Strawberry & Cilantro Grilled Cheese

As I peer outside at our horses through a window, I’m watching them buck and rear and throw quite a fuss. They’re probably just as upset as we are at this cold, harsh weather blowing in… Bring on Spring already.

I figure the gusty forecast calls for the perfect remedy to ease my winter blues – comfort food!

The Strawberry & Cilantro Grilled Cheese is one of our new favorites. This avant-garde spin on an old classic takes just minutes to prepare and tricks both my children and my husband into eating vegetables, at the same time.

Strawberry & Cilantro Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:

• 3-4 Large Strawberries

• Small bunch of fresh Cilantro

• 1 Avocado

• 5-6 Cherry Tomatoes

• 2 Pieces of bread for each sandwich

• Cheese

Directions:

Wash the rind of your avocado and peel. Slice the flesh of the avocado into small chunks and place into a small food processor. Wash your strawberries and remove the tops. Wash your tomatoes and cut into halves. Wash the cilantro and chop up finely. Add everything together in the food processor. Blend together into a chunky “salsa.”

Prepare your bread as you would normally for grilled cheese sandwiches by buttering the outside and placing into a fry pan on medium heat (buttered side down). Allow them to heat to a golden, toasty brown. Remove when they are toasted as desired. These will be the tops of your sandwiches.

Quickly throw in the remaining pieces of buttered bread, (again buttered side down) and add cheese on top. These will be the bases of your sandwiches. Allow the heat to melt the cheese without burning the opposite side of your bread (especially now that your stove burner has warmed up). Once the bread has a nice, crispy glow and the cheese has turned into melty goodness, remove from the fry pan.

 

Spread the strawberry salsa mix onto the tops of each sandwich and press onto a base with melted cheese. Cut in half and enjoy!

Ham Hock & Lentil Spring Stew

2 Weeks 'till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

photo by Krista Kay

We’re setting up the tree this weekend at the log house, so it’s all about tree and gift ornaments.

photo by Krista Kay

Wee, Teenager and I have used a particular recipe for ornaments – from a 2003 Martha Stewart issue – several times over the years. It’s a simple afternoon project. Or, in the case of Western Horse Review Managing Editor, Dainya Sapergia, who was tasked with creating a few western-styled examples for our Christmas photo shoot – a 1:00 a.m.-night-before-the-shoot project.

It’s how we occasionally roll here.

The western cookie cutters I mentioned in my 3 Weeks ’till Christmas post would work really well for this application.

Simply mix together one cup of cinnamon and 1/4 cup applesauce. Then stir in 1/2 cup white craft glue. Roll it together, let it sit for an hour, and then roll it out about 1/4 inch thick, cut out your ornaments (remember to poke a hole with a straw for hanging it) and bake them in the oven at 200° for about 2 hours, flipping once to keep them flat.

photo by Krista Kay

Once they are cool and dry, you can decorate them with glitter sand or whatever you choose. Here’s the link to the original Martha Stewart recipe for Cinnamon Bird Ornaments, there is a full step-by-step included and a few Martha-perfected decorating tips.

Caveat: to avoid any emergency trips to the dentist or emergency room, remember to let your family know these are inedible ornaments!

Finally, if you’re looking for a few homemade gift tag ideas, I love the selection at www.eatdrinkchic.com, particularly these vintage typographic beauties.

Simple download the template from this post, and print them out. I used a few textured, sandy old letterhead sheets I had hanging around. Pretty!

Happy decorating!

P.S. If you haven’t yet, be sure to take part in our Grand Christmas Giveaway and treat yourself to the opportunity to win a

gorgeous handcrafted belt by Paige Albrect. It’s a good thing, as Martha would say.

3 Weeks 'till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

I have a love-hate relationship with baking cookies. I love the idea of it. Less captivated with the clean-up. And, often not quite satisfied with the result, particularly when attempting the odd new recipe.

There is undoubtedly a lesson here from my mom. She was an accomplished cook, but only ran with a few signature Christmas cookies. One was a dark Pfeffernusse, a hard cookie made with molasses and honey, and spiced with ginger, cinnamon, cardamon and pepper. A perfect dipping cookie. Offering a visual offset to that complicated dark cookie, were her simple vanilla cut-out cookies, spiced with cinnamon and baked with finely chopped hazelnut; and, thirdly, a consummate gingerbread, from which, with a bit of royal icing for glue and decoration, she would build Santa’s sleigh, pulled by four reindeer – an annual creation which would make it’s debut on Christmas Eve, filled with sweet candy and Christmas oranges.

Mom would bake her cookies weeks before Christmas and hide them in cold corners all over the house. They’d emerge on pretty Christmas plates when friends or family visited. I love these ancient cookie cutters, they are laden with memory for me, and I like to think I honor my mom’s beautiful German cookies by decorating a small tree with them every Christmas. And, of course, by baking cookies!

One of the items which turned up at our Christmas gift guide shoot was a lovely set of cookie cutters from the Calgary Stampede Store. These retail for about $24.95, and as you might guess, they did not make it back to the store.

Wee and I made these sugar cookies with the cutters, which feature a tall boot, horse head, horseshoe, cowboy hat and our hands down favorite, a bucking horse, a few weeks ago. They made a great after-lesson treat at the 4H ride. I still have the December 2000 issue of Bon Appetit with the Sugar Cookie recipe in it, as well as great decorating tips, and one can now reference it online here.

My favorite go-to recipe for a more adult cookie is Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies. These are a cinch to whip up in a hurry and the large recipe allows one to save a log of dough in the freezer when a quick need invariably rises later in the season. They are pretty and rustic, not too sweet and package well.

Finally, a new recipe I’ll now relegate to the “keeper” list, partially because I love the orange, coconut and bittersweet chocolate mix, but also for the visual juxtapose they offer to more traditionally shaped cookies, are these Ambrosia Macaroons.

And, that’s my Christmas gift idea for you this week. Get baking!

P.S. stay tuned later this week for a fantastic giveaway we’re offering – a bit of a Christmas comes early sort of idea. Be sure to be signed up to receive our e-newsletter to get the heads up on it.

 

Christmas Hot Chocolate

O.M.G…

In honor of the fact that it’s full-blown winter here already in Alberta and that the Webster house already received its first Christmas card (thanks Ker!), I thought today was the perfect day to blog about this Candy Cane Hot Chocolate. It comes courtesy of my family at the Pourhouse Bistro on Edmonton’s Whyte Ave. If you’re looking for a sophisticated pub with fresh cuisine go check them out!

Candy Cane Hot Chocolate
1 oz Kahlua Peppermint Mocha Liqueur
8 oz Candy Cane Hot Chocolate
4 oz freshly whipped cream
2 oz Peppermint Christmas Chocolate Chips

Super easy to make and it’s pretty much a guarantee that everyone will be talking about it at your Christmas party!

As the Pourhouse says “Hoppy Christmas!”

8 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

Baked Apples

If anyone is looking for an innovative Thanksgiving dessert this weekend, why not try baked apples? When I first discovered them, I thought, “What a perfect autumn dish!!” And since I’ve always been an apple fan, these were right up my alley.

Ingredients you’ll need:

• 6 Granny Smith apples

• 1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon

• 1/4 Cup Sugar

• 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar

• Pie Crust (Homemade or Pre-made works well too…)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Step #1 – Cut the tops off each apple and very carefully, use a melon-baller to hollow out the center. Ensure to leave a thick wall behind and be careful not to puncture the skin. (* The key to this step is a quality melon-baller.) Discard the cores of the apples but keep any good pieces of the apples’ centers for Step #2. If you have difficulty hollowing out the centers, you may have to use a additional apples for Step #2.

Step #2 – Throw the good apple pieces from the hollowed out bowls into a bowl with the dry ingredients.

Step #3 – Then, scoop the suggary goodness back into the hollowed apples.

Step #4 – Roll out and cut your pie crust into small strips. I found a pizza cutter to be very handy for this step. Arrange them in lattice formation over top of each apple. If you find the crust starts to dry out, use a little water on your fingertips to help mold it properly. I won’t lie – the lattice work is a little finicky! But it looks beautiful afterwards.

Step #5 – Trim the edges of the lattice crust, so they don’t hang down too long over each apple. I left mine a little long this round, which made for extra baking time…

Step #6 – Place apples into a pan. Add just enough water to the cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and inside apples are soft.

We had ours with chocolate ice cream! But I’m sure vanilla would be just as tasty. Sooooo goood!!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!!

Cowboy Candy

Candy is quickly becoming one of the greatest obsessions for dinner party hosts. No need to bake or create – just simply throw an assortment of sweets out there for guests to pick and choose. Here are a few special sweets tailored perfectly for cowboys an’ cowgirls.

1. My Idol Pops – these unique western suckers come in flavors of green apple, cotton candy, marshmallow and orange vanilla – all deliciously candied into the shapes of cowboy hats, cow skulls, boots and horse heads. $2.35 each. www.myidolpops.com

2. Scorpion Sucker – With a real scorpion centered inside, this outrageous confection is a definite conversation starter. Apple, banana, blueberry and strawberry flavored. Only for the toughest cowboys and cowgirls! $3.99 each. www.hotlix.com

3. Round Up Candy – With tips daubed in red to make them look lit, these chalky candy sticks are designed to resemble real cigarettes. And with packaging that looks like a cigarette carton with a working vaquero on the front, they imply that only real cowboys smoke them. Use your own discretion when giving to kids, but since these candies have been around since the 1950’s, Round Ups are likely a nostalgic candy for parents. $0.99. www.worldconfections.com

4. Candy Sticks – Barber stick candy may not imply horses per se, but nothing conjures up images of an old western general store better than hard candy sticks in a mason jar display. Ranging in flavors from Root Beer, to banana, to strawberry daiquiri, wintergreen, blueberry and more, these old fashioned candies are sweet treats for riders of any age. $0.75 each. www.candywarehouse.com

5. Pez Woody & Cowgirl Jesse – PEZ goodies are truly the “interactive candy” and are as fun to play with as they are to eat. Dispensers molded as Woody and Jessie the Yodeling cowgirl (from Toy Story 3), these figurines are sure to be hot collectables in the future. $3.99 each. www.pez.com

6. Udderfingers – Sticks of butter almond toffee smothered in rich milk chocolate and perfect for the little cowpoke in your life. But just a warning – these chocolate delights are so sinfully divine, you won’t want anyone else to see them first! $4.99 each. www.baraboocandy.com

7. Sour Gecko – For any horsey folk who winter in Arizona, this sour gummy candy will hit home. Individually wrapped rainbow geckos are fun reminders of the desert for kids. $0.40 each. www.candyfavorites.com

Teri Clearwater’s Homemade Granola Bars

If you’re looking for a yummy snack alternative to the horse show cafeteria, this blog is it! Back in May, I posted Horse Show Mamas – a comical and informative piece about other horse show moms and how they manage shows with babies and kids in tow. Back then I promised I would post some of my contributor’s best recipes for beating the event  cafeteria. So here, finally, is a tasty snack from show mom and trainer’s wife – Teri Clearwater of Hanley, SK. With all the summer activities and shows, it took me this long to get some baking done. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family did!

HOMEMADE GRANOLA BARS

What You’ll Need:

3 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup Rice Krispies
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins (or Craisins)
1 cup choc chips
1 cup chunky peanut butter
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup melted butter (not margarine)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients together. Set aside. Pour melted butter over peanut butter, corn syrup and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour this mixture over dry ingredients. Mix together and pack into a 9 x 13″ greased pan. Bake 20 minutes (no longer) at 350 degrees. Do not over bake. Allow to cool in pan completely. Cut into bars and wrap in Saran Wrap.