Chocolate Peppermint Crackle Cookies

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Earlier this month, Mary, Julie and Elizabeth gathered at the Cookbook Company Cooks with a few dozen Best of Bridge fans for an epic baking party to raise money for the Calgary Food Bank. (Huge thanks to Gail for letting us use her space, and to Calgary Co-op for donating all the ingredients we needed!) We put a pot of mulled wine on the stove and had a blast of an afternoon baking together. Among old classics and new favourites, this was a new discovery we came up with that’s sure to stay in our holiday baking repertoire.

Chocolate Peppermint Crackle Cookies

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. peppermint extract (or substitute vanilla)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

extra sugar, for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening and sugar for a few minutes, until light. Beat in the egg and peppermint extract.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir until the dough comes together.

Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll in a shallow dish of sugar to coat. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, until cracked and set around the edges, but still soft in the middle – they’ll firm up as they cool.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

chow mein cookies, no-bake cookies

Chow Mein Cookies

chow mein cookies, no-bake cookies

These no-bake cookies are a snap to make and come in handy when you need an extra treat to put into a box of holiday goodies. And they seem to be a favourite for many people — when we posted about them last week on our Facebook page, readers told us that they’ve been making these at Christmastime for years. There’s just something about the mingling of the flavours from the butterscotch and chocolate chips and the crunch of the noodles that make these little stacks of sweetness so nostalgic for so many people.

You should be able to find chow mein noodles in the Asian food aisle of most grocery stores — they typically come in a large plastic bag. Feel free to add other goodies like salted peanuts to the recipe (decreasing the amount of chow mein noodles or coconut to make sure there is enough melted chip mixture to cover everything). We kept the basic recipe here nut-free to make it safe for anyone with nut allergies.Read More

Light Coconut Christmas Cake

fruitcake 2 

‘Tis the season for holiday baking – and fruitcake is generally the first thing on our list. Sue and Julie have been baking fruitcake together every Christmas since they were teenagers – and although our traditional recipe is a dark fruitcake from the Joy of Cooking (it’s in the 1997 version – some earlier versions have a completely different recipe, which isn’t quite the same) – but this year we thought we’d give light fruitcake a chance.

We ordered some nice organic dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots), candied ginger and coconut in our Spud Box, and turned it into two loaf cakes – one for our annual Christmas party, the other to unwrap on Christmas day. We used to use a myriad of fancy pans for our fruitcakes, but sometimes they didn’t survive re-entry – loaf pans make it easy. (If they do crumble, turn the pieces of broken cake into a base for a rich, festive trifle, topped with custard and cream. No one will notice!Read More

Chicken & Barley Soup with Greens

chicken soup

As the weather turns chilly, cold season is creeping up -it seems everyone is coming down with something, or has a cough or a case of the sniffles. Chicken soup is a generations-old remedy used around the world to fight colds and flus and generally make those who are under the weather feel better – and taken care of. Making a pot of soup from scratch is not difficult – a good thing if you’re the one who’s coming down with something.

When we do roast chicken for dinner (even one from the deli), we like to leave some meat on the bones for a meaty stock that’s easily turned into a hearty soup; and around the holidays, there’s almost always chopped roasted turkey in the freezer to add to soups like this one.

This is a slightly heartier version of a classic chicken noodle soup; using barley instead of noodles boosts fibre and other nutrients, but you could swap regular egg noodles too. They’ll take less time to cook – about ten minutes. The addition of greens makes it even more nutrient-dense and rich in vitamin C – a good thing when you’re trying to beat the sniffles.

Chicken & Barley Soup with Greens

canola oil, for cooking
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3-4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, chopped, or 1-2 cups leftover roast chicken, chopped
1 L chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup pearl or pot barley
1 sprig thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
a handful of fresh or frozen baby spinach or torn kale

In a large saucepan or small Dutch oven, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, carrot and celery for a few minutes, until soft; add the chicken and cook for a few minutes, until it turns opaque.

Add the stock, barley, thyme and 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer; cook for 30 minutes, or until the barley is tender. Remove the sprig of thyme, season with salt and pepper as needed, and add a handful of baby spinach or torn kale to the pot and stir until it wilts. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

Pork Tenderloin with Honey-Glazed Apples

Pork Tenderloin with Honey-Glazed Apples
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Ingredients
  1. Marinade
  2. 1⁄3 cup apple juice 75 mL
  3. 1⁄4 cup liquid honey 60 mL
  4. 2 tbsp soy sauce 30 mL
  5. 2 tbsp vegetable oil 30 mL
  6. 1 tsp Dijon mustard 5 mL
  7. 4 green onions, chopped 4
  8. 2 cloves garlic, minced 2
  9. 1 tbsp grated gingerroot 15 mL
  10. 2 lbs pork tenderloin 1 kg
  11. Glazed Apples
  12. 1 tbsp butter 15 mL
  13. 1 tbsp liquid honey 15 mL
  14. 1 tbsp lemon juice 15 mL
  15. 2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced 2
Instructions
  1. Put marinade ingredients into a large sealable plastic bag and mix. Add pork. Seal and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours. Remove pork and place in shallow dish. Pour marinade over.
  2. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 40 to 50 minutes. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.
  3. To glaze apples: In frying pan, heat butter, honey and lemon juice together. Add apples and toss to coat. Cook 2 to 3 minutes. Slice pork and spoon glazed apples over top. Enjoy!
  4. Serves 4.
The Best of Bridge https://www.bestofbridge.com/

Easy Bacon Corn Risotto

Easy Bacon Corn Risotto
Comforting, creamy risotto doesn't have to tie you to the stove. We found a way to nix all that time-consuming stirring and still get fabulous results. This dish is superb served under pan-seared fish, such as cod or halibut, or with roasted chicken
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Ingredients
  1. 5 to reduced-sodium chicken broth 1.25 to
  2. 51⁄2 cups or Homemade Vegetable Stock 1.375 L
  3. (see recipe, page 90)
  4. 6 slices bacon, chopped 6
  5. 1 tbsp butter 15 mL
  6. 1 onion, finely chopped 1
  7. 11⁄2 cups fresh or thawed 375 mL
  8. frozen corn kernels
  9. 2 cloves garlic, minced 2
  10. 2 cups short-grain white rice, such as 500 mL
  11. Arborio (see tip, opposite)
  12. Salt and freshly ground
  13. black pepper
  14. 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved 500 mL
  15. 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 250 mL
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil; reduce heat and let simmer. Meanwhile, in another large saucepan, sauté bacon over medium-high heat until lightly browned but not crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Drain off fat and wipe out pan with paper towels.
  2. Add butter to the pan and melt over medium heat. Sauté onion and corn for 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and sauté for 15 seconds or until fragrant. Add rice and stir to coat. Return bacon to pan and add 4 cups (1 L) of the broth, 1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) salt and 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) pepper. (Remove the remaining broth from the heat.) Bring rice mixture to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover, stir thoroughly, then stir in tomatoes. If liquid is mostly absorbed, add another 1 cup (250 mL) broth.
  3. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed and rice is still slightly firm to the bite. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan and enough of the remaining broth to make it creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes or until rice is tender.
  4. Serves 6 to 8.
Notes
  1. Tip: If you use a salt-free stock or broth, you may want to add more salt. Salt is, in any recipe, a matter of personal preference, so feel free to increase or reduce the quantities we suggest. Before adding more salt at the end of the cooking time, be sure to taste the dish first, as the bacon and Parmesan contribute quite a lot of salt.
  2. Tip: Short-grain rice is essential to a smooth and creamy risotto. You won't get the same velvety finish if you try to make risotto with long-grain rice, such as basmati, converted or jasmine. Short-grain rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli, is sometimes labeled "risotto rice."
The Best of Bridge https://www.bestofbridge.com/