The culinary adventures of a 20-something woman navigating the wonderful world of food!

The culinary adventures of a 20-something year old woman navigating the wonderful world of food!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Broccoli Salad

            As many of you know, about a year ago I started a new career as a real estate agent for Sutton Group Right Way in Woodstock. From day one, I absolutely loved my new career; but it wasn't until almost 8 months after I started that I knew I had definitely made the right choice. Why, you ask? The Christmas potluck at our office. It had every type of food imaginable, and everything was top notch. But the one dish that stood out for me was the broccoli salad. It was perfect. Except for the fact that the maker of said broccoli salad couldn't remember where she got the recipe.
              For the past few months, I have been trying to find the perfect broccoli salad recipe. Well friends, I have found it - I have combined two recipes to make the BEST salad. And it has been worth waiting for! Bring this dish to a potluck, get-together or whatever your heart fancies and wait for the praise to begin. Enjoy!

2 heads broccoli, chopped/torn into small pieces (about 1/2" pieces)
3/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt (or extra mayo)
2 tbsp white vinegar
1/8 cup + 1 tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries)
8 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled
1/2 cup red onion, diced
grated sharp cheddar cheese

1. In a small bowl, combine mayo, yogurt, vinegar and sugar.
2. In a large bowl, mix broccoli with mayo blend. Add remaining ingredients. Chill in fridge for 1 hour or overnight before serving.

Source: Adapted from two recipes on

Monday, March 28, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

          I realized the other day that I have never baked oatmeal-raisin cookies, despite the fact that they are one of my favourite snacks. I wanted to bake them for clients so I knew that I had to use an excellent recipe. I did a quick google search and found that a lot of people liked the recipe from Robin Hood oats. My only modification was to slightly reduce the brown sugar and add some extra cinnamon and nutmeg - perfect!

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp water
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
3 cups quick oats
1 1/2 cups raisins

1. Beat butter, sugars, egg, water and vanilla in heavy bowl with hand mixer over medium speed until light and fluffy.
2. In small bowl, mix flour, soda and cinnamon. Add to wet mixture and blend on low speed till blended, about 30 seconds.
3. Stir in oats and raisins by hand.
4. Chill in fridge for 1 hour or freezer for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350F. 
6. Drop dough by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden. If you want crispier cookies, press flat before baking.
Makes 30-36 cookies

Adapted from Robin Hood Quick Oats recipe.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Blackforest Cupcakes

           I love, love, love blackforest cake. To me it combines the best of everything into one food - chocolate, whip cream, and cherries. Since I'm doing weight watchers, I need a VERY special occasion to make these. What better event than a coworkers birthday? I made 24 and brought every single one of them to the office to share. They were a huge hit, and they looked gorgeous - I highly recommend making them for a special occasion like a shower or a birthday. Here are photos of the process, since some of you amateur bakers might not know where to start. I promise that they are actually quite easy.

The final product!
Using a paring knife, cut the centre out of the cupcake

Put the cherry pie filling in

Add the top back on


For the cake:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. espresso powder

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

1½ cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract (pure, not artificial if possible)

1½ cups buttermilk (whole milk + 1tbsp lemon juice will work)

Filling: I used store-bought cherry pie filling


1 cup heavy cream

6 tbsp. sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp. clear vanilla extract


Fresh (or maraschino) cherries

Chocolate shavings

1.    Preheat oven to 350° F.  Place a large,  heavy bowl in fridge or freezer to chill with beaters for hand mixer (this is for the whipped cream)
2.    Line 24 cupcake wells with paper liners & spray with Pam.
3.    In a medium bowl (NOT the one that is chilling), combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder together; whisk to blend, and set aside.
4.     Cream together the butter and sugar with wooden spoon until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Mix in the vanilla extract.
5.     Mix in the dry ingredients with the buttermilk and wet ingredients, about 1/2 of each at a  time. Mix each addition just until blended, do NOT overmix.
6.    Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about ¾ of the way full.  Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
7.    To fill the cupcakes, use a paring knife to remove a portion from the center of each cupcake.  Spoon in about 1 ½ tbsp of cherry filling. Slice bottom of cupcake top and then put top back on. *see photo*
  1. To make the whipped cream frosting, use a large chilled bowl with a beater. Start beating whipping cream on medium-low speed, slowly increasing as the cream begins to thicken up to medium-high speed.  While the cream is being whipped, gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar a spoonful at a time.  Whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in the vanilla extract. This process takes about 10 minutes. Put the whip cream in the fridge for about ½ hour to chill.
  2. Frost the filled cupcakes with the whipped cream just before serving if possible.  Garnish as desired with a cherry and chocolate shavings.  Refrigerate until ready to serve (it is preferable to frost just before serving, if not, no more than 24 hours - cupcakes will keep but I find that the frosting keeps its form and texture best within the first 24 hours). 
Source: Adapted from Annies Eats

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu

          One of my favourite foods growing up was Chicken Cordon Bleu. We had it every Christmas in lieu of the time-consuming turkey and I enjoyed it just as much, if not more. I loved the combination of chicken, ham & cheese - what more could you ask in a meal?!
           I noticed a recipe from Weight Watchers for a ligher version of Chicken Cordon Bleu and decided to give it a go. Once again, it turned out fabulously - you couldn't even tell that it was healthier than most of the recipes out there. It also has 80% less salt than a popular store-bought version for those looking to reduce sodium intake.
           This recipe took about 20 minutes to prep; not unreasonable for the quality of a dish. Make sure the chicken breasts are either fresh or thawed completely for ease of preparation, and soak the toothpicks for a few minutes in water to avoid them drying or burning in the oven. The picture does not do this dish justice, like most of my mediocre photos!

6 chicken breasts, fresh
2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/3 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup dijon mustard
12 slices cooked ham
12 slices part-skim mozzarella or provolone

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Take chicken breasts, one at a time, and place between two pieces of wax paper. Pound each to about 1/2" thickness.
3. Place 2 slices of ham and 2 slices of cheese onto breast. Roll chicken, starting with smallest end, so that ham and cheese are in centre (like a pinwheel) and secure with toothpicks.
4. Put egg, flour, mustard and bread crumbs into four shallow bowls. Dip each chicken in egg, then flour, then mustard, then bread crumbs to coat well.
5. Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes, until chicken is cooked and juices run clear.

Nutritional Information:
Weight Watchers: 8 points
About 400 calories per serving using 6-oz chicken and light cheese. Serve with steamed vegetables to add no further calories or points to the meal!

Source: Adapted from Weight Watchers

Tuna Noodle Casserole

         I am clearly on a tuna kick, given that I just posted tuna cakes and this one is for tuna noodle casserole. But I keep seeing good recipes that I need to make!! And they involve tuna! Plus, tuna is so versatile and nutritious, I really can't apologize for using it so frequently.
        This recipe is the perfect winter comfort food without compromising nutrition or calories. It comes from Weight Watchers, something which I have been dutifully following for the last month or so.  At first glance I thought the ingredients sounded a bit weird, but I WW has yet to let me down so I made it anyway. Good idea, since it was FABULOUS! I couldn't even tell it was weight watchers - I certainly didn't miss the fat or calories it might otherwise have had. It was very rich & creamy and full of flavour.....I'm ready for seconds already!!

3 cups fat-free milk
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp dill
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups cooked whole-wheat rotini pasta, al dente
2 cans light tuna, drained
2-3 cups (defrosted frozen) mixed veggies (peas, carrots, beans, etc)
1/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan
2 tbsp McLaren's Imperial Cheese (extra sharp cheese)

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. In large saucepan, heat milk & flour, whisking together over medium heat until it starts to thicken. Add pepper, dill, mustard and Worcestershire sauce and blend well.
3. Add tuna, pasta, veggies, cheese and mix well.
4. Lightly grease casserole dish and pour mixture in well. Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes until heated through. Sprinkle a little extra pepper and parmesan cheese on top and serve. Makes 4-5 servings.

Weight Watchers: 7 points per 1.5 cup serving
Nutritional Information: About 350 calories per serving.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate-Chip Cookies

         I am one of those people who bakes what is humorously referred to as "funeral food" - you know - food you send to someone when they have suffered the loss of a loved one. So the recipe must be good and something that just about everyone would enjoy. Cue the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!
         I have a few recipes for cookies on this site, but this one is very easy & just about fail proof, so I highly recommend it for situations like funerals. And to my friend "S"; I do hope you enjoyed your cookies even though you received them under terrible circumstances. XOXO.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F 
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips. 
  3. Place dough in fridge for 1 hour to chill (overnight is also fine)
  4. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Do not overbake! Cookies may not look completely done, but please remove them from the oven at 12 minutes! 
* Makes 3 dozen cookies*

Source: Adapted from "Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie" from Allrecipes

Nutritional Information: 145 calories per medium cookie, or 3 Weight Watchers points