Candy Cane Shortbread

Over the next few weeks we’re excited to share some of our most treasured family recipes with you. All of these foods bring with them a lot of special memories and traditions. First up is shortbread!

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for shortbread. I mean how can you go wrong with sugar, butter, and flour? I’ve been a bit of a shortbread snob for as long as I can remember and I can tell you I would take whipped shortbread over the biscuit type any day. The recipe I’m making today is one that my mom has been making for years however, I’ve tweaked the recipe a little since learning it and I’ve made it my own. 

We hope you enjoy the first of our family recipes: Candy Cane Shortbread!

Candy Cane Shortbread

Candy Cane Shortbread
Yields 24
A delicious shortbread topped with crushed candy cane.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
  2. 3/4 cup Powdered sugar
  3. 1/4 cup Corn starch
  4. 1 cup Butter, unsalted and cool*
  5. 2-3 Candy canes, crushed
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or other non-stick liner, set aside.
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Cube your butter, add to dry ingredients, and use a fork to combine. It should become 'pebbly.'
  5. Use your hands to quickly bring the ingredients together to form a dough.
  6. Using your hands scoop up some dough and roll into 1 inch balls.
  7. Place balls on your baking sheet leaving about 2 inches of space around them. You will probably need to use 2 baking sheets.
  8. Use a fork to press down the balls, add about 1/2 tsp of crushed candy cane, and press again with your fork.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly brown underneath.
Notes
  1. *Don't let your butter come completely to room temperature before you use it or it will result in cookies that completely flatten out.
  2. *When forming the dough and the balls, work quickly. The heat from your hands can melt the butter.
  3. *If you're only using one baking sheet to bake 2 batches of cookies make sure the sheet cools completely between batches!
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
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All About Appetizers

The holidays are coming closer! Raise your hand if you’re not ready!

Now raise your hand if you are hosting one (or more) holiday parties and don’t know what you’re going to cook or serve. Here are some basic tips for navigating your way through planning, and shopping, for your menu.

The first things, of course, that you will consider is the who and the what: who is coming to your party (and also possibly, are there any dietary considerations) and what will you be serving. Because the holiday season is full of dinners and meals, sometimes it is nice to switch things up a bit and do an appetizer evening. Appetizers provide a welcome change to the often heavy meals that accompany the holidays: they can be lighter, there are smaller  portions, and a great variety of different things. It’s even better if you have your guests bring their favourite appetizer as well.

Here are some of our favourite ideas for appetizers:

A charcuterie or cheese platter: provides great variety and you can also customize it to include the cheeses, meats and crackers that you really love. If you have someone who has a gluten-free diet, swap out for some gluten free chips or crackers. Check out our Cheese Tray post for tips on choosing the best cheeses while shopping.

  

Dips: Dips are great options that are easy to make and a great time saver. Make any of your favourite dips up to a day ahead of time and store in the fridge. This not only helps you on the day of your party, but the flavours of the dip will be so much better once they’ve had a chance to mingle together for a couple hours. Check out our Roasted Red Pepper Hummus or our Fresh Salsa for the recipes and ingredient list.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

 

Finally, a baked brie is really my absolute favourite appetizer to enjoy at the holidays…well really any time. It does require a little more prep and will need to be baked before you enjoy it. Check out our cranberry topping, or if you want something with a little bit more crunch, check out our apple topping here

                                      Baked Brie with Apple Walnut Topping

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy entertaining and here’s to all the appetizers that you will eat this holiday season!

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How to Make a Charcuterie Board

So you’ve agreed to host some friends for a casual get together and you have no idea what to prepare?

Enter: charcuterie board.

Making a charcuterie board doesn’t have to be complicated, it’s basically a cheese board but with the addition of meats and ‘accessories’. Our simple how-to will show you how to throw one together in minutes and knock the socks off your guests.

Creating a Charcuterie Board

Meats

Depending on the size of your board you can choose just one variety or up to 3-4. Think about spice level: not everyone will like spicy meats but some may want at least one with a kick. Our favourites include proscuitto, calabrese, salami, and chorizo. If you’re feeling extra fancy you could even try a pâté. 

Cheeses

Use cheese to add texture to your board. Go with a variety of hard-er cheeses (cheddar, parmigiano, gouda) and soft cheeses (goat cheese, brie, blue cheese). Again, depending on the size of the board I would include at least 2-3 different types.

Carbs

AKA the meat and cheese vehicles and often the limiting reaction on a charcuterie board. I like to go with one or two types of crackers or one type of cracker and some kind of bread. The variety is nice when deciding what delicious food item from the board should be going into your mouth next.

Accessories

These can include: spreads (jam, chutney, jelly), fresh fruit (grapes), dried fruit and nuts (apricots, Craisins, almonds), or pickles/olives. The accessories are meant to give you a little nibble of something that isn’t meat or cheese – a palate cleanser. Again, depending on the side you can start with a couple, adding more if you like.

The most important thing to remember is that a charcuterie board is customizable and no two boards will be the same. Experiment with different cheeses, meats, and accessories. Maybe you’ll even find a new favourite!

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Baked Brie with Cranberry Topping

A few weeks ago, we posted a great apple walnut topping for brie, which is a great topping for the cooler evenings of fall. This cranberry topping pairs with the baked brie wonderfully, and it is a classic flavour for the wintry evenings that are coming, not to mention the many Christmas parties that you will be attending!

 

 

Baked Brie with Cranberry Topping
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup cranberries
  2. 1 tbsp lemon juice, bottled or freshly squeezed
  3. 1 tbsp sugar
  4. 1 inch long piece lemon zest
Instructions
  1. Simmer all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium low heat, about 10 minutes. Berries will soften and some will burst - this is okay!
  2. Remove lemon zest and place on top of baked brie.
Notes
  1. The topping can be made ahead of time and placed in the fridge, until the brie has been baked. Make sure to warm up before topping the cheese.
  2. For a slightly different flavour, try using orange juice and orange zest instead of lemon.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/

 

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Hummus is one of my favourite foods. Not only is it really customizable, it’s cheap, and tastes great in so many applications! This roasted red pepper hummus is easy to make and and can be added to school lunches with veggies, spread on sandwiches, or added to a charcuterie board as an appetizer. 

If you want to take this recipe to the next level try roasting your own red peppers instead of buying them jarred. It makes the recipe a little more complex but the flavour it adds is worth it. 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
A flavourful spread that would be a great addition to any sandwich, lunch box, or appetizer spread.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 can chickpeas (540mL), drained and rinsed
  2. 4-5 pieces of jarred roasted red pepper (or roast your own, see note)
  3. 1/4 cup oil (olive or canola would work in this recipe)
  4. 3 garlic cloves
  5. 2 tbsp tahini*
  6. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  7. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Prepare all your ingredients and add them to a food processor.
  2. Pulse ingredients until smooth.
  3. Store for up to 1 week in an airtight container in the fridge.
Notes
  1. *Tahini is sesame paste, you can also substitute peanut butter if you don't have
To roast a red pepper
  1. Move your oven rack to the top position and set to broil.
  2. Prepare a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper, set aside.
  3. Slice the top of your pepper off, chop into 3-4 pieces, and remove seeds and pith (the white stuff!).
  4. Place peppers on the cookie sheet with skin side up and make them lay as flat as possible (this might mean strategically breaking them or cutting them - this creates an even roast).
  5. Broil for 2-5 minutes. This will depend on your oven, but the goal is to have lots of black bits and bubbles in the skin because it will make the next step easier.
  6. Peel the skin off your peppers. I find a pairing knife works well for this step.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
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Pumpkin Seeds

Last week, we shared with you how to roast the pumpkin to get some great puree for all your pumpkin baking needs. In an effort to use the entire pumpkin, here is a great way to roast the seeds for a quick and easy snack. While the whole idea of of cleaning out the pumpkin and separating the goop from the seeds is less than desirable, it can be oddly cathartic, and you do get a tasty treat out of them.

 

 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
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Ingredients
  1. Seeds from 1 medium pumpkin - cleaned, rinsed, and dried
  2. 2 tbsp canola oil
  3. 1 generous tsp spices - salt, pepper, garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  2. Separate the pumpkin seeds from the goop it is attached to. Rinse them well, until they are no longer slimy, and dry them before putting them into the oven.
  3. Combine the cleaned seeds with the oil and the spices. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake for approximately 30 min, stirring every 10 minutes.
Notes
  1. If you are courageous enough to play with spices, feel free to add a touch of cayenne to give it some spice.
  2. If the pumpkin is on the larger (or smaller) side, adjust the oil and seasonings accordingly. If the pumpkin is larger, increase the oil to 2 1/2 tbsp, and the seasonings to 1 1/2 tsp. If it is smaller, decrease the oil to 1 1/2 tbsp, and the seasonings to 3/4 tsp.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
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Roasted Pumpkin

Today I’m here to tell you that pumpkins aren’t only for carving!

Pre-halloween is the best time to find pumpkins at the grocery store and turn them into roasted pumpkin puree! The method outlined below works for any kind of pumpkin, although smaller pumpkins will be easier to manage. Don’t be afraid to take one home and try it yourself!

Roasting a pumpkin and turning it into all-purpose pumpkin puree is really, really easy and so much cheaper than the stuff you buy in a can. Roasted pumpkin can be used in oatmeal, soups, muffins, and in many, many more applications.

Roasted Pumpkin

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree:

  1. Cut the top off your pumpkin. I find a longer serrated knife to work best and I start by stabbing a hole about 2-3 inches from the stem and cutting a circle all the way around the stem. You can then grab the stem and pull the top out. 
  2. Remove the seeds from your pumpkin. Cut your pumpkin in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and the slimy orange insides. You can save the seeds to roast. 
  3. Roast your pumpkin. Preheat your oven to 400F and cut your pumpkin into smaller pieces that are about the same height, this will allow for even cooking. Roast your pumpkin skin side up on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 1 hour. Check doneness every 15 minutes or so with a fork and flip; you also want the skin to blister a bit so that it is easier to remove.
  4. Peel and puree your pumpkin. Using a paring knife to help, peel off the pumpkin skin. Puree the pumpkin in your food processor until smooth.
  5. Store your pumpkin. Keep roasted pumpkin puree in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
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(Leftover) Turkey Quesadillas

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, spending time with your loved ones and eating until you can’t possibly eat any more! As wonderful as your meals have been, I have a sneaking suspicion that many of you are close to being tired of turkey, if you aren’t already are. So, here is a recipe to add some spice (literally or figuratively – you choose) to that leftover turkey.

Turkey Quesadillas
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tortilla
  2. 1/2 cup grated cheese
  3. 1/4 red bell pepper, sliced
  4. 1/4 orange bell pepper, sliced
  5. 1/4 onion sliced
  6. 1/3 cup cooked turkey, shredded or sliced
  7. salt/pepper
  8. salsa
  9. sour cream
Instructions
  1. In medium frying pan, heat a teaspoon of oil and add the onion and red bell peppers. Saute until softened and the onions are slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In large frying pan, put the tortilla in the frying pan. Cover half the tortilla with half the grated cheese. Add the sauteed peppers and onion and turkey to the tortilla. Cover with the remaining cheese.
  3. Fold over the other half of the tortilla, so it looks like a half moon.
  4. Leave in the frying pan until cheese is melted and the bottom is golden brown. Flip the tortilla and repeat on the other side.
Notes
  1. The amounts in this recipe are for one quesadilla. It is really easy to double or triple the recipe for more than one quesadilla.
  2. If you like a bit of heat, add some cayenne or chili pepper to the peppers and onions when you are sauteeing them.
  3. Feel free to enjoy with sour cream or salsa when it's hot and fresh.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
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Baked Brie with Apple Walnut Topping

Baked Brie with Apple Walnut Topping

The crispness of fall is in the air and with that brings me the desire to eat rich, delicious comfort food. 

Enter: baked brie

Not only is this baked brie perfect as a stand alone appetizer, but also makes the perfect addition to a charcuterie board. The apple walnut topping is super simple to prepare and hilights some of the beyt flavours of the season. This brie is sure to be a hit in your house. 

 

Baked Brie with Apple Walnut Topping

Baked Brie with Apple Walnut Topping
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Total Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 wheel of brie
Topping
  1. 1/2 apple, diced thin
  2. 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped fine
  3. 2 tbsp Maple syrup or liquid sweetener of choice
  4. pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400F
  2. Slice the top rind off your brie and place in a brie baker or on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until centre is liquid-y and melted.
  4. Meanwhile add all topping ingredients to a small pot and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the apples have softened a little.
  5. Serve with crackers or as part of your next cheese board.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
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Caprese Bites

Caprese Bites

As fall arrives, many of us are struggling with an overload and excess of tomatoes – many shapes and sizes.  Some beefsteaks and most likely some lovely sweet cherry tomatoes.  In my family, those cherry tomatoes are just as good as candy – we all pop them in our mouths, sometimes fresh off the plant!

This appetizer is a great way to use some of those tomatoes in a classic combination, in appetizer size – caprese salad bites.

 

 

Caprese Bites
Serves 5
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Ingredients
  1. 10 basil leaves
  2. 10 cherry tomatoes, various colours
  3. 10 mini bocconcini balls
  4. balsamic vinegar (optional)
  5. olive oil (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pull out 10 longer sized toothpicks.
  2. On each toothpick, stack a cherry tomato, a basil leaf, and a cheese ball.
  3. Place or stack on serving plate of your choice.
Notes
  1. This recipe is very easy to scale up (or down) depending on your party size. If you are making it for yourself, then the sky is the limit!
  2. If you want to make it a bit more fancy, you could either drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar over top, or place it on the side for dipping. Both those flavours complement the cheese and tomatoes very well, making it a classic combination.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
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