Cranberry and Ricotta Muffins ~ Flash Back Friday

I first posted these moist and tender ricotta muffins using dried cherries but have found that they are great with almost any chopped fruit or small berries. Today I'm using Cranberries.  The original recipe also has the option of adding a sugar butter topping.  You can find the original recipe here. 

Also, when I bake muffins, I prefer not to use cupcake liners. There used to be a muffin coffee shop in town and their muffins were just wonderful with a nice crisp exterior.  If you are having trouble getting your muffin pans to release without liners, it might be time to invest in some new ones.  My favourite pans are  USA tins.  I use them for Paska as well.  I don't even need to butter or spray them.  Marg told me about them and I've converted all my bread and muffin pans to that brand.
  • 1  cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup whole milk with a teaspoon of vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (partly chopped)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Spray a 12 cup non-stick muffin pan and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and eggs with a whisk.
  4. Add the buttermilk and the flavourings, lemon peel and then butter.
  5. Add the dry ingredients all together and then stir just until combined.
  6. Add the cranberries, just stirring until evenly dispersed.
  7. Fill the muffin cups almost to the top.
  8. Bake for about 20 - 25  minutes or until a toothpick comes clean.

Cauliflower Chowder - Bev

I came across a large bag of finely chopped cauliflower in my freezer a few weeks ago.
We'd bought too much for the antipasto we made before Christmas and
I'd bagged up the remainder thinking I could use it in soup.
So that's what I did and it was delicious!
It's  hearty, healthy and satisfying!

  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced cooked farmer sausage *
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half cream or whipping cream** 
  • 1 head cauliflower, finely chopped ( about 4 cups)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and seasoned pepper (like Montreal steak spice)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Saute onion garlic, carrots and celery in butter until vegetables begin to soften.
  2. Place vegetables in large soup pot and add cauliflower, bay leaf and chicken broth.
  3. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium low heat until cauliflower is softened. 
  4. Taste chowder and add seasoned pepper and salt if needed.
  5. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
*You can replace the farmer sausage with 1 cup crumbled, pre-fried bacon
**You can replace the cream with 2% milk if you like but you may need to thicken the soup with milk and flour blended together. Add thickening and stir as you bring it back to a boil. Simmer a few minutes, stirring well.

Valentines Rice Krispie Treats

I had not planned on posting this here but when the date was free, I decided to take it, even if just for a super simple treat today. Maybe you have some littles in your family to do this with. As you can see, these three-year-olds can do it, so anyone can.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 5 cups miniature or 40 regular (250 g pkg) marshmallows
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • sprinkles of choice
  1. In a large pot, over low heat, melt butter, then add the marshmallows, stirring until melted.
  2. Stir in vanilla and cereal. 
  3. Press onto wax or parchment paper lined pan to about 3/4 inch thickness.
  4. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and insert lolly pop sticks. (optional) You can keep reshaping the cereal before it hardens.
  5. Melt chocolate chips.
  6. Put the melted chocolate in a piping bag (or small zip-lock with a tiny hole cut in it) to outline or cover part of the Rice Krispie cookies. (I quickly did this and then let the girls sprinkle to their hearts content.)
  7. Refrigerate until set. Slip into tiny cellophane bags and tie.

If you do them without "help" you can perfect them a bit more ... but you'll miss out on the excitement of watching those sprinkles get dumped. I used a cookie sheet to work on for good reason.

Happy Valentines Day!

Ground Chicken Chili

This is an easy last minute recipe for a tasty chili if you have all the ingredients on hand.

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil of your choice
  • 1-28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans (15.5 ounces each) of white chili beans
  • 1 can (7 ounces) of diced green chiles
  • 2 cups frozen roasted corn kernels
  • 1 jalapeno chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Sour Cream
  • Grated cheese

  1. Heat dutch oven with the 2 tablespoons oil then add the onion and cook till transparent.
  2. Add the ground chicken and cook through.
  3. Add the cans of tomatoes, beans, chiles, plus the corn, jalapeno, cumin and chili powder.
  4. Bring all ingredients to a simmer and continue simmering for 15-30 minutes. 
  5. Serve with toppings of cilantro, avocado, fresh tomatoes, green onions, sour cream and grated cheese. 
  6. Serves: 4-6

You can omit any toppings you don't enjoy. If you don't have a source for roasted corn you can use any frozen corn.

Cinnamon Bun Muffins

This is not really a new recipe, but I  thought I'd share this method - just a different twist to the regular cinnamon bun. The grandkids declared them awesome!


  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup ice cold water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/4 - 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon soft margarine
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • milk to make a smooth, runny consistency (start with 2 tablespoons)
  1. Scald milk with the butter (to melt) and then add cold water to cool it down.
  2. In mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar. Add salt.
  3. Stir in warm milk and butter. If it's still quite hot, start with just a tad at a time while stirring.
  4. Add flour, one cup at a time, mixing one cup with the yeast. 
  5. Knead until soft and you can shape it into a ball. 
  6. Cover the bowl and let rise until double in size, about 45 minutes.
  7. Roll dough out into a rectangular shape ( about 18 x 10 inches) on lightly floured surface.
  8. Spread with melted butter and sugar/cinnamon mixture.
  9. Roll up, starting on longer side. Cut into 12 slices. (in half, in half again and then each quarter into three) 
  10. Prepare muffin tins with parchment paper cups or spray. 
  11. Take each bun and push up the center from underneath, while you pinch the bottom to shape it like a tulip. ( you can also unroll and re-roll to make a stepped, tower look.) 
  12. Place into muffin tins, cover loosely with plastic bag and let rise 30 - 45 minutes.
  13. Bake at 350° F for 18 - 20 minutes.
  14. Drizzle with icing when almost cooled off. Yields 12 large muffin/buns. 


Bread for the Journey

Honoring others in love.

 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

Romans 12:10

The kind of love that the Bible is talking about here is not a feeling of love but a choice of love. 

Recently, this little one slid her bowl of Cheerios across to me.  It was an unexpected gesture that filled my heart. This week, whether I show a random act of kindness to someone else or offer tokens of love to my sweetheart and family, putting others above myself is a way of honouring God.   

It is even more special when we show love to others in ways that they most feel loved.

 Dr Gary Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages explains how each of us feels loved in different ways.  

Words of affirmation
Quality Time
Receiving Gifts
Acts of Service

May you find joy this week in finding simple ways to love those around you! 

Do you have a sweet idea? We would love to hear it.  Let's pass on our ideas to one another.  

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Bacon Pizza-Flash Back Friday

For flash back Friday I've chosen to re share one of the pizzas I bake for company that I'm pretty sure they have not tried.
I originally found this recipe one day looking at Pinterest. Strawberries on pizza? I had to try it, but I changed up a few things to make it my own.

-I added 1 tablespoon of pineapple juice to the sauce
-in place of cilantro, I used baby arugula which gives a slightly peppery taste
-I added feta cheese for that little zip...and I think it gives a pretty finish
**last time I made this I added a few pineapple chunks to the toppings**

During strawberry season I like to reduce good quality flavoured balsamic vinegar and once it's thickened and slightly cooled, drizzle it over skewers of fresh strawberries and pineapple. So it was no surprise to me when I saw this pizza recipe with it's unique combination of ingredients that I knew it would be a hit. I've also added my favourite pizza dough recipe.

Pizza Dough: enough for one 12-14" pizza
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons quick rise yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups very warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Place 2 3/4 cups flour in a bowl. 
  2. Stir in yeast and salt.
  3. Add water and oil. Stir until dough starts to come together.
  4. Add remaining flour until you get a smooth elastic dough. Form into ball and rub with a small amount of olive oil.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest on counter until double in bulk, approximately 35 minutes, OR cover with plastic wrap and let sit in refrigerator for 24 hours. This method of a longer rest time allows the gluten to relax and the result is a dough that is very easy to work with and produces a crisp airy crust. If you put dough in refrigerator, take out and allow to rest on counter for about half hour before forming crust.
Pizza toppings:
  • 1 cup chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces. ( you can roast one chicken breast for this or use a rotisserie chicken breast from the deli)
  • 4 slices apple wood smoked bacon, cut into 1" pieces and fried to tender crisp
  • 1/4 cup thin slices of sweet onion, I like to use walla walla onions this time of year
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Italian blend cheese
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • fresh strawberries
  • baby arugula
  1. Cut up roasted chicken breast into bite size pieces. 
  2. Cut up bacon and fry to tender crisp.
  3. Slice onion into very thin rings.
  4. Prepare pizza sauce, recipe below.
Pizza sauce - this is not your ordinary pizza sauce!
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam
  • 1 tsp hot sauce, or to taste. I add a bit more as we like a bit of heat
  • 1 tablespoon pineapple juice
  1. In a small sauce pan heat the balsamic vinegar over medium heat until it begins to boil. Turn down and let cook until it reduces to about 1/2 the amount.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients until well combined.
  3. Remove from heat and allow this mixture to cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients. As it cools it will thicken. (at the point dip a whole strawberry into the mixture and enjoy.
Assembling and baking pizza:
  1. Place pizza stone in a cold oven and turn oven to 450º.
  2. While oven and stone are heating up shape pizza dough to a round a few inches smaller than stone. Place dough onto a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with a bit of cornmeal. This will help the pizza to release and slide onto the hot stone easily.
  3. Once you have your shell formed on the parchment, spread 1/2 the sauce onto the shell. 
  4. Pour the remaining sauce over the chicken pieces and stir to coat. Set aside.
  5. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the pizza crust and sauce.
  6. Next add the chicken, then the bacon, onion rings, and top it all with the Italian cheese blend.
  7. Carefully slide the prepared pizza onto the hot stone and bake for 20-25 minutes. 
  8. Remove from oven, slide pizza onto a cutting board. 
  9. Top with fresh cup up strawberries, baby arugula and feta cheese. Serve immediately.

Hash Brown Quiche

The secret to this quiche is a crispy hash brown crust.
Perfect for a weekend brunch. Credit goes to my Daughter in law for this recipe.

  • 3 large boiled potatoes, shredded or 24 oz. pkg. frozen hash browns, thawed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup diced ham 
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup Half and Half Cream (or evaporated milk )
  • 3 eggs, beaten well
  • salt and pepper 
  1. Butter a 9 inch pie pan or square pan. 
  2. Press Shredded potatoes covering entire bottom and sides of pan. 
  3. Brush with melted butter – especially sides and edges.
  4. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until potatoes begin to brown.
  5. Remove from oven. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.
  6. Mix up all remaining ingredients except 1 cup of cheddar cheese.  
  7. Pour over hash brown crust. 
  8. Cover with remaining cheddar cheese. 
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes – till set.
  10. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

 To make in a 9x13 inch pan, increase ingredients 2 ½ times.

Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, here's an idea for a special brunch.  Combine cinnamon pancakes with a maple cream cheese drizzle and you have a winner. Add fresh fruit and bacon and call it brunch. 
Buttermilk Pancakes:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Cinnamon Filling:
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. Stir melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together until combined.  
  2. Put filling into a small Ziploc bag and set aside.
  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk in buttermilk, oil and egg until somewhat smooth (do not overmix). 
  3. Heat large skillet or griddle over medium heat.Spray with cooking oil.
  4. Drop mounds of batter (about 1/2 cup each) onto the griddle.
  5. Snip a corner off the baggie of cinnamon filling and squeeze a spiral of filling onto each pancake.
  6. Once top begins to bubble, flip carefully and cook until golden on the other side.
  7. Transfer to baking sheet and keep warm in oven, until ready to serve.
  8. Serve with warmed cream cheese drizzle (instructions to follow).
  Maple Cream Cheese Drizzle:
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  1. Place cream cheese and  syrup in a medium glass bowl and heat in microwave for 30 seconds. 
  2. Beat with mixer or wire whip, adding 2 tablespoons milk for consistency.
  3. If lumpy, heat for another 20-30 seconds.
  4. Beat until smooth.
 *If you don't care for the cream cheese topping, serve with your favorite pancake syrup.


Jambalaya is a New Orleans classic. Rice infused with lots of wonderful spicy flavour. Crusty bread is all you need as a side with this dish. If you need more spice serve with hot sauce on the side.
  • 2 links spicy sausages, cut into thin rounds 
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small bite size pieces
  • 1 dozen raw peeled and deveined prawns
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped red or green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 28 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes, drain juice into a two cup measuring cup
  • 2 cups white long grain rice
  • 1 tablespoon creole spice, or to your spice tolerance
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions, for topping before serving
  1. Place vegetable oil in a heavy dutch oven. 
  2. Heat, and then add in the cut up sausages and chicken. Saute until well browned. Remove to a bowl.
  3. Add vegetable to the dutch oven and saute, scraping up all the brown bits from the meat which will add nice flavour to your dish. If the vegetables stick or become dry add a small amount of the vegetable or chicken stock. 
  4. Once vegetables are getting soft add the meat back into the pot. 
  5. Add the drained tomatoes and the spice. Stir to combine.
  6. Add stock to the tomato juice and add water to make 2 cups. Add this to the dutch oven. Stir well.
  7. Stir rice into mixture.
  8. Place lid on dutch oven and bake in 350ºF oven and bake for 20 minutes. 
  9. Place thawed shrimp into pot and gentle mix in with a fork and quickly place lid back on. 
  10. Bake another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions and enjoy.

Vanilla Slice

There used to be a grocery store in Clearbrook called Funk's that had the most wonderful bakery.  I would go there to pick up hot dog buns for hotdog sales at the boys' school.  While I would be there, I would buy myself a piece of Vanilla Slice and savour every bite. The crisp layers and the creamy fillings were my absolute favourite bakery treat. Now I make  a version of it myself and it is still my favourite texture and flavour combination. 
  • 1 397 gram / 14-ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions  (I use Tenderflake) 
Pastry Cream
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped Cream
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 package Dr Oetker whipping cream stabilizer or 1 tablespoon vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 cup icing/powdered sugar
  • heavy cream 
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Roll out the puff pastry to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the pastry into 3 even rectangles, measuring approximately 4 X 8 cutting around all the edges to make clean edges.  
  3. Place pastry on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Prick the pastry with a fork.  Place another sheet of parchment paper on top of the pastry and add a cookie cooling rack on top to add weight so that it bakes evenly and stays level.
  4. Bake 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp all the way through. Cool for a minute and then split each piece in half (should be easy to split with all the layers) to make 6 pieces of pastry. Return to the oven with the insides of the pastry face up for 2 - 3 minutes to crisp.
  5. In a medium pot, (or microwave safe bowl)  whisk egg yolks with the cornstarch sugar and milk until smooth.  
  6. Bring to a simmer stirring the whole time.  (or cook in the microwave stirring every minute) As soon as it comes to a light boil, pour through a strainer to remove any lumps and add butter and vanilla.  Cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill until room temperature.
  7. Place two pastries on a tray and begin assembling.
  8. Divide the cold pastry cream between two pastry pieces.
  9. Cover with another piece of pastry on each of the two pieces.
  10. Whip cream with sugar, vanilla and stabilizer.  Gently spread whipped cream on top of the pastry.
  11. Top with the final pieces of pastry.
  12. Stir together icing/powdered sugar with heavy cream to make a smooth and spreadable icing.
  13. Spread the icing on the top layer of pastry.
  14. Heat the 1/2 cup whipping cream, stir in chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Pour into a piping bag.  Cut a small hole into the tip of the bag.
  15. Drizzle chocolate onto the icing and drag a toothpick through to make a design.  
  16. Chill vanilla slice for a few hours before slicing.
  • It doesn't matter what shape you roll out your pastry, as long as you begin with three even-sized pieces that can be split in half horizontally.   I make mine the shape of the plate I want to serve it on. 
  • Slice with an electric knife if possible or very gently with a very sharp serrated knife. 
  • Each pastry cuts into about 8 pieces.  
  • Do not freeze.  Custard does not freeze well.
  • The dessert will be best within 12 hours. 

Bread for the Journey - Saviour Like a Shepherd lead us.

Saviour, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Thy folds prepare:
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are;
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

We are Thine; do Thou befriend us,
Be the Guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us,
Seek us when we go astray:
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray;
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us,
Poor and sinful tho' we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us,
Grace to cleanse, and pow'r to free:
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus,
Early let us turn to Thee;
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus,
Early let us turn to Thee.

Early let us seek Thy favor;
Early let us do Thy will;
Blessed Lord and only Saviour,
With Thy love our bosoms fill:
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still;
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still.

Chocolate-O-Chocolate Cookies ... gluten free

For Flashback Friday I thought I would remind you of these delicious cookies I posted a few years ago .. you can find the original recipe here 

I have simplified the recipe somewhat in the update below ...

 Chocolate-O-Chocolate Cookies
  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 1/2 cup shortening 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup white sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla 
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder 
  • 1 (4 oz) package of instant chocolate pudding 
  •  one cup Julie's Flour mix or your favorite GF all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum 
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 3 1/2 cups gluten-free oat flakes 
  • 2 cups chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional) 
  1. Cream together butter, shortening and sugars 
  2. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. 
  3. Add mixed together dry ingredients , stirring well 
  4. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. 
  5. Drop by teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet. 
  6. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until done. (Less time in oven  leaves cookies softer, baking longer makes them  crispier) .  Let cool slightly before removing from pan.   
** note -- this is quite a large recipe but it can easily be cut in half. 

Amy's Date and Nut Bars

This is my daughter's recipe and it uses whole foods and natural sugars coming from the dried fruit. I will share with you today two versions to show how easy it is to switch things up and add whatever you wish. The nuts don't have to be toasted but they do add a depth of flavor if they are.
Each variation makes one loaf pan cut into bars.

Coconut Date Bars: (Top Bar)

  • 1 cup of toasted nuts (1/2 each of almonds and cashews)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups of medjool dates
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
Ginger Date Bars: (Bottom Bar)
  • 1 cup toasted nuts (1/2 cup each of almonds and pecans were used)
  • 1 cup of mejooled dates
  • 1 - 2" piece of ginger peeled and shredded or finely diced if you like pieces of ginger in it. 
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  1. Add the nuts into a food processor and pulse until you have small pieces.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until the mixture is well combined and sticky. 
  3. Press into a parchment lined loaf pan.
  4. Chill in the refridgerator until firm. 
  5. Remove from pan and cup into bars. 
  6. They keep well in the refridgerator for about a month or freeze.