Baileys & Goldschlager Cocktail

Craving a cocktail that is sweet, smooth and creamy with a bit of a zing?  Look no further.  I was inspired by this shot recipe from the Baileys website, but I wanted something that was more than a couple of mouthfuls, and this delicious concoction was the result.

THE INGREDIENTS

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3 oz of Baileys Original Irish Cream

1 1/2 oz of Goldschlager Cinnamon Schnapps

1 1/2 oz of 15% cream

1 % milk *

Ice

Now just combine it all in a cocktail shaker, shake and serve.

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* I added the milk last and honestly didn’t measure how much I added, but it’s really down to personal preference… how creamy do you want the cocktail to be?  With everything combined, my shaker was 3/4 full, and yielded 3 martini glasses worth.

So simple.  So divine 🙂

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CARROT SOUP FROM SCRATCH

The surprise hit that I never saw coming!

I have to admit, I didn’t think the kids would go for a bowl of homemade carrot soup one little bit, but they did… and how. They loved it! Everyone wanted seconds!  There wasn’t a drop left, and I’ve already been asked when I’m going to make it again. And the thing is, it’s so easy to make, I can’t believe it took me so long.

Now the reason that I had a lot of puréed carrots lying around is because I was trying out a couple of recipes from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cook book… you know, the one designed to fool your kids into eating vegetables? Well, what a disaster that was: “Why does it taste funny?” – “Erm… well, I mixed in some carrots.” – “Ewww, I don’t like it, it tastes weird.” After that reaction, I decided it would be truly foolish to attempt another veggie purée recipe (maybe one day I’ll try one of the dessert recipes). So, I saved my puréed carrots, and a few days later made something with carrots that the kids actually DID like… a lot.

Here’s the how to…

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INSTRUCTIONS

CARROT PURÉE

After you wash, peel and cut your carrots into 3 inch lengths – discarding the ends, steam them for approximately 10 – 12 minutes until soft. Boiling your carrots would leave them water-logged, which would not only make for a watery purée, but would drain away many of the nutrients. Steaming really is the key to achieving a smooth, thick purée that is tastier and more nutritious.

Food processor vs. blender… the verdict is still out, mainly because it really comes down to personal preference, and the performance quality of YOUR blender or food processor. I used a blender and was very pleased with the results. My boyfriend took over the task, because frankly, he had more patience than I did. You do have to take your time, because the carrots get so thick they gum up the works. So, you have to periodically add small amounts of water as you blend, while pushing the carrots down into the blades with a long-handled wooden spoon.

I have to say, what surprised me the most about the carrot purée was how sweet and delicious it was on its own without any added salt or spices. Mmmmm 🙂

CARROT SOUP

INGREDIENTS

Carrots – approximately 8 cups of puréed carrots

2 cups of unsalted vegetable broth

1 cup of 2 % milk

2 tbsp of 15% cooking cream

1 tsp of dried basil leaves or 1 tbsp of chopped fresh basil leaves (I used dried instead of fresh)

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground garlic

1 tsp salt

METHOD

Purée the carrots

In a saucepan, add the vegetable broth to the carrot purée and set your burner to a medium high setting

Stir in the milk, cream and remaining ingredients

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for a few minutes

AND NOW FOR THE EASY PART…

Serve and enjoy!

Carrot Soup

Fried Plantain

I’ve been trying out quite a few Caribbean dishes because I have a family get-together coming up and I’d like to make some dishes that they like. So, this is my first time making fried plantain, and it turned out pretty well.

It’s really easy, actually. You just need some ripe plantain – i.e black skin and flesh firm and pinkish-yellow.

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INSTRUCTIONS

Peel the plantain, then cut it into into ½ inch slices on the diagonal. (On the diagonal is a presentation thing. I just cut regular slices above, however, if this was being served in a restaurant, the plantain would have been cut on the diagonal).

Fry in oil until brown and caramelized on each side.

And that’s it! See? Easy 🙂

I added some sautéed onions that I’d fried up beforehand, but this is optional because the plantain is delicious on it’s own.  As you can see, some of my slices are a little overdone. I fried a lot of slices at once, so I lost track of which ones hadn’t been flipped, but it truly didn’t take anything away from the sweet rich taste of the plantain.  It’s very hard to go wrong here… and the result is mmmmm, heaven 🙂

Curry Mussels

First time cooking mussels, and they turned out really well, but it ended up being a lot ickier than I thought. I was so silly, I didn’t realize that mussels have to be alive when you cook them! So, you have to check for dead ones by tapping the shell: if it closes, it’s alive; if it doesn’t it’s dead. What made the experience even more memorable was the lovely squelching sound they make as they periodically open and close. Mmmmm :/

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INGREDIENTS

2 lbs fresh mussels (I used vacuum-sealed, and it worked out really well.  No debearding – removal of a thin, sticky membrane known as a ‘beard’ – or scrubbing required, although, I did rinse them in cool water.  If you do have to scrub and debeard, just Google it.  There are oodles of sites with instructions.)

1-2 shallots – diced

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp garlic butter

1 tsp salt

3/4 to 1 tbsp garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic (I had no fresh garlic on hand, and powdered worked just as well)

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/2 cup dry white wine

METHOD

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Heat up the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the shallots until they are that nice almost melting consistency.  A medium setting on your burner should be sufficient.

Add the salt, garlic butter, garlic powder and curry powder to the shallots to create the sauce.

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In a separate wok, steam the mussels in the white wine for about 5 minutes.  A medium-high setting on your burner should be sufficient.  Mix in the sauce and steam the mussels for another 5 minutes.

Voilà!  Delicious curry mussels!

Mussels

Yummy beef tortillas!

An absolute favourite at our house with the small kids AND the big kids 🙂  Yup, Thursday nights have become “tortilla night”.  Sometimes we change it up and substitute the ground meat for chicken breast, which makes for a delicious fajita.  The more toppings the better, because the fun part is making it your own.

We usually use a pound of lean ground beef, which we season with salt, ground black pepper, garlic, ginger, cumin, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.  Then we add olive oil to a frying pan and start cooking.  We add diced onions, tomato paste and a tablespoon or two of sugar, which cuts the vinegary edge of the tomato paste.  You can certainly use fresh garlic, ginger and cumin, but if you’re rushing to prepare a meal after a long day at work, powdered works just as well.  And you can spice things up by adding chili powder, chili peppers or crushed red pepper flakes.  Another tip is to prepare the meat the night before. Then you only have to worry about your toppings the day of.

When it comes to the toppings, we go crazy!  Our kids love raw vegetables, so we dice baby carrots, red and green bell peppers, green onions & shallots, and we chop up bite-sized morsels of cucumber and tomato.  Other toppings include sour cream, shredded cheese, corn niblets, lettuce and salsa.  We place each topping in a separate bowl which makes it easier to customize your tortilla.

For the chicken fajitas, it’s essentially the same principle.  1 pound of boneless chicken breast cut into strips, and seasoned with the same spices. We ditch the tomato paste and diced onions, instead opting for large chunks of red onion, and sliced red and green bell peppers.  You can sauté the onions and peppers with the chicken or you can leave them raw and add them as a topping later.

The end result is a delicious meal that even the kids get excited about!

Chicken Fajitas - the non-sizzling kind

Chicken Fajitas – the non-sizzling kind

Yummy tortillas!

Yummy beef tortillas!