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The Happiest Birthday Ever Chocolate Cobbler

Prepare yourselves for greatness.

As you all know, Kerry was the master of the Friday food-related blog post. We were worried that Friday’s would never be the same, and let’s face it – they won’t be the same. But we still love food, and Kerry’s promised to grace us with delectable recipes now and again. Despite a different flavour to the Friday posts, the kitchen will still be open, so to speak.

Yesterday happened to be my birthday, and I also happen to love to bake. I also spend excessive amounts of time reading cookbooks, and trolling the internet for new recipes. Just the other day I stumbled upon a recipe for Granny’s Chocolate Cobbler on one of my favourite food sites, The Pioneer Woman. It had me intrigued. For one thing it started out incredibly unassuming, and then instructed you to add copious amounts of sugar. (Did I mention, there is nothing healthy about this cake?) And then! Then!

Water. Lots of hot tap water.

This made no sense. But the end result looked so delicious, I knew I would have to try. I just needed an excuse.

Enter my birthday. When else could I possibly justify consuming this much sugary goodness?

Believe me, there is no justifying this cake. It’s just that good. If you’re going to make it, just accept the fact that you’re going to the gym the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that. And you’ll probably still feel guilty. My advice? Repress the guilt, and indulge. I certainly did at breakfast this morning.

My son. A man after my own heart.

Because I don’t want to take credit for something that isn’t mine, (nor do I want to be blamed for enabling your soon-to-be addiction to this cake), I’m simply going to give you the link. That’s all. The link to the recipe.

It’s here.

And here.

And here. (Just in case you didn’t get it the first time.)

I’m going to propose a name change, because this isn’t your “Granny’s” cobbler. This is the Happiest Birthday Ever Chocolate Cobbler. Eat it. Be happy.

Fridays With…Bryna?

S'More Cupcakes, c/o

S'More Cupcakes, c/o

Ok, ok, I know there’s something wrong with this picture! Friday is the day that Kerry normally provides you with an amazing-beyond-all-belief recipe to round out your week, and to highlight our love of food. This week, she’s just not able to do it, so here I am. They’ve left me to my own devices.

Luckily, I’m a bit of a closet chef myself. I certainly don’t boast over my dexterity in the kitchen, but I do dabble in the odd stove-top adventure. More so, I love to bake. Sugar and I go well together.

This recipe I took from the most delectable baking site – Bakerella. This woman is a genius, and she makes the cutest projects ever. Recently, my son’s school had a bake sale, and Bakerella saved my life. So here’s her recipe – and my pictures – of S’More Cupcakes.

S’more Cupcakes (c/o Bakerella)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup oil
6 jumbo marshmallows cut in half, plus more for decorating

Graham Cracker Crumb topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda together with a wire whisk. Separate the mixture in half into two bowls.

Stir cocoa into one bowl and the graham cracker crumbs into the other. Add 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup oil to the cocoa mixture and beat on medium until combined. Repeat adding the same ingredients to the graham cracker crumb flour mixture.

Prepare the graham cracker crumb topping. Add the brown sugar and crumbs in a small bowl and pour on the melted butter. Stir until combined.

Pour a little graham cracker cake batter into the bottom of your baking cups and then sprinkle the topping mixture lightly on the surface. Place a marshmallow half on top and then cover the marshmallow with the chocolate cake batter until it is about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with more topping mixture.

In process...

In process...

Bake cupcakes for about 15 minutes. Place a cookie sheet underneath when you bake just in case. I had a little bit ooze over into the oven. Oops.

This recipe will make at least 12 cupcakes. I had a some batter from each left over so you can probably get more like 14-16.

Let cool and top with ganache.

Heat the butter and cream on the stove. Heat until just before it boils. Remove and pour over chocolate. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Pour over cupcakes and add more marshmallows if you desire.

I skipped out on the ganache, but they were still delicious!

I skipped out on the ganache, but they were still delicious!

Go Canada Go!


Alex Bilodeau wins the gold for Canada in Men's Freestyle Skiing

2010 Winter Olympics –  what an awesome time for Canada! All eyes are on our country, and millions of people are gathering on their sofas, love seats and comfy spots, catching a glimpse of Canada’s best athletes.

Cheering on our local heroes, and all of the relaxing that goes along with it, can make one hungry, and yes, even thirsty. Why not whip up some Canadian themed munchies, such as Maple Bacon Puffs or Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus (not sure how Canadian this is but it is one of my favs).

Top it of by chilling out with a glass of wine from the West Coast. To learn more about the wines of British Columbia check out this link.

Maple Bacon Puffs

Two great Canadian ingredients are showcased in this recipe: Creamy brie from St. Damase, Quebec and pure Canadian maple syrup!

1 pkg. Presidents Choice Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed (I find this the easiest one to use)
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp white wine or sherry
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 small round of St. Damase Brie, cut into 24 chunks
½ cup of grated Swiss cheese

Thaw puff pastry following directions on pkg. Once thawed, unroll on floured surface and use a pizza cutter to cut pastry into equal squares (approximately 24). Place pastry squares in a greased mini muffin tin. Place brie chunk in each cup.

Sauté bacon, once done, remove & drain excess grease (keep some grease in pan to cook the onions). Add onions to pan and cook on medium high heat; add pepper, maple syrup and wine/sherry and sauté till onions are golden brown and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Combine bacon & onions, let cool slightly, then evenly distribute mixture to pastry cups, top with shredded Swiss cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 or until puffy and golden brown.


Procuitto Wrapped Asparagus

Name speaks for itself, clean and blanch asparagus (no more than 3 – 5 minutes). Cut thinly sliced proscuitto and wrap each stock of asparagus. Place on platter and cover with vinaigrette of choice.



A Hungarian Chef in Our Midst

With all of the talk about comfort foods and simplicity (I’m sure my begging her to cook my favorite dish might have guilted her into it as well), Kathy went home last weekend and felt inspired to cook some of her favorite traditional family dishes.  And guess what? On Monday, the Engine team got to reap the benefits of all of her hard work.

Thanks so much for sharing Kathy! See her recipe and comments below.

My family is Hungarian, so of course Hungarian Lecso is my most favorite comfort food. It is a cooked mixture of onions, yellow banana peppers, red peppers, tomatoes and paprika. Add some sliced Hungarian Sausage (or Polish Sausage) and it can be served as an appetizer or stew. I like to serve it over rice as a main course, but served with dumplings is the traditional way to eat it. You can also spoon it over scrambled eggs for breakfast, or over chicken for something different at dinner! Lesco can also be easily frozen for use at a later date.


  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 2 large red onions sliced
  • Traditionally, yellow sweet banana peppers are what you would use, but my family prefers to use red peppers also. I use 1 yellow pepper, 1 orange pepper, and 5 or 6 red peppers seeded and sliced. (Do not use green bell peppers they have no flavor and will turn to pulp.)
  • 1 large, ripe tomato, diced. (You can use canned tomatoes if you drain them well)
  • 375g Hungarian Sausage Chopped into small chunks (Pillers Polish also works very well if Hungarian sausage is hard to find)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2-3 Tbs. Paprika


Heat oil in a large pot, add sausage and cook for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat to brown slightly. Add sliced onion, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until onion caramelizes slightly. Add salt, black pepper & paprika now. Mix together and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add all pepper slices and the tomato and cook for an additional 15 to 20 min. on medium high heat.

If needed you can add more salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Depending on the type of sausage used you may want to reduce the salt.

Reduce heat to simmer and cover, cooking for another 30 minutes or until peppers are soft.

(The ratio of peppers to onions and sausage should be 2/3 peppers to 1/3 sausage & onion.)

Spoon over rice or dumplings.

lesco2Serves 4.


Kathy recommends the Hungarian wine Bulls Blood to go along with this dish, may be hard to find but some LCBO stores will place a special order for you.

There’s more comfort food on the Facebook Fan Page, as Bryna shares one of her favourite exotic, yet simple recipes: Vegetable Jalfrezi.

“Simple” Traditions: Coq au Vin


“A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.”~ Elsa Schiaparelli

To some of you cooking is magic. Well, it really isn’t. It’s the end result of all of your hard work that is truly magical! You know what I’m talking about, that moment you put fork to mouth, and the taste explosion sets off all of your senses – it’s complete satisfaction and a feeling of a job well done!

I thought that we should continue with the “simple is better” topic from last week. Cooking doesn’t need to be complicated, or feel like a chore. If you follow the basics of good cooking then everything else should fall into place.

For the next few weeks I will focus on some “simple” traditional. Comfort foods that are really quite easy to prepare. And did I mention, to die for yummy?

One of my all time favorites and an oldie but goodie, is Coq au Vin. If you’re saying to yourself, “That’s that French dish. It must be difficult to make, and you probably need fancy French ingredients” – wrong! Simple, basic ingredients maks up this classic comfort dish. (Yes, I consider wine and cognac to be basic fundamental ingredients.) The most trying step is cutting up the whole chickens. But I’ll walk you through it. (If you want to simplify this even more, purchase chicken pieces instead of cutting up your own chicken)

Cutting up a whole chicken

  • Place chicken, breast side down. Trim and discard any fat at cavity and neck
  • Starting at body cavity, cut as loosely as possible along both sides of backbone. Cut off wing tips. Reserve both wing tips and backbone to make chicken stock. (Throw them in the freezer for later use)
  • Turn chicken over; open up slightly and cut in half through middle of breastbone.
  • Place chicken halves, skin side up. Lift one leg at a time and cut along contour through skin and meat to separate leg from body.
  • Bend back thigh and drumstick until joint pops. Cut through skin and meat at joint.
  • Divide each breast in half; leaving wing attached to one half.
  • Trim off excess skin and fat from chicken pieces; discard any shreds of bone.

Coq au Vin (serves eight)

This is a combination of the infamous Julia Child’s recipe and a Canadian Living Classic.

–         2 chickens, cut up (or 6 lbs of chicken pieces)

–         Salt & pepper

–         2 tbsp butter (you may need more as you cook the veggies, it’s ok, butter is an important ingredient)

–         2 pkg pearl onions peeled

–         1 lb button mushrooms (about 6 cups)

–         1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

–         2 cloves garlic minced

–         6 thick slices bacon, chopped

–         1 bottle of red wine (Burgundy, Beaujolais or Chianti), 2 cups go in recipe & you drink the rest!

–         2 cups sodium-reduced chicken broth (homemade stock would be preferable)

–         1 bay leaf

–         3 tbsp flour

–         1/4 cup cognac

–         2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In a Dutch oven cook bacon over medium heat. Sauté slowly until golden brown. Remove bacon with slotted spoon and transfer to bowl. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat half of the butter over medium-high heat; brown chicken in batches. Drain excess fat from pan and put any chicken back in pan that was removed while cooking in batches.

Pour in the Cognac, turn heat up to high, shake pan a few seconds until bubbling hot; ignite. Let it flame briefly while swirling the pan, extinguish flame with lid.

Heat remaining butter in another pan; cook in batches, first the pearl onions (transfer to bowl) then the mushrooms & thyme (if mushrooms are small keep them whole). Tip: if you want your mushrooms to brown nicely then don’t crowd them, cook in batches. Cook for about 5 min., add garlic and cook until golden brown, then transfer to same bowl as onions.

Add mushrooms and onions to pan with the chicken. Add cooked bacon, wine, broth and bay leaf, stirring and scrapping up brown bits. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35 min.


Stir flour with a little bit of cognac or broth, to make smooth paste; stir into pan along with parsley. Simmer until thickened, about 10 – 15 min. Serve with wine of choice!

Bon Appetite,


2010 – News on the food front

I thought that this week I would talk about some of the new food trends for 2010. This is a fun one, as I could spend all day researching food and drink. I’d take this over shoe shopping any day ~ honest!

Simplicity ~ Earning top rank for 2010 Trends.

Making the consumer nostalgic for simpler times and simple foods, getting back to the basics. Food companies are embracing the word “bare” as in bare minimum, offering foods that the consumer can trust. Less is more, isn’t that what they say?


Haagen-Daz, Five Line

A great example is Nestlé’s Haagen-Dazs ice cream; they have capitalized on the fewer-is-better movement with the Five line, only five ingredients in each variety. Smart & Simple!

If your interested in another company who’s on the same track check out McCain’s new campaign, “It’s all good ™ commitment”.

Comfort Food ~ Goes well with Simplicity and is the new comeback kid. Making mom’s meatloaf and stew, just simply reinvented.

Food & Ingredient Awareness ~ A trend that has been on the rise over the past few years and continues to be forefront, is food awareness. Becoming more aware of what you’re eating, how you prepare it and how it affects your body, health & welfare.

You will also see a rise in:

–         Neighborhood & community shared gardens, community supported agriculture & Locavore movement

–         Kids cuisine, kids are becoming more interested in cooking; kids cookware, cooking classes, family cooking classes & kids cookbooks

–         Creativity with food, while not compromising taste ~ “eating with our eyes”

–         Increase in exotic condiment use

–         Brunch events in place of formal dinner parties

–         Organic serving pieces, less steel & plastics, more wood

–         Butterscotch, yummy buttery goodness

Recently I watched  an interesting news report on CBS.

Bon Appetit Magazine’s restaurant editor, Andrew Knowlton, was on the show to talk about the predictions for 2010 food trends, here’s a quick rundown of what he had to say:

Ingredient of the Year, Sriracha

Ingredient of the Year, Sriracha

Dish of the year ~ Meatballs, not your average Italian style but various varieties; spicy, Middle astern, Lamb, Pork, French etc.

Cuisine of the year ~ New Austrian, with pretzels in the forefront and dishes like spaetzle

Ingredient of the year ~ Sriracha, a hot chili sauce, also known as Rooster Sauce, they predict it will be right next to ketchup.

Dessert of the year ~ All American Comfort (or all Canadian from our perspective), such as brown betty, crumbles, stewed fruits and compotes are making a comeback.

Drink of the year ~ Beer is the new wine. You can expect to see food & beer pairings, along with the creation of exotic & infused beers. My personal favorite, cooking with beer!

Party of the year ~ Modern Vegetarian (not a personal favorite)

Check out our Facebook Fan Page for a link to an awesome recipe using “Ingredient of the Year,” Sriracha.



Local Challenge to Help Haiti

lou'sTypically on Friday’s I blog about food, wine and entertaining. But last Friday, in light of the earthquake that struck Haiti, it just didn’t seem that important. With so many people living without food, it was hard to blog about it.

The tragedy in Haiti is really hitting home–so many people homeless, living in fear of lost family members and friends, and without food or drink. Devastating! And something that we Canadians have never had to deal with. Natural disasters of this magnitude just don’t touch us.

On my drive in to work last Friday morning I was listening to our local radio station, the Mix,  and they reported that one of our local restaurants, Lou’s Cozy Grill, was donating $1 from every meal purchase to relief for Haiti. That is just awesome, way to go! Can you imagine if every restaurant in town did that?! What a difference it would make! Restaurants all over the world are doing their part, check it out.

I say, come on restaurants in Belleville, follow Cozy Grill’s lead, and donate a portion of every bill over the coming week to Haiti relief. And to all the residents of Belleville and the Quinte Area, go out, share a meal with your family and friends, be thankful for the fact that you have food to eat, and feel good about the fact that a portion of your bill goes to helping Haiti. It’s a win-win.

Why should your restaurant participate? Cause marketing–giving back not only for the good of your business, but for that of the world around you. (To read an excellent post on this topic, take a look at PR professional, Lauren Fernandez’s blog.) Get on board, and give back, because we’re so fortunate to live where we do.

I’m going to the Cozy for lunch today, want to join me?



Happy New Year to All!

Spice (like paprika) adds flavour to dishes, so you can skip the butter and salt. (In theory.)

Spice (like paprika) adds flavour to dishes, so you can skip the butter and salt. (In theory.)

Wow, what an awesome break, almost two weeks off–perfect! Just enough time off to enjoy family and friends, and just enough time off to really be ready to send the kids back to school. There’s that routine thing rearing its head again. Thank goodness for routines.

With the new year, comes my least favorite tradition, the “New Years Resolution”. The pressure of coming up with something that is truly going to make a difference in your life? Come on, do we really have to do this? I’m just chicken because I know that I’m no good at keeping them–resolutions that is.

So here it goes, I want to try to cut back and make some simple changes to my eating habits. No, really, I mean it…. Easier said than done, I know. I think that the key here is not to overdue it. So many people make resolutions that they can’t even come close to keeping; me I’m going to start off small.

Things like less salt and butter (killing me just talking about it, I love my salt and butter. Food just tastes so much better with it!); incorporating fish into our diet a few times a week; and one more–eating breakfast. I never eat breakfast. I’m too busy making sure that my kids eat theirs and have a healthy lunch packed. By the time I’m done this, my breakfast plans are out the window, or more like out the door.

Sitting down to the table twice a day as a family is a good thing. It means that I am looking after myself as well as my boys! If anyone has some good quick breakfast recipes, please share, I really need some help in this department.

Good luck with your resolutions, and remember, keep them simple and don’t stress!

In keeping with my resolution, I thought that I would share a salmon recipe that I made recently.

paprikaRubbed Salmon With Smoky Maple Glaze

Smoky Rub

  • 3 tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together and keep in airtight container or jar. Recipe makes a fair amount so you can keep and use in other recipes. (Awesome on ribs)

  • 4 skinless salmon fillets
  • Olive oil for brushing on fillets
  • Smoky rub
  • Maple syrup – just enough to drizzle over salmon

paprikasalmonRinse and pat salmon pieces dry with paper towel. Place salmon on a baking sheet lined with foil (makes for easier clean up). Brush salmon with olive oil and then rub with smoky rub to cover top of salmon and drizzle pieces with maple syrup. Bake in 350 oven for 25 – 35 minutes depending on the size of the salmon. Broil for an additional 5 – 7 min. to get the top brown & crispy.

Enjoy with wild rice and steamed veggies of choice.

Wine – if you prefer red wine, I would suggest a Pinot Noir as it is a lighter red. A nice buttery chardonnay would pair really well with the meaty fish.



Christmas Break, Here I Come!

winterYes, I know, today is only Tuesday, but as of 4:00pm today, I’m outta here! I thought that instead of missing Friday altogether, I would post a “Tuesday’s with Kerry” this week.

I am so looking forward to some well needed time off – as are all of you I’m sure. My time is going to be spent with the ones I love–family and friends–and yes, a bottle or two of well aged red wine and maybe even a rum and egg nog. There will be tonnes of yummy food, and of course, countless hours on the lake (we are so blessed to have the coolest ice rink right out our back door). I’ve got one foot out the door just writing about it.
I wish all of our readers a spectacular holiday season, and I look forward to sharing some wonderful food and beverage stories and recipes when I return.
Today I would like to share with you a recipe that I whipped together last Sunday ~ in full anticipation of not having time to slave over a hot stove once inside from the rink.
winter1Slow Cooker Smokey Sirloin Chili 

  • 5 lb. Sirloin roast, cut into tiny pieces (this is the time consuming part but trust me, it’s worth it)
  • 1 large cooking onion, chopped fine
  • 2 stalks of celery with leaves, chopped
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chili pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 large can of stewed tomatoes with italian seasoning
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed  

Add butter to frying pan and brown beef in batches over medium – high heat (do not cook all at once), remove beef and put in slow cooker. Continue to cook remaining batches, adding to crock pot once browned (do not overcook, just needs about 5 min.). With heat still med – high, add to pan juices; onions, garlic, parsley and celery with leaves. Cook for about 7 min., then add spices, brown sugar and worcestershire sauce. Just cook long enough for the spices to get fragrant then add to the crock pot along with the beef. Add paste, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce and kidney beans. Stir together, taste for adjusting salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hrs. Remember, try to avoid lifting the lid for a taste or a sniff, as you lose about 20min. of valuable cooking time each time you do!

Serve with warm bread with chive & garlic butter. Aged cheddar and sour cream are nice toppers too. What a treat, to come in from the cold to this hearty, warm dish!



The Countdown is On!

What are your go-to recipes for Christmas?

What are your go-to recipes for Christmas?

The countdown is on! Only six more days to finish off your holiday shopping, and that includes the holiday food items on your list. I’ve finally finished my gift shopping, now all I have left is my grocery shopping (and trust me, that’s no small feat). 

This year I’m getting off easy–we have been invited to close friend’s for Christmas dinner. Yes, that’s right, that means that I don’t have to cook the turkey! Not that I normally do anyways, that’s my dad’s deal. He has perfected the art, and I don’t like to mess with perfection. Lucky me! 

Sitting down with friends and family, to a table that is overflowing with scrumptious food and drink, is my most favorite part of the holidays. I can almost hear the laughter and enthusiasm from everyone as they gather–it’s just intoxicating! 

I can’t help but feel like I have to come up with something spectacular to bring along; maybe some yummy appetizers and a few veggie side dishes. Any thoughts? 

Sometimes, for inspiration, I look to a few of my favorite food sites, one being Our Kitchen, which you should be familiar with by now if you have been following some of my recent Friday posts. One of my new favorites is The Pioneer Woman  ~ brilliant is the best way to describe her.

Her sense of humor, honesty and complete love affair that she has with her food is just amazing and so refreshing. She openly admits that ingredients such as butter and bacon fat makes everything taste better. Well hallelujah, someone who is on the same page as me! 

Most recently I made her recipe for the stuffed mushrooms, I served these at our Christmas party and they were a huge hit – thanks Ree, you rock, I just love your site! (Not only does she share wonderful recipes, but she is a very talented photographer and she tells heartfelt stories about the man of her dreams and their children, once I start reading I can’t seem to pull myself away). 

So that answers that, mushrooms it is, along with another recipe that I have been dying to try. It was sent in my Canadian Living Newsletter:

A unique, holiday recipeOrange Balsamic Cipolline Onions

By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen

Cipollini (pronounced chip-oh-LEE-nee) are sometimes called wild onions. If you can’t find them in the supermarket or an Italian market, substitute pearl onions.  

I’d love to hear from anyone out there who has a brilliant recipe that would be fitting for a Holiday Family Feast.

Have a great weekend! ‘Till next week! 

And don’t forget, only six more days to finish that shopping!