You had me at Bacon, Beer, and Cheddar Dip!

There is nothing better than a good dip.  I am always on the search for easy and impressive dips to bring to parties and gatherings with family and friends.  This easy dip only takes four ingredients, and less than 10 minutes to prepare.  It was a big hit at a friend’s 30th birthday party today, and I will definitely be making this one again.

Cheesy Bacon Ranch Dip

Ingredients:
• 2 (8oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
• 1/4 cup creamy ranch dressing
• 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
• 1/2 cup beer (I used Miller Lite)*
• 3/4 cup cooked & chopped bacon

Method:
In a large bowl, mix cream cheese and ranch dressing using an electric mixer or stand mixer until smooth and creamy.
Mix in your favorite beer until combined.
Add in shredded cheese.
Add chopped bacon and mix until combined.
Place dip in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. Top with additional shredded cheese and chopped bacon. Serve with crackers, pretzels, and potato chips.
* You can use any beer you like.

Whip 2 blocks of cream cheese until fluffy.

Mix in Ranch dressing.

Mix in beer.

Mix in 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese.

Crumble up crisp cooked bacon.

Mix in the bacon.

Mix everything evenly.

Put in a serving bowl and chill for at least an hour.

Obviously I had to run some quality control…it passed the test. OMG it was delicious.

Garnish with more cheese and bacon before serving.

Serve with crackers, pretzels and chips!

Serve with crackers, pretzels and chips!

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Copycat Starbucks Oat Fudge Bars

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I love Starbucks.  It’s my favourite.  Everything about it feels just a little bit decadent, like I’m treating myself…EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Darren hates my Starbucks habit, and really, with good reason.  A Oprah chai tea and an oat fudge bar will set you back about $8.  That’s CRAZY expensive.  I had seen copycat recipes all over the internet, but none of them tasted just right, so I played around a little bit, and came up with this recipe.  I think it’s spot on.  I’m even thinking about buying one from Starbucks, and getting someone to do a blind taste test for me!  Try it, and let me know what you think!

So here goes…sorry about the lack of step by step pictures.  I didn’t really think I would hit it so close last night, and so I didn’t properly document.  Its pretty straightforward, however.

Oat Fudge Bars

Ingredients:
• 1 c. butter
• 2 eggs
• 2 c. brown sugar
• 1/3 c. milk
• 2 tsp. vanilla
• 2 ½ c. flour
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 1 tsp. salt
• 3 c. oatmeal
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt together:
• 1 can sweetened condensed milk (I used the low fat Eagle Brand version)
• 1/3 c. butter
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used the PC decadent chips)

Method:
• Mix the butter, eggs and brown sugar.
• Add vanilla and milk.
• Slowly incorporate the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix well. I used my hand mixer, but it is quite a thick mixture.
• Spread 3/4 of the oat mixture on the bottom of a greased 13×9 pan.
• Pour chocolate mixture over top and spread.

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• Then spread the rest of the oat mixture on top in spoonfuls (won’t cover completely, but leaves cool designs).
• Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. The top can get done before it’s completely cooked, so you can put aluminum foil over it for the last five or so minutes of baking if it looks like it is browning too much.
• Let cool, otherwise it won’t set and will just run when you cut into it.

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Let’s be honest, we couldn’t wait for it to cool last night, and ate it when it was set enough, but still warm and gooey.  DELICIOUS.

The Best Banana Muffins You Will EVER Eat!

It has been awhile!  Life got busy!  We bought a new house with an amazing kitchen, my dream kitchen in fact, and I can’t wait for July to cook and bake my summer away in my new kitchen!  But the past few months have been a blur of keeping our current home in a clean and pristine state for showings, my return to work after a year maternity leave, and trying to balance life as a working mom of two beautiful children. I’m still experimenting in the kitchen constantly, but haven’t taken the time to share any of it with you.

My comeback had to be this recipe, as I make it every single weekend.  These muffins take minutes to prepare, but are absolutely delicious.  Try them out and you won’t be disappointed.

Start with very ripe bananas, you get the best taste if your bananas are starting to get brown and soft.  You’ll need about 4-5 medium bananas per batch.

Ripe bananas are key

Peel the bananas and break them into pieces into your mixing bowl.

Mash your bananas.  Sometimes I use a hand masher (like you would use for mashed potatoes), and sometimes I use my hand mixer.

Get your bananas to a nice smooth consistency.  Add your sugar and eggs, and continue to beat.  Then add in your melted butter and beat a little bit more.

I like to switch over to a wooden spoon when I add and mix in my dry ingredients.

At this point, you can leave the batter as is and pour into lined muffin tins.  I like to add some extras.  A favourite in our house is frozen wild blueberries or chocolate chips.  I’ve also beaten in a tablespoonful or two of peanut butter for a kick of flavour.  Lots of options.  All of them yummy.

Spoon your batter into lined muffin tins.  One batch makes about 12 muffins.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven after 20 minutes, or once they are browned.  Today I also made some mini muffins (without the chocolate chips) for Hunter to eat for snacks.

Best Banana Muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups mashed bananas (4-5 medium)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup chocolate chips or blueberries (optional)

Method:
• Mash bananas. Add sugar and slightly beaten egg.
• Add the melted butter and mix.
• Add the dry ingredients and mix.
• Add in chocolate chips or blueberries and mix.
• Fill lined (or greased) muffin tin and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

* Yields – 12 medium muffins

You will never buy Mayonnaise again!

Have you ever read the ingredients on the mayonnaise you buy from the grocery store?  There is a lot of stuff that kind of makes me feel gross when I read it.  I know mayonnaise in general is probably not the healthiest choice, but let’s be real, it’s delicious.  What if I told you that you could make your own mayonnaise in less than 5 minutes with much healthier, more natural ingredients?  You probably wouldn’t believe me.  But it can be done and it tastes SO good that you will never buy it from the grocery store again.

Store bought mayo ingredients

Store bought mayo ingredients

 

HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED FOR A BASIC MAYONNAISE:

Equipment:

  • 1 glass jar, which you will use to both make and store the mayo. Make sure that you use a tall, narrow jar with an opening that’s just wide enough to accommodate your immersion blender. I used a 500ml Mason jar like the one in the pictures.
  • An immersion blender. That’s the magic tool that will make your mayonnaise come together.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 egg (large or extra large)
  • 1 c. Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil (must be light tasting, full flavour is way too strong tasting for mayonnaise)
  • The juice of half a lemon or lime (about 2-3 tsp.)
  • A generous pinch of salt
everything you need

everything you need

 

Method: 

First, crack your egg into the jar (it can be used right from the fridge, doesn’t have to be room temperature).

Crack egg into jar

Crack egg into jar

 

Next, add your lime (or lemon) juice and a pinch of salt.

Pour in a cup of light tasting olive oil and let sit for a minute or two so that the egg settle back to the bottom of the jar.

pour in the oil

pour in the oil

 

let the egg settle back to the bottom

let the egg settle back to the bottom

 

Insert your immersion blender and push it all the way to the bottom of the jar.

insert blender and push to the bottom

insert blender and push to the bottom

 

Push the power button and do not move the blender for a full 20 seconds.

hold the blender on without moving for 20 seconds

hold the blender on without moving for 20 seconds

 

You will see the magic start to happen almost instantly!

The mayonnaise will start climbing to the top of the jar.

climbing mayo

climbing mayo

 

After 20 seconds, the mayonnaise will be almost all the way to the top. Now you want to slowly start raising the blender until you get to the very top.  Do not take it completely out though, or you might send mayonnaise flying all over the place.

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Continue blending for a few more seconds, moving the blender around slightly to make sure all of the oil is mixed in.

Get all the oil blended in

Get all the oil blended in

 

And there you have it.  Delicious, creamy, healthy(ish) mayonnaise.  Easy, right?

Yum!

Yum!

 

Put the lid on your jar and store it in the fridge like you would store bought.  This seriously won’t last you long.  You’ll be looking for excuses to eat mayonnaise!

We mix in garlic, lemon, and dill to dip sweet potato fries in.  Darren likes to mix in some horseradish and use it on a sandwich.  The possibilities are endless.

creamy goodness

creamy goodness

 

Chop and Drop Roasted Veggies and Sausage

This is a regular dinner staple in our house, we have it once a week for sure.  I’d have it everyday if I could, it’s just that delicious.

It’s pretty much a “chop and drop” meal that takes minimal preparation, but leaves you with a hearty meal.  The bonus is this meal is grain free and is great if you are following a paleo way of eating.

I start by cutting up sausage links into 4 or 5 pieces (I used a package or about a pound of sausages) and frying the pieces in a frying pan.  You can use whatever brand of sausage you like.  I prefer to use the homemade sausages that my dad makes, but when we run out, I like to use the Sobey’s brand sausages in spicy Italian.

Frying up the sausage

Frying up the sausage

While the sausages are frying, I start chopping up my vegetables.  I like to use a red pepper, sometimes yellow or orange as well for colour (depending on what is in my fridge), a sweet onion, carrots, sweet potato, and some type of tart apple.

Yellow pepper...

Yellow pepper…

...red pepper...

…red pepper…

...onions, carrots, sweet potatoes...

…onions, carrots, sweet potatoes…

...tart apple...

…tart apple…

You could add any number of other vegetables, brussel sprouts, beets, parsnips, etc.  Pretty much anything that tastes good roasted.

Once the veggies are chopped, I toss them with a very liberal amount of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, pepper, and a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon.  You could leave out the cinnamon, and use rosemary, or other savoury spices.  I just really like the combination of the apples, sweet potatoes and cinnamon.

Toss in EVOO, salt, pepper, and seasoning

Toss in EVOO, salt, pepper, and seasoning

Spread the vegetables out into a 9×14 glass or ceramic baking dish.  You want to have a single-ish layer in the baking dish, otherwise the veggies won’t soften up and roast well.

Once the sausages are browned (if they’re not fully cooked, don’t worry too much as they will continue cooking in the oven), spread them out on top of the veggies in the baking dish.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Pop the whole dish into the oven at 375 degrees for about 45-60 minutes, until the vegetable are soft and starting to brown.  Make sure you turn the veggies and sausage twice during cooking.  Pull it out of the oven and enjoy the smell!

Yummy!

Yummy!

Serve.  The beauty of this dish is you don’t really need any sides if you don’t want to have any.  Be ready for the compliments.  They’ll just keep coming.

I always make enough so that I have a fair amount of leftovers.  I really like how this tastes the next day as the flavours have even more time to meld together.  My favourite breakfast these days consists of this dish reheated with some soft cooked fried eggs on top.  AMAZING.

Breakfast for the next day!

Breakfast for the next day!

Ingredients

    • 1 package (or about 1 lb) of your favourite sausage links – cut into 1-inch long sections
    • 2 sweet potatoes cut into 2-inch chunks
    • 2 medium-size carrots, chopped into small rounds
    • 1 red pepper (or yellow, or orange), cut into large slices
    • 1 sweet onion, peeled and cut into large slices
    • extra virgin olive oil
    • sea salt & pepper to taste
    • cinnamon
    • any other herbs/spices you desire to taste
Serves 4-6

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees farenheit
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add all sliced veggies
  3. Next add olive oil and toss everything to coat
  4. Sprinkle in all seasonings and mix again to distribute
  5. Spread out the veggies and sausage into a 9×13 baking dish
  6. Put sausages on top
  7. Place uncovered in oven
  8. Bake a total of 45 to 60 minutes, turning veggies and sausage twice during cooking.
  9. Test doneness by checking the sweet potatoes – if they’re soft, it’s done
  10. Serve hot and enjoy!

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cake…a.k.a. Heaven in a pan

It’s been awhile. I don’t feel happy about that fact and I’ve sat down many times in the last few months to post an amazing recipe. Life with an almost 4 year old and an 11 month old is BUSY! I’m cooking lots and experimenting so much, but it seems like I haven’t been able to document as I go or find the time to write up and post recipes.
But it’s a new year, and I’m going to make a better effort. I promise!
Today I made one of my favourite cake recipes. It pretty much takes 5-10 minutes to mix up, and 45 to bake. It is easy. It is delicious. It is good to bring to a friend who is sick, or had a baby, or went back to work. You’ll make this often. I know I do. I didn’t take pictures of the process today, but it’s pretty straight forward. I think you will enjoy it.

 

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cake
Ingredients:
1/2 c.softened butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sour cream
2 tbsp. milk
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1package of chocolate chips
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar

Method:
Grease a square baking pan (I have a nice ceramic one I like to use). In a medium bowl cream together the sugar and butter, and then add eggs until the mixture is light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream and milk and set aside. Sift together, the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and add alternately with the sour cream mixture, to the butter mixture, until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan (it will be thick, you’ll have to use a spatula to spread it to the edges). Combine the cinnamon and ½ c. sugar and sprinkle the mixture over the batter. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Cool before serving (this is a favourite in our house and we often cut into it while still warm).

Fresh out of the oven.  Yum!

Fresh out of the oven. Yum!

 

Hunter's face after trying a nibble!

Hunter’s face after trying a nibble!

Cranberry Sauce…it doesn’t have to come from a can!

There is definitely a place for canned cranberry sauce, especially the kind that is just a log of jelly.  But making your own cranberry sauce is simple and delicious, and you will impress everyone with your kitchen prowess.

Yessssss

Yessssss

 

This recipe will literally take you 15 minutes to make.

You will need to buy a 12oz bag of cranberries from the grocery store.  At any holiday calling for cranberry sauce, they are easy to find.  Usually you can get two bags for $5 even.

Dump the bag of cranberries into a saucepot.

Cranberries in the pot

Cranberries in the pot

 

Pour  3/4 cup of orange juice (you can cut this with water if you prefer less of an orange taste, just make sure you use a total of 3/4 cups of liquid) into the pot of cranberries.

Add orange juice

Add orange juice

 

Next, add 1/2 cup of honey to the cranberries.  You can use white sugar if you prefer, but I find the honey gives it a less sweet taste.

Add honey

Add honey

 

I also like the add some grated orange rind at this point for some extra orange flavour.

Grate in some orange peel

Grate in some orange peel

 

Simmer over medium heat, until the berries pop and the sauce thickens (10-15 minutes).

IMG_5953 IMG_5955

IMG_5956 IMG_5958

 

Cool the sauce completely and then refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

I like to store in jars in the fridge

I like to store in jars in the fridge

 

Serve at room temperature.  Fancy it up with some extra orange zest if you prefer!

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