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Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie

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This pie is like a giant chocolate pecan butter tart! I remember bringing it to a New Orleans-theme evening that our Gourmet Club was hosting back in the 80’s. It was a big hit then and still makes a lovely dessert for family or guests.

The original recipe suggests using a frozen pie shell from the grocery store so that’s what I do. It must be pre-baked to harden it up a bit.

The pie can be served as is or with a garnish of unsweetened whipped cream.

(Sorry about the ugly crust – half of the edge fell off!! I guess that’s what happens when you drop the box on the kitchen floor  before baking  :( :(

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 8″ frozen pie shell

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup sugar

2 extra large eggs

1/4 cup butter, melted

Unsweetened whipped cream (Optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325F

2. Bake pie shell for 8-10 minutes

3. Remove from oven and sprinkle pecans and chocolate chips evenly into shell

4. Stir together corn syrup, sugar and eggs in medium bowl. Mix well

5. Add melted butter and mix until smooth

6. Pour mixture slowly and evenly into the shell.

7. Bake until firm, about 1 hour

8. Serve warm or at room temperature

9. Garnish with unsweetened whipped cream, if you like

10. Can be frozen.

Serves 6

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Hints for using AVOCADOS

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My family loves rich, creamy, high fibre, anti-oxidant, heart healthy avocados! They are terrific in recipes or can be eaten alone with just a squirt of lemon.

Most stores now separate very ripe (read: use right away) avocados from those that need to ripen. If you buy firm ones that you only need later, store them in a paper bag in a dark cupboard. They will be nice and soft in a few days.

I didn’t know this before but if you pinch out the last of the stem, if the small area underneath is green, it’s a good bet that inside the avocado will be green. If the small area revealed under the stem is already brown, leave that one in the store.

I bought this terrific avocado cuber at Williams Sonoma several years ago after I saw it featured in a magazine.

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I think they are quite readily available now. You just cut the avocado open lengthwise and push the cuber into the soft green area. Give it a slight twist and the “meat” comes out in one piece but as you tap it firmly onto a plate or bowl, the avocado drops in already cut into cubes. How cool is that???

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When making Guacamole ahead of time, add lots of lime juice, mix well and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap that’s pushed right into the mixture so no air gets at it. The guacamole will stay green until serving time.

If you type “avocado” in the search box on my home page, you will find my recipes that feature avocados.

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Summer Salad with radishes and peas

Summer Salad with radishes and peas

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Northern Europeans serve a lot of fresh salads that include radishes. I have always found radishes to be kind of bitter and when I was a kid, I would fish them out of my salad and leave them at the edge of the plate.

That was then…this is now. I have seen a number of interesting, pretty radish salads on the internet lately and decided to combine a number of them to see how they’d taste. I’m happy to say that my experiment worked!

By leaving them to soak in a bit of lemon juice first, the bitterness of the radishes disappears! And the prettiness is not diminished.

This salad provides an interesting mix of flavours and textures: radishes, lemon, baby peas, mint and crunchy pistachios.

A very refreshing summer salad that we served alongside of BBQ’d fish.

Ingredients

3-4 large romaine lettuce leaves

9 large radishes or one medium bunch

2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

3-4 T red onion, finely diced

good pinch of salt

Frozen baby peas, boiled and drained

1/4 cup pistachios, shelled, roughly chopped and toasted

3 T mint leaves, chopped or shredded

1-2 T olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

Directions:

1. Wash and dry lettuce leaves and arrange on plate or small platter

2. Slice radishes (not too thinly) and place in medium bowl

3. Add lemon juice, diced red onion and salt to bowl. Stir until radishes are coated with lemon juice

4. Set aside for 10 minutes

5. While radishes “marinate”, boil peas 3 minutes max, drain and cool

6. Mix peas and mint with radish mixture

7. Arrange on lettuce leaves

8. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper

9. Scatter pistachios on top

10. Serve immediately

Serves 2

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Ice cream with liqueur and berries

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When I started entertaining in my early 20’s, a very easy go-to dessert was ice cream with some Grand Marnier or Framboise poured on top. The dessert featured here is slightly embellished incorporating berries and a sprig of mint.

As much as I like the aforementioned beverages, my absolute favourite is Cassis, a black currant liqueur. Growing black currants and making jam out of them is a very European summer pastime. I can’t be bothered so I cheat and buy a Swiss-made brand black currant jam at the local deli. Love it on toast and crepes.

Serve this dessert after a filling meal – it’s light, easy-to-make and looks gorgeous.

(PS – I apologize for the fake mint leaf – I used up all my mint leaves in the salad I was serving for dinner and forgot to save one :)

Ingredients:

1-2 scoops vanilla ice cream (or in my case vanilla frozen yogurt)

1-2 T black currant liqueur

1/4 cup black currants, blackberries, blueberries or strawberries (or any combination of your favourites)

Sprig of mint (for decoration)

Method:

1. Scoop ice cream into a small bowl

2. Scatter berries around and on the ice cream

3. Pour the liqueur over top

4. Decorate with a sprig of mint

Serves 1.

Toffee Squares

Toffee Squares

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You guys already know that I am crazy for anything with a caramel or butterscotch taste. Yup, it doesn’t get any better than butter and sugar. So it won’t surprise you that one of my favourite chocolate bars is Skor, the chocolate-covered hard toffee bar.

Well, here’s a delicious recipe that I got from my sister. She calls them Toffee Squares and they contain 4 very smashed up small Skor bars plus chocolate chips.

The trick to these squares is to not over-bake them . Take them out at the 25 minute mark max (even if they are not very brown yet on top) .

They are to-die-for while still warm but equally yummy when cooled. Wonderful with an afternoon cup of coffee, great for taking to friends, great for lunches.

Enjoy!

PS – did you know that Skor bars were initially invented as competition for Heath bars?

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Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups flour

1 cup chocolate chips

4 small Skor bars, broken (1 bar = 39 g)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350F

2. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla and salt.

3. Gradually add flour

4. Stir in chocolate chips and broken Skor bar pieces

5. Squeeze handfuls of dough just until the mixture holds together.

5. Line a small jelly roll pan with parchment paper (11 x 17)

6. Pat dough into pan evenly and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until firm to the touch.

7. Do not over-bake.

8. Cut into squares while still warm.

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Susan’s Apple Cream Coffeecake

Posted on
Susan’s Apple Cream Coffeecake

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Here’s an old classic! Susan’s Apple Cream Coffeecake is a typewritten (!) recipe in my Cakes and Pies binder. I have often made it for company or for taking places as the pot luck contribution. I have absolutely no idea who Susan is – that was just the name of the cake. I looked the recipe up on the Internet and the closest I could get to a source is this. Even the woman who used it on her site says its from “a magazine”.

Despite all that, this recipe creates a delicious, moist cake that can be made ahead and frozen. The crunchy streusel topping contains walnuts, sugar and cinnamon. The cake itself is soft and tender with bits of apple, spice and brown sugar.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup soft butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup sour cream

1 medium apple

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, mix chopped walnuts, cinnamon and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Set aside

2. Grease a nine inch angel food pan with removable bottom.

3. Heat oven to 375F.

4. With an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.

5. Add eggs, one by one, then vanilla and beat until blended.

6. In large bowl, sift together (or use whisk to blend) flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

7. At low speed, beat flour mixture into butter mixture alternately with sour cream in 3 additions, finishing with the sour cream.

8. Spread half of the batter into the angel food pan. Top with pared, cored, thinly sliced apple. Top with HALF of walnut/sugar mixture. Next the rest of the batter, then the last of the walnut mixture.

9. Bake coffeecake 40 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.

10. Remove coffeecake and let it stand on a rack for 30 minutes. Next loosen the cake all around the sides with a metal spatula. Then by the top of the tube, lift cake still on base from the pan and let it cool completely.

11. Loosen it from the tube and carefully lift it to a plate or cake stand.

12. Sprinkle with sifted icing sugar, if desired.

Serves 10-12.

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Boston Cottage Cheese Toss

Posted on
Boston Cottage Cheese Toss

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I need a few open-minded foodies here to try this salad. My family has enjoyed it for years but if you list the ingredients separately – cottage cheese, avocado, pickle – you might not think they taste good together…but they DO! It’s the type of salad that folks try and say: “This is great – what’s in it???”

Anyway – it’s quick and easy and goes with chicken, beef or pork. A nice summer salad.

Ingredients:

1 head of Boston or Bibb lettuce (I have used romaine hearts successfully as well), washed, spun dry and ripped into bite-size pieces

1 T salad oil

1 T red wine vinegar

1 cup small curd cream-style cottage cheese

1 medium dill pickle, coarsely chopped

2 T chopped green onion

1 medium avocado, seeded, peeled and diced

2 hard cooked eggs, sliced

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Directions:

1. Hard boil 2 eggs. Allow to cool. Slice.

2. In large bowl, sprinkle lettuce with a little salt and pepper

3. Whisk together oil and vinegar. Toss lettuce with oil/vinegar mixture

4. Add cottage cheese, pickle and green onion. Add avocado right before serving.

5. Toss lightly to mix.

6. Garnish with hard-boiled eggs.

Makes 4 servings

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