Whew. 2012 flew by in a whirlwind. Just a little over a year ago we moved from Oslo, Norway to New York City and half a year later we moved home to Canada. No wonder I’m so tired! :P This year the holidays felt extra special and the celebrating seemed to go on and on. It was awesome! We even took a road trip to visit my husband’s family. It has all been such a blast and makes it a little harder to get back into a routine. Er, What’s that again?
3 countries. 1 year.
I’ve always been a huge fan of gyros. If we’re ever at a food court for a meal you better believe I’m headed for the gyro place. It’s the only time I ever get them because certain other people in my family are not a fan. Until now.
When I came across this recipe I figured it was worth a shot. It was so simple that I figured the worst that could happen would be that I would get all the more to myself. :) But that was not the case. They were a huge hit. So much so that I can now make gyros as often as I like, and everyone gets excited about it. They may not be the most traditional but they’ve got everything that I love about a gyro – flavour! Here’s to home cooking winning again! :D
I know it’s a little late but, Happy New Year! I hope 2013 is a year full of blessings for all of you.
Nothing satisfies the belly like a warm cup of hot chocolate when you come in from the cold. Or while you’re sitting in the cold warming up by a fire. Instead of buying a packaged mix, why not make this gourmet version instead? It uses vanilla beans, tons of real chocolate and Dutch-process cocoa powder. It makes a humongous batch so you’ll have plenty to give away while still keeping some for yourself. Package it up with some homemade mini marshmallows and you’ll have some very happy recipients.
I was instantly drawn to this recipe because it doesn’t use powdered milk. Powdered milk is not something I ever have on hand. And with all the milk sensitive people in my life, I really wanted something that everyone could enjoy. This way people can pick their favourite milk base and just stir in the love.
I’ll be checking out now to enjoy Christmas with my family. I hope you have a joyful, stress-free Christmas with plenty of shared moments with family and friends. Merry Christmas! :D
Hot Chocolate Mix
For best results use high-quality chocolate.
4 cups sugar
2 vanilla beans, split and seeded
24 oz. semi sweet chocolate, chopped
9 oz. dark (or bittersweet) chocolate, chopped
2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
Mix together the sugar and vanilla bean seeds, in a large bowl. Rub the mixture between your fingers to help distribute it evenly. Nestle the pods into the sugar and let sit, covered, overnight.
Remove vanilla pods from sugar. Pour sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add chocolates and cocoa powder. Run the processor in 4 second bursts until the chocolate is finely ground. (If your food processor isn’t large enough for all of the ingredients you can process the chocolate on its own until finely ground, transfer it to a large bowl and then stir in the sugar and cocoa with a whisk). Store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 6 months.
To serve: stir together 2 tablespoons mix with 1 cup steaming milk (or milk alternative), until dissolved.
Me and the kidlets have been spending lot’s of time in the kitchen this week making sweets for goody baskets and Christmas celebrations. All the gifts have been bought, many of them are wrapped and tucked under the tree. All that’s left is the fun stuff – cooking and baking! I tried not to take on too much this year because I tend to go overboard with my expectations of what I can get done. I think I finally found the right balance, but we’ll see… ;)
I think this would be a great addition to your cookie platters and gift baskets. It’s easy, quick and tastes divine. Yes, it uses a ton of chocolate, but it makes a lot, and one of these little babies is enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. They are just as fudge should be – rich, fudgy and indulgent. And, the peppermint makes them a great little after dinner mint/sweet.
Chocolate Swirl Peppermint Fudge
Make sure to use baking chocolate/chips not regular chocolate chips, the regular ones don’t melt as easily as baking chocolate.
22 oz. white baking chocolate, chopped (or baking chips)
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
3/4 cup dark (or bittersweet) chocolate baking chips
Place white chocolate and milk in a large saucepan set over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Stir in peppermint extract. Pour half of the white chocolate mixture into an 8×8 inch pan that’s been lined with foil and lightly greased. Sprinkle over 1/2 cup dark chocolate baking chips. Pour remaining white chocolate over top and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Wait a minute or two, until the chips have softened (if they have trouble softening stick the pan in a slightly warm oven). Swirl the mixtures together with a knife until you have a marbled pattern. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Slice into 1 inch squares, to serve. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. (Or store, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
Roast chicken has been my nemesis for a long time. I’ve always liked the idea of it but no matter how hard I try I can’t ever seem to get the baking time right. Even with a thermometer I always feel like I underbake it and we end up throwing out all the brown meat because I get so nervous about eating raw chicken, and I hate wasting food! One day I will conquer the traditional roasted chicken, but for now I am very happy I found this recipe that uses the slow cooker, it is awesome!
I love this recipe for many reasons. 1) It takes away the guesswork of knowing the perfect time to take out the bird. 2) It frees up oven space for any sides you may want to bake. 3) It makes your house smell delicious for hours and hours. 4) The drippings left in the crock pot make for some pretty delicious gravy. 5) It seals all the juices in, making the chicken juicy and moist. 6) The rub ensures a deliciously flavourful bird. 7) Just like any roast chicken the leftovers can be used throughout the week and the carcass can be used for chicken broth. It is a win all around!
I know what you’re probably thinking – that the skin must be soggy and gross since there’s so much moisture in the slow cooker. But it’s not at all! The skin turns out crispy and flavourful, thanks to the spice rub. There’s no liquid added to the slow cooker so that keeps it from being overly moist. The only issue I found was that I couldn’t pick up the whole bird and transfer it to the serving platter. It was so tender it fell apart while I was trying to take it out. It really wasn’t a big deal because we were cutting it all up anyways, but if you’re worried about appearances you may need to leave it in the slow cooker or perhaps line your slow cooker with foil for easier removal. Either way it doesn’t affect the delicious flavour of the tenderness.
This is a great recipe to have cooking while you’re away at Christmas festivities and would also be a great main for a small Christmas dinner. It’s stress-free, comforting and no-fuss – a definite must this time of year.
Slow Cooker Roast Chicken
The cooking time depends on the heat of your slow-cooker. Mine runs hot so it only takes 5 hours. Once you get to know your slow cooker it will be easier to gauge if you need the lesser or longer time.
1 whole chicken
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground pepper
Rinse chicken under cold water; pat dry. Mix together all ingredients for spice rub. Rub the spices on the outside and inside of the chicken. Refrigerate until ready to cook or place in the slow cooker immediately. Stuff cavity with sliced onion. Cook on low 5-7 hours, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken to serving platter and let rest for 15 minutes, before serving.
I had to squeak in one more pumpkin recipe before all the Christmas festivities get started around here. Next week I”ll be decorating my house and listening to Christmas music all day long, with no shame involved! But, it”s not quite that time yet so I”m giving you one last bite of pumpkin bliss before it goes out of style.
We hardly buy any boxed cereal anymore because homemade granola is so easy to make and so adaptable to different seasons. Max is going through a major granola phase – it”s all he wants for breakfast. But, when it”s so full of goodness and so easy to make, it”s one obsession I can get on board with.
Make this granola with that last bit of pumpkin before all the peppermint and cranberry recipes start rolling in. Wee Hoo!
Pumpkin Pecan Granola
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup dried cranberries
Stir together olive oil, salt, spices, maple syrup and pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Add oats, pecans and sesame seeds. Stir until evenly coated. Spread onto a baking sheet, allowing it to stay clumpy. Bake at 325°F for 35-45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until mixture is dry and lightly browned. Stir in cranberries and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
I”m obsessed with drinks. Cold in the summer, hot in the winter. I can”t help myself, they”re just too much fun to make and sip. And, there are so many different flavours to come up with depending on the season. We”ve been nabbing up oranges every time we go to the grocery store – they are soooo good right now! I was feeling the need to break away from the typical fall flavours for a little bit and enjoy something wintery and bright. Wintery = Hot Drinks and Chocolate. Bright = Citrus. Together = Orange Mocha.
If you like the combination of chocolate and oranges together, you will love this. It is a great change of pace from all those spiced drinks we”ve all been enjoying so much. For myself and my hubby, I like to make it into a mocha by stirring the chocolate orange sauce into coffee. For the kiddos, I heat up a glass of milk and stir some in, to make Orange Hot Chocolate. They love it. And, I love that it”s not coming out of a package filled with sugar and artificial flavourings. Win. Win. ;)
In a small saucepan whisk together cocoa powder, milk and maple syrup. Remove the rind from the orange with a vegetable peeler or pairing knife, being careful to avoid the white pith. Stir into cocoa mixture. Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the chocolate mixture. Stir in cinnamon. Remove the orange rind, if desired (if it”s cut into nice strips I don”t bother). Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make a mocha, stir 2-3 tablespoons of the chocolate orange mixture into 1 cup of hot coffee. Add additional sweetener or milk, if desired. (For hot chocolate stir into 1 cup of warm milk.)