Fresh Pasta Dough

Originally published on November 18, 2010

People say that you should make your own pasta dough for a reason! There is a huge, hugedifference between what you buy in the store and what you make at home. And it’s not hard. I have been making my own pasta dough for years, although it used to only be reserved for special occasions. Perhaps that’s why I feel as though I’m only now perfecting it. But all it takes is a few tricks, and I’ve tried to include some of them (such as using a fork and thenyour hands) in the actual recipe.

It is worth mentioning that it also much, much easier if you have a pasta machine. You can roll it out until it’s extremely thin but that’s much harder and it takes much longer. And you probably won’t enjoy making pasta dough so much.

I don’t know if it made a difference or not but last time I made this, I ran out of all-purpose flour. So I used 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup bread flour. They were some of the lightest and most delicious noodles I’ve ever eaten! I don’t know if it was that minor substitution or whether I really am just getting better at making pasta dough, but it was wonderful!

And another bonus? If you let your kids watch you put it through the cutter, you get to hear them squeal, “Ooooohhh! It looks like hair!!!!!” Try it once and you’ll see just how easy it is!


2 cups all-purpose flour 
3 large eggs 
1/2 teaspoon salt


1.) On a countertop or other large work surface, place the flour  in a mound. Make a fairly large well in the centre. In the centre, place the eggs and the salt.

2.) Start by lightly whisking eggs and salt together, being careful not to touch the flour. Once the eggs are beaten, slowly incorporate the flour. Do this very slowly! Take about a teaspoon of flour each time and mix well with the egg mixture. When fully incorporated, take another teaspoon of flour with the fork and fully incorporate into the egg mixture. Keep doing this until it becomes difficult to move the fork through the flour and egg. Once that happens, mix the flour and eggs with your hands, mixing until it’s just combined and a nice, elastic dough forms.

3.) Form the dough into 2 or 3 small bowls. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Then use immediately, or freeze for later use.

4.) When ready to use, roll the dough out as thinly as possible using a pasta machine – this will be the “1″ setting. Follow the machine’s instructions, which is usually to start with the thickest (the biggest number) and work your way to the thinnest (the smallest number.)

5.) Once your dough is rolled you can make whatever kind of pasta you want! For these long noodles, you can put the rolled pasta dough through the cutters on the pasta machine. You can also cut it yourself with a sharp knife.

6.) When noodles are ready, bring a large pot of salted water up to a rolling boil. Add the fresh pasta noodles for two to three minutes, until el dente, and drain. Toss with your favourite sauce.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

Classic Sugar Cookies

Originally published on December 7, 2010

I’ve had this recipe crammed into my recipe box for so long that I can’t even remember where I got it from. And it’s covered with so much crusted flour and icing drops that I can barely even read it anymore. I like to think it’s these kinds of recipes that my children will cherish the most some day. But I digress…on to the actual recipe.

I make it every year, among the three different cookies that I make to give to my family and friends. These, along with the other two, were my very first introduction to baking and I’ve been making them for about four years now. They’re delicious and light and flaky inside and just a little bit crispy outside, like you would expect sugar cookies to be. But this year, there are a few things I’m going to do differently.

Out are the cute Christmas cookie-cutter shapes. These shapes yes, are very cute but, they’re a pain. Spending all that time rolling and cutting and reshaping, please. It’s Christmas! Who has time for that? Not only are they painstakingly time-consuming, but you throw them into the basket, or Tupperware bowl, or other container and all those little pieces break. So you’re left with oddly misshapen curved sticks that were once candy canes, and long rectangles that have a missing bell-top somewhere. This is what I’m doing instead, and what I recommend you do as well.

Roll the dough into a log that’s about a foot long and maybe 2″ wide. In about 1″ – 2″ slices, slice the dough so that a circle is formed. Place these onto the baking sheet and continue baking as directed. You’ll have uniform circle sugar cookies that you can still decorate with icing, sprinkles, or whatever else floats your Christmas sled, but it’ll be a lot easier for you to do. And if you really want to be on top of things, make the dough this weekend, roll it into the log, wrap it and throw it in your freezer. On Christmas Eve, thaw the dough out, slice it up and Santa has fresh cookies!


3 cups powdered sugar 
2 cups butter, softened  
2 teaspoons vanilla 
1 teaspoon almond extract  
2 eggs 
5 cups all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking soda  
2 teaspoons cream of tartar  


1.) In a large bowl, beat 3 cups powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, 1 teaspoon almond extract and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed. Stir in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

2.) Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease cookie sheet. Divide dough in half. On lightly floured surface, roll each half 1/8″ thick. Cut into desired shapes. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. At this point, place any sprinkles, shapes, or other decorations excluding icing that you wish to include with your cookies.

3.) Bake 5-7 minutes or until edges are lightly brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool completely before icing (optional.)

4.) Serve and enjoy!

Kate’s Chicken Fingers

Originally published on March 14, 2011

This has been something that I’ve been cooking since Brent and I first moved in together almost 14 years ago. I’ve updated it some and made it a little more sophisticated with an actual deep-fryer and a ton of dried herbs; but every time I make it, it still reminds me of when we used to throw them on for a midnight snack. Brent still loves them as much as he did back then and the kids are always thrilled when I make them too. I also like to make a big batch of them with 8 or 10 chicken breasts and then freeze what we don’t eat, which is a lot. They freeze beautifully and can be reheated in the oven easily.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups bread crumbs 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Pinch of cayenne pepper 
1 teaspoon onion powder 
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Deep fryer full of oil; or at least 12 cups of vegetable oil for deep-frying


1.) Heat your deep-fryer, or other oil, to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. You can tell that the oil is hot enough by dropping a few bread crumbs into it. If they lay flat, don’t move and don’t begin to sizzle, the oil is not hot enough yet. If they start sizzling and browning, your oil is ready. If the oil starts splattering too high and the oil seems to attack the bread crumbs, your oil is too hot and you will need to turn it down before placing chicken in there.

2.) While oil is heating, mix together in a large bowl: bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, oregano, dried mustard, chili powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix until ingredients are thoroughly blended.

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

4.) Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry. One by one, place chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag. With a rolling pin, gently pound chicken breasts, moving outwards. Continue to gently pound until chicken breast has even thickness, about 1″.

5.) After all chicken breasts have been pounded out, thinly slice them into 1″ slices.

6.) Dredge chicken breasts, a few at a time, through flour, making sure to entirely cover the chicken with flour and then shaking off excess. Dip chicken breasts into egg mixture, again making sure that chicken is entirely covered with egg. Drop into bread crumb mixture and completely coat chicken with bread crumb mixture. Set chicken aside until all chicken strips have been breaded with flour, egg, and bread crumb mixture.

7.) After all chicken strips are breaded, drop them (about 7 or 8 at a time) into the oil. Cook in oil, uncovered if in a large pot of oil and covered if in a deep fryer, for about 10-15 minutes turning regularly so that oil can evenly cook chicken. When chicken becomes thoroughly browned, remove from oil and place on paper towels to rest and remove excess oil. Sprinkle very slightly with salt.

8.) Continue until all of chicken is completely cooked and has drained on paper towels. Place on serving platter.

9.) Serve and enjoy!

Smoky Rubbed Chops

Originally published on June 18, 2011

When the weather finally turns warm after a long Ontario winter, there’s little that I love more than firing up the grill and getting the smell of good barbecue into the air. One of the first things to go on is usually some nice fatty chops, always with the bone in, as this adds to the flavour. It does take them a bit longer to cook though, so make sure that you do finish them in the oven not on the grill, as this will dry them out. Finish them off with a barbecue sauce during the last few minutes of cooking time or, just leave them as is to get the very most out of that delicious smoky flavour!


3 tablespoons brown sugar 
1 tablespoon paprika 
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper 
4 bone-in pork chops
1 tablespoon olive oil


1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse pork chops and pat dry.

2.) In a resealable plastic freezer bag, place all spices and shake vigorously to mix thoroughly. Place pork chops in the bag and turn and shake until chops are completely coated with the rub. Place in fridge and let sit 1 – 4 hours.

3.) Brush grill with oil and set to medium-high heat. When hot, place pork chops on grill and grill for 3 minutes per side. Then flip in opposite direction to create hatch marks on the meat. Grill for 2 – 3 minutes, then flip and grill for another 2 – 3 minutes.

4.) Remove chops from grill and place pork chops in a shallow baking dish. Cover with lid or foil and bake in the oven for 15 – 2o minutes.

5.) Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Meat Loaves with Tomato Sauce

Originally published on August 5, 2011

My meatloaf always has a terrible way of drying out so the night I made this recipe I was looking for a way to keep it especially moist. With the extra bread crumbs and the cream, this recipe definitely hit the mark – and it’s the best meat loaf I’ve ever had. I kept one loaf free of sauce when I served it, as my husband isn’t a big sauce-eater or dipper, but he even wanted some (I think because the rest of ours looked so good!)

Everyone really loved this and, because the loaves are so small, they make for a great weeknight supper too, when you’re in a rush! And the tastiness really can’t be stressed enough!


For the sauce:

1 can whole tomatoes, with juice, crushed with hands 
3 large cloves garlic, minced  
1 bay leaf, dried  
1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes  
1 tablespoon chili powder  
1 teaspoon onion salt 
1 tablespoon dried basil  
1 tablespoon dried oregano  
1/2 teaspoon salt  
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
2 teaspoons brown sugar  
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar  

For the loaves:
1 pound ground beef 
1 tablespoon dried basil  
1 tablespoon dried oregano  
1 teaspoon ground mustard 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper  
2 cups bread crumbs, plus 1 cup  
2 eggs 
1/4 cup heavy cream  
1/4 cup butter, melted 
2 cloves garlic, minced  


1.) In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, combine all of the ingredients for the sauce and mix thoroughly. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to medium-low. Cover and continue to simmer for 30 – 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly oil 4 individual aluminum pot pie shells.

3.) Meanwhile, break eggs into a small bowl and add 1/4 cup heavy cream; beat lightly.

4.) In a large bowl, mix together: ground beef, basil, oregano, mustard, salt, pepper, 2 cloves garlic, egg and cream mixture, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of bread crumbs. Lightly mix together but do not over-mix! Scoop up a handful at a time once mixed, and place into pot pie shell; gently press down to create an even surface. Continue filling the remaining pie shells with the remaining meat.

5.) Place 1/4 cup melted butter in a small bowl and add 1 cup of bread crumbs. Stir to thoroughly combine. Place 1/4 cup of bread crumbs onto each meat loaf and spread to entirely cover meat.

6.) Place in a preheated oven and bake 30 – 40 minutes until thoroughly cooked.

7.) When loaves are finished cooking, remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before removing from pie shell. Then generously spoon tomato sauce over top.

8.) Serve and enjoy!

Delicious Drumsticks

Originally published on August 7, 2011

Shake N’ Bake was always one of my favourite meals as a kid and this is a version that’s just like it, but tastes much better. When you make it yourself you don’t have to worry about the added sodium, additives, and preservatives, and it just tastes so much fresher and so much better. Plus, these are super easy and super quick – and drumsticks are super cheap too!


6 chicken legs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
Pinch of salt 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs 
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs 
1 tablespoon paprika 
1 tablespoon dried oregano  
1 tablespoon parsley flakes  
1 teaspoon onion salt 
1 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
Pinch of cayenne pepper 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil  


1.) Rinse chicken legs and pat dry. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly oil a cookie sheet.

2.) Line 3 shallow bowls on the counter. To the first add all-purpose flour, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of black pepper; stir to combine. Crack the eggs into the second bowl and lightly beat with a fork. To the third bowl add: bread crumbs, paprika, oregano, parsley flakes, onion salt, garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine.

3.) One at a time, coat the chicken legs entirely with flour, then dip and turn to entirely coat in eggs. Then place in bread crumb mixture and toss and turn to entirely coat in bread crumbs. Place on oiled cookie sheet. When all chicken legs are breaded, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

4.) Place into preheated oven and bake for 45 – 60 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

5.) Remove from oven and let chicken rest for 5 minutes.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

Originally published on August 10, 2011

These may seem like simple chocolate cupcakes, but they’re cupcakes that I’m especially proud of – because they’re officially the first baking recipe that I created entirely myself! The buttercream icing I have made before, and it is an actual recipe that I got from somewhere. But I’ve been using it for cupcakes for so long that I no longer have the actual recipe,  nor do I remember where I got it from.

And even though the cakes are all mine, I can’t actually take credit for putting them together – that would be the handiwork of my two girls, who helped me make them for their teachers at the end of the school year this past June. I was happy to see that not only did my first baking recipe produce moist and delicious cupcakes, but that it was also so easy, a 3-year-old can do it!

Whenever you need to make baked goods for your favourite teacher, for a bake sale, or just to satisfy your craving for chocolate, I highly recommend these!


2 cups all-purpose flour 
2/3 cups cocoa powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
2 cups white sugar 
2 large eggs 
1/2 cup half and half cream 
1 cup water 
1/4 cup canola oil  
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, plus 1/2 teaspoon 
1 cup chocolate chips 
1 cup butter, at room temperature  
5 cups icing sugar  
1/2 cup whipping cream  


1.) Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2.) Sift together: all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and white sugar.

3.) In another bowl mix together: eggs, half and half cream, milk, water, canola oil, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Then add chocolate chips and mix just to combine again.

4.) Spoon the mixture into the cupcake liners, filling liners about halfway. Then place in the preheated oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until centre feels springy to the touch.

5.) Meanwhile, beat one cup of butter in a large bowl until it’s light and fluffy. Add half the icing sugar, then beat to thoroughly incorporate. Then beat in half of the whipping cream, making sure it’s fully incorporated again. Add the rest of the icing sugar, beat to blend; and then add the rest of the whipping cream, and beat to blend. Lastly, beat in vanilla. Set frosting aside until ready to ice cupcakes.

6.) When cupcakes are finished, remove from oven and allow them to cool completely before piping icing onto them. When finished icing top with chocolate chip, sprinkles, or other candy.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

Emeril’s Homemade Ricotta

Originally published on September 25, 2011

Emeril has always been an inspiration to me, mostly because he shows how easy and how fun cooking can be! He does that once again with this recipe for Ricotta Cheese, from one of my most favourite cookbooks, From Emeril’s Kitchens. The book features signature dishes from his most famous restaurants, and this recipe for ricotta cheese really will make you feel like a chef.

While Emeril does a great job laying out simple ingredients and explaining how to turn them into silky, delicious ricotta cheese, he did leave out one very important thing: do not stir the cheese while it is cooking! I made that mistake when it first started cooking, and all it does is break up all those delicate curds you’re trying to create. Emeril also does mention that the mixture cannot simmer while it’s cooking, also very important, and why you need to keep it at such a low heat. I don’t have an instant-read thermometer but, you need the liquid to be just slightly above body temperature. I always stick my pinky in the mixture. It needs to be hot, but not so hot that I can’t keep my finger in there for several seconds. If I can’t, it needs to be turned down.

I also didn’t bother with the slotted spoon, finding that I lost too much of the curd that way. Instead, I lined a colander with cheese cloth like Emeril suggests, and strained the cheese over a bowl. Then I bundled the curds up in the cheesecloth and tied a knot at the top, leaving enough string to tie it off my fridge shelf to hang and drain. Half an hour later, there’s beautiful cheese inside; and you can even wring out the cheesecloth to get the very most out of it.

The cheese really is so, so easy to make. And even if you tell people that, they’ll still be impressed that you made your very own ricotta cheese!


2 quarts whole milk 

2 cups buttermilk  
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice  


1.) Combine all the ingredients in a medium pot and bring to 112 degrees Fahrenheit (using an instant-read thermometer) over low heat. Cook, without simmering, until the liquid separates into solid curds and whey, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from heat.

2.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the solids to a fine-mesh strainer or a colander lined with cheesecloth placed over a bowl. Let drain in the refrigerator until the ricotta is thick and the excess liquid has drained away, about 30 minutes. Remove the cheese from the cheesecloth, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.

3.) Serve and enjoy!

Emeril’s Brown Butter, Sage, and Mushroom Stuffing

Originally published on October 12, 2011

Being that my younger daughter’s birthday falls right around the same time as Thanksgiving, I usually have the honour of combining her birthday party with Thanksgiving dinner. I love preparing it, and I always try to find one or two new great recipes to pull out for the big day. This year, I wanted to try something a little different than the usual bread crumbs/onion/celery stuffing and with a little searching, I found this. Created by Emeril, recommended by Martha, you really can’t go wrong – and I didn’t.

I think the entire crowd loved this one, and my mom said that I’m not allowed to experiment with stuffing anymore. This one’s so good, if we’re going to have stuffing it’s gotta be this recipe! I’m still munching away on it days after and it’s still just as good. And, keep it in the oven a little longer too. It makes it extra crispy, another reason many people loved this dish!


3 teaspoons, plus 5 tablespoons, unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups chicken stock 
1 large egg 
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup bacon, sliced, about 4 slices
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped, about 4 stalks
1/2 pound button mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
1 loaf Italian bread, torn into small bite-size pieces
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt 
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Butter a 9″ x 9″ square baking dish or a 10″ x 6″ oval baking dish with 2 teaspoons butter. Cut a piece of foil large enough to cover the dish and butter with 1 teaspoon butter. Set prepared dish and foil aside until ready to bake.

3.) In a small bowl, whisk together chicken broth, egg, egg yolk; set aside.

4.) Melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat in a medium skillet. Add bacon and cook for 1 minute. Add onion and celery and cook until softened, about 4 minutes more. Increase heat to high and add mushrooms, stirring to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes; stir in garlic. Remove skillet from heat and add parsley and sage. Transfer mushroom mixture to a medium bowl and add breadcrumbs, stirring carefully to combine; season with salt and cayenne pepper. Add chicken broth and egg mixture to stuffing, stirring until well combined. Transfer stuffing to prepared baking dish.

5.) Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over medium heat until bubbling and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Drizzle brown butter over stuffing and cover with prepared foil. Set baking dish on a baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake for 25 minutes, uncover, and continue baking for 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and allow stuffing to cool for 5 minutes.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Giada’s Zeppole

Originally published on October 14, 2011

I was watching The Chew today, a new show I’ve become obsessed with, and Mario Batali made Zeppole. With it being National Dessert Day (and because they looked so good on the TV,) I decided that I needed to make them for dessert after supper tonight. I quickly went to The Chew’s website and they only had it in video format (I prefer to read rather than listen) and Mario’s delicious dessert called for polenta – an ingredient I was short of. So I looked for another recipe and came across one by one of my favourite Italian chefs, Giada DeLaurentiis.

I did change just a few things about this recipe. I left out the vanilla bean (I don’t think I’ve ever owned fresh vanilla bean,) and just tossed the Italian doughnuts (the other name these sweet snacks go by) in the cinnamon and sugar when I was finished. I also took the espresso/chocolate sauce Mario made to accompany his on today’s show and switched it up with straight chocolate and cream. Better to give the kiddies just sugar, not sugar and caffeine.

Two of the greatest Italian chefs coming together (even if they don’t know it,) to make one fabulous Italian dessert? How could this possibly be a bad thing?


1/2 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon 
1/2 cup butter 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 cup water 
1 cup all-purpose flour 
4 eggs 
2 cups chocolate chips 
1/2 cup heavy cream 


1.) Combine the chocolate chips and the heavy cream in the bowl of a double boiler. Making sure there’s water in the bottom of the boiler, turn heat to high and melt chocolate and cream together, stirring regularly until a smooth, chocolate sauce forms.

2.) Meanwhile, add the 1/2 sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. Heat up oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

3.) In a medium saucepan combine the butter, salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Take pan off heat and stir in 1 cup all-purpose flour. Return the pan to heat and continue to stir until mixture forms a ball, about 3 – 5 minutes.

4.) Transfer the flour mixture to a medium-sized bowl. Using an electric hand mixer on low speed, add eggs one at a time, being sure to fully incorporate each egg into the mixture before adding another. Beat until smooth. At this point, you can cover mixture with plastic wrap and save frying for later. Or, continue on with frying.

5.) Using one or two spoons, drop small balls of mixture into the hot oil. Fry for 3 minutes, then turn and continue frying other side for 2 – 3 minutes until balls are puffed up and golden brown.

6.) Remove from deep fryer and toss immediately in the sugar mixture. Place on paper towels to drain.

7.) When ready to serve, plate zeppole with chocolate sauce on a serving platter.

8.) Serve and enjoy