Sunday, September 30, 2012

Guest Post – Holiday Brisket

If Sunday dinner in your house usually consists of a roast, consider cooking brisket instead! Here’s a recipe from One Hungry Dude – he’s singing the praises of Tori Avey too.

In the lead up to Rosh Hashanah, Sarah introduced me to a great website, The Shiksa in the Kitchen. Tory Avey, a food writer and recipe developer, has appeared on numerous television shows, and her website earned the IACP People's Choice Award 2012 Best Culinary Website. It's easy to see why. She has countless recipes, and plenty of culinary advice on the site — and it's relevant whether you're looking for a great new recipe, or a relative newcomer to the cooking world. This is a slightly modified version of her Holiday Brisket. It looked so delicious, I really only wanted to tinker with the original recipe. I made the right choice, because everyone at the table raved about the flavour and tenderness of the brisket.

Next week, I'll teach you an incredibly simple and delicious recipe for the leftovers.

holiday brisket
• 4 to 5 pound brisket
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
• 1 large can tomatoes, whole, diced, or crushed
• 5 peeled whole garlic cloves
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/4 cup white vinegar
• 2 cups vegetable broth, divided
• Salt and pepper
• 2 Bay leaves
• 2 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
• 2 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced
• 1 pound carrots, washed and sliced
• 8 to 10 Button mushrooms, sliced
• Splash of red wine

Preheat oven to 300 F. Rinse the brisket and pat dry. Rub both sides of the meat with black pepper and salt. Heat a large skillet over medium heat on the stovetop. Drizzle 2 tbsp of olive oil into the pan. Brown the brisket on both sides, it will take four to five minutes per side.

While brisket is browning, pour canned tomatoes, garlic, brown sugar, vinegar, 1 1/2 cups broth, bay leaves and Worcestershire into a blender or food processor. Add salt and black pepper. Pulse till garlic is chopped small and all ingredients are combined.

Remove the browned brisket from the skillet. Drizzle 2 tbsp more olive oil in the pan and add the sliced onions. Saute them over medium high for a few minutes until they begin to soften and shrink in size. Add the carrot and mushrooms, and saute for five to six minutes, until the onions are caramelized and the vegetables are fragrant.
Pour the vegetables out of the skillet and onto a plate, reserve. Pour 1/2 cup of the broth and a splash of wine into the skillet, and let it heat up. Use a spatula to scrape up any brown bits that are clinging to the skillet. Turn off heat.

Pour half of the tomato mixture into a large roasting pan. Place brisket on top of the tomato sauce, fat cap facing up. Pour the sauteed vegetables across the top of the brisket, along with the broth and brown bits. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the top of the vegetables and brisket.

Cover the roasting pan tightly with foil, tenting slightly so there is no contact between the foil and the ingredients inside. Place the pan in the preheated oven. Let it roast undisturbed for four to five hours (about an hour per pound). The brisket is done when it flakes tenderly after being pierced with a fork.

Remove brisket from the pan and let it rest on the cutting board fat-side up, for 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the sauce and vegetables from the roasting pan into a smaller saucepan. Skim fat from the surface of the cooking sauce, then reheat the sauce till hot (not boiling). Cut the fat cap off the brisket, then cut the brisket in thin slices against the grain. Serve topped with the tomato sauce and softened vegetables.

— This recipe was inspired by Tory Avey, The Shiksa in the Kitchen

Friday, September 28, 2012

G is for Gramps DIY Birthday Card!

Happy Friday! Chris has been super busy with work this week so I’m really looking forward to the weekend and spending some family time.  But first, a quick post today to share another homemade birthday card. This past Monday was my Dad’s birthday so, of course, there was a card made.

G is for Gramps  Birthday Card

This one started with a blank dollar store card and then everything else on it is from Sassafras. The main tag is a sticker from the Apple Jack line and since the card was for my Dad/Nathan’s Gramps and he plays the guitar it worked really well! The banner trim is also an Apple Jack sticker that I cut to size for the top and bottom and the background paper is from their Count Me In collection. Last but not least I used some Party Time felties to give the card a birthday feel.

Birthday Card Details

I sometimes have trouble making cards for men since a lot of my supplies are cute or girly but I love the way this one turned out using only things I had on hand. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

By the Batch – Homemade Butterfingers

I pinned this recipe almost a year ago and then promptly forgot all about it. This happens with a lot of my pins, I think “oh what a great idea – I have to try that!” and then I move on to the next great idea and the one after that. It’s sad to say that sometimes I think I spend more time collecting great ideas than I do actually making some of them. Please tell me I’m not alone! In an effort to change that I’m going to start a “Pinned It – Did It” count to keep track of the things I pin and then actually make.

I started with these Homemade Butterfingers because the main ingredient is candy corn so it’s the perfect time of year to find it. And boy am I glad I did because these things are ridiculously good! I don’t really know how it’s possible but somehow melted candy corn and peanut butter combine to make a pretty incredible Butterfinger replica, right down to the flaky texture. Chris and I are gobbling these things up like there’s no tomorrow and I’m already planning my next trip to the Bulk Barn for more supplies ;)

Homemade Butterfingers


  • 1/2 lb candy corn (approx 130-150 pieces)
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips


Put the candy corn in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir and then continue microwaving in 15 seconds intervals, stirring after each, until melted. Once melted, combine with peanut butter. Working quickly, because it sets up fast, take the mixture and press it into a pan (I used half of an 8x8 but the size you use just depends on how thick you want your squares). Place it in the refrigerator and allow to cool completely. The original recipe suggests lining your pan with parchment but I didn’t and the candy popped out fine.

Once your candy is set (approx 20 minutes in the fridge) cut it into squares or bars. Bonus: You’ll get a lot of crumbs when you cut which are delicious when you save them and put them on ice cream! Melt your chocolate chips using a double boiler and then dip your squares in the chocolate to cover completely. Lay your chocolate covered squares on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the fridge until the chocolate has hardened (approx 30 minutes). Then eat and enjoy!

Easy, right? I will definitely make these again – I’m thinking my family will love me just a little bit extra if I bring some of these to Thanksgiving dinner this year :)

Pinned It – Did It count: 1

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fresh Homemade Challah

I’ll admit it – up to now, challah has intimidated me. I’ve long wanted to make it myself but was pretty sure that I’d never be able to figure out the braid or get the consistency right. I once made bread machine challah but it was a poor imitation of the real thing. Enter The Shiksa in the Kitchen, Tori Avey. Tori manages to make traditional Jewish foods incredibly accessible with her simple, straightforward recipes and instructions. I followed her recipe for challah and her braiding instructions and baked up some truly delicious bread!


What I learned is that anyone can make challah as long as you have patience. You need to let the dough rise multiple times and the whole process takes several hours but it’s well worth it. I followed Tori’s instructions to the letter and I’m so glad I did because I impressed myself with both the taste of the bread and my braid. This is just the simple three strand braid (much like what you’d use to braid your hair) but starting off this way has given me the confidence to try with additional strands next time. And there will be a next time because this challah was just that good!

Be sure to visit The Shiksa in the Kitchen for tons more delicious recipes and inspiration!

P.S. No, this hasn’t turned into a Jewish food blog – Chris and I just made a lot of really great dishes for Rosh Hashanah. Later this week I’ll have Homemade Butterfingers and a new DIY Birthday Card so stay tuned!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Guest Post – Potato Pancakes~Latkes

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend. We celebrated a family birthday (watch for a DIY card post this week) and had a family photo session! We were so busy that I’m only now posting One Hungry Dude’s awesome recipe for Latkes. Rosh Hashanah may have come and gone but these things are so seriously good that I’d eat them every day of the year!

A week ago Sunday was the start of Rosh Hashanah, and for those of you who don't know, my dad's side of the family is Jewish. While I'm not a religious person, I do appreciate good food. So Sarah made some Challah and Apple Honey Bundt Cake, and I cooked Brisket and Latkes. I'll discuss the brisket in a a two part recipe, beginning next week. But here's a simple and quick recipe for some delicious potato pancakes. These are not Kosher — just delicious!

• 4 Large Yellow Potatoes, peeled and rinsed
• 1 Medium Sized Yellow Onion, skin removed
• 2 Tbsp Flour
• 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
• 1 Tsp Thyme
• 1 Tsp Parsley
• Salt and Pepper, to taste
• About 1.5 Cups Canola Oil, for frying

Start by shredding the potato using the large attachment on a grader. Place the potatoes in a large bowl, and cover with cold water. Allow the potatoes to sit in the water for about 20 minutes; this allows the starch and excess moisture to drain out of the shredded spuds. Shred the onion using the fine grater attachment. Set the onion aside.

Remove the potatoes from the water, and place on a layer of paper towel. Wrap the potato with the towel, and squeeze out the excess moisture. Put the potatoes back in the bowl, then add the onions, flour, Worcestershire, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients, and set aside.

Bring the oil to medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Scoop a palm full of the potato mixture into one hand, then use your other hand to press it into a thick pancake. Place the pancake into the oil, then repeat the process, filling the frying pan, but making sure none of the pancakes touch. You can press down on the pancake, using a spatula. Flip the pancakes, once they begin to brown on the bottom. Continue frying until the other side browns, then remove from the pan and place on a paper towel to drain excess oil. Repeat this process until all of the potato mixture has been cooked. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately with apple sauce or sour cream.

This recipe yields about 10 to 12 pancakes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

By the Batch – Honey Apple Bundt Cake

I hope everyone celebrating has had a lovely Rosh Hashanah! If you follow Sugar and Shimmer on Facebook you’ll know that I was busy in the kitchen this weekend baking up a storm. Today I want to share with you a recipe for an incredible Honey Apple Bundt Cake courtesy of the Shiksa in the Kitchen (love her!). I made some slight modifications but all credit to Tori – check out her original recipe here.

Honey Apple Bundt Cake



  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored, and shredded


  • 1 cup + 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tbsp milk


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until they are frothy. Whisk in the honey, white sugar, brown sugar, oil and vanilla.

In a separate medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and spices.

Incorporate the flour mixture into the liquid, stir to blend. Fold in the shredded apples.

Spray your Bundt pan with cooking spray, making sure to evenly coat the entire inner surface. Pour your batter into the pan, no more than 3/4 full. Use a spatula to gently push the batter to the outside of the pan, pushing slightly up the walls. Smooth the batter on the top so it is flat and even all the way around the pan.

Bake cake in preheated oven for 75-90 minutes. When the edges darken and pull fully away from the sides of the pan, and the cake browns all the way across the surface, it should be done. You should be able to insert a toothpick into the thickest part of the cake and have it come out clean.

Let the cake cool for exactly 10 minutes, then invert it onto a flat plate. Tap the Bundt pan gently to release the cake. If your cake sticks, use a plastic knife to carefully loosen the cake around the center tube and sides. Allow cake to cool completely.

To decorate sift 3 tbsp icing sugar on to cake. Next, make your drizzle icing. Sift 1 cup of powdered sugar into a mixing bowl. Add ¼ tsp of vanilla extract and 1 tbsp milk to the bowl and stir. Add additional milk by teaspoonfuls, mixing constantly, until the mixture has the texture of thick honey. Drizzle over the cake. Allow icing to dry completely before serving, about 30 minutes.

According to Sarah

This cake came out beautifully! Mine baked for 80 minutes and was perfect. It released from the Bundt pan very easily and I love the suggestion for decorating. The cake itself was moist but not mushy – it had the perfect amount of springiness to it. One suggestion, make it on the day you intend to eat it because it does get soggy after sitting for a couple of days. Though that shouldn’t be a problem because it’s so good it’ll get eaten up quickly! Even my very picky mom – who normally doesn’t eat dessert with fruit in it – thought this was delicious :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Guest Post – Sausage & Shrimp Jambalaya

It’s Friday and we have a fun weekend ahead of us! I plan to do some baking (more on that next week) and we’ll be celebrating the start of Rosh Hashanah on Sunday with my parents and a delicious dinner. If your weekend plans include some cooking then consider this recipe from our very own One Hungry Dude!

I've been making this dish for over a year. It's a comfort food that I've come to crave, whenever the weather starts to get cooler, and grilling season gives way to oven and stovetop cooking. There are a lot of ingredients involved, but most of them are household staples. This Jambalaya is also quite simple to prepare, as long as you have the time and patience. It's done in one large pan, and clean-up is quick. It's perfect as a side or as a filling meal in its own right. I also tend to make it in large batches, because the leftovers are easy to reheat, and can be just as tasty as fresh.

Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya
• 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 4 Slices Bacon, sliced
• 2 Sausages
• 2 Yellow Onions, diced
• 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
• 2 Cayenne Peppers, sliced
• 1 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
• 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
• 1 Tsp Dried Basil
• 2 Bay Leaves
• 1/4 Tsp Chili Powder
• 1/4 Lemon, zest and juice
• Salt and Pepper, to taste
• 1/2 Red Pepper, chopped
• 1/2 Orange Pepper, chopped
• 4 Mushrooms, cut in half, then sliced
• Handful of Green Beans, stems removed, then cut in half
• 1/2 Large Tomato, diced
• Handful of Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
• 3 Cups Vegetable Broth
• 3 Cups Instant Brown Rice
• Sprinkle of Parsley, for garnish

Place the olive oil and bacon in a large sauce pan, and heat over medium-high. Once the oil heats up, add the sausage. Cook the meat until done, then set aside on a piece of paper towel. Put the onions in the pan, and cook for about two to three minutes, then add the garlic, cayenne, Worcestershire, thyme, basil, bay leaves, chili powder and lemon. Cook until the onions soften and brown. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the red and orange peppers, mushrooms, and green beans, cooking for about another five minutes. Add the tomatoes, and cook until they begin to break down and soften. Add the broth, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Put the rice in the pan, stirring occasionally, cooking until tender (about 15 to 20 minutes). Remove from the heat, scoop onto plates, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

This recipe makes about 8 to 10 servings.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

By the Batch – Mini Pecan Pies

I watched an episode of Street Eats recently that featured a food cart called The Pie Spot. Their menu consists of  mini pies that you eat with your hands – sounds delicious, right? So delicious that I wanted one, really wanted one. But since The Pie Spot is in Portland I had to make my own. So I adapted this crust recipe and this filling recipe and whipped up a batch of mini pecan pies.

Mini Pecan Pies 


For Crust

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons milk

For Filling

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves


Preheat oven to 400°F. To make the crust, combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Mix with a fork until pea sized balls form. Loosely fill the holes of a muffin tin with the dough mixture. You’ll have dough left over as this recipe yields 18 mini pies. Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of each hole. 

For the filling begin by beating the eggs lightly in a medium bowl. Add corn syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla and salt; stir until well blended. Pour your mixture into the dough filled muffin pan holes, about 3/4 full. Again, you’ll have leftover filling enough to make 6 additional pies.

Arrange two pecan halves on top of each pie and then place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking for 25-30 minutes. Because muffin tin sizes vary so will your cooking time so check frequently – the pies are done when they are browned and puffed up on top.

Let cool completely before removing pies from tin. If they stick you  can gently run a knife around the edges to loosen them.  I recommend warming them slightly and serving with whipped cream!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Guest Post – Shrimp Rotini

Good Monday morning, everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I was loving the cooler fall-like weather – this is definitely my favourite time of the year. I guess I was enjoying myself so much that I’m late posting this week’s One Hungry Dude recipe. Hope you’ll forgive me! Enjoy!

Admittedly, I swoon at television advertising at times. So while watching a commercial for Red Lobster the other day, I got an immediate craving for shrimp. We're on a tight budget right now, so eating out is a rarity. But luckily, with a few staple items from the freezer and pantry, I made this delicious dinner in under 45 minutes.

Shrimp Rotini

• 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 4 Slices Bacon, sliced
• 1 Onion, halved then thinly sliced
• 2 Cloves Garlic, diced
• 1 Cayenne Pepper, chopped
• 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
• 1 Bay Leaf
• A Few Sprigs of Fresh Basil, chopped
• Salt and Pepper, to taste
• Splash of Vegetable Broth
• 4 Cups Rotini
• 12 to 16 Cooked Shrimp
• Sprinkle of Parmesan
• About 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
• Squirt of Lemon Juice
• Sprinkle of Dried Parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, over medium high. Add the bacon, cooking until brown. Once cooked, remove the bacon, and set aside on a paper towel. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the onions, cooking for about three to four minutes, then add the garlic, cayenne, thyme, bay leaf, basil, salt and pepper. Cook until the onion begins to soften and brown, then add the vegetable broth and reduce the heat by about half.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, bring salted water to a boil, then add the pasta. About five minutes before the pasta is ready to be drained, add the shrimp and bacon to the skillet. Remove the bay leaf. Stir the mixture once or twice. Drain the pasta, add it to the skillet, along with the parmesan, and mix together. Place the cheddar on top. Once the cheddar melts, place the pasta on plates, squirt a bit of lemon juice on top, and garnish with parsley.

This recipe yields about four servings.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Free Printable! I Love You To the Moon and Back

Just a quick post tonight to share a little digital art I’ve created. My mom likes to say “I love you to the moon and back” to Nathan and we talked about how the phrase would make for some cute framed art in her guest bedroom where he sleeps when we visit. I checked Google and Pinterest and there were options but nothing that I loved that could be printed for free. So I decided to make my own!

I Love You To The Moon - Boy Printable 

I love the way it turned out – it’s cute for Nathan but not so cute that it will look strange hanging in a bedroom that adults will sometimes sleep in as well. If you like it too then you can print one of your own! Just click on the image to get the full size version. It’ll print to 8x10 or smaller if you prefer.

And since I liked this blue version so much I decided to make one that is a little more girly. Again, just click the image for the full size, print and frame!

I Love You To The Moon - Girl Printable 

If you do use this printable I’d love to hear about it so please leave me a comment. I’ve decided not to include any kind of watermark since I think that makes for a nicer printable but please don’t share this art without a link back here. And because I believe in giving credit where credit is due I have to thank Miss Tiina Fonts for her awesome free Sweet Sky Dings – that’s where the adorable moon came from.

Sweet dreams everyone!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Guest Post - Mozzarella Stuffed Hamburgers

Well here we are in the last long weekend of summer. Can you believe it?! I’ve always loved fall and back to school is one of my favourite times of the year. Can’t wait to put on some sweaters! But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you plan to celebrate this weekend with a barbecue consider trying this awesome hamburger recipe from One Hungry Dude!

On a hot day in mid-summer, I can rarely think of a better option for an entree than a grilled hamburger. Admittedly, it's easier to buy a frozen variety, toss it on the barbecue, and have a delicious and enjoyable dinner within minutes. But I prefer to create my own burger. It allows me to control the ingredients, and really doesn't take a lot of extra time to prepare. This recipe is definitely worth the little bit of extra effort.

Mozzarella Hamburger
• 1 Kilogram Ground Beef
• 2 Eggs
• 2 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
• 2 Tsp Olive Oil
• 1 Tsp Thyme
• 1 Tsp Parsley
• 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
• 1 Cayenne Pepper, chopped
• A few sprigs of Fresh Basil, chopped
• About 12 Slices of Mozzarella Cheese, cut from a brick

Mozzerella Hambuger Cross-section
Place the ground beef in a bowl, then add the eggs, Worcestershire Sauce, olive oil, thyme, parsley, garlic powder, cayenne and basil. Using your hands, mix the ingredients together thoroughly. Divide the mixture into 16 evenly sized balls. Place one of the balls on a flat plate, covered with plastic wrap. Take a cutting board or flat bottomed plate, and press down on the ball, until it has been flattened to about one centimetre thick. Cut the cheese slices in half. Place three of the cut slices in the centre of the patty. Place another ball on top of the cheese, then flatten it. Use your fingers to press down on the edges of the burgers, to ensure the meat bonds together and the cheese stays in place. Cover the burger with plastic wrap, and place on a tray. Repeat this process until all the meat has been used. Place the patties in the fridge for about an hour.

Pre-heat the grill to high. Place the burgers on the grill, and cook until done, flipping once. Place on a bun, add your favourite toppings and serve.

I've chosen to top the burger with extra cheese, mushrooms (sauteed with margarine, salt, pepper and splashes of Worcestershire Sauce, lemon juice and red wine), bacon and sliced pickles. But that's the beautiful thing about hamburgers — there are some many combinations of ingredients that work well with ground beef, so experiment and enjoy!

This recipe yields eight hamburgers.