Chocolate Toffee Bark

 

chocolate toffee bark 2 header

This stuff is dangerous. I would never make these cookies just to have at home, because they are a total rebellion against the waistline (but impossible to refuse). The good news is that it’s almost the holiday season, and with the holiday season comes social gatherings and cookie exchanges. Whatever it may be, you need to find an excuse to make these.


Ingredients

  1. 20-26 graham cracker squares (one to two sleeves)
  2. 1 cup of butter
  3. 1 cup of white or brown sugar
  4. 1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  5. 1/2  cup toffee bits
  6. Sea salt to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

While the oven heats up, line a baking sheet with tin foil and give it a nice spritz with a non-stick spray.

Line the baking sheet with graham cracker squares. Ensure that they all lay flat in one single layer.

In a saucepan, melt down the butter and sugar over medium-low heat, bringing it to a slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer for two minutes.

Disperse the butter/sugar mixture (which is now considered toffee, magic!) over the graham crackers. Ensure that all of the crackers are covered evenly.

Place in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.

While the crackers are baking, melt the chocolate chips. I avoid melting chocolate in the microwave because it overcooks and burns too easily. I find that melting chocolate on the stove top results in a much smoother consistency. Just find a heat-safe bowl or another pot, and place it on top of a pot of barely simmering water. You’re basically steaming it. Just make sure to stand by and stir it as needed.

When the graham crackers are good to go (the toffee will start to bubble up), remove and immediately spread the melted chocolate on top of the toffee and crackers. Ensure that the squares are covered completely and evenly.

Sprinkle the toffee bits on top, and garnish with a few pinches of sea salt.

Set aside and allow the tray to cool. Once at room temperature, put them in the fridge for a few hours to firm them up properly.

Break into pieces! You don’t have to be fancy here – that’s why I call it “bark” rather than “squares”.

It’s all in the name…

chocolate toffee 5

Tortellini Soup

tortellini soup header

I really need to work on taking photos of broth-y soups. Thick puréed soups? Got it. Creamy soups? No problem. Broth-y soups? Here’s a bowl of swamp water!

Because it’s soup season, and I’m on an apparent soup kick, I thought it made sense to whip up my easy-peasy not very Italian but it will do tortellini soup.

I like to treat this soup as a soothing chicken soup that has teamed up with tortellini soup.

I think what I’m trying to actually say, without saying it, is that I have no idea how to make legit tortellini soup, so I’ve created a chicken broth-based soup that has tortellini in it. Ha.


Ingredients

  1. 8 cups of chicken stock (homemade or not, either of them work)
  2. 2 cups of water
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  4. 1/2 of one onion, diced
  5. 1 large stalk of celery, sliced
  6. 1 cup of celery leaves, finely chopped (optional)
  7. 1 large carrot, sliced
  8. 2 cups of meat tortellini (you could totally use cheese tortellini if you prefer)
  9. 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot.

Add the chopped garlic, and simmer on medium-low heat until fragrant. Don’t brown the garlic, because then it gives off a bitter taste.

garlic

chopped garlic

Dice that 1/2 onion of yours, and add it to the garlic.

onion

Simmer on medium-high heat until the onions are translucent.

Now, add the celery and carrots.

celery 1

celery 2

carrot

Add a splash of chicken stock and allow the vegetables to simmer until they have softened.

Add the rest of the chicken stock and the water. Bring to a boil, and then add the tortellini.

tortellini close up

Bring the heat down to a low simmer, and allow the soup to simmer until the tortellini floats.

You can serve this right away if you’d like, it is delicious right off the bat! But like most broth-y soups, it’s even better when the flavours have been left to mingle for a few hours.

tortellini 3

tortellini

 

Homemade Granola Bars

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I’ve been meaning to try my hand at these for a long time, but it kept slipping my mind. What can I say? I’m easily distracted by recipes containing cheeses, decadent soups, and fancy sandwiches. Granola? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I’ve learned that the latter statement is very untrue, however. I was floored by how delicious these were, and they really took no time at all. So, no excuses – everyone got time for that.

My favourite thing about these homemade granola bars is that you can get creative with flavours and ingredients. Once you’ve got your granola (which is basically just toasted oats), simply pick a fruit, a nut, a seed, a natural sweetener if you wish, and a “glue”. (By glue, I mean something to keep everything together. Like peanut butter, or a mashed ripened banana. Please don’t use glue…)

You can also choose weather or not you toast the oats and nuts. I always opt for toasting, because I love that toasty flavour. The walnut was my nut of choice.

toasted granola

toasted granola 2

Okay, so here are my chosen ingredients.

My fruit – funny story, haha nervous laugh hahaha. I purchased a package of dates, and I was really excited about them. I thought they’d add a nice natural sweetness, soft texture, all the while helping to act as a glue to keep everything together. But…they were hard as rocks. Thanks, supermarket, for being on top of that…

So, I guess you can say that I had a bad date this weekend?

I didn’t have any other dried fruits lying around, so I had to skip the fruit. [Insert frustrated hand gestures here].

For my seed, I chose pumpkin seeds because it’s fall, and I’m a basic white girl, and apparently basic white girls love “pumpkin everything” in the fall. Truthfully though, I bought a big bag of hulled, pre-roasted and salted pumpkin seeds at a bulk market the other day; they are so delicious, I just couldn’t help myself. I’m also a huge sucker for the sweet and salty combination.

pumpkin seeds 3

pumpkin seeds 2

For my natural sweetener, I used honey. Agave nectar is another great choice, and maple syrup also works. I just wasn’t in a maple mood. 

For my “glue”, I went with all natural cashew butter. Guys, THIS STUFF. It is sinfully delicious.

cashe butter

cashe butter 2

By heating this up in a pan on low with the honey, you create the perfect “glue”.

butter honey melt


Ingredients

  1. 2 cups of rolled oats
  2. 1/2 cup of hulled pumpkin seeds, roasted and salted (salt is optional)
  3. 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
  4. 1/4 cup of organic honey
  5. 1/4 cup of all natural cashew butter
  6. 2 tablespoons of psyllium husks (optional)
  7. 2 tablespoons of ground chia seeds (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the oats and nuts on a baking sheet. Spread everything out evenly so that you get even toasting all around. A few pieces may toast a bit more than others, but that offers a variation of flavour and colour, so I don’t mind that.

Bake for approx. 7 minutes or until the oats and nuts turn tanned and give off a nutty aroma.

Occasionally shift the oats and nuts around with a spatula to prevent burning.

I have never spoken about nuts so much in one sitting before. Obviously I haven’t lived.

I would highly suggest not using oils when toasting your oats. The oats can absorb the oil, which can affect the flavour and texture of whatever you use them in. Nobody wants a soggy, oily granola bar.

Once your oats and nuts are toasted, set them aside to cool.

In a pan or skillet, combine the cashew butter and honey. With the heat on low, mix until the two are combined and have a smooth consistency. Stir constantly to avoid burning. This should only take approx. 3 minutes, if that.

Toss the oats, nuts, pumpkin seeds, psyllium husks, and ground chia seeds into a large bowl, and pour the cashew butter and honey mixture into the mix.

With a spatula or wooden spoon, stir and mix thoroughly to ensure that the “glue” picks up all of the ingredients. You basically want everything to clump together.

mixing granola

Place some parchment paper in an 11 x 7 inch baking dish (or smaller, if you want thicker bars).

Pour the mixture into the pan, on top of the parchment paper, and spread the ingredients out evenly, flattening and pressing down to secure everything.

granola pan

Pop this in the fridge for 30 mins, or the freezer for 15-20 minutes, so that the mixture solidifies. Then take them out, cut them up, and they’re good to go! You can also just crumble it and make granola crumble, which can be used on cereal or eaten with yogurt – it’s delicious, no matter how you eat it.

granola bars cut

granola bars 2

granola bars 5

granola bars 6

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

pumpkin pie ice cream header

A slice of pumpkin pie and a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream have always been the classic Thanksgiving dessert in my family. It’s a little heartbreaking that this particular dessert only makes it to the table once a year following the turkey feast, but on the other hand, I think it’s appreciated that much more.

I’ve sort of been disloyal to this combination, however – but for good reason! I did a merge!
A wonderful, delicious, and impressive merge.

pumpkin pie ice cream

This ice cream is spun with pumpkin purée and is spiced with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and laced with molasses. To finish it off and really give it that “pie” effect, a crumbled graham crust is added to the mix. It’s a real hit, and it totally nails the flavour of a classic pumpkin pie.

pumpkin pie ice cream 3


Ingredients

  1. 1  1/2 cups of whole milk
  2. 1 cup of light or dark brown sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons of molasses
  4. 1  3/4 cups of pumpkin purée (NOT pumpkin pie filling).
  5. 1  1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  6. 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
  7. 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  8. 2  1/2 cups of heavy cream
  9. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  10. 1 cup of broken graham crust (broken into chunks)

 

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the milk, brown sugar, and molasses with a hand mixer (low speed). Mix for about 1-2 mins, or until the sugar is dissolved.

Stir in the pumpkin purée, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

Add the heavy cream and vanilla.

Turn your ice cream machine on and pour the mixture into the freezer bowl. Let it mix until the mixture has thickened – approx. 20-25 mins.

During the last five minutes of mixing, add the crumbled graham crust.

Transfer the ice cream into a cardboard pint or container and freeze for a firmer texture.

Remove from the freezer approx. 15 mins before serving.

pumpkin pie ice cream 2

 

 

 

Red Curry Coconut Squash Soup

red curry coconut squash

I have a declaration to make. Here it is: NEW FAVOURITE SOUP!

I am not quite sure if I can properly explain how perfect this soup is. It’s comforting, it has lively flavours, and it has a nice touch of heat. The garnishes add a lot to the experience too, but I’ll get to that later.

While making this soup, I was a little worried about two things:

  1. That is was going to be too rich, and/or
  2. That it was going to be too sweet

I’m so happy to say that it was neither; the flavours were perfectly balanced. The first spoonful I tasted as I pureed the mixture put me in one of those moments of pure culinary glory! You know when you feel as though you’ve outdone yourself? Anyone who enjoys playing around in the kitchen is familiar with this feeling, I’m sure. I mean, we all know what we are capable of and we know how we do with challenges BUT – every once in a while you rock a recipe and knock your own socks off.

That was this soup for me today, and I’m really excited to share it with you.


 

Ingredients

  1. 1 medium sized butternut squash
  2. 2 roasted red peppers, sliced
  3. 1/2 onion, chopped
  4. 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  5. 14 oz (approx.) of coconut milk (I used Asian Creations Thai coconut milk, 1 can)
  6. 1/2 cup skim milk
  7. 2 tablespoons of red curry paste
  8. 1 tablespoon of ginger, freshly grated
  9. 2 tablespoons of butter
  10. 1 tablespoon of coconut oil

Optional garnishes

  1. sliced scallions
  2. toasted and salted squash seeds
  3. shrimp

 

Cut up your veggies.

Cutting and peeling squash is a royal pain, but it’s all worth it in the end. I highly suggest keeping the squash seeds when cleaning out the squash – they make a great garnish! I wasn’t sure how that was going to turn out; it was one of those random and crazy Dana ideas (and those don’t always work out!) but I’m really stoked that this idea was a winner.

squash

seeds

Give them a good rinse.  Then, in a small pot filled with just enough salted water to cover the seeds, bring them to a boil for approx. 5 mins. Remove them from the heat, drain them, and pat them dry. Toss them in a small splash of olive oil and sea salt, and then roast them at approx. 325 degrees for 10 mins. or until they have a nice crunch.

squash seeds

Cut the squash into cubes.

squash cubed

In a soup pot, melt down the butter and coconut oil on medium-high heat,

melting butter and oil

Add the onions and cook for approx. 3 mins. or until translucent. Then, add the garlic, ginger, roasted peppers, red curry paste, and squash.

red curry

cooking veggies

 

Mix thoroughly, and cook this for approx 5-7 mins. Add some extra butter if the pot dries up to avoid burning any of the veggies.

Add the coconut milk and skim milk, and bring to a boil.

coconut milk

simmering

Once the soup comes to a rolling boil, bring the heat down to a simmer and let the soup simmer for approx. 25 mins., stirring often.

Once the squash is cooked through and soft (you can test this with a fork), turn off the heat.

Transfer portions of the soup/veggies to a blender or food processor and puree. You will likely want to do this in batches to avoid an overflowing processor. Just have a big bowl nearby and empty the puree into the big bowl as you go. I did mine in three batches.

Serve as is, or with the aforementioned garnishes.

red curry coconut squash 1

red curry coconut squash 3

red curry coconut squash 5

 

 

 

 

Guest Blogger Boursin Burger – Chilaquiles

Have you ever had one of those days where you ate a big Mexican feast the night before, and you don’t know what to eat the morning after? I’ve got true Mexican comfort food for you – a breakfast dish that will help recycle your latino leftovers, your excess eggs, your superfluous salsa, your tired tortillas, your … okay, fine. Let’s get to it. I present:
Chilaquiles! (chee-lah-KEE-lace)
IMG_6541

Photo credit: Boursin Burger


Because this dish is typically made from leftovers, the ingredient list is never precise. Use whatever you have on hand and whatever you think will taste good. The essential things you need to have are:
  • Stale tortillas or chips
  • Salsa
  • Vegetable oil
  • Pinches of salt
Suggestions to add in to the mix are:
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Onions
  • Hot Sauce
  • Bell Peppers
  • Jalapeño Peppers
  • Shredded Cheese
Suggestions for garnishes:
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions
  • Lime wedges
  • Avocado or Guacamole
  • Creme Fraiche, Mexican Crema, or Sour Cream

IMG_6539


Tear or slice your leftover tortillas into strips or triangles. Prepare other ingredients as needed – Chop the onions, make extra salsa, grow more peppers, etc.
In a cast iron skillet on medium heat, add 1/3 cup of vegetable oil. Once the oil gets nice and hot, add the tortillas and stir-fry them until they become crispy and begin to brown. Remove them from the heat onto a couple of paper towels, and sprinkle on a pinch of salt. If you have leftover chips, fry those too, but they’ll need less frying time – just long enough to bring the crispness back. Transfer them on paper towels.
Drain the excess oil from the skillet, leaving only a coating.
Next, cook your eggs. I’ve seen this recipe prepared with fried, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side eggs. Make them however you like. It’s your damn breakfast, after all. Transfer them to a side plate once they’re done. I made mine scrambled with some fajita seasoning sprinkled on top.
Clean out the skillet and coat with oil again. Cook anything extra that you want cooked prior to final preparation. That includes your meats, onions, and peppers if you don’t like to eat them raw. While the pan is still hot with your cooked ingredients inside, add the salsa, let it come to a boil and reduce the water content. When it’s at a ketchup-like consistency, add the fried tortillas and chips. Toss to coat the chips in the sauce. You want the chips to soften slightly, yet still retain their crunch. Add anything else to be heated up before serving, such as shredded cheese.
Transfer the hot and delicious mess onto a plate and add your eggs and cold garnishes. Enjoy your improvised breakfast!
boursin burger
Boursin Burger is a guest blogger at KillingThyme.net

Pumpkin Spice French Toast

pumpkin spice french toast

 

Yep, here it is – white girl in yoga pants writing about Pumpkin Spice.

This recipe just sort of came to me this morning out of the blue. There I stood in the kitchen, gazing out the window and sipping my coffee (in my yoga pants), when it hit me: I haven’t blogged ‘pumpkin spice’ ANYTHING this fall!

I hadn’t had breakfast yet; I had a beautiful fresh loaf of Italian bread on the counter, and a brand spankin’ new container of Pumpkin Pie Spice in the spice drawer. Hey-ooo!


Ingredients

  1. 4 slices of fresh Italian bread
  2. 2 eggs, beaten
  3. 2 tablespoons of butter
  4. 1/3 cup of milk
  5. 2 teaspoons of brown sugar
  6. 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice
  7. Maple syrup on the side
  8. A few pinches of icing sugar

 

In a small bowl, beat the eggs.

egg beaten

 

Remember that video game Parappa The Rappa or something? Anytime I crack eggs into a bowl I think about that…

Crack crack crack the egg into the bowl

 

egg shells

Add the milk, and beat until combined.

Add the brown sugar and the pumpkin pie spice, then whisk until well mixed.

sugar

pumpkin pie spice

 

Pour the egg mixture into a pie plate for easy dipping.

Heat the butter in a non-stick skillet. Once the butter is melted and the skillet is hot, bring the temp down to medium heat.

Slice the bread and start dipping.

fresh bread

fresh bread 2

bread dip

Dip, dip, dip the bread into the…okay. I’ve got nothin’ on Parappa.

Moving along.

Place the bread slices in the hot skillet and fry until browned on each side (approx. 3-4 mins per side, flipping between mins).

Sprinkle some icing sugar on top, and serve with maple syrup!

french toast 1

syrup

 

 

 

Minestrone Soup

minestrone soup header

 

It’s soup season – I can’t really complain about that! I mean, I can – for other reasons (scraping frost off of the windshield in the mornings, dry hands, hair full of static, and the impending doom otherwise known as “winter”), but let’s remain positive: Soups! Sandwiches! Soups and sangs!

It also helps to keep in mind that this is my last Canadian winter before I move South. Fortunately, North Carolina still has “soup weather”, it just isn’t followed by a polar vortex.

High five to having the best of both worlds! Soon, soon.

But until then, I’ll continue to warm my belly here in chilly Canada by making tasty soups like this minestrone soup.


 

Ingredients

  1. 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1/2 of a large onion, diced
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  4. 1/2 large carrot, sliced
  5. 1/2 cup of cut-up green beans
  6. 1 cup of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  7. 2 cups of stewed tomatoes
  8. 3 cups of tomato juice
  9. 3 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  10. 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning
  11. 1 cup of small pasta shells (or 2 handfuls of the large shells, which is what I had here)
  12. Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

 

Start by heating the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion.

onions

Saute until the onions are translucent (approx. 5 mins.)

Add the minced garlic.

garlic

Saute for approx. 30 seconds, stirring regularly. Don’t brown the garlic, as that will leave you with a bitter taste (literally, and probably figuratively, too).

Add the sliced carrots.

carrots

Saute until they begin to soften up. This too should only take approx. 5 mins.

Stir in the green beans, Italian seasoning, 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt, and some ground black pepper. Cook for approx. 5 mins.

At this point, add the stewed tomatoes, the chicken broth, and the tomato juice. Bring to a rolling boil, and then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 10 mins.

minestrone soup 4

Add the kidney beans.

kidney beans

Then, add the pasta.

Stir well and let simmer until the pasta is cooked. (Approx. 10 mins.)

Enjoy on it’s own, or with a sandwich!

minestrone soup

 

 

 

Laura’s Sangria of the Month – Cinnamon Cider

Cinnamon Cider Sangria

In September’s sangria post, I failed to introduce myself and probably left you wondering who I am and why you should try my sangria recipes. Well, I’m Laura Sandonato, a freelance writer and guest blogger for Killing Thyme who, like Dana, loves everything delicious. I also worked as a cheesemonger for two-and-a-half years. Yes, a cheesemonger. I had a certificate and everything.

So what does cheese have to do with sangria? As you probably know, wine and cheese are soul mates. When you eat, sleep, and breathe cheese the way I did, some knowledge of wine comes with it. Although I love a crisp glass of wine, nothing beats sangria. Naturally, my inner hedonist led me to experiment with Sangria, and I’m trilled to share my results with you.

October’s recipe is cinnamon cider sangria. I know pumpkin flavor is all the rage, but autumn’s less popular flavor, apple, goes better with wine. Dana’s obsession with Angry Orchard’s Cinnful Apple hard cider inspired this recipe. If you can’t get enough of it either, check out her Cinnful Apple Bread post.

 

Ingredients

  1. 1 bottle rosé wine
  2. 4 cups apple cider
  3. ½ cup spiced rum
  4. 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
  5. 2 tablespoons brandy
  6. ¼ cup brown sugar
  7. 4 cinnamon sticks (more if you really like cinnamon)
  8. 2 honeycrisp apples, sliced

Add everything to a pitcher and stir. If you prefer your sangria a little stronger, add more rum, orange liqueur, and brandy.

Like last time, let the sangria sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours before serving. The longer you let it sit, the stronger the cinnamon flavor will be.

Serve this sangria chilled or warm it over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, but don’t let it boil.

Want a snack too? This sangria works particularly well with cheese, especially sharp cheddar. Pair it with gjetost, a caramel-like cheese, if you feel adventurous.

laura

       www.laurasandonato.com

Cinnful Apple Bread

cinnful apple bread header

 

It’s no secret: I have an unhealthy obsession with Angry Orchard ciders – especially the seasonal Cinnful Apple. The notes of cinnamon and the spiced, warm feeling it gives just can’t be beat.

It ~is high in sugar though, so, moderation!

Since I’ve recently become more interested in cooking with ales, I just knew that I had to do something with my beloved Cinnful Apple – and what better than a cinnamon-spiced apple bread?

cinnful apple bread 1

 

This was perfect for the kind of lazy autumn-y Sunday that we had today. The smell wafting throughout the house as this baked was incredible, and the appearance? Beautiful, textured, and rustic! It definitely tasted as good as it looked. The bread was perfectly moist and spongy with a nice and crunchy crust to compliment it.

cinnful apple bread 3

cinnful apple bread 4

Not to mention the huge chunks of apples…

The beauty part about this recipe (well, one of the beauty parts) is that it doesn’t call for a lot of sugar and the bread itself isn’t overly sweet. It has a wonderful apple and cinnamon flavour, and you can definitely taste a hint of the cider’s influence in there.

Now, I’m not much of a baker, but this bread is easy peasy! It doesn’t take long to put together, and you don’t even have to dirty a lot of dishes. Awesome.

Ingredients

  1. 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  2. 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  3. 4 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
  5. 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  6. 2 cups of diced apples
  7. 1 12oz bottle of Angry Orchard’s seasonal Cinnful Apple hard cider
  8. A bit of extra brown sugar to sprinkle on top of the loaf

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease up a 9 x 5″ bread pan.

Put all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until everything is all mixed up. Make sure there aren’t any clumps.

Once everything is nicely mixed, slowly pour the cider into the bowl. Give it a gentle stir to mix it up, and then add the apples, folding them into the dough. Make sure all of the dry ingredients are mixed into the dough.

Once you’ve got your dough together, pour it into the bread pan and smooth it out evenly across the top.

Sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on top of the loaf-to-be.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until you can prick it with a toothpick and have it come out clean. You know the drill!

Once it’s done, place it on a cooling rack for approx. 10 minutes.

Then giver’!

If you want things to get extra exciting, wash the bread down with some hard cider!

Thanks for being so good to our taste buds, Angry Orchard.

angry orchard