Kate's Cuisine

Apr 30 2016

Maple Syrup Tarts

Maple Syrup Tarts

It’s time for the Festival of Maples here in Perth, Ontario! Today our little town becomes frantic with  maple syrup vendors and people who want the sugary stuff in any form it comes in. I too, will be playing a part, while I’m at the restaurant trying to get our maple features out to the masses as quickly as possible. Before I do though, I just had to share a bit of the maple syrup goodness with you, and these maple syrup tarts fit the bill.

Made mostly of brown sugar and maple syrup it would be easy to think that these tarts would be cloyingly sweet, but they’re a lot like butter tarts with the distinctive taste of maple syrup that lingers just long enough for you to reflect again on how much you love it.  And while you can go to all trouble of making pastry dough from scratch, for these I just pulled some tart shells out of the freezer and had half the battle fought for me already.

  • 12 frozen tart shells $3.99
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar $0.30
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature $0.40
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream $0.44
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup $1.33
  • 2 teaspoons butter, melted $0.05
  • Pinch of salt $0.01

Total cost $6.52
Cost per tart $0.54

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Separate frozen shells and place them on a baking sheet.

2.) Whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until creamy. Add cream, maple syrup, and butter, and whisk until smooth.

3.) Ladle the maple syrup mixture into the tart shells, filling them almost right to the top of the shells.

4.) Bake tarts in the lower third of the oven until pastry is golden and filling is puffed and looks dry, but still trembles slightly.

5.) Remove tarts from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring tarts to a wire rack to cool completely. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 28 2016

Creamy Parsnip Puree

Parsnip Puree

Purees are very simple. So simple in fact, that they can often look like baby food. But one whiff of them while they’re cooking or one small taste will quickly tell you that purees are full of flavour. And not only can they be a nice garnish on the plate, they can also be a nice switch-up when you get tired of mashed potatoes. You can puree any vegetable you choose, but parsnips are quite sweet without holding a lot of starch, which makes a parsnip puree super smooth and silky.

  • 1 pound parsnips, cleaned, peeled, and cut into 1″ pieces $3.99
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced $0.02
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream $0.44
  • 1/2 cup milk $0.24
  • 2 tablespoons butter $0.12
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped $0.25
  • Salt $0.01
  • Pepper $0.01

Total cost $5.08
Cost per serving $1.27

1.) Place parsnips, garlic, cream, milk, butter, and a bit of salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and continue to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, until the parsnips are soft and easily pierced with a fork.

2.) Transfer everything in the pot to a blender and puree until smooth. Add thyme leaves and pepper. Stir and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

3.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 21 2016

Copycat McDonald’s Cheeseburger

McDonalds Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I love copycat recipes but this one is really interesting, and perfectly appropriate for National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month.

While at work one day, my BFF (best friends ’til fired) told me about this particular type of grilled cheese sandwich that tastes exactly like a McDonald’s cheeseburger. The thing is, the copycat sandwich doesn’t have any meat at all, just good old processed cheese and pickles that are sliced very thinly. I do think you need to dunk it in a little bit of ketchup to get that exact McDonald’s taste, and I also think you could boost it even more by chopping onions very, very finely – that’s always been one of my favourite parts of McDonald’s burgers.

As for the part about how concerning it might be that you can create a replica of a McDonald’s cheeseburger without using any meat, well, we just won’t talk about that.

  • 2 slices white bread $0.28
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter $0.09
  • 1 slice processed Cheddar cheese $0.16
  • 1 pickle, thinly sliced $0.30

Total cost $0.83

1.) Preheat a frying pan over medium heat and generously butter the bread.

2.) When pan is hot, place one piece of bread butter-side down and place Cheddar cheese and pickles on top. Top with second piece of bread, making sure to place it butter-side up.

3.) Cook grilled cheese sandwich for a few minutes, until one side is crispy and golden brown. Then flip and cook for another few minutes until the other side is also crispy and golden.

4.) Remove grilled cheese sandwich from heat and let rest on a cutting board for just one minute before slicing in half.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 17 2016

Crunchy Baked Chicken Fingers

Baked Chicken Fingers

Chicken fingers are a huge hit in this house, as they are at most, I suspect. Because they are so beloved, I try not to mess with them or change them too much. But, sometimes I feel a bit guilty hitting the deep-fryer all the time and so every now and then I will bake them instead. As we all know, one of the things baked chicken fingers lack is the crispy crunchiness that comes from the bread crumbs sizzling in piping hot oil. And while drizzling oil over the chicken fingers before they go into the oven will help, there is a better way to get crunchy chicken fingers from the oven. All you have to do is toast the bread crumbs beforehand.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts $9.96
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour $0.44
  • 3 eggs, beaten $0.60
  • 2 cups bread crumbs $0.84
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese $0.75
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil $0.09
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley $0.21
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil $0.51
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder $0.36
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder $0.15
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder $0.13
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper $0.01
  • Salt $0.01
  • Pepper $0.01

Total cost $14.37
Cost per serving $3.59

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

1.) Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering and hot, add bread crumbs. Stir to coat bread crumbs in oil and then continue to cook, stirring constantly so they don’t burn, for about 3 – 5 minutes, just until they are toasted. Remove from hot skillet immediately and allow to completely cool.

2.) In a large bowl combine cooled bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, oregano, chili powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix until ingredients are thoroughly blended.

3.) Place flour in a separate bowl and eggs in another. Line all three bowls in the order of flour, egg, bread crumbs.

4.) Pat chicken dry. One by one, place chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag. With a rolling pin or mallet, gently pound the chicken breasts out until they are about 1″ even thickness. After each chicken breast has been pounded out, slice breasts into 1″ slices.

5.) Dredge chicken breasts, one at a time, through flour, making sure to entirely cover with flour and shake off excess. Dip slices through egg mixture, and then dredge through breadcrumbs, pressing the bread crumbs onto the chicken breast slices as you do.

6.) When all chicken has been breaded, place chicken fingers onto the baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until chicken fingers are crispy and brown on the outside and completely cooked through.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 15 2016

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Pasta

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Pasta

Who doesn’t love Spinach and Artichoke Dip? It’s a favourite on restaurant menus for a reason and, while there’s no judgement here if you want to eat it for dinner, adding pasta does make it a more suitable entree. Don’t forget to serve it with garlic bread though – so you can still dip and sop up anything left on the plate.

The only thing I love more than the fact that this pasta dish embodies one of my favourite appetizers is that, as a baked pasta, it’s also a great make-ahead meal.

  • 2 boxes frozen spinach, thawed with moisture squeezed out $1.98
  • 1 pound penne pasta $1.49
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil $0.06
  • 1 large shallot, chopped $0.37
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped $0.03
  • 1 8-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped $2.49
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine $1.50
  • 4 tablespoons butter $0.24
  • 3 tablespoons flour $0.03
  • 2 cups milk $0.56
  • 1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese $3.56
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese $2.99
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg $0.07
  • Freshly ground black pepper $0.01
  • Salt $0.01

Total cost $15.39
Cost per serving $2.57

1.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add salt, then add pasta and cook until al dente.

3.) Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the artichokes and cook until they are slightly brown. Add the wine to deglaze the pan.

4.) Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for one minute or so. Whisk in the milk gradually and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, adjust seasonings, and add the Swiss cheese.

5.) Combine the sauce with the spinach, pasta, and artichokes and stir just until combined. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish and cover with the Parmesan cheese.

6.) If making ahead, allow the dish to completely cool before covering with plastic wrap and/or aluminum foil and placing in the freezer.

7.) If baking immediately, place the casserole dish on the baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly.

8.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 11 2016

Bacon Wrapped Carrots with a Maple Glaze

Bacon Wrapped Maple Glazed Carrots

I like bacon-wrapped things. I don’t go crazy over them like some do, but I do enjoy them. What I love even more than edibles wrapped in bacon is maple syrup, and it’s that time of year when the sap is flowing! When I was once again given a bottle of freshly boiled syrup from a friend,  I knew that a maple meal was within my near future. Turns out, it wasn’t an entire meal but this side dish of Bacon Wrapped Carrots with a Maple Glaze is so good, it could certainly eat like one!

2 pounds carrots (for this recipe, I prefer the thin, lanky ones you buy as a bunch rather than the chunky big ones you can get in a bag), well scrubbed, peeled, and greens trimmed $3.98
1 pound bacon $5.99
1/4 cup (or more!) real maple syrup $1.25

Total cost $11.22
Cost per serving $2.80

1.) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Then place an oven-proof wire rack on the baking sheet.

2.) Wrap the carrots in bacon and place them on the wire rack.

3.) Place the carrots into preheated oven and roast for about 30 minutes, basting with the maple syrup about halfway through cooking time.

4.) Serve and enjoy!

Mar 29 2016

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms

Ah, stuffed mushrooms. They’ve always been one of my very favourite appetizers, which is why I’m surprised it took me so long to make them myself. While doing so, I also inadvertently introduced Madison to one of her new favourite appetizers, so I recommend that, for preparation’s sake, you make a lot of them. I made 12, plenty you would think for the only two people in the house that like mushrooms, and I got two of them.

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced $0.06
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon olive oil $0.04
  • 12 stuffer mushrooms $5.00
  • 1 teaspoon butter $0.02
  • 1 cup bread crumbs $0.42
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese $1.49
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped $0.25
  • Salt $0.01
  • Pepper $0.01

Total cost $7.50
Cost per mushroom $0.63

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.) Remove the stems from the mushroom caps. You can do this by gently pushing the stem to one side. You will hear a small break or snap. Then gently push on the other sides and twist the stem to remove it. When all mushroom stems are removed, chop the stems finely.

3.) Melt the butter with 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add garlic and the mushroom stems and saute for about 3 minutes. Add breadcrumbs and stir until crumbs are lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, mix in parsley and rosemary, and season with salt and pepper.

4.) Brush the mushroom caps with 1 tablespoon of oil. Place the mushroom caps rounded side down on the prepared baking sheet and lightly salt the inside of the caps. Spoon the filling into the mushroom caps, mounding them slightly in the centre.

5.) Place mushrooms in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are slightly tender and the filling is just beginning to brown.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

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