Zucchini & Fennel Spinach Pesto Salad

Zucchini Fennel & Spinach Pesto Salad – Candy Coated Culinista

I was given the hugest Zucchini I have ever seen from a co-workers garden and now. I could cradle the thing like a new born baby if that give you any indication of size. Since I clearly have zucchini for the week and for weeknight dinner with friends I figured a new recipe was in order.

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 30 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
Pesto

• 1/2 cup fresh basil
• 1 cup fresh spinach packed
• 2 tbsp pine nuts
• 3 tbsp parmesan cheese
• 2 clove garlic, rough chop
• ½ tsp sea salt
• ½ tsp black pepper
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
• Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Salad
• ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
• ½ small fennel, thinly sliced
• 4 medium sized zucchini, trimmed and sliced into ribbons
• ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
• ¼ Yellow bell pepper, diced
• ¼ Orange bell pepper, diced

Tips
• Serve with grilled chicken breast for added protein and pour leftover pesto sauce over top of the chicken breast.

Assembly
Pesto

1. In a food processor place basil, spinach, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, sea salt, black pepper and blend until finely chopped.
2. With the machine running pour in the extra virgin olive oil until pesto is uniform and set aside.
3. Squeeze lemon juice at the end and stir in with a spoon.
Salad
1. Slice red onion..
2. Using a mandolin slice the zucchini lengthwise into ribbons and fennel thinly into strips.
3. Halve the grape tomatoes and dice yellow and orange bell pepper.
4. Place all ingredients into a bowl add pesto and incorporate.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This salad was delicious and flavourful. I was surprised how tasty the spinach pesto was considering I couldn’t find arugula at the supermarket. I even went to the expensive fancy grocer to collect it and there was no arugula to be found. Considering the ingredients for this recipe aren’t the cheapest and I got the zucchini for free this would be perfect for a dinner party or with guests and these are some quality ingredients being used; don’t save it just for yourself.

Garden Zucchini – Candy Coated Culinista

Advertisements

Cider-Braised Chicken with Apples

Cider Braised Chicken - Dutch Oven Version - Candy Coated Culinista

Cider Braised Chicken – Dutch Oven Version – Candy Coated Culinista

I really love apple cider!. So much so that I could consume a 3 litre bottle of Fresh-Pressed Mulled Sweet Apple Cider in one day if I’m not careful and therein lies the problem. I’m not usually one for sweet things; but I can’t resist apple cider and when I came across a recipe including cider I’m all in. Apple juice has always been my preferred juice of choice and almost any combination of apples and I’m sold. So when I came across this I had no qualms about trying it alcoholic or not.

Slightly altered from Epicurious

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 45 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients
• 8 chicken thighs
• 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
• ½ tsp black pepper
• ¼ cup Dijon mustard
• 3 tbsp canola oil
• 2 red delicious apple, cut into wedges
• ½ red onion, sliced
• 2 cups apple juice
• ½ cup apple cider vinegar

Assembly
1. Pre-heat oven to 450°F.
2. Season chicken with salt, pepper and rub mustard underneath the skin.
3. Using a heatproof skillet heat 2 tbsp oil over medium-high heat and sear chicken skin side down, until golden-brown, about 8 minutes.
4. Turn the chicken and then add apples and red onions around chicken.
5. Add liquid and transfer to oven to roast for about 20 minutes.

Tips
• If you want to make this with alcohol use 2 cup dry white win instead of apple juice. Also if apple cider is in season feel free to use fresh apple cider.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I made this recipe about one week to early. I thought two weeks into December would be late enough in the season to find apple cider; but it seemed this year apple cider only made an appearance purely for the Christmas dinner shopping schedule. So I had to improvise; which is what I seem to do best in a bind as this turned out great. The original recipe called for putting the chicken in a heatproof skillet and roasting the chicken; but I couldn’t really understand that part as I envision braising on a stovetop in a close container. This is when I split the recipe in half and did half in the oven per the directions and then I put the remaining in my Dutch oven. Personally I like the look of the Dutch oven version more as the sauce didn’t separate and it was creamier. Not to mention the chicken wasn’t as blackened. I’m glad I followed my instincts and split the batch.

Cider Braised Chicken - Skillet Version - Candy Coated Culinista

Cider Braised Chicken – Skillet Version – Candy Coated Culinista

Caribbean Christmas Sorrel

Caribbean Christmas Sorrel - Candy Coated Culinista

Caribbean Christmas Sorrel – Candy Coated Culinista

This is my absolute favourite Christmas drink. Once the Christmas season is upon us I know I’m getting Sorrel and I’m elated. Sorrel is made from sorrel leaves; which are from the hibiscus family and with its deep, rich red colour it just screams Christmas to me. Not to mention all of those other Christmas spices.

Yield/Serving: 9 cups
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 20 to 25 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 cup sorrel leaves
• 9 cups water
• 1 hand of peeled ginger, cut into pieces
• 1 cinnamon stick
• A few cloves
• 2 star anise
• 1 cup cane sugar, to taste
• Lemon to taste

Assembly
1. Place all the ingredients except the sugar and lemon into a large pot and bring to a boil covered.
2. Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Remove from heat to allow to steep for a few hours.
4. Strain away the solids and add sugar and lemon to taste.
5. Chill and serve with ice.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I have tasted two types of Sorrel: the Bajan (Barbados) way; which I am accustomed to and more recently the Jamaican way which a lot of the time has Rum added to it; but I have only enjoyed the rum-free version to date. Both islands ways taste great in their own right; the Bajan having more of that Christmas smell and so dark and dense when the drink is put up to the light, no light is getting through. On the other hand the Jamaican way has a lot more ginger and the addition of orange peel and the drink is not as dense. So when I made my first attempt at this I did a combination of both recipes. This tasted alright to me I was really hoping for it to taste like the originals; but it tasted like a Caribbean Canadian version if you will. I think I watered it down too much. I did get my Bajan & Jamaican recipe originators to taste it and they said it tasted good. I will say it tasted better over the next few days as the ingredients blended more and I will definitely add less water next time.

Savoury Holiday Sweet Potato Casserole

Savoury Holiday Sweet Potato Casserole - Candy Coated Culinista

Savoury Holiday Sweet Potato Casserole – Candy Coated Culinista

Is there such a thing as too savoury…I sure think so. I made this recipe well before Thanksgiving thinking this sounds like an amazing unique dish too bad you can really only stomach it around the holidays or at least only I can.

Yield/Serving: 8-10
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 30 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients
• 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
• 6 slices bacon
• ½ cup golden brown sugar
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup walnuts, chopped
• ½ cup butter, melted
• ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
• 1/8 tsp black pepper
• 1/8 tsp nutmeg
• 1/8 tsp cloves
• 1/8 tsp ginger
• 1/8 tsp cinnamon
• 2 tsp sea salt
• 1 spring rosemary, diced
• 1 stem of basil, diced
• ¼ cup 2% milk
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• Pecans, to decorate
• Bacon, to decorate
• Rosemary, to decorate

Assembly
1. Fill a large pot with water and boil sweet potatoes until tender.
2. Using a large frying pan, fry bacon slices and place on a paper towel and let absorb.
3. Chop bacon (leave some bacon behind to decorate if desired) and place in a large bowl along with brown sugar, flour, walnuts, butter, cayenne pepper, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, sea salt, rosemary, basil and combine with a whisk.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
5. Mash the sweet potatoes and add in the milk, eggs and sugar and spice mixture and stir until well incorporated.
6. Pour sweet potato into a casserole dish and decorate with pecans along the sides and add bacon bits along with more rosemary in the centre.
7. Bake for 30 minutes and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Like eating a very savoury sweet potato pie; the crunch from the nuts and the touch of saltiness from the bacon had me wanting more, the spices though probably a tad too much had me running away and I have altered the recipe accordingly for next time. I’m more of a hint of spices not an overwhelming amount. For awhile I didn’t even remember there was cayenne pepper in it until the slow burn crept up and then that was it I’m was done. This recipe smelt amazing from beginning to end, yet after 5 or so bites I just thought I think this is too savoury. Much like Pumpkin Spice Lattes in autumn and fruit cake or eggnog at Christmas some things are better only eaten at certain times of the year; because you well just don’t enjoy it as much any other time of the year. There is this novelty factor in a way and this is why I’ll be making this for either one of these holidays for dinner and no other time in the year ever.

Crustless Blueberry Pie

Crustless Blueberry Pie - Candy Coated Culinista

Crustless Blueberry Pie – Candy Coated Culinista

Still being the fraidy cat that I am of a proper pie crust I have exclusively stayed away from it for a couple years now. A doughy crust does not please me in any way and those recipes I have tried have never made it out the door for public consumption; friends and family are all good but to those just outside those parameters – no way. Thanksgiving dinner was upon me and I planned to make two recipes. Pie is a Thanksgiving classic; but what is the Candy Coated Culinista to do when she is still so frightened of the pie pastry dough… I’m making a crustless pie. Perfecto.

Yield/Serving: 12
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 55 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy
Ingredients
• ½ cup butter, at room temperature
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 2 eggs
• ½ tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 541 ml blueberry pie filling

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Spray an 8” x 8” pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
3. Using your stand mixer on low speed, cream butter and sugar together for about 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Add eggs, salt and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
5. Add the flour and baking powder and mix until just combined.
6. Press half of the dough into the bottom of the pan and reserve half the dough for the topping.
7. Pour pie filling over the dough base.
8. Drop small pieces of the reserved dough over top of the blueberry filling.
9. Bake for 55 minutes or until golden brown.
10. Let cool.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
A lovely recipe that wasn’t too sweet from my dessert lovers. I’m starting to perfect the correct amount of sugar even though I have sugar in my diet normally. I will however enjoy it in my baked goods when I must and this wasn’t overly sweet in any way. Score.

Coconut Pepita Pumpkin Pie

Coconut Pepita Pumpkin Pie - Candy Coated Culinista

Coconut Pepita Pumpkin Pie – Candy Coated Culinista

It is funny how a recipe just evolves. This recipe started out as a recipe from a magazine and every year I would deduct and add and let’s face it this recipe probably hasn’t stopped evolving; but for right now it is a beautiful complex dessert that is attention grabbing for the eyes and with ever bit.

Ginger Syrup

Prepping for Thanksgiving dinner with this ginger syrup recipe. Make this ahead of time and refrigerate.

Yield/Serving: 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 cup of ginger, peeled and half sliced and half grated
• 1 ½ cups sugar
• 2 cups water

Assembly
1. Peel ginger and grate half and slice the other half.
2. In a medium sized pot bring ginger, sugar and water to a simmer over medium-low heat.
3. Stir frequently until sugar has dissolved and then lower to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Using a sieve strain out the ginger pieces and pour into a container and let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.

Tips
• Use ginger for something else if you desire. Candied ginger perhaps
• Use the remaining ginger syrup, for cocktails, tea or anything else you like.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This was a very simple recipe and I haven’t made too many types of syrup before; but this one turned out well. The syrup was spicy and tasted very much like ginger. I can’t wait to incorporate this into my Thanksgiving recipe.

Coconut Pepita Pumpkin Pie

Yield/Serving: 1 pie
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 90 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients
For Ginger Syrup
• Prepare ginger syrup recipe ahead of time. See recipe above.
For Crust
• 2 cups chocolate crumbs
• ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
For Filing
• 5 egg yolks
• 2 cups pure pumpkin puree
• ¾ cup coconut milk
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 2 tbsp ginger syrup
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp ground cloves
• 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
• ¼ tsp salt
Toppings
• 1/8 cup desiccated coconut, toasted
• spicy pepitas
• Coconut flakes
For Meringue
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• ¼ tsp cream of tartar
• 5 eggs whites
Garnish
• Drizzle ginger syrup over top of pie

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Have a 9” pie plate at the ready.
2. Stir chocolate crumbs with butter in a medium bowl until moist. Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of pie plate. Bake in centre of oven, covered with foil, for 10 min.
3. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl. Add pumpkin, coconut milk, brown sugar, ginger syrup and spices. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Pour filling over warm crust. Smooth top.
4. Bake in centre of oven, covered with foil for 30 min. Remove foil and continue baking until filling slightly jiggly in the centre, about 20 more min. Transfer to rack to completely.
5. Toast desiccated coconut in a small non-stick frying pan until just browned and set aside.
6. Place pepitas around the outside of the pie followed by the coconut flakes.
6. Using a medium sized bowl and a hand held mixer. Combine ¾ cup granulated sugar and egg white along with ¼ tsp cream of tartar and mix on medium gradually increasing to high speed. Meringue is complete when it becomes stiff peaks.
7. Spread meringue on pumpkin pie in the middle leaving a little bit of the pumpkin pie to show and using your kitchen torch; torch the meringue.
8. Garnish pie with toasted desiccated coconut and ginger syrup and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I just loved cutting into a pie and seeing all the layers and the giggle and nothing spilling over. It means I’ve done good and at Thanksgiving this is when your recipes need to be top notch. The flavours came together superbly and I think I won’t be changing my recipe anytime soon.

Ginger Syrup - Candy Coated Culinista

Ginger Syrup – Candy Coated Culinista

Coconut Pepita Pumpkin Pie - Candy Coated Culinista

Coconut Pepita Pumpkin Pie – Candy Coated Culinista

Spiced Apple and Blackberry Compote

Spiced Apple and Blackberry Compote - Candy Coated Culinista

Spiced Apple and Blackberry Compote – Candy Coated Culinista

Nothing beats a multi-purpose recipe. I made this recipe thinking it would help me to enjoy plain Greek yoghurt and I ended up finding many other uses for this recipe.

Slightly altered from: Simply Nigella

Yield/Serving: approx 235ml
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 20 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces
• 1/3 cup blackberries, chopped
• 1 stick cinnamon
• ¼ cup water
• 1 tbsp pure maple syrup

Assembly
1. Peel and chop apples into small pieces and place in a medium sized saucepan with a tight-fitting lid on top.
2. Add blackberries, cinnamon and water and place the lid on over medium-low heat.
3. Check mixture at the 2-3 minute mark and see if the water has come to a boil.
4. Replace lid and let cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes with a wooden spoon. (to ensure nothing stick to the bottom of the pot)
5. When the fruit has broken down into a puree, remove pot and cinnamon stick from the heat and add maple syrup and stir.
6. If the mixture hasn’t broken down, give it a quick pulse in a blender until smooth.

Tips
• Compote will keep in the fridge for up to five days
• Can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
The smell of this compote was delicious and reminds me of those colder winter months. Serve on top of Greek yoghurt if you like; but I still couldn’t tolerate the yoghurt even with this delicious compote. I fell back to my usual go to of adding this to my smoothies and to accompany my pork loin.

Roasted Rosemary Rutabaga & Veggies

Roasted Rosemary Rutabaga & Veggies - Candy Coated Culinista

Roasted Rosemary Rutabaga & Veggies – Candy Coated Culinista

When Thanksgiving and the autumn season rolls around I always want to incorporate rutabaga into something and this simple side dish fits the bill.

Yield/Serving: 4-6
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 1 hour.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into a thick julienned
• 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
• Green beans, generous handful
• Fresh rosemary, off the stem and chopped a little
• Sea salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil.
3. Place vegetables on roasting pan and sprinkle with rosemary and toss.
4. Bake for 1 hour.
5. Plate and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Roasting veggies couldn’t be easier. Once I finished peeling the rutabaga all I did was coat the vegetables and tossed them in the oven. The green beans and rutabaga were still crunchy and I could taste the rosemary. This is a great no fuss side dish.

Roasted Rutabagas, Green Beans & Carrots - Candy Coated Culinista

Roasted Rutabagas, Green Beans & Carrots – Candy Coated Culinista

Fruitcake & Mint Chocolate Shortbread

Fruitcake & Mint Chocolate Shortbread - Candy Coated Culinista

Fruitcake & Mint Chocolate Shortbread – Candy Coated Culinista

I have never made shortbread before and I was a little apprehensive to get this started. This is a part of the cooking club and I couldn’t decide between icebox cookies or shortbread. Mr. C. said “shortbread please” so my choice was made. I am making 3 desserts for Christmas dinner and only one I know will be perfect (because I have done it before is the Sky-High Pumpkin Pie). There is a saying that you never try out new recipes when you are expecting company. I however, don’t seem to follow this rule.

I submitted these for the Cooking Club Holiday Cookie Challenge. See my picture here in the Chatelaine gallery.

Fruitcake Shortbread

Yield/Serving: 16 squares
Prep Time: 1 hour (to let the butter reach room temperature)
Cook Time: 45 – 50 min
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
• ½ granulated sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla
• ½ tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp mixed spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, cinnamon)
• 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
• 3 tbsp red & green glace cherries
• 3 tbsp candied lemon peel
• 3 tbsp dark rum

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Beat butter until creamy and then gradually beat sugar and vanilla in. Continue to beat for 2 minutes.
3. Sift flour and salt into a medium bowl and mix with a whisk.
4. Pour flour into the butter mixture gradually until well combined.
5. Add the glace cherries & lemon peel and dark rum until well combined.
6. Spray a 9” x 13” glass dish and press dough into dish.
7. Prick the dough with a fork every ½”.
8. Bake in centre of oven for 45-50 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
9. Once baked prick again and cut into squares while still warm; then let cool completely in pan.
10. Serve.

Tips
• Use sea salt vs. kosher salt. The kosher salt granules are too big.
• Store in an airtight container in a cool place for 1 week or freeze up to a month.

Mint Chocolate Shortbread

Yield/Serving: 20 cookies
Prep Time: 1 hour (to let the butter reach room temperature)
Cook Time: 45 – 50 min
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
• ½ granulated sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla
• ½ tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp mixed spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, cinnamon)
• 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips
• 1 tbsp peppermint extract

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Beat butter until creamy and then gradually beat sugar and vanilla in. Continue to beat for 2 minutes.
3. Sift flour and salt into a medium bowl and mix with a whisk.
4. Pour flour into the butter mixture gradually until well combined.
5. Add mini chocolate chips & peppermint extract until well combined.
6. Form dough into a log and slice into ¼” rounds.
7. Bake in centre of oven for 45-50 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
8. Once baked prick again and cut into squares while still warm; then let cool completely in pan.
9. Serve.

Tips
• Use sea salt vs. kosher salt. The kosher salt granules are too big.
• Store in an airtight container in a cool place for 1 week or freeze up to a month.
• If you have leftover teas you want to get rid of try finely grinding them and adding to shortbread mixture.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Yum. I find shortbread to be a very simple and fool-proof recipe. I managed to alter this first time out and the results were great. I made these a second time a few days back and the results were even better as I chilled the dough. I think I will be making shortbread more than just at the holidays.

Christmas Cookies & Cream Ice Cream

Christmas Cookies & Cream Ice Cream - Candy Coated Culinista

Christmas Cookies & Cream Ice Cream – Candy Coated Culinista

Now that I have made a sorbet and ice cream from a recipe, I feel sufficiently confident to make some ice cream from scratch. I am taking the knowledge I learned from my Mango Sorbet and Salted Caramel Ice Cream and making my Christmas cookies & cream ice cream.

Yield/Serving: 4 cups (about 1000 ml)
Prep Time: 10 min
Difficulty level is: Medium
Shelf Life: 1 week
Cook Time: See your manufacturer’s instructions
Chilling Time: 2 hrs, or overnight

Ingredients
• 1 cup milk
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• Pinch salt
• 6 large egg yolks
• 2 cups heavy whipping cream
• 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
• 1 cup candy cane sandwich cookies, crushed
• 1/2 cup crushed candy canes

Assembly
1. Combine milk, sugar and salt in saucepan over medium-high heat.
2. Stirring until the sugar is dissolved and texture is smooth.
3. Whish together the egg yolks in a large bowl.
4. Add the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, pouring in a constant stream while whisking.
5. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and set over medium-high heat until it has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 3 minutes.
6. Strain the base into a large bowl and mix in the cream and extract.
7. Set the bowl into an ice water bath and stir until the base becomes cool.
8. Remove the bowl from the ice bath and cover with plastic wrap and let chill completely for at least 2 hours.
9. Freeze in the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
10. Add the cookies and candy canes pieces during the last 5 minutes of the churching process.
11. Transfer to a chilled container and freeze until ice cream firms up before serving.

Tips
• Place cookies in a sandwich bag and the candy canes in another sandwich bag and crush with a rolling pin until the sizes desired are achieved.
• The custard will look a little eggy but don’t fear it will turn out well. I saw mine and was thinking about getting 6 more eggs and starting again, but I said to continue on.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Once again when I come “off recipe” is when I make my best creations. I learn what I can from other recipes and use that knowledge to create my own recipe. The moment I put this mixture into the ice cream maker I stepped away for 10 minutes and when I returned this was already looking like proper ice cream. The salted caramel I made didn’t even look like this so fast into the mixing process. After the 30 minutes or so I took a quick taste before I added the candy and cookies and it tasted amazing. The peppermint was strong and I was contemplating to add the remaining ingredients and potentially ruin this amazing recipe. I decided to continue and once the remaining ingredients were added I did one final taste test and the candy danced on my tongue. Mr. C. immediately said “this tastes much better than the other ice cream”. It is rich and creamy and this will be my base recipe from now on. For a person who prefers slushies, smoothies and sorbet to ice cream 100% of the time; I think I have been swayed. I look forward to making really amazing a delicious homemade ice cream in 2014.

%d bloggers like this: