Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sloppy Joe's

I’m heading off to the cottage for a few days so that means no blogging for about a week.  I had to squeeze in one more post before I left so here you have it : )

The hubby has been working late these days so I have been eating on my own.  I tried to come up with something that would easily reheat for him when he gets in the door.  What I came up with is Sloppy Joe’s.  Not the mix from the can at the grocery store but a homemade mixture.  I served mine with a side of salad but I have a feeling that the hubby will just eat two or three of them and skip the salad.

I picture this being a good kid friendly meal, you could even use little slidder buns for their tiny hands.  The flavour isn’t too strong but if you wanted to kick it up a little you could add extra hot sauce.  We topped ours off with some shredded cheddar cheese, delicious.

Sloppy Joe’s


·       1 tablespoon olive oil
·       12 ounces ground sirloin
·       1 (8-ounce) packages presliced cremini mushrooms
·       1 cup prechopped onion
·       3 garlic cloves, minced
·       1/2 cup no-salt-added tomato paste
·       1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
·       2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
·       2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
·       1 tablespoon molasses
·       1/4 teaspoon salt
·       3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
·       1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
·       4 Kaiser rolls or hamburger buns, toasted


1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add beef; cook for 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.

2. While beef cooks, place mushrooms in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until finely chopped. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic to pan; cook for 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add tomato paste and next 5 ingredients (through salt) to pan; cook 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and liquid evaporates. Stir in pepper and hot sauce. Spoon about 1 cup beef mixture on bottom half of each bun; top with top halves of buns.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hard Work Gets You A Mocha Chocolate Chip Banana Muffin

Yesterday was a great day!  One of the great features of our home is a beautiful flower garden surrounding the front of the house and another huge garden to the right of the house.  Except I am no gardener!  Over the past 3 years my inexperience and neglect have been slowly killing the poor gardens.  It was actually getting embarrassing because it began to look more like a giant long grass patch in our front yard.  
Thankfully my Mom, Step-Father and the Hubby helped me rescue the gardens yesterday.  Before everyone started working I whipped up a batch of Mocha Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins.  At first I was a little unsure of how coffee and banana would taste together, I knew coffee and chocolate would be good and chocolate and banana is delicious as well but the three together, who knows?  Well, it’s good! 
We started working around 11AM after it poured for most of the morning.  The muffins were great because everyone could take a small break and enjoy a little sugar boost.  Luckily the rain never started again and we were able to get everything finished, look how beautiful it turned out.  The pour garden hasn’t looked this nice since we moved in:)

I packed up muffins and sent them home with my Mom.  I even ate another muffin for dessert. 
Mocha Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules, dissolved in
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Blend butter or margarine, sugar, egg, banana, dissolved coffee, and vanilla in food    processor for 2 minutes. Add flour, salt, baking powder, and soda, and blend just until flour disappears. Add chocolate chips and mix in with wooden spoon. Spoon mixture into 15 to 20 paper-lined muffin cups.
3. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

As promised here is another great grilling/summer recipe to celebrate the first day of Summer.  This one comes from the lovely people over at Fine Cooking.  The recipe is not your standard BBQ meal, it's a nice lite noodle salad with a sweet and sour Vietnamese sauce to marinate your grilled pork and veggies in and at the end you pour the tasty sauce over the whole dish.  The flavours come together nicely with the fresh mint and cilantro.  And I got to use mint from my own garden. It always feels so rewarding to eat something that you've grown yourself!

It does take a little effort to get everything together but the recipe is laid out well so that everything flows easily.  If you can prep some of the ingredients the day before this can easily be a quick weeknight meal.  Once the sauce is made, the noodles are cooked, the pork is grilled and the herbs are chopped you're good to go.  It is also great for a hot day like today, no standing over a hot stove frying or baking.

The final verdict....EXCELLENT!  My kind of dinner...Noodles, herbs, lettuce, grilled pork and veggies, you can't go wrong.

Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Pork Patties
From Fine Cooking

·         8 oz rice vermicelli noodle
·         Kosher salt
·         1/2 cup very thin carrot strips (julienne)
·         1/2 cup very thin daikon radish or jícama strips (julienne)
·         3 tsp. granulated sugar
·         1 tsp. red-wine vinegar
·         Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (nuoc cham) see recipe below
·         1 lb. ground pork (ask the butcher for coarsely ground pork butt)
·         4 scallions, thinly sliced
·         1-1/2 tsp. fish sauce
·         Freshly ground black pepper
·         6 large leaves romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
·         1 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
·         1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro


1.       Soak the rice vermicelli in a large bowl of warm water for 15 min. Meanwhile, bring about 2 quarts water and 1 tsp. kosher salt to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Drain the noodles and add them to the boiling water, stirring with chopsticks to gently separate the strands. When the water returns to a boil (after about 2 min.), drain the noodles in a colander (push the strands against the sides of the colander with chopsticks to help them drain completely). Put the noodles on a platter and fluff them with chopsticks. Set aside until cool, at least 30 min. and up to 2 hours.

2.      Put the carrots and daikon or jícama in a colander. Sprinkle on 1 tsp. of the sugar, the vinegar, and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt and mix well. Let the colander sit in the sink for 10 min., and then gently squeeze the vegetables to get rid of the liquid. Add the vegetables to the bowl of dipping sauce.

3.      Put the pork in a bowl. Add the scallions, the remaining 2 tsp. sugar, the fish sauce, 1/8 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper and mix gently with your hands. Shape the meat into small patties about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick; you should have ten patties.

4.      Grill the patties over a medium- hot gas or charcoal grill, (or in an oiled grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat) until they’re well browned outside and cooked through but still moist inside, 8 to 10 min. on a grill; 15 min. on a grill pan (cut into one to check—it’s fine if the pork is still a little pink inside). Add the cooked patties, still warm, to the bowl of sauce and vegetables and let sit for 5 to 10 min. before serving.

5.       Serve the noodles on the platter, along with the lettuce, mint, and cilantro. Remove the pork patties from the sauce and put them on a different platter. Give everyone a large bowl and let people serve themselves noodles, lettuce, and herbs, then top that with pork patties and a generous drizzle of the dipping sauce and the vegetables in it. Toss gently.

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce


·         3 large cloves garlic, minced
·         1 hot red chile, such as serrano, thinly sliced
·         1 cup water
·         1/2 cup fish sauce
·         1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
·         1/2 cup granulated sugar


Stir all the ingredients in a medium bowl.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Raspberry Upside-Down Cake

I'll be completely honest with you, I planned on posting a dinner recipe.  Dinner was good but there are a few tweaks that I want to make to the recipe before I pass it along to all of you.  I'll work on it and hopefully get back to you next week.  I felt guilty that I haven't posted in a little while so I made this delicious cake. 

The recipe calls for cardamom in the cake.  Cardamom can be a little pricey but it goes  a long way. Most recipes call for no more than 1/4 tsp and thats more than enough.  Cardamom adds a unique flavour that is sweet and fragrant.  You might be tempted to leave it out of the mix but trust me... don't!  Feel free to use the berry of your choice, like strawberry, blueberry or blackberry.  Even pineapple would taste great.

The hubby and I enjoyed a warm slice with a scope of ice cream but I have a feeling the cake will be just as tasty when it's cooled off.  I'll have to find out tomorrow at work, hopefully my co-workers will join me for a slice.

Raspberry Upside-down Cake with Cardamom

makes: one 8-inch cake


For the Topping:

·         2 tablespoons unsalted butter

·         1/4 cup brown sugar

·         1 cup sliced strawberries

For the Cake:

·         1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

·         2/3 cup brown sugar

·         1 large egg

·         1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

·         1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

·         1 teaspoon baking powder

·         1/4 teaspoon baking soda

·         1/4 teaspoon salt

·         1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

·         2/3 cup sour cream


1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.      I used an 8-inch round with 3-inch tall sides.  You can also use a 9-inch round with 2-inch sides.

3.      Place butter in the cake pan and place in the oven.  When butter is melted, remove pan from the oven.  Using two pot holders, tilt the pan around and around, coating the sides of the pan with butter.  Once sides are coated, set aside.

4.      In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom.  Set aside.

5.      In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar on medium speed.  Cream until slightly pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Stop mixer, scrape down the bowl with a spatula, and add egg and vanilla extract.  Beat for 1 minute.

6.      Turn the mixer off, scrape the bowl, and add the dry ingredients.  Beat on low speed while adding the sour cream.  Beat until the batter just comes together.  Batter will be pretty thick.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and finish incorporating ingredients with a spatula.

7.      Sprinkle 1/4 cup brown sugar into the melted butter in the cake pan.  Sprinkle strawberry slices over the butter and sugar in a single layer.  Spoon batter over the strawberries and spread evenly with a spatula.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

8.     Let cake rest for 10 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the cake and inverting the cake onto a cake plate.  Serve warm with sweetened sour or whipped cream.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Hit, Grilled Jerk Pork

Before I head out the door for work this morning I threw together the marinade for this Jerk Pork and let a tenderloin hang out in the flavourful spicy sauce for the day.  When I got home from work I put together the smashed fried potatoes.  I didn’t follow a recipe but I’ll break it all down for you.

Toss a package of mini potatoes in to a pot of cold water, about 12-15 potatoes total.  Put the pot over high heat and bring to a rolling boil.  Let them boil for about 12 minutes until the potatoes are tender but still slightly firm.  Rinse the potatoes with cold water so that they are cool enough to handle.  Using the back of a spatula press down on each potato and squish down making both sides flat.  Heat a pan over medium high heat and fry smashed potatoes for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.  I put the fried smashed potatoes in the toaster oven at 300F while I finished cooking the pork.

We ate every last bit of the pork and potatoes, although I did only make 1 tenderloin instead of the 2 that the recipe suggested.  I will definitely make the marinade again, maybe even try it on chicken some time.  The hubby loved the jerk pork, although I don’t think I have ever made pork tenderloin that he didn’t like.  The pork was cooked perfectly.  I always use a thermometer to check the temp for pork, I think it’s a key tool when cooking pork.  Always cook to 145F and let rest about 15 minutes. 

Grilled Jerk Pork


  • 3 scallions (white and green parts)
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp scotch bonnet or habanero hot sauce
  • 2 pork tenderloin

  1. Combine scallions, thyme, salt, allspice, pepper, lime juice, molasses and hot sauce in a blender and blend until smooth.  Put marinade in a plastic bag with pork coating the pork well.  Marinate in the refrigerator least 2 hours or overnight.  Bring to room temperature before grilling.
  2. Heat grill to medium-high heat.  Once the grill is hot grease the grill to prevent sticking.  Turn heat down to medium and place pork on grill rack.  Cover the grill and cook 15-25 minutes, turning occasionally.  Insert a thermometer diagonally into the center of the pork, desired temperature is 145F.
  3. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest about 15 minutes before slicing into 1 inch portions.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

We have gigantic rhubarb growing in the side yard.  For most of the spring a wheel barrel was lying over top of it.  That definitely didn’t slow it down, now there is more than I could ever use. So here is my first use, Rhubarb Crumble Muffins.  Next time I will add some strawberries or raspberries to the batter.  I almost did that for this batch but thought I would give the rhubarb a chance to be the star for this one.  Unfortunately it wasn’t.  Don’t get me wrong the muffins are delicious. The rhubarb just didn’t really stand out for me.  The batter is nice and light and who doesn’t love crumble.

I was very sceptical of only adding 2 tbsp of fat to the muffin mixture.  Honestly, I really couldn’t tell.  They are absolutely a low-fat muffin and for a large portion they come in at only 210 calories.  I was pretty impressed!  I plan on packing them in out lunches for the week and hopefully I’ll make another batch on the weekend and try a strawberry-rhubarb version.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins


  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup rhubarb, small dice
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup butter


  1. Preheat oven to 390F.  Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.  Stir together sugar and rhubarb and set aside while you make the crumble topping.
  2. Mix together the brown sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon.  Then rub in the butter until clumpy.  You can use a fork or your fingers work well also.
  3. Stir the oil, egg, vanilla and buttermilk into the sugary rhubarb.  Now, add the flour, baking powder and baking soda and stir well.
  4. Spoon into the cases, the scatter each with a thick layer of crumble mixture.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

TIP:  If you don’t have buttermilk on had put 1 tbsp of vinegar into a 1 cup measuring cup and top-up with milk.  Let rest of 3-5 minutes then use the amount require in the recipe.

SUBSTITUTIONS:  You can use a mix of fruit to go along with your rhubarb.  Just make sure that the total amount of fruit doesn’t exceed 1 ¼ cups.  Some possibilities are strawberries, raspberries or blueberries.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Tuscan Chopped Salad

I’m going to be completely honest with all of you, lately I just haven’t been in a good cooking space.  I know, it’s scary!  But don’t worry too much because I have figured it out.  For a couple of months I was trying to watch my spending be a little more tight with my money.  One of the first things that I stopped buying was cooking magazines.  I guess I get a lot of inspiration from looking at hundreds of recipes and reading the magazines word for word from front to back, sometimes several times through. 

I figured this out one evening this week when I took out a stack of old magazines that were kicking around.  All of these ideas started flowing and I felt like my old self again.  What does all of this mean?  Go to Chapters and buy all of the magazines I can!  Well 3 of them to be exact.  With the official start of summer just around the corner all of the magazines are BBQ/summer inspired.  So that’s what you’re going to get for the next little while.  I spent last night doing my first and second scans through each magazine and there are a ton of recipes I want make so you’re all in luck.

Here’s the first one, Tuscan Chopped Salad.  Served with a nice lite piece of grilled fish this would make a perfect summer meal.  I think it would work perfectly as a lunch all on its own.  The bread and cheese turn this into a great meal salad.  I thought it was great and I plan to bring it to my next family BBQ.  I hope you try it soon.

Tuscan Chopped Salad


  • 2 to 3 slices of multi-grain or focaccia bread
  • Olive oil
  • ½ red pepper
  • ½ English cucumber
  • 1 container mini bocconcini mozzarella
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halfed
  • ¼ cup sliced oil packed sundried tomatoes
  • ¼ cup snipped chives
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp hot red chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.  Brush both sides of bread with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cut into 1 inch cubes.  Spread out on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 minutes, stirring half way. 
  2. Slice peppers and cucumbers in to bit size pieces.  Place in a large bowl, add bread, tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes and chives.
  3. Whisk remaining ingredients together in a  small bowl.  Season with fresh pepper. 
  4. Drizzle most of the dressing over the salad and toss to mix.
  5. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate up to 1 day. 
  6. Add remaining dressing before serving.