Archive | December, 2008

Heading Home

31 Dec

E’s grandfather passed away early this morning.

There are thousands of things that I could say to try and convey how wonderful and loved he was and is, but none seem like enough. We’ll be heading home for a few days for the visitation and the funeral, and will most likely be back on Monday. I do have a couple of posts already scheduled to go and will take a short break from blogging.


Wordless Wednesdays

31 Dec

Feel-Good Fettuccine Alfredo

30 Dec

With Thanksgiving and Christmas behind us and New Year’s fast approaching, it seems hard to imagine getting back to the routine, especially one that involves a healthy diet and exercise.

Here’s a dish to get you back in the mix, and quickly too: Fettuccine Alfredo. I know, I know; cream sauces are not exactly a health food, but this one’s a little different, without sacrificing any flavour. Serve with roasted vegetables and a warm roll, and you’ve got a winner.

Trust me.

Feel-Good Fettuccine
adapted from a Kraft Foods recipe
serves 4 (or 2 starving adults)

  • 1/2 lb. fettuccine, uncooked (I used Rossi’s Parsley & Garlic, a local favourite)
  • 1 no-chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • 4 teaspoons flour
  • 1/3 cup fat-free cream cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese (I used the powdered kind)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  1. Cook pasta as directed, and drain.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring broth up to a simmer, and whisk in the flour, a teaspoon at a time, until well blended.
  3. Add in cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan, nutmeg and pepper. Stirring constantly, cook until the mixture comes to a boil and starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  4. Taking saucepan off the heat, add in the pasta, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and parsley, and plate.

Taste and Create: Lemon Fettucine

29 Dec

During the month of November, I participated in “Taste & Create”, a monthly event that pairs up food bloggers, where each has to recreate a dish that the other has posted on their blog. Due to computer problems and family issues, I’m late in posting this here, but thankfully, managed to get it submitted to the main site on time.

I was paired up with Min of The Bad Girl’s Kitchen, and was thrilled to be matched with a blogger who’s been around for a fair while, therefore giving me a wider selection to choose from. I quickly narrowed the options down (since a fair amount included meat or fish), and finally settled on Lemon Spaghetti. A Giada De Laurentiis dish, it promises to be fast with fresh flavours. As I’ve been looking at picking up “Everyday Italian” for a while now, this gave me the opportunity to test drive it, so to speak.

Fast indeed, this meal took me less than 15 minutes to prepare, including the time it took to cool the fettuccine I used. I liked that the recipe was straightforward, and used simple ingredients I usually have around the house. I was not thrilled by the end result, however – my family will understand when I call it The Good-Bad Salad Dressing Effect. E somewhat liked it, and should I make it again, would eat it. I think the main issue lies with the olive oil; since it does not specify, I used regular olive oil, and this really should be made with an extra-virgin – you really can taste the olive oil quite a bit. I’ll probably be making this again at some point with good oil to see if it makes a difference, because it does deserve a second chance for its simplicity alone.

Lemon Fettuccine
from The Bad Girl’s Kitchen
serves 4

  • 2/3 cup olive oil (seriously, use a good one!)
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (I used Realemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound dried fettuccine
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (I omitted)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to blend.
  2. Set the lemon sauce aside. (The sauce can be made up to 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite.
  4. Drain, carefully reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  5. Add the fettuccine to the lemon sauce, and toss with the basil and lemon zest. Toss the pasta with enough reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, to moisten (I didn’t need to, mine was moist enough).
  6. Season the pasta with more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to bowls and serve.

WB Goodie Exchange, Part 2

28 Dec

Now onto what I sent to Julie!

I decided to send her an assortment of goodies that were each quite different from the others. Since her only request was No Fruitcake, I figured she and her husband were quite easy to please. I decided I’d send three of our family favourites that get gobbled up really quickly: Spice Cake Truffles, Banana Bread Biscotti and Walnut Wafers. Simple and easy to prepare (although a little time consuming), they all keep really well and would hold up in shipping. I also included some of our favourite Hickory Farms’ Melt-Away-Mints and a winter themed stationary set, which I hope she enjoys.

I got these goodie containers from Oriental Trading
they also come with covers for Halloween for dual usage.

spice cake truffles and Hickory Farms’ Melt-Away-Mints –
I love how festive they look together!

Spice Cake Truffles
adapted from a Bakerella recipe
makes between 35 and 50, depending on size of truffles rolled

  • 1 box of spice cake mix, prepared and baked as directed in a 9×13 pan and completely cooled
  • 1 can of cream cheese frosting (I use between 1/2 and 3/4 of the can)
  • 2 packages of white chocolate bark (about 12 oz. worth)
  • wax or parchment paper
  1. Crumble cake in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix thoroughly with frosting, starting with 1/2 the can and adding more as necessary – you want the mixture to easily form into a ball, but not be overly moist, mushy or sticky.
  3. Roll into quarter-sized balls and lay on a cookie sheet (I like to line mine with parchment paper). Chill for several hours in the fridge, or for 30 minutes in the freezer.
  4. When cake balls are thoroughly chilled, remove from fridge/freezer, and melt bark as per package directions.
  5. Rolls balls in chocolate (use a spoon to dip and roll, tapping off the excess), and place on another sheet of parchment paper until firm (I firm mine up in the fridge).

left: banana bread biscotti
right: walnut wafers

Walnut Wafers
adapted from What Did You Eat?

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, shelled and chopped
  1. Line one regular loaf pan or 2 mini loaf pans with plastic wrap (a regular loaf pan will give you quite large and fewer cookies, whereas a mini will give you more and small cookies).
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Beat the sugar and butter together with a mixer for about 4 minutes.
  3. Reduce speed, and add in the eggs and beat until creamy. Add in the flour in 3 additions.
  4. Press dough into the pan(s), and wrap well with plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 2 hours, or as long as a month.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove dough from the pan, and allow to soften slightly. Cut as many 1/8 inch slices as you can fit in your pan (about 8). Cover the remaining dough, and put back in the freezer until you’re ready to slice and bake more cookies.
  6. Place slices on a non-stick baking sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Sprinkle each slice with walnuts, and bake until dark brown (about 8-10 minutes). Once finished, allow to fully cool on a wire rack.

Banana Bread Biscotti
adapted from Picky Palate

makes about 25 biscotti

  • 3/4 cup mashed overripe banana (about 2)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar Splenda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Splenda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place bananas, egg, brown Splenda and vanilla in a large bowl; mix until combined.
  3. Place flour, white Splenda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and cinnamon chips into a large bowl; mix to combine.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined.
  5. Divide dough into two even parts and place onto a lined baking sheet, 4 inches apart. Dust your hands with flour, and form each into 7 inch logs, about 2 inches wide.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, and remove from the oven. Reduce heat to 250 and let cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, slice biscotti into 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal.
  7. Bake slices for an additional 25-35 minutes, or until crisped .

And just for fun…

the other half batch of the Spice Cake Truffles, ready to hit my stepmother-in-law’s birthday party – don’t you just love the sprinkles?

I’m sending the biscotti and wafers over to Joelen for this month’s Tasty Tools: Baking Sheet Pans!