Category Archives: Yummy food

What???? Chocolate pasta??

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What???? Chocolate pasta??

Yup. It’s really a thing! Chocolate pasta! My first thought was, “Finally, a way we can actually eat chocolate for dinner!” but apparently it’s supposed to be eaten as a dessert. OK, I can live with that. 

A couple of weeks ago I bought a stand mixer. I have to say that I love it! I’ve made everything from mashed potatoes to cake to pasta, now chocolate pasta! John’s mom regularly makes her pasta from scratch, and it is delicious! She uses the hand cranked pasta machine. I’m not claiming to be anywhere near her level of pasta making abilities, but I tried making a batch of regular pasta a couple weeks ago, and it turned out pretty well. So when I came across this recipe, I couldn’t not try it right? 

The chocolate pasta recipe is as follows: 2 eggs, 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of cocoa, 1tsp vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of icing sugar. I dumped everything into my mixer, and gave it a good mix. 

It looked too dry and crumbly, so I ended up adding a couple tablespoons of water, until it could form a ball.

I kneaded it like dough for about 5 minutes, until everything was stuck together. 

Then, I wrapped it in Saran Wrap and let it sit for 1/2 hour. I’m not sure why you do this, but every pasta recipe says to let it sit, so like a good little girl, I did what I was told. 

After the 1/2 hour or so was up, I divided the dough into four.

And flattened it like a pancake, then started rolling it through my machine. Here is what the attachment looks like:

I started rolling it through at the largest setting. I just kept folding it in half and rolling it through, about 15 times. Here is what it looked like the first time through….

And here is what it looked like after about ten passes through. I continued folding it in half, running it through, then changing the setting every few passes. I kept going until I reached the #1 setting. Note: next time I would leave a little thicker so the pasta is a little less fragile. 

Each quarter of the dough ended up making 4 strips, about 10 inches long each. After I cut the strips, I dusted the sheets with a little flour.

Then ran them through my old pasta cutter.

And here is what they turned out like! 

This is how much the entire batch made, enough to cover a regular sized cookie sheet. I put half of it in the freezer, and half in the fridge for dinner. 

Just as we were finished dinner (which was a huge pan of Shepards pie my mom made…thanks mom!) I cooked the pasta for about 4-5 minutes in boiling water.

Then strained it, and topped it with some mars Capone and ricotta cheese mixed with a little icing sugar and vanilla, and topped it off with some grated chocolate. 

It was really good. Not sure I would make a batch of it for dinner every night, but it was unique, and something I have never tried before. I would make it again to bring as a dessert or to have with company. It would also be delicious with maybe a fruity topping or a chocolate sauce… mmmmm…

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Apple strudel!

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Apple strudel!

It is the perfect time of year to enjoy apples in Ontario. They are delicious and very affordable right now! 

John came home with a second bag of apples this week, when we haven’t eaten the first bag yet, so I thought it is a good time to do some baking! So I dug up our apple peeler…

  
And I peeled about a dozen, then cut them into slices…

  
It was then that I realized that I only had about 1/4 cup of bread crumbs left 😦 

  
So I tossed some Graham Crackers into the food processor, and voila!  

   
But, first, the filling… I added about a teaspoon of cinnamon…

  A tablespoon of vanilla,
  About 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and a cup of quick cook oats. 
 To make the crust, I cracked open a box of phyllo pastry. And on the first layer, I melted some butter and used a BBQ brush to spread it around  

 Then I used some of my handy dandy Graham cracker crumbs to sprinkle between layers. I also sprinkled some white sugar. This makes the pastry fluffy and keeps each layer from sticking together . 

 i added 3-4 layers of Phyllo, butter, grahams cracker crumbs, and white sugar. Then I spooned the apple mixture in the middle. 

 Then folded over the sides, to tuck the pastry in.  

 The final step before putting the strudel in the oven was to add a wash of egg over the top. Crack a couple eggs, and use the pastry brush to cover the tops of the strudel in a generous layer of egg. The wash,  when cooked, makes the strudel shiny and golden brown.  

 I also cut slits into the top. I have found that the slits make it much easier to cut once it has cooked. The phyllo becomes very crumbly once it has cooked. 

I popped it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes, then turned down the temperature to 325 degrees for another 10 minutes. Take a look at the final product!! 

    
 Wish I could give you a taste, because yes, they taste as good as they look!

“Adults Only” Gummy Bears! 

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“Adults Only” Gummy Bears! 

   
I think I might have posted about this one before, but it is worth sharing again! Vodka soaked gummy bears….how can that not be a good idea?  I have made these a few times now, and even though they are pretty easy to make, I have learned a few tricks….

First, and most important, make sure they are clearly labelled, not for kids! They do have a strong vodka taste, so I can’t see kids eating a whole bowl of them, but keep them hidden in the back of the fridge clearly labelled that they are for adults only.

There are only two delicious  ingredients… Vodka and gummy bears. Start by putting the gummy bears into a non metal container, and pour enough vodka over them so they are covered.  If you use a metal container, they end up having a metallic sort of taste. Tupperware or ceramic works best. 

  
 
They need to be covered and refrigerated, and need at least a few days to absorb all of the vodka, just pour a little more on top each day as they absorb the vodka.  The plate below probably had at least a cup of vodka added.  I think the best way to tell if they are done is through a taste test. I recommend trying them a few at a time, just to be sure… Wink, wink. 
 . 

 Last tip, they must be kept in the fridge. If not, they end up looking kind of like the picture below. Still taste delicious, but not as yummy looking. Lol. I would also recommend giving them a quick stir every day until they are eaten, if they become too sticky, just add a couple tablespoons of vodka.  

I used a ceramic plate to spread them out, in the fridge and they didn’t stick together quite as much.  They do end up a little sticky and slimy, so I would serve them with toothpicks, or tongs, or in little serving cups. 

 
Last tip, I would suggest that if you are serving these while kids are around, have a separate bowl of regular gummy bears for kids, you know, so it isn’t “sooo unfair” (once again, speaking from experience) 

I would love to try other candies as well. I have seen people dissolving hard candy in vodka to give it a candy flavour too. Hmmm, so many possibilities!  Enjoy! 

Homemade Pesto

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Homemade Pesto

 In my herb garden, basil has been growing like crazy! We use a little bit in salads and with tomatoes, but I was thinking that by the end of the season, I should make some pesto. 
 But then we were at a farmers market, and they were selling these huge bunches of basil for $3.00!  So I figured, why not make it now!  

I plucked and washed all of the leaves. 
 I wasn’t sure if the kids would like the strong basil taste, so I read online that you can make it a little milder by adding spinach, so I decided to try that. Also, I am not a big fan of pine nuts, so I left those out too. So, in our little blender, I put about 1/3 basil leaves and 2/3 spinach leaves. 

 I squeezed half a lemon… 

  Added a couple of cloves of garlic…  And about 1/2 cup of olive oil to start…
I also added a couple tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.

 

  
I had to add some more oil to get the blender going and get everything to blend properly, but once it was moving, I kept adding handfuls of spinach and basil. It doesn’t look like the most appetizing food I have ever made, but it smells and tastes fantastic! 
 
I searched and searched online to try to find a way to preserve pesto, or seal it in jars, but because it isn’t cooked, I couldn’t find any other way other than freezing it. It will keep about a week in the fridge, but the only way you can keep it for longer is to freeze it. 

So, I spooned it into little salad dressing containers, and sprinkled a bit of cheese on the top, and popped them into the freezer. 

   
  

Looks a little yummier with some Parmesan on top…  
 

We had it for lunch today, it was delicious!    
   

Rose Petal Jelly

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Rose Petal Jelly

We have benefitted in the past from our neighbour’s green thumb… We enjoy the apples that hang over into our backyard every fall, and we enjoy the roses that grow through the cracks in our fence and end up blooming on our side. And, as you may know, I am a bit of a hoarder, so… I saved all of the petals from the roses and dried them… You never know when rose petals might come in handy! And, guess what I came across today? A recipe for rose petal jelly using dried rose petals! Perfect.

I started with about three cups of rose petals. I also had a few dried rosebuds I had left over from when I made tea…

 
The recipe said to use 3 1/2 cups of water and about a cup of rose petals. I had more than double that, so I made two batches, and I just dumped in the extra rose petals. I brought the water and rose petals to a rolling boil, and turned the heat off and let it steep for about 5-10 minutes.

  Look at how pretty the petals looked!  
By letting it steep for 10 minutes, the boiling water absorbs all of the flavour and colour of the petals.  I used my Teavana tea pot to strain all of the petals from the water, but for jelly making, most instructions say to use cheesecloth, but I figured this was much easier!    

I was a little disappointed that the colour of the water was a little brown. I divided the water into two pots so there was a little over three cups in each pot.

 

But, look what happened to the colour of the rose water when I added lemon juice!  The pot on the left has the lemon juice added… Cool eh? 

 I got so excited about the change in colour, I forgot to mention that after I squeezed the lemons, I strained the lemon juice to get rid of the seeds and pulp. 

 
Before starting with the rest of the jam I washed the jars, and put them, and the lids into the oven and turned the heat to 300 degrees. 

Then, to the rose water, I  added a few fresh rose petals, to leave in the jelly, and a box of powdered Certo (I am a very loyal customer…I love the Certo brand) 

    
And brought it to a rolling boil. Here is my free tip for the day: this is the most important step to making sure your jam or jelly sets, and thickens. Once you add the Certo, you have to be sure that the temperature is high enough that it is a true rolling boil. This means that the boiling doesn’t stop when you stir it, and it almost doubles in size because of all of the bubbles. The picture below is not quite a rolling boil. 

  This is a rolling boil! Now you can turn your timer on for 1-2 minutes and stir it, and let it boil away.  
Then, I added 4 cups of sugar to each pot…

 And brought it up to a rolling boil once again. At this point, I turned off the oven, so the jars and lids are hot and sterilized. Another tip is to half full each jar, and let the jelly/jam sit for five minutes before filling the rest of the bottle. Fruit (or petals in jams and jellies tends to float to the top, but if you let the jam thicken a little before filling, the fruit will be evenly distributed throughout the jar. 

After waiting a few minutes, I carefully filled each jar. Then, I put the filled jars back into the oven. The oven keeps the jars hot, and if you leave them in the oven until they are cool, they seal perfectly every time! I have bottles of jam from five years ago that are still perfectly sealed…

  Here is the finished product, you can see the petals floating in the middle.   
It thickened perfectly, ended up being a very pretty colour, and it is delicious on a cracker with a bit of cream cheese!

 I might have to actually plant some roses in our own backyard, because I don’t think there are any more roses poking through our fence! 

Have a great day! 

Easy treats!

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Easy treats!

I have been busy gardening this week, and wouldn’t have dared to put my hands in any food because I have had the hands of a mechanic… Yup, that bad! But after soaking in the pool for a good hour, and a manicure, I can now do some baking! Btw, can’t wait to show off some garden pics! I’ll posted later this week, still have a couple beds to finish. 

So onto the good stuff…food! I have really been trying to reduce the amount of sugar I have been eating. But, I have to say that I have the willpower of a jellyfish (I don’t actually know if a jellyfish possesses enough brainpower to comprehend willpower….which is part of why I though it made a good comparison) Anyways, part of my twisted logic when it comes to eating sugar is that if you bake smaller cookies, you can eat more of them, and if you add good things like hemp hearts or wheat bran, the good balances out the bad… Right? Well, a good justification for being able to eat chocolate is to mix it with something not so bad, like rice crispies, so you can eat more. Makes total sense to me. 

I started by melting some chocolate….

  
   Then added a few handfuls of rice crispies, and some hemp hearts (you know, to make it healthy).

  

Gave it a good mix.

  
  

Spread it out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and put it in the fridge for an hour or so.
Then, broke it into pieces! Voila. No measuring needed, just a handful of this and that… I thought of this afterwords, but next time I am going to add some cranberries! Mm mm
 

I’ll share some garden pics soon! Enjoy the hot weather! 

Making pasta

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Making pasta

Sometimes, it’s pretty cool to make things just to prove to yourself that you can do it. I see ideas and always think, “I can do that.” Guess what… With Youtube, Pinterest, and Google, you can. Everything you ever wanted to know how to do, learn, or make, is easy to find. Anyone can easily learn how to do anything from installing a toilet, to re-wiring a chandelier, to making pasta. The only thing holding people back is time! And, unfortunately sometimes energy… But, I have a growing list of things I want to do someday, and on some days, a little extra energy. So, today’s item crossed off of my bucket list is making pasta! 

I can’t believe how easy it is to do… Only two ingredients, flour and eggs. I also bought semolina flour, which is a courser flour used for pasta making, but from what I have read, you can just use all purpose flour, you don’t have to have semolina. My mother in law also sometimes uses whole wheat flower.

  

I had Sam helping me today because the boys were at another basketball tournament. We started by using a cup of all purpose flour, and we mixed in about 1/3 of a cup of semolina. Apparently the best way to mix the dough is with your hands on the countertop. So, we washed our hands and the counter top well before starting.  

We formed the four into a volcano shape with a crater in the middle, then we cracked three eggs into the middle.
  

Then came the messy part…. I wish I could share with you a special tip to reduce the amount of stickiness, and flour on the floor (other than avoiding help from an 11 year old) but I’m afraid you just have to get sticky and messy. Get your hands in there and start kneading!

 And kneading, and kneading…   

What we did find was that it was really lumpy and crumbly, and it didn’t look like the video we watched. So we watched another video where the person mixed it buy running it through that pasta roller… So we tried that, and after about 20 times through, we could see that worked a whole lot better. Here is what it looked like before….  

And after about 15-20 times through the roller… I could actually feel when it was ready because it became stretchy when you pulled it.   
   

 Once it is mixed enough that is has become stretchy, put it aside for at least 1/2 hour. We made three batches… I figured that once we had everything out and flour all over the place, we might as well get the most out of it… Go big or go home, right! I’m not quite sure why each batch looks slightly different colours at this stage, but by the time the pasta was finished, it all looked the same colour.    

You can kind of see in the picture below the dial on the side of the pasta machine. It has 7 different thicknesses. We started at 1, and rolled the dough through at least twice at each thickness. When the length of the sheets became too long, we cut it in half. So once again, a lot of rolling and rolling! Sam and I took turns, but the time we were finished, our arms were sore! My husband remembers that turning the crank for his mom, was his job as a child. Sam liked doing it, but it required a bit of strength until it thinned out.  

 Once we had it rolled out to the thinnest setting, we rolled it through the machine one last time through the cutter setting. 

   I dragged it through the flour…  
Then, laid it out on a cookie sheet. We made two batches of spaghetti…   
 And a batch of linguini…   
 The best part is that the pasta freezes beautifully. I just put the cookie sheets right into the freezer, and once they were frozen, I stacked them on top of each other in a Tupperware container.  
We were so excited about eating it, I totally forgot to take a picture, and it was all gone by the time I remembered!

 It only takes about 3-5 minutes to cook, and if it is frozen, put it right from the freezer to the boiling water. 

Overall, I don’t think I am going to give up using store bought pasta, but I definitely think I will make it again. It was a lot of work and muscle involved, but it would be a great idea to make for company because all the work can be done ahead of time. And, it really did taste far better than the store bought pasta. 

I’m working on making another video, so I’ll post the link when I finish it, and I will also update with a picture of the cooked pasta (if I remember to take a photo before it gets eaten again! Lol)

Say Thank You With a Pumpkin!

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Say Thank You With a Pumpkin!

Wow, I can’t believe that it is the middle of October already! Time to post about some fall and Halloween projects!

It has been a crazy September and October with a lot going on, and I just haven’t had time to post lately. This project was a rushed one, and probably not the prettiest thing I have ever made. But we needed a gesture to show the nurses at St. Michaels Hospital that we appreciated their work… 

I stopped by Michaels Craft Store on the way home and picked up a couple fake pumpkins, some plant picks, and a bunch of candy. 

 

Here is a close up of the plant picks… I have never used them before, but they made things a lot easier. They were basically a thick tooth pick with a wire attached.  
  I started by drilling a bunch of holes in the pumpkin  

Then, I started with the bottom holes, and added a couple rows of lollipops.  

Then, I used a piece of tape to attach the plant picks to the Kit Kat bars….  

And continued working my way up the pumpkin…  

Adding Coffee Crisp, Aero, some Rockets, and finally Smarties. I also filled up a few of the bald or empty spots using some black curling ribbon, which you can kind of see in the picture.  

Then I drilled a few more holes on the bottom row and added some decorative leaves…  

Because it was a thank you to the nurses and doctors on the cardiac unit, I used this card as an inspiration and instead of saying “I love you with my whole heart” I wrote “we thank you with all of our hearts”   

Like I said, I wouldn’t say it was my prettiest gift ever, but it was easy enough that I would do again… I might just try to colour coordinate the treats more… Or use fruit, or even all the same toe of candy…

Anyways I better get going… Still haven’t decorated the outside of the house for Halloween yet! 

5 Minute Watermelon Fruit Flan

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5 Minute Watermelon Fruit Flan

   

So I saw this picture on pinterest, and thought “we can do that” (which by the way, I think about almost everything I see on Pinterest) but the difference is we actually tried this one…. The boys were away all week at camp, and we thought they needed a special dessert to come home to.

We bought a plain shell from the grocery store, as well as some raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, chocolate chips, and vanilla pudding. I think you are supposed to use custard, but I couldn’t find it ready-made in the grocery store, and didn’t want to have to buy and make it from the powder, or scratch… So I thought vanilla pudding would work just as well!   

So, we cracked open two pudding cups and spread them around.   

Then we peeled and sliced some kiwi, and placed them nicely around the edge. It took two kiwis.   

Then we cut up strawberries and tried to place them so the skin was facing out.   

And we thought some raspberries would be yummy too, so we scattered them around.  

And we filled in the middle with strawberries.Then added chocolate chips for the seeds.      

The boys couldn’t tell that it was supposed to be a watermelon, but they were impressed anyways…I think it was easier to see the watermelon resemblance when it was sliced.    
And the most important thing was that it was yummy! 

Btw, I am just about finished the diningroom. Have also just redecorated Dylan’s room- working on a sports theme! Can’t wait to show you pics!

Yummy summer Pasta Salad

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Yummy summer Pasta Salad

it is our first year planting the garden in cedar boxes on the pool deck. Although we have a lot of space in our backyard, the pool deck is the only place where there is sun in the afternoon, and the only spot where the rabbits haven’t seem to have figured out yet….

So as you can see, most of the seeds I planted in the spring are doing really well… We will have a lot of tomatoes, cucucumbers and zucchini…

 

Every time I go out, we have a whole bunch of snow peas, ready to go! We have been eating them right off of the plant and steaming them, but sometimes they are a little tough or stringy. So, one of my favourite ways to eat them is in a pasta salad. Plus, we have so many visitors over the summer, I always keep a couple salads in the fridge just in case! 

 Start by cutting off the tops and bottoms, and getting rid of any of the stringy bits you can, then, cut them into smaller pieces, 4 or 5 pieces each. I love adding them to pasta salad because I find that even if they are a little stringy or chewy, the smaller pieces, in combination with the pasta makes it barely noticeable..

 One of my favourite herbs is dill, and I am lucky that is seems to really grow well in our garden. So I picked a handful and chopped it into little pieces too…  I didn’t do such a great job of taking photos, but this isn’t an incredibly complicated recipe. I cooked a couple cups of pasta, added a couple tablespoons of olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice, and tossed it all together with the snow peas.  

Then, I thought it needed some colour, so I added some red pepper…     

That’s it. I find that it makes the best pasta salad when you mix everything together when the pasta is still warm, and put it in the fridge to cool. But, I always taste it before serving, as it may need a little more oil and vinegar added before serving. Enjoy!