-tasking tool – it serves one purpose and that purpose is to make a common dessert that you can easily buy at any grocery or corner store. However, I think you should get one anyway. It’s not about how often you will use it, it’s about the joy and excitement that you will most certainly feel each and every time you decide to dig it out from the back of the cupboard and fill it with heavy cream. Just get one already.

This is the best ice cream I have ever made. For certain. It’s made with whole cream and a healthy dose of bourbon – I don’t think I need to tell you anything more. Don’t eff this up by reducing the fat or sugar or booze….that would be real dumb.


makes 5 cups of sweet sweetness
adapted from bon appetit

4 cups heavy whipping cream
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 t coarse kosher salt (or any coarse salt)
5 T bourbon (scotch will work too)
1 T vanilla extract

1) Bring cream to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring for a minute to get it hot. Remove from heat.
2) Combine egg yolks, sugars and salt in a large bowl, whisking until thick and blended.
3) Gradually whisk the hot cream into the yolk mixture. Return mixture to the same saucepan, stirring constantly over medium-low heat until you have a custard thick enough to leave a path on the back of a spoon when your finger is drawn across (temperature should be 175°F to 178°F). This takes about 3 minutes.
4) Remove from heat and mix in the bourbon and vanilla.
5) Refrigerate custard uncovered until cold, stirring occasionally, at least 3 hours. (Custard can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated)
6) Process custard in your ice cream maker. Transfer to container. Cover and freeze until solid – at least 6 hours if you can stand it.


Homemade Chicken Soup from Scratch

Filed under: Chicken,Soups — blisteringlydrunk @ 3:46 pm
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I’m sure everybody has an idea of how to do this, but I often get asked if I make my own stocks or soups from scratch and how to go about it. So when I happened to be making a big pot of soup anyway, I thought I would take a couple pictures and post a tutorial (I’m calling it that because this is less of a recipe than a how-to).

Here is a loose list of ingredients:

chicken carcasses – I use 3 for a stock pot full of soup, which I pull from my freezer, having put them there after pulling off the usable meat (I usually leave the wings on the carcass) from a roast chicken dinner or from a deli roasted chicken. If this is not something you are likely to have kicking around, you could purchase some (2-3) quarter chickens (leg and back) and use that instead.

onion – one large yellow or white, chopped

celery – 4 or 5 sticks with leaves if possible, chopped

2 bay leaves

spices – thyme, tarragon, basil, oregano, savory, rosemary, parsley, etc. This is really to your taste preference; I usually add a half teaspoon or so of each of whatever I have that looks good in the moment, the above being what I put in this time. Also, don’t be afraid to have a couple of chicken bouillion cubes on hand, they make a big difference if you are having a hard time getting a flavour you like.

salt and pepper to taste – more salt than you would think. If it tastes chicken-y enough but the flavour still isn’t there, it’s probably salt that you are missing.

veggies – again what I added this time – 3 corn cobs, kernels cut off, 5-8 medium

I looked up from taking a picture of my dinner to discover someone REALLY enjoying her dinner!

carrots, diced, a couple handfuls frozen sweet peas and edamame beans. I’ve also often added chopped green or yellow beans and 2 or 3 big potatoes, but I didn’t have any beans and I decided (based on there being less potatoes in my house than I thought) to make this soup with rice

rice – I used 3/4 cup of brown jasmine rice, but I think quinoa would also be nice

1. Place onions, celery and bay leaves in a large stockpot. Mine has an insert to put the bones in, so I put that in on top and put the carcasses inside. If yours doesn’t have an insert, don’t worry, it’s not neccessary; you can pour the stock through a colander at the end and pick through the bones from there. Add enough water to cover the carcasses; this was about 14-16 cups in my case, but this is the first time I’ve ever measured it. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 3-6 hours. Let cool for a couple of hours before trying to get the bones out or it will just burn you a lot. I often do this much the day before I want the soup and then finish it the next day; just warm it up a bit before you try and sort through it. You can also skim off any accumulated fat this way.

2. Pull your insert out, or pour the whole thing through a colander (making sure you are catching the broth in something big enough). Now for the fun part; pick through the bones and add any meat to the pot and put all bones or cartilage in a discard bowl.

3. At  this point, I like to taste the broth; it’s easier to test the flavour when it’s not too hot. I add my first round of salt here, probably 2-3 tsp, but I use my grater, so I never measure, and keep in mind that you can always add more. I also add a bunch of freshly ground pepper, hopefully about 1/2 – 1 tsp, and the rest of the spices. The vegetables will also add a certain sweetness and flavour to the broth, so don’t despair if it’s not quite where you expected it to be just yet.

4. Add the veggies and simmer for 10 minutes or so and then recheck the flavour. Salt and pepper to taste again, but this is also where I would add some chicken or veggie bouillion if I still felt it was too watery – mostly that seems to happen if I didn’t have as much time to boil the bones, or if I only had 2 carcasses for the pot.

5. Add the rice (or potatoes) and simmer until cooked, about 15-20 minutes (less if you are using white rice). Serve and enjoy!


PS No Knead Bread – Just do it.