Thursday, June 30, 2016

Raspberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Raspberries are best eaten fresh, don't you agree? But sometimes there are more than enough fresh ones and I want to do something else with them. These muffins are filled with berry goodness combined with a bit of cheesecake flavour. I adapted these from a recipe found in an old Cooking Light magazine. 

Raspberry Cream Cheese Muffins

2/3 cup (5 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (or whole milk plus 1 Tablespoon vinegar)
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. Beat until creamy and smooth. Add sugar; beat until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat well.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir well.
Add the flour mixture along with the buttermilk to the cream cheese mixture, stir to combine. 
Add the raspberries and gently fold in.

Spoon into 20-24 muffin tins (lined with paper liners). Bake for 25 minutes or until tops spring back when touched with your finger. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015



3 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1/3 + 1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Whisk together the milk, cream, sugar and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Continue whisking and heat over medium heat until very hot (but not boiling). 

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Slowly pour about 1/2 of the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking to combine. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan and combine well with the rest of the milk. Heat over medium heat until slightly thickened. Don't let it boil. 

Remove from the heat and add the salt, vanilla and chocolate chips. Whisk until the chocolate chips are melted. Let cool and pour into popsicle molds.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Apricot Rosemary Jam

I was speaking with my youngest daughter via Skype one evening recently as she pulled jars of this jam from her canner. The combination of savory herbs and sweet fruit intrigued me and I asked her for the recipe. Here it is:

Apricot Rosemary Jam

1.5 lbs of pitted, ripe apricots, cut into chunks (1 dry quart)
2 cups granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Combine the apricots, sugar and rosemary in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until thickened. To test for thickness, spoon a small amount onto a plate and draw a spatula or spoon through the center. The jam is done when the edges don't immediately come together. 
Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice.

Pour jam into 6 - 1/4 pint (1/2 cup) sterilized jars. Top with lids and seal as usual. 

Yields: 6 - 1/2 cup jars or 3 1-cup jars. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Butterscotch Marshmallow Squares

Years ago, we lived in a tiny apartment in south Texas. It was hot as blazes. I wrote my mother (pre-internet) to ask for some of her unbaked sweets recipes. I still have the folded and stained sheet of paper on which she typed out three recipes for me. This is one of them. 

It comes together fast and requires no baking. The squares freeze well. 

Butterscotch Marshmallow Squares

1 cup peanut butter (I use Adam's brand - natural, unsweetened, smooth - but crunchy would be good, too)
2 teaspoons butter
1 - 12 ounce package butterscotch chips
4 cups colored marshmallows

Melt the first three ingredients together. I use a glass bowl in the microwave for one minute, stir and then heat for another 30-60 seconds, if necessary. Let the mixture cool a little.
Stir in the colored marshmallows.
Pour into an 11 x 7 glass baking pan. Let cool (in fridge), then cut into squares. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Carrot Ginger Soup

It's been a couple of weeks of influenza/colds/conjunctivitis around here. I think we're at the tail end of it all. On Friday night I felt like cooking something and what I craved was this carrot soup, laced with healing ginger and garlic. Easy, filling, and oh, so comforting.

Carrot Ginger Soup

1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (or whole)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger (use more or less to taste)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
5-8 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 zucchini, washed and roughly chopped
1 quart chicken stock (preferably home made)
salt and pepper to taste
a swirl of cream, optional

In a medium-large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the garlic and ginger. Saute for a further minute or two.

Add the carrots, zucchini and chicken stock. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are very tender.

Cool slightly and puree with an immersion blender. Season to taste. A couple of tablespoons of cream will smooth out the flavors and add richness. I usually add cream, but this time I didn't have any on hand and the soup is fine without it.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pecan Toffee Bars

Simple ingredients and an uncomplicated recipe yields a pan full of yummy treats. Chewy/crisp caramel taste on the bottom, a thin layer of chocolate and a sprinkling of nuts combine in a wonderful harmony of flavours.

These bars keep well at room temperature in a sealed container for about a week, or freeze them for longer storage. If they hang around that long.

Pecan Toffee Bars

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly roll pan. 
Beat together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Stir in flour until well blended. 
Spread dough evenly in pan - it will be thin. 
Bake 25 minutes until lightly browned. 
Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Return pan to oven for no more than 2 minutes. With an off set spatula spread the now melted chocolate evenly over the base. Sprinkle with pecans. When cool, cut into bars.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Salsa, Medium Hot

Tomato salsa with jalapeno and sweet bell peppers is a staple condiment around here. It's delicious as a usual companion of tortilla chips and tacos, but also wonderful on eggs, baked potatoes, added to soup for a zesty punch and more. 

I started with the recipe found in the Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving and have adapted the recipe to suit our tastes. The jalapenos mellow and don't add a lot of heat. That comes through the addition of chipotle pepper powder and cayenne pepper. 

Salsa, Medium Hot

8 cups of peeled, chopped tomatoes (Blanch the tomatoes, peel and core them, and roughly chop by hand or in the food processor)
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
8 jalapeno peppers, cut in half and seeded
1/2 medium green pepper, seeded
1/2 sweet red bell pepper, seeded
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup of fresh parsley sprigs
1/4 cup of fresh oregano leaves
1 can tomato paste
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place the tomatoes and onions in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. 
Put the jalapeno peppers, green pepper, and sweet red pepper into the food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, but not pureed. Add to the pot.
On a cutting board, finely mince together the garlic cloves, parsley springs and oregano leaves. Add to the pot.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat and keep at a gentle simmer, uncovered, for about an hour and a half, or until the mixture is thickened and dark red in colour. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Sterilize 5 pint jars and lids. Fill the jars to within 1/2 inch of the top rim. Wipe the rim with a damp cloth to clean, then seal with lids and screw tops. 

Place in a canning pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then process at a steady boil for 20 minutes. Remove from water with tongs and place on a towel covered countertop to cool completely. Check that all jars have sealed. Store in a cool, dark location.

Yields: 5 pints or so

Note to self: Made 4 recipes in 2014.