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Need a frightfully good idea for Halloween this year? Try this one!

(Makes 6 servings)

3 medium baking apples (e.g. Empire, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Ida Red, Honeycrisp)
Lemon juice
5 tbsp (75 mL) packed brown sugar
3 tbsp (45 mL) butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream
Chopped nuts (optional)

Wash apples. Cut in half lengthwise; remove cores. Brush cut sides of apples with lemon juice. Carve eyes, nose and mouth on peel side of apple halves.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Brush mixture over face sides of apples.

In a greased or sprayed baking dish, place apples, cut side down. Pour any remaining brown sugar/butter mixture over apples.

Bake in a preheated 400F (200C) oven for 10 minutes. Spoon sauce in bottom of baking dish over apples. Continue baking until apples are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes longer.

To serve, place one or two scoops of ice cream in 6 dessert bowls. Drizzle sauce over top. Place a warm apple head in each bowl. Sprinkle chopped nuts over ice cream, if desired.


Need another terror-ific Halloween treat this year? This Halloween desert will help set the tone for your fright-night menu. If you wish, let everyone carve their own “shrunken head” dessert or dress their own “ghost”.

(Makes 6 ghosts)

3 bananas
6 popsicle sticks
6 oz (200 g) white chocolate or white chocolate candy melts, coarsely chopped, or white chocolate chips
12 chocolate chips

Peel bananas; remove any stringy fibers. Cut bananas in half widthwise. Push a popsicle stick into each half through the cut end. Cover each banana with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 3 hours.

Place white chocolate in a microwaveable bowl and heat on High (100% power) for 1 minute; stir. Continue heating, 30 seconds at a time, until white chocolate is mostly melted but a few pieces remain. Stir to melt remaining white chocolate.

Spread or spoon white chocolate over frozen banana halves. Press chocolate chips in place for eyes.

Set banana ghosts on a waxed paper-covered plate and place in the freezer until serving time.

Not much beats milk and cookies at the end of a long day. The combination is a favorite for kids (and adults who want to be kids again!)

Try these easy-to make cookies; they’ve got the ingredients to promote a good night’s rest.

Nutri Cookies
(Makes 5 dozen cookies)

½ cup (125 mL) butter or margarine, softened
½ cup (125 mL) peanut butter
1 cup (250 mL) liquid honey
2 large eggs
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
3 cups (750 mL) quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup (250 mL) medium unsweetened coconut
¾ cup (175 mL) natural bran
½ cup (125 mL) sunflower seeds or wheat germ
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) raisins
½ cup (125 mL) chopped nuts

Beat butter and peanut butter in a large bowl until blended. Add honey, eggs and vanilla. Beat slowly until blended. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well.

For each cookie, scoop a heaping tablespoon (about 20 mL) batter onto a cookie sheet. Flatten slightly.

Bake in a preheated 375F (190C) oven until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Let sit for a few minutes on cookie sheet before removing cookies to a cooling rack.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Timeless Recipes for All Occasions by Jean Pare, Company’s Coming Publishing Limited, 2006

For more information about food and sleep, tips on how to sleep better and a look at our favorite new sleep products, click on the magazine (left).

To subscribe to our free online magazine, please subscribe here. Or visit

Serta and the counting sheep are trademarks of Serta Inc.

Warm milk and cookies sound like a soothing bedtime snack.  But does what we eat or drink really help us drift off to sleep?

 Many sleep experts and nutritionists believe what you eat can effect how well you sleep. They advise choosing your supper meal and evening snack with care.  The following diet-related tips will have you snoozing soon after your head hits the pillow.

 * Eat dinner/supper earlier rather than later in the evening to give your stomach time to digest the food.

*  Make the last meal of the day a light one. If portions are too large, your digestive system will have to work over time. Eating a large meal may initially make you feel drowsy, but you likely won’t enjoy a restful sleep.

 * Choose foods that won’t cause discomfort while you sleep. Heavy, rich and fatty foods can be hard to    digest. Spicy, highly seasoned or acidic foods can cause heartburn and stomach discomfort.

 * Limit your alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol might make you feel sleepy, but you may not be able to achieve a really deep sleep.

 * Don’t consume too many liquids during the evening;  you’ll be waking frequently to make trips to the bathroom throughout the night.

 * Avoid caffeine. It’s a stimulant, and increases the activity of various body systems including the      nervous system. It can take 8 to 10 hours to eliminate the effects of caffeine from your body.

 * Eat a small snack an hour or two before you go to bed. Going to bed hungry will just keep you awake or even wake you up.

 Try the Nutri Cookie recipe in our special sleep issue (click on the image, left). Served with hot or cold milk, it really will help you sleep! And don’t let Number 7 (or any of his Serta® counting sheep friends) convince you otherwise.

When planning what to eat close to bedtime, opt for foods that contain tryptophan, especially for nighttime snacking. An important amino acid, tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin and melatonin in our brain, two chemicals that help us sleep.

Tryptophan-rich foods include:
* dairy products
* seafood
* meat & poultry
* eggs
* beans
* whole grains & rice
* lentils
* nuts and seeds

Combining carbohydrate-rich foods with a small amount of protein food that contains tryptophan helps make tryptophan available to our brains.

Tryptophan and carbohydrate combinations includes:
* oatmeal cookies & milk
* whole grain cereal & milk
* half a peanut butter or tuna sandwich
* crackers & cheese
* bagel chips & a hard-cooked egg
* yogurt & granola

For more information on the connection between food and sleep, tips on how to develop better sleep habits and a look at our favorite new sleep products, check out our Annual Sleep issue (click on the image, left). 

If you’d like to subscribe to our free online magazine, please subscribe here or visit

This sturdy side dish puts a new spin on an old favorite.. a great side dish with your favorite entree!

 Grilled Potato Salad
(Makes 4 servings)

2 lb (1 kg) mini red or white new potatoes
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
Freshly grated pepper, to taste
8 slices bacon, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup (75 mL) Ranch or Caesar salad dressing
Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

Place potatoes (with skins) in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until barely tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well.

Cut potatoes in half  and place in a bowl. Add olive oil and pepper; toss gently to coat. Place potatoes in a grill basket; grill over medium-high heat until lightly grill-marked, about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. (Grilling step may be omitted: cook potatoes in first step until fork-tender).

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Place on a paper towel to drain.

Place grilled potatoes in a bowl. Add bacon, green onions and dressing. Toss gently to coat. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For other summer side dish ideas, check out our Summer 2010 RoomPlanners magazine. Along with more sturdy, simple and smart recipes, find out more about Craftsman-style homes, furniture and interiors.

Want to receive our free monthly online magazine? Subscribe here.

It doesn’t get simpler than this quick, easy and very tasty dessert. Best of all? No one will know how little time you spent making it!  

Ice Cream Pie
(Makes 6 servings)

4 cups (1 L) vanilla ice cream, softened slightly
¾ cup (175 mL) frozen juice concentrate, thawed
     slightly (see Tip)
1 prepared 9” (23 cm) crumb crust (e.g. graham wafer, vanilla wafer  or Oreo)
Garnish: fruit, fruit sauce, toasted nuts and/or coconut

Combine ice cream and juice concentrate mixing just   until blended. Spoon into crust. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

At serving time, cut into wedges using a knife dipped in hot water and wiped with a paper towel. You may need to let pie stand at room temperature for a few minutes before serving. Garnish as desired.


  • Vary garnish as desired. Try strawberry-kiwi juice concentrate with sliced kiwis; raspberry juice concentrate with raspberry coulis; pink lemonade with sliced strawberries; orange juice concentrate with mandarin orange slices and grated chocolate; and pineapple juice concentrate with toasted coconut.

Use this New Orleans seasoning blend to add a Creole flavor to eggs, rice, casseroles and vegetables. Recipe Source: Emeril Lagasse

 Creole Seasoning
(Makes about 1-1/3 cups (325 mL)

5 tbsp (75 mL) paprika
1/4 cup (60 mL) garlic powder
4 tbsp (50 mL) salt
2 tbsp (30 mL) freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp (30 mL) onion powder
2 tbsp (30 mL) cayenne
2 tbsp (30 mL) dried oregano
2 tbsp (30 mL) dried thyme

Combine ingredients, blending well.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Shake or stir well before use.

For more information about New Orleans food, including a glossary of Creole and Cajun food specialties, check out our RoomPlanners June 2010 issue! This special issue profiles New Orleans style food, architecture, culture and interior design.

Click on the magazine cover to the left, or on the link below.

Dirty rice is a favorite in the deep south, including New Orleans! The dish gets its name because of the addition of meat, giving the rice a dark appearance. Typically, the meat used is chicken livers and giblets. This version uses a blend of ground beef and pork.

Southern Dirty Rice
(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

1 tbsp (15 mL) cooking oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 ribs celery, very thinly sliced
125 g (1/4 lb) extra lean ground beef
125 g (1/4 lb) lean ground pork
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Creole Seasoning (recipe follows)
2-1/2 cups (625 mL) cooked white rice
3 green onions, thinly sliced

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and celery; cook and stir until onion is soft and celery is tender-crisp, about 6 or 7 minutes. Add ground beef and ground pork; cook until meat is browned, stirring often to break up. Drain off any fat. Add seasoning, rice and green onions. Cook for a few minutes until rice is heated through. Taste and add more seasoning, if desired.

For more information about New Orleans food, including a glossary of Creole and Cajun food specialties, check out our RoomPlanners June 2010 issue! This special issue profiles New Orleans style food, architecture, culture and interior design.

Click on the magazine cover to the left, or on the link below.

Another green-inspired recipe that’s perfect for Spring!

Kale & Chicken Soup

1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 mL) cooking oil
1 boneless chicken breast, cut into ½” (1 cm) cubes
½ medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups (1.5 L) chicken stock or broth
½ tsp (2 mL) hot pepper sauce (or more to taste)
6 cups (1.5 L) chopped kale
2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil in a large stock pot on medium heat. Add chicken; sauté until cooked. Remove from pot and set aside.

Add additional cooking oil if necessary, then add onion, carrots and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are tender. Add chicken stock and hot pepper sauce; bring to a simmer. Return chicken to pot and add kale and lemon juice.

Cook for a few minutes until chicken is heated through and kale is tender. Season to taste.

(Makes 4 servings)


* Spinach, Swiss chard, sorrel, dandelion greens or beet leaves can be substituted for kale.

 * For a vegetarian version, replace chicken with cooked cannellini beans (white kidney beans or Great Northern or white navy beans) and chicken broth with vegetable broth.

Do you love all things green? Or just need more of this restful color in your life? Check out our RoomPlanners ‘green issue‘. Take our green quiz to see which green paint color is right for your rooms, learn about green color psychology, pick up a few green ideas for around the home… and much more.

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