Posts Tagged With: Improv Challenge

Candy Sushi

My father is an incredibly picky eater.

Candy Sushi Dish

He likes what he likes and that’s it.

With some things, we seem to think it is all in his head. Like watermelon. The man will claim up, down, left, right, and until he is blue in the face that he hates it. However, I know better.

One time, I made some juice, poured myself a glass, then sat down. Dad, seeing that juice had been made, got up and poured himself a glass. When he came back into the room, the glass had been downed, except for one little sip in the  bottom.

“You drank the juice?!?” I asked

He nods, and looks at me if I were crazy for asking a question like that.

” That was watermelon juice”

He then set the glass down, and leaves the last sip, which stayed there until the dishes were done later that night.

Another time, this time in a restaurant, I ask dad if he would like some gum. He says sure pops it in his mouth and gives it a few chews, while I am there snickering beside me. He looks at me laughing, then clues into my joke.

” This is watermelon gum isn’t it”

When I burst out laughing, he then starts to freak out about the gum that I had given him.

I am such a nice daughter.

Candy Sushi

So, you’ll understand my hesitation when he claims he doesn’t like things. Like sushi.

For this month’s Improv challenge hosted by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker, I combined the two ingredients, Fish and (white chocolate) Chips to make candy sushi. Something I have been dying to make ever since I saw it floating around pinterest.

I recruited my sister as a helper and as chief  taste test distributor, and once we had some samples, she passed them around.

After offering one to my dad, she runs back into the kitchen, hollering  “I GOT DAD TO EAT SUSHI!!”

He never asked for a second.

Red Candy Sushi

Candy Sushi

makes about 24 pcs

  • 1/2 pkg marshmallows, regular or mini
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 24 fish shaped candies ( I used Swedish fish and Blue Sharks)
  • 12 sour fruit strips, split in half.
  • Additional white chocolate or ready-made icing
  1. In a large saucepan, melt together the marshmallows, white chocolate chips and butter, stirring until smooth. 
  2. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the cereal. While it’s still warm, form them into little oblong patties, using a couple tbsps for each.
  3. Top each patty with a fish candy, then wrap the fruit strips around the fish, sealing with a bit of white chocolate or icing on the underside.
  4. Let set for about 15 minutes then enjoy!

Don’t forget to check out what other’s have come up with using Fish and Chips!




I also linked this recipe to : The Weekend Potluck!

Click the link to check out more great recipes!

Categories: Candies | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

Bacon Double Cheeseburger Pockets

Almost every Sunday morning, either Mr. Ginge or I roll out of bed, throw on some coffee and heat up a pan for breakfast.

bacon cheese burger pockets

Our usual rotation includes french toast, bacon and eggs, and sometimes pancakes thrown in. If we are really feeling fancy, we’ll head out to one of the local diners for breakfast.

So it goes with out saying that my initial idea for this month’s Improv Challenge, hosted by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker, was to make breakfast.  Except, I could think of anything that I really loved, and that honestly as a challenge.

bacon double cheeseburger pockets

When I noticed some pizza dough in the freezer it hit me. One of my favourite treats when I was a kids was bacon double cheeseburger pizzas. I would  literally beg my dad to order it instead of  the usual pepperoni. We’ve also been on a bit of a calzone kick, every once and a while picking one up when we’re out visiting friends. And with that the idea was born. With a quick egg wash, I had something both delicious and challenge worthy.

Cheeseburger pockets
Bacon Double Cheese Burger Pockets

makes 6 pockets

  • Homemade or store bought pizza dough ( I made my own, but after the disaster I made last time, I used the recipe out of my Kitchen Aid manual ) 
  • 1 lb ( 454 g) ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
  • 6 strips of bacon, cooked till crisp
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F/ 180 ° C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large pan, brown the meat, onions, and garlic together, until onions are translucent and meat is no longer pink. Drain any excess fat and return to the pan. Add the beef broth, barbecue sauce, ketchup and mustard to the pan, stirring to combine.  Simmer the mixture until it is thickened.
  3. Divide the pizza dough into 6 equal sections. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each into a round to about 6 inches/ 15 cm across. I find it easiest to use a rolling pin, but feel free to stretch it out by hand.  Divide the meat mixture between the six rounds. Top with a strip of bacon and 1/3 cup of each of the cheeses.
  4. Fold one edge of the round over, so that you end up with a half moon shape. To seal the pocket, gently press the edges together, then fold over. Transfer to the paper lined sheet.
  5.  Brush each of the tops with some of the beaten egg, making sure to cover along the seams. Sprinkle with the reserved cheddar cheese
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about  15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the dough is golden brown. Let cool on the tray for about 5 minutes, then serve along side a fresh salad.

Don’t forget to check out what others have come up with using Eggs and Bacon!

– Mel


I also linked this recipe to The Weekend Potluck and Strut Your Stuff Saturdays! Click the link to check out more great recipes!

Categories: Sandwiches and Side Dishes | Tags: , , , , | 19 Comments

Leftover Venison Meat Pies

So, I’ve been a bit off the ball when it comes to these Improv Challenges.

 Venison Pie - GB

You see, I really enjoy doing them. Makes me think outside of the box a little bit when I am coming up with recipes.

This can backfire  bit for me though. Like last month when the ingredients were heart shaped foods and flours. Problem was I use flour daily. I bake constantly and flour is not a challenge for me.  So I over thought it, and ended up panicking, and then the improv day came and went and I never managed to get anything posted.  I so could have rocked that challenge, but alas, I did not.

Ven Pot pie - GB

So for this month’s challenge of peas and carrots, I copped out a bit by using frozen peas and carrots, but still am sharing with  you an awesome recipe that I make all the time.  The recipe came about when we ended up with tons of leftovers from an enormous venison roast we cooked up for dinner.

Because venison (especially left over venison) can be a bit gamey, I make a beef gravy to go into it.  Of course if you don’t like, or don’t have access to venison, beef will work  just fine as well. These also freeze amazingly, so if you have time, a double batch will give you lots to stow away in the freezer for a quick and easy meal.

venison pot pie - GB

Leftover Venison Meat Pies

makes about 8 pies. 

  • Pastry ( store-bought or homemade) for a double crust pie
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock , divided
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cup left over venison roast, diced
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas and carrots ( I used frozen mixed veggies)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ( optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Roll out your pastry to about an 1/8 in (2-3mm).  Cut out 8 5 in ( 12 cm) circles, re-rolling out as needed. Because I didn’t have a round cutter that big, so I used a bowl and the tip of a knife to cut out my circles.  Gently fold them into the cups of a muffin pan and set aside. With the remaining pastry, cut out 8 2 in (5cm) circles and set aside.
  3. In a deep pan or dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent.
  4. Pour in 1 cup of the beef broth and bring to a boil. Meanwhile whisk the flour in the remaining 1/2 cup of broth. Add to the boiling stock, and stir constantly, until slightly thickened.
  5. Add the meat, veggies, and cheese if using, and cook until warm.
  6. Divide the mixture between the eight prepared shells. Top with the rounds, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.

Don’t forget to click the link to check out the other great Peas and Carrots recipes!

– Mel

Categories: Main Dishes, Pies | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

Whole Wheat Banana-Pomegranate Muffins

So, this is the sixth time that I am participating in the Improv Cooking Challenge, hosted by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. Yay!

banana-pom- GB

After participating a few times now, what I am finding the most challenging is working with ingredients that I really don`t like.  Raisin`s  were a big challenge for me, and this month`s banana and nutmeg posed an interesting challenge. Neither Mr. Ginge or I are big fan of bananas.  I can`t really get over their mushy texture.

I do, however, enjoy them in certain baked goods.

ban-pom muffins - GB

While I will almost always choose a chocolate chip muffin first, banana muffins are also a favourite.  C, who I used to worked with in the clothing store, would periodically make banana muffins and bring them in to share.  I think that she was the one who got me hooked on banana muffins.

I switched these up a bit by swapping to whole wheat flour and stirring in some tart pomegranate arils, and the end result is a delicious way to start the morning.

Banana pom muffins - GB

Whole Wheat Banana-Pomegranate Muffins

makes 10 muffins

  • 3/4 cups mashed, ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil ( or melted butter)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils, plus some for topping if desired.
  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line your muffin pan with 10 liners. 
  2. In a bowl, mix together the banana, brown sugar, egg, oil, and milk.  Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and nutmeg. Slowly add it to the banana mixture, stirring just until combined ( it’s ok if it’s a bit lumpy). Gently fold in the pomegranate arils.
  4. Scoop the batter into the prepared pans so that each cup is about 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle a few arils on the top of the batter if desired. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
  5. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then either or enjoy warm, or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Don’t forget to click the link to check out more great Banana and Nutmeg recipes!


I also shared this recipe at The Weekend Potluck and Strut Your Stuff Saturdays!

Categories: Breads | Tags: , , , , | 22 Comments

Layered Honey and Sweet Potato Cheesecakes

I was very tempted to make pie for this month’s challenge.

It’s one of Mr. Ginge’s favourites so I know it would get gobbled up. However, I make it fairly often for him, so it just didn’t seem in the spirit of the challenge.

That is, until I thought of cheesecake. We love cheesecake. And there are almost no cheesecake recipes on my blog.

Smooth, creamy, and lightly spiced, they are perfect for the upcoming holidays.

Layered Honey and Sweet Potato Cheesecakes

makes 12 mini cheesecakes

  • 2 cups crushed Digestive biscuits ( or graham cracker crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 12 oz cream cheese ( 1.5 packages), softened
  • 1/2  cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup honey
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with liners and set aside.
  2. Combine the digestive biscuits and the butter in a bowl, and mix until combined. Divide between the 12 cups and press into the bottom of the liners.
  3. Beat together the cream cheese and the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just into smooth.
  4. Divide the batter in half. In one half add the mashed sweet potato, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.  To the other half, stir in the honey.
  5. Pour the sweet potato batter even over the crust, then carefully spoon over the honey batter over top.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the batter is set. Let cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2-4 hours to chill.
  7. Serve on it’s own or with some whipped cream!

Keely wanted in on some cheesecake action.

Don’t forget to check out some of the other great sweet potato and honey recipes!


I’ve also linked this recipe to Strut Your Stuff Saturdays and The Weekend Potluck!

Categories: Cake and Cupcakes | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

Oatmeal Raisin Bread

I really don’t like raisins.

I remember when we were younger, Mom would send us with the little red boxes of raisins in our lunches. Occasionally, we would eat them, but most often they would end up hidden in the bottom of our backpacks. At any given time, there might be four or five uneaten boxes of raisins.

Because we never actually told her that we didn’t like them, she just kept buying them. That is until one day, she needed to check out school bags (probably for report cards or something) and discovered the hidden stash of raisins. Needless to say we rarely saw raisins in our lunch bags again.

So when the ingredients for this month’s Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker were Oatmeal and Raisins, I seriously considered not participating. I could not for the life of me think of something to make that I would actually enjoy and want to share. Until I thought of raisin bread.

Warm, toasty, and slathered in melted butter, it was always a breakfast treat that I looked forward to.

The oats in the bread add wonderful texture and the raisins add just the right amount of sweetness. Liberally laced with cinnamon, this will make you house smell amazing while it’s baking.

Oatmeal Raisin Bread

makes one loaf

  • 1 cup rolled oats ( not instant)
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp dry active yeast
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2-3 cups flour
  1. In a large bowl, pour boiling water over the oats. Add the maple syrup and stir. Let cool to lukewarm ( about 110° F) Add yeast, and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the oil, eggs, salt, cinnamon and raisins. Stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add the flour until you get a soft and elastic dough. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl,and set in a draft free place. Let rise until doubled in size, about and hour.
  3. Punch down the dough, and turn onto a floured board or counter. Knead in the remaining flour, until you get a smooth dough Shape into a loaf and set into a loaf pan. Let rise for about half an hour, or until it has doubled in size again.
  4. Bake in an oven preheated to 350°F for 35-45 minutes ( the bottom should be golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped)
  5. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
  6. Slice, toast, and slather in butter.

Don’t forget to check out the other great oatmeal and raisin recipes!

– Mel


I also shared this recipe at Strut Your Stuff Saturday and:

Categories: Breads | Tags: , , , , | 23 Comments

Zucchini Cake Bars

It has been feeling like fall around here.

I know technically there are still a few days left of summer. But I really think Mother Nature has other ideas. Leaves are changing and falling. The dry heat of the summer has bee replaced with the cool wet that I associate with fall. It feels like fall here.

Which means we’ve been craving fall foods.  Come cooler weather, I crave the wonderful aroma of fall spices, cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger and cloves. Add a wood burning stove and it smells exactly how Gran’s kitchen would smell this time of year.

So when Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker chose zucchini and brown sugar as ingredients for this month’s Improv Challenge, I knew I wanted to do something with lots of those spices, and full of comfort.

What I came up with were these moist bars, that before they were even gone, my mom and sister were requesting again.

Zucchini  Cake Bars

makes 12 bars or 1 8×8 pan, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Cookie Book

For the Bars:

  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini, squeezed dry.
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

For the Cinnamon Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2-3 tsp milk to thin as needed
  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease and lightly flour an 8×8 in square pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and spices. Set aside for later.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, melt together the butter, brown sugar and honey. Remove from heat, let cool a little, then beat in the egg and the vanilla.
  4. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just to combine. Add the shredded and squeezed dry zucchini, pecans and cinnamon chips.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan and  bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about then ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. In a small bowl, beat together the butter, icing sugar and cinnamon, adding the milk as needed to get the right consistency. Spread the frosting onto the completely cooled bars. Cut into bars and serve.

Don’t forget to check out the other great recipes using zucchini and brown sugar!



I’ve also linked this post to The Weekend Potluck,   On the Menu Monday, and Strut Your Stuff Saturdays! Click the links to check out more great recipes!

Love Bakes Good Cakes
Categories: Bars | Tags: , , , , , | 21 Comments

Improv Challenge: Greek Pasta Salad

I won’t lie. Corn and Butter stumped me.

Greek Pasta Salad

For this month’s Improv Challenge,  hosted by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker, I knew exactly what I was going to make. One thing immediately comes to mind when I think of Tomatoes and Peppers: Greek Pasta Salad.

When I was in high school ( and for a short time after I graduated), I worked as a cook in a small local restaurant  that did catering on the side. Especially in the summer.  Many nights were spent not only cooking, cleaning and prepping for the next morning, but also prepping for an upcoming event they were catering. I won’t lie, I hated the catering jobs. You were always fighting for space in the small kitchen, it was almost impossible to get on top of prep work, they made ten tons of dishes,  and it always meant you were in for an extra long shift.

Greek Pasta Salad

The good part about it is that you were almost always rewarded with a bowl of this pasta salad. It was sooo good. I lucked out one day, and was able to take some home with me.  I stuck the containers in the fridge, told my mom there was some leftovers from the restaurant there and then thought no more of it until I got home from and early shift the next day. It was gone. All gone.  And Mom was asking how they made it.

So we tinkered with it, and found something just as irresistible. My brother will literally mound this on his plate.  And it turns out we weren’t the only ones who thought so.  Whenever we took it to get-togethers, we were almost always asked for the recipe. A friend loved it so much, that when she got married, it was my job to bring the salad to the showers, Jack and Jill, and rehearsal dinners. Both her and her new mother-in-law ended up with the recipe afterwards.

Greek Pasta Salad

Greek Pasta Salad

  • 450g / 1 lb uncooked fusili or other curly pasta
  • 1 pint container of cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup green onion, chopped or 1/2 red onion chopped ( Red onion is prettier in the salad, but gets to be overpowering if you  make it ahead of time)
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  •  greek dressing (recipe below) or store-bought creamy feta dressing.
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Rinse the pasta slightly ( otherwise I find you get a solid lump of pasta) then chill.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the pasta, cherry tomatoes, green pepper, onions and feta. Before serving, pour in the dressing and mix well. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Greek Dressing

adapted from the restaurants house dressing and Best Recipes ever

  • 1 cup sour cream or greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp coarsely ground pepper
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sour cream, feta cheese, garlic, oregano, parsley and 1/2 tsp pepper. Pulse a few times to combine and break up the feta.
  2. Add the vinegar and the olive oil and pulse for about 30 seconds. Give the dressing a taste and add the remainder of the pepper if desired. We like it quite peppery.
  3. Pour over your salad or into a container and store in the fridge.

Seriously, eat this now.

And don’t forget to check out what others came up with using tomatoes and peppers!



I also featured this recipe on The Weekend Potluck, the Stone Gable, and Strut Your Stuff Saturday. Click the link to check out more great recipes.

Categories: Sandwiches and Side Dishes | Tags: , , , , | 19 Comments

Improv Challenge: Cornmeal Thumbprints with Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling

Corn and butter.

Those were the ingredients assigned for this month’s Improv Cooking Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker

My first thought was fresh corn on the cob slathered in butter, but corn isn’t quite in season here yet, and let’s face it, it’s not much of a recipe; Boil corn, slather in butter, eat.  Also, I’m a baker, and I really wanted to bake something for my first challenge.

My next thought was corn bread.  Very yummy, but I couldn’t help but feel that it was a cop out.

So instead, I decided to go with my favourite thing to bake, and came up with these cookies.

Cornmeal Thumbprints with Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling

makes about 36 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 pkg ( 4 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal and salt and set aside.
  3. In a  large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  4. Slowly mix in the flour mix until combine.
  5. Roll about a tablespoon of dough in to a ball then place on the cookie sheet. Gently press the middle with your (clean!) thumb to make a slight indentation. Repeat with the remaining dough, placing about 2 inches/ 5 cm apart.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. They should be slightly golden brown on the bottom.  As soon as you pull them out, gently press you indentation again with the end of a wooden spoon. Move to a wire rack and cool completely
  7. Meanwhile, beat together the jam and the cream cheese until smooth. Slowly beat in the sugar.
  8. Once the cookies have cooled completely, fill the indentations with the cream cheese mixture, about a teaspoon for each cookies. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Don’t forget to check out the other great recipes from the rest of the participants!


Categories: Cookies | Tags: , , , , | 19 Comments

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