Category Archives: Recipes

Homemade Caramel Corn!

 

I’ve had a rough day football wise – got destroyed in fantasy, lost all my point spread tickets, Seattle barely scraped out a win against the 49ers … it’s been a tough day in the Barker-Prins house.

So, to cheer myself up I’ve been thinking of things that I love and this homemade caramel corn is right at the top of that list! I got this recipe from my Aunt Val one year at Christmas. In our family, everyone has food and snacks they always bring to family Christmas and this corn is now on that list. Keep reading for the super easy recipe. It can cheer up even the most dreadful football days.

What you need:

2 cups of packed brown sugar
1 cup of butter or margarine
1/2 cup of corn syrup
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
30 cups of air popped corn (1 1/2 cups of un-popped kernels)
9 tablespoons of vegetable oil (if you’re popping your corn on the stove)
Plus: 3 or 4 large bowls, baking sheets, and tin foil

What you do:

  1. I pop my popcorn on the stove, although I’m sure an air popper is much easier. If you use an air popper, skip to step 4!  To do this, put 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot with a lid. With the lid slightly ajar to let steam out, add in 3 corn kernels and once they start popping, you know your oil is warm.
  2. From here, add 1/2 a cup of corn kernels, and with the lid ajar, swirl the pot on the stove to keep the kernels from burning and let it pop for about 25-30 seconds or until the popping stops. Remove from the stove and let it sit for a minute or so and wait for the last few kernels to pop. Measure out into a large bowl – you should have 10 cups.
  3. Repeat steps one and two twice more or until you have 30 cups of popped corn. Usually only takes me 3 times in total to get the right amount. Also, I know 30 cups of popped corn sounds like a lot but it’s really not!
  4. In a pot on the stove, turn to medium heat and mix the first four ingredients together (brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt) and heat until it all boils.
  5. Now add your baking soda and vanilla. Mix well. It should become foamy and light brown in colour.
  6. Evenly pour the caramel over the popcorn (I usually separate my popcorn into four bowls to make mixing easier). Mix so all the popcorn is covered.
  7. Pour your caramel corn onto a baking sheets lined with tin foil to avoid it from sticking.

*Tip: I use four baking sheets so the popcorn isn’t piled high. My stove is small so I can only bake two sheets at once making it a longer process, but the final result is better.

  1. Bake at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Stirring is very important or the caramel will settle at the bottom of the tray, the popcorn will stick together, and it will come out sticky.

Store in an airtight container (if it’s not devoured straight out of the oven!)

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The Worlds Best Ribs Recipe

I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I can’t. This came from Man Fuel Food Blog after a long and tiresome search for the best rib recipe ever. I’ve tried a lot of different recipes but none fit what I wanted – juicy, flavorful, fall-off-the-bone ribs. Most I tried were too dry or didn’t have enough flavor. I tried this recipe two years ago and couldn’t believe how amazing it was. To this day, J says they are “the best ribs I’ve ever eaten. Ever”. Honestly, I want to enter these in a rib fest competition – I’m positive they would win. Okay, my mouth is watering now and I’m dreaming of ribs.

What you need:

1 full rack of bone-in baby back ribs
2 tbsp of onion powder
2 tbsp of garlic powder
4 tbsp of brown sugar
2 tbsp of oil
1 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of chili powder
2 tsp of smoked paprika
¼ tsp of black pepper
Your favorite BBQ sauce

What you do:

1. Start by cutting your ribs in half – it’s easier to rub them down and cook them later. Plus, the meat falls off the bones so it’s hard to divide post-oven.


2. This is optional – removing the silverskin on the bottom of the ribs. It’s connective tissue on the underside of the ribs and if you remove it, the ribs turn out a bit better. However, I’ve never done this on mine and they’re always perfect.

3. In a separate both you’ll make the dry rub – combine onion powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and chili powder.

4. Add the oil to the dry rub and mix really well with a spoon.

5. Apply the rub all over the top and bottom of the ribs.

6. Put the ribs in a large Ziploc bag and let them marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. You can marinate them overnight, just make sure they’re room temperature before they cook

7. Now preheat your oven to 250-260°F

8. Wrap each set of ribs in a piece of tinfoil, creating a pouch and sealing off all sides (this traps the flavor and steam in, making them juicy and delicious.

9. Put them on a baking sheet and cook them on the middle rack for 4 hours.

10. After 4 hours, take them out of the oven and carefully drain the liquid from the pouch (I do this by cutting a corner in the foil, tipping the pouch and letting it pour out.

11. Once the liquid is gone, open up the foil package and let the ribs breathe. They’ll look a bit dry or funny, but don’t worry – that’s supposed to happen.

12. Put your sauce on them and then throw them under the broiler for 3-4 minutes – watch them closely though because they could quickly become burned or overdone

These ribs are best eaten by two people – since they’re already cut into two parts and dividing them is near impossible with the meat literally sliding off the bones onto your plate. I love to serve them with garlic mashed potatoes and even use the drippings from the pouch to make a gravy or sauce.

Quick Dinner – Szechuan Chicken

I’m going to let you in on a secret … If I’m going to be totally honest, I don’t really know what defines chicken as being ‘Szechuan’. To my understanding, it’s the sauce – but I’m no chef, nor do I pretend to be an expert! However, you don’t have to be to make this dish. It’s super easy and is my go-to for a quick meal after the gym. It’s savory and spicy, filling but not heavy, and full of great crunch and texture.

What you need:

2 chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
Rice noodles
½ cup of Szechuan sauce
2-3 tbsp of smooth peanut butter
Handful of sugar snap peas
Handful of bean sprouts

What you do:

1. Cook the chicken on medium high heat in a pan with a little bit of oil (about a ½ tbsp – I find if you use too much it splatters everywhere)

2. Once the chicken is cooked, turn down to a low heat and add the Szechuan sauce and stir until the chicken is covered

3. Once the chicken is covered in sauce, add in the peanut butter and simmer on low while you cook your rice noodles

4. Just before you serve it, crank the heat up to high and let the bottom of the chicken get a bit crispy (the sugar in the peanut butter and sauce makes this happen).

5. Throw on the sugar snap peas and bean sprouts and serve over the rice noodles – I like throwing them on just before I eat so they’re crunchy and cold

A few modifications to note: you can serve it over regular rice, I just prefer it with rice noodles. You can also add more sauce + peanut butter, depending on how spicy you like it (the more peanut butter, the less spicy it is)

This honestly takes 15 minutes to cook and is super easy – enjoy, friends!

 

Sunday Ragu

Every morning we watch CP24 while we’re getting ready for work. The other day the host was talking about a study that was done that says women in particular (scoff) should avoid eating pasta (double scoff). I laughed and told J there’s no way I’d ever give up pasta. Italian food has always had a special place in my heart and pasta has always been a staple in my diet (which, I know, is likely not always a good thing). Luckily, I’m not the only one feeling the carb love. This recipe comes courtesy of Sarah Colburn, over at Buona Sarah, who describes herself as a ‘health nut, with Italian roots’ – if she gives the ok on pasta, then its fine by me! This ragu, while a bit time consuming, is so easy to make, perfect for Sunday dinner (then leftovers on Monday, Tuesday, and maybe even Wednesday) and full of so much delicious, rich flavor. I will put a warning: this is not saucy, nor is it meant to be. J is a big fan of dousing his pasta in rich sauces so he was a bit skeptical at first, but trust me – this is what pasta should really be paired with.

What you need:

1 celery stalk
1 carrot
1 medium onion
¼ slab of pancetta
1 lb of veal
1 lb of pork
1 cup of milk
½ can tomato paste
Parmigiano rind
½ – 1 cup of white wine

What you do:

1. Finely chop the celery, onion, and carrot and sauté in olive oil for 15 minutes but do not brown

2. Brown meat for a few minutes (I don’t have pots big enough so I have to brown it separately, but you can totally do this in one big pot)

3. Add the milk, white wine, tomato paste, and Parmigiano rind and simmer for 1 ½ hours

4. Serve with noodles of your choice (I love mine with fresh flat pasta, like a fettuccine or linguini)

 

The Best Wings You’ve Ever Eaten

Guys – stop everything you’re doing, cancel your existing dinner plans and make these wings! These are, without a doubt, the best homemade wings you’ll ever eat. They’re crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and full of flavor and super easy to eat. I first had these cooked by my best girl, Ash, and she was amazing enough to share her recipe (thanks, girl). Since then, we’ve made these multiple times and are a staple during football season. Bonus – there are only 51 days left until NFL starts, so you have two months to perfect your sauces.

What you need:

4 lbs of wings (pre-chopped or you can do this yourself)
2 tbsp of baking powder
¾ tsp of salt
½ cup of butter
½ cup of Franks Red Hot sauce

What you do:

1. Put the wings in a Ziploc bag or a big bowl and toss with the baking powder and salt

2. Put them on a rack that’s safe for the oven (I use a cookie cooling rack but you can also get tinfoil roasting racks from the store that you can just toss away afterward) and then put that rack on top of a baking sheet (to catch the drippings). It’s okay if the wings touch because they’ll shrink down

3. Bake at 250°F for 30 minutes on the lower middle rack

4. Move them to the upper middle rack, increase the heat to 425°F, and bake for another 40-50 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through

5. Once they’re done, let them sit for 5 minutes before tossing and eating!

6. To make the sauce, mix equal parts of melted butter and hot sauce (I use ½ a cup of each but increase or decrease based on how saucy you like your wings)

And lastly, poll: are you a wing or a drumstick lover? Luckily J and I prefer opposites, so there’s minimal fighting and never any leftovers with these bad boys. Hope you enjoy!

You Don’t Make Friends With Salad …

… but you can make friends with Broccoli and Cheddar soup. I recently made this soup and it was described to me as “the most creamy and delicious” and “the best broccoli soup I’ve ever had” (and no, you skeptics, it wasn’t my boyfriend raving compliments!!). Therefore, I thought it would only be right for me to share it with you. It originally came from Yammie’s Noshery but I’ve made a few minor adaptations.

Pro Tip: Serve with fresh french bread covered in butter – perfect for dipping!

Ingredients:

1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup)
1/2 of a medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
2 cups of half and half (or you can substitute 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of heavy cream)
3 cups of chicken stock
1/4 cup of corn starch
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
2 bay leaves
4 cups of broccoli florets cut into bite size pieces (one head)
2 1/2 – 3 cups of grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Mince the garlic and chop the onions into small pieces (think about how big of a chunk of onion you’d want to eat in your soup – if you’re about that big chunk life, go for it – no judgement here) and cook over medium heat with the butter in a large soup pot. Keep cooking until the onions are tender.

Once the onions are soft, slowly add the half and half and chicken stock.

Separately, mix this corn starch with a bit of water until their are no clumps and add it to the rest of the soup. Add in your nutmeg and bay leaves and cook on medium low until it’s thick and creamy (if you find it’s not thickening to your liking, mix a bit more corn starch with water and add it in – just add it in small amounts because it can thicken quickly).

Add the broccoli and simmer until tender (about 10 minutes). Take out the bay leaves then add the cheese and stir until melted. I said about 2 1/2 – 3 cups because i like it super cheesy but to each their own, ya know? 

Season with salt and pepper and serve!

This soup also reheats well the next day for lunch.

Enjoy, lovelies!

Risotto 101

I’ve always wanted to cook risotto but it was always so daunting. It seemed so complicated and challenging and I was worried it wouldn’t turn out well. So, one day my friend Vic walked me through how to make simple risotto using this recipe by Giada deLaurentis. I won’t brag but every single time I make this, I get raving compliments about how good it is (plus, bonus – it’s so easy to do). Also ladies, if you make this for your significant other it’s a guaranteed hit. They do say the way to a mans heart is his stomach, yes?

(Update: I cook this about once a week for J because he’s always asking for it – his absolute favourite dish! So trust, it’s a winner)

Anyways, here we go! Simple risotto that always turns out delicious.

What you need:

4-6 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of butter
¾ cups of finely chopped onion
1 ½ cups of Arborio rice
½ cup of dry white wine
½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ cup of freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Cover it and keep it hot over low heat. It’s important that the broth is hot or it’ll make it almost impossible to get soft risotto (adding cold broth every time will bring down the temperature of the risotto)
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and sauté with the onions until the onions are soft but not brown.
  3. Add the rice to the butter and onion and coat completely with butter.
  4. On medium heat, add the wine and simmer until the wine is almost completely evaporated.
  5. Add ½ cup of simmering broth to the rice and stir until it’s almost all absorbed (usually about 2-3 minutes).
  6. Continue cooking the rice, adding ½ cup of broth at a time, stirring constantly, and allowing the broth to absorb into the rice each time.
  7. Depending on the size of your pan and heat, you may need more than 4 cups of broth to make sure the risotto is cooked all the way through. The original recipe calls for only 4 cups but I find I need to use almost 6 to get the rice soft enough. This whole process will take about 20-25 minutes.
  8. Once it’s cooked, remove the pan from the heat and mix in the Parmesan cheese, remaining butter, salt and pepper.

There are a lot of different variations of risotto in terms of what you can add into it. I like to add asparagus to mine. To do this, I just cut asparagus into bite size pieces, boil, and toss in at the end.

I’ve learned that risotto takes time and patience but is well worth the wait and work. Enjoy!