Monday, March 19, 2012

Nutella, Pecan and Candied Bacon Cookies

Well, this is it. All the things you love wrapped up in one cookie. Nutella is one of those things that I can't get enough of. I have been eating it since I was little and still can't stop. I found it challenging to actually get the Nutella into the cookie dough... but then I found a special trick! All you need to do is freeze little bits of Nutella on a cookie sheet before you make the cookies. Voila! Nutella chocolate chips.

I was going to just use normal bacon pieces in the cookies, but then my friend Ethan ( suggested I make candied bacon. Wow, it tasted amazing... thanks for the tip!

1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups four
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups Nutella chips
1 package of bacon
1 cup pecans

1. Drop small amounts of Nutella onto baking sheet and freeze for a few hours
2. Preheat oven to 325F. Cover each piece of bacon with brown sugar. Lay bacon on baking sheet in oven and bake for approx 20 minutes or until it is cooked through. Set aside to cool.
3. Preheat over to 350F
4. Cream together the butter, white sugar, brown sugar until smooth.
5. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then stir in the vanilla
6. Dissolve baking soda into hot water
7. Add to batter along with a dash of salt
8. Stir in flour, bacon and pecans (keep some out to add on top of each cookie if desired)
9. Stir in Nutella at end as it will melt quickly
10. Drop in large spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Monday, March 5, 2012

How To Bake Rainbow Cupcakes

After moving from Toronto to Vancouver last May, I am only able to make the trip back home once or twice a year. When I made my first trip back last summer, I decided to have a baking fun day with my 4 nieces and make rainbow cupcakes. I had made a rainbow cake in the past and it was a big hit with my new friends in Vancouver (now I'm officially the 'rainbow cake girl').

Since I was baking with 4 extremely impatient little ladies, I decided to use the good old pre-mixed cake batter. It works out well when you are working with kids and want to speed up the process. You can use any plain white/vanilla cake mix for this recipe. (I used 2 boxes) Or you can always use make the batter from scratch. For the cake I made, I used a coconut cake recipe and then topped it with a cream cheese coconut icing... so good!

Make sure you get the food colouring 'gels'. They are the only ones that give this vibrant colour. They can be found at Michaels Craft Store in Canada. Not sure about the US... 

The girls each had their own colour to mix up and pour into the muffin trays.

We made them like a real rainbow and went: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red.

Things got a little hard to manage at some points... "No Anna! Not the blue icing!"

Very careful! 

Messy, messy, messy, but fun!

When the cupcakes went in the oven, the girls pulled up chairs to watch them bake. SO cute.

Enjoying the finished cupcakes! I used whipped cream on top which was a good short term icing. For longer lasting cupcakes, use a nice vanilla icing on each one.

Happy Niece... (or "Stop taking our pictures Auntie Kate")

Sunday, March 4, 2012

World's Best Broccoli Salad

I have to admit that I have stolen this recipe from my favorite little lunch cafe in Whistler, BC. It is the best spot in Whistler to get homemade sandwiches, salad, burgers, baked goods, you name it. It's called Ingrids and I highly recommend trying it out. I absolutely love their veggie burgers, turkey burgers and salads. I once had this amazing broccoli salad and couldn't stop thinking about it for days. 

I flew back to Toronto (where I lived at the time) and was still thinking about it. I called them one day and begged for the recipe. They were nice enough to give me a rough outline of what was in it. I tried it and turned out really well! Here is the recipe, feel free to add in anything else!

- Broccoli
- Red Grapes
- Pecans
- Green Onions
- Butter
- Garlic
- Mayo 
- Vinegar
- Sugar
- Salt/Pepper

1. Cut up broccoli, green onions and grapes
2. Saute pecans in a hot skillet with butter and garlic
3. Mix sauce in a small bowl: Mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt/pepper
4. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and chill in fridge until ready to serve

This salad can be made with lots of dressing or very little. I tried it in the above photos with very little dressing. The ingredients are fresh and tasty that it doesn't need much dressing.


Spaghetti Squash with Chicken Meatballs

There is nothing better than a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs... but this comes close. It's a great substitute if you want to eat a yummy meal with less carbs and fat. As you can see, I'm a little obsessed with spaghetti squash - it works so well with almost any meal. The trick is to bake it the exact right amount, any longer and it will be a little mushy when prepared. It is hard to know the right amount of time, since all ovens vary in heat. I would just test it out every 10 min after 30 min to make sure it isn't getting overdone. Let me know how it goes!

Homemade Chicken Meatballs
Ground Chicken or Turkey
Bread crumbs
Italian seasoning
Pre heat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Roll into bite sized balls and lay out on baking sheet. Bake in the oven on 350 until they are cooked through.

Homemade Tomato Sauce
Fresh Garlic
Can of chopped tomatoes
Can of tomato paste
Carrots or other cut up veggies
Italian Seasoning
Saute onions and garlic in pan until browned. Mix in chopped up bacon (or any other veggies) and saute until cooked through. The bacon is Nathan's idea for extra flavour - leave out if you want to save the calories, but it does taste damn good :) Add in can of chopped tomatoes and tomato paste until desired consistency. Add in Italian Seasoning mix or fresh herbs. Add in meatballs and simmer until the rest of the meal is ready.

Flip over so they are face down when baking

Spaghetti Squash
Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and cut off both ends and then cut in half lengthwise. Remove all seeds and extra squash from middle. Place on baking tray face down for another 20-40 minutes depending on size of squash. Remove and test a piece with fork. Squash should easily peel off like spaghetti (hence the name!!!).