Delicious Spinach Dip…

jade.sammons : 14th January 2017 11:15 AM : Sides

Spinach dip is something that didn’t sound too appealing to me on first hearing about it one summer while I was in Canada.

Spinach isn’t the most exciting of vegetables, and hearing it had been put into a dip made me think it would be a bright green, gooey substance that was effectively slime the you used to see D-list celebrities get ‘gunged’ with on Saturday morning TV in the late 90s.

…sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

Well cast aside any images of some wannabe pop-starlette being smothered with slime by the presenters of Live & Kicking (remember that show? I was a prize winner on it once!), and imagine a creamy, delicious dip that is perfect for dunking crackers, veggies, or nearly anything you can think of that makes a good dip-ee!

Don’t like spinach? Neither do I, really!
But I would happily eat this dip everyday, because not only is it delicious, and it barely tastes like spinach at all, but it is so easy to make.

I feel a bit silly calling this a recipe, as it’s basically a ‘throw-everything-in-a-bowl-and-give-it-a-stir’ type of recipe…but those are sometimes the best recipes…right?

So go on, next time you’re entertaining, throw this together, encourage people to get over their spinach-obias, and give it a try…you won’t regret it!

Enjoy

J
xoxo

Delicious Spinach Dip

Ingredients

  • 450ml sour cream  (I usually get a 300ml and a 150ml carton)
  • 250ml mayonnaise   (one of the small jars)
  • 275g frozen spinach
  • 1 can (around 225g) of water chestnuts
  • 1 packet of leek and potato soup mix (around 60g)

Notes:
I’ve used Tesco’s frozen spinach – it comes in little frozen cubes, which I weigh before I defrost them – getting the exact weight is difficult, so anywhere between 250g and 300g would be fine.
Water chestnuts can be difficult to find, but I’ve found this can in both Sainsbury’s and Tesco
I’ve only been able to find a leek and potato soup mix at sainsbury’s – I haven’t seen a Tesco alternative, and I haven’t looked anywhere else, but you need some sort of dry leek-based soup mix.

 

Method

  • Defrost the spinach completely and squeeze out as much of the water as you can
  • Using scissors, snip the spinach into small pieces, into a large mixing bowl
  • Pour in the sour cream and mayonnaise into the bowl
  • Drain the can of water chestnuts, and again, using scissors, snip them into small pieces, straight into the bowl – I tend to use around half of the tin, but you can use more if you prefer
  • Sprinkle in 2/3 of the soup mix
  • Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly, combining all the sour cream and mayonnaise with the other ingredients
  • Add in the remaining soup mix to your own personal taste, and mix together
  • Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge for at least four hours, and ideally overnight
  • Serve with crackers, breadsticks, veggie sticks, or anything else that might be tasty!

 

Original recipe can be found here
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Potato Bacon Soup…

jade.sammons : 21st January 2016 12:15 PM : Cooks, Meals

This soup is not only the best potato bacon soup I’ve ever had, but it’s also possibly the best soup ever…and to make it even better, its “soup-er” simple to make! (Get it?!)

Since moving over to Canada I have come accustomed to a number of Canadian-isms, including…complaining about the snow, eating a lot of bacon, and being a regular customer of Tim Hortons.

More recently, within the past 6 months or so, I was able to combine two of the above into one of the highlights of my working week.

My colleagues soon became accustomed to my “Tim’ Soup Wednesday’s” where I would head out and grab the Tim Hortons soup combo for my lunch – and on Wednesday’s they had my favourite…potato bacon soup! (yes, the two Canadian-isms were bacon and Tim Hortons, by the way!!)

However my hopes and dreams all came crashing down with a ginormous bump last week, when I went to order my Wednesday pick-me-up lunch, only to be told they don’t do potato bacon soup anymore*gasp*

I ended up having the cream of broccoli soup, which whilst being somewhat enjoyable, it certainly wasn’t the deliciously thick and creamy potato bacon goodness I had grown to love.

But then I had a brainwave…instead of mourning the loss of my beloved soup…why not just make my own!

and boy am I glad I did….and don’t tell anyone, but this version is better than the Tim Hortons version!

So I did some googling, and came across a great recipe using the slow cooker, which I have adapted slightly to suit my own tastes, and grocery shopping list, and the below recipe was born.

I honestly couldn’t recommend this soup enough – Matthew and I had it with some homemade fresh bread for dinner on Sunday evening, and I had leftovers on Monday and Tuesday this week…I would have happily eaten this for every lunch this week if it was an option!

And it really is super easy, the last step of making the roux is probably the hardest, but even that is pretty simple!

So why not give it a try, I promise you won’t regret it!

Enjoy

J
xoxo

Potato Bacon Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 slices of bacon, sliced into small pieces, no larger than 1 inch in length
  • 3 cups chicken/vegetable stock
  • 2lb potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 – 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • left over bacon grease, or 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup grated cheese

Method

  • Cook the bacon in a frying pan, and when cooked and crisp, remove from the pan using a slotted spoon/spatula to keep the grease behind – trust me, it’s worth it!
  • Place the cooked bacon into the slow cooker, along with the chopped onion and potatoes.
  • Mix together, then add the stock, and combine so everything is pretty much covered.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3-4.
    I cooked mine for just over 6 hours on low, and it was wondrous! The potatoes should be tender, and cooked through, but still hold their shape.
  • When the soup is cooked, melt the left over bacon grease (or butter, if you choose) in a small saucepan, or even the frying pan from earlier.
  • Whisk in the flour until it is combined and looks lumpy – cook this for 1 minute, making sure it doesn’t stick to the pan.
  • Add in about 1/3 of the can of evaporated milk, and whisk it with the flour mixture.
  • Continue to add in the remaining 2/3, until the mix is completely smooth and silky.
  • Heat the smooth mixture until it begins to gently bubble – it will get really thick around now!
  • Pour this mixture into the slow cooker with the potatoes/bacon mix, and stir it until it is combined.
  • Add in the cheese, and again, stir until fully combined.
  • The soup should be deliciously thick and creamy now, and, thankfully, ready to serve!
  • Add toppings if you wish – more cheese? sour cream? chives? all delicious!
  • Serve with bread, or just as it is.

 

Original recipe can be found here
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Cookie Cheesecake Truffles…

jade.sammons : 30th December 2015 12:15 PM : Bakes, Cooks

These delicious cookie cheesecake truffles are perfect for any upcoming parties, and especially New Years Eve parties you may have…and to add to the deliciousness, they are super simple to make!

Firstly, credit must go to my awesome colleague, Lindsay, who brought a version of these to our office potluck party on our final day in the office before Christmas.

For those of you who might not know wha a pot-luck party is, as I certainly didn’t before I moved over here, it is essentially a buffet – basically everyone brings a dish, or “pot” of something and you all share it.

It also turns out there are two versions of a pot-luck party. One where you all discuss what you’re going to bring, and another where you don’t – at the latter you could end up with everyone bringing a bowl of potato salad, or everyone bringing different things.

The version at Sparks was somewhere in the middle. We had all somewhat discussed roughly what we were going to bring, but had some surprises too…these deliciously rich truffles being one of them!

The recipe for cookie cheesecake truffles Lindsay shared with us used solely Oreo cookies – which were wonderful in their own right, but when I came to make my own I hadn’t got enough Oreos. I switched it up a little, and came up with the version below, which are slightly less decadent, but still very yummy.

And they definitely went down very well at the gathering with my family Matthew and I went to on Sunday afternoon, which you’ll hear about in an upcoming blog very soon!

What would your pot-luck dish be if you were to attend a pot-luck party on New Years Eve?
Are there any other cookies you think would be good in this recipe? I recently saw a version using custard creams…maybe bourbon biscuits would be good too?

Enjoy

J
xoxo

Cookie Cheesecake Truffles Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 box (300g) Oreo cookies
  • 10 regular chocolate chip cookies (I used Chips Ahoy!)
  • 1 package (250g) reduced fat cream cheese
  • Chocolate (melted) for dipping

Method

  • Take the cream cheese out of the fridge and let it soften for at least 30minutes.
  • In ziplock/sandwich bags, crush the Oreos and chocolate chip cookies into crumbs.
    I put about 5 Oreos/cookies into a bag at a time, and gently rolled over it with my rolling pin – the Oreos take a little more effort to crumble because of the cream filling, but they will crush up eventually!
  • Place all the Oreo/cookie crumbs into a large mixing bowl.
  • Break up the now softened cream cheese and place it in the bowl with the Oreo/cookie crumbs.
  • Using a spoon, mix together the crumbs and the cream cheese.
  • Then, using your hands, really mix together and combine the mixture so there are no large clumps of cream cheese showing..
    The mixture should be a dark brown colour.
  • Refrigerate the mixture for about 30minutes.
  • Place some greaseproof paper onto a cookie sheet.
  • Take small pieces of the cream cheese/cookie mixture and roll it into balls using your hands.
    The cookie cheesecake truffles should be no larger than 1inch in diameter.
  • Place all the truffles onto the cookie sheet and put it in the freezer for about 30minutes.
  • In the meantime, melt your chocolate and get a teaspoon and skewer/tooth pick ready!
  • Take no more than 8 truffles out of the freezer at a time (by removing them all it allows some of them to soften and will make them break when dipped!)
  • Using the skewer/toothpick, dip the truffle into the melted chocolate.
  • Use the teaspoon to lift and pour melted chocolate to cover the entire truffle if it doesn’t submerge fully.
  • Pull the truffle out of the chocolate and let any excess drip off, using the teaspoon to encourage the chocolate to drip off if necessary.
  • Place the truffle back onto the papered baking sheet, and remove the skewer/toothpick.
    (Cover up any holes with some more chocolate!)
  • Place the truffles back into the freezer.
  • Repeat until all the truffles are dipped.
  • Ideally freeze the truffles overnight to create a crisp chocolate coating.
Original recipe can be found here
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Chocolate Buttercream Frosting…

jade.sammons : 17th December 2015 12:15 PM : Bakes, Cooks

Who needs vanilla when there is chocolate buttercream frosting to be enjoyed?

Way, way back in February I posted a recipe for simple-but-delicious Vanilla Cupcakes and Vanilla Buttercream Frosting which I made for one of my awesome colleague’s birthdays.

Well today is another colleagues birthday and I decided to revisit my cupcakes for this special occasion.

But this time with a twist!

Teri, my awesome number-wizz colleague, mentioned that she loves both vanilla and chocolate flavours, so I decided to make her some of my vanilla cupcakes, with this delicious chocolatey buttercream frosting!

And you could even flavour the buttercream with different flavours or toppings – coconut, mint, orange, or hazelnut, you name it, it would probably work!

It’s super simple, and very yummy, and I hope you agree!

Enjoy

J
xoxo

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Ingredients

  • 100g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • up to 40ml milk

Method

  • Beat the half the icing sugar, cocoa and softened butter until smooth.
  • Add in the remaining icing sugar.
  • Add in a splash of milk and mix until smooth.
  • Continue to add splashes of milk until the buttercream is smooth, silky and glossy – you may not need all 40ml.
  • Either use/pipe immediately, or leave to chill slightly in the fridge.
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Hash Brown Breakfast Bake…

jade.sammons : 10th December 2015 12:15 PM : Cooks, Meals

Why not try this Hash Brown Breakfast Bake for the most important meal of the day?

Breakfast is meant to be the most important meal of the day, and I would tend to agree, especially on weekends!

Weekday breakfasts for Matthew and I are pretty boring – just boring, normal cereal, and Matthew always has a Tim Hortons breakfast on a Friday as a celebratory treat for making it through the week!

But weekend breakfasts can be something special.

You have probably read from some of my previous blogs, one of our favourite places Matthew and I like to go to for breakfast is Angels Diner – a 50s style diner that does amazing breakfasts, including pancakes literally the size of your face, french toast that is so rich and fluffy, or a ‘traditional’ breakfast of bacon or sausage, eggs, toast and home fries (or mini potatoes)…delicious!!

Of course an Angels breakfast isn’t one to be enjoyed every weekend, or even once a month – only for truly special occasions!

So there has to be substitutes available for those all important lazy weekend breakfasts, and this homemade hash brown breakfast bake has been one we’ve enjoyed recently.

It’s more substantial than a bowl of cereal, or piece of toast, but not too huge and heavy that it will leave you sluggish and snoozy again.

I’ve tried both grating and chopping my potatoes  – when chopping I’ve used a version of the “one second chop and slicers” you see on home shopping channels like this – it does work quite well for a quick preparation time, but I would recommend grating for a better, crispier outcome – but both are delicious!

What do you enjoy most for breakfast?
Do you have any favourite breakfasts you have on birthdays or special occasions?

Enjoy

J
xoxo

Hash Brown Breakfast Bake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3/4 medium sized potatoes, peeled
  • 1 small/medium sized onion, peeled and finely diced
  • ham / pre-cooked bacon, diced into small pieces
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cheese – i used mozzarella in the picture, but cheddar would be good too!

 

Method

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius / 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grate / chop peeled potatoes.
  • Using kitchen paper towel, squeeze and pat the potatoes to remove as much moisture as possible – do this in multiple, smaller batches.
  • Place the smaller batches of dried potatoes flat onto sheets of more paper towel, and microwave for 1 – 2 minutes.
  • Squeeze dry, and microwave all the potatoes.
  • In a lightly oiled frying pan over medium heat, fry the diced onion until partially softened.
  • Add in all the potato and mix together with the onion.
  • Flatten out the potato/onion mixture and fry for 5 minutes until golden brown and crisp on the bottom.
  • Flip over the potato/onion mixture (slide out onto a plate, and flip the plate back over the pan.
  • Cook this side for 5 minutes.
  • Spray a glass/ceramic cooking dish.
  • Place the potato/onion mixture into the dish.
  • Sprinkle over the ham/bacon.
  • Cook for 5 minutes in the oven.
  • Break the four eggs into the dish, one by one, letting them settle in the dips/cracks of the potato base.
  • Bake for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle over the cheese.
  • Bake for a further 3 – 5 minutes (dependent upon how runny you want your eggs!)
  • Remove from oven, serve immediately!
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