Christmas Baking, Day one – Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Makes a great gift this Christmas season

Makes a great gift this Christmas season.

This is so easy to make, there is no need to spend money on pre-made Chocolate Peppermint bark at expensive specialty stores.

2 cups chocolate wafers (available in Canada at http://www.bulkbarn.ca/en-ca/index.html)

Chocolate making wafers

Chocolate making wafers

2 large candy canes, crushed

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Few drops of peppermint flavoring

Temper chocolate by placing wafers in the top of a double boiler. Fill the bottom half of the boiler one-third to one-half full with water. Heat chocolate over medium heat, stirring,  until melted and glossy:

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Remove from heat, stir in crushed candy canes and peppermint flavoring.

Freeze until firm, 2 – 3 hours, in a pan lined with wax paper. Remove from freezer.  Using wax paper, so the bark doesn’t melt onto your hands, break it apart into pieces.

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

For gift-giving, place in a pretty container, and wrap with seasonal cellophane paper.

Pesto Chicken Pasta with Peas

English: this is a picture of self made pesto ...

English: this is a picture of self made pesto in a mortar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2 cooked chicken breasts, cut up

1/2 c. pesto

1 cup frozen peas, thawed (you could add to the pasta while it’s cooking during the last few minutes, or rinse the peas under hot water)

4 cups cooked pasta (rotini or broken up spaghetti) (regular pasta or gluten free pasta)

1/4 c. olive oil

Toss all ingredients together in a large pasta bowl. Add Parmesan cheese if desired. Serves four.

Roasted Morrocan-Inspired Chicken with Cauliflower and Carrots

 

Shop with spices in Morocco

Shop with spices in Morocco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Two chicken breasts, skinned and deboned

 

2 – 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped

 

1/2 head cauliflower, separated into florets

 

1 onion, chopped

 

3 T. oil, divided

 

2 tsps each (divided then mixed into a small bowl): cumin, nutmeg, allspice, coriander, curry powder, tumeric and salt and pepper

 

Place prepared vegetables in a  9 x 13 glass baking dish.  Add 1 – 2 tablespoons of oil.  Combine one teaspoon each of the spices in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over vegetables and toss to combine.  Place chicken breasts on top of vegetable mixture.  Combine 1 T. oil with one teaspoon each of the spices in a small bowl and brush onto chicken breasts.  Bake at 375 uncovered for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven, cover with foil, and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Remove from oven. Cut breasts in half. Serves four. Good with couscous, rice or quinoa.

 

Five Minute Pickles

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2 onions, coarsely chopped

3 English cucumbers, thickly sliced, then cut in half lengthwise

Dried dillweed (I used lots, use it to taste)

Brine:

2 c. vinegar

2 c. sugar

1/4 c. salt

1/2 T. picking spices

Place cut up vegetables and dill in a bowl that has a cover or in an old ice cream pail.  Mix the brine ingredients together in a medium sauce pan and heat until sugar is dissolved.  Allow brine to cool a bit before pouring over vegetables.  Cover and refrigerate.  The pickles will be ready in 2 – 3 weeks and keep for a long time.

Restaurant Review: Aroma Cafe

Aroma Cafe, Canmore, Alberta, Canada

Aroma Cafe, Canmore, Alberta, Canada (Photo credit: LadyDucayne)


Aroma on Urbanspoon

Painlessly Delicious’ first restaurant review.

On Saturday August 24, 2013 husband and I went to this restaurant, located in Canmore, Alberta for dinner.  We’d previously been to Aroma Café earlier this year and had really enjoyed our meal at that time. Well, something must have changed in the intervening months – new ownership perhaps? The food was substantially different, and not in a good way. While the salsa and guacamole that accompanied our taco chips was flavorful and tasty, the main dishes were neither. I ordered the salmon and was extremely disappointed.  The salmon was cooked in a Mexican sauce and served with vegetables. Rice was served on the side. The salmon/vegetable dish was presented wrapped in a banana leaf. Well, other than the banana leaf, I could have made this at home.  Upon opening the banana leaf, I discovered the salmon was topped with frozen mixed vegetables (are you serious?) and a small handful of spinach. The sauce was basically a very mild enchilada sauce.  My husband’s meal was chicken mole and the mole sauce had very little flavor or spice. We were both very disappointed.  This was our anniversary celebration and the meal fell seriously short of our expectations, expectations which were based on our previous trip to this restaurant.  I used to recommend this restaurant to friends but can no longer do so.

Spicy Southwest Summer Salad

Corn Bean Salad

Corn Bean Salad (Photo credit: Emily Barney)

This was part of my lunch today.

Combine in a small bowl:

2 T.  fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (or minced if you can)

1/3 c. canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 c. frozen corn, thawed

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1 green onion chopped

Dressing:

1 tsp. each chili powder and cumin

1/4 c. each olive oil and lemon juice (lime juice may also be used)

1 T. mustard

Salt and Pepper

Combine dressing ingredients in a small jar. Pour over salad. May be eaten immediately or refrigerated.  Serves 1 – 2. This recipe easily doubles or triples.

 

 

Easy Summer Salmon

BBQ Salmon Steak

BBQ Salmon Steak (Photo credit: Fil.Al)

 

Take one large piece of salmon that has been filleted and deboned. Spread an equal amount of cream cheese and jalapeno jelly down the middle. Bake in oven at 350 for 15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork and loses its bright pink color.  Can also be BBQ’d.

Cheesy Kale and Leek Casserole

Ornamental Kale blooming in January in Washing...

Ornamental Kale blooming in January in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not a fan of overly bitter tastes. I’m also not a fan of overly sweet tastes but that’s another blog entry.  I find kale super bitter. Somehow, this recipe takes the bitter taste out of the kale. This recipe is from Cheryl, a friend of mine.

3 cups kale, rinsed and chopped

1 leek, cleaned well and sliced

2 T. butter

2 T. flour

1 c. milk

1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Place kale in a large pot of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside.  In the meantime, saute the leek in 2 T. butter in large skillet on medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add 2 T. flour and 1 c. milk to leek – butter mixture and cook until thickened.    Add cheese and kale to the white sauce mixture. Pour into a large casserole dish and bake, uncovered, at 350 for about 30 minutes.

Grilled Asparagus

 

English: Asparagus bundled

English: Asparagus bundled (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It’s asparagus season.  Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables — if fresh, young, and prepared properly.  Old asparagus that’s tough and woody or that awful, mushy, asparagus-from- a- can is very unpleasant and nearly inedible.    We’re able to purchase local asparagus (a crop not normally grown in Alberta) from the farmer’s market.  Edgar Farms has perfected growing asparagus  — a cool climate vegetable — along with other great vegetables. For more information, visit their website:  http://www.edgarfarms.com/

 

1 bundle asparagus

 

1/4 c. oil

 

2 – 3 T. good quality balsamic vinegar (if your balsamic vinegar is quite reduced, thin it by adding an equal amount of water)

 

1 – 2 T. spice blend

 

 

 

Wash asparagus and trim ends.  Place in a container. Mix oil, vinegar and spices together  and pour over asparagus.  Marinate for an hour or two, turning the asparagus at least one to ensure as many of the pieces are covered in marinade.

 

Grill on your indoor grill on mid-max for 4 – 6 minutes. Barbecue on medium until a bit brown but still tender-crisp.

 

 

 

 

Beefy Mushroom Soup

English: Mushroom Soup Français : Potage Velou...

English: Mushroom Soup Français : Potage Veloute aux Champignons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was feeling tired and uninspired the other day.   This soup came about from a combination of fatigue, ground beef and what was in the pantry.

2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 cans sliced mushrooms, drained

1 lb. ground beef, browned

1 onion, chopped
Brown onion and ground beef in  a bit of oil in a skillet or large pot.  If using a large pot to brown the beef and onions, add the soup and mushrooms. Otherwise, transfer the beef and onions to a large pot and add soup and mushrooms.  Stir well.    Place on the stove over medium heat until heated all the way through.  Serve with buns or bread and a green salad.

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