Sunday, December 22, 2013

Slow Cooked Apple Butter

This post could have been called Sloooooow Cooked Apple Butter. It bubbles away for over 24 hours in the slow cooker making the house smell amazing.

This was my first time making apple butter and it turned out absolutely delicious. Like apple pie in a jar. Without the fattening pastry. Unless of course you make spread it on buttery toast, which I highly recommend. Or bake it into crescent rolls. Or stuff it into puff pastry to make apple turnovers. Okay.... there's lots of sinful ways to un-healthify apple butter.

You're going to end up with tons of the stuff. I made 9 jars. You'll definitely want to gift some. How to use the remaining jars? Let me count the ways:
  • On toast, pancakes, waffles, crepes, etc.
  • Apple Pie Smoothie
  • Apple Turnovers
  • Apple Pie Crescent Rolls (pictured above - spread apple butter on Pilsbury Crescent Rolls before rolling up. Bake as directed on package.)
  • Condiment with pork or potato latkes
  • Stir into oatmeal
  • Swap apple butter for pumpkin puree as a pie filling? I'll let y'all know if I try this out of course
  • Use in place of applesauce in baked goods
  • Eat it out of the jar with a spoon standing in front of the fridge while deciding what to eat for lunch. Not that I've done that. Much.

One Year Ago: Thai Feast

Adapted from Eating Richly
Makes 8 or 9 pint jars
You may want to set the slow cooker on a wooden board or something that will absorb heat in case it gets too hot- apparently they've been known to warp counter tops and it's going to be on for a long time.
  • 8 lbs apples, washed (I used Gala apples)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
Core and roughly chop apples (do not peel) and add to slow cooker as you go until full. You will not fit in all the apples at first. Set the remaining apples aside. Mix together sugar and spices in a bowl. Add to apples and stir to combine. Turn slow cooker to low for 8 to 10 hours. Stir once in a while if you are walking by.

Apples will have really cooked down at this point. Chop remaining apples and add to slow cooker.  Stir and cook on low for another 10 to 12 hours, stirring occasionally. Puree (an immersion blender is the easiest as you can put it right in the crock pot) and return apple butter to crock. Continue to cook on low with the lid off until apple butter reaches the desired consistency. It will thicken slightly when cool. Taste and add more sugar or spices to taste (I didn't need to add anything else to mine). Keep apple butter refrigerated or can it using the waterbath method following the instructions at the bottom of the recipe HERE.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52
Photo from Food 52

It's been a while since I've done a Bookmarked post, hasn't it? Here's a round up of what made me drool this week. Food-wise. I'm not including non-food items like a recent Pinterest search for "hot men" I conducted.

On second thought, I am going to include one link from that search. This may the weirdest and most strangely addictive blog ever. Just too good not to share. I present: Des Hommes et des Chats (Men and Cats). Side note: if you want to start a blog full of crazy apparently you go to Tumblr.

Salted Brown Sugar Toffee Cookies via Wit and Vinegar

Chorizo, Fontina, Artichoke, and Caramelized Onion Dip via Half Baked Harvest

Foolproof Pie Crust via Food 52 I used this pie crust for quiche this week and it was the best pie crust I've ever made. I baked the scraps left from trimming the dough for the pie plate and ate them with jam spread on top. And then went for a run.

Hasselback Potato Gratin via Serious Eats Crispy and creamy potatoes in the same dish? Yes please.

Chocolate Diablo Cookies via Chatelaine I've had these bookmarked for a while but made them this week to bring in to work for a holiday lunch. My team gobbled them up in about 2.5 seconds. There weren't quite enough to go around (I didn't get one, but I had some at home anyway), but rather than sharing the giant cookies my teammates starting claiming they had already licked them, rendering them unsharable. I guess they're pretty good.

Triple Ginger Snaps via Food 52 and Triple Gingerbread Cake via Serious Eats. Tis the season

Italian Shortbread Jam Tart via Food 52 I'm kind of addicted to Food 52 lately, clearly

Spiced Parsnip Cake again, via Food 52 Like carrot cake, but with parsnips. Intriguing.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sweet Potato and Leek Soup with Epic Bacon Sandwich

In spite of my recent slow cooker fails, I decided to give it another go today. Tyler was seriously considering banning me from the appliance. Much as I banned him from the power drill years ago- I'm the only one who gets to use sweet power tools in our house. I think I am redeemed with this recipe. In fact, we may have both redeemed ourselves today. I made a kick-ass soup, he fixed the microwave by flicking the breaker back on (baby steps people, baby steps).

One Year Ago: Chocolate Pudding 

Serves 6
Adapted from My Invisible Crown
  • 5 small or 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large leek, cleaned well and green end removed, chopped roughly
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup half and half
Mix all ingredients except half and half. Turn slow cooker to low for 4 to 6 hours. Puree using an immersion blender right in the crock pot or transfer (carefully!) to a blender. Mix in half and half. Serve with a little freshly ground pepper on top.

A friend introduced me to this sandwich on the weekend. If you can find cheese bagels it's extra epic, but still pretty good with regular bagels too. 
  • bagel, halved and toasted
  • herb and garlic cream cheese
  • 3 slices cooked bacon
Spread cream cheese on both sides of bagel. Top with bacon and sandwich together. Easy peasy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs

Dang, it got cold out quick, didn't it? I've used the slow cooker 3 times in the last week. Two of which were fails. One night last week I was going to try a whole chicken with root vegetables in the slow cooker. The darn thing didn't turn on and raw chicken sat on the counter. All. Day. That went in the garbage (after a Facebook poll. I wanted to be sure before I threw it away. The poor chicken gave it's life for nothing!).

The next day I threw some marinated chicken thighs I'd stashed in the freezer into the Crockpot as I rushed out the door. The key to the slow cooker is it traps all the moisture to braise and stew all day. This does not happen if you leave the lid off a crack. What happens then is all the moisture evaporates and you have to chip marinade-turned-charcoal off the bottom of the pot. Super fun. 

Of course, being me, I didn't order pizza for dinner. I made spinach gnocchi. From scratch. Because I am a crazy person.

Finally, last night, Crockpot success! I'll admit, this is not a typical Four Seasons Kitchen meal with jarred sauce and frozen meatballs. Hey, I'm not above a little help from Mr Ragu once in a while. I figured this would be super quick and easy for Tyler to make while I was at work. Turned out amazing, healthy, and dead easy.

Serves 4
Adapted from Paleo Pot via Pinterest
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 jar tomato sauce, thinned with a bit of water if your brand is really thick
  • 1/2 box frozen meatballs (I used PC Blue Menu Chicken Meatballs. Yum)
  • handful fresh basil, finely chopped
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
Cut your squash in half across the diameter (i.e. not lengthwise). Scoop out seeds and pulp. Save the seeds to roast as you would pumpkin seeds if you wish.

Pour sauce into slow cooker. Place squash in slow cooker cut side down. Spread meatballs around squash in the sauce. Cook on low about 6 hours.

To serve, remove squash from slow cooker using tongs. Hold with tongs and scrape squash out of skin with a fork. Mix basil into sauce, ladle sauce and meatballs over squash. Serve with Parmesan.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Broiled Teriyaki Salmon with Kale Fried Rice

I've been on a kale binge this week. Maybe my body is trying to counter-act the Halloween chocolate. I gave up on kale in my smoothies- do you have to sharpen blender blades or something? Mine isn't pureeing the kale any more. Chugging a drink rife with hearty leaves that have done battle with the blender and won is not pleasant first thing in the morning, believe me. So what to do with this giant bunch of kale? Kale salad. Kale fried rice. And maybe some kale chips if you please.

Raw kale + roasted sunflower seeds + dried cranberries + chopped apples + balsamic vinaigrette = addictive kale salad.

Parker enjoys all these things, aside from the kale, separately. But mix them together and call it a salad and it's a no go. I don't get kids. This must be how men feel their whole lives about women. Just can't figure them out.

The recipe for the fried rice is from Gwyneth Paltrow's first cookbook. Still one of my favorite cookbooks. The rice is dead simple. You don't need a recipe, really, but I'll provide you my modified recipe anyway of course. Paltrow calls for the kale to be cut small, "the smaller you cut the kale the more it becomes about the rice." I decided to chop it to oblivion in the food processor. Parker likes to help press the button. And then, being three, he asked me to wash the food processor so he could chop up his cars. Whaaa?

Serves 4
Adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow's My Father's Daughter 
Cook your rice the day before you plan to make this. Just let it bubble way on the back of the stove while you make whatever else you are having for dinner that day. Drain and stash it in the fridge until ready to use. Cooked rice can also be frozen flat in freezer bags for quick thawing.
  • Teriyaki Salmon recipe
  • 1/2 lb kale, stems discarded
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cold cooked brown rice (I used a brown and wild rice blend)
  • 1 cup peas, thawed if from frozen
  • 2 green onions, chopped small
  • 1 tbsp Ponzu-soy sauce or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
Chop kale finely in a food processor (or go nuts with a knife). Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with the vegetable oil. Add kale and saute until crisp and bright green with a few browned pieces, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add rice and stir to combine everything. Spread rice into a flat layer and fry a few minutes, stir and spread it out again. Repeat, stirring every few minutes, until rice is crisped and smells nutty. Add green onion and peas, stir to combine. Turn off heat, add Ponzu or soy and sesame oil, stir to combine.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Soup with Parmesan Crisps

Pretty much the only thing I like about the weather getting colder is that means it's soup time! Well, ok I also enjoy cozy sweaters, tea, and boots (sexy boots, not mukluks). I think I've mentioned before that Tyler doesn't like soup. Fortunately, I now have a soup ally. Parker asked to have this soup instead of macaroni and cheese last week. Score one for the good guys.

The first time I made this soup I loosely followed a recipe from Closet Cooking. I meant to follow it exactly, but I kept getting distracted. Among other mistakes I made, I forgot to add milk to the soup and thinned it out with water instead. It wasn't until we had finished dinner that I realized I had forgotten a pretty major ingredient. As it turns out, the cauliflower is creamy enough without having to add dairy. I have posted a cauliflower soup previously, but this one is better, if I do say so myself.

I put this soup on double duty the second time I made it. To half of the soup I added some goat cheese and shredded cheddar cheese after blending it and used that as a healthy base for macaroni and cheese. I know. I am a frickin' genius.

One Year Ago: Nada
Two Years Ago: Fried Udon Noodles 
Three Years Ago: Fresh Pea Pesto Pasta (ie Labour Pasta)
Four Years Ago (yes! My blog-iversary passed on Oct 17. Four years!): Caldo Verde Soup 

Serves 4-6
I always try to have some homemade chicken stock in the freezer, especially during soup season. If you don't have homemade, I have found Campbell's Stock First is a good store-bought alternative.
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss cauliflower with a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet along with garlic (no need to peel it). Roast on middle rack of oven until browned on one side, 10-15 minutes. Stir cauliflower to put browned side up and return pan to oven for another 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven but keep oven on. Peel garlic.

Meanwhile, heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add butter and onions, season with salt and pepper. Cook onions, stirring often, and adding a splash of water when onions start to get too brown to deglaze the pan and stop them from burning (this is a quick caramelizing method. You can use a slow method of your choice if you'd like. I'm just not that patient). Once onions are very soft and deeply browned, add stock, thyme, and roasted cauliflower. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes, until cauliflower is very tender.

Carefully ladle half of the pot into a blender and blend until smooth, adding water to thin to desired consistency. Repeat with other half of cauliflower mixture. Alternatively use an immersion blender to blend right in the pot. Return soup to pot and add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, stirring until melted (if your soup isn't piping hot reheat before adding the cheese).

For cheese crisps, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Make small piles of Parmesan cheese and pat down flat. Bake until melted and golden brown. Watch closely- they will burn quickly. Remove pan from oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, October 4, 2013

This Week's Menu

Every time I see a commercial for dishwasher soap where the woman takes dishes out of the dishwasher, holds them up, and gives a satisfactory nod before putting the glass away, I think, "How ridiculous, nobody does that." I totally did that today. I started using a different dishwasher soap and I kept looking at my glasses and utensils and thinking how sparkly they looked. Who is this person!? If I start talking about buying a minivan just shoot me.

Monday: Hoisin Glazed Salmon with Indian-Spiced Lentil Mango Salad I already posted this recipe I was so stoked about it.

Tuesday: Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas Tyler made these while I worked late Tuesday. Easy recipe, but I wasn't a fun of soggy tortillas.

Wednesday: Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Alfredo Sauce  (photo above) I have made this dish twice now. It is fantastic and easy. We had Tyler's cousin over for dinner on Wednesday. He lives by himself and seems to survive on beer. I invite him over once in a while to get some vegetables into him. Oh, and we do enjoy his company too. This recipe is now in regular rotation in our house. You can roast peppers under your oven broiler or on the barbeque. I swap milk for cream in the recipe.

Thursday: Grilled Cheese with Roasted Tomato Soup I loosely followed this soup recipe. Usually I use a recipe from America's Test Kitchen for Creamy Creamless Tomoato Soup. Both recipes are good.

Friday:  Pasta with Slow Cooker Eggplant Tomato Sauce. Very easy to throw everything into the slow cooker, I did this in the 10 minutes I had before leaving for work today. Used white wine instead of red as this is what I had. Very good. The eggplant add chunky texture but picks up all the flavours of the sauce. If you use no-salt-added tomatoes add a teaspoon of kosher salt to the ingredients in the slow cooker.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hoisin Glazed Salmon with Indian-Spiced Lentil Mango Salad

I cannot even tell out how proud I am of this dish. This is great stuff folks. On a Monday after work even. A crappy Monday at work. A delicious meal is one way to cheer me up. Wine is another. I don't generally drink on Monday nights. However, if I had a nice Gwurztraminer on hand I would have totally popped it open (I know nothing about wine pairing- I have no idea if that would be good with this dish. If you try it let me know!).

Have you noticed the lack of seafood recipes on Four Seasons Kitchen? We eat shrimp occasionally, but Tyler really only eats shellfish. Or battered and deep fried fish. I usually end up ordering salmon at a restaurant. Consequently I've never really cooked salmon before, so when somebody asked today how I would prepare it (yeah, I talk about food a lot), I actually didn't know.

The inspiration for this recipe a grilled salmon. I'm sure we all remember my grilling track record. That's a no go. I was going to broil it but realized the broiler on my oven isn't working. Fantastic. Well, when I doubt I roast. And cook salmon perfectly! Boo-ya. Tyler even conceded it was good mixed in the salad (but lamented the lack of tartar sauce. I told him if he put ranch dressing on it I would kick him). Parker ate all of his. I call that a win.

Adapted from Chatelaine
  • 1 piece fresh salmon per person
  • salt and pepper
  • hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup red lentils
  • 1 mango, peeled, seeded, and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 of a large cucumber, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place salmon on a greased baking sheet, skin side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spread with hoisin sauce to cover each piece of fish with a thin coating of sauce. Once oven is heated place baking sheet in middle of oven. Roast salmon until the tip of a knife inserted in the middle of a piece of fish for 8 seconds comes out warm to the touch (don't test with your tongue- if overcooked you'll burn your tongue. I know from experience), about 15 minutes per inch of thickness.

Meanwhile, boil a small pot of water. Salt the water as you would for pasta (a good large pinch). Add lentils and reduce to a simmer. Cook to al dente, about 8 minutes. Don't overcook or they'll turn to mush.

Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl. Serve lentil salad over fish.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Potato Latkes with Homemade Applesauce

Who says it has to be Hanukkah to make latkes? Ok, maybe Jewish people do... but I say make them any time. Because they are delicious. And easy. And fulfill my craving for "bad" food today but aren't the worst thing I could put in my body so I figure it's okay.

A soon as fall weather hits I feel the urge to hibernate. This manifests itself in no motivation to work out. I usually go for a run a few times a week in the evening after Parker goes to bed. But now that it's getting cold and dark in the evenings all I want to do is sit on the couch and watch all TV. I thought I'd trick my body today and got up early to work out. The result was a craving for chips and McDonald's all day. So, sure, these latkes are pan-fried in oil but they are infinitely better than scarfing a Big Mac. And I can can still face myself in the morning.

I've made latkes once before years ago. I think the recipe was from Food That Really Schmeks. They were not nearly as good as these. These latkes hold together easily, cook quickly, and get perfectly browned and crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. To be honest, I've never had potato latkes aside from the two times I've made them, but I feel these are the ideal and all future latkes will be compared to this recipe.


This is a bit of a joke of a recipe. Chop some apples into large chunks and throw into a pot- you can forgo peeling them- cook with a splash of water and a sprinkle of sugar until soft. Puree using an immersion blender, food processor, or regular blender.

If not serving with latkes you can throw a cinnamon stick in while the apples are cooking. Or just sprinkle on some cinnamon after. This stuff is way better than the jarred applesauce at the grocery store- it's a staple in my house during cold weather.


I modified the recipe slightly. Of course. I didn't peel the potatoes. Part laziness, and partly from a health standpoint- the skin has all the fiber. Didn't seem to affect the recipe at all. I used the potatoes I had- just regular white potatoes rather than Russets. And next time I would use less salt. The recipe calls for 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt. I used 2 tsp and found them a bit too salty. A food processor with a grater attachment makes quick work of grating the potato and onion. The onion will still make you cry though.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Photo Credit: Neighbor Food
Every where you go it has been BACK TO SCHOOL for the last couple of weeks, hasn't it? Parker won't be starting school until next year so I will have wait one more year for fun school shopping (although I may buy myself a cute lunch bag- hey, I take my lunch to work every day to avoid eating crap in the cafeteria, I think I need something cute to carry my lunch in finally).

If you have school-aged kids you'll have seen the crazy creativity that's going on in lunch boxes these days. Good thing I have a year to brush up on my (currently non-existent) skills of making a sandwich into an owl... or a bear... or a mourning dove, or something equally as ridiculous.

Back To School Lunch Tips via Boulder Lovacore These tips are doable. And I want the cute hard boiled egg molds for myself.

Apple, Bacon, Dubliner Cheese Stuffed French Toast via Neighbor Food Yum

Gingerbread Cake via Yummy Mummy Club As soon as fall sets in I am making this cake.

Curried Vegetable Lentil Soup via Fitness Magazine Again, once the temperature drops I am making a big batch of this to stick in the freezer for lunches. You'd think I was looking forward to summer being over or something (I emphatically am not!)

Bangers and Mash with Parmesan Polenta via All You Need is Cheese Have we talked about how much I love polenta? It must be in my blood, a quarter of which is Italian. Although that does beg the question why the Estonian part of me doesn't crave, say, smoked herring. Like, ever.

Homemade Merguez Sausage via Serious Eats Some girls ask for jewellery for Christmas, some ask for a day at the spa... I asked for a meat grinder. Bring on the homemade sausage.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fresh Corn Soup

Guys. It's corn season! Oh my gosh I love fresh corn from the farm market. And I mean fresh. Sometimes, if you're there at the right time, at the market we go to close by home they open up the bay doors and dump in some corn fresh from the field. Literally just picked. It doesn't get any fresher than that unless you grow it yourself, does it?

But then I get tired of grilled corn. Enter Gwenyth Paltrow's Corn Vichyssoise. I'm going to go out on a limb and say I actually like this soup better than just the corn itself. It doesn't get stuck in your teeth and spray the person sitting across from you when you bite into it. Unless you are sitting across from a 3-year old who thinks it's funny to blow raspberries with his mouth full sometimes. Yep, we're working on it.

The last step in this recipe is to strain the soup through a sieve. Don't be tempted to skip this part. This is what makes the soup velvety and creamy. There is no dairy in this soup (unless you sub butter for olive oil, cause corn and butter are BFFs. Oh, and omit the creme fraiche topping) but you'd think it was made with cream. Like the Parsnip, Apple and Brie soup I made before, the creaminess comes from a potato. Amazing.

This past week when I decided on a whim to make this I didn't have any regular potatoes or leeks, but I did have sweet potatos and onions. Turned out great too. Also, vichyssoise refers to a cold soup, but I just can't get into that. I eat it warm. Either way, go make this now before corn season is over. It's like summer in a bowl.

No, seriously, you're still here? Get to it!

Get the recipe:
via Bon Appetit

Two Years Ago: Cacio e Pepe

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Photo from Food52 Provisions
We are on vacation this week so there's not a lot of cooking happening this week at my house. We eat out a lot on vacation, even if it's a stay-cation (oh how I hate that term. I dislike it as much as "jeggings"- the word and what it stands for). Once I get back in the kitchen next week here's what's on my radar.

Pie Box via Food52 Provisions This isn't a recipe but isn't the cutest product ever? A handcrafted wooden box for transporting pies! C'mon. (I am also swooning over their blue Ball jars)

Fusilli with Fresh Tomato Sauce via Bon Appetit I am lamenting my lack of tomato garden this year. I think this is the first year since I've owned a house that I haven't grown tomatoes. Luckily I have the second best thing on my counter- tomatoes from the farm store the next town over.

Braised Eggplant with Garlic and Basil via Serious Eats I don't love eggplant, but it does a great job soaking up flavors. I'm hoping this tastes like my favorite Dim Sum dish of pan-fried eggplant stuffed with tofu with black bean sauce (great, now I'm really craving some Dim Sum).

Red Lentil Dip via Fresh Juice I'm thinking this would be like hummus. I plan on trying this recipe out this week actually.

No-Ice-Cream-Maker Brownie Chunk Ice Cream via Young, Broke & Hungry I have an ice cream maker, but this looks good and super easy regardless.

Sweet Tea via Food52 I've made iced tea many, many times before. In fact, when I was pregnant I drank an entire pitcher of Red Raspberry Leaf iced tea every day for a month (no, it didn't help with labour as far as I can tell, but it was delicious). I like having a ratio to follow though, usually I just dump in some sugar and hope for the best. I will also combine this method with a tip I saw on Pinterest to add baking soda to make your iced tea nice and clear rather than cloudy.

Monday, July 29, 2013

One Pot Pasta

I mentioned this recipe in my last Bookmarked post. I have made this twice now, once last week and again this week with some variations. I'm sorry to say, Martha Stewart, but your recipe was not perfect. I tweaked it and made it better, if I do say so myself.

As I noted in Bookmarked, this recipe caught my attention because everything is cooked together in one pan. And I mean everything. You measure the water the pasta will cook in and throw everything else into it- dry pasta, onions, tomatoes, etc. Once the pasta is cooked all the water should be absorbed and you're left with a sauce coating the pasta. This makes total sense when you think about it. We are always told to keep some of the pasta cooking water for the sauce because it's all nice and starchy from cooking the pasta. Well in this case, you're keeping all of the starch in the pan. However...

I had way too much water left the first time I made this which made for a thin, watery sauce. Now, this may not be The Queen of the Kitchen's fault. I used a different type of pasta and converted the measurement to metric...and then guessed at 340g of penne. I added some butter to try and thicken the sauce some but it was still too thin. The addition of the butter, however, makes a big difference in the resulting dish. Usually you would cook onions, garlic, etc in butter or oil for a sauce. Since everything is boiled in water together, there is no added fat. Which turns out fine but the butter adds some needed richness and rounds out the flavor. A little butter never killed anyone (unless you're this guy).

I was telling my friend at work about this recipe the first time I made it and some changes I would make next time. She asked if I used canned tomatoes or fresh. I had used quartered cherry tomatoes the first time around. I thought that canned tomatoes may throw off the recipe as they are more watery, even if they were drained. BUT. Inspiration struck. I don't remember if it was me or my co-worker who came up with the idea to use the drained tomato juice as some of the cooking liquid, but this worked perfectly.

Yes. We have succeeded in making a genius recipe even more genius (cue evil-genius laugh).

Adapted from Martha Stewart via Lottie + Doof
Serves 4
  • 450 g box penne rigate
  • 796 mL can no salt added whole tomatoes (according to Shelf Life taste tests the best brand is Italpasta for fresh tomato flavour)
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • small handful fresh basil, coarsely torn
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • freshly ground black pepper and lots of fresh Parmesan cheese, for serving
Strain the can of tomatoes into a colander set over a large measuring cup to catch the liquid. Press on tomatoes while they are in the colander to break them up and get more liquid out of them. Add water to tomato juice to equal 4 cups of liquid.

Chop tomatoes or squish between your fingers with clean hands (I like to use my hands- when else do we get sensory play like this as adults?) Stir together all ingredients except butter, pepper and cheese in a large pot. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Reduce heat to medium-high to keep at a low boil, stirring often until pasta is cooked to al dente. Stir in butter. Serve with cheese and pepper.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Photo Credit
We had a whole lot of barbecued food this weekend. As it should be in the summer. Last night Tyler smoked a chicken (the smoker is the Father's Day gift that keeps on giving), and today we had a mess of ribs at Kitchener Ribfest. I just wish I didn't hate beer- part of Ribfest is a craft-beer-fest too and it looked so fun getting little glasses of different beers. I tried. I thought maybe a fruit beer would be good. I got a watermelon beer. It tasted like beer. Then I got a raspberry beer. It too tasted like beer. I was a trooper and gave it a good go, taking 3 sips of the raspberry beer before giving it away. Ah well, it was the ribs we were there for and I destroyed those mofos.

Here are some recipes that caught my eye this week.

Flourless Blender Muffins via Yummy Mummy There's a slim chance of me whipping these up before work- Tyler gets Parker to daycare so that I'm not late for work cause usually I'm late for everything- but still...

Breakfast Buttercups via Cook's Country America's Test Kitchen has done it again and perfected a seemingly simple recipe. These look great for a weekend breakfast.

Lemon Meringue Ice Cream via Sifting Focus I eat the filling out of the lemon meringue pie and leave the crust, so this is perfect. Must make before summer ends, but this will have to wait a few weeks as I currently have 3 other homemade ice creams in the freezer

Salt and Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas via Oh She Glows I love salt and vinegar. I love roasted chickpeas. I love making healthy snacks. Perfect.

Drink Mix Tape via Cooking with Julie Oh my I love this. Music paired with related cocktails. I was hoping to see Beastie Boys Brass Monkey, and there it was in the link through! Excellent.

One Pan Pasta via Lottie and Doof This is crazy genius! The pasta, pasta cooking water, sauce ingredients are all thrown in a pan together. What!? It makes sense- they always say to save the pasta cooking water cause it's starchy and holds the sauce together, right? I have to try this asap.

Sex Cereal Have you heard of this? At first glance it sounds like a joke, but you know what? The ingredients look delicious.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Grilled Chicken and Bulgar Salad with Goat Cheese

Bulgar is officially my new favorite thing. I mentioned in the last meal planning post that I was going to make this salad with bulgar instead of farro. Well. That was a genius move if I say so myself.

First of all, bulgar is easier to find- I bought it at my small town grocery store- and probably cheaper too. It is nutty, toothsome (I love that word), and maybe the best part.... wait for it... you don't have to cook it. It's parboiled- which it what makes it bulgar not cracked wheat- so it just has to re-hydrate. Just mix a 2:1 ratio of water to bulgar and let it rest for an hour. I did mine a couple of days ago in a Tupperware container stuck it in the fridge so it was ready to go in advance.

As I've said before, I have a hard time following a recipe exactly. Or at all, as it turns out in this case. The recipe from Bon Appetit was more of an inspiration in this case. 

Also, I managed to barbecue without setting anything on fire tonight. Yay me.

I'll admit, this salad looks all weird and healthy when it's all mixed up (rather than layered nicely in the photo above). My brother came over for a swim tonight after we'd had dinner and was all, "What's that?"
Me: "Bulgar"
Him: "Vulgar? Yeah it looks vulgar" 
I made him taste some and he asked if he could take home the leftovers. Ha, take that.

Serves 4
Keep in mind the bulgar needs to an hour to start, so plan accordingly.
  • 1 cup bulgar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • large handful asparagus, tough ends removed
  • large handful green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • large handful fresh herbs, chopped- I used basil, parsley, oregano as this what's in my garden
  • salt and pepper
Combine bulgar and water in a bowl and let stand for 1 hour. Alternatively, make bulgar a couple of days in advance and keep refrigerated.

Boil a pot of water. Add a good pinch of salt and the green beans. Cook 4 minutes or until just tender. Remove green beans to an ice water bath to cool them quickly. Drain, dry, and set aside.

Heat grill to high. Season chicken with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through. While chicken is cooking, carefully place asparagus spears on the grill so that they don't fall through the grates. Grill asapargus about 5 minutes or until slightly charred. Remove and let cool slightly before chopping into 1/2-inch pieces.

 Whisk together dressing ingredients in bottom of serving bowl. Add bulgar, chicken, vegetables, and goat cheese. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Monday, July 15, 2013

What's Cookin' Hot Stuff

Falafel Wraps
 No seriously, it's freakin hot out (I love it), so we will actually not be eating much hot stuff. I'm going to try to avoid turning on the oven this week. Here's what I'm cooking up.

Falafel Wraps via Jamie Oliver I finally got around to making these. Yum! But of course, give me a recipe and I have a hard time following it exactly. I'm not big into rules. I scaled back the allspice by half, which was a good call cause it would have been really overpowering. Instead of the sides and sauces I made a slaw similar to the one I made for my birthday bbq. And I've recently crossed the line from cilantro-hater to cilantro-lover, so I sprinkled a liberal amount over my falafel.

Chicken, Green Bean, Corn, and Farro Salad via Bon Appetit I'm using bulgar instead of farro

Grilled Salmon via All Recipes with Black Bean Confetti Salad via Smitten Kitchen We hardly ever eat fish at home because I don't want to deal with the whining and complaining about it. From my husband. Parker and I love fish. Tyler will have to suck it up.

Chicken Korma via Jamie Oliver OMG can you believe I still haven't made this recipe? I just keep moving it along week to week. It's happening this week. I marinated the chicken today.

Malaysian Beef Curry via Bon Appetit Using the slow cooker is perfect in the summer. Doesn't heat up the house like the oven. However, there is nary a vegetable to be found in the recipe, which I didn't realize until just now, so I'll have to figure something out later. It may end up being corn and peas mixed into rice.

Monday, July 8, 2013

30th Birthday Barbecue

I've been 30 for five days now. I survived! I did so by drinking heavily (just kidding... kind of). But seriously, we had a great pool party and barbecue on Saturday. It was the perfect day. Friends, old and new, and family came, kiddos swam like fishes in the pool and Parker got to show off all his toys and play with some new friends. It was a great day, the weather co-operated, and we had great food to boot.

If you are thinking of hosting a party for 20 to 30 people, here's the game plan I followed:

1. Go out for dinner on the night of your birthday and eat a bunch of tacos and have a couple of drinks. Go grocery shopping at a store that you've never been to where you can't find anything and spend too much money cause you've had a couple of drinks. Get home and make some raspberry ice cream for the party two days from now.

2.  The next day go to your parents place for dinner after work and accidentally drink a bottle of wine. Get home at 11:30pm, rub your meat (the pork shoulder people, the pork shoulder) and make bbq sauce. Decide you're not tired yet and start on cupcakes. Go to bed close to 2am once three batches of cupcakes are finally baked.

3. Get up the day of the party, pop some Tylenol, and start on salads and appetizers. Which you will making for the next 6 hours. Realize a close to the party start time that you haven't showered, gotten ice, that you forgot to get about five things from the grocery store, and haven't been to the LCBO to get your beverage of choice for the party.

4. Panic. Drive faster than you should. Somehow get lost in a small town with basically two main streets. Swear. Miraculously get home within an hour, finish cooking by the time guests arrive, and proceed have a great time since you did everything ahead of time. Yay you!

On second thought, don't follow that schedule. You may want to plan things better. But ever'ting work out in the end mon. No worries.

Tyler made pulled pork. We are still working on the perfect barbecued pulled pork but it wasn't the perfect pulled pork. It was very good, but it didn't pull easily. I've only gotten pork to shred really easily cooked in the slow cooker, but that kind of negates the purpose of having a barbecue, right?

I made two salads to go with the pork sandwiches. They were my favorite part of the whole meal. I was going to make wild rice salad but I couldn't get wild rice at store I was at. They had about twelve other rices I'd never made before, but of course not the rice I needed. I improvised and made an orzo pasta salad instead that turned out so great. I could eat, and have been eating, it as a meal. Along with the other salad, a beautiful grilled corn coleslaw, these were the perfect sides for a summer barbecue.

What about the cake, you say? I had big plans for my 30th birthday cake. I had visions of layer cakes decorated beautifully that everyone would swoon over. Then a week before the big day I came to my senses and remembered that a) I suck at decorating cakes. b) last time I made a layer cake was for Tyler's 30th and I had a cake induced melt down that resulted in a 30th birthday marital spat. c) I'm just not that kind of girl. I'd rather have a rustic rhubarb crumble pie (I seriously considered this as my birthday dessert actually). So I met myself half way. The cupcakes I made turned out beautifully but were not too fussy. And there's cream cheese icing involved. Sold.

Here's the full menu:

*Fruit with Orange Creamsicle Dip
*Caprese Skewers (boccocini cheese, a small basil leaf, half a grape tomato on a toothpick. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar)

*Pulled Pork
*Greek Orzo Salad (recipe below)
*Grilled Corn Slaw (recipe below)

*Hummingbird Cupcakes
*Raspberry Ice Cream

 Serves 10 as a side dish

I was trying to get everything done and not thinking about blogging the recipe, so I wasn't diligent in measuring, so measurements here are approximate. This is a simple recipe anyway- taste it, if it needs more of something just stir it in. It will work out. 
  • 450g orzo pasta
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • zest and juice of two lemons
  • two garlic cloves, very finely chopped, or grated on a Microplane
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried dill
Cook orzo in salted water according to package directions- do not over cook- cook to al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Whisk ingredients for vinaigrette in the bottom of your serving bowl. Add drained pasta and remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

Adapted from My Invisible Crown
Serves 10 as a side dish
  • 5 ears corn, shucked and cleaned of silks
  • 1 small red cabbage, shredded - a food processor makes quick work of this
  • 2 red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 340g bag carrot slaw (like this one from PC brand)
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
  • zest and juice of 3 limes
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • salt and pepper
Grill corn on high direct heat, turning often, until charred- about 12 minutes total. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, cut kernels off cobs and add to a large bowl. Add remaining salad ingredients except sunflower seeds. Mix salad dressing ingredients in a blender or with an immersion blender. Toss salad with seeds and dressing just before serving.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Week of June 30

Call me crazy, but I love planning out our meals for the week. I've always done it since Tyler and I first bought a house and moved in together (8 years ago!). Sure, meals have evolved from "Kraft Dinner with Tuna and Peas" but the process has not changed much.

I sit at the kitchen table, usually Saturday mornings, with my coffee and laptop (or a few of the multitude of cookbooks I own) and go through recipes, choosing what to make based on the season, what we have in the freezer, or just what looks yummy. These days Parker sits beside me and colours (or watches Thomas, I'll admit). I usually ask for his input, but at almost-three his contribution this week was "ummmm... I don't know... I don't like dinner", but we'll get there eventually.

Chicken Korma This is what I wanted to make most last week and I didn't end up making it. I have a problem remembering to take meat out of the freezer. We ended up having pizza last week instead- not because of the frozen meat situation, but because pizza on the Friday of a long weekend feels like the right thing to do. 

Courgette Carbonara via Jamie Oliver This is one of my favorite recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks- Jamie Oliver at Home. This book inspired me to start a vegetable garden. It turns out I can't keep flowers alive but I can grow tomatoes like nobody's business. Also, isn't courgette a cute word? Much better than zucchini.

Falafel Wraps with Grilled Veg via Jamie Oliver Doesn't that photo just inspire you to eat something delicious and healthy?

Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwiches via Cooking Light (pictured above) There's a lot of zucchini happening this week at my house. I didn't even grow it this year. I do have basil in the garden though. I modified the recipe and made a pesto which I spread on one side of the bread.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Strawberries with Lemon Sugar

This may be the one of the easiest and best desserts you will ever make.

I know, that is a lofty claim. I pulled this together in about 3 minutes, and it took about the same time for it to disappear. I'd say that backs it up, no?

I finished work Saturday and hit the grocery store, thinking that I'd get home, get the groceries put away, and head over to Tyler's cousin's place for a BBQ. It tuns out the party had been moved to our place. Okay... Now what?

Luckily the boys had dinner already planned out and ready to go so I didn't have to do any cooking. Cleaning up was another story, but that's what happens when there is a ratio of 2 women to 6 men I suppose, despite this being 2013 and not 1952.

The last thing I wanted to do was come home and make a dessert (especially since it was a toss up between popping a drink or jumping in the pool for the first thing I wanted to do). So I zested a couple of lemons, added some sugar, washed the berries and headed out to the pool. With a drink.

One Year Ago: Battenburg Cake
Three Years Ago: Bran Flax Muffins

  • 2 pounds strawberries
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
Wash and dry strawberries. Zest lemons into a bowl using a Microplane* or other fine zester. Add sugar, rub sugar and zest together to with your fingertips to combine. To serve, dip strawberries in sour cream (or yogurt) and then in lemon sugar.

*If you don't have a Microplane, use the side of a cheese grater with the small holes and then pulse the zest together with the sugar in a food processor.

Monday, June 24, 2013

And this week in food...

Ok guys, week two of sharing my meal plan. Somehow a couple of meals got shifted to this week from last week. What did we eat in place of those two meals? One night we went to a barbqeue at my father-in-law's, the other...? I honestly couldn't tell you. How is it even possible that I don't remember making a random meal after work?
  • Souvlaki with Greek Orzo Pasta Salad I'll post the pasta salad recipe later in the week
  • Turkey Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries
  • something vegetarian with chickpeas maybe. We've been eating a lot of meat lately which is kind of weird for us.
So, the burgers. I was going to make these burgers from Skinny Taste but they took another direction. They turned out to be about half meat and half veg since I kept just finding stuff in my fridge and chucking it in the bowl. Left over chopped up peppers? In they go. There was some cucumber in with the peppers, so that got mixed in. I have a giant tub of baby spinach and since it's usually up to just me to eat about a kilo of spinach since nobody else will touch it, I thought I'd sneak some of that in too. A hunk of feta cheese was found lurking in the fridge too. Ok... I have a theme now... Greek Turkey Burgers! Genius. Some dill, parsley, and garlic powder rounds these bad boys out.

Tyler barbequed the burgers since I am banned from the barbeque. This is a recent development that occurred when I set a spatchcocked chicken on fire. And I wasn't paying attention so it probably burned for a good 10 or 15 minutes. Whoops. But you know what? I may be on to something here. That chicken cooked through in 15 minutes and was wonderfully juicy and smoky. Once you dig through the char of course.

Where there are burgers, there are baked sweet potato wedges. In my house anyway. I've told you how I make sweet potato fries before, right? Hmmm... a search of Four Seasons Kitchens says no. "Recipe" below as well.

Serves 4
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 sweet pepper, finely chopped (roasted red peppers would be good too- use a couple whole ones)
  • big handful baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • small handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper (go easy on the salt since you've got feta in there, big up on the pepper)
  • buns, tomatoes, condiments (including Sriracha- turkey burgers always need Sriracha!) to serve
Preheat grill to high heat- 500 degrees F. Place turkey and remaining ingredients through to salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix to combine (your hands are the best tool here). Divide mixture and shape into 4 patties. Grill over direct heat for 6 to 7 minutes per side or until cooked through.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into wedges. Pile on baking sheet lined with foil, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss to coat potatoes. Spread potatoes into one layer. Bake 10-15 minutes on middle rack. Flip wedges, bake another 8-10 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Photo: Cooking Light
When it rains it pours, right? I didn't write any posts for over two months and now this is the third this week. Did I forget how much I love food? Yes, I think I suffered from some temporary insanity for those two uninspired months. But I'm back!

Speaking of food, this weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the year... it's Kitchener Multiculteral Festival weekend! Tons of food vendors representing countries from all over the world in one place. I can't wait to stuff my face with amazing food! El Savadorian pupsas are a must, samosas from a few vendors- just to compare and make sure we try the best ones, and hopefully they have the curry chickpeas that rocked my world last year again. So. Stoked.

101 Sandwiches via Cooking Light I love having a sandwich and a salad for dinner on the deck in the summer. The Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwiches are going to have to happen next week I think.

Sweet Potato and Leek Soup via My Invisible Crown This will have to wait for fall, but it looks delish.

Cavetelli with Asiago Oat Crumbs via Food52 Interesting

Waffled Chocolate Cakes with Cocoa Nibs via Waffleizer This is a whole blog about "waffleizing" things other than waffles. Awesome

Chicken Korma via Jamie Oliver Forums I have been craving Indian food since that Top Chef Canada episode with Vikram Vij (I just looked Googled this episode... that was a month ago. That is far too long to have a craving. This needs to happen next week too)

DIY Larabars via Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt These look great, healthy, and easy. Plus, I love the name of this blog! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What Are We Eating

I shared in my last post how the daily grind of weeknight meals is sapping my cooking motivation. I'm going to try something new here. I always plan our weeknight meals anyway, so I will post what we my meal plan for the week. Hopefully this will inspire me to be more creative and share some ideas with everyone else as well. Please share in the comments your quick dinners as well... sharing is caring folks.

Here is the plan for this upcoming week.

  • Mini Tacos via Pinterest (I made these last night. They were cute and really good. I sneaked about a 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree in to up the veg factor)
  • Slow Cooker Thai Chicken with brown rice I'll use almond butter rather than peanut butter though as Parker is allergic of course. I've been meaning to use my slow cooker more, especially because I got a small appliance switch for my Rogers Smart Home Monitoring system specifically to be able to turn the slow cooker on/off from work (from my iPhone...that is so cool, right?!? George Orwell couldn't even conceptualize that technological breakthrough)
  • Perogies with some kind of side vegetable, probably peas and corn thawed in the microwave. No, I'm not making perogies from scratch. This is my lazy meal for that inevitable day that I don't want to cook anything.
  • Chicken Stew with Sweet Potato Biscuits The chicken stew is from my freezer. I have no idea what's in it or what the recipe is. All I know is it is labelled "Chicken Stew Feb 2013" so we'd better eat it.
Two Years Ago:  Panini Bar
Three Years Ago: Aloha Pork Kebabs

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Greek Potato Salad

Wow it's been a while since I have posted anything. I know, not at peep from me lately. In the 3+ years I've been writing this blog I think this is longest I've gone between posts, and that includes when I was pregnant and food turned my stomach. What gives?

I don't know, really. I've been back to work full time a year now and I think the daily grind of pumping out quick meals when I get home from work has sapped my creativity. I also find I'm eating more for health than pure enjoyment lately. 'Cause let's be honest, avocado chocolate pudding is good, but it's no butter-laden chocolate chip cookie people.

I think that's enough excuses now, non? Let's get to the food.

I have made this potato salad twice in the last few weeks. It is a nice fresh twist on the regular old potluck potato salad (or the one in the plastic container from the grocery store Tyler likes... UGH). My Greek Potato Salad is loaded with more veg that you will usually find in potato salad, plus lemon zest makes everything better. Make this for your next BBQ and you'll be asked for the recipe, guaranteed. I should have prettied it up for the photo with some chopped parsley sprinkled on top or something, but whatever. Trust me, it is delish.

Oh, I just thought of one more excuse... I'm turning 30 in three weeks and I'm kinda FREAKING OUT. I used to think my Grannie was ridiculous saying she was 29 for twenty years straight, but now I get it. I may pull a Grannie. 29 forevah bitches (sorry for the swear Dad... it just fits).

One Year Ago: Let's just do this- here are the April 2012 and May 2012 archives

Serves 4
This is one of those recipes I am so fond of that isn't really a recipe. Why measure a specific amount of cucumber- who cares how much goes in exactly? Just go with it. The potatoes are tossed with the dressing while still hot so that they absorb the dressing and become more delicious.

  • 4 small to medium yellow fleshed potatoes
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 a cucumber, roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup low fat mayo
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • splash red wine or white wine vinegar
  • splash olive oil
  • dash garlic powder
  • bigger dash dried oregano
  • handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • small handful fresh dill, chopped (or use dried dill to taste)
  • salt and pepper (I like it with lots of pepper)
Cook the potatoes in the microwave or in a pot of water until just cooked through. Let cool a few minutes. While potatoes are cooling whisk together dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Using a sharp knife in order to keep the skin in tact, chop potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place in bowl with dressing. Mix gently (a spatula works well here) to coat potatoes. Refrigerate until cooled.

When cooled gently mix in remaining salad ingredients. Refrigerate until serving. Leftovers will keep a day, but after that things get fairly soggy.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I Made That! Ricotta Cheese

Homemade ricotta on toasted bread with basil and balsamic drizzle
I know you won't believe this, but it is super easy to make ricotta cheese at home. Can you boil a pot of milk? You can make ricotta cheese. I made ricotta cheese today in the time it took to make Kraft Dinner.

No seriously, I was making Kraft Dinner for lunch and decided to make ricotta with some extra milk I had (I know, who ever has "extra" milk? Well 2-litres and 3-litres of 2% milk was the exact same price so obviously I bought the 3L). The KD and the ricotta were done at the same time. I know there is a paradox at play here, but such is my life of a mother and lover of good food.

I did make this with 2% milk, but usually I make it with whole milk. You get a richer cheese that is, frankly, better. But lean ricotta is better than no ricotta, right?

I have a few recipes for ricotta bookmarked that I've referenced when making it before, but at the most basic level all you do is this:

1. Bring a litre (quart if you are outside of Canada) to a boil with 1/2 tsp kosher salt.

2. Turn off the heat and stir in the juice of 1 lemon or 3 tbsp of white vinegar

3. Milk will immediately separate into curds and whey. Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth, or alternatively use a clean piece of linen or cotton. If have a very fine mesh sieve you can use this rather than a lined colander (this is what I use). 

4. Pour contents of pot into colander or sieve, letting the curds drain briefly but don't let them drain completely dry- you want a creamy ricotta. Taste the cheese and add more salt if desired. If you find you have drained off too much whey some milk can be stirred in to moisten the ricotta.

Save the whey if you are super thrifty like me- it is high in protein and can be used in smoothies or whatnot.

Here are some actual recipes from my bookmarks on making ricotta for your perusal. Apparently I'm a little obsessed with homemade ricotta judging by how many recipes I have collected.

DIY Ricotta from The Kitchn
Fresh Ricotta Cheese from Bon Appetit
Jennie's Homemade Ricotta from Too Many Cooks This recipe uses milk and cream, and buttermilk for the acid rather than lemon or vinegar
Rich Homemade Ricotta from Smitten Kitchen
Homemade Mascarpone from Vegetarian Ventures Have you seen what a tub of mascarpone costs?!? Making it at home is the same as making ricotta only using all cream rather than milk

And finally, here are some recipes from my bookmarks in which to use your fantastic ricotta. Aside from eating it with a spoon with the fridge open. That's never happened.

Ricotta Gnocchi from Four Seasons Kitchen If you plan in advance to make ricotta and use it for gnocchi let your ricotta drain more and you can skip right to mixing it with the other ingredients.
Vegetable Fusilli Bake with Ricotta Topping from LCBO Food and Drink
Roasted Squash and Ricotta Ravioli from Dinner with Julie
Roasted Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza from Martha Stewart
Ricotta Blintzes with Lingonberry Syrup from Food and Wine
Whole Wheat Ricotta Blackberry Scones from 101 Cookbooks