Spicy Mango Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork Sandwich

It was my brother’s birthday last weekend and I was lucky enough to spend it at my family’s cottage.  Every year we celebrate my bro’s birthday by consuming a few pigs and whole lotta beer.  We call it Pig Fest (my family is ever so refined).  Sausages, ribs, pulled pork, bacon, pork chops; you name it and we’ve probably served it to mark the occasion.   Clearly the movie Babe never really got to my brother; then again no animal related movie ever does.  The first time I ever ate venison my brother told me it was Bambi’s mother… I was four and yes, I’m still scared from the experience, although it was infinitely less painful than the time he convinced me that Keens Hot Mustard was butterscotch pudding.

Gotta love siblings, they’re so friendly.

Garlic

This was the first time we served pulled pork at our annual family pig out and I was left in charge of the preparation.  The pressure was on!  I knew I had a lot to live up to.  We’ve been throwing these shindigs since my brother’s fifteenth birthday and that was… well; I feel like I shouldn’t say or I may find myself being force fed spicy mustard all over again.  Anyway, it was a touch risky to add a new item to the menu of such a legendary event, but I persevered and wound up with the deliciousness you see before you now.

Mango

I knew going in that the ribs (the pièce de résistance of every pig fest to date) would win out, but I think I gave it my best effort and although I may be slightly biased, I favored the pulled pork over the ribs, but don’t tell my mom.  Since the ribs were slathered in Phil’s (an a amazing BBQ joint in San Diego) BBQ sauce, I wanted the pulled pork to be completely different, so I wouldn’t invite anyone to compare the two.   I chose to contrast the smoky sweetness of the Phil’s sauce with a vaguely Asian concoction that was sweet, tangy and spicy but in a very different way.

Pureed mango with jalapenos and green onion

Since pork and fruit of any kind get along like a house on fire, I grabbed a sad little mango languishing in the crisper and went from there.  For a touch of spice I threw in some jalapenos and fresh ginger.  I added a healthy dose of soy sauce to balance the sweet and enhanced the overall taste with a burst of citrus, courtesy of some lemongrass, a touch of marmalade and a splash of lime juice.  Then I simply doused the pork shoulder in this lovely blend and cooked the hell out of it.

Pork shoulder and marinade

Many of my family members ate it all on it’s own, but that was not enough for me.  Oh no, I had to take it to the next level.  I served this delectable treat in a bun (sadly, this was the only half-way decent bun I could find out in the boonies) and topped it with this coleslaw, which you’ve already met.  The creaminess of the coleslaw melted into the saucy pork and the crunch of the pepitas definitely added something special.  If at all possible consume both these recipes together… unless you’re not a fan of citrus in which case I wouldn’t make either.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

But if you happen to have won a lemon-eating contest at the tender age of fourteen (you may want to forget that tidbit of information) then welcome home!  This sandwich was made for you!

Enjoy!

Spicy Mango Pulled Pork: Serves 8

6-8 pound bone-in boston butt

1 mango, cubed

5 cloves of garlic

1/8 cup lime juice

2 tbsp pureed lemongrass

3 tbsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped

3 tbsp sweet chili sauce (I used President’s Choice)

2 tbsp marmalade

2 jalapenos, divided

2 stalks of green onions, sliced

1/8 cup soy sauce (or to taste)

2 tsp sesame oil

2 cups of water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°

In a food processor place mango, garlic, lime juice, lemongrass, ginger, chili sauce, marmalade and one intact jalapeno.

Blend until smooth.

Deseed and dice the second jalapeno.

Pour puree into a medium sized bowl and stir in soy sauce, green onions, diced jalapeno and sesame oil.

Pat pork shoulder dry with paper towel and place it in a large dutch oven.

Pour mango mixture over the meat making sure to get it in every nook and cranny.  Add water.

Cover the pot and place it in the center of the oven.

Cook for one hour then turn the pork and spoon the juices over the top.

Repeat for six hours or until the meat comes easily off the bone.

Remove the fat and bone and shred the pork using two forks.

You can serve it right away, but I let mine cool and popped it in the fridge over night and reheated it the next day.

Serve it on it’s own or in a sandwich.

Pita Pizzas with Sautéed Apples and Bacon

Phew!

I just finished writing six articles for a soon to be launched nutrition website and my brain is so fried that I’m having difficulty spelling three letter words. So, you’ll have to forgive me if this post doesn’t quite make sense. It’s a good thing today’s recipe was a breeze. Seriously! It’s so simple a monkey could’ve done it… preferably while wearing a full body hair net.
Granny Smith Apples and Red Onion

Pita pizzas are so simple and homey. They saved my life in university.

These adorable little pizzas are cozy food. The kind of food you eat in sock feet while watching reruns of The West Wing… okay so, maybe that’s just me. These pita pizzas are topped with sautéed apples and red onions with a sprinkling of bacon and cheddar cheese. Once again that magical salty, sweet flavor has stolen my heart. My beau was hesitant at first, because he doesn’t really like the texture of cooked apples (applesauce is his arch nemesis) but, the pizza was sporting a few pieces of bacon so, he couldn’t say no. It’s against his religion.
Sautéed Apples and Red Onion

By the way, don’t leave the bacon out. Mmmm! Sweet, salty and smokey all at the same time! These pizzas have it all. My beau loved them so much he told me not to put them on the blog; he decided they were too good to share, but I’m not one to deprive others of good food so, have at it!

Apples and Red Onion

Now that I’ve completely run out of words, I’m going to leave it here to avoid drooling on my keyboard.
Pita Pizza with Sautéed Apples and Bacon

Try this pita pizza. It’s totally delicious, quick and tasty!  Like totally!

Oh gosh! I’ve turned into a Valley girl… I gotta go!

Enjoy!

Pita Pizzas with Sautéed Apples and Bacon: Makes 2 pizzas
2 pitas
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 granny smith apple, cored and sliced
½ red onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced (divided)
¾ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup demerara sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
pinch of cloves
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp crushed chili pepper flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°
Place the onion and apple in a large bowl.
Add sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, chili pepper flakes, salt and 2 cloves of garlic. Toss to coat.
Melt butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Add apple and onion mixture and sauté until the apples are tender. About five minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Brush the pitas with the rest of the olive oil and sprinkle with the remainder of the garlic.
Top pitas with apples and onions and sprinkle with cheese and bacon.
Bake in the oven for five minutes then turn the oven to broil (keeping a close eye on them) for 1-2 minutes.
Slice into quarters and serve.

Smoked Gouda Fusilli

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This recipe was the result of a shopping trip I took to St Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto.  While I would love to be virtuous and say I frequent the Market for its fantastic produce, that would be a downright lie.  It’s not that the produce at the market is bad, far from it, I just happen to find the Peameal Bacon Sandwiches and the stinky cheeses much more alluring.

Mushrooms

Every market is magical in it’s own way, whether it be large or small, but St. Lawrence Market is remarkable in it’s variety; you can find just about anything there.  One shop had well over thirty kinds of flour.

Mushrooms and Rosemary

There is nothing quite like wandering past shops offering up products that were so lovingly crafted; something as simple as a handmade croissant represents years of training, trial and error and passionate perseverance.  Each product tells a personal story.  Try getting something like that from your local grocery store.

Smoked Gouda

I wandered past my favorite cheese shop to pick up a little smoked Gouda and that’s when inspiration hit.  I ran home and made this Smoked Gouda Fusilli with little hesitation and I’m so glad I did; it garnered rave reviews from my beau.  This dish was as comforting as macaroni and cheese, but twice as flavorful.  The addition of sautéed mushrooms brought a new level of decadence to the dish and the red pepper gave the meal a sweet counterbalance to the salty, smokiness of the sauce.  The smoked Gouda melted smoothly into the silky white sauce and coated each piece of Fusilli beautifully.  The smokiness of the cheese was even more apparent after it had melted into the sauce.   Oh, and please don’t skimp on the black pepper; it gives the dish a certain something.

Smoked Gouda Fusilli

Smoky and seductive, this pasta dish is familiar enough to be comforting, but unique enough to raise a few eyebrows. For this recipe I got my inspiration from Victor’s cooking blog.

Smoked Gouda Fusilli: Serves 4

375g dried whole wheat Fusilli

4 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced

½ red bell pepper, diced

1 ½ tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 cup smoked Gouda, shredded

1 cup milk (I used 1%)

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1 ½ tbsp whole grain mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Liberally salt the water and add pasta.

Cook according to package directions or until al dente.

Drain and toss with 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Set aside.

In a large skillet heat the rest of the olive oil over medium heat.

Add mushrooms, red pepper and rosemary.  Sauté until tender.

Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small saucepan melt butter over moderate heat.

Whisk in the flour until it forms a paste.

Slowly whisk in milk until combined.

Cook until slightly thickened.

Reduce heat and whisk in cheese, stirring constantly until melted and fully incorporated.

Add mushrooms, pepper and rosemary to the sauce and stir to combine.

Pour over pasta and toss until coated.

Serve immediately with extra Gouda.

 

Tomato Sauce with Tuna and Capers

Tomato Sauce with Tuna and Capers

I know you guys are probably getting tired of all this ‘resourceful in the kitchen’ nonsense.   You’re probably asking yourself, “Man, does this chick ever have food in her kitchen?”

onion skin

Well, I do buy groceries, I promise, but without fail by the end of the week I’m scrounging.   Oddly enough the meals I don’t plan to make often turn out the most blog worthy (go figure).  But, I do have a personal mission to be as resourceful in the kitchen as possible.  I want to be able to make something amazing out of a ridiculous hodgepodge of ingredients like it ‘aint no thang!  What it really comes down to is I hate waste, I love creativity and can’t abide bad food.  Simple really.

Last night, I almost didn’t pull it off.  I was feeling creatively drained and since the beau’s birthday is tomorrow I knew I had a lot of cooking and baking ahead of me (not that that’s a hardship), so I was considering conserving my energy by ordering a pizza.  But then I thought of dear Audrey in Sabrina, and I managed pulled this little number together.

Tuna, zucchini, capers, lemon

Have you ever seen the movie Sabrina, the original with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart?  Well do remember the part where Sabrina somehow makes dinner for Linus out of maraschino cherries, stale crackers, tomato juice, puffed rice and sardines?  Of course we never see the finished product, but I spent a large portion of my adolescence trying to figure what she could’ve concocted and I still have nothing.  Anyway, for some reason that part of the movie stuck with me (clearly I was born to be a food nerd) and out of that simple scene my life long ambition to make something out of nothing took root.

zucchini

So here is my riff on Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce with butter and onion that has been floating around the blogisphere for sometime now.  I of course ignored the simplistic beauty of the recipe by adding a bunch of other stuff (I always take things a step too far), but I was quite pleased with the results.  My beau said it was his new favorite pasta sauce.  I nodded and smiled stoically, while I did back flips of joy in my head!  My love is a man of few words, so when I get a compliment I know he means it!

lemon, capers

In the recipe they suggest you discard the onion, but why waste something so delicious.  I served it atop the pasta, but I think placing it on garlic bread would be unbelievable as well.  So many options, so little stomach space.

Onion

So, so yummy and relatively summer friendly!

Tomato Sauce with Tuna and Capers: Serves 4-6

Loosely adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan via Steamy Kitchen

1 can crushed tomatoes

5 tbsp salted butter

1 medium sized onion, peeled and halved

1 can flaked tuna, drained

2 tbsp capers, drained

1 zucchini, shredded

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

Zest of half a lemon

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Splash of balsamic vinegar

Garnish:

Splash of balsamic

Fresh parsley

Fresh ground pepper

Directions:

Place tomatoes, butter and onion in a heavy bottom pot over medium high heat.

Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low and cook for 35 minutes.

Place shredded zucchini in a small bowl and toss with salt (the salt will extract moisture). Set aside for ten minutes.

Transfer the zucchini to cheesecloth and squeeze out excess moisture.  Set Aside.

When the 35 minutes is up check the sauce. Remove onion.

Add sugar and balsamic and stir to combine.

Stir in tuna, zucchini, capers and lemon zest and cook for an additional ten minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Serve over cooked pasta of your choice (I used bucatini) and top with onion.

Serve with fresh parsley, ground pepper and a drizzle of balsamic.

Apple Sausage Galette

Apple Sausage Galette

One of the first things I learned how to make in the kitchen was pastry. In truth cinnamon rolls may have been first, but pastry was definitely a close second.

Whole-wheat Pastry

Pastry may be an odd place to start out, but at the tender age of… some point before ten I was already well versed in carefully adding flour to our temperamental Kitchen Aid mixer.  I was ready for a challenge.

Apples

From the time I patched the last hole in my first of many awkwardly rolled out pastries, I had embarked on a nearly twenty year long love affair with all things wrapped in butter and baked with love.

Cored, Sliced Apples

Pies are my specialty. If I get invited to a potluck, I arrive with fresh pie in hand. If I’m heading over to a friend’s for a low-key birthday celebration, you bet I have her favorite pie waiting in the wings.

Red Onion

Pie is fairly universal. You don’t encounter many people who would say no to a slice of pie. Regardless of taste and temperament everyone has a type of pie they would gladly eat any day of the week. Even if you were born without a sweet tooth (is that even possible?) I doubt you could resist the charms of a gorgeously golden Chicken Pot Pie.

Apple Sausage Galette

Whether you live for this flakey indulgence or you approach pie with a hesitant fork this week’s recipe is bound to catch your eye. Prepared to be amazed by this enticing salty-sweet Apple Sausage Galette. At the center of this tawny, homey treat is a generous layer of spiced Cortland apples, which sit atop of a bed of sautéed red onions. The whole mess is enveloped in a rich nutty whole-wheat pastry crust and, to up the naughty factor further, sprinkled with a crumbling of honey garlic sausage. With so many winning attributes, you’ll be hard pressed to find a reason not to invite this crisp buttery guest to your next get together.

Apple Sausage Galette

Soulfully rustic and an intriguing compilation of contrasting tastes and textures, this Apple Sausage Galette is a pastry fanatic’s dream come true.

Apple Sausage Galette: Serves 4

PASTRY:

¾ cup pastry flour

½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour

½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

½ tsp salt

¼ cup cold water

FILLING:

½ red onion, sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

2 honey garlic sausages, castings removed

3 Cortland apples, cored and sliced

¼ brown sugar

1/8 cup pastry flour

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tbsp cinnamon

Pinch of cloves

Pinch of nutmeg

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1/8 cup milk

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425°

For the Pastry: Combine flours, and salt in a large bowl.

Add butter and cut it into the dry mixture using a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Add water and stir until the dough starts to come together.

Touching the pastry as little as possible, form the mixture into a ball and flatten into a disc.

Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a minimum of a half an hour or up to 48 hours.

When ready to use, remove the pastry from the fridge and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Place on a cool well-floured surface.

Using a floured rolling, pin roll out pastry in a circular shape until it is 1/8 of an inch thick.

For the Filling: In a medium skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.

Add onion and sprinkle liberally with salt.

Sautee for approximately 10 minutes until translucent.

Remove from heat and set aside.

If necessary add more oil to the pan and add the sausage.

Cook until browned then remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl combine apples, spices, sugar and flour.

To Assemble: Place a layer of onion onto the waiting pastry leaving a 1 ½ inch border along the edge.

Top with ½ of the sausage and ½ of the rosemary.

Add apples and sprinkle with the remaining sausage and rosemary.

Wrap the edges towards the center.

Brush pastry with milk.

Slide onto a pizza pan and place in the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 350° and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Ah, cheese and bread!  Is there anything better? Nothing can rival the simplicity and the level of comfort a buttery, crisp and gooey grilled cheese affords.  I realize I’ve already sung the praises of this simple snack over the equally glorious Open-Faced Warm Mushroom and Brie sandwich, but I cannot contain my love and admiration for this humble slice of culinary bliss.

Pineapple

When cheese, bread, butter and a hot pan come together magical things happen. Since these simple ingredients and implements are all that is required to make a knock out grilled cheese sandwich, the adaptations are endless. One such creation is this sweet, spicy and sharp number that I like to call the Hawaiian Grilled Cheese.

Caramelized Pineapple

You may remember me telling you my beau discovered a love for pineapple this summer. It all started with this Hawaiian pizza. Then, to break the endless and somewhat daunting parade of Hawaiian pizzas I was badgered to prepare, I created this fruitful take on a plate of nachos. Stir-fries studded with pineapple followed and the fruit has since become a staple in our refrigerator; in fact, we gage how badly we need to go to the grocery store based on our pineapple supply.

Jalapenos

After enduring a day that felt like three, I stumbled home horrifically hangry only to find that my beau was in the same state.  The situation was dire so, I knew I had to pull a rabbit out of my hat and fast. Grilled cheese sandwiches (even fancy ones) require less than 15 minutes prep work and less than 10 minutes cook time; in other words, they are weekday perfection.

Pineapple, Cheese, Ham

I caramelized the last bit of pineapple we had in the fridge, grabbed some ham, cheddar cheese and a jalapeno. I placed the whole mess between two pieces of nutty bread and introduced the happy bundle to buttered hot pan. In mere moments I was declared a hero as the golden brown sandwiches found their way to the table. If only all victories could come this easy and taste as sweet.

Pineapple, Cheese, Ham, Jalapeno

Throw some butter and pan and prepare to rid the world of hangriness one Hawaiian Grilled Cheese at a time

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese: Serves 4

8 slices of multigrain bread

¼ pineapple, sliced

2 tbsp brown sugar

4 tbsp butter, divided

1 tbsp olive oil

1 jalapeno, deseeded and sliced

8 slices of deli ham

1-cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a small pan over medium heat.

Add pineapple and brown sugar and sauté until golden turning once – about 3 minutes per side.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Assemble sandwiches by placing dividing cheese amongst four slices of bread.

Next stack some ham followed by a roughly three slices of pineapple and top with a few jalapeno slices.

Close the sandwich with another slice of bread.

In a large pan heat the rest of the butter and olive oil over medium heat.

Add sandwiches to the pan and fry until golden brown – about 3 minutes per side.

Slide onto a plate and slice diagonally.

Serve immediately with a bowl of piping hot soup.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad

I am back! Hope you guys had wonderful holidays!

Meanwhile after getting a good rest, I left my zone of comfort….

…and look at me! I fried something!

Mango

I never fry anything! I have a deep-frying phobia.

Cucumber

I, like the rest of humanity, happen to love fried food! Anything deep-fried is positively out of this world. I bet if you deep-fried a boot it would taste delicious, but as much as I love these crispy edibles I’m still wary of deep-frying at home. I’m sure it would be a different story if I had a proper deep fryer, but if I had said deep fryer I would also be 300 pounds. So, I figure it’s in my best interest to make deep fat frying as cumbersome as possible. I didn’t even do a legit deep fry for this week’s recipe. It was more of a shallow fry; I couldn’t quite bring myself to add the full amount of oil, guilt was holding me back. This time, I simply borrowed a deep fryer from my friend, it was Waring deep fryer.

No. No way I am buying one myself.

Red pepper

Yes, it was messy and yes, I did fear my kitchen afterwards, but these almond crusted fried shrimp were well worth the grease burns.  I served them atop a mound of spicy mango salad and garnished the whole lot with fresh cilantro and dry-roasted peanuts. The combination of the piping hot shrimp and chilled salad was out of this world. The shrimp was beautifully juicy and it’s breading brought a subtle crunch to the dish.

Red Onion

My beau was adequately impressed with my efforts. He could hardly believe I fried anything. I’m usually a stickler when it comes to nutrition, but I justified the whole exercise by saying it was for the blog. Do you hear that? If your at all interested in the state of your waistline don’t start a food blog, it messes with your logic.

Almond Crusted Shrimp

As deep-frying adventures go this one was fairly uneventful. Shrimp cooks quickly and the breading process with simple and efficient. Salads are always low maintenance, but I will warn you there is a fair amount of chopping involved.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad (II)

Decadently rich and restaurant caliber, Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad is one recipe you’ll be happy to have sitting in your back pocket when all you can think about is expensive takeout. This recipe will subdue those pesky cravings and save you a bundle at the same time.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad: Serves 4

FOR THE SHRIMP

16 shrimp, deveined and shelled with tails on

¼ cup almond meal

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp milk

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups peanut oil

FOR THE SALAD

1 mango, julienned

¼ cucumber, julienned

½ red bell pepper, julienned

¼ red onion, sliced

¼ dry roasted peanuts

½ cup fresh cilantro, torn

DRESSING

4 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp granulated sugar

¼ cup lime juice

1 tsp sambal oelek

1 tbsp fish sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Place veggies, mango and cilantro in a large bowl and toss to combine.

In a small bowl whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

In another small bowl combine ground almonds and salt and pepper.

Combine egg and milk.

One by one douse each shrimp in the egg and milk mixture then roll them in the almond mixture and set aside on a plate.

When each shrimp has been coated heat oil in a large wok until it reaches about 350°

Drop shrimp into the oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown.

Remove from oil and leave to drain on paper towels.

Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.

Divide salad amongst four plates and top with peanuts.

Arrange four shrimp on top of each salad and serve immediately.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax Seeds and Chocolate

Peanut Butter Cookies

What do you do when a cookie craving hits and you’re far too lazy to walk to the corner store let alone exert yourself in the kitchen? You bite the bullet and whip up the easiest cookies around: peanut butter cookies. A bare bones rendition of this classic treat requires only three ingredients; they don’t even need flour.

Chocolate

I make peanut butter cookies whenever my would-be mother in law unloads a couple of jars of Skippy on my beau and I. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when she gifts us edible items, its just when I was growing up brands like Jiffy were frowned upon in my household. My father has a passion for all things peanut butter. For most of his working life his go to lunchtime fix consisted of a single piece of bread slathered with peanut butter folded over itself, and for my Dad only natural peanut butter would do.

Peanut Butter Balls

I will say this about the not-so natural versions of the legendary spread: they make the best cookies by far. Perhaps, its because they already have salt and sugar added, or maybe its due to their overly consistent texture. Whatever the reason, I tend to favor the likes of Skippy and Jiffy in almost all of my peanut related baking exploits.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax seeds and Chocolate

True to form, once I had mustered the strength to enter the kitchen I decided peanut butter, sugar and an egg was not enough to hold my interest. After scouring my kitchen for fun additions, I came up with a flax seed and chocolate spike version and they were a-ok!  The flaxseeds gave the cookies a bit of texture and made me feel a little less guilty about eating them. Chocolate and peanut butter is a no-brainer, but this gorgeous dark chocolate from Venezuela really sent the decadent combination over the edge. You don’t have to use fancy chocolate to make amazing cookies, but it helps.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax Seeds and Chocolate

These cookies came together in no time flat. My beau was astonished when I offered him a cookie fresh from the oven; he could not believe I turned them out that quickly. So, the next time your inner cookie monster starts to gnaw away at you, you know what to do. Pull this recipe out of your holster and you’ll be going to town on a fresh batch of gooey warm cookies before you know it.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax Seeds and Chocolate

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax Seeds and Chocolate: Makes 24

1 cup peanut butter (I used Skippy)

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

½ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup flax seeds

½ cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°

Grease two baking sheets.

Set your stand mixer on medium speed and combine sugar, egg and peanut butter.

Add vanilla, flax seeds and chocolate.

Mix until smooth.

Roll the dough into 24 small balls and place them on baking sheets.

Using a fork flatten the balls into cookie sized formations.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and leave to rest for ten minutes before transferring the cookies onto a cooling rack.

Serve with a tall cool glass of milk.

Warm Open-Faced Mushroom and Brie Sandwich

Mushrooms, Brie and Arugula

Happy Thanksgiving my fellow canucks!  You will have to forgive my somewhat lackluster display of holiday spirit.  There is not a single Thanksgiving recipe on my blog.  There are some that would be most welcome at any holiday table, but none that exclusively scream Turkey Day.

Mushrooms

To make me feel truly ashamed of myself, the good people over at Tasty Kitchen wrote up a lovely piece on the Canadians on their site and included yours truly. Such a wonderful gesture bestowed on a lazy blogger that has basically been MIA since September. I am trying to adjust to a different lifestyle and juggling two jobs and this blog is an exhausting endeavor, but bare with me, I’ll get this sorted out if it kills me.

Brie

I know I’ve been a horrible tease. I leave, announce I’m back and then I leave again. I realize it will take sometime to rebuild the trust between us dear reader, but I think, in time, we can move past this thoughtlessness and be stronger for it.

Multi-Grain Bread

The first step towards healing is this Warm Open-Face Mushroom and Brie Sandwich. If anyone crossed me and then offered me this tasty treat I would definitely rethink excommunicating them.

Mushrooms, Basil

These days I find myself strapped for time. I often have to hit the kitchen running. Lately, grilled cheese has been a favorite of mine. Easy, quick and wonderfully cost effective.  Give me a bowl of hot tomato soup and gooey grilled cheese on a rainy day and I am one happy camper. This open-faced number is riff on this foul weather classic.

Warm Open-Faced Mushroom Brie Sandwich

This sandwich is not grilled, instead the cheese melts into freshly toasted bread.  It liquifies further still when the cheese is crowned with an avalanche of freshly sautéed mushrooms and garlic. If this weren’t heavenly enough, this gorgeous concoction is completed with a halo of peppery arugula. Serve this bad boy up with a hot bowl of soup and consume with a knife and fork.

Open-Faced Mushroom Brie Sandwich

Simple, satisfying and ready to eat in fifteen minutes flat, this sandwich is the perfect treat after a long draining day. Let’s face it; you’ve clocked way too many hours in the kitchen this weekend. After the excitement of Thanksgiving the Warm Open-Face Mushroom Brie Sandwich is just what the doctor ordered.

Warm Open-Face Mushroom and Brie Sandwich: Serves 2

2 slices of Multi grain Bread

4 tbsp olive oil, divided

2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

4 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade

6 slices brie cheese

2 handfuls of arugula

Directions:

Turn your oven to broil.

Brush 2 tbsp of olive oil on both sides of the bread and broil until golden brown flipping halfway through.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté until browned and fragrant.

Remove bread from the oven and immediately place brie on top.

Split the mushrooms amongst the two slices of bread.

Sprinkle with basil.

Top with arugula.

Serve with a piping hot bowl of your favorite soup.

Creamed Sweet Onion with Butter Basil Biscuits

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There now, I wasn’t gone that long, and you all faired very well without me I have no doubt.  I’m pleased to say that I am back, and ready to re-enter the kitchen once again.

Sweet Onion

I’m so glad I took the break; it made me really miss this little food haven of mine.  Now that I am refreshed and have my head somewhat above water, my brain has inundated with so many fantastical food ideas that my head is getting a little noisy.  Confusing for me, but awesome for you!

Thyme

This week’s recipe is actually an adaptation of three recipes out of The Joy of Cooking, the classic jack-of-all-trades cookbook.

Butter

I wouldn’t recommend stringing three recipes together.  It smacks of inexperience if not plain stupidity, but since my common sense evades me more often than I’d like to admit I went ahead with this hair-brained scheme.

Basil Leaves

I am so glad (and relieved) to say against all odds it turned out beautifully.  Sure there were snags, but I am confident I’ve identified the problems and they shouldn’t trouble you if you choose to replicate the recipe.

Basil Chiffonade

The stars of this saucy show are the always-unassuming sweet onion, a few slices of smoky bacon (get the reduced sodium, I read some alarming statistics about North American sodium intake today, and it gave me the willies), and some adorable buttery basil biscuits.

Bacon

Essentially the onions and bacon come together in a creamy thyme spiked sauce, topped with a delightful little biscuit then baked until their tops are an inviting golden brown.

Basil Biscuit Dough

They flavor of these puppies is gorgeously savory.  The onions were so tender they melted on my tongue while the sauce warmed me with soft hints of thyme and a delectable smokiness supplied by the bacon.  I served them alongside I nice roast beef, but honestly I don’t remember a thing about the beef, these gems really stole the show.

Creamed Sweet Onion with Bacon

Perfect for the approaching cold weather and fairly easy to prepare, Creamed Sweet Onion with Buttery Basil Biscuits is the picture of culinary beauty.

Creamed Sweet Onion with Buttery Basil Biscuits

Creamed Sweet Onion with Buttery Basil Biscuits: Serves 4

1 Sweet Onion, halved and sliced

4 strips of bacon

1 tbsp olive oil

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 cup chicken broth

¼ cup white wine

1 tbsp of butter

1 tbsp flour

¼ cup half and half

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450°

In a heavy bottom pot fry bacon over medium heat until crispy.

Remove from pot and leave to cool on a plate lined with paper towel.

Spoon off the bacon grease leaving 2 tbsp worth in the pot.

Add the olive oil to keep the fat from burning and toss in the onions.

Sautee for 2-3 minutes.

Pour in broth and add the two sprigs of thyme.

Bring the mixture up to a boil and reduce heat and leave to simmer covered for 5 minutes.

Once onions are tender add white wine and leave to boil until the liquid is reduced by half.  About 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat.

Whisk in flour until it forms a paste.

Slowly whisk in half and half until combined.  Remove from heat and add to the onion mixture. Stir until thickened.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Spoon into 4 ramenkins and top each with an uncooked biscuit.

Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for ten minutes before serving.

For the Biscuits:

1 ¾ all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

6 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed

¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonade

¾ half and half

Directions:

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Add butter and basil.

Cut the butter into the dry mixture using a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles a coarse meal.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the half and half.

Stir until the dough comes together.

Turn dough onto a well-floured surface.

Flatten dough to ½ an inch thickness.

Using a 2 ½ biscuit cutter cut out 12 biscuits.