Kate's Cuisine

Dec 20 2014

Oreo Cheesecake Bites

Oreo Cheesecake Bites

Amid all the crazy Christmas stuff this week, we also had a very special occasion to celebrate in our house this week – it was Brent’s birthday! Oreo cheesecake has become kind of a tradition in our house for his birthday. This year, it was too little too late when I remembered – the day before his birthday and just as I was about to run out to work – that I no longer had a springform pan. It had gotten all bent out of shape during our last move and would have been useless to me even if I had kept it. But what was I going to do now? All the ingredients were spread out on my counter, they had all come to room temperature (a must when making cheesecake,) and there was no time (and no accessible car) to run out and buy another pan.

But guess what? You don’t need a springform pan to enjoy cheesecake! All you need is a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish and some parchment paper to help you lift it out when it’s finished baking. After enjoying this delicious cheesecake, which had turned into cheesecake bites, Brent told me that he actually enjoyed these better because he didn’t “get sick of eating it halfway through.” I don’t know what that means for the other cakes that I made him – that were actually cakes – but I know that it turned out well this year; and that I might be making him bites next year, too.

(If you want to make these bites as an actual cheesecake, springform pan and all, follow the instructions as they are but leave it in the oven to bake for about 10 – 15 minutes longer, until the centre is almost set and has just a bit of jiggle left to it.)

40 Oreo cookies, divided (1 package was more than enough) $2.99
1/3 cup butter, melted $0.30
3 packages cream cheese, softened $12.57
3/4 cup sugar $0.12
1 cup sour cream $0.60
1 teaspoon vanilla $0.22
4 eggs $0.80
1 cup chocolate (milk or dark, whatever you prefer), melted $0.99

Total cost $18.59
Cost per bite $0.58

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish with parchment paper, making sure that it sticks out the ends some to give you handles to take it out with once it’s done baking.

2.) Place 26 cookies, cream and all, in a food processor and pulse until they turn into fine crumbs. Coarsely chop about 10 cookies, and set aside in a bowl. Cut remaining cookies in half and place these in a separate bowl.

3.) Mix the cookies you’ve turned into crumbs with the melted butter. Press this mixture into the bottom of the casserole dish and up the sides a little bit, about half an inch or so.

4.) Place cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer with the sugar and beat until everything is well blended. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat the mixture thoroughly after each addition, making sure the egg is totally incorporated before you add another.

5.) Fold in the cookies that have been coarsely chopped (not chopped in half,) until they are also well blended with the rest of the mixture. Pour the entire thing over top of the crust in the casserole dish.

6.) Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35 – 45 minutes, until the centre is almost set and jiggles just a little bit. The rest of the cake should be entirely set.

7.) When the cake is finished baking, remove from the oven and run a knife along the edges to loosen it a bit. Let the cake cool completely at room temperature before placing it in the oven for 4 hours to let it cool and set completely.

8.) Remove the cake from the fridge and gently lift it out of the pan, using the parchment paper. Cut into small squares and using a spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over top. Place half an Oreo cookie into the centre of each square.

9.) Serve and enjoy!

Dec 15 2014

Garlic Cheesy Bread

Garlic Cheesy Bread

Garlic cheesy bread doesn’t sound all that complicated to make, and it’s really not. But if you try to just spread some garlic butter on a bun or a piece of bread, sprinkle cheese over top and throw it in the oven, all you’ll end up with is soggy bread that can barely stand up to the melted cheese on top. But do it this way instead, and you’ll end up with that delicious snack or appetizer you were hoping for. I start it on my indoor grill because I like the grill marks (no, you can’t see them once the cheese is on, but it makes me feel better,) but you can also use a skillet or frying pan.

2 sub rolls, or a baguette cut into pieces about six inches long $0.66
1/2 cup butter $0.44
1 tablespoon garlic powder $0.10
1 tablespoon dried parsley $0.25
Pinch of salt $0.01
Pinch of pepper $0.01
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated $1.25

Total cost $2.72
Cost per serving $1.36

1.) Make a compound butter by combining the butter, garlic powder, parsley, salt, and pepper. Spread this butter generously over the surface of the buns, rolls or baguette (making sure that the buns have been split open, of course.)

2.) Heat a dry indoor grill, skillet, or frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, place the sub buns or rolls face-down on the pan. Press down gently to get the buns toasted very well so that they are brown and just slightly crisp.

3.) Preheat the broiler and place the toasted bread on a baking sheet. Evenly sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over top the surface of each bun, roll, or baguette.

4.) Place the bread into the oven and broil for 1 – 2 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly golden brown. Keep a close eye on it so that the bread doesn’t burn – it can happen in an instant when using the broiler!!!

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Dec 13 2014

Breakfast Casserole with Potatoes, Eggs, and Pancetta

Potato and Egg Casserole

I really don’t get the big deal surrounding pancetta. I’ve only had it in the chunky, already-diced variety that you can get at just about any grocery store these days, and maybe I would feel differently if I tried it thinly sliced instead. But really, what they say is true – pancetta really is just Italian bacon, and I’m not really a huge fan of bacon. That’s right, I said it. I don’t love bacon!!!!! However, I also don’t hate it, so if you don’t want to fork out big bucks for pancetta (or are like me and don’t get the big deal,) just use bacon in its place. Or, venture out and try sausage. Now that would be phenomenal. Because as indifferent as I am about bacon and pancetta, I love that other breakfast meat so much!

4 cups potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds,) thinly sliced (use a mandolin to get them perfectly even and thin) $1.24
1 tablespoon olive oil $0.03
1 cup pancetta, diced $3.99
2 Vidalia onions, thinly sliced $1.20
6 eggs, lightly beaten $0.60
1/2 cup milk $0.14
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded $2.49
1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves, chopped $0.27
1 teaspoon salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01
A bit of butter for the baking dish $0.06

Total cost $10.04
Cost per serving $1.67

1.) In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, cook until lightly browned, stirring regularly. When finished cooking, remove the pancetta from the skillet and set on a plate lined with paper towel. Turn heat under skillet to medium-low.

2.) Add onions to the skillet, stir to break up the pieces a bit, and cook for 20 – 30 minutes, until they are lightly browned and very tender. Remove from heat. Add the potatoes and pancetta to the skillet with the onions and gently stir everything together.

3.) Lightly butter a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish. Transfer the potato mixture into the greased casserole dish, spreading it out evenly as you do.

4.) In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Add the Swiss cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper and beat until all ingredients are blended together. Pour this mixture over the potatoes in the casserole dish. If this is a make-ahead dish, at this point you can cover and place in the refrigerator for 4 – 24 hours. Or…

5.) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place casserole in oven, uncovered, for 45 – 50 minutes, until the dish is golden and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Dec 11 2014

Mexican Potatoes

Mexican Potatoes

Ah, it’s that time of year again. The time of shopping, parties, decorating, and celebrations – and we still have work and families to take care of during all of it. Sometimes it amazes me that most of us seem to make it out of these holidays still in one piece. For the first time in a loooooooong time, I’ve had to divide my days between a job outside of the home and everything else that goes with the holiday season and man, it is tough. On one particularly busy day, Paige wandered into the kitchen where I stood, aimlessly looking into our fridge wondering what on earth I was going to make for dinner.

“Can we have tacos?” she asked. Bless her heart! There was a package of ground beef on the shelf, and she just gave me the perfect quick supper to make for us.

“Sure!” I replied.

“Oh,” she said, as she turned to walk away, “And can we have something other than Spanish rice to go with them?”

With that, I gave a small sigh. Spanish rice is my go-to side dish for tacos, and now I still have to think of something?

Luckily, I found some cooked, frozen home fries in my freezer, which actually sped up the cooking time for me, and I already had a pretty good idea of how I could “Mexicanize” them – and it would only take three ingredients. If you don’t have frozen home fries, just dice up some potatoes and toss them with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Put them in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes, and then continue on with the recipe. Be sure to make extras though, so you can freeze some of them and eliminate a step for yourself the next time you go to make these. Because you’ll come back to this recipe, I promise.

4 cups cooked, frozen home fries (do make sure they’re home fries – cooked, cubed potatoes – and not hash browns) $1.99
1 1/2 cups salsa $1.11
1 – 2 cups Cheddar cheese, depending on how much you like $2.50

Total cost $5.60
Cost per serving $1.40

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a square baking or casserole dish.

2.) Place home fries in a large bowl and add salsa. Mix to thoroughly combine and cover all potatoes in the salsa. Transfer potato/salsa mixture to the greased casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil.

3.) When oven is preheated, place potatoes in and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, just until the entire dish is hot throughout.

4.) Remove dish from the oven, remove the foil, and cover with the Cheddar cheese. Place back into the oven, uncovered, for another 20 minutes or so, until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Dec 03 2014

Cajun Chicken

Cajun Chicken

When I started cooking at one of the first restaurants I worked at, Cajun Chicken was one of the things I remember cooking the most. It was a simple dish for the somewhat fancy-pants cafe, but it was always one of my favourites to make. Recently when I was staring down some chicken breasts that were in the fridge, I decided to go back to my kitchen roots and go Cajun with it. At the restaurant we used to slice it up thin and use it to top our Cajun Caesar Salad, but it would be great in pasta, on sandwiches, or just served with a delicious side. I think I’m even going to start making some just to keep in the fridge for those times when I need a delicious little something.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts $11.60
3 tablespoons cumin $2.25
3 tablespoons coriander $0.90
3 tablespoons paprika $1.44
1 1/2 tablespoons cracked black pepper $0.05
1 tablespoon dried oregano $0.60
1 tablespoon garlic powder $0.39
1 tablespoon salt $0.01
2 tablespoons vegetable oil $0.14

Total cost $17.38
Cost per serving $4.34

1.) In a bowl combine the cumin, coriander, paprika, black pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and salt. Mix to thoroughly incorporate all of the spices together.

2.) Rub the spice mix over the chicken breasts and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

3.) Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a cat iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes per side, until it is nicely seared. Cover partially and cook for another 10 minutes, flipping once.

4.) Remove the chicken from the heat, cover with the skillet lid or aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing or serving.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Dec 02 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apples

Roasted Butternut Squash adn Apples

Perhaps many of you know this, but butternut squash and apples go wonderfully together! I didn’t find that out until last month when Chef Rob made a bruschetta out of these two fall favourites for one of our monthly feature items. One night while at home, and looking at the abundance of squash and apples that were generously given to me by my mom and grandmother, I decided to try something similar. This dish isn’t anything like what was made at the restaurant (only because I didn’t have the recipe, not because it wasn’t tasty,) but it is still really good – and super festive, too. So if you’re still searching for that perfect side to serve alongside your turkey this Christmas, this could be just the thing.

2 small to medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed $3.89
2 apples, peeled, cored, and cubed $0.66
3 tablespoons butter, melted $0.18
3 tablespoons honey $0.30
1/2 cup raw slivered almonds $0.55
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg $0.17
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon $0.15
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped $0.12
2 tablespoons olive oil $0.06
Salt $0.01

Total cost $6.09
Cost per serving $1.02

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) In a large bowl, combine the cubed butternut squash and slivered almonds. Add olive oil and about one teaspoon of salt and mix to thoroughly combine. Pour mixture into a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish and place in the oven. Roast for 40 minutes, until the squash is just fork-tender.

3.) While the squash is cooking, combine the butter, honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, and just a pinch of salt.

4.) When the squash comes out of the oven, add to it the butter mixture and the apples. Adding the apples at this point will still give them plenty of time to warm, without causing them to become mushy by staying in the oven for too long. Carefully stir to mix together all the ingredients and then place back in the oven.

5.) Roast for another 10 minutes, or until the mixture is hot throughout.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Dec 01 2014

Ravioli Lasagna

Ravioli Lasagna

When people start thinking about different ways they can make lasagna, often they limit themselves to thinking only about the filling of the actual lasagna. I know that’s usually where I start when I’m on the path to making a new and creative lasagna dish. But, don’t stop there. What about the actual noodles, or the actual pasta that you use? As I recently learned, when you swap out traditional lasagna noodles and use something like…..ravioli, the results are stupendous. And dare I say, this lasagna might just be better than the old way of doing things. It’s certainly easier.

1/4 cup olive oil $0.12
1 onion, chopped $0.47
3 cloves of garlic, minced $0.03
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes $1.49
1 cup dry red wine $2.28
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped $0.27
1 teaspoon salt $0.01
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper $0.11
1 pound ground beef $4.69
1 cup mushrooms, sliced $0.99
1 jar (7 oz.) roasted red bell peppers, drained and coarsely chopped $1.29
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped $0.81
2 packages (9 oz. each) large frozen cheese ravioli $11.98
2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated $2.50

Total cost $27.04
Cost per serving $2.25

1.) In a large saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, stir, and cook about 3 minutes, until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, red wine, oregano, salt, and crushed red pepper. Stir and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced slightly.

2.) Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add beef and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are tender and beef has browned. Add the roasted red peppers and the basil; set aside.

3.) Spoon 1/4 of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ casserole or baking dish. Arrange one package of the ravioli on top, and spoon half of the beef/mushroom mixture over top. Spoon another 1/4 of the tomato sauce over the beef mixture and then top with half of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers starting with another 1/4 of the sauce, then another package of ravioli, then the beef mixture, more sauce, and the cheese. If you’re making this dish ahead of time, you can wrap it up at this point with aluminum foil, and place it in the fridge for 4 – 12 hours. Be sure to let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

4.) If you’re making the casserole today, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake, covered, for 50 minutes then uncover and bake for 10 more minutes, or until the cheese is hot and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

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