Monday, 14 April 2014

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

So my grandma's birthday is tomorrow and we had a little celebration on Saturday for her. She loves Lemon and Cheesecake so when I saw these bars I figured they would be a perfect treat for her. I made them Friday night so they would have enough time to chill and I think I like them being chilled overnight as opposed to just a few hours.

These turned out really great. You start with a graham crumb base and then you add your lemon cheesecake layer. I added a dollop of whipped cream on top but you honestly didn't even really need that! These had such a nice lemon flavour to them. You could really taste it and it was nice and refreshing! It's the perfect spring time flavour ion my opinion!



I got this recipe idea from http://blogs.delawareonline.com/secondhelpings/2013/01/11/meyer-lemon-cheesecake-bars/?nclick_check=1

Ingredients


For the crust I cup graham crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For The Filling
2 bars (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 to 3 teaspoons lemon zest
About 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Crimp overhang under rim of pan.

In a bowl, combine graham crumbs with sugar; add butter and mix until moistened.

Transfer crumb mixture to prepared pan, and pat in gently.



Bake until beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

While crust is baking, make filling.

Place cream cheese in food processor; blend until smooth.

Add sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice; blend until smooth.

Pour mixture onto hot crust in pan; smooth top.



Return to oven, and bake until set (filling should jiggle only slightly when pan is gently shaken), 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Cover very loosely with plastic wrap; chill until firm, at least 2 hours (and up to 2 days).


Use foil overhang to lift cheesecake out of pan. With metal spatula, lift cheesecake from foil; cut into 16 squares. Garnish with more lemon zest, if desired.

Friday, 11 April 2014

2 Year Blogging Anniversary!

Wow does time ever fly, I can't believe that as of April 5th, I have been blogging for 2 years now! I can't believe that I have over 300 recipes and posts, that is crazy! I am starting to forget everything that I have made now so I have to start going back and looking at old posts to see what I have made and to come up with new ideas for things!

I do love this time of year. The promise of warmer weather and of course Easter which is a nice long weekend to spend with family and friends! I love making Easter treats and you will see lots of posts about that in the next couple of weeks!

Let's starts things off with one of my first few posts ever that involved a delicious Easter treat! You have probably seen these floating around Pinterest and there are tons of varieties out there. These Easter Nest Cookies are super cute and super delicious!

Here is my original post;

Easter Nests Cookies dated April 7 2012!


It’s Easter weekend and I especially love it because I get 4 wonderful days off to bake, relax, cook, sleep, bake and cook! LOL So in the spirit of Easter I have made these cute little Cadbury Egg Easter Nests that I found on “how sweet it is” blog. These are super cute and fairly easy to make. I hope all the family coming over for Sunday dinner likes a little extra dainty for dessert (but I mean who wouldn’t LOL)

Here is the recipe with a few pictures of what they looked like along the way. I am getting a bit better as this blogging thing as I actually remembered to take some pictures as I made them this time! LOL

Hope everyone has a wonderful Easter long weekend! 



Recipe:
Cadbury Egg Easter Nests
*makes approximately 40 cookies

Ingredients:
-2 cups flour
-1 tbsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-3/4 cup butter, softened
-8 oz. cream cheese, softened
-1 cup sugar
-3/4 tsp almond extract
-2 1/2 cups coconut
-red & yellow food coloring
-1 bag Cadbury Mini Eggs

Directions:
1. Mix dry ingredients and set aside.
2. With a handheld mixer, cream butter and cheese; add sugar and almond extract, beating until fluffy.
3. Gradually beat in flour mixture and 1 cup of coconut.
4. Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes (or until firm enough to handle)
5. Take 1/2 cup of coconut and place in a ziploc bag, add one or 2 drops of food red colouring and shake until evenly distributed among the coconut. Take another 1/2 cup coconut and tint with 1-2 drops yellow food colouring. Toss tinted coconut with remaining 1/2 cup of (white) coconut. 


6. Roll large tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Roll each in coconut until lightly coated.
7. Place balls on greased cookie sheets and press1-2 mini eggs into each cookie.
8. Bake for 12 minutes at 350F. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Refrigerate in a sealed container until ready to serve.

Here are a couple of trays that went over to some friends and neighbors.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Bacon Deviled Egg Potato Salad

I love when spring weather hits the air and all the hot sides go to the way side in favour of cold sides such as potato salad, marinated vegetables, salads, pasta salads ect!

This past weekend was one of the nicest days we have had in a long time so we opted to BBQ some burgers. I made my famous turkey burgers (recipe is here http://www.crazy-good-cooking.com/2013/05/turkey-burgers-with-lemon-mayo.html ) and I also made the Bacon Deviled Egg Potato Salad to go with it!



This potato salad was delicious. If you love the zip of deviled eggs then you will love this potato salad. It's your basic potato salad but the dressing is made with the egg yolks, mayo and mustard to give it some nice flavour. You mix that in with the potatoes, egg whites, celery, onion and bacon and voila a delicious side!

I got this idea from http://busycooks.about.com/od/potatosalads/r/Bacon-Deviled-Egg-Potato-Salad.htm

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds red round potatoes
  • 6 hard cooked eggs, cut in half
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil until tender, about 20-30 minutes. Since the potatoes won't be all the same size, check them occasionally. You'll remove the smaller potatoes first. Place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Don't let the potatoes cool completely.
 
While the potatoes are cooking, remove the egg yolks from the hard cooked eggs and place in large bowl. Mash the yolks, then gradually add about 1/3 cup of the mayonnaise, mixing with the back of a spoon until very smooth. Beat in all of the remaining mayonnaise, the Miracle Whip, mustard, and milk.
 
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, but still warm, peel them and cut into cubes; mix into the dressing as you work. Chop the egg whites and add, along with the celery, green onions, and bacon. Mix gently but thoroughly. Cover and chill before serving.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Creme Egg Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups

Happy Spring everyone! It's actually starting to feel like spring out which is a nice break and big relief to everyone I think! In anticipation of Easter coming I decided to try these cookies I saw on Pinterest this weekend. My step mother in law loves her Cadbury Crème Eggs so I made these especially for her and dropped some off this past weekend! I heard they were a hit and the few leftovers I kept were a hit with the rest of my family too!

These are actually quite easy to make and the biggest challenge for me was actually getting the chocolate chip cookie cups out of the muffin tin with out breaking them. Out of the 18 I started with I had about 14 solid cups that didn't break. The ones that did break just turned into tasty broken chocolate chip cookies!



The original recipe called for 3 cups of icing sugar for the filling but I only used about 2 and maybe 1/8 cups. I thought this was enough and my filling was already getting really nice and thick that another cup of icing sugar would have likely made it unworkable for me. Once the filling was mixed up I took about a tablespoon out and added it to another bowl and used yellow food colouring to get the yolk colour.

To assemble you add about a tablespoon of filling to the chocolate chip cookie egg cup and top that with about a teaspoon of yolk filling. If you do this when the cookie cups are still warm (not hot) it helps the filling level out on it's own to get a nice smooth top.

These are really cool looking and taste amazing! I'm sure they would be a hit with the kids so why not give them a try this Easter?

Here is where I adapted the recipe from http://www.inkatrinaskitchen.com/2012/03/cadbury-cream-cookie-cups.html

Ingredients:

Chocolate chip cookie dough, prepared or purchased
½ Cup light corn syrup
¼ Cup salted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Cups powdered sugar
Yellow food coloring

Directions:

Prepare your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray and add about 3 Tablespoons of dough to each muffin well. Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden. Let cool 15 minutes in the pan. The middle will sink in. To help it along you can press a small glass (or spice jar) into the well to create a cookie cup. While the cookies are warm but firm use the tips of your fingers to gently twist the cookie cups up and out of the pan. Let cool completely.
 
 
 
In the bowl of your mixer combine corn syrup, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar and mix until incorporated.
 
Remove about 1/4 of the cream and dye with yellow food coloring.
 
Pour white cream into the cookie cups. Finish off with a small drop of yellow cream.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Spicy Chicken and Pasta

It's Friday today! Yay! It's been a long week and I am ready for a break! But before the break starts I thought I should share this quick and easy Spicy Chicken and Pasta recipe in case you are looking for dinner ideas tonight!

I made this on Monday night and I doubled everything so my husband and I have both had lunch leftovers and I actually finished it off today for lunch!



This doesn't originally call for a lot of spices besides Chili Powder so we adapted it a bit t get it a little more flavourful. I added Basil, Salt, Garlic Powder and Oregano and that really seemed to kick it up!

I got this recipe from Women's Health Magazine http://recipes.womenshealthmag.com/Recipe/spicy-chicken-and-pasta.aspx

Ingredients

4 1/2 oz angel hair pasta, uncooked I used Rigatoni 


Directions

 

 


Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Brown the onion over medium high heat for about 1 minute. Mix the flour and the water. Add the chicken, chili powder, sauce, and flour mixture to the skillet. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Serve over the pasta.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Mango Coconut Chicken Skewers

We are starting a fun tradition in the Caruk family with a once a month (if we can schedule it) theme dinner night! The first one was decided by the host Rhonda Caruk and she choose Caribbean theme night. Once she said that I started to panic thinking what can I make. I know jerk seasoning is big, seafood and fruits. Hmmm, I started to google and googled some more and came across these awesome looking Mango Coconut Chicken Skewers. I figured the mango and coconut was very Caribbean so I'd give these a chance!

I started by thawing the chicken and before I thread it onto the skewers I threw it into a frying pan to cook through. I am super paranoid about serving undercooked or raw chicken and the thought of skewering it raw and then cooking it worried me. Once it was cooked through, I skewered about 4 pieces onto a skewer and used a basting brush to brush on some mango chutney that I bought in the ethnic aisle of my grocery store. Then I rolled it in unsweetened flaked coconut and put it on a pan to cook some more!



I started by cooking it at 350 degrees in the oven for about 10 minutes and then I turn the broiler on and cooked both sides under the broiler for about 4 minutes a side! These turned out fantastic! The last part was mixing up a dip of yogurt and mango chutney. I choose some coconut greek yogurt and it was a nice mix!

If you are planning a theme night or even if you aren't and want to try something different I highly recommend these! I thought they turned out really great and have some wonderful flavour to them! They were a big hit and two skewers per person probably could have been more!! LOL

I adapted this recipe from http://www.todaysparent.com/recipe/snacks/mango-coconut-chicken-skewers/

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) mango chutney
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) curry paste or powder
  • 1 cup (250 mL) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) mango chutney

Instructions

Soak about 24 8 in. (20 cm) bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.
Cut each chicken breast into cubes.  Cook in a frying pan first to cook though and then thread onto skewers.



In large shallow dish, combine chutney, lime juice and curry paste. Place skewers in dish, spreading to coat with chutney mixture. (Can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day).



Spread coconut in a separate shallow dish. Lightly roll chicken in coconut, shaking off excess. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet, leaving at least – in. (1 cm) between chicken pieces. Discard any excess chutney mixture and coconut.



Lightly cover exposed skewer handles with a strip of foil to shield. Bake chicken for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees and then turn your oven to broil.  Place the chicken skewers under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning once, or until coconut is toasted. Place on a platter and serve with dip.



Yogurt Dip: In a small dish, stir together yogurt and chutney. Cover and refrigerate until serving, for up to one day. Bring just to room temperature before serving.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Coffee Cake Muffins with Strudel Topping

Tomorrow is April 1st and guess what...they are calling from 2-4 cm of snow. Enough already! I surrender, uncle, I give...whatever else I said as a kid! I need spring and it's time we got some.

With this crappy weather goes nice hot cups of tea or coffee in the afternoons and who doesn't love a piece of coffee cake as a snack with a cup of coffee on weekend afternoons? I sure do! What's even better is this recipe I came across for coffee cake muffins with a strudel topping. Wow are they ever good!



I definitely recommend giving these a try over the bread, it feels like you get more and a little muffin as an afternoon snack is perfect! These muffins are super easy to make. You make the batter and spoon into the muffin cups. Then you make the topping and add it on top of the muffin batter and bake. Voila delicious muffins!

I got this recipe from http://www.justataste.com/2012/07/sour-cream-coffee-cake-muffins-with-streusel-topping/

Ingredients:

For streusel:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white or packed light brown sugar
4 Tablespoons butter, slightly softened and cut into pieces
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For batter:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease muffin tin with cooking spray.

Prepare the streusel topping by combining all ingredients in a small bowl, using a fork to cut the butter evenly into the dry ingredients until well incorporated. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, oil and 1 cup sugar on medium speed until well mixed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.



Reduce mixer speed to low, and then gradually beat in the flour mixture, sour cream and vanilla just until combined. (Do not overmix!)

Spoon the batter and streusel in the prepared muffin tin.

Bake muffins for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.



Remove muffins from oven and let cool in tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.