Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Single Serving Mac & Cheese Au Gratin

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favourite comfort foods, especially when baked with a cheesy, buttery crust.  It's incredibly simple to make, but if I'm cooking for just myself, I usually don't go through the efforts to bake an entire panful and usually stick to the stovetop version.  With these CorningWare Meal Mugs from World Kitchen LLC, single serving macaroni and cheese au gratin is not only do-able, but since they also come with a BPA free microwave safe vented lid, it makes transporting and re-heating leftovers a breeze.  We have a few of these mugs in our kitchen so even if I'm not feeding a crowd, I can still make a family sized batch and portion it out into my mugs for an easy weekday meal on the go.  

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

I have been infatuated with decorated sugar cookies for as long as I can remember, especially with the increase of the foodie how to videos that have fast become an adult version of a bedtime story before I fall asleep for the night. Over the years I’ve collected all of the necessary supplies, but I’ve never actually sat down and worked with royal icing before.  I mentioned to Sarah that I had been making the dough and cutting out cookies in hopes to decorate them this week, and before we finished our conversation she already had a dough of her own happening in her kitchen.  We decided to combine forces and the next night her son and daughter in law stopped by we all listened to Christmas music and decorated sugar cookies until late into the night.  We had so much fun; both of us are already planning our next batch for tomorrow.

For the cookies, we adapted this recipe from The Pioneer Woman:


- 2/3 cup shortening
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ tsp grated lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 cups flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp salt

Royal Icing
- 3 tbsp meringue powder
- 4 cups sifted icing sugar
- 5 tbsp water


Cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in lemon peel, and vanilla.  Beat egg, and add mixture.  Stir in the milk and mix thoroughly.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, then add to cream mixture mixing until well blended.

Divide dough in half, and shape into disks.  Wrap with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for a minimum of 1-2 hours, overnight if possible.

Once dough has been chilled, roll out onto a lightly floured surface to approximately ¼ inch thick and cut into shapes using your favourite cookie cutters.  Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 375 for approximately 6 minutes, being sure that cookies don’t brown.  For best results, allow cookies to cool and harden 1-2 hours (or overnight) before decorating.

For icing:

Whip ingredients together in a stand mixer set to medium speed for 7-10 minutes, or until stiff peaks form and the icing loses its glossy sheen.  If using a hand mixer, increase whipping time to 10-12 minutes.

This icing is now ready for edging consistency. Add food coloring to the icing, then split 1/4 of the icing into a piping bag or squeeze bottle with a small round writing tip (Wilton Tip 1 or 2).

For flooding constancy, add water to remaining icing ¼ tsp at a time until you have what’s called a 5 second icing.  This means that the icing will easily run off the spoon and lay smoothly back in the bowl after 5 seconds.  Youtube is your friend here.  Add icing to a squeeze bottle (or piping bag if you don’t have a squeeze bottle) fitted with a larger round tip (the size will be dependent on a number of factors, though I used a Wilton Tip 3 for ours).

Use the edging icing to create an outline around the edges of your cookies to help contain the flooding icing.   Once the edging has set, flood the cookie with the flooding icing, using a toothpick to spread the icing to the edges. Use a different coloured flood icing to create designs (it will dry completely flat).  Allow cookies to dry for 1-2 hours (or overnight).


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 21

If you're just joining the conversation, you can read all about the $4/day challenge I have embarked on this month!  Today officially marks 3 weeks of the challenge with only 1 week left! 

Monday, November 21, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 20

Today was Saturday and I was in a baking mood.  I made a batch of these English Muffins.  We ended up having breakfast sandwiches for brunch, which was really tasty and definitely hit the spot!  This was the last of our eggs though, so we will have to buy more this week!  If you're just reading now, you can catch up on the challenge here

Sunday, November 20, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 19

If you're just joining the conversation, you can read all about the challenge here

Saturday, November 19, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 18

Today is Day 18 of the Food Bank Challenge!  You can read all about it here
This week we are going completely without milk or butter because we are out of both and only have $20 left in our budget for the month. I want to use some of our funds to buy fresh produce next week, so we are sacrificing the extras.  It's actually not so bad, the only time I'm really missing it is in coffee.  I'd also be doing a lot more baking right now, especially leading up to Christmas. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 17

Today was another day filled with meetings.  My first meeting was at one of my favourite local coffee shops, The Old Grind.  The woman I was meeting bought me a tea, which I couldn't say no to, so I had a delicious london fog for breakfast! 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 16

Today was a crazy busy day with meetings around the clock!  As a result, on the door I grabbed the only food I had in the house that didn't require cooking - a pear.  I was hoping to make a fresh pear tart for breakfast one day this week, but a fresh pear was pretty great too.  If you're just joining the conversation you can catch up here!  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge Day 15

If you're just joining the conversation, you can read all about it here

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 14

Today is officially half way through the challenge, and needless to say things are starting to get a bit harder.  We are out of milk today, even though we just bought a gallon a few days ago.  We are out of butter now, and because we use real butter and not margarine, it rings in at about $6/lb.  I sacrificed half of the butter to make shortbread cookies last week, the kind of thing I probably won't have the luxury of doing with the next lb that I purchase, if I can somehow fit it into my budget.  We have just over $20 left for the next two weeks, but we do have a lot of non perishable items and still quite a bit of meat left.!

Monday, November 14, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 13

Today we came within pennies of our daily budget for the $4/day challenge, though we ate really well today considering how little we had to spend.  We had fresh fruit, a hearty salad, and a traditional roast beef dinner.  I would have to say, that today has been our most satisfying day so far, and I'm really proud to say we were able to eat such a great diet today on such a small budget!

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 12

I've been looking forward to today's recipe all week long!  I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so I think other than missing cream in my coffee, sweets have been the #1 thing I miss during this challenge. Pancakes with homemade syrup are a really nostalgic food for me as well,  since both are something my Grandparents always made for me growing up (and continue to do so to this day).  All in all, brunch was a great meal, and rang in at a mere $1.14/serving! 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 11

Well today marks Day 11 of the challenge!  If you're just joining the conversation, you can get up to speed here

Friday, November 11, 2016

Basic Homemade Pancakes

This recipe for pancakes is really easy to whip together.   Mix together the first 4 ingredients and store for quick use later on (this is essentially homemade Bisquick).  We often bring this camping with us, storing the wet and dry ingredients in separate containers, combining only when it's time to use. 
Goes wonderfully with this recipe for Brown Sugar Syrup
Recipe makes 8 large pancakes 

CWJ Food Bank Challenge Day 10

This month I've challenged myself to survive off a $4/day grocery budget.  You can read the overview of the challenge here

Thursday, November 10, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge - Day 9

It's amazing how many people are following this challenge right now.  Last night I went on a late night grocery run - the manager came over to ask how the challenge was going and to take a look at what I had placed on the conveyer belt this week (a head of lettuce, 1 tomato, 2 pears, and a gallon of milk - for a total of $10.65).  It has been really interesting so far to hear the feedback from those who are following along.

Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese

- 2 cups dry macaroni noodles
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 cups whole milk 
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 8

Today was a bit of a crazy day to say the to say the least. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Week 1 Recap

Things I learned in the past week have been invaluable. 

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 7

Today marks 1/4 way through the challenge and the end of the first official week.  I have to say that we are doing much better with the budget than I had originally thought we would.  Though the first few days were a bit high, we managed to make everything stretch really well throughout the week bringing our total meal cost each day lower and lower.  You can read my thoughts on the first quarter of this challenge in a re-cap post here

Brown Sugar Syrup

My Gramma has always made her own syrup out of brown sugar and water.  Whenever we would visit as kids, Gramps would make us all customized pancakes (I usually got a letter "J") and Gramma would be busy at the stove whisking the syrup.  This is a great, simple recipe that costs only around $1 or so to make. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 6

If you're just joining us, you can read about the challenge here

Sunday, November 6, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 5

If you're just joining us, you can read all about what's happening HERE.
Today we also officially ran out of milk when we had our morning coffees, so I'll have to make a run to the store to purchase some more at some point.  I still have a little over $30, so we are still mainlining our leftover budget really well!  

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Easy Homemade Bread

We've been making most of our own bread for years now.  Up until last year, we would use the bread maker "dough only" setting and then transfer it into our own pans to bake.  This is my Gramma's recipe, and it served us well for many years!  Unfortunately our bread baker broke last year, and rather than replace it we decided to figure out how to make bread without it. 

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 4

Well guys, today at only 4 days in, I encountered probably the biggest challenge that I will encounter throughout the course of this project (and I am even travelling for a few days towards the middle of this month - I thought that was going to be the greatest challenge).  Even still today ended up being our best day as far as the daily food budget went.

Friday, November 4, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 3

The feedback for this challenge has been incredible, I'm loving all of the comments, private messages, texts, and just overall interest that this entire project is receiving so far.  

Creamy Chicken and Dumplings

I made this recipe as part of the $4/day food challenge I am working on this month. This is a great classic comfort food recipe that uses leftover roasted chicken, so I knew it would be perfect for the challenge!  This recipe makes between 4-6 servings. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Day 2

If you you're just joining the conversation, you can read all about the challenge HERE

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Groceries

As promised, here is a grocery list along with prices and receipts from everything I purchased today.  If you're just joining the conversation, you can catch up HERE.

CWJ Food Bank Challenge: Overview

I was chatting with the President of my local food bank a couple of months back and he mentioned that the average person who is accessing the food bank has only around $4 to spend on groceries per day.  That got me to thinking - could my family survive off a mere $4/person/day? 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sushi Bowl

I was craving sushi the other night but didn’t feel like ordering takeout.  The night before we had a shrimp ring and I still had a dozen or so to use up.  While I felt like cooking at home that night, I wasn’t up for the task of rolling out sushi.  When I was little, my mom used to make deconstructed cabbage rolls, which was essential a cabbage roll casserole. I decided to try going that route with what I had in the house, and as a result I made something that is definitely going to be appearing in our house again in the future.  In fact, I’m craving it again right now just typing this recipe out!

Recipe makes 4 servings


- 2 cups cooked white rice (sticky is best for this recipe but any white rice will do)
- 12 cooked shrimp (I used part of a shrimp ring)
-  2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 pkg roasted seaweed snacks (or seaweed paper)
- 1 carrot, julienned (or chopped)
- ½ English cucumber, julienned (or chopped)
- 1 green onion
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp sesame oil (optional)
- sushi ginger & wasabi (optional)

Chipotle Sauce:
- 1 chipotle pepper (fresh or ground)
- ¼ cup mayonnaise

Dipping Sauce:
- ¼ cup soya sauce
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar

Sidebar: to julienne carrots or cucumber, first start by creating a rectangular piece by slicing off the round edges.  Chop each piece lengthwise, then flip and chop once lengthwise once again.  To see a full photo tutorial of this process, visit this Sunday!


You can create this dish either in a casserole dish and serve it family style, or you can make each bowl individually (which might be nice if you leave out toppings taco style, so each person can customize their own serving).

Place cooked rice in either bowls or casserole dish to create a base layer.

Crunch up a package of seaweed snacks (or 2 sheets of seaweed) and sprinkle on top of the rice.

Next, chop up shrimp into small pieces, and combine with 2 tbsp mayonnaise. Add this as the next layer.

Top with julienned carrot and English cucumber, then sprinkle with chopped green onions, sesame seeds, ginger, and wasabi.

Combine ingredients for chipotle sauce, and place in a small sandwich bag.  Cut off the tip, and finish off each bowl/casserole dish with a drizzle before serving.

Combine ingredients for dipping sauce and serve on the side.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Homemade Canned Fruit in Light Syrup

I made a recent trip to BC to visit my Grandparents.  They live on Vancouver Island, so there is a huge abundance of fruit in their neighbourhood.  My Grampa is constantly finding me fresh, backyard grown fruits and vegetables whenever I visit him, and this trip was no exception.  I left with freshly picked blackberries, blueberries, apples, pears, peaches, cherries, 2 different kinds of plums,  not to mention pumpkins, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and even banana quash!  Needless to say as soon as I got home, I had to process fruit, and I had to process it fast!  My favourite method this year was my Gramma's method for canning stone fruit.  We tried canning berries together this way and it worked out beautifully! 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Cheddar Biscuits/Scones

One of the very first recipes I ever remember making were my Gramma’s baking powder biscuits.  Back in the 90’s my Grandfather gathered up all of Gramma’s recipes, typed them all out, created an index, and placed them into giant binders to ship out to all of their children and grandchildren. Throughout the last 20 years each binder has grown and become unique to it’s owner.  When I visit my Aunt’s house, she has little notes she’s made in the margins and added pages of recipes that have been passed onto her from friends, cut out of her favourite magazines, and newer recipes that have been personally passed on from Gramma.  My little cousin’s earmarked all of the jam recipes in her book and started up her very own jam business on Vancouver Island.   Though I adore all of the recipes I’ve tried from the family recipe binder, this recipe is hands down the most adored page in my book.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies and a New Adventure!

I have been on a bit of a cookie making spree lately. 

I've been working on a really big CWJ project with my town for the past couple of months, and as a result, I obtained all of the necessary food licensing and permits in order to legally sell all of the food that I make without having to be at a Farmer's Market.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Old Fashioned Creamed Corn

I've had this recipe for creamed corn in my head for awhile - over 5 years in fact.  Every time I have enough fresh corn it crosses my mind to make this, but I somehow end up using the corn for something else instead. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Parmesan Potatoes

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you’ll know that I have a special place in my heart for baby potatoes.  They cook quickly, cut perfectly, and make for a great appetizer or side dish, giving them endless recipe opportunities.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Warm Roasted Potato Salad

I tend to give people homemade treats whenever they help me out with something.  Recently a friend did just that, and came through in a really big way for me.  I wanted to make her something really special, so I asked her BFF what her all-time favourite dessert was.  She replied “if you really want to make her something she’ll love, make her a hot potato salad”.  She went on to tell me that our friend always ordered this exact dish at her favourite restaurant in Jasper.  I always love a good challenge, so I was on a mission to re-create it for her.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Honey Grilled Steak

A few months back we bought some beef from a friend’s family farm here in Alberta.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Apple Pie Granola

This recipe appeared as my cooking column in the May 5th edition of my local newspaper,  The Hinton Voice.  

[I’ve been making homemade granola for as long as I can remember.  In my early days of cooking, I would use my library card liberally to take out as many recipe books as I could.  I remember one book in particular that was bound in hardcover and heavier than any school text book I currently had in my backpack. After pouring over this book for weeks (and lets be honest, probably incurring a great deal of late fees if current me is any indication) I discovered a how-to manual for making the perfect granola.  It called for a little of this, and a little of that, with heavy suggestions of substitutions.  The beauty of granola is that it’s incredibly easy to mix up depending on what you have in the house, right down to the type of oats you use – rolled, large flake, old fashioned, instant, quick oats… I have used a variety over the years and I haven’t had a granola that didn’t turn out yet.]

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers

This recipe was written for my Foodie Column for the April 7th edition of my local newspaper, The Hinton Voice. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Homemade Naan Bread


This recipe was my column in the March 3 edition of my local newspaper, The Hinton Voice. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Crème Brûlée

This recipe appeared in the February 4th Edition of The Hinton Voice as the Cooking With Jax monthly cooking column. 

[This summer when my husband and I were in Whiterock, BC, we stayed in an adorable, vintage 1920’s style beach house that we found on Airbnb.  With an ocean view, and just down the street from an array of unique eateries, it was like a little slice of paradise.  At one of the restaurants along the beach we decided to split dessert – which happened to be the most perfectly cooked crème brûlée
either of us had ever eaten.  Every bite had a smooth, creamy texture, sprinkled with real vanilla beans and a crispy glaze of caramelized sugar on top.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

"Far West" Chicken Wings

This recipe was published as my monthly column for the January 7th edition of The Hinton Voice, my local newspaper. 

[Back in October I went on the road trip of a lifetime, spending just under two weeks driving across Canada.  I had a conference in Montréal for work and since most of my husband’s family lives in a small French community nearby, we decided to extend the trip and visit everyone while we were there.  For a portion of the trip we stayed with his Mémère (grandmother) in the 1800’s farmhouse that she and Pépère had saved up all of their hard earned money to purchase in their early days of marriage.  Walking into the house is like stepping back in time.  Not only is the antique wood stove in the kitchen used for cooking all of the meals, it also heats the entire house, acts as an incinerator (nothing gets thrown out – everything is either recycled or burned), and even has a spot to hang laundry to dry.   To say that this visit was one of the most enriching experiences of my entire life would truly not do it justice. 

We spent a lot of time exploring the old barn, which was filled to the brim with antique treasures.  One of the rooms even boasts an original spinning jenny and some of the items date back as far as the 1600’s.  Some of these treasures included cookbooks with pages so brittle they crackled beneath my fingertips, and instructions that required cooking over the cooled down coals from the morning fire.  Needless to say, I spent a good portion of my trip pouring over cookbooks with Mémère, bringing many, many recipes home with me.

One morning after exploring the barn and chatting over recipes, Mémère disappeared into the kitchen and returned with a cast iron pan filled with these chicken wings.  They were literally the best thing ever, and I knew it was a recipe that I would have to re-create once I arrived home.  When I asked how she had made the sauce, she responded with “oh, a little of this and a little of that” and I thought that was the end of it.  Mémère had other ideas though, because just before we left she came over and placed a handwritten copy of this recipe in my hands.  I couldn’t help but smile at the title of her recipe, written specifically for her visitors from “The Far West”.]

- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup vinegar
- 2 tbsp honey
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 kg chicken wings (or any cut of chicken, skin on)


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine sauce ingredients.

Heat an oven safe frying pan over medium heat.  If you don’t have an oven safe frying pan (cast iron works great for this recipe!), you can use your usual frying pan, transferring the chicken to an oven safe dish for the next step.

Dip the wings in the sauce, and then fry for 5-7 minutes, until wings are slightly crisp.  Turn chicken wings over with tongs, then coat with the remaining sauce.

Transfer chicken wings to a well pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, turning them midway through and covering them with the sauce. 

The wings should be crispy but well glazed with the sauce.


Friday, January 8, 2016

Winter Citrus Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

This recipe is the brainchild of my friend Kate and I.  We love to get together to cook and bake, and this time was no exception.  Not only do we get to have an awesome visit, we get to create great food together too!  
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