Saturday, July 5, 2008

Our Canada Day Picnic (...cont'd)

I know that most people are advised to not try new recipes while entertaining but I always find its the perfect opportunity to try something new and get a cross-section of feedback. So although the following tart recipe didn't look the prettiest as the filling had caved in quite dramatically after being cooled, guests seemed to really enjoy this treat. I'll have to work on getting it to retain its shape in the future :)

Rum Butter Tarts with Toasted Pecans
LCBO Spring 2007 Issue
By: Marilyn Bentz Crowley

1¼ cups (300 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
¼ cup (50 mL) cold butter
2 tbsp (25 mL) cold lard or shortening
½ tsp (2 mL) lemon juice
2 to 3 tbsp (20 to 45 mL) ice cold water

1 egg
½ cup (125 mL) brown sugar
¼ cup (50 mL) corn syrup
2 tbsp (25 mL) dark rum (I used regular white rum)
½ tsp (2 mL) pure vanilla extract
¼ cup (50 mL) melted butter
¼ cup (50 mL) coarsely chopped toasted pecans or walnuts


1. Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in butter and lard until butter pieces are about the size of small peas. Stir lemon juice into 2 tbsp (25 mL) water. Stir into flour mixture, adding up to 1 tbsp (15 mL) more water if needed to just moisten. Press together to form a ball of dough; then flatten, wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

2. Coat cups of a standard 12-cup muffin pan generously with cooking spray or lightly butter. Roll out pastry until thinner than usual for pie crust, about 1/8-inch (0.5-cm) thick. Use a 3-inch (8- cm) cookie cutter (or upturned glass) to cut into rounds. Press into cups forcing dough two-thirds to three-quarters up sides. Use scraps to fill in any breaks, low sides or thin parts. Freeze 10 minutes while making filling.

3. Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC).

4. Beat egg lightly with a fork. Gradually add brown sugar, corn syrup, rum, vanilla and melted butter. Stir until smooth. Divide ¼ cup (50 mL) nuts among homemade shells or ½ cup (125 mL) among frozen purchased shells; spoon in filling. Bake 15 minutes or until filling is bubbly and browned. Cool in pans on racks; then run a knife around edges of tarts. Remove tarts from pans. Covered tarts keep for a day or 2 at room temperature and freeze well.

Makes 12 tarts


Note: I was pressed for time, so for the pastry I purchased frozen sweetened tart shells and then proceeded directly to step 3.

Our Canada Day Picnic (...cont'd)

This recipe was passed to me by hubby's cousin Leslie and what a hit it was... It was also my first time at making any type of yummy square. So glad I tried it... Next time after baking and cooling, I'll put it in the fridge for about an hour before serving to settle the caramel into a more firmer consistency.

Chocolate Caramel Nut Bars


1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels
¼ cup caramel chip morsels
1 bag (340 g) caramels (about 43 caramels), unwrapped
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup chopped walnuts


PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Line 15x10x3/4-inch baking pan with foil. with ends of foil extending over sides of pan; set aside. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add flour; beat on low speed until mixture is well blended and crumbly. Press dough firmly into prepared pan.

BAKE 15 to 17 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with chocolate and caramel morsels ; cover with foil. Let stand 5 minutes or until chocolate is melted. Spread evenly over crust.

MICROWAVE caramels and cream in microwaveable bowl on MEDIUM 4 minutes or until caramels begin to melt. Stir until caramels are completely melted. Spread evenly over chocolate layer; sprinkle with walnuts. Cool on pan on wire rack. Remove dessert from pan, using foil handles. Cut into bars.

Makes 2 dozen squares.


Our Canada Day Picnic (...cont'd)

This has been one of my long time favorite pasta salads and I'm glad to get to share it with you...

Greek Pasta Salad

8 ounces rotini pasta
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 lemon juiced (3 tbsp lemon juice)
2 cloves large garlic crushed
2 teaspoons crushed dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 medium cucumber peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1 cup crumbled feta cheese


Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse with cold water and drain.

In a bowl combine oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper; whisk well and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine pasta, cucumber, tomatoes and olives. Mix with dressing; toss well to coat. Gently fold in feta cheese. Refrigerate until served.


Our Canada Day Picnic (...cont'd)

These were quite the hit at our picnic but next time I would bake these wings in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour… I find you have a better appreciation for the different flavours when this recipe is baked and not grilled.

Grilled Asian Chicken Wings


1/4 cup soy sauce (60ml)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (80ml)
1/2 cup honey (60ml)
1/4 cup Asian sesame oil
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (30ml)
3 tablespoons peanut oil (45ml)
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes (25ml)
Pepper to taste
2 lbs of chicken wings


In a bowl whisk together soy, lemon juice, honey, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and dried chili flakes.

Rinse the chicken wings under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the meat in a large resealable plastic bag and pour marinade overtop. Seal the bag and toss to distribute the marinade evenly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours up to 24 hours turning occasionally.

Preheat the grill to medium heat.

Remove the wings from the bag, place on a tray and discard the marinade. Pat the excess marinade off of the chicken and drizzle with oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Oil the grill. Grill 10 minutes per side or until the skin is crispy and golden brown and when pierced in the thickest part the juices will run clear. Remove from grill and tent with foil. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot or cold.


Our Canada Day Picnic

I have to tell you that I absolutely love to celebrate Canada Day surrounded by all of our friends and family but most importantly its the one day of the year that I don't have to cook...hubby mans the BBQ and I can sit back and enjoy the company of others :) Here's a look at our menu for this year's 6th Annual Canada Day Picnic. (* recipes are included below - all other items were contributed by guests)


Nachos & Dip
Chips for the kids

* Grilled Asian Chicken Wings
Filipino pork BBQ sticks
Grilled chicken breast
Grilled pork chops

* Greek pasta salad
Citrus green salad
Brazilian Bean stuffing

* Rum Butter Tarts with Toasted Pecans
* Chocolate Caramel Nut Bars
Chocolate & strawberry trifle (pictured above)
Chocolate chip cookies

Iced Tea
Juice boxes for the kids
Bottled Water
Zinfandel Wine