Monday, January 14, 2013

Chocolate Yogurt

A while ago I found some recipes for making different flavours of greek yogurt.  It was the chocolate that got my attention - I love chocolate.  Well I tried it, and it was alright.  I liked it, it was great while I had it, but I wasn’t going to rush out and buy greek yogurt to make more.  This may have been for a couple of reasons - I could still taste the “tang” of my yogurt, the is that I am just not used to the thicker texture of the greek yogurt.  It might be the brand I using, I am not sure, but I have found that the flavour will give me issues and I already am a texture eater.

To get to the point of all this though, I recently tried this again with our regular yogurt.  I had bought strawberries as I thought I had some greek yogurt left from a dinner I had made the week before that I wanted to use.  This seemed like a great plan with some strawberries for snacks.  However upon arriving home, the container of yogurt was not to be found - I must have used it in smoothies one morning to get rid of it, oops.  Not wanting to give up on my chocolate snack for the week, I grabbed some of my vanilla yogurt.  The result was fantastic, I love it.  It tastes like a nice dark chocolate mousse, and is light and airy.  Actually this really reminds me of a chocolate mousse.  It is like dessert.  I know that this is not as healthy as the greek version (which is still good), but I am going with it.  It is nice to know that I can make it with the yogurt I keep on hand for everything else and I don’t have to pick up anything special.  

Chocolate Yogurt.  
1 cup vanilla yogurt (I used a french vanilla, but it shouldn’t make a big difference)
2.5 tbsp coco powder

Directions: Mix the coco powder and vanilla together.  Enjoy!

Note: Use your favourite yogurt, I use Astro Original yogurt, it is nice and thick and doesn’t use any of the fake sugars.  I find it is thicker than the other brands I have tried, but not as thick as a greek yogurt.

Chocolate Greek Yogurt
1 cup greek yogurt
2-3 tbsp coco powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp maple syrup

Directions: Mix the ingredients together until well blended.  Enjoy.

I like both, but the most popular is the recipe made with vanilla yogurt.  I have also made this with vanilla greek yogurt and it also turned out as well.  A great snack for dipping fruit in or just eating with a spoon.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sea Salt and Chocolate covered Caramels

This year in all my Christmas baking I made caramels.  Everyone is always impressed with homemade caramels, and I don’t find it too hard to make them.  The only downside is wrapping all the little caramels once they are done. I usually end up doing this over a couple of days, which is how I came to this new small variation.

I had a bunch of caramels wrapped when O informed me that there was a baking competition at work the next day and he should take something.  I handed over my caramels (there were still lots left to be wrapped) and didn’t think anymore of it.  Turns out they were a big hit - they ran out of caramels during the eating/judging of the competition, oops.  What did come out of this though was the suggestion to coat the caramels in chocolate and sea salt.  I had some left and wasn’t excited about wrapping them, so why not play a little?

I am happy to say I did play with them and to my delight they were fantastic.  The bonus is that this doesn’t even take much more time than wrapping them, but really takes them to a whole special place on the dessert table!

I did some slight adaptations to the caramel recipe found on  I hope you enjoy these.

Sea Salt and Chocolate covered Caramels
1 cup butter
1 pound brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup (i used golden, as that is pretty much all you can find here)
1 ½ tsp vanilla paste (or 1 ½ vanilla beans - well the insides of the beans - would work)

3 cups milk chocolate melting chips
Coarse sea salt

1. Prepare a 9x13 pan by lining it with parchment paper (or you could just grease it - I like the parchment paper as you can just lift out the caramels to cut them)
3.In a saucepan (preferably with a heavy bottom) combine the caramel ingredients: butter, sugar, milk, and corn syrup.  
4 Heat the mixture until you reach 234F, then cook for 2 minutes at this temperature, while stirring.
    Note: this will make very soft caramels, if you would like them a little firmer, cook them at 240F (I like the really soft ones, so I left it at 234F).
5. Take the caramels off the heat and add in the vanilla paste/beans.  Pour the caramels into the prepared 9x13 pan, and allow to set.
6. Once the caramels are set, cut them into bite sized squares - I did about ½ inch x 1 inch rectangles.
7. In a double boiler melt some of the melting chocolate pieces.  Once they are melted remove from heat. (if the chocolate starts to harden on you, just put it back on the heat for a couple of min).
8. Dip the caramel squares in the chocolate, set to cool on some parchment paper.  While the chocolate is still soft, sprinkle with some sea salt.

Note:  I found it easiest to work in small batches of the caramels at the time.  It was also easier to have the caramels cool while dipping them, as they held their shape a little better in the warm chocolate, so I kept the other batches of caramels in the fridge while I was working.

These were fantastic.  I had to give most of them away as I found I couldn’t stop eating them!  One person O work with even asked for a bunch of them to give as a Christmas present to someone!  They were a big hit and will have to be something that I make again.

The caramels by themselves are also great, so don’t worry about covering them all in chocolate! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Update and a Cake

Wow, it has been a while since I posted last.  I don't know were the time has gone - it seems like I lose months at a time when things get into marking season at my new job!

I am not entirely sure what all I have been cooking in the last month (mostly things I can through together quite quickly).  I have been trying some slow cooker recipes and hope to get a few posts prepared while I have a break from marking over the next couple of week.

To hold you over I am going to tell you about a delicious bundt cake I made a few weeks ago.  Sadly I did not get a picture of this cake, as my husband whisked it off to hockey before it had even cooled.  Apparently it smelled good and the team needed goodies, I am still not sure why the hot cake went (it was a little difficult to carry in the car). 

This cake came about as I went to use up some apples and make a quick apple crisp, sadly I forgot that I didn't have any oats in the cupboard and needed something to use up all the cut up apples.  I did have some cream cheese in the fridge (not sure what I had bought that for), so I went for this cake recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Apple Cream Cheese Bundt:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 medium apples, (for about 4 cups pealed, cored and chopped)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
1 1/4 cups vegetable or canola oil
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs

Cream Cheese Layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg

1.  Grease and flour a 9 inch bundt pan and preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Toss the apples with lemon juice, dark brown sugar, and 1 tsp lemon juice. Set aside for now.
3. In the bowl of a mixer combine oil, sugar and vanilla until well mixed.
4. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
5. To the oil/sugar/egg mixture add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix until just combined - it will be a very thick batter.
6. Fold the apples into the batter.
7. Pour into the bundt pan.
8. In a bowl beat togther the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg until creamy and smooth.
9. Form a well/ tunnel in the batter in the bundt pan (I had to remove some of the batter at this step to make it work), and pour the cream cheese mixture into the tunnel. 
10. Add the batter back in over the cream cheese if you had to remove any.  Swirl the cream cheese into the batter with a butter knife.
11. Bake cake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Allow the cake to cool. 

This cake smelled fantastic and the small pieces of cake that I was able to snag were great!  I never got a chance to make the glaze or caramel sauce, but the cake was fantastic without it.  I never got more than crumbs as the hockey team devoured the cake.
They did remark that it was one of the best things I had baked for them in a long time - even if it was a little difficult to eat as it wasn't even sliced when my husband stole it.  I was still getting compliments on it at the next game I attended 3 weeks later!  It is a total winner. 

So for any hockey team members, that is the recipe, sorry it took so long.  For anyone else, I do suggest trying it and if you can keep people from eating it right away try the glaze or sauce - i am sure that would take this cake from excellent to out of this world!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Apricot Jam

My husband is a big fan of apricots, I think he might get more excited about them than he does about the peaches!  We missed out on the apricots last year and so this year he was eager to get some apricot jam for the winter.  I tried a no pectin added jam this year to maximize the amount of flavour and the amount of fruit I would use!  I found this recipe for “French” apricot jam on the recipe of the day section of guardian UK and decided to give it a try.  I ended up not cooking and adding in the stones, that will have to wait for next year.


1.5kg fresh apricots
800g sugar
1 vanilla pod
¼ cup of lemon juice

1. Half and remove stones from the apricots.
2. Cut the vanilla pod in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.
3. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan combine the fruit, vanilla pod, seeds, sugar and lemon juice.
4. Let the mixture sit until the fruit has softened (several hours).
5. Bring the mixture to a boil  Continue boiling for 20 to 25 minutes and the mixture has thickened.  (Jam sets at about 220F if you have thermometer or use a chilled plate and a small amount of jam to see if it sets).
6. Transfer the jam into sterilized jars and seal.  Process for 10 minutes. Ensure the seal before storing.

Note: I removed the vanilla pods before distributing the jam into the jars.

I had 3.5 jars of jam.  The half a jar is already finished and I believe Owen has opened another jar as well - guess this batch will be the first gone!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kiwi Daquari Jam

A few weeks ago Kiwi’s had gone on sale and I had picked up a bag of them.  However, life got busy and BC fruit (Cherries, yum) starting coming in and the poor Kiwis were forgotten behind something in the fridge.  I discovered them and decided I would not be able to eat all of them before they needed to be used, and as it was already canning season jam seemed like a good use for the rest of them.  

I found an intriguing looking recipe on the Bernardin canning site and decided to give it a try.  I found a few of the instructions a little confusing (it calls for rum in the ingredients but never tells  you to add it), so I improvised a little.  Here is what I ended up with.

5 kiwifruit, peeled
3 cups (750 ml) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (150 ml) unsweetened pineapple juice (I used a Dole in a tetra pack)
1/3 cup 75 ml) fresh squeezed lime juice
1 pouch (85 ml) Liquid Pectin  (I used the certo brand and it worked fine)
4 tbsp (60 ml) rum (I used a spiced rum as that was all I had in the house)

1. Clean and sterilize 4 or 5 250ml jars. ( I keep them  in the oven at 275F while working so they are sterile when I want to fill them).
2. Mash or blend the fruit (I put mine in a blender and pulsed a couple times.  I found this worked better than my potato masher as I like fewer large chunks in my jam).
3. In a large saucepan mix together the fruit, sugar, pineapple and lime juice.
4. Stirring constantly bring the mixture to a full rolling boil and boil for 2 minutes.  Note: once the sugar is fully dissolved I stop stirring constantly, but still every 30s to 1 minute.
5. Remove the jam from the head and immediately stir in the pectin (skim the foam off if there is any.  
6.  Stir in the rum, mixing well.
7. Fill jars, leaving ¼ inch head space and place on the lids and rings.
8. Process jars for 10 minutes, let cool to seal.

I love this jam - it is something very different from the normal berry or peach jams that I normally make.  I gave a jar to a friend of mine and she liked it so much she was eating it with a spoon!  This will be great for a cheer up treat in the middle of our long winters!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I am sorry for the lack of posts lately and I am working on getting a couple of new recipes and items ready for posting.  There have been a lot of changes around here the last couple of months.  I have started a new blog for the quilts, so they won't be taking up room from the cooking anymore!

The other exciting event is that I changed jobs a few months ago, I went from working in a research lab to being a lab instructor at a University were I live.  I have been busy working on getting lectures, assignments and quizzes ready,  For the last three weeks I have been teaching classes! 

It is exciting and I am loving, but finding that I have less time in the evenings than I am used to.  For these reasons, I am trying out more slowcooker and freezer recipes.  Hopefully things will work themselves into a schedule and I will have more time to start posting them recipes again!

Thank you for reading, and look for more fall posts coming soon.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Zucchini Noodle Stir Fry

It is harvest season and that means zucchini, lots and lots of zucchini (although oddly enough I haven’t had as much this year as in the pasts, and I have actually had to buy zucchini this summer)!  I love zucchini just grilled on the bbq but as the weather cools I am looking for other ways to use up the yummy veggies as well.  On pinterest I came across instructions for making zucchini noodles - very easy with a mandoline or the right peeler!

I made the zucchini noodles and let them sit to lose some of the water while I chopped the remaining veggies.

Stir Fry with Zucchini Noodles

1-2 zucchinis
Red Pepper
Yellow Pepper
1 - 2 stalks celery
Bean Sprouts (optional)

Sauce of your choosing (I used a little lime juice and pepper).

1. Using a mandoline or peeler make zucchini into small noodles and discard the seeds.
2. Sprinkle the zucchini noodles with a little salt and lay on paper towel to drain.
3. Slice the peppers, onion and celery.
4. In a fry pan or wok with ½ to 1 tbsp oil, cook the vegetables until tender.
5. Press the “noodles” into the paper towel to remove the water on the surface.
6. Add the noodles, bean sprouts and sauce to the fry pan.  Cook until warm.
7. Enjoy!

This was a great dinner with lots of veggies.  You could easily add in some chicken or pork to add more protein or use it as a side dish for supper.  I am looking forward to trying this out again - maybe with a spicier sauce!

As a side - when using lime juice (out of the container - bad I know) and pepper as a sauce, make sure the top of the lime juice is on tight before turning it upside over your dinner....