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No-Bake Nutella Cheesecake

Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Nutella cheesecake couldn’t be simpler or yummier! I actually messed it up a little and it still worked out. I put in half the amount of powdered sugar but it’s still sweet so I think I’ll do it on purpose next time! I didn’t bother with the crust or the hazelnuts on top and made a kind of mousse type thingy with it, as the filling is always the best part of the cheesecake, and it cuts down on carbs and fat a little (at least that’s what I tell myself). lol The only thing it’s missing is some fresh whipped cream. Definite keeper.


Nutella Cheesecake (no bake)

250 grams (10oz) digestive biscuits
75 grams (5 Tbsp) soft unsalted butter
1 x 400 grams (13 oz) jar nutella (at room temperature)
100 grams (3/4 cup) chopped toasted hazelnuts
500 grams (1 lb or 2 pks) cream cheese (at room temperature)
60 grams (1/2 cup) icing sugar (sifted)


Break the digestives into the bowl of a processor, add the butter and a 15ml tablespoon of Nutella, and blitz until it starts to clump. Add 25g/3 tablespoons of the hazelnuts and continue to pulse until you have a damp, sandy mixture.
Tip into a 23cm/9inch round springform and press into the base either using your hands or the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge to chill.

Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and then add the remaining Nutella to the cream cheese mixture, and continue beating until combined.

Take the springform out of the fridge and carefully smooth the Nutella mixture over the base. Scatter the remaining chopped hazelnuts on top to cover and place the tin in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight. Serve straight from the fridge for best results.

Additional information – for vegetarians make sure the cream cheese does not contain rennet.

All about BUTTER!


Why are there so many different ways of measuring butter? Why can’t everything simply be in one measurement because I use a measuring cup to measure pretty much everything – except butter. I use the handy little guide on the side that using a cup as the unit of measure. On my conversion page I have a guide to butter which I’ve used a few times, until I pretty much remember what the conversions are now.

  • Here’s the general conversion for butter: 1 stick = 1/2 cup = 4 oz = 1/4 pound = 8 Tablespoons = 113.5 grams
  • And can you store it on the counter top? For how long?  Yes you can. There has been some debate about just how long you can leave it there. But as a general rule, according to you can leave it out for 1-2 days before it goes bad.
  • What’s the best way to soften or thaw butter? This site has a number of tips including shredding frozen butter –  You can use the shredded butter in this great biscuit recipe by Chef Michael Smith – Chive Biscuits
  • And what in the heck is browned butter, or clarified butter? How do you make that? For those answers I headed to YouTube because I’m a visual learner and I want to see exactly how it’s done. I found these two helpful videos:
  • How to clarify butter, by Martha Stewart Kitchen Cunundrums
  • How to brown butter, by America’s Test Kitchen
  • Want to know which butters taste best on bread? The Kitchn did a taste test of American brands: Butter Taste Test
  • Which is better for you, butter or margarine? Margarine has been given a makeover in the past few years and the debate is still ongoing. Here’s a great article from the Globe And Mail – Butter vs. Margarine
  • Can I make my own butter? Definitely. Here’s my post from last year describing how to make butter in a stand mixer: Homemade Butter

I hope this is useful to you :)

Pork Tenderloin with Maple Pan Juices

Well you’ve probably heard me say this more than once, but I am trying even harder to eat better, not just for my weight but for my health. I have to get my blood work done again soon and I realized I kind of fell of the healthy cooking bandwagon again so I have to get back on with hopes of making a difference in my cholesterol numbers. I’ve been checking labels and recipes for saturated fat and sodium levels, and dipping into my Cooking Light Magazine recipe stash. I found this dish in the “Cooking Light Complete Cookbook”. It’s huge and has hundreds of recipes which I really need to tap into more often.We only marinaded it for 30 minutes and it still turned out great. In another review someone mentioned they had a hard time getting the sauce to thicken and so did I, so I took their recommendation and added a tsp or so of cornstarch which did the trick. Despite the hiccup, this one is a definite keeper. Sweet, savory, and so satisfying!

On the side was a recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine for Mustard and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes. I cut the Dijon in half and the potatoes were still crisp and flavourful. They also cooked a lot faster than 50 minutes – more like 40. Highly recommend them!



Pork Tenderloin with Maple Pan Juices

1/3 cup diced onion
1/4 cup fresh orange juice, divided
1/4 cup maple syrup, divided
2 tablespoons sake (rice wine) – I used white wine because that’s what I had on hand
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
Cooking spray
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

Combine onion, 2 tablespoons juice, 2 tablespoons syrup, sake, soy sauce, pepper and garlic in a large zip-top plasitc bag. Trim fat from pork. Add pork to bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a 9-inch heavy ovenproof skillet coated with a little cooking spray over medium-high heat. (I used a cast iron skillet because I think they work the best when browning and roasting meats, and I did use a little olive oil instead of the cooking spray, which I know added a some fat). Remove pork from bag, reserving marinade. Add pork to pan; cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Place pan in oven; bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees (slightly pink). Remove pork from pan. Set aside, and keep warm.

Combine 2 tablespoons juice, 2 tablespoons syrup, reserved marinade, and broth in a small bowl. Add syrup mixture to pan, and place over medium-high heat, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thick. (I could not get it to thicken; so, mixed a little cornstarch with cold water, and added to the mixture to thicken.) Serve sauce with pork. Yields 4 servings.

Serving size: 3 ounces pork and 2 tablespoons of sauce. Per serving: calories 204 (13% from fat); fat 3 g (sat 1g, mono 1.3g, poly 0.4g); protein 24.4g; carb 16.9g; fiber 0.3g; chol 74 mg; iron 1.8mg; sodium 293mg; calc 29mg. These stats are without any of my changes to the recipe.

Mustard and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

These potatoes start out looking very wet, but the mixture cooks down to leave the potatoes crisp, crusty, and tangy.

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs. dry vermouth or other dry white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lb. red-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch dice

Heat the oven to 400°F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil, vermouth, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Dump the potatoes onto a large rimmed baking sheet and spread them in a single layer. Roast, tossing with a spatula a few times, until the potatoes are crusty on the outside and tender throughout, 50 to 55 minutes. Serve hot.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on six servings; Calories (kcal): 220; Fat (g): fat g 11; Fat Calories (kcal): 100; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 1; Protein (g): protein g 4; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 30; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 730; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 0; Fiber (g): fiber g 3;

Copycat Restaurant Burgers and Poutine

My friend Steve and I went to the Big Rig Brewery back in May and I had the Killer Bee Burger (with onion rings and honey bbq sauce), then last month we went to the Bier Markt on Sparks Street and we had the Candied Bacon Poutine. (For our international friends, poutine is french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy). For this long weekend I wanted to make something special for Canadian Labour Day so I decided to try recreating these dishes.

It was the first time I fired up the grill I found at Loblaws – one sale for $10! The recipes in the Weber cookbooks are great but the guides to setting up a bbq are not as detailed. I could not find how to tell if your BBQ is at the correct temperature. For that I flipped through my trusty old Betty Crocker Big Red Book. It tells you how to set up a pyramid style charcoal grill or the chimney starter method and it gives guidelines for when the coals are ready. (These methods can also be easily found online but I like having my cookbook right there when I need it.) Once your coals are coated in a light grey ash, hold your hand over the grill and count how many seconds you can hold it there.

2 seconds = high heat         3 seconds = medium-high heat       4 seconds = medium heat       5 seconds = low heat

To grill 1/4 lb burgers, cook over medium heat for about 5-6 minutes on each side, until the internal temperature reaches at least 160F degrees.

To assemble the Killer Bee burger, use your favourite burger recipe, then add applewood cheddar, bacon, beer battered onion rings, and honey-bbq sauce. I used old cheddar and regular onion rings instead. For the honey-bbq sauce I was inspired by this recipe from The Kitchen Whisperer so I added 1 part honey to 2 parts of my favourite Kansas City BBQ Sauce and simmered for 5 minutes. It was awesome!

For basic poutine, deep-fry your favourite straight cut fries as usual, then top with fresh, white cheddar cheese curds and top with gravy.  For the candied bacon poutine, in addition to the cheese and gravy, add chopped candied bacon, a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream, and sprinkle with chopped green onion. The Bier Markt used gravy made with pan juices but I decided to try making classic poutine gravy. It ended up way too thick and I kept adding water to try to get the right consistency. I think next time I will reduce the cornstarch and water mixture to teaspoons instead of tablespoons. Maybe it’s because I used oxo instead of broth? I did halve the recipe because it was just two of us and 4 cups of gravy would have been a bit much! The taste was authentic diner gravy though. All and all the whole meal was soul satisfying my friends!




Cayenne-Candied Bacon


2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound thinly sliced bacon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil, and position broiler rack on top of pan. Lightly coat the rack with the vegetable oil.

Combine the brown sugar and cayenne in a shallow dish, stirring to mix well. Press 1 side of each slice of bacon firmly into the spiced sugar to coat well. Arrange the slices of bacon on top of the broiler rack in a single layer, sugared-side up. If there is any sugar remaining in the dish, sprinkle it on top of the bacon slices evenly. Bake until the bacon is crisp and the sugar is bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly, then to a plate or serving dish to cool. (Can be made several hours ahead) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, 2002

Ricardo’s Poutine Gravy


1 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cans 10 oz (284 ml) beef broth, undiluted (or 2 prepared oxo packets)

1/2 can 10 ounces (284 ml) chicken broth, undiluted ( or 1 prepared oxo packet)

Pepper to taste


In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Set aside.
In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring until the mixture turns golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
Add the broth and bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Stir in the cornstarch and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with pepper. Makes about 2 cups.


Grilled Chicken Soft Tacos

Just in time for the long weekend! I’m on such a Mexican food kick this summer. A couple of weeks ago I made beef fajitas from my $3 Weber’s grilling cookbook and this week I tried a chicken taco. Man it did not disappoint! I’m loving these little cookbooks more and more. I didn’t bother making the slaw or sauce so I cannot review that portion of the recipe but the marinade was great. It’s not too spicy at all and adds just enough flavour to make things interesting.

My version of the tacos are a combination of the Weber marinade and a quick recipe/suggestion from Cooking Light. Instead of rotisserie chicken I marinaded and grilled chicken thighs, grilled the onions and added a splash of vinegar, then topped the tacos with corn, salsa, and a little mozzarella cheese. My picky 4 year old actually loved it! I am beyond amazed! She would only eat the components seperately, but normally if she smells any kind of seasoning or sauce she turns her nose up at it and there’s no way she’s going to eat it. This time she said “Yum!” It’s a miracle! Weber needs to put me in a commercial or something. LOL!


Grilled Chicken Tacos with Cilantro-lime Slaw

Ingredients for Marinade

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Ingredients for the Slaw

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

6 cups finely shredded green cabbage

1/2 cut thinly sliced green onions (white and light green parts only)

1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon minced jalapeno

1 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp kosher salt

Ingredients for Chipotle Sour Cream

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp finally chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo

Kosher salt, to taste

For assembling the tacos

8 soft taco-size flour tortillas (I used 6″ corn tortillas)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or about 1.5lbs (680g) of boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 cup of tomato salsa


To make Marinade: In a small glass or stainless steel bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken to the bowl and turn to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. (We marinaded our chicken thighs for 30 minutes).

To make the salsa: In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, whisk the oil, lime juice, and salt. Add the remaining slaw ingredients and mix well.

To make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream and chile. Season with salt and more chile, if desired. Refrigerate the slaw and sauce until ready to serve.

To grill chicken: Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350F – 450F) Brush the cooking grates clean. Remove the chicken from the bowl and and discard the marinade. Grill the chicken,smooth (skin) side down first, over direct medium heat, with the lid closed s much as possible, until the meat is firm to the touch and opaque all the way to the centre,  8 to 12 minutes, turning once or twice. During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, heat tortillas according to package instructions, or heat in 2 foil packets over direct medium heat, turning once. Remove the chicken and tortillas from the grill and let the chicken rest for 3-5 minutes. Cut the chicken crosswise into thin slices.

To assemble the tacos: Divide the chicken slices evenly among the tortillas. Top with the slaw, some salsa, and a dollop of sauce. Fold in half and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

Low-fat Chocolate Icing + Homemade Icing Sugar

As I mentioned in my previous post, I made an awesome chocolate zucchini cake. Unfortunately, I ran out of icing sugar so I tried a homemade version in this recipe for low-fat chocolate icing. I don’t think I was able to grind my sugar enough using my blender. I’ve had it for a few years so maybe I need to sharpen the blades or something. I used the first recipe I came across but I should have known better. America’s Test Kitchen has  video on YouTube which used this formula – 1 cup of white sugar to 1 tsp cornstarch and after grinding, strain through a sieve. I’ve included this recipe below. Texture wise, in the sugar I made you could feel a few of the larger sugar granules. You can see the graininess in the cake pic. :( Taste wise, the resulting chocolate icing was pretty decent. A little sweet but a nice compliment to the not too sweet cake. I would definitely make it again, using store bought icing sugar!
Low fat chocolate icing

Low-fat Chocolate Icing

Yield: 2 cups
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 7 tablespoons one-percent milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Combine the powdered sugar and cocoa together in the food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the milk, butter, melted chocolate, and vanilla, and process until smooth.

homemade icing sugar

Homemade Icing Sugar

(powdered sugar/confectioners sugar)

1 cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp of cornstarch
Grind in a blender or spice grinder until it is transformed into a fine powder, at least one minute. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any larger sugar granules. Measure and use as needed.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Again I find proof it’s a good idea to stick to tried and true classics like this Chocolate Zucchini Cake from King Arthur Flour. I had tried making pumpkin zucchini cupcakes from a fitness magazine a while back and it was so labour intensive I didn’t bother making it again. This one is super simple and I don’t feel guilty at all about eating it. The taste is absolutely phenomenal! Super moist, chocolaty, but not too sweet – just right. You cannot taste the zucchini at all but you can see a few flecks on the top so if you want to hide the veggie evidence, definitely add icing. My 4 year old is still quite a picky eater so I’m looking for creative ways to get her to eat a greater variety of vegetables and this helps. (It helps me too as I’m not the biggest fan either) *blush* I will definitely make this at least once every zucchini season. It’s great on it’s own but instead of melted chocolate chips I made a low-fat icing from America’s Test Kitchen and it was quite good, despite my not so successful attempt at making my own icing sugar. More about that in the next post.

chocolate zucchini cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

 Prep time:  15 mins Cook time:  35 mins Total time:  50 mins Yield: One 13 x 9 cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour.
According to some readers, this cake is amazing with Gluten Free flour too!
  • ½ cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter
  • ½ cup (3½ ounces) vegetable oil (or unsweetened apple sauce)
  • 1⅔ cups (12 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2½ cups (10½ ounces) AP Flour
  • ¾ cup (2¼ ounce) Dutch-process cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional, but it enhances the flavor of the chocolate
  • 2½ to 3 cups shredded zucchini (about one 10-inch zucchini – 12 ounces. NO need to drain the liquid from the zucchini as it adds moisture to the cake)
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips
Chocolate Ganache Topping
  • 6 oz heavy cream
  • 9 oz chopped chocolate (semi-sweet or milk)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly coat a 9 x 13 pan with baking spray
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until each is incorporated.
  3. Stir in the sour cream or yogurt alternately with the flour, starting and ending with the flour. Stir in the cocoa and espresso powder, mixing until smooth. Finally, fold in the zucchini and 1 cup of chocolate chips.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake for 35 – 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack.
  5. To prepare the ganache topping, heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Wait 3-5 minutes then stir to combine. It may take a few minutes of stirring for the ganache to come together… but it will. It will thicken as it cools… when warm (but not hot) pour over cake and smooth with offset spatula. Allow frosting to set for about 30 minutes before serving… or not.

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