Red Wine Braised Beef Ribs

Claudia's Cookbook - Red Wine Braised Short Ribs 21I may have a food blog, but I am definitely not the best cook in my house. If you haven’t already noticed, I am more of a baker. I love to bake! Cooking? Not so much. Part of the reason why I find cooking a little frustrating is because I am one who likes to follow a recipe. Precise measurements and ingredient lists are something I can get behind. I have learned that the best chefs are the ones that can take any ingredients you have in your house and come up with an amazing dish. They love to improvise because they understand the elements of cooking and flavour profiles. I am not so smart in this department. My fiancé, on the other hand, is a genius! He is truly at home when he is food experimenting in the kitchen.

One evening a few months ago, this delectable rib dish greeting me when I came home from a long business trip. The house smelled absolutely amazing when I walked in. A rich, savoury warmth that lingered for a day after we dined on this meal. The meat was beyond tender. It literally slid off the bone. I was in shock – this recipe is so easy! Surely this had to be a joke? Lucky me (and you), it’s not!  I guarantee you will love this recipe. Even though I am not a huge meat eater, I still can’t stop thinking about these ribs.

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The Best Mac and Cheese

Claudia's Cookbook - Mac and Cheese 21A couple years ago I was on the hunt for a really great mac and cheese recipe. The first thing I did was do what most people do, search Google. It brought up a lot of recipes that touted “the best mac and cheese recipe ever” title. I didn’t know where to begin. All of them looked great and I couldn’t narrow the search results down far enough to the point where I wouldn’t be making and eating mac and cheese for weeks. I then surveyed my former coworkers. That’s where I was introduced to this beauty of a dish. After scanning the ingredients and seeing that it used 3 different cheese, crunchy panko breadcrumbs and penne pasta (my absolute fav!), I knew this would be a serious contender. My former coworker was right – this is by far the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. I’ve made it three or four times since discovering, and it’s a big crowd pleaser. I’m confident you will feel the same way.

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Bacon Chocolate Hearts

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Whether you celebrate this Hallmark holiday or not, there really is no escaping the bombardment of hearts, flowers and cut-outs of baby cupids everywhere. There is a lot of pressure to be pretty darn romantic on February 14. In my humble opinion, the guys have it easy. Buy a teddy bear, a flower or two and some chocolate and he becomes Prince Charming. But what do you do when your partner isn’t into fluffy stuffed animals, ‘feminine” flowers and dark chocolate? You give them bacon. Yes, Bacon. Seriously..hear me out!

Everyone knows the key to a man’s heart is bacon. Plain and simple. And if you are celebrating Valentine’s Day, chances are you are in a relationship of some sort and know the key to any success in the partnership is compromise.  What better way to win over your man’s heart (and become queen of castle I might add) than to combine any girl’s best friend – chocolate, with your man’s favourite food – bacon. Boom! It’s a match made in Valentine’s Day heaven.

This recipe is adapted from the funky Nadia G of Bitchin Kitchen. These delights are deliciously rich with a hint of salty maple flavour. It is a perfect pairing. Not to mention super cute and easy.

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Butternut Squash Apple Bacon Soup

I love soup. Especially in autumn. When I was given fresh garden butternut squash and leeks this Thanksgiving weekend, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them. I searched for inspiration on the perfect butternut squash soup. I combined my favourite elements from three recipes online and ended up creating this recipe. It’s savoury with a little hint of sweet from the cinnamon and nutmeg. Perfect flavours of autumn.

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Broccoli Salad

I am not a vegetable person. I never have been. I probably never will be. Any time while growing up when I would complain to Claudia that I was hungry, her immediate response was “have a carrot”, or “have a cucumber”. This infuriated me, as I clearly wanted a cookie…or cookie dough (see image top right of the blog). I would react by pouting. I did a lot this as a child. Broccoli and cauliflower were my two veggie enemies. I despised them. Even to this day, I am not a part of their fan club. However, if integrated correctly, such as cauliflower in  Claudia’s Curryflower Soup, or broccoli in this Broccoli Salad recipe, I could eat veggies all day.

This dish is the ultimate summer salad. I’ve already had this salad about 5 times in the past 2 months, and it isn’t even summer yet. Perfect for potlucks, BBQ’s and even lunch. There are many variations to Broccoli Salad. I find this one of Claudia’s is by far my favourite.

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Cabbage Rolls

You don’t get any more Ukrainian than Cabbage Rolls. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was fed these as my first experience with “real food” as a baby. Not one special dinner has gone by in our family without cabbage rolls being served. There are many variations. But I can tell you now that nobody’s cabbage rolls compare to the ones that Claudia makes. They are simple the best. Not too tomato soupy, not too cabbagey. They are perfect little delights. However, I learned in this blog process that I apparently haven’t inherited the Ukrainian cabbage rolling gene, as I found the process extremely frustrating. My 1/4 Slovakian genes took over my hands and rendered me incapable of “tucking and rolling” the rice and cabbage. But do not fret kids….if you weren’t blessed with the Ukrainian cooking gene like me, it just takes a bit of practise and patience. …and Claudia laughing at you when you curse the rice that fell from your hands and onto your clean floor.

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