Oooh gorgeous stamps!

Well, this is not food related but it does have something to do with Not Crocker! I was cruising Etsy, looking at lovely things and came across these GORGEOUS hand-carved stamps. I quickly wrote the seller an email and over a series of months and them moving off Etsy, I finally got myself a stunning stamp! I am probably going to stamp all over Vancouver this week, showing off my lovely new doodad. I also ordered one for my dear friend, Caelin. Tyr of this is just to say knocked my stamp, as well as Caelin’s, completely out of the park. The designs are incredible and the owl they created for Caelin is so magical!

Tyr’s website is this is just to say

and go like their Facebook page! Tyr deserves a world of love!

Please check out all of her incredible work, order some stamps and send me stamped-up snail mail!

Whisking up good times!

Whisking up good times!

An owl for Caelin.

An owl for Caelin.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, Glorious Mid-Winter

Hello to all!
I just wanted to pass along some festive wishes to my wonderful readers from all parts of the world! Even if it isn’t winter where you are, I hope you are spending some quality time with family, friends, those you love. I am in Fort McMurray with my mom and my sister and her family. Sadly my wonderful husband wasn’t able to get time off from work for the trip, but I will be home to him to celebrate on the 29th. It is very cold here in northern Alberta, -35°C for the last few days, but it is warm in the house, and our hearts. We all miss Dad a lot, but the traditions he created with our family, and his love, still permeates our Christmas day. 
Much love to you and yours on this seasonal day! 
Also, check out these gorgeous cookie baskets my sister made for her friends (a Sellars tradition that I have to get on top of next year).
Image

Black Forest Cupcakes for my beautiful mother’s birthday!

Black Forest Cupcakes

My mom’s birthday was on December 21st, and aside from wanting to spend some time with her family, she said that her favourite cake was black forest. Mom suggested making the black forest cake into kid-friendly cupcake portions, and this awesome dessert creation was born. These treats are perfectly portioned, not-too-sweet treats that have all of the black foresty goodness, without the black foresty effort! Happy Birthday to our wonderful mother whose love and support has gotten us through this difficult year and who, with our amazing father, made us into the women we are today.

Black Forest Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder (regular is fine too)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (make your own with 1/2 cup milk and 1 tsp white vinegar, let sit for a few minutes before adding to recipe)
  • 1 can of cherry pie filling
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1 1/2 tbsp icing sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla. Beat until well combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  4. Scoop 2 tablespoons of batter into the bottom of each paper cup, allow it to spread across the bottom. Dollop a heaping tablespoon of cherry pie filling on top of the batter (include 4 cherries in each scoop). Top with another 2 tablespoons of batter, or enough to fill the cups 3/4 of the way. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch. Allow to cool before topping with whipped cream.
  5. When ready to top the cupcakes, whisk together the heavy whipping cream and icing sugar until stiff peaks form (this will allow the cream to hold its shape in the fridge). Dollop a generous bit of cream on to the cup cakes and top with a spoon of cherry pie filling. Serve immediately, or refrigerate (these keep well in the fridge for a couple days).
Cherry layer.

Cherry layer.

Topped with batter, ready for the oven.

Topped with batter, ready for the oven.

Little pockets of cherry deliciousness.

Little pockets of cherry deliciousness.

Ah, so wonderfully decadent.

Ah, so wonderfully decadent.

My lovely niece Brooklynn demanded that sprinkles be added! She did a wonderful job of decorating for Grandma.

My lovely niece Brooklynn demanded that sprinkles be added! She did a wonderful job of decorating for Grandma.

Grilled Squid and Baby Octopus on Purple Cabbage Salad with Lemon

GrilledSquidandBabyOctopus

Gen likes to buy new and exciting ingredients and then leave me to figure out what to do with them. Unlike the mussel situation of a month ago (delicious mussel situation, don’t get me wrong), Gen did not buy an incredible amount of squid and octopus, so I wasn’t pressured to cook an insane amount all in one shot. We invited our wonderful friends over for food and some gaming and I went to work marinating, chopping (including my finger again, sigh), and grilling. The wild thing is, seafood is super easy to prepare, no need to be intimidated by these ‘exotic’ creatures, a little marinade and some heat go a long way. I used two different marinades and I loved the combination, the squid was slightly spicy (sorry Tobias!) and the octopus was just touched with a little citrus. I whipped up a lemon-olive oil dressing that I used to top the salads to tie the flavours together and give the cabbage a little brightness. You can easily serve the seafood on top of rice or pasta, but I’ve included my salad recipe below, once again it is all about cabbage and full of colour!

Citrus Baby Octopus

From Mark’s Daily Apple

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds baby octopus (Go to Mark’s Daily Apple for instructions on how to prepare your octopus, if you have more than legs)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pour into a large ziploc bag and set aside.
  2. In a medium pot over high heat, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Turn the heat off and dump the octopuses into the pot.
  3. Let the octopus sit in the pot for 1 minute and then drain immediately. Rinse well with cold water.
  4. Add the octopus to the marinade bag, tossing to coat. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  5. Turn your grill to high (we have a countertop grill, only one setting, HIGH).
  6. Grill for about 6 minutes, turning halfway. Remove from heat and serve warm over salad, or allow to cool to serve.

 

Grilled Spicy Squid

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb squid tubes, fresh or frozen (mine were clean and frozen from Superstore, if you can only find full squid there are many sites out there with cleaning tips)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 red chili pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse your squid tubes, slice down one side to open, and lay out on a clean dish towel or layered paper towels, pat until quite dry.
  2. Cut the squid into 1/2 inch strips and toss in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the spices.
  4. Drizzle the olive oil over the squid and toss to coat.
  5. Sprinkle the spices over the oiled squid and toss until every piece is spiced. Cover and allow to sit in the fridge until you are ready to grill.
  6. Turn the grill on high, lay pieces of squid on the grill and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes per side. Some of your pieces may curl up while cooking, that’s alright!
  7. Serve over salad!

 

Lemon Dressing to serve over seafood

INGREDIENTS

  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp fresh rosemary, minced (*optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl, drizzle over seafood, salad, anything!

 

Cabbage Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 head of purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2lb green beans, quartered

DIRECTIONS

  1. Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl, drizzle with preferred dressing and enjoy a crunchy, awesome salad!
Beautiful little octopus legs.

Beautiful little octopus legs.

Bright, fresh ingredients.

Bright, fresh ingredients.

Sliced squid tubes.

Sliced squid tubes.

Par boiled and ready to be grilled.

Par boiled and ready to be grilled.

Squid strips.

Squid strips.

Grilling away, my tester batch.

Grilling away, my tester batch.

Cookie Swap Official Recipe! Hot Chocolate Sandwiches filled with Pink Peppercorn & Cardamom Marshmallows

HotChocolateCookies

I wanted to do something fancy for my contribution to the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I mean really, it’s hosted by the wonderful Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. The blogs that participate are all filled with beautiful food, designs, and ideas. I have been craving hot chocolate lately and have begun to master the art of marshmallows, so it seemed like a cookie combo made in heaven. Also, I love cardamom and happen to have a bunch of different peppers on hand, so there we go!

Not to wax on about the cookies or the event, or any of that jazz… but I am SOOOOOooooo excited to be part of this. I know that part of building a great blog and following is networking with the community but I’ve been so busy the last 8 months that I haven’t really had a chance to develop those relationships. This is my first step of getting in there with the big, fancy blogs and wave my little Not Crocker flag, saying “Hello, I like to cook and bake too!” I hope that Bailey of Sugar Haven, Aimee of Aimee’s Oven, and Heather of New House New Home New Life liked them! I learned a lot, particularly that I was one sandwich short, so I baked up three icebox cookies to create the one ugly, franken-cookie in each batch… there has to be one… right? Merry Christmas Cookie Swap!

Something that I’d love to know, what is YOUR favourite Christmas treat? 

Quick note before baking, you will have to make the marshmallow in two batches so that it doesn’t totally firm up before you fill all the cookies.

Hot Chocolate Cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until you have a sandy texture with few lumps.
  3. Whisk together the melted chocolate, heavy cream, and vanilla until a sort of ganache forms. Drizzle the ganache into the dough and mix well to combine.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Knead the first half on a cutting board until it stick well together. Roll the dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches thick and wrap in wax paper. Do the same with the other log. Freeze the logs for 1 hour until very firm.
  5. Heat the oven to 350°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick slices, keeping consistant. Place 1-inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes, turning halfway through.
  7. Cool the cookies on racks, they will crisp up as they cool down. You can definitely eat them all now, they are pretty tasty, but definitely hold off, make marshmallows, and make sandwiches!

Pink Peppercorn and Cardamom Marshmallows (make two batches to fill cookies)

Adapted from Pots and Pins recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 envelope of Knox unflavoured gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pink peppercorns, ground
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS

  1. In your large mixer bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water, set aside.
  2. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil, allow to boil gently for 1 minute.
  4. Remove the syrup mixture from heat and stir in the vanilla, ground peppercorns, and cardamom.
  5. Briefly whisk the gelatin mixture on high speed. Gradually pour hot sugar syrup into the gelatin, beating on low.
  6. Once all of the syrup has been incorporated, increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the mixture is thick and shiny, 8-10 minutes.
  7. Move quickly and dollop 1 tablespoon of filling onto one cookie and top with another, pressing down enough to move the marshmallow to the edges. The marshmallow sets quickly, so don’t slow down. If it starts to set as you are filling, it will still work, it just wont look perfect.
  8. If you have extra marshmallow, pour it into a flat dish and cut up later for hot chocolates and coffees and snacking.

Massive Step-by-step

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until you have a sandy texture with few lumps.
  3. Whisk together the melted chocolate, heavy cream, and vanilla until a sort of ganache forms. Drizzle the ganache into the dough and mix well to combine.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Knead the first half on a cutting board until it stick well together. Roll the dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches thick and wrap in wax paper. Do the same with the other log. Freeze the logs for 1 hour until very firm.
  5. Heat the oven to 350°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick slices, keeping consistant. Place 1-inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes, turning halfway through.
  7. Cool the cookies on racks, they will crisp up as they cool down. You can definitely eat them all now, they are pretty tasty, but definitely hold off, make marshmallows, and make sandwiches!

    Stacks of cooled cookies.

  8. In your large mixer bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water, set aside.
  9. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  10. Bring mixture to a boil, allow to boil gently for 1 minute.
  11. Remove the syrup mixture from heat and stir in the vanilla, ground peppercorns, and cardamom.

    Well that doesn’t look like marshmallow!

  12. Briefly whisk the gelatin mixture on high speed. Gradually pour hot sugar syrup into the gelatin, beating on low.
  13. Once all of the syrup has been incorporated, increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the mixture is thick and shiny, 8-10 minutes.

    Oh, there it is!

  14. Move quickly and dollop 1 tablespoon of filling onto one cookie and top with another, pressing down enough to move the marshmallow to the edges. The marshmallow sets quickly, so don’t slow down. If it starts to set as you are filling, it will still work, it just wont look perfect.

Probably one of my best photos. Huzz-freakin-ah!

Again, check out the great blogs I got to connect with through this awesome cookie swap! They deserve lots of love:

Sent to:
Sugar Haven
Aimee’s Oven
New House New Home New Life

Received from:
Oven Adventures (sent amazing cinnamon chip cookies that smell like coziness)

I ♥ Fresh Food (sent vanilla chai short bread, delicious for dunking)

The Bacon Eating Jewish Vegetarian (it’s a mouthful, so are her delicious Cinnadoodles!)

Cabbage Roll Casserole (I know, I know, another cabbage post!)

Cabbagerollcasserole

Sorry guys, I am in a cabbagey place lately and this is just another cabbage-loving creation. I can promise you something super sweet and amazing for Wednesday (it is the Food Blogger Cookie post), so if you are hating on the cabbage, wait until then for a switch up. BUT, if you are down with awesome cabbage-loving dishes, scroll on down and get all up in this recipe. Kel and I are something like 25% Ukrainian and have always taken pride in cooking up great Ukrainian dishes (like Kel’s Chicken Paprikash), in particular we try to get together once a year to make up a huge batch of perogies and cabbage rolls to split (look forward to this post after Christmas). But, when this supplies runs out, immediately after Christmas, they are too good to keep, I have to come up with quick alternatives that offer the same flavours. This one-pot wonder is easy and delicious and makes a batch big enough for a family, or great for many lunches.

Cabbage Roll Casserole

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or olive)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes *optional
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, roughly chopped (about 4 cups raw)
  • 1/2 cup strained tomatoes (I used Pomi, it is essentially nothing-added tomato sauce, feel free to substitute your own brand, or 2 minced tomatoes)
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup cheddar, shredded

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil and brown your ground beef. Break up the meat as it cooks to get an even crumble.
  2. Add the spices to the meat and stir well to evenly distribute.
  3. Create a well in the centre of your pot (move the meat to the sides) and add your garlic. Allow to cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, until fragrant.
  4. Add the cabbage and tomato to the pot and stir well to combine. Dollop the cream cheese on top of the mixture, cover with a lid and cook everything for 15 minutes, until the cabbage is tender.
  5. Stir the, now softened, cream cheese into the meat and cabbage mixture, taste and adjust spices if needed.
  6. Sprinkle the mixture with the cheddar cheese and allow to melt before serving.
  7. Serve alone or over rice. Top with a dollop of sour cream of creme fraiche.
Ah cabbage, my current love.

Ah cabbage, my current love.

Cheese to round it out!

Cheese to round it out!

Creamy Cauliflower & Cabbage Soup

CreamyCauliflowerSoup

This soup is creamy, buttery, thick, and delicious. I have been on a weird cabbage kick lately and here we go. This soup is awesome and hearty and can be easily veganized by omitting the dairy (or switching for vegan versions), it will still be amazing. The recipe makes a lot so you will have meals for days, or for a group. I served this up with a sprinkle of cayenne and some sausage on the side. You will see I’ve suggested that the cabbage and cauliflower can be any size, the measurements can be adjusted for different amounts of veggies (it’s hard to hunt down a particular size of veggies).

Creamy Cauliflower & Cabbage Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of cabbage (any size), roughly chopped
  • 1 head of cauliflower (any size), roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 cups of chicken broth (or more, to almost cover the veg)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • paprika or cayenne to sprinkle

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a very large pot melt the butter. Sauté the cabbage over medium-high heat until softened and somewhat translucent. 
  2. Add the cauliflower to the pot, sprinkle with pepper, salt, and cumin.
  3. Pour the both into the pot until you’ve just about covered the veggies.
  4. Bring to a boil. Then lower heat and allow the soup to simmer for an hour until everything is very tender.
  5. Using an immersion blender, blend up the soup until smooth.
  6. Add crumbled feta and cream to the smooth soup, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Serve in a large bowl and sprinkle with either paprika or cayenne.
Ready to cook down.

Ready to cook down.

Pre-blending.

Pre-blending.

This cabbage looked lovely inside.

This cabbage looked lovely inside.

Cheesy Chicken Bacon Cabbage Casserole: it’s a mouthful and some

CheeseChickenCasserole

This dish is an easy and hearty dinner creation. The cabbage is buttery and understated while the bacon and jalapeño punch up the flavour in an awesome way. I love the combo of cheesiness with bite and this dish is packed with both. Feel free to lessen the spice, half a pepper will do the job, but it is pretty glorious. Also feel free to punch of any of the flavours with a few more slices of bacon or a second pepper! This dish is flexible and a two-pot creation worthy of a weeknight dinner schedule. This easily serves 4 people with a side salad.

Cheesy Chicken Bacon Cabbage Casserole with ranch dressing

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs chicken, cubed (three large breasts)
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 cups cabbage, chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup cheddar (or mozzarella, or both), shredded
  • 3 tbsp creme fraiche (or sour cream)
  • 1 tbsp ranch dressing

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot (dutch ovens are great), cook the bacon. I cook my bacon with a little bit of water to keep it from getting too crispy while I am preparing everything else. 
  2. Once the bacon is slightly crisped and cooked through, 5-8 minutes, chop up.
  3. Add the cubed chicken to the pot with the bacon and sauté over medium-high heat for 8 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
  4. In another pan, melt the butter and sauté the cabbage over medium-high heat for 10 minutes until it starts to become translucent.
  5. Back in the large pot, add the jalapeño and sautéed cabbage, stir well.
  6. Stir in the salt and pepper, onion powder, and cream cheese, letting the cream cheese melt into the mixture.
  7. Spread the mixture evenly across the bottom of the pot and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
  8. While the chicken mixture is cooking, stir together your creme fraiche and ranch dressing. Set aside.
  9. Serve up on a plate and drizzle with the ranch dressing.
These are the GIANT chicken breasts I picked up at the market. They were bone-in, but still remarkably huge.

These are the GIANT chicken breasts I picked up at the market. They were bone-in, but still remarkably huge. P.S. My hands are not tiny.

Sautéed cabbage added to the pot (jalapeño below).

Sautéed cabbage added to the pot (jalapeño below).

Topped with cheese and ready for it's 15 minutes.

Topped with cheese and ready for it’s 15 minutes.

Massaged Kale Salad

MassagedKaleSalad

This recipe was sent to me some time ago by our wonderful friend Evi. She always sending me delicious recipes and I finally got around to making this one! I am sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I love kale, so does Gen. So finding new ways to integrate it into our diet is always great! This salad is super simple. Really, it is 5 or so ingredients, and a few minutes of your time. I’ve actually come to the conclusion that this would be a wonderful way to start an even more complex salad, a great way to integrate the benefits of avocado for the Apple Dijon Kale Salad. Really, the possibilities are endless and this is both an awesome salad on its own and really snazzy jumping-off point for many delicious variations. 

Massaged Kale Salad

Adapted from The Wannabe Chef.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 large avocado
  • juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (optional, we didn’t have any at the time, still turned out delicious)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • pinch of black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, toss the kale with your lemon juice. 
  2. Cut the avocado up and plunk onto of kale.
  3. Remove any finger jewelery… it’s about to get messy.
  4. Massage the avocado into the kale for 5-8 minutes, until the kale is evenly coated in avocado and looking vibrantly green.
    You are looking to essentially mash the avocado into the kale leaves.
  5. Toss in your onions, celery, and tomato. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cayenne (if using).
  6. Serve alongside something hearty.
Pre-avocado rubdown!

Pre-avocado rubdown!

The terrible final image of a very tasty salad.

The terrible final image of a very tasty salad.