Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Peppermint Bark

I really wanted to try making this popular Christmas treat myself. At Williams Sonoma, it's $39 a pound. Don't get me wrong, its good. But for me, that's a little steep and I just couldn't see it being that hard.

I found a recipe and a really cute idea from one of the food bloggers I follow. My blog isn't awesome enough (yet) to be able to do give away's, but maybe one day. I couldn't find the silicone mold that she used in hers but I did find Lollipop Molds that worked great. More later. I don't think it could have been much easier to make this.

I made 2 batches. One batch I used Wilton Candy Melts in a vanilla chocolate mint flavour, with candy cane pieces in it already. In the other batch I used regular white baking chocolate and just flavoured it with the peppermint oil and sprinkled some crushed up candy canes on top before it hardened. I used Williams Sonoma Peppermint Snow. But only because I had some. Candycanes are just fine. In both batches I used Semi-Sweet baking chocolate for the darker layer flavoured with the peppermint oil.

The batch that I made with the Wilton melts I put into candy molds. Soo cute its almost lame. I'm more thinking for Christmas gifts or trays with those. Spoiler alert for all my friends reading this. This is what you get. The molds and the melts were pretty cheap at Michaels, both $4 each. Well 2 molds/$4. And since we all know Michaels sends out coupons every week you can definitely save some money on them. They also had some really great gift boxes and tins.

For the second batch I just smeared it pretty thin on a parchment lined cookie sheet. I did the dark chocolate and let it sit for about 15 minutes in the fridge before I did the white chocolate on top. Sprinkled with some Williams Sonoma Peppermint snow. There's a chance that I may never stop making this now. I've also seen some really great variations on Martha Stewart's Site.

*I've been having some trouble with links getting reused on some of the bigger sites, so I thought that I would start putting the recipe within my site as well as the link. Just in case.

Peppermint Bark & Shapes
(Adapted from Peppermint Bark)
Makes 3 lollipop molds

4oz chocolate of your choice (I used Semi Sweet)
4oz white chocolate
1/2 tsp Vegetable Oil
1/8 tsp Peppermint Extract for White Chocolate
1/8 tsp Peppermint Extract for Semi Sweet Chocolate
Crushed candy canes or peppermint candies. Powder removed*

*To remove powder, crush candy over a fine mesh strainer. Shake gently until all powder is removed.

If you want to use the wilton candy melts like I did you don't have to add the oil or the peppermint extract to the White chocolate. Its also super handy in that you can just put all of the melts into a disposable decorating bag and melt in the microwave. This is especially good for the shapes as it makes it easier to get into the corners.


In a small to medium sized measuring cup or bowl (I like one with a pouring spout) add milk or dark chocolate and 1/2 tsp vegetable oil. Melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals at 50% power. Stir well after each 30 seconds. When fully melted, add 1/8 tsp peppermint extract. Stir well.
(I also did this with a double boiler, the microwave method is probably a better choice, unless you're doing alot. A double boiler was messy and took a lot longer.)
Pour chocolate evenly among mold cavities, filling no more than half full. Chill for at least 10 minutes.
Repeat process with white chocolate. Remove from molds after fully hardened. Store in the fridge.

I doubled this recipe for 6 molds, plus had a little extra to do some plain "bark" style. To do this I simply poured the chocolate on a parchment lined baking sheet, let set for a few minutes and then poured the white chocolate on top. Sprinkled with my peppermint snow and put in the fridge. After about 2 hours I broke it apart into about 2 inch pieces. 

Southwestern Sloppy Joes

This recipe caught my eye on one of the weekly emails I get. I usually scroll through and delete them pretty much right away. The link on this one was broken and I still went on a search to find it. As I've made no secret of, I enjoy spicy food. As long as its a nice, well flavoured dish.

Sloppy joes are super easy to make yourself and although that manwich sauce is pretty tasty and even easier, this is a good way to make sure you're eating what you want to eat. Control the salt and the spice and even the meat type. We were going to make these with ground dark meat turkey but when Sean got to the grocery store he texted me to ask if we could have them with bison. Bison is probably my favourite meat when it comes to burgers anyways so why not? It's pretty much on par with the nutrients/fat/calories in turkey with substantially more flavour.

Other than the bison meat change we found we needed a bit more of the passata to make it "Sloppy". We also found this made waaay more than 4 servings. So far we've gotten 8 and there's probably at least 4 more left. This will depend on how much you put on each bun though.

Here's the recipe adapted slightly with how we made it.

Southwestern Sloppy Joes
(Adapted from Canadian Living)

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeño pepper
2 cloves garlic, grated or minced 
1 lb (454 g) lean ground bison (Or beef)
2 tsp (10 mL) chili powder
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) ground cumin
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) ground coriander
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
1 pinch cayenne 
1-1/2 Cup (375 mL) bottled strained tomatoes, (passata)
1 can rinsed drained black beans
1/2 cup (125 mL) frozen corn kernels
2 tbsp (30 mL) lime juice
2 tsp (10 mL) liquid honey
Hamburger Buns
Shredded cheese

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, jalapeño pepper and garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add bison; cook over medium-high heat, breaking up with spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes.

Add spices; cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomatoes, beans, corn, lime juice and honey; cook until slightly thickened, 5-10 minutes. 

In the meantime, if you'd like, toast your buns. I recommend this to keep the integrity (somewhat) of your Sloppy Joe. Otherwise that bun will be a soggy mess in no time!

Divide evenly among bottoms of buns; sprinkle with cheese. Cover with tops of buns or leave open face for a higher meat to bun ratio.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fiesta Chicken and Rice

I've recently been trying some different recipes that may get me to enjoy chicken a little more. It's not bad or anything, I think I just had way too much of it as a child and it was all just so dry. I saw this recipe and I was interested right away. I would recommend adding black beans for some extra filling and maybe some hot sauce to liven it up a bit. I don't really thing the cheese adds anything but calories (and that's not something you will hear me say very often) so feel free to leave it out.

I'd definitely make this again.I have a 12 inch skillet and I didn't use it, I have a 3qt Braiser that I used instead. It has a lid and I think its great for one pot type dinners.

Fiesta Chicken and Rice
(Adapted slightly from Here)


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and Pepper
3 Tbsp Grapeseed oil
2 cups long-grain rice
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, chopped medium
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


1. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.

2. Set a large skillet or braiser over medium-high heat and add the oil. When it starts to warm, after 3 minutes or so, add the chicken and cook on one side until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Take the chicken out, leaving the fat in the pan.

3. Add the rice and onion to the pan. Cook while stirring to avoid it burning on the bottom, until the rice is toasted and the onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 15 seconds or so to bring out the flavours in the spices.

4. Mix in the tomatoes, red pepper and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken back to the pan, browned side up. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes.

5. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and stir the rice and replace the cover and continue cooking until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 5-10 minutes, depending on your rice. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into slices.

6. Turn the heat off the pan and arrange the sliced chicken on top. Sprinkle with the cheese and cover the pan again and let stand for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.

7. Serves 6-8