food amongst family and friends

Pork Carnitas January 25, 2012

Filed under: Mains,Make Ahead,Pork,Quick and easy,Thrifty — blisteringlydrunk @ 10:19 pm
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Give this recipe a try. You braise a big hunk of pork in milk and orange juice all day until it falls apart, then throw it into a hot, hot oven to brown and sweeten. Pile it on a tortilla and top with avocado, cilantro and lime. I made this in my slow cooker and was able to throw it all together before work. Love.

Adapted from City Palate, serves 4

1.5-2lbs pork roast (loin, shoulder, whatever) ($4.50)
2 oranges ($1)
1 1/2 cups 2% or whole milk ($.50)
1-2 T honey ($0.55)
1 tsp dried orange zest ($.05)
1 tsp chipotle powder ($.05)
1-2 tsp coriander powder ($.03)
1-2 tsp cumin powder ($.03)
1 tsp smoked paprika ($.05)
salt and pepper

1. Get an oven proof dish or dutch oven hot on the stove over medium-high heat. If you’re using a slow cooker and you can put your slow cooker dish on the stove top, use  it now! Drizzle a bit of oil into the dish, cut the pork into 3 or 4 chunks and add it to the pot. Brown on all sides and remove from the heat.

2. Quarter 1 orange – squeeze the juice over the pork and throw the rinds right into the baking dish. Add some fresh zest from your other orange, the milk, honey and all the spices. Then add enough water to nearly cover the meat.

3. It’s time to cook. For the slow cooker: cover and cook on high for 7 1/2 hours. For the oven: cover and bake at 300F for 3 hours.

4. Once the pork is cooked, pull the meat apart. I was able to bust it up with a wooden spoon. If you were using the slow cooker, you’ll have to move to the oven now. Heat the oven to 400F and roast the meat uncovered until most of the liquid is gone and the meat starts to brown and crisp on the edges (it will take 20-40 minutes, depending on your meat to liquid ratio).

5. Serve on corn tortillas with avocado, cilantro, onion and salsa.

Hope you love it!


*The total cost of this recipe was $6.76, a per plate cost of $1.69.


Pepperoni pizza wrap ups, with my favourite pizza dough recipe January 21, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Breads,Make Ahead,Sausage,Turkey — blisteringlydrunk @ 11:23 am
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Yet another attempt to fill my children with good energy. These are a simple, easy to sell, snack, made by wrapping pepperoni in pizza dough with some jarred pasta or pizza sauce and then sprinkling cheese on top. I used turkey pepperoni and added a healthy serving of spelt flour and flax seeds to the dough to keep things in the good-for-you category and the kids love them. I love it when I can feed them what I want and have them think they are getting something treaty. These also freeze really well, so make a big batch and have them ready to pull out for those, busy, on the go days.

Pizza Dough

This is the pizza dough recipe I have been using for years, although I change it every time depending on what flours, seeds, fresh herbs, etc. I happen to have in the house when I make it. I find that if you are going to go with more than 1/3 whole wheat, you should switch the sugar for honey and double it, but that 1/3 is really as far as you want to go if you want it to retain it’s pizza dough goodness. Feel free to add fresh or dried herbs to the dough for extra flavour, or knead in some cheese; you can also leave out the flax seed if that’s not your thing.

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 tsp brown sugar

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup spelt flour

2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour

1 heaping Tbsp milled flaxseed

1. In a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water and let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy.

2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast mixture, then add spelt flour, 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour and flax seed. Stir until flour is incorporated and you have a shaggy dough.

3. Either turn out onto a well floured surface and knead for 8 minutes or strap the dough hook on your stand mixer and start it up (you will probably only need to knead it for 5 or 6 minutes in the stand mixer). Either way, you are going to end up adding at least another 1/2 cup of flour, probably closer to 1 cup, before you end up with a nice smooth, elastic dough, that’s still very soft.

4. Transfer dough to a well oiled bowl, turning to coat, then cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size. Punch down and form into a tight ball. Let relax for 2 minutes before proceeding.

At this point you can make into two round pizzas or, in my house, two mini pizzas for the girls to decorate for themselves and one cookie sheet sized pizza. I bake my pizza in a well preheated 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden and the edges of the crust are browned.

Or, you can proceed with the wraps.

Pizza wrap ups

1 recipe pizza dough

10 sticks turkey pepperoni (or pepperoni of your choice, or rolled up ham, maybe slices of sweet peppers, whatever you like on pizza really)

1 small jar pizza or pasta sauce (or homemade stuff, if you have it)

1 cup (approx) grated cheddar cheese (I used an old white cheddar, because I had it, but orange cheddar would have made my children happier)

1. Preheat oven to 425 and prep 2 cookie sheets with parchment or silicone. Cut the pizza dough into ten equal portions (you could also double this, halve your pepperoni sticks and have a smaller, snackier size wrap). Using your hands, stretch each portion of dough into an oval/rectangle shape long enough to accommodate the pepperoni stick.

2. Spread about a heaping tablespoon of sauce on each wrap. The sauce really keeps this moist, so don’t be skimpy, but keep in mind that you need to keep the edges of the dough clean or they won’t seal properly and your wraps will open up when you bake them.

3. Place a pepperoni stick in the middle of each wrap, then bring up the sides, one over the other, and pinch them together. Place on prepared cookie sheets a few inches apart and sprinkle evenly with the cheese.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 12-16 minutes, or until cheese is melted, and the dough is lightly browned all over. Let on cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes, but certainly enjoy while warm.

Makes 10 wraps. Good in fridge for 2 or 3 days or in freezer for 2 months.





Classic Coffee Cake January 20, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Breakfast,Cakes,Desserts,Quick and easy,Thrifty — blisteringlydrunk @ 10:56 pm
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This is what my work-from-home day looked like this week: hiding from the freezing outdoors (-32C!) with my laptop, a cappuccino and a slice of coffee cake. Winter has its perks.

The coffee cake comes from Meagan. It’s quick to throw together and you likely have all of these things in your house right now. Be sure to try this one – it’s a keeper.


2 T sugar
1 t cinnamon

3/4 c cold butter
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat or spelt flour
1 1/2 c dark brown sugar, packed
1 t baking soda
1 egg
1 c sour cream or plain yogurt

  1. Using a pastry cutter, combine the butter, flours and brown sugar until crumbly and well combined. Transfer half of this mixture into a greased or sprayed 9×13 baking dish, pressing it into the bottom of the pan to form a crust of sorts.
  2. Give the egg a quick beat with a fork, then add it to the flour mixture along with the sour cream and baking soda. Stir it all together with a wooden spoon until it resembles a muffin batter. Add it to the pan on top of your crust and level it as best you can.
  3. Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly over the cake.
  4. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes (mine took 27), until it springs back to a light touch.

The Perfect Not so Guilty Treat – Bean Cookies January 17, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Breakfast,Cookies,Make Ahead,Quick and easy,Thrifty — blisteringlydrunk @ 12:06 pm
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There will be a theme in my next few posts, of me trying to come up with good, healthy, energy providing snacks that my children will eat. Harder than it sounds, trust me, but this is a tried and true recipe from Meagan that has lots of good for you whole grains, beans, nuts, and fruit. So far, something my children would eat for dinner if I made them, but harder to get down as a quick, energy providing snack on the way to swimming, which is where the chocolate and, in my case, smarties, not to mention the cookie factor, come into play. Suddenly it’s something they love and I love feeding them and eating myself (especially as a post work out snack – why does running always make me want chocolate?). Feel free to play around with whatever kinds of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and chocolate/candy you want; this is the sort of recipe that changes every time for me depending on what I have in the cupboard at the moment. Also, keep in mind that these are soft cookies that are at their best when fresh – I freeze mine in groups of 3 or 4 to take out on days we need a good to-go snack. Makes 24 big cookies or 36 smaller ones.

2 cups oatmeal $0.80

1/2 cup each, all purpose and spelt flours $0.05 and $0.20, respectively

1 tsp baking soda $0.05

1/2 tsp cinnamon (I do mine heaping because I LOVE cinnamon) $0.03

1/4 tsp salt $0.01 (and that was rounding way up)

1, 19 oz can white kidney beans, well rinsed and drained $1.00

1/4 cup butter, softened $0.38

1 cup packed dark brown sugar $0.89

1 egg $0.25

1 tsp vanilla $0.08

3/4 cup chocolate chips (or a combo of chocolate chips and smarties left over from halloween and haunting your cupboard) $1.18

1/2 cup dried fruit (I used dried cherries, but raisins, cranberries, chopped apricots, or dates would all work fine – feel free to use more than one kind) $1.08

1/2 cup each, chopped nuts and seeds (I used chopped almonds and pepitas) $0.84 and $0.47, respectively

2 Tbsp Flax meal (I’ve had this forever and couldn’t find/remember the price, so I’m guessing high) $0.35

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line your cookie sheets with silicone or parchment.  Place oatmeal in food processor or blender and pulse until finely ground. Add flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and pulse until well blended. Transfer to a large bowl.

2. Add beans, butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla to food processor and blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides a couple times.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until almost combined, then add the remaining ingredients. Stir until just combined.

4. Drop by large spoonfuls onto cookie sheets a few inches apart. bake 14-16 minutes, or until just starting to brown at the edges. Cool on wire rack.

Total cost $8.06

Cost per cookie (at 24 cookies) $0.34

And just to put that in perspective, the cost of a single cheese string style snack at Costco pricing is $0.21, provides only one food group (as opposed to 3), is very processed, and is way smaller.




Sour Cream Rolls January 11, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Breads,Make Ahead,Sides,Thrifty,Uncategorized — blisteringlydrunk @ 7:46 pm
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I have a problem with fresh bread products. When I first discovered No Knead Bread I ate half the loaf in an afternoon (and then fell into a carbohydrate induced coma). OK, confession over, but when I came across this recipe in my new Homemaker’s Magazine (my grandmother has been bankrolling this subscription since I got married and as much as the feminist in me cringes at the name, I’ve gotten some excellent recipes from it), I was immediately intrigued. Of course it’s taken me a month and a half to get around to making them, but it was well worth the wait. These are crusty (not unlike the No Knead Bread) but nice and dense and chewy. A perfect accompaniment to a good soup or stew, or in our case, tonight’s conduit for Sloppy Joe’s (thank you Meagan for making my children so happy). Also, you do need to make a basic starter here the day before, so make sure to read through the recipe and plan ahead.

Makes 16 rolls

3 3/4 cups flour (approx. – I used unbleached all purpose)

3/4 cup cold water

1/2 cup warm water

2 1/2 Tbsp sugar

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/4 cups sour cream

1/2 cup spelt flour (next time I will probably increase the ratio of spelt to all purpose flour, but I wanted to try this one by the books to start)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted

1. In a small saucepan, whisk 1/4 cup all purpose flour with cold water over medium low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and ridges form with every turn of the whisk (a thermometer should read 150 F, but I found it was hard to get an accurate reading with such a small amount of goo). Remove from heat and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but up to 2 days. This is your starter. Bring to room temperature before continuing.

2. In a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), dissolve sugar and yeast in the warm water. Let stand 5 – 10 minutes, or until foamy. Stir in starter and sour cream until smooth.

3. Stir in spelt flour and salt, then add all purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time until a shaggy dough forms. If using a stand mixer, switch to your dough hook, or dump out onto a clean well floured surface. Knead, adding flour to the surface and your hands as needed,  8-12 minutes, or until dough is smooth, moist, and still fairly sticky.

4. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (1 1/2 to 2 hours). Punch down and knead lightly for a few turns, then cut in half and form into 2 balls. Cover and let relax for 10 minutes.

5. Cut each ball into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball by pinching the sides together at the bottom. Place on a lightly buttered cookie sheet and brush the top of each bun with the melted butter. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour or until doubled.

6. Bake in the centre of a preheated 400 degree oven for 21-24 minutes, or until browned and hollow sounding when you ‘knock’ on the top. Let cool in pan on rack. If you want a crustier bun, spray the inside of the oven with water immediately before putting the buns in.



PS I didn’t price this out, as most of the ingredients used such a minimal amount of my bulk ingredients that it hardly seemed worth it. However, I imagine I used $2 worth of sour cream and butter here, and then add the very generous estimate of $1 worth of the other ingredients (combined) and you are looking at $0.19/bun. This is probably a little high, but you get the idea – cheap and way better than store bought!


Buttercrunch Toffee with Roasted Almonds and chocolate January 5, 2012

Filed under: Candy,Desserts,Make Ahead — blisteringlydrunk @ 4:40 pm
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Yum. Really; buttery, sweet, salty, crunchy, chocolately goodness all wrapped up in a jar and given to my friends and family (not to mention the amount that we consumed here). And while I know that I am way too late for you to give this to your friends and family this (now past) holiday season, it would still make a lovely Valentine’s Day treat for that someone special. Plus, I wanted to get this one down for my own sake because I royally failed the first two times out on this one and I want to remember what to do (and not to do) the next time I make this. What not to do: DON’T use unsalted butter. I don’t know why, but when I used unsalted butter (two different times, two different pounds of it) the oil separated out of the toffee half way through cooking it. When I switched to salted butter, it worked like a dream. That said, I did a little research and there was some suggestion that if the butter was previously frozen (mine was, as I have had unsalted butter go bad on me more than once), it can change the properties of the butter and cause wacky reactions. However, I do not plan on risking unsalted butter again, as I got excellent results with the salted. What to do: use a candy thermometer. I think it’s just easier with one; this recipe is pretty simple and you probably could just gauge it by colour, but you can buy a candy thermometer for $5 at Superstore now, so why not just do it; if you wreck this you will have lost at least $5 worth of ingredients (twice, if you are me. Are you sensing my bitterness yet?). If you are a candy novice, this is one of the simpler ones I’ve made, so as long as your butter is salted and not previously frozen, you should be good to practice on this one.

3 cups (1 1/2 lbs) salted butter

3 cups sugar

1 1/2 – 2 cups chocolate chips (I bought good Bernard Callebaut dark chocolate, which I thought was worth it for this one, but chips are definitely better than chunks here because they melt more evenly, so go with what you can find)

1 1/2 – 2 cups almonds (obviously any other nut will do, I just like almonds)

Coarse sea salt to taste

1. Roast your almonds. I did this on a baking sheet at about 400 for 10 -15 minutes, pulling the sheet out once in a while to shake it. They should be lightly browned and smell delicious. Let cool a little and then either pulse a few times in the food processor or chop by hand. I used the food processor and went with all different sizes of chunks.

2. Line two rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, start to melt the butter. Once is has begun to melt, add the sugar. Stir almost constantly until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved into it.

3. At this point, grab your candy thermometer and hook it on the pot, making sure it is not touching the bottom (that will mess with your reading). Keep stirring. As the toffee gets hotter, it will darken and thicken. Keep it at a light boil until you get to 294 degrees F.

4. Remove from heat and immediately pour into cookie sheets. Mine actually fit perfectly into one cookie sheet and one round pizza pan, so it may not entirely fill the second sheet, but it doesn’t matter, you just don’t want it over flowing anywhere. Sprinkle liberally with the chocolate chips, then wait a few minutes.

5. Once you can see that the chocolate has started to melt, use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly across the top. Finally, top with the almonds and salt to taste (I found I liked mine better with lots of salt; it offsets the sweet very nicely). Use your finger tips to lightly press the almonds and salt into the chocolate. Let cool until chocolate is solid again, then break into pieces and serve or package as you will.



PS If you wanted to start with a smaller batch, the butter and sugar is a one to one ratio, so you could easily reduce the recipe without wrecking anything.


Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Pie with a Puff Pastry Lid January 4, 2012

Filed under: Chicken,Mains,Make Ahead,Thrifty,Turkey,Uncategorized — blisteringlydrunk @ 8:13 am
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Winter always seems to bring out the need for comfort food in me and since I had a whole turkey breast left from Christmas dinner burning a hole in my freezer, I thought I would throw this together. I found this recipe years and years ago in a friend’s Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook and have made it often. It’s easy, on the cheap (priced out below), and everyone loves it, plus the puff pastry makes it seems fancy, so it’s great for guests (double it and bake in a big lasagna pan to feed a crowd) served with a nice salad. Also, the filling can be made up to a day ahead, so all you have to do is top it with the puff pastry and bake. What I’ve listed below is the basic recipe that has all the stuff I can’t live without, however, I’ve often added a handful or two of frozen edamame beans, a potato, cubed and cooked with the veggies, fresh herbs are lovely, chervil if you can find it, or some nice greens (rapini or kale chopped finely). As always, make it your own and enoy!

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or leftover cooked, chopped chicken or turkey breast) $2.44 (Costco price per pound)

1 cup chicken stock $0.50

1/3 cup white wine $1.00 (based on a $12 bottle, if you don’t have wine, you can just use extra stock, but the wine is nice)

3 medium carrots, chopped $0.35

1 cup fresh or frozen peas $0.68

1 medium onion, chopped $0.25

1/4 cup butter $0.38

1/3 cup plain flour $0.03

1/2 cup cream (I used whipping cream since I had some leftover, but half and half gets the job done nicely) $0.50

1 rounded tsp chervil leaves $0.31

1, 341 mL can of corn (canned corn is nice here, but if you use frozen or fresh, be sure to add salt)$1.39

2 eggs, used separately, lightly beaten $0.50

Half a package of frozen puff pastry, thawed (I bought PC brand puff pastry sheets this time and I don’t like them. They didn’t puff up nearly as well, so I will be going back to Tenderflake puff pastry that you have to roll out) $1.99

1. If using the raw chicken breasts, place in a small, shallow skillet, cover with stock and wine and simmer gently for 10 minutes, or until just cooked through. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid for filling (top up with wine or stock if not quite enough). Roughly chop the chicken and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, place carrots and peas in a small pot with a little water and steam until just tender.

3. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium to medium low heat and then add onions. Stir until onions are starting to turn translucent, about 2 minutes, then add flour and stir another 2 minutes. Gradually add in reserved cooking liquid (or 2/3 cup stock and 1/3 cup wine) and cream (I combine them in my measuring cup), stirring constantly. Bring to a low boil and stir until thickened, then remove from heat.

4. Stir in chicken, carrots, peas, corn, chervil, and one beaten egg. Add salt and pepper to taste, then transfer to your baking dish (a deep dish pie plate will work, or I used a 3 quart casserole dish. Also, if you had big ramekins, or french onion soup bowls, this would look lovely in individual dishes, just adjust the cook time accordingly). At this point you can cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake it.

5. Preheat oven to 375. Roll out your puff pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is just big enough to cover your dish. Brush the edges of your dish with egg, then place the pastry over top. Trim off any excess pastry, then brush the top of the pastry with the egg as well. If you wish you can use the trimmings to decorate the top of the pie; my mom always cut out leaves and things to put on top of pies, which looks lovely, but I’m usually too lazy to do it.

6. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 22-28 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and puffy. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serves 6, total cost $10.32, cost per serving $1.72



Notes on pricing: I’m new to this, but what I have done is calculated the price per pound of each item, then weighed out what I used and calculated the cost from there. I often buy in bulk to keep the prices down, but if you were to go to the store and buy all of these ingredients, it’s obviously going to cost more. However, once you have a stockpile of basic ingredients, you can make a lot more, for much cheaper than you can purchase premade anything. Also, my eggs and my fresh veggies were organic, so you could get them cheaper, if you desired.