Monday, December 28, 2009

Ganache-filled Brioche

Here you have it: Ganache-filled Brioche. It's like heaven, if heaven were a donut-like bread treat with chocolate inside. This is my latest foray into the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day book that I got for Christmas after hogging the library copy for weeks at a time.

The base for this bread is the Brioche Dough. I made a half recipe, as there is a limit to how many sweet treats I can bake in the five day life of this dough (I plan to make cinnamon rolls with the other half). The dough does freeze if you'd rather space out your butter intake. I bought real butter for this, and while I haven't tried it with margarine, I'm willing to say it was worth it to get the butter.

From there, I took my pound of dough (half of my half batch), rolled it into a nice-sized rectangle as wide as my loaf pan and as long as it would happily stretch (1/2"-1/4" thick, depending on your rolling pin skills), and covered with ganache (recipe follows). The dough was spread with a 1/2 cup of ganache, then rolled up into a loaf and put into a greased, non-stick medium sized bread pan. It's a sticky dough, so yes, you need the non-stick and the extra butter. Seal the edges well, and put the pan on something when you bake it so you don't have to chip chocolate off the bottom of your oven. Rise about 2 hours, bake 45 minutes at 350*, and then taste something so delicious it can't possibly be made so easily at home - but it is! It did cross my mind after all this work that Nutella would also be a superb filling and much less effort. Anyway, bake it and then drizzle with the leftover 1/4 cup of ganache. Let cool well before slicing or you'll have chocolate everywhere.

1/4 lb good chocolate (I used PC Decadent Chocolate Chips, a generous 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons butter
4 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Kahlua (original recipe uses rum)
5 tablespoons corn syrup

Put butter and chocolate in microwavable cup. Microwave in short intervals, stirring frequently until melted and smooth. (You may use a double boiler if you prefer.) In another cup, mix the cocoa, liquor, and corn syrup. Add this to the chocolate, heating a little if needed to get it smooth.

Spread over dough as described above. The leftover 1/4 cup for topping will need to be remelted after the loaf is baked - microwave 20-30 seconds on high. This varies from my usual cream and chocolate ganache, but I think the lack of cream makes it more shelf-stable so it doesn't sour on the counter.

I am thrilled with the results of this recipe. It was so easy to whip up the dough, and so very impressive as a final product. I can't wait to try another brioche-based recipe in a day or two to finish up my dough!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gingerbread Coffee

I like coffee, and I like flavoured coffee, but only if it still tastes like coffee. This is a simple recipe to jazz up the morning java and deliciously Christmassy. I make it in my French press mug, as no one else in my house drinks coffee, but it could also be made drip style if you like.

Gingerbread Coffee
3 tbsp medium grind coffee
1 teaspoon molasses
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger)
2 cups boiling water
cream/milk to taste

Put coffee, molasses, and spices in French press. Cover with boiling water. Steep 5 minutes, enjoy with milk or cream to your liking.

Or: In drip coffee maker, place usual amount of grounds in basket. Top with spices (increase amount to make larger pot) and molasses. Brew and serve.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Homemade Gift Round-Up

This is a little off-topic for the blog, but it's coming up to Christmas and I figure everyone can use some new ideas. The following is a list of anything I've come across and said "that's kind of neat". Lots of edibles, a bit of alcohol, a few "well duh" ideas you've seen before.

And so:

Personalized and Homemade Gift Ideas

photo calendar (pics of family events, like birthdays, anniversaries/weddings, etc.)

body scrubs

oreo truffles

salted caramels

espresso bark

photography cards

kid's book-on-cd or tape read by you (with book) (use Audacity )

chai tea mix (or mexican hot chocolate )

jalepeno jelly

wine jelly

chutney or salsa

homemade Kahlua or Limoncello or Skittles Vodka or Blood Orange Vodka or Coffee Infused Vodka

rosemary plants (get now, grow bigger)

homemade pasta sauces (canned or frozen?) w/ pasta

"best of" personal recipe book / Family cookbook

homemade dog treats

embroidered/stamped pillow cases or tea towels

homemade biscotti w/ small gourmet coffee

homemade greeting cards

beer bread mix

prepped scrapbook (ready for the recipient to just plop in photos)

cookie mix in a jar

cake in a mug (microwavable)

Seasoning mixes / Meat rubs

personalized stationery

vanilla sugar

caramel, chocolate and/or white chocolate popcorn

homemade pancake/waffle mix with syrup

Snuggie/ Slanket knock-off

Apple Butter (Crock pot recipe)

Lotion Bars

Bed Caddy

Silk Lavender Eye Pillows

Eyeglasses or Camera Case

Cupcakes in Mason Jars (suitable for mailing)

Felt Sphere Ornament

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Four Grain Honey Bread

Now, I know that you've probably never heard of the book Kneadlessly Simple, and it's not as sexy as Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, but it has some great recipes and makes some fine bread. It also doesn't have a waitlist in my library.

Four Grain Honey Bread (No-Knead) from Kneadlessly Simple
1 loaf
2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup corn meal (white or yellow)
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup cooked and cooled brown rice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon instant, fast rising, or bread machine yeast
1/2 cup honey or corn syrup
1 1/4 cups ice water
Canola oil or corn oil to coat dough and pan

First rise:
In large bowl, mix flours, corn meal, oats, rice, salt, and yeast. In measuring cup, mix very cold water with honey/syrup. Stir the water into the flours - it will be very thick, but you won't need to use your hands. Mix well and thoroughly blend. Add water or white flour if needed to get a thick dough. Spray or brush top of dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap. If desired, chill in fridge 3-10 hours, then let rise at cool room temperature for 12-18 hours. It works best to mix this up, set in the fridge until bed, and leave on the counter overnight.

Second rise: Stir the dough. Fold the dough using a spoon or spatula toward the middle of the bowl. Oil a 9 x 5 loaf pan, then sprinkle with a little cornmeal and oats. Turn the dough into the pan and spray/brush with oil again. Sprinkle a little cornmeal and oats on the top and press into the dough. Slice 4 or 5 diagonal lines into the loaf with a sharp knife. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise: 2-4 hours at room temperature, 1.5-2.5 hours in the microwave with a warm cup of water, or 4-24 hours in the fridge. Rise until the dough is 1/2" above the edge of the pan.

Bake: Preheat oven to 350*F. Bake 50-60 minutes. Tent with foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. If you have a fancy-pants instant read thermometer, it should read 207*-209*F. It really does take this long to bake - the moist dough takes a long time to get finished. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing. Keeps 2-3 days on the counter, or up to 2 months in the freezer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Greek Feta Pasta

This one doesn't freeze, but it's so quick, easy, and delicious that I have to share it.

Greek Feta Pasta
Serves 4

4 cups pasta (bows, shells, penne, etc.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled or diced
1 cup diced tomato or quartered cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup sliced olives

1. Cook pasta as directed on package.
2. Pour oil into microwave-safe bowl or mug. Add garlic and oregano. Microwave 30 seconds on high to blend flavours. You can do this in a small frying pan on the stove, but the microwave is faster, easier, and less likely to burn.
3. When pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot. Add everything else to it, stir. Eat. Enjoy.

This is a lovely one-dish meal. It's the kind of vegetarian that I don't miss the meat on.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pumpkin Waffles (now with pumpkin butter!)

Pumpkin Waffles
(Serves 2, multiply recipe for more servings)

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pumpkin butter
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspooon vanilla

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Stir until just barely mixed (overmixing leads to toughness).

Cook on waffle iron (or fry for pancakes). Serve with peanut butter and honey, or just butter and syrup. Leftovers freeze well for homemade toaster waffles.

1/2 cup pumpkin butter = 1/2 cup pumpkin puree + 2 tbsp brown sugar + 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cup flour = 3/4 cup whole wheat flour + 1/2 cup all purpose flour

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkin Butter and Poor Man's Pumpkin Spice Latte

Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter
1 large can pumpkin puree (around 2 cups)
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves)
1 1/2 cups white sugar

Bring to boil in crockpot on high. Turn back to low, allow to simmer for an hour or two (the timing isn't that important). Spoon into jars. Freeze what you don't plan to eat right away.

Poor Man's Pumpkin Spice Latte
1 mug milk or 1/2 milk with half coffee
1 teaspoon instant coffee (or a shot of espresso, or use half a cup of strong coffee)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pumpkin butter

Mix all ingredients in a mug. Microwave until hot (about 90 seconds). Stir again and drink.

All around, a nice way to make my house smell like fall and enjoy a pumpkin spice latte without having to go out and spend five bucks on it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fall Big Cooking Day

I started this round with egg recipes: Stuffing Egg Bake and Easy Sausage Strata. I split the strata into two pans, but the other just made one.

The second course: turning 3 pounds of ground beef into Sloppy Joes, Enchilada Bake, and Lasagna. I left the casseroles uncooked and will thaw and cook them on the days we want to eat them. Two containers of each meal.

Last but not least, I made 4 kinds of dump chicken: Herb Wine, Honey Glazed, Spicy Sweet and Lemonade. I decided to leave the chicken raw and just moved them from the giant club pack bag into ziplocs. Each bag has enough chicken for us (2 servings) and half the recipe of marinade. The chicken will be thawed in the fridge overnight, then cooked for 20-30 min at 350*F.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Taco Cornbread Bake

Taco Cornbread Bake (Serves 4)
(adapted from this recipe)

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1/2 c. water
1 1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1 cup pureed salsa
1 batch corn bread batter (see below)
1/2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese

Brown meat; drain. Stir in next 4 ingredients. Pour into 8x12 baking dish. Prepare corn bread batter. Spread over meat. Top with jalapeños if desired. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Top corn bread with cheese. Bake 5-7 minutes.

Corn Bread Batter
1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
pickled jalapeños (optional)

Mix dry ingredients, add milk egg and oil, mix just enough to moisten dry ingredients.

This made a great meal! I'm already plotting making it again. I think I could work beans into the base somehow - either some black beans or some refried beans as another layer. It was hot and hearty.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup

No photo, as I forgot to take one, but this may just be my favorite soup of all time. It doesn't need to be slow cooked, but it's wonderful to come home and have the first half of the prep done.

Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup (adapted from this recipe) - 6 servings
  • 3 bacon strips, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth (I use 4 tsp OXO plus 4 cups water)
  • 2-3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 cup half-and-half cream (or milk to make it healthier)
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

  • Shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Minced fresh parsley or chives (optional)
Fry and chop bacon. Place in slow cooker, with 1 tsp of bacon fat.

Add seasonings, broth, and vegetables. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours, until veggies are soft. I usually prepare it the night before and put it in the fridge, then cook all day while I'm at work - 7:30 am to 5:30 pm - without problems.

When you get home, mix up the cornstarch with the water. Pour into the soup, turn up to high and allow to boil. This may take as long as half an hour.

Add the cream or milk and the hot sauce. Turn down to "keep warm" and allow to heat through but not boil (although I haven't found it ruins it if it boils).

Serve with bread and salad for a balanced meal.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Toasting Nuts in a Popcorn Popper

Remember how back when I first tried roasting coffee in my hot air popcorn popper I hypothesized that it would probably also be a good way to toast nuts?

It is. I'm just not a fan of standing by the stove shaking a frying pan. Toss in a few nuts, spin away for about 1-2 minutes (until brown and fragrant), and move on to the next step. They don't have to be watched the whole time, but it's pretty quick. Great for salads, or wherever you want to intensify that nutty flavour.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Make it From Scratch Carnival

My Tomato Bruschetta Pasta is being featured in the Make It From Scratch Blog Carnival. A ton of delicious looking recipes, and some interesting ideas like how to make tote bags from t-shirts and homemade deodorant.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thai Pineapple Chicken Curry

This was my first attempt at Thai cooking, heavily inspired by this AllRecipes entry. I had a similar red curry at a restaurant a few weeks ago, and this did indeed satisfy my craving in my very own kitchen. The dish was very simple to make, but did require a stack of ingredients not normally found in my pantry. I am now set up for jasmine rice, fish sauce, and curry paste.

Thai Pineapple Chicken Curry
(Serves 4)

1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
3 cups water

1 can coconut milk
1-2 tbsp red curry paste (adjust to your desired heat)
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 chicken breast, sliced (add another if you prefer this meaty)
1 can bamboo shoots, drained
1 red or green bell pepper, julienned
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup pineapple
1 tbsp cornstarch mixed into 1/4 cup pineapple juice or water

1. Cook the rice by the method of your choice (stovetop, rice cooker, or microwave).
2. Meanwhile, mix coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, and sugar in a wok. Add bamboo shoots and chicken and simmer over medium heat until chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.
3. Add the other vegetables. Simmer until onion is cooked to your liking, about 5-10 minutes.
4. Add cornstarch slurry while mixing. Bring to boil to thicken. Add pineapple.
5. Serve over rice!

I quite enjoyed this, but it has everything my husband hates: peppers, onions, and coconut. I portioned it into sandwich-sized containers to eat myself when I want a quick lunch. It's a homemade TV dinner. :) This recipe was also very hands-off, and would fit in well to a Once a Month cooking marathon if your house likes thai curry.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tomato Bruschetta Pasta

All right, first off: I understand that technically, bruschetta refers to the bread, not the topping, but the topping doesn't have a convenient name.

This is a delicious, seasonal, and incredibly quick dinner recipe that I threw together tonight for dinner.

Tomato Bruschetta Pasta
Serves 2.
1 cup pasta (measured raw), cooked as directed on package
1 tomato
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp fresh basil leaves
drizzle olive oil (about 1 tsp)
salt to taste
1. Boil water and begin cooking pasta.
2. Meanwhile, combine tomato, garlic, basil, olive oil, and salt in food processor or blender. Puree to a consistency that pleases you.  Let sit while the pasta finishes cooking.
3. Divide pasta into 2 bowls. Split sauce over pasta. Garnish with Parmesan.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blog Carnival! Make It From Scratch

My cherry jelly is being featured in the "Make It From Scratch" blog carnival, along with some other interesting projects like bread and butter pickles and strawberry rhubarb crisp with apples.

Check it out!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cherry Jelly

Today I did something I've never done before: I made jelly. I even heat processed it - although if you're not into that, keeping it in the freezer accomplishes the same thing. I just think it's neat to can something.

I made my jelly with Nanking cherries. They grow on a strange little shrubbery. I found them growing in the park where I work (in behind Boffin's, for the locals). There are a variety of edible things growing there - a few Saskatoons, some pincherries, some crabapples, and some lovely looking Nanking cherries. I've never picked them before, but after verifying via google that I did indeed find something I could make into jelly, I snuck back on my coffee break and picked the prescribed 6 cups of fruit.

Nanking Cherry Jelly
6 cups Nanking cherries
1 cup water
1 package powdered pectin, like Certo
4.5 cups sugar

1. Stem and wash Nanking cherries and place in a saucepan with water.

2. Bring to boil and simmer 15-20 minutes, until fruit is soft.

3. Line a strainer with 2 or 3 layers of cheesecloth. Place this over a bowl or another saucepan. Pour fruit into cheesecloth. Alternately, if you do this more often than I do and have a "jelly bag", or have that cone thingy that my mom uses to make jelly, use that.
4. Mash fruit to press out juice and strain. Measure the juice before you pour it back - you're aiming for 3.5 cups. If you're short, add water. I had to add nearly a cup of water, and my jelly is still delicious.

5. Return juice to saucepan and stir in pectin crystals. Turn heat to high, and stir until it boils. Add sugar, stirring well. Bring to a vigorous boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

6. Meanwhile, sterilize some jars. I'm a naughty home canner and reused a few I had already. This is not recommended by those people concerned with "food safety". New lids with old canning jars are fine, though. I put mine on a pan with some water in it and baked for 15 minutes at 225 degrees. Leave in the oven until time to bottle.
7. Fill jars to within 1/4" of the top. Put on lids and tighten as well as you can. If freezing jam, let cool on counter then move to freezer. If heat processing, fill canner or large pot with water. If you don't have a rack, place a towel in the bottom of the pot for cushioning. Once all the jelly is in jars, cover jars with water and bring to boil. Boil 10 minutes (start timer when rolling boil begins).

I made the three various sized jars shown, plus 2/3 of another jar about the size of the right one. I just put that one straight in the fridge. :) It seems to have set very well, and has a great tart-but-sweet taste. This recipe is meant specifically for Nanking cherries, but the procedure would work well for any kind of cherry or berry with pits or many seeds.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Green Monster Smoothie

There is a trend in the healthy eating world: the Green Monster Smoothie. As you can see, it's an unnatural (or perhaps supernatural) shade of green. The secret ingredient? Spinach!

Now, I know what you're thinking: ew. Spinach smoothie. But there is a secret: raw spinach has nearly no flavour. Add a banana, some PB - and it tastes like dessert!

Green Monster Smoothie
1 cup milk
1 cup raw spinach
1 frozen banana
1 tbsp peanut butter
(optional: 1 tbsp flax seed meal, protein powder)

Blend all in a blender. Drink up!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

OAMC: Big Cook Day, May

In a little more than 2 hours, I made:
Sloppy Joes
Lasagna (2 square pans)
Enchilada Bake (2 square pans)
Grilled Fish Marinade (in freezer w/ fish)
Chicken in Enchilada Sauce
Spicy Basil Chicken
Chicken Souvlaki
Crustless Ham and Broccoli Quiche
Stuffing-Egg Bake
A dozen meals! We're set up for lazy days for weeks to come. Unfortunately, I still have to clean up. And eat something for lunch more nutritious than a chocolate chip brownie.

The method I used this time was as follows:
Night before: bake 12 frozen chicken breasts (4 per recipe) for 1 hr at 350*. Transfer to container in fridge overnight.

Ground Beef Recipes:  Brown 3 lb of ground beef. Drain. Return 1 lb to pan, 1 lb to bowl, and 1 lb to another bowl.

Get Sloppy Joes simmering. Then assemble Lasagna and get baking. Assemble Enchilada Bake and freeze without futher cooking. Put Sloppy Joes into a freezer bag to cool. Freeze lasagna after cooling about 30 min.

Fish Recipe: Place a freezer bag into something to hold it open and upright (I use a yogurt container). Add all ingredients for marinade. Freeze.

Chicken Recipes: Divide chicken into 3 containers (or more, but there are 3 recipes). Mix up Souvlaki marinade, pour over chicken cut into large chunks, label and freeze. Mix up and simmer Enchilada Sauce. Shred chicken, pour sauce over, label, and freeze. Chop up 3 cups mushrooms (1 cup for Spicy Basil Chicken, 2 for Stuffing Egg Bake) and saute. Mix up sauce for Spicy Basil Chicken. Pour over chicken cut into chunks. Add mushrooms. Freeze.

Egg Recipes: Assemble Stuffing Egg Bake and freeze. Then, last but not least, do the quiche. I froze my quiche in a 8x8 foil pan .

Questions are of course welcome! I used my shopping list to keep track of what I had and what I needed. It really does help to add it all up. I had to buy my meat this time (I often get it free from my farmer parents), and the ingredients for this batch cost about $100.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Curried Cauliflower Soup with Honey

I like pureed soups. I like curried soups. And so I bring you:
1 head of cauliflower, cut into large florets (6 cups) 
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large onion, sliced thick 
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread cauliflower florets on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast until florets are browned, about 20 - 25 minutes.
2) In a medium stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until they are clear or browned. Stir in curry powder and cook until fragrant, 1 - 2 minutes. Add chicken stock, water and cauliflower. Cover and bring to boil and then simmer until cauliflower is soft, about 5 minutes.
3) Puree the soup with a stand or immersion blender until smooth. Return to pot if using a stand blender, reheat if necessary. Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowl with a drizzle of honey.
Serves 4

The honey really makes a difference - don't skip the garnish. This is really tasty, not too difficult, and makes me long for an immersion blender. Someday I'll get one. And I will love it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mom's Secret Recipe: Microwave Rice Pudding

This recipe really did come from my mom, and it really was something she made in my childhood. I always have loved it.

Microwave Rice Pudding

dry ingredients in large (8 cup) microwavable casserole dish:
3/4 c sugar
2 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups milk

3 minutes on high. Stir. Microwave 3 more minutes.

1 egg. Add a little pudding to the egg, mix. Add egg to casserole dish. Mix well. Microwave 1 minute.

2 tbsp butter (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional, but recommended)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups cooked white rice

Microwave 3 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

My microwave doesn't seem to be as powerful as some of the newfangled ones. If you know yours is some kind of superpowered device, cut it back to 80%.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Black Bean Quesadillas

From Canadian Living

Black Bean Quesadillas

Serve with: Garden salad.



In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, green pepper, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper until softened, about 8 minutes. Add black beans, salsa and corn; cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 5 minutes. (Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes; refrigerate until chilled. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.)
Evenly spoon bean mixture over half of each tortilla; sprinkle with cheese. Fold uncovered half over top and press lightly. Place on large rimmed baking sheet; bake in 425°F (220°C) oven, turning once, until golden, 6 to 10 minutes. Serve with sour cream, and jalapeno peppers (if using).

These were great! The prep was really fast - I actually omitted the green pepper and used onion powder in place of the onion. They were ready for the oven in about 5 minutes, and ready to eat in well under half an hour. Plus, they were quite delicious and very healthy.  Again, I failed to photograph, but the original website has one if you need convincing. It was too good not to post the recipe despite no photo.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Crockpot Pineapple Chicken Chili

Adapted from Amazing Hawaiian Chicken Chili

Crockpot Pineapple Chicken Chili
6 servings

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2)
1/2 cup barbeque sauce
1 tsp onion powder (or half an onion, chopped)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp chipotle powder, optional
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 can pineapple chunks
1 can black beans or kidney beans, or half of each (15 oz total) (drained and rinsed)
1/2 jar salsa (1 1/2 cups)

1. Chop raw chicken into bite-sized pieces. Put into crockpot.
2. Add spices, beans, pineapple juice, and salsa. Reserve pineapple.
3. Cook 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. Add pineapple and cook until warm (about 15 min on high).
4. Serve with buns or cornbread.

This was more reminiscent of baked beans than chili, somehow. Rather on the sweet-and-sour (or rather, sweet-and-spicy) side. We enjoyed it, and I have a feeling the leftovers will be even better than the meal. It would freeze very well. It could, of course, easily be stewed on the stovetop. Add a little more liquid (about a cup of tomato sauce, or more salsa) and simmer for 30 min (or until chicken is cooked through). I think it does benefit from cooking all day and really melding the flavours in the crockpot, though.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Irresistible Double Chocolate Muffins

It's Sunday night and I was again hankering for something good for me (yet yummy) to eat for snacks this week. I believe we have a winner: Irresistible Double Chocolate Muffins. Whole wheat flour, wheat bran, flax seed, pumpkin puree... and cocoa and chocolate chips. The chocolate chips are what takes this from yet another "well, I suppose it's good for me" to "mmmm".

Irresistible Double Chocolate Muffins


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ (or bran)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk (or add 1 Tbsp vinegar to 1 cup milk)
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners.
  2. Combine flour, flax seed, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and chocolate chips in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the buttermilk, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing just until combined. Spoon equal amounts of batter into muffin cups.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Layered Enchilada Bake

I admit, I kind of give Kraft recipes the side-eye. They tend to be full of weird processed stuff. I did omit the salad dressing from this (and ended up subbing tomato sauce for the salsa when I realized my salsa was mango lime and would probably be weird in this).
The good news: it's pretty tasty. It would freeze well (but we're eating this one fresh). It really was quick to put together. Add a salad and it's not a bad meal at all. Next time, I will either actually use salsa or enchilada sauce. And on that note, I need to go eat my salad.

EDIT TO ADD: This is another recipe that I will definitely divide into two 8x8 or 9x9 pans in the future. While it's still good, I'm just tired of it. 9x13 pan recipes are really too big for two people unless they never get tired of leftovers.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sweet Potato and Apple Curried Soup

Sweet Potato and Apple Curried Soup
4 entree servings or 6 appetizer servings.
1 jumbo sweet potato (about 2 cups)
2 apples, peeled cored and diced
3 cups chicken stock
2 tsp onion powder (or some real onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp mild curry powder (adjust if your curry powder is hotter)
1/2 tsp ginger powder
sour cream or yogurt for garnish
Wash sweet potato, stab generously with fork, and microwave until soft all the way through (approx. 15-20 minutes on high).
Meanwhile, put apples, chicken stock, and spices in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer until sweet potatoes are done. Cut sweet potato in half and scoop flesh into pot. Stir until well combined. Simmer 10 minutes.
Puree using immersion blender or in batches in regular blender (do not fill past half full, as it can overflow). Add water as needed to reach desired consistancy.

Serve garnished with sour cream or plain yogurt. 
Freeze up to 3 months. Makes a great low-calorie (but filling and delicious) lunch option.  This is loosely "my" recipe in that I didn't specifically follow anyone else's and definitely wrote my own directions. I'm in love with cooking sweet potatoes in the microwave. I hate peeling those bad boys. This is one of my favorite soups.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sushi Salad

I like sushi, and I have made some rolls in the past. The flaw is, of course, that I am lazy. This salad has all the sushi flavours I love, but skips the "make it into a roll" steps that really draw out the process. This recipe made waaaay too much for us, though, and I had to give away a few servings to a friend because I knew we'd never eat it all. Rather than having it as a side, I just added some imitation crab meat to make it a full meal. I really enjoyed it - and it will be a lovely lunch for me for the next couple days.

Unfortunately, it's a Cooking Light recipe, and they are pretty strict with their copyright, so I must ask you to check the recipe here: Sushi-Rice Salad . I did find their recipe unclear, as it called for 2 cups of rice and 2 cups of water, while my rice called for 2 parts water to 1 part rice... I did 2 cups rice and 4 cups water, which made a very large amount. But the dressing to rice ratio was perfect. I would advise cutting the whole thing in half, but doubling the water (ie. 1 cup rice, 2 cups water).

This recipe is not freezer friendly, but it was tastey and easy, so I thought I would pass it along. It would be lovely with an asian-flavour salmon on the side, an interesting potluck dish, or you could add whatever maki roll ingredients strike your fancy.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Redneck Cooking: Kool Aid Cake

I'm still on a quest to find a good lemonade cake. Don't tell me to google it. Those ice cream based monstrosities are not what I dream of.

So I set out to try adding the most potent artificial colors and flavours of my chidhood to the goodness of cake. My first attempt: Blue Raspberry, the most baffling of flavours.

The result was a little dense, but overall kind of good. Not "OMG fabulous" good, but good enough I'll be making lemon-lime cupcakes for St. Patrick's day. It would also work to just add the Kool Aid to a cake mix, but I never have a cake mix, so I did it from scratch.

Update: The strawberry mini-cupcakes were much tastier than the blue raspberry cake. At least in part because eating red food feels more normal than eating blue food. They would be really great for a kid to take to school for Valentine's Day, or for an office treat.

Kool Aid Cake

2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 packet Kool Aid, flavour of your choice (the kind you're supposed to add sugar to)

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Mix the dry ingredients, including Kool Aid. Add wet ingredients. Stir until well blended.

Pour into 8" or 9" square pan, or muffin tins. Bake 50-60 minutes for cake (shorter for cupcakes,probably 20-25 min, I haven't done that yet). Mini-cupcakes bake for 12 minutes (and look fantastic, and taste pretty darn good). Pictured below: strawberry.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Lemonade Awards!

I have been awarded the Lemonade Blog Award by Erica's Kitchen Adventures. This award comes with some guidelines:
- Add the logo in your blog.
- Add a link to the person who gave you the award.
- Nominate 10 other (refreshing…like lemonade) blogs of your choice.
- Don’t forget to add links to those blogs in yours.
- Also leave a message for your nominees in their blogs, informing them about the award.
And so, while I may not have ten and don't wish to obligate the next to have to come up with that many, here are some of the most refreshing blogs I read. (Get it? Refreshing. Like lemonade.)
Savory, Spicy, Sweet (Liz's Cooking Blog)
These aren't all food blogs, but they are all excellent. And quite refreshing.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pineapple Flax Muffins

from Flax Seed Recipes

I decided to make something healthy for snacks and lunches, and I have a bag of flax seed languishing in my cupboard, so I was looking for something flaxy. This looked good - and it is. It isn't a coffee shop muffin. You won't mistake it for cake. The muffin part is not very sweet at all, and they're very dense. The fruit, however, makes it a really nice snack. I love the pineapple. Crushed might be better than the tidbits the recipe recommended, though, as I find the pieces kind of big in proportion to the muffin.

These make a great breakfast on the run (although you'll either want 2 or a piece of fruit on the side).

Alas, the digital camera appears to have left me to go to a wrestling tournament. I'll update with photo tomorrow, perhaps.

Pineapple Flax Muffins
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon egg substitute
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In large bowl, mix flours, flax, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Stir in carrots, pineapple and raisins.
  4. Combine eggs, milk, lemon juice, applesauce and vanilla in separate bowl.
  5. Add liquids to dry ingredients, stir until moist (batter will be lumpy).
  6. Coat muffin tin with non-stick spray. Pour batter in tins.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 15-20 minutes

Yield: 18 muffins

Nutrition Info (per muffin): 113 calories, 1.4 g fat, 23.4 g carb (2.2 g fiber, 2.7 g sugar), 3.5 g protein. 2 Weight Watchers Points .

Monday, January 5, 2009

Roasting Coffee Beans with a Popcorn Popper

I have a strange love for doing things at home that normal people just buy from the store. Exhibit A: homemade mozzarella cheese. Exhibit B: homemade deer jerky. And now Exhibit C: home roasted coffee. The beans on the left are the Columbian Supremo beans I received for my birthday. I'm not sure of their cost because they were a gift, but green beans are typically about half the price of roasted ones. A few months ago, I read this article on Lifehacker which pointed me at this series of Flickr photos. It looked pretty easy, and I already own a hot air popcorn popper (which I consider to be the only way to make popcorn - never burnt, never greasy).

This morning, I dug out the popper and aimed it at my sink. I poured in beans up to the popcorn fill line, cranked it up, let it do it's thing for about 7 min (6 min= light roast, 8 min = very dark roast). Then I poured them into a bowl and chilled them in the porch for a few minutes (a fridge or freezer is fine for those of you not in the arctic).

Verdict: delicious. Not a trace of bitterness. A very fine cup of coffee. The roasting process did make a little smoke, but no more than my blackened salmon. I hit the "ignore" button on my smoke detector, though, to avoid that issue. There wasn't a lot of chaff, and it all stayed in the sink. It really was a 10-minute, less than $5 experiment that was well worth it.

If you don't have a hot air popper, there are other alternatives in the Lifehacker link, but they're more involved. Like shaking a frying pan for 15 minutes. I really think investing in a used air popper (if you can find one) is the way to go. Mine was $5 at a garage sale almost 10 years ago. The things last forever... and also make popcorn, in addition to roasting coffee. Part of me now wonders if you can toast nuts in there. I hate stirring those things.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Eggs Mini-session

I have realized something: I am having a crisis of freezer space. I need to repack things more efficiently and organize it properly. So chicken has been put off for a while, but the egg dishes needed to be done, as I bought the eggs and mushrooms. I only made 2 dishes:
Aztec Quiche (doubled recipe)
So- Easy Stuffing-Egg Bake (new recipe, review to follow when we eat it)

Several failed attempts to freeze quiche without spilling some of the filling before it freezes have led me to just freeze the filling in a ziploc bag this time. The plan is to thaw it in the fridge, then dump into a pie shell to bake. I subbed a jalapeno and a red chili for the canned green chilis, which I just don't like. I also omitted the green onion and tomato from the stuffing bake, although I added just a bit of salsa to the top to add back a bit of flavour.

This was a small session, and thus, a very quick session. It only took about half an hour to assemble 3 meals. Eggs are not cooked before freezing, so prep time is really minimal. And yet... it's so nice to have quiche ready for the oven in about a minute.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ground Beef Mini-session

I'm still on holidays and I want to restock my freezer before I head back to work. Unfortunately, my lower back has been bugging me and standing for long periods really aggravates it. I decided to break my plan into a beef day and a chicken/eggs day.

So today in 2 hours, I made myself:
Chili (see below)
Simple Lasagna (split into 2 8"x8" pans)
Sloppy Joes

Chili sauce is weirdly expensive here, so I sub salsa for the sloppy joes. I also sub cottage cheese for ricotta in the lasagnas because of cost, and to reduce fat. I improvise my chili as I go, and it generally turns out fine. All in all, there was 3 lb of ground beef in those recipes, and there was 6 or 8 servings of chili, 8 of lasagna, and 4 of sloppy joes.

Overall, if you're kind of intrigued by the idea of having a few meals in the freezer but don't want to spend a lot of time or money on something you feel may not work out, this is a great way to start. If you like ground beef, you will like these recipes. It only takes a couple hours, it doesn't take any expensive or extraordinary ingredients, and it doesn't take a lot of freezer space. Nothing is nicer than a warm bowl of chili on a cold evening... unless it's eating it after deciding it's a lazy, non-cooking day.

OAMC Steps:
1. Get out recipes, canned goods, spices, and fresh ingredients. Have everything out before you start.
2. Brown all beef in your largest frying pan. I did mine in two batches. Drain beef well (rinse with hot water if desired. It really does take all the fat out.)
3. Divide meat into 3 parts: one into chili pot, one into a dish to mix with sauce for lasagna (doesn't need to be heated again), one back into frying pan for sloppy joes.
3. Assemble chili so it can simmer.
4. Make sloppy joes so they can simmer 10 min.
5. Assemble lasagna(s) and bake as directed, 60 min.
6. As things finish, label freezer bags or containers. Package, allow to cool about 30 min on counter, then move to fridge or freezer.

Simple Chili
1 lb ground beef
1 large can crushed tomatos (28 oz)
1 can tomato paste
1 can kidney beans or mixed beans or black beans
1 cup frozen corn (or 1 can corn)
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder

Brown beef and drain. Put into large pot (chili always takes more room than I think) or slow cooker. Add everything and simmer at least 1 hour or until you want to eat it. Add chipotle powder or cayenne pepper to taste if you like it more spicy. This is just a base recipe; other veggies or additional beans could easily be added.