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Request for ideas [10 Feb 2011|12:31am]

Hi, all. I have a bit of a fun (I hope) question that I'm hoping you can help me with.

My baby's first birthday is in a few weeks. The theme is going to be "fairy kingdom." (I'll be making fairy wings for all the (kiddie) guests.) My mom is making the cake, which is a castle, pink, purple, and glittery.

I need help trying to figure out what to serve (besides cake, that is). I would like to be a bit creative and stick with the theme of the party, but I'm not coming up with anything. Any ideas?
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Cheesy Spinach-Pesto Bake [29 Nov 2010|08:47pm]

It's pretty quick to make (good if you are in the throes of PhD studies), and it has spinach in it, which not only is tasty but also makes you strong. Also cheese!

Recipe and More PicturesCollapse )

See more at The Cast-Iron Darling!
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Roasted Spatchcocked Chicken: A Grotesque Step-by-Step [13 May 2010|03:45pm]

The secret to delicious, perfectly cooked whole chicken is also a really fun word to say: Spatchcock. It either sounds like a sneeze or a foreign swear word. Or both. You do have to get a little down and dirty with your chicken, but look at the reward:

Look at all that delicious browned crispy chicken skin. Look at those roasted whole garlic cloves and red onions. Spy the roasty-toasty carrots hiding in the sides of the pan. You, too, can enjoy a roast chicken on a weeknight, and in about an hour from start to finish.

The secret is cutting out the backbone of the chicken and flattening it. This makes the chicken cook more quickly and more evenly, so you get a juicier breast without having underdone legs. That sounds like the cover of a glamour magazine. ANYWAYS. After you have spatchcocked your bird, the seasonings and accompanying vegetables are really up to you -- really, anything goes (within reason - I don't want any comments saying you tried it with chocolate sauce and marshmallow fluff and it didn't work and I'm a liar).

But if you want to make what I made, here's what you need:

One whole chicken
2 TBS olive oil
One red onion, cut into wedges
2 carrots, cut into sticks
One head of garlic, peeled but in whole cloves
1 lemon (or more if you like) cut in half
1 TBS honey
1 tsp coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp thyme (optional)

Your instructions and gruesome raw chicken photos are after the jump! But also some lovely roasty after shots - don't despair!

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See more at The Cast-Iron Darling!
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Salmon Tikka and Cucumber Yoghurt [28 Apr 2010|03:15pm]

If you are looking for a way to become friends with fish, this might be a good recipe for you. If you are already a fish enthusiast, then you're in luck too. The Indian spices, though not terribly hot, are so delicious - I'm sure there is a way to do this completely from scratch but I followed directions and bought a jar of Patak's Tandoori paste - if I hadn't made my own naan bread, this would have been a very quick, less than 30 minute meal. This recipe serves two.

You need:
- 1.5 c plain yoghurt
- 1/4 c minced red onion
- 1/2 c chopped cucumber
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 salmon fillets
- 3 TBS Patak's Tandoori paste
- 1 TBS oil
- 2 pieces of naan bread
- 1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro

First, prepare your yoghurt. This is a really nice, cool side that complements the spices on the fish really well. If you add some hot peppers to it, you will also get some bit. We are wimps though and don't abide by such things. Anyways, seed a half a cucumber, or a third if you have one of those giant long ones, and dice it finely. I left the skin on because I like it that way. Finely mince a about a quarter cup of red onion. Stir these, along with about a 1/2 tsp of ground cumin, into 1.5 cups of plain yoghurt. I used fat-free organic, but thick Greek style would be great too. Set this aside in the fridge.

If you are making your own naan, you want to start that well in advance, as the bread will have to rise etc. But if not, and you have purchased naan from your local Indian restaurant or from your grocery store, then you can move right on to the salmon portion of this dinner.

You need a couple of fillets of salmon - make sure the fish you are buying is sustainably fished in your part of the world. If you can't find salmon, red-fleshed trout works well too. Cut the fish into thirds lengthwise and leave the skin on. Brush the top and sides of each piece with the Tandoori paste - I used about 3 tablespoons total - maybe a little less. Don't put the brush back into the jar because you will get fishy things in your jar of paste and that is unsanitary.

At this point, bake your naan bread if you made your own, or start heating it up if you bought some. Heat up about a tablespoon of oil in a cast-iron pan, or other pan if you don't have a cast-iron one. But cast-iron is really the best. It should be on about medium or medium high depending on how hot your stove gets. Place the salmon pieces in the pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until the salmon turns opaque.

Give each person a warm naan bread, dollop some of the yoghurt on it, top with the salmon, and with some chopped cilantro if you are into cilantro. If not, that is sad but not your fault. You can fold up the sides and munch on it like a taco, or use a sophisticated knife and fork. Either way, enjoy!

See more at The Cast-Iron Darling!
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Delicious Steak + Shallot Butter [09 Mar 2010|01:50pm]

Technically this was our Valentine's Day dinner - we stayed at home and I cooked and M ran out to the tiny and excellent burger place on the corner to buy the best frites in the city and then we watched Alexandre Bilodeau win Canada's first gold medal on home soil at the Olympics.

Steak with shallot butter, green beans, and frites from Patati Patata

This was my first successful foray into cooking steak INSIDE. Mid-February is still winter here. (OR IT SHOULD BE!) At any rate, you can't get to a barbecue unless you are very determined and/or your barbecue is a lot closer to your back door than ours is. Also I think ours is broken. But as I discovered, inside steak is actually quite delicious - that's how they do them in restaurants, after all.

The trick is to try to replicate the serious heat a restaurant stove can kick out - a domestic stove just does not have the same kind of heat-producing capabilities. The other problem is that steak is expensive even at the grocery store. Thanks to the combination of two pieces of sage advice from two well-known stores of wisdom, YOU TOO CAN COOK DELICIOUS STEAK AT HOME. Just have one person on hand to wave a towel at the smoke detector - it gets a little smokey.

Delicious Steak!Collapse )

See more at The Cast-Iron Darling!
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Curried Turkey Burgers [15 Feb 2010|08:05pm]


Is it summer yet?

Can I grill things outside? Can I have a burger? Please?

1. Not yet.
2. Not really.
3 & 4. Yes! Yes you may have a burger!

These are some scrumptious burgers from a truly scrumptious magazine. Did you know that the LCBO (the Liquor Control Board of Ontario) has a magazine? Did you know that you can get a subscription?* Both of these things are true. Along with some excellent drink recipes and ideas, the LCBO food magazine has some seriously tasty recipes. And gorgeous pictures to boot! This edition has a whole section on winter burgers, which was perfect because I really had a yearning for a good burger, but it is still far from grilling season.

These are anything but boring burgers. The Indian spices are a bit hit in this house, and this recipe was no exception. The chutney topping was also a nice touch. ENOUGH TALK! RECIPE!

GIMME!Collapse )

See more at The Cast-Iron Darling!
4 comments|post comment

Cherry-Peach Crisp [09 Aug 2009|08:36am]


Cherry-Peach Crisp

Ingredients :

2 cups Quaker oatmeal
2 cans Peach pie filling
2 cans Cherry pie filling
1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 stick melted butter (unsalted.)
1 and 1/2 Tsp. all-purpose flour.
1 tsp. cinnamon



Yummy....................Collapse )


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[02 Jun 2009|05:15pm]

Thought I'd share a simple recipe for one of my favourite salads! Enjoy =]

- maroon leaf lettuce
- romaine lettuce
- butter-head lettuce
- green iceberg lettuce
- cucumbers
- green peppers
- tomatoes
- roasted garlic croutons
- Renee's spring herb Italian dressing
- grated marble cheese

Making the Salad!
1) wash and chop all veggies in whatever proportions you like
2) put all the veggies and croutons in a large bowl
3) toss and drizzle the dressing
4) top it off with grated cheese

And TA DA! *snaps this picture*
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Basic Bread Recipe [22 Apr 2009|04:24pm]

this is a really basic bread recipe which is really versatile and has no funny additives. i like to add basil and tomato paste or seeds.
herbs and seeds are added to dry ingredients and wet ingredients like tomato paste should be added just before second proving.

3 1/3 cups of plain/all purpose flour
2 teaspoons/1 sachet of yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/5 cups warm water (don't let it be hot as it will kill the yeast)

Mix together all dry ingredients and stir to have a even mix. make a well in the centre and slowly add water and stir.
put on a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. grease the mixing bowl with oil/butter nad put the dough back in and coat in the oil/butter, cover with a teatowel and put in a draught free place, for 45-75 minutes to prove (rise). once it's doubled in size punch the dough in the centre and knead again for 2-3 minutes. put in a bread tin and cover again and put out again to prove for 30 mins. brush it with water or oil/butter and place in the oven at 200'C/400'F for half an hour. once you take it out of the oven take it out of the tin immediately so it doesn't go soggy.

take a look at my journal if you want more indepth instructions or photos to see the change in dough size after the first proving
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[11 Apr 2009|12:14pm]

(huge apologies for the xposting)

it can be one of the most rewarding and ego boosting experiences to make your own sauces from scratch. it's also a brilliant way to procrastinate and avoid cleaning, studying or brushing your cats teeth. i should know, i avoid doing all of those things.
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the other important thing to mention here is that there are no "must have" ingredients apart from the tomatoes. i was raised with a very particular cooking style which involved the motto "if it's in the fridge, chuck it in". any veges you have lying around and especially those that look like they might start petitioning for fridge citizenship any day soon can get thrown in.

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  • tomato paste you dont need much but i chuck the whole jar in so i can use the jar for sauce.
  • tomatoes i go for 2 810g cans of tomatoes.
  • olive oil
  • herbs i use oregano, basil, paprika, salt, pepper, and the mystery jars that have no labels, sometimes curry powders or garam masala, cinnamon or nutmeg (in small quantities, it's got a pretty strong flavour). if you want to get creative chuck in some pine nuts. they can be expensive if you go using a whole box so i only chuck in a hand-full or so. but they add texture and make it a bit ... festive.
  • garlic chuck in however much you  want. depending on how much you want to chop. i go for a whole bulb but even 4 cloves will do. it also depends on how much you want to taste it i guess
  • onions at least one but again, as many as you want. i tend to put in all my onions since its common for me to forget i have them and have to throw them out when they go all manky.
  • other vegetables i throw in anything that has to get used before it starts to grow legs. but i can suggest olives, mushrooms, zucchini, tomato chunks, celery, carrots, capers, corn. seriously. ANYTHING.
  • stock i use some vegetable stock an a meat stock, either beef or chicken, either OR neither will do depending on whether you're going for a non/meat version. with meat stock in, it means you get meat flavour without putting any meat in. meat can be pretty expensive so its a good way to get around spending more money.
  • water this is going to be one of those important ingredients that you tend to forget about. just keep a mug of water handy. you'll need it.
  • some music and a drink to pass the time

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here are a few shots of the pot at different stages of cooking. notice the line at the top of the pot that shows how much i let it boil away and then refill with water to the top of that big tomato smear. also notice how much splashy mess you're in for.if you want to see them bigger for detail just click on the picture :)

i tend to let it cook for 3 to 5 hours so this is why i recommend music and using the time to clean. as long as you have the heat low and keep coming back to stir and check on it, you'll be ok to leave the kitchen.

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here you can see the sauce being poured into the jar and how splattery it is and the jar being topped up with olive oil to help it live longer

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Pork Shoulder Ideas [18 Mar 2009|08:33am]

I have a pork shoulder and a crockpot.

Any ideas or favorite recipies for me?
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Adventures in the Kitchen: Pork Tenderloin [10 Feb 2009|01:49pm]

[ mood | full ]

This is a dish that my mom has perfected and it's one of my favorite things. It's a family recipe so everything's up to taste. But this is Pork Tenderloin with a yummy-type of sesame sauce.

recipeCollapse )

For more photos: click here.

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Braised Scallops over Spinach Chive Linguine [07 Feb 2009|08:18pm]

This is what's cooking tonight!

with steamed spinach and a grating of Parrano cheese
cooking closeupsCollapse )

One thawed package of Trader Joes Frozen Sea Scallops (or a dozen fresh if you can get them)
tablespoon of minced garlic
3 tblspns butter

Trader Joes Spinach Chive Linguine
Steam-in-bag spinach

Pat dry the scallops on a paper towel, reserving the liquid they came in.
Melt butter over high, add garlic, brown slightly turn to medium
add scallops and cook over medium heat turning carefully as they cook.

This is a slow caramelizing process that takes probably about 10 min.
When done, add the reserved liquid and turn to low

Cook linguine, drain and rinse. Toss with a little olive oil
Steam spinach in bag as per directions

Serve everything, sprinkle with fresh lemon juice, salt if desired, and grated Parrano cheese.

(6 each for two people, or four each for three people)
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Chocolate Whirls [07 Feb 2009|05:03pm]


2 more pictures & recipeCollapse )
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Sweet Potato and Parmesan Fries [28 Jan 2009|01:24pm]

[ mood | hungry ]

So I love sweet potatoes and someone posted this recipe on Twitter and I had to try it! Yum.

recipeCollapse )

For more photos click here.

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Carrot cake recipe? [26 Jan 2009|10:09pm]

[ mood | hopeful ]

I discovered the other day that my fiance--who has always claimed carrot cake as his favorite food--has NEVER eaten homemade carrot cake! Insane, right? I'd really like to bake him homemade carrot cake this weekend, but I don't have any trusted family recipes to rely on. Would any of you be willing to share your favorite carrot cake recipes? I would be really grateful (and he might well be ETERNALLY grateful). Nothing too adventurous, and inexpensive ingredients preferred :-)

Thank you!

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Lemon Blueberry Bread [26 Jan 2009|10:27pm]


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2 questions... [22 Jan 2009|10:10am]

I have two questions for you all today.

1. I purchased a tub of Smart Balance (butter substitute last night and forgot to put it away before bed. I put it in the fridge as soon as I noticed... it's unopened and was out for about 11-12 hours. Do you think it's still safe to use?

2. I recently purchased some mini pie-pans and I'm not sure how to use them. I bought them because my husband loves little meat pies and such and I was hoping to recreate them for him. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to use them? What to use as crust... filling recipes, etc.?

Thanks a lot!

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Spiral Cookies [20 Jan 2009|09:43pm]


2 more pictures & recipeCollapse )
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[12 Jan 2009|03:15pm]

[ mood | optimistic ]

For the base:
2 tbsp of sugar
1/8 tsp of ground cinnamon
9 smashed graham crackers
1 stick of melted butter
Grease the bottom and sides of 9X9 pan with butter. Mix sugar, cinnamon, and graham crackers until its bread crumb like. Add the melted butter and stir until fully incorporated. Pour in the the baking pan and pat it evenly in place. Bake for 12 mins then set aside to cool

16 ounces of cream cheese
2 eggs
one lemon worth of lemon juice (with zest if preferred)
1/2 cup of sugar (eyeball it)
1 container of blue berries
Mix cream chese, eggs, lemon juice and or zest, and sugar. Mix until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooled base and then cover with blue berries. They will sink about half way but will otherwise be exposed. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes at 325 degrees. Bake until puffed but slightly jiggly.

Preheat: 325
Cook time: 35 - 40 mins




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