Welcome to my Cooking Blog

Join me as I traverse my way through recipes for meals and desserts, and a whole host of other things in the world of cuisine.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Blue Cheese and Red Potato Tart

Wow, almost a year since I blogged here!  Lots has happened in the year that I've been gone, but I guess the big news is that my husband and I have separated.  We had been having issues for a while, but unfortunately, we couldn't work through them, and so the decision was made to separate just under 3 months ago.  It hasn't been easy, but I've been throwing myself into cooking, and trying new recipes out, and this one, is one of my all time favourites!

This blue cheese and Red Potato tart is like a quiche, with a flaky bottom crust.  The Potatoes, cheese, and cream marry so so well together, its rich without being heavy, the blue cheese is strong and creamy without being overpowering, and every bite is a taste of Heaven.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Peach Vanilla Jam

It's that time of year now, where Peaches are ripe, (or ripening if your weather is like ours here in Western Canada).  I LOVE peaches in any way, shape, or form, except for Canned.  They're so versatile, and can be used in so so many ways.  

There are many recipes out there for luscious peach desserts, but I wanted to try something that's a little less, well, ordinary.  Hunting around, I hit pay-dirt (or peach gold if you're inclined that way).  Peach Vanilla Jam.  As soon as I saw it, I KNEW I had to try it!  It looked AMAZING!  Gorgeous golden orange jam, with tiny flecks of black in it from the Vanilla seeds. 

It did take me a while to make this.  I'm really not very adept at peeling fresh peaches, even with the boiling water/ice water method.  But luckily, this is a small batch of Jam, so it didn't take me hours - well, not THAT many anyway :p  I repeat once again, this is a small batch, but the recipe CAN be doubled or even tripled to preserve for use later.  I stuck with the small batch, because well, how was I to know how it would turn out?

It turned out amazingly well.  This is now my go-to Jam when I do Cream Teas.  The jam blends perfectly with the clotted cream, and the cream scones recipe, also on my website.  It looks pretty and tastes just amazing!  The hint of Vanilla really adds to the flavour of  the fresh peaches.  My only complaint?  It didn't set quite as well as I'd hoped.  The recipe relies on the seeds of a whole Lemon, and a couple tablespoons of Lemon Juice instead of the traditional pectin, but even so, you may find you have better luck than I did.  So, onwards.


  • 2lbs ripe fresh peaches (about 8 small peaches) peeled and cut into small chunks.
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice and all the seeds of a whole lemon
  • 1tbsp vanilla bean paste, or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pat of butter
  • Small piece of cheesecloth and string.

Have the container or Jars you'll be refrigerating your jam in clean and handy.

Prepare peaches and juice a fresh lemon, reserving all the lemon seeds.  Place all the lemon seeds into the square of cheesecloth, and form into a pouch, securing with string.

Place prepared peaches, sugar, vanilla bean paste, 2 Tbsp. of the fresh lemon juice, a pinch of salt, a pat of butter and the pouch of lemon seeds into a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat. If you like, you can mash your peaches with a potato masher at this point, to break up any large pieces. Lower heat slightly and continue to cook, stirring regularly, until it reaches the gel point (224° F. on a candy thermometer). This will take around 10 minutes or so. Alternately, if you don't have a thermometer, you can place a saucer into the freezer when you start preparing your jam. When you want to test if it has reached the gel point, remove from the freezer and place a small puddle of jam onto the cold saucer. With your spoon, push against the middle of the puddle of jam. If it "wrinkles" and leaves a path when you run your spoon through it, it's ready. If it doesn't (it's still liquid, runs back together after running your spoon through it), cook a little longer and test again until it does. REMOVE LEMON SEED POUCH AND DISCARD before putting jam in jars.

Spoon hot jam into prepared jar(s) or container(s). Allow to cool slightly, cover with lids then refrigerate immediately. Jam can also be frozen in freezer jam containers. *Do not store at room temperature unless you have used properly sterilized jars and sealed via a hot water bath.
If you want to preserve your jam for longer storage at room temperature, a hot-water bath sealing method is required to remove any air in the jars and to ensure proper jar sealing.

 You MUST try this people!  Right, I'm off to make scones

Till next time, keep on cookin'!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summer is coming ...

Summer is almost here ... you know what that means folks?  Ice cream!

Just about everyone I know is a fan of Ice cream, and lets face it, who isn't?  What's not to like about a dripping spoonful of frozen cream being raised to your mouth, then passing your lips,where the frozen cream sits on your tongue, and sends delightful shivers down your spine as you swallow?  Okay, I'll stop now.

In all seriousness, I've always wanted to try my own hand at Ice Cream, but I thought, if you didn't have an ice cream maker that you were pretty much screwed.  All that talk about churning and remixing and freezing were enough to put me off even checking out recipes.  Last week, I decided I'd had enough.  I had to just check out some recipes.  I am SO glad I did!  In our freezer now, sits the remains of a tub of Vanilla Ice Cream, a Peach and Honey Ice Cream, and I currently have a batch of cookies and cream Ice cream freezing as we speak.

I'm going to share the Cookies and Cream Ice cream recipe with you today.  All of the ones I've made so far were made without an Ice cream Maker.  I don't have one, and now I know I don't actually NEED one, I don't have to waste the money right?  However, if you DO have one, these recipes are perfect for the Ice cream maker too.  Just mix the recipe together, pour it into the machine, and follow your manufacturers instructions.  It really is THAT simple folks.

If you're like me, and you don't have an ice cream maker, read on ...


  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 cups Heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 cup crushed Oreo Cookies

Whisk eggs till they are light and fluffy. 
Stir in sugar gradually, then whisk again for at least 1 minute.
Add milk, cream and Vanilla and stir until completely mixed.
Pour the mixture into an airtight container (I use plastic) and place in the FRIDGE for one hour.
Remove from the fridge and place in the FREEZER for 30 minutes.
Remove the mixture from the freezer, the edges should have started to thicken.  Scrape the edges with a fork or spatula, then beat with an electric mixer to break up the ice crystals.
Place the mixture back in the freezer, wait 40 minutes, then remove and repeat the step above.
Repeat the '40 minute freeze, then beat' cycle three times.  This should total 2 1/2 hours of freezing.
After beating for the last time, add in the crushed Oreos, stir to mix, then place back in the freezer till fully frozen. 

The freezing time will vary depending on your freezer, but generally it takes between 3-5 hours.  I usually make my ice cream in the late afternoon, then leave it to freeze fully overnight.  Then I'll take it out of the freezer a couple of minutes before I serve it, just to let it soften up slightly.  After trying out the recipes I've done in the last week, I'll never buy store ice cream again.  It's simpler, cheaper, and much tastier to make your own at home.  Simply, mix, freeze, beat, then scoop and enjoy.

Till next time, keep on cookin'!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Another long absence.  I really do deserve a slap I know, but I'm hoping that with this recipe, you'll forgive me, because well, who can resist cupcakes?  Not only that, who can resist GOOD cupcakes?  Not me!  And trust me people, these are GOOD!  Oh boy are they good!  They come out an amazing deep red color, they're moist, they're soft, and oh so delicious!  Paired with a Chocolate Cream Cheese frosting, they are sinfully good!

They do use red food coloring, but if you don't like using food coloring, you can use Beet juice, or if you use unprocessed light cocoa, you can leave out the food dyes altogether, and they'll come out a warm red/brown color.  Most people prefer a Cream Cheese, or Vanilla frosting, because the white color of the frosting shows up the red color of the cupcakes so well, but me, I prefer Chocolate.

I made these the other day after that oh so familiar itch to bake something hit me again, and they were a huge hit.  In fact, as I prepped dinner last night, Mr Andy came to me and said 'I have to tell you something ... those cupcakes are the best cupcakes I have EVER had.'  Then he added that he NEVER gets jazzed over cupcakes.  High praise indeed, and it made me very happy!  I'm making them again today, and this time, it's our building manager and office worker who gets to experience the flavor explosion.  Just because I'm nice like that :p


  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened.
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar.
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk*
  • 1 fluid Ounce Red Food Coloring
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tbsp White Distilled Vinegar
  • 2 cups all purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Tsp Salt.

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees F.   Grease two muffins tins, or line with 20 paper cups.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar using an electric mixer, till light and fluffy. Mix in the Eggs, Buttermilk, Red Food Coloring, and Vanilla.

In a small bowl, combine the Vinegar and Baking Soda.  This will fizz, so don't use a shallow bowl.  Then add to the mixture, and stir in.

Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt, stir into the mixture till just blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.  Before placing in the oven, take a spoon and using the back of it, run it across the top of the mixture in each cup to smooth it out a little bit.  This will ensure they rise uniformly and help to prevent any 'explosions' as I call it, where the tops of the cupcakes crack.

Bake in the oven till the tops spring back lightly when lightly pressed, or till a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 20 - 25 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 15 - 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

When completely cooled, frost the cupcakes with your desired frosting, and arrange on a serving platter.

**If you don't have buttermilk, you can make a substitute by pouring a cup of milk and adding a Tablespoon of White Distilled Vinegar, or Lemon juice.  Let stand for 5 - 10 minutes before using.**

Till next time, keep on cookin'!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Scones

Again, I apologize for my absence - I had some PC issues when a virus made it past my Antivirus, and eventually I came to the realization that I was going to have to reformat.  But no matter, all is fixed (at least well enough for me to use the internet) and I'm back.

This afternoon, I had that familiar itch to bake.  It's getting to be a regular thing, this itch, and so I just had to scratch it.  The result?  Chocolate Chip Scones.  These aren't true scones in the sense that they're round.  The dough for this is shaped into a round and then cut into wedges before going in the oven.  These are yummy, light and fluffy,they rose very well, and they have chocolate in them ... and what isn't good with chocolate in it??  Anyway, the recipe ....


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces.
  • 1/2 cup milk or semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries (Optional)
  • 1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract.
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C.

In a large bowl, whisk together the Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Salt.  Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture using fingers, a pastry cutter or two knives till the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the chocolate chips/chunks, and the dried cherries.

In a small measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and vanilla extract, then add to the flour mixture.  Stir just until the dough comes together.  Add more flour or buttermilk if needed.  Do NOT over mix the dough!

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times.  Pat the dough into a circle that is about seven inches round, and 1 1/2 inches thick.  Cut this circle in half, and then cut each half into four pie shaped wedges (triangles.)  Place the scones on a baking sheet and brush the tops gently with a little milk.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

***A note about Buttermilk.  If you don't have any, you can make your own.  Just add a tablespoon of white distilled Vinegar, Cider Vinegar, or lemon juice to a cup of milk.  Let it stand for 5-10 minutes before using.***

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chocolate Mousse

The hubby and I visited my favourite British Import Store this weekend, as I was out of Teabags.  I don't like Orange Pekoe tea, and unfortunately, that's mostly what the stores sell here in Canada.  So, we pay ridiculous prices for what I call 'English' teabags.  Luckily, the hubby doesn't complain.  He's such a sweetheart. 

Anyway, while we were there, I caught sight of a package of Strawberry Angel Delight.  This is a packaged dessert sold in the UK that's whisked together with milk to form a pudding or a mousse.  My mother used to make this for myself and my sister when we were kids, so I impulsively added a package to our purchases.  I guess I wanted to see if it tasted as good as I remembered.

I made it up for dessert that night, and it really DID taste as good as I remembered.  Both the hubby and my friend enjoyed it too.  But I got to thinking this morning about making my own.  Packaged dessert mixes just about always contain ingredients that aren't all that good for you.  I went hunting through the fridge and came across a pack of Semi Sweet Chocolate I'd bought a week or so back for a cake that I ended up not making.  The first thought through my head was 'Ooooh, Chocolate Mousse!'  A quick check online to ensure I had all the necessary ingredients, and off I went.

Chocolate Mousse is SO easy to prepare!  I didn't realize just HOW easy.  While it's sitting in my fridge, being chilled ready for dessert after dinner this evening, I confess to having tried a sneaky teaspoon of it, just to see.  Well, it's being served to guests - I had to check it right?  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!  Anywho, it tastes just LUSH!  It's creamy, it's chocolaty, and it's so so good!!  There is NO excuse for not making this people!  None at all!  Unless you don't like Chocolate, and lets face it, who DOESN'T like chocolate??


  • 1/4 cup. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. rum
  • 4 oz. chocolate (Squares or Chips)
  •  2 cups. whipping cream 
  • 2 egg whites
Dissolve 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons rum in saucepan. Don't let it brown.  With double boiler, melt chocolate. Stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons un-whipped whipping cream. Remove from heat, add sugar/rum mixture. Stir until smooth. Let cool.   Whip stiff 2 egg whites. Take cooled mixture and fold egg whites into chocolate. Let set while whipping 2 cups whipping cream.  Fold chocolate egg white mixture into whipped cream. Place into dishes. Cool for at least 2 hours, but not more than 24 hours.

While the directions say to place into dishes, I put mine into a big one.  That way, I can serve as much or as little as each individual would like.  If I'd set it into Ramekins, I'd still have had to use the bigger dish anyway to place the remainder into.  This mousse looks and tastes very very good.  I can't wait to serve it up!

Till next time, keep on cookin'!

Lemon Chocolate Chip Muffins.

With the stash of Lemons sitting in my fridge, I began to think about how I could use them up, rather than just making Lemonade.  Then it hit me.  I'd bought some milk chocolate chips earlier in the week and decided to do Lemon chocolate chip muffins.  I just used a basic Chocolate Chip muffin recipe and adapted it slightly to add the lemon to it.

These muffins turned out extremely well!  The lemon flavour was light, not overpowering, and mixed with the chocolate SOOO well!  They were light and fluffy, and decidedly moreish!  I think the only change I'll make next time is to top the muffins with a lemon syrup once they've cooled for a light crispy coating on top.


  • 4 cups flour (or 1/2 cup more, if needed)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 7 tsps baking powder
  • 3/4 cup margarine (at room temperature)
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 2 tsps vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups of Chocolate Chips (I used Milk Chocolate, but use whatever your favourites are)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice.
Combine dry ingredients with pastry blender, cut in margarine. In another bowl, beat eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and milk together until frothy. Pour into dry mixture and stir just until blended. Do not over mix. Gently fold in chocolate chips.Spoon into paper baking cups in muffin pan almost to the top. Bake at 400F for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool and enjoy.

Makes 24 large muffins

Till next time, keep on cookin'!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Frozen Mint Lemonade.

Today was a wonderful Spring day, one of the first ones we've had.  It was 15 degrees, with clear blue sunny skies, one of those kind of days that make you want to head to the Garden Centre.  So that's exactly what the hubby and I did.

I was looking for a Cactus to replace the one I had till a couple of years ago, one that I could put on my dining room table.  Unfortunately, the ones they had just weren't to my liking, which I was a little disappointed about.  However, the selection of herbs caught my eye instead.  I used to grow Herbs back when I lived in the UK, and the hubby and I had a planter out on the patio where we live now until a couple of years ago too, we grew Parsley and Oregano in there. 

This time we opted for Oregano again, and two different types of Mint.  English Mint, and Chocolate Mint.  Of course, after getting them home and settled in their pots, I came looking for something I could use Mint in, besides a Mint Sauce/Jelly for Lamb and Pork.  Instead, I came across a recipe for a Frozen Mint Lemonade.  I made it just an hour or so ago, when Andy swung by for a while.  While the recipe is non alcoholic, I added two travel size bottles of Vodka to it in the blender.

My first sip brought the exclamation 'Holy Aunt of Betty Crocker!' to my lips.  People, this is GOOD!  Andy and the hubby said it's like a Mojita, and I have to agree.  It's tangy, not too sweet, with a clear taste of mint, yet it's not overpowering.  It cleanses the Palate, and of course, it freshens the breath too lol.  I can't wait for those warm summer evenings, sitting on the patio with one of these (or three!) watching the sun go down.  Heck, I may even get myself a flask and take a batch on a picnic too!  Yes, it's really THAT good!  I'd have NO problem serving this up to friends!


  • ½ cup fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ⅓ cup packed fresh mint leaves.
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 3 cups ice cubes, cracked if they're large.


Blend lemon juice, sugar, and mint leaves in a blender until leaves are finely chopped and sugar is dissolved. Add water and enough ice cubes to fill blender, then blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Till next time, keep on cookin'!