Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fettuccine Noodles Today, Tomorrow....THE WORLD!

I got new toys! I got new toys!
For as long as I can remember I have wanted a Kitchen Aid mixer.  I have even gone as far as trying to swindle my mom into giving me hers (which came from my Opa when they first moved to Canada in the 50's) it was a no go.  But I now have my very own and I call her Wanda.  No, its not weird to name your kitchen appliances, I am sure many people do it...right?
This isn't the only new toy I got though!!!
I also got a pasta maker - and not the attachment to the mixer either.  I have wanted one of those too and now I have both :)
Meet Rosa
Oh, her name?  Rosa (a nice Italian name of course)
Now me being me I had to use them both for 1 meal.  I made my dough in Wanda and rolled it with Rosa.  I like my new friends and they work well together.
Mr. BM, he didn't care too much for Rosa but warmed up to Wanda pretty quickly when she helped to make his apple pie.
The rest of us (Little Ugh, his friend and I) enjoyed a nice heaping bowl of fettuccine bolognese - all from scratch!!

It was a bit of a gong show in the kitchen when I first started the rolling and hanging process - plastic hangers hooked on to kitchen cupboards, flour on the counters, floors, me yelling for more hands.  But once I got the hang of it, smooth sailin and good eats!

I think even if I didn't have a pasta machine I might have tried to make it - can you say adventurous?
Here's how you can make this too:

Egg Pasta Recipe

3-4 eggs (start with 3 then add fourth if not coming together)
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil

In your stand mixer bowl, add flour and salt.  Stir for 20 seconds.  Add eggs one at a time until combined.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil.  Dough should come together forming a ball.  Turn out onto a floured surface.  Knead the dough for a good 7-10 minutes to work the gluten.  Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

Cut dough into 3 sections.  Lightly flour work surface and dough.  Start your pasta machine on the highest setting.  Run the dough through 3 times on the highest setting, folding in half and dusting with flour each time going through.  Lower the setting one notch at a time and run pasta through only once on each.  For fettuccine the third or fourth setting is the best.  Finally run through the cutters.
Hang your pasta either with a broomstick over 2 chairs or my fav: the plastic hanger hooked on cupboard doors to let dry for about 15 minutes or so.

Lightly salt a pot of boiling water and add the pasta.  Fresh pasta takes much less time than the dry stuff so boil for about 4-5 minutes.
Add to your favorite sauce - We used a bolognese type tonight
I may never have store bought pasta again!!
MMM Finished product
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

No Flour Yule Log

So this post comes AFTER the finished product was consumed because, well, its the holiday season and we are all busy!
I keep trying to come up with new things the family hasn't traditionally had for different holidays i.e. Pumpkin Cake for Thanksgiving.  They aren't meant to replace the "norm" unless they are SPECTACULAR, just more of a way to instill the fact that change can be good ;)
This however may remain on our once a year plate because it was pretty darned good!  I am salivating as I type - I really am!

I was watching something (likely the food network) and saw a commercial for the edible yule log or Buche de Noel as it may be referred to and thought "hey, I want to make that!".  I told my MIL that is what I would be contributing this year for dinner - no objections!

The yule log has been around for many centuries and each nation has its own account as to how or why the wood was used. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule_log
I am just happy that someone decided that chocolate cake and icing was a good way to keep this tradition alive and ran with it!!  Here's to you, whoever you are *high five*

Buche de Noel

Cake
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. granulated white sugar

6 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 squares semisweet chocolate, chopped in small pieces & 1 1/2 tbsp. cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Whipped Cream Topping
1 c. milk (1%)
1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix
3 c. whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Spray a 17 x 12 in. baking pan with cooking spray and line the pan with parchment paper.  Make sure to butter and flour the parchment paper so that the cake comes off smooth.

Separate the eggs, placing the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Cover and bring to room temperature - approx. 30 minutes. While you are waiting for your eggs,  melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and cool.
In the bowl with the egg yolks mix 1/4 c. of sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about five minutes- you should notice that when you slowly raise the beaters, the batter will fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon.)
Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the melted chocolate and cocoa and beat only to combine.
In the other egg white bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold a small amount of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture using a rubber spatula or whisk. Fold in the remaining whites just until incorporated. Don't over mix or the batter will deflate.

Spread the batter evenly into the pan. Bake until the cake is slightly puffy, has lost its shine, and springs back when gently pressed, approx. 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place on wire rack to cool. Cover the cake with a clean, slightly damp towel.

While the cake is cooling make your frosting :)
Whisk pudding mix with milk for about 2 minutes until it is slightly thick.  Fold in the whipped cream.
The cake is the hardest part!!

Spread 1/3 of the frosting on the cake, roll into a log from the longest side.  The cake may crack, its alright, keep going - it will be hidden by the rest of the frosting.
Cut off a few inches at the end on a diagonal on both sides and place one on top of the cake and one on the side to make it look as though the branches of the log were cut.
Use the remainder of the frosting to cover the rest of the cake.
I made meringue mushrooms for garnish (will post separately)





 
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Whimsical Snowflake Cake

Tis the season for snowfall in Canada. YAY!!
What do you do when you want snow but you don't have any?  Take a drive to the local ski hill?  Make paper cutouts to string along frosty windows?  Check out photos of places on the internet?
How about making this tasty cake?  Its sure to please the palate and get you into the wintery mood.
A big ole slice with a nice hot cup of cocoa mmmmmm

Since no two snowflakes are alike you can freehand your flakes and get rip roaring creative OR you could download templates (cheaters) and use parchment paper to transpose them.
This cake is also great for getting your kids into baking with you.  Have them create the snowflakes that will decorate the entire surface.
Little Ugh LOVES to bake with me so it was a no brainer to know that he'd want to help out on this one too.  I can only dream that he is going to want to bake with me for a few more years - not likely *sigh*



1 pkg. Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
2 pkgs. instant vanilla pudding
1 c. milk
3 c. whipped topping
1/4 c. icing sugar
1/4 c. blueberry jam (or strawberry or any fruit really)
6 squares white chocolate
handful of silver edible balls

Prepare cake mix as per box for 2 8" cakes adding 1 pkg vanilla pudding as well.  Cool on wire racks while preparing your chocolate snowflakes and filling.

Snowflakes:
Melt chocolate in a double boiler until smooth.  Let cool for 5 minutes.
Use a resealable plastic bag, place chocolate in and (if you have cake decorating supplies use a #6 round tip) cut a small hole to pipe the flakes.  Use either a template or freehand snowflakes that measure approximately 3" or so in diameter. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes to set.
This should make approximately 30 snowflakes which is enough to decorate the entire cake.

To make the filling/topping take the second vanilla pudding package in a bowl and mix with icing sugar and milk.  Whisk for 2 minutes.  Fold in whipped topping.

To assemble:
On a cake plate lay first cake down, pour warmed jam and spread along the entire surface.  Take 1/3 c. filling and spread onto the jam.  Place second cake on top.  Ice the rest of the cake with the remainder of the frosting (sides and all).  Take your snowflakes and place them sporadically on the sides of the cake as well as the top.
TADA

adapted from a recipe found on the Kraft website
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Quinoa Paella of Sorts

Quinoa pronounced "keenwa" is a grain like seed that is super high in protein, and amino acids which makes it a likely staple in many vegan diets not to mention it is gluten free.  (This recipe is NOT meat free - we like our meat)
It looks like a little ball and when cooked it turns translucent and has a slight nutty taste.  The most common preparation is to boil it much like rice.
It is recommended to rinse your quinoa prior to boiling to remove any saponins

This recipe was adapted by a few found on the internet as I had sausage and chicken kickin around and for some strange reason rice is not a favorite in the house either (by guess who!) so jambalaya is out of the question *sulking with my lower lip hung low*.



Quinoa Paella 
serves 5-6 main course plates

3 chorizo sausage links
2 c. cooked chicken breasts chopped
2 c. quinoa
3 c. low sodium chicken stock
1/2 large white onion
3 cloves garlic grated
1 tsp. crushed red chilies
1 small zucchini diced
1 red pepper diced
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Remove chorizo from its casing into a pot and brown in oil until nearly cooked.  Set aside.
In the same pot add onions and garlic to soften.  Add chicken stock and scrape any browned bits and bring to a boil over high heat.
Rinse quinoa in a sieve well.  Add to the pot along with zucchini and peppers, chorizo and crushed chilis.  Stir, cover and turn the heat down to a medium/low for approximately 12-14 minutes.
Afterwards, add chicken and stir again.  Heat for another 5-8 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.
I garnished with chopped green onions.
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cinnamon Mascarpone Pancakes

EEP I have no milk!  I always use milk when I make pancakes!  Water? Unheard of!!
But I want pancakes *sighs in despair*
Its 9 am on a Saturday in December, I am not putting on clothes, starting my car, driving to the grocery store JUST for milk.  Water it is - ugh.

I guess when you make that "box" stuff it calls for water and it still tastes alright so I suppose I could use it too - but I don't have to like it.

Mascarpone cheese - most commonly used in tirimisu, adds smoothness and umph to these cakes and I guess it makes me happier to add a little dairy back in as well.
I have never used it before because its crazy expensive.  I tend to reserve cheese money for dinner parties and special meals, not for pancakes, but today it just seemed right.
Liven these up by using a fruit syrup or compote rather than Aunt Jemima.

Cinnamon Mascarpone Pancakes
makes approx. 15 4" circles

1 c. flour
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 c. water
1 egg beaten and left for dead
2 tbsp. mascarpone cheese

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients, stirring to distribute.  Add water, egg and cheese and whisk well.
The batter will be thicker than usual.
Drop onto buttered griddle or pan by tablespoon, creating rounds with the spoon.  Flip pancakes once the bubbles appear and start to break.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sweet Treats and Expanding Waistlines Part 4 - Banana Rum Balls



If you are involved in any 12 step program or are allergic to nuts, this post is not for you - avert your eyes!
I recently visited an Italian bakery to get some freshly made bread (I know, I could make my own, get off my back) and while I was waiting for it to be sliced (I KNOW, I could do that too!) I nonchalantly browsed the sweet, delectable, mouth watering treats and knew I couldn't just leave with bread.
I picked up a gigantic, no colossal rum ball.  I haven't had one of these in YEARS. 

I want to say my Omi used to have them at Christmas time but my memory might be a little fuzzy (must be the sampling)
My soon to be MIL needed some help with her hostess gifts this year as timing hasn't been on her side.  I offered to help her out by making peanut butter balls, some sugar cookies and felt something was missing.  Alcohol perhaps?  Yes, just not in my glass.
Hence the post.
Now you can make this with a bunch of varieties of nuts.  Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts would be good but I used pecans.  You can also use dark or light rum - I chose BANANA.  Banana goes with chocolate and it also is great with nuts.  I think this might be something you will really enjoy!
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Olive Oil Fusilli with Chicken

Every year a bunch of us ladies head to the good ole US of A to partake in the Black Friday Deals that you Americans are so lucky to have bestowed on you (you really don't know how good you have it!)
And every year it is tradition to stop at Wegmans (a grocery store for the rest of us who don't know) to pick up a cooler full before heading back home.
They have such different selections of meats and cheeses that us Canadians can only get at specialty grocery stores or specific delis after googling, search and usually striking out.  I probably spend just as much time in that store than I do at Macy's!!
This year I picked up a bunch of different cheeses (because its cheaper).  They have been sitting in my fridge for a week now and today I finally decided what to do with at least the Asiago I bought.

Generally pasta in our house (as mentioned) is a rarity.  I came across a recipe from Giada on the Food Network today and thought it would be great to try it out.  Mr. BM called and I told him what we were having and to my surprise he said, ok, save me the chicken carcass just in case.  HA! I love him.
I decided that I was going to swing by our grocery store and pick up a ready made chicken to add a little extra depth to this dish.  I was pleasantly surprised when Mr. BM asked if there was leftovers he could bring to work for lunch tomorrow.  That my friends is a sure fire way to know that this recipe is a good one :)

Olive Oil Fusilli with Chicken

3 c. fusilli pasta - cooked to al dente
1/2 pre cooked chicken cut into pieces - I used breast only
1/4 c. olive oil
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 lb baby spinach
8-10 grape tomatoes halved
1/2 c. fresh Asiago cheese shredded
1/4 c. fresh Parmesan cheese shredded

Cook pasta to al dente approx. 8 minutes in lightly salted water.  Drain reserving 1/2 c. water.
Meanwhile in a pan heat oil and saute the garlic for only about 2 minutes.  Add in the spinach and stir for another 2-3 minutes to wilt.  Add the tomatoes and continue to cook.
Drain pasta and add to the pan along with 1/2 c. cooking water.  Stir to incorporate and then add chicken and both cheeses.
Serve and enjoy!
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Sweet Treats and Expanding Waistlines Part 3 - Peanut Butter Balls

I had a friend, Lisa, whom I met on the first day of kindergarten.  We were best friends from the moment we met until the day she passed away.  Lisa was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a terminal condition affecting her lungs.  This post is for her and all of the memories we shared.

I fondly remember her sharing her grandmothers peanut butter balls with me every Christmas.  She would receive only 1 box each year overflowing with those yummy pieces. She would sneak them into her room when I was over and we would stuff as many as we could in our mouths until her mom would come down and confiscate them.  Little did she know that we also took some out just in case she found out what we were doing so we could eat some later too ;)
She never thought twice about sharing those with me even as a hot commodity and so in the spirit of sharing I would like to share the recipe with you.
It makes me feel good even now as I shove six one in my mouth and think of her :)
I miss you dear friend! XO

Grandma Harris' Peanut Butter Balls
makes about 24-30 balls

1 c. smooth peanut butter
1/4 c. butter (or margarine)
1 1/3 c. icing sugar
1 1/2 c. rice krispie cereal
1 package milk chocolate chips

Cream together peanut butter and butter until combined and smooth. Add icing sugar and stir until combined.  The dough will be a bit tight.  Add the rice krispies and stir until all combined.
Take about a tablespoon full and roll into a ball between your hands.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Continue until all balls have been rolled.  Place in the refrigerator (or outside because its cold enough now) and cool for about 30 minutes.
In a bowl add chocolate chips.  Place the bowl over a pot of lightly boiling water to melt making sure no steam enters the bowl or else your chocolate will seize.
Roll the balls in the chocolate and place on parchment once again.  Chill to set chocolate.
These can be frozen.
Makes for a great gift - I wouldn't mind if a package of these showed up on my doorstep!
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Friday, December 3, 2010

Expanding Waistlines Part 2 - Cheddar n Bacon Perogies

Who doesn't love mashed potatoes?  Cheese?  BACON?!
This gal hearts all of those things. 
To me, a big pile o' smashed taters smothered in butter is sweet heaven. 
Cheese on/in anything, YUM - especially french fries with gravy (called poutine for you non Canadian readers) is melt in your mouth goodness and then there's BACON!!  The other day I was tempted to just fry up a pound of that salty pork belly and eat it as my main course with a side of it just for kicks.  I didn't though, my guilt and my arteries yelled at me so I gave in (but I wanted to, make no mistake!)

All of these things go into the "comfort food" category for me so what better way to enjoy each of those things but to put them together in a soft dough?

I can honestly say this was the first time I have made them.  I am a guilty shopper of the frozen specimen *shocker* but since I am a big believer in purchasing fresh products I figured its about time I learned how to make them, you know, for health reasons!
I am not going to post pictures of the first 10 - 15 I created because you will all laugh, however please note that IF yours don't turn out as you begin, never fear, they do get better as you go along.

Try it, but be warned they do take some time to prepare and only minutes to eat them all.

Cheddar n Bacon Perogies

Filling
4 Yukon gold potatoes
1/3 c. butter
pinch of nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
1 c. shredded cheddar
4-5 slices bacon cooked to crisp and chopped

Boil potatoes to fork tender and mash using a hand masher with butter, nutmeg, salt and pepper - you don't want them to be whipped.
Let cool.
Meanwhile, fry bacon (I chop them into pieces first and fry) and shred cheese.
Once the potatoes are cool to touch mix cheese and bacon in.  Set aside - the dough takes about an hour to rest.

Dough (enough for 4-5 people)
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. water

Mix together all ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon.  The dough will be sticky.  Cover and let rest for 1 hour.
On a floured surface roll out 1/4 of the dough at a time, adding flour as you go along to decrease the stickiness.  Roll to about 8" x 10" and using a glass (or round cutter) cut circles.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Once your filling is complete, place 1 tsp. in the middle.  Flour your hands and fold the dough over and pinch starting from the top and work to the sides.
You can place them on a floured cookie sheet and freeze (then bag) for a later use or boil in a pot of lightly salted water until they float (then fry in bacon fat and onions!!)

Have fun!
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sweet Treats and Expanding Waistlines Part 1 of ...who knows

You walk the mall and you hear holiday music, you see the decorations, Santa's knee is getting sore from all those children climbing all over, but nothing beats shopping with a candy cane white hot chocolate with loads of whipped cream paired with a cinnamon bun to boot.
Just typing that I think I gained 3 lbs!!
This time of year happens to be my favorite.  Not only for the sweets but also for the comfort foods.
I know that when I want to make something sweet I can usually find some people to eat it with me and not feel guilty - because its expected that you put on weight in the holiday season - that's why they have multiple holes on belts people!

Belt notch 1 (compliments of Longo's and The Jo!)

Shortbread Toffee Bites

20-25 shortbread cookies
1 c. salted butter
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. finely chopped chocolate - I used milk chocolate
1/4 - 1/2 c. Skor toffee bits

Line 9 x 9-inch baking pan with foil and place shortbread cookies into single layer, breaking last few to fit short end; set aside.
In a pot, bring butter and sugar to boil, stirring over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.
Present from my Future MIL - Mexican Vanilla

Pour mixture evenly over shortbread, spreading as necessary. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes or until bubbles subside.

Sprinkle chocolate all over and let stand for 5 minutes to melt.  Spread chocolate evenly over top using a small spatula.  Place Skor bits over the chocolate covering all areas and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for about 1 hour or until chocolate and caramel are set.


Remove from foil and cut into squares to serve.


Longo's Tip - You can store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.  Its been a day, I can't imagine I need 2 months of freezer space.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Martha Stewart - You Saved My Jam Today - I Heart You

True story:
Mr. Betty Martha and I were at Walmart a few days ago perusing through the newest addition to the store - the grocery section!  As we are walking by a bin of pomegranates he says to me "Babe (I know, cheesy but its a true story) I'm getting a pomegranate, I think I might like them." 
Ok?  Strange for him to come out with that but sure, way to go Mr. BM!
So he buys just one, of course in case he doesn't really like them, gets home, cuts it in half and says
"Now what?"
HA - I dunno....I drink the juice I've never bought one.
I tell him to grab a spoon and dig in, which of course lasts only about a second...then he says "Are you supposed to eat the white part?"
HA - I dunno....I drink the juice I've never eaten one.
This charade lasts literally 45 seconds, a few of the seeds are eaten and then quickly he has left the vicinity - I wonder if he liked it??
We aren't allowed to talk about it anymore.
UNTIL
TODAY!!!
I went and picked up a few more deciding that I would use them to make jam along with its sidekick, the blueberry.  (Funny, how this fruit has been around forever and yet, all of a sudden its making headlines, its fresh, its cool, its healthy and EVERYBODY should be seen eating it!  Next thing you know the jack fruit will be all over the news!)

My MIL to be says "that's going to take a while, why didn't you just buy the pre-seeded bags?"
I then remembered the nonsense with Mr. BM - how AM I going to get the seeds out easily???

Martha, this is where you come in, saving the day...and my jam sanity!

Martha taught me that you simply take the fruit, cut it in half, turn it over a bowl and whack it with the back of a wooden spoon.  The little pods drop right out!!!
http://www.marthastewart.com/article/clip-of-the-day-becki-newton

What she DIDN'T tell me is that as you do this you should wear protective gear - or avoid light colours.
But I bet she has something on her website on how to get rid of the stains using some unconventional paste of something mixed with something else....the woman is a genius
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Feelin Hot Hot Hot - Red Pepper Jelly

I've been debating whether or not to tell you up front that I didn't actually cut the peppers, boil the concoction, sterilize jars, pour the jelly into jars - basically, I didn't make the jelly.  I DID however advise, help stir, ensure the pregnant one didn't forget to add the hot peppers (which happened in the first batch) as well as be guinea pig, all of which entitles me to say I helped to create this doesn't it?

I was making bread today and my future SIL wanted to do some canning for Christmas.  I like company, and I like anything to do with creating food so was quite happy to help her out.
While I have made jam before - which I really should post here for you because I have to say my plum vanilla jam is to DIE for, I have never made jelly - let alone red pepper jelly.  The premise is the same, sugar, pectin and acidity boiled, canned, eaten...

If you've never had the opportunity to have this, it is great for dinner parties.  Simply pour the jelly over some cream cheese and serve with crackers/pitas etc.  Some even eat this much like regular jams or jellies, on English muffins or toast!
Here's what you will need for each batch:

6-7 250ml jars with lids - sterilized
a large pot
spoon and knife
canning funnel
tongs
patience ;)

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups red peppers - tiny dice is best
1 small can chopped jalapeno peppers
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 c. white vinegar
6 1/2 c. granulated sugar
4 oz. liquid pectin
6 drops red food colouring (if you wish)

Add all peppers, flakes, vinegar and sugar to the pot, stir to combine.  Bring to a rolling boil for 6 minutes stirring constantly.  Please note that with making jams or jellies it is important to time exactly - too much boiling produces a thick substance and not enough, well, the opposite.
Stir in the pectin and continue to boil another 3 minutes still stirring.
Skim off the foam with a spoon and remove from the heat.

See, you need to skim this off, it doesn't look pretty in jars

Pour into jars leaving about 1/2 inch space.  If you have the tools, remove any air bubbles by running a spatula around the jelly and the jar - you don't have to though, its not the end all and be all...


Finally, place the lids on the jars, place in a pot and boil for 5-8 minutes to seal and preserve.
Your jelly can last 6 months to 1 year in your cupboard if you make sure to boil once filled.


Great job Tamara!!





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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Souvlaki Skewers

In my house we call this "meat on a stick" because you can make it with chicken, pork, lamb, or beef - we like to generalize. 
Actually its more like:
Little Ugh: "Mom, what's for dinner"
Me: "Meat"
Little Ugh: "Like Chicken?"
Me: "Something like that - meat on a stick"
Little Ugh: "Oh, ok, so chicken?"
UGHHH not everything tastes like chicken - but if that will make him eat it, then, why yes darling...it is chicken.

Actually, this post goes along with the spanakopita post since it is all part and parcel of our impromptu dinner party. 
I happily offered to make the meat portion since it is easier for me to BBQ and serve than someone else bringing their BBQ along with them :)
I find that homemade souvlaki almost always tastes better than any pre packaged job from the local grocery store or restaurant (unless its a traditional Greek place where a 90 year old Ya Ya is slaving away) and it only takes a few moments to get those flavors cookin!

Pork Souvlaki

2 pork tenderloins
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. low sodium soya sauce (or if you have red wine use that)
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 shallot diced
juice of 2 lemons
12 bamboo skewers soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

I like to use partially frozen tenderloins when I first start.  It is easier to cut into perfect cubes and to take off that silvery membrane.
Take your tenderloin and cut it as if you were butterflying it only follow through so it is in half.  Slice each half lengthwise again.  From there you can make your cubes. 2 inch cubes work best.
Do this with each tenderloin and place into a large Ziploc bag.
In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients and pour into the bag.
I marinade overnight so that the meat has a chance to absorb all of the flavors but if you are pressed for time 1 hour on would work too.
When you are ready to BBQ, heat your grill on high and lightly oil so the meat wont stick. While you are waiting for it to heat up, skewer your meat - approximately 5-6 cubes per kabob.

Turn the BBQ down to medium heat and place your skewers on.  Turn after 5-7 minutes and continue to grill another 5 -7 minutes.
Some like to squeeze some lemon juice over top once complete - your call, in my house it is eaten as fast as it comes off the bbq.

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Spana what?

Spanakopita - Spinach traditionally marrying itself with feta, onions, egg, and dill wrapped in phyllo; this appetizer can also be made larger and fuller to be part of a complete meal.

The gals and I decided that it was time we had a card night as we have all been so busy with our regular lives that we haven't been together in quite some time. This was the perfect opportunity to have some great food and a little fun.  A quaint dinner party ensued. (Although there was enough food to feed the neighbourhood!)

Now pot luck is always the best way to go when you have a small kitchen and to kick things up a bit we opted to theme this dinner - Greek.  I was in charge of the souvlaki first and foremost (which will be posted also) but no Greek dinner party can come without the spinach pie can it?  No sirree it most certainly cannot, not in my house it cant!
Since phyllo is no longer the devil in thin layers I wanted to try my hand at this savory appetizer and it turned out pretty great (tooting my own horn)

The best advice I can give is to make sure you have all of your filling ingredients ready, willing, and able prior to assembly - you don't want your phyllo to dry out.

Spanakopita

8-10 sheets phyllo
1 small container baby spinach
1 container feta cheese (crumbled)
2 eggs
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 shallots
bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley chopped (you can use dill)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. melted butter - for phyllo

Filling:
Blanch your spinach in boiling salted water.  Drain and let cool while you get the others together.
In a bowl mix feta, shallots, garlic, parsley and eggs.  Remove as much moisture from the spinach as possible. (you don't want soggy pies) Chop and add to the other ingredients.

Take 2 damp tea towels and place the phyllo between them.  Working one at a time, take 1 sheet and brush with melted butter.  Place another piece of phyllo on top of the first and again, brush with butter.  Cut into 4 even strips before you add the filling.

Place 1 heaping tsp onto the end (about 1/2 inch from the end) and fold in a triangle shape, then fold over again and again in the triangular shape until you reach the end.  Continue this for each of the cut pieces.
Repeat these steps until you are out of filling.
Yields approx. 20 small triangles


At this point you have a few options:
A) Brush with butter and bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes and eat them all up
B) Freeze them on a baking sheet until set and put into a Ziploc freezer bag to be used at a later time - really??
C) Place in the refrigerator in an air tight container to be used within 24 hours - then bake and eat them all up
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Easy Peasy Apple Strudel

It is strange for me to tell you a dirty little secret - I have never worked with phyllo until today.  EGADS!  I KNOW, with all the baking I like to do you'd think I would have tried it before now.  Let's analyze for a moment - was I afraid of this ever so patience needing pastry?  Did it just seem to good to be true?  Could I believe that people would think I bought my creations?
2 out of 3 of these are correct.  I had always heard that you had to have patience and be very careful with phyllo or it could rip or dry out and look terrible so I steered clear of it.  I thought it was a pain staking ordeal that I just really didn't need to deal with - we have bakeries, I can just stop in there if I needed something fancy looking.

Oh my friends, it isn't as bad as you'd think!  It does take some time as you are creating layers of puffy goodness but its not like you are building a house of cards and one sneeze could blow your hard work away.
This dessert only took maybe 15 minutes?
Again, I had apples left over so that is what was used but I think pears, peaches, plums all would be a great substitute!

Quick n Dirty Apple Strudel

5 sheets thawed phyllo sheets
2 tbsp. melted butter for brushing + 1 tbsp. melted for bread crumbs
1/4 c. bread crumbs
4 apples sliced thick
1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. white sugar + extra for garnish
1 tbsp. flour

Start with the apples so that you have your full attention left over for the phyllo.
Peel, core and slice apples and place in a bowl, sprinkle the lemon juice over top and mix around (this will stop the apples from turning brown).  Place 1 tbsp. butter in a pan and melt, toss in the bread crumbs and coat.  Cook 2-3 minutes until toasty brown.
In your bowl with the apples, throw in the crumbs, cinnamon, salt, flour and sugar and mix together to ensure the apples are fully covered with the ingredients.  Set aside.

Remove 5 sheets of dough from the package.  Place on a piece of parchment paper and cover with a damp towel as you work.
On another piece of parchment take 1 sheet and brush the entire surface with melted butter.  Sprinkle a little sugar over top and place another sheet over top.  Repeat these steps until the final sheet.
Take your apples and on the long end spread them out at one end. (the one closest to you makes the most sense)  Start rolling to encase your apples in a log.  Place on a baking sheet, brush with the remaining butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Cut slits of about 1-2 cm long every 3-4 inches to allow steam to escape.
Bake in a preheated oven at 425 for approx. 15 minutes or until golden brown.
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St. Pepper's Not Lonely Anymore

HA, a song title cleverly disguised as a food blog title. Beatles 1, me 1.  Aren't I the witty one!

This dinner came out of nowhere tonight, I had taken out chicken yesterday and I was set on that...yesterday.  It's hard pleasing me, I change my mind about what I want to eat more than a pregnant woman and her cravings.  I have always been this way.  My sister in law (who happens to be carrying my newest niece or nephew) and I went out for dinner a few weeks back and we (more so me) must have sat in our booth for over 20 minutes trying to decide WHAT to have!  I think had I been more decisive she would have been ready 5 minutes in.  Our poor waitress must have come back to our table 7 times before we finally order an appetizer just so we could have a few extra minutes.
What can I say?  I love food, I just want to be sure that I am enjoying my meals to the fullest.

So as I am debating what variety of spices are going to lounge out with my chicken today, I spot 6 multi coloured peppers in my in laws fridge.  They are away this week and the peppers were going to go bad if I didn't use them, I was sure of it! YOINK

Now as I have mentioned before, I have strange eating habits. 
Exhibit A - Fruit on the bottom yogurt: I slightly stir the top non flavoured part and eat that until there is less than a millimetre of it left and THEN I stir that with the fruit. YUM!
Exhibit B - I like to eat my Coffee Crisps: in layers. (I am not sure why this is relevant)
Exhibit C - I don`t like tomatoes, but I will eat ketchup, I will eat them in chili, pasta sauce and sometimes even bruchetta.  They will never and I mean NEVER touch a sandwich and if for some reason one gets put on it, I have to scrape all the juices and seeds off before eating it.  Who am I kidding, I usually send it back.
I can go on and on, but really I am trying to paint a picture here - I prefer my veggies raw, in a salad, or with dip, so when I decided to make dinner tonight I was going against everything I believe in. 
Stuffed peppers!
I was also trying to disguise rice - Mr. Betty Martha doesn`t like to eat it.  When I make it as a side dish he gets 1 maybe 2 tablespoons and that`s it.  It`s like telling your child who doesn't like brussel sprouts that he only has to eat 2 to get dessert!  So this dinner was as much about my dislikes as his.  What a compromise!
I would like to tell you now that all 3 of us decided that this too can be set in rotation.  Non of us gagged, complained and even cleaned our plates :)

Rice and Pork Stuffed Peppers

5 medium sized peppers - I prefer a variety of colors but you can use what you have
1 lb ground pork
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 1/2 c minute rice - prepared as directed
2 celery stalks
1 can tomato sauce (or homemade if you prefer)
shredded cheese for garnish

Cook rice according to directions and set aside.  Brown the meat and add the garlic, onions and celery to pan to absorb flavors and soften (approx. 5-8 minutes).  While this is happening, cut the tops off your washed peppers, and remove the seeds as well as the membrane inside using a spoon or a knife.  You will want your peps to stand up straight so if necessary cut the bottoms.
Combine rice with meat mixture and stir in the tomato sauce (with a little bit of water - I usually put some into the can to swish around the remaining sauce)
In a shallow baking dish place your peppers cut side up.  Pack in the rice mixture until it reaches the top (if its overflowing a bit its ok, no one is going to judge you)
Place a sheet of aluminum foil over and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.  Remove the foil, add some shredded cheese and bake another 10-15 minutes so the cheese has had time to melt.
 










This is a full meal in itself but you could pair this with a starter salad or soup to get the ball rolling.
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Where's the Eggs? Quiche Recipe Included

I just thought of something...the title of my blog refers to deviled eggs yet I don't have a multitude of variations for that or ANY egg dish.  I guess when I was coming up with the name for the blog I was more in a musical frame of mind than a food haze that day.  I also guess that I could have been more inventive with the titles of my posts by incorporating some sort of lyric or song theme into them too but really, do you care?  I didn't think so.

But in all seriousness eggs are so versatile.  You cook with them, you bake with them, they can be for breakfast, lunch or dinner, for making appetizers, and of course you can decorate them which takes it to a whole new "play with your food" level.
Scrambled, poached, fried, sun side up, soft boiled, hard boiled, omelets, with sauce, no sauce, with ketchup - flashback, Bubba Gump shrimp scene from Tom Hanks' Forrest Gump.
Last nights dinner was none of those, it was better...the QUICHE.

Did you know that the quiche actually originated in Germany?  Bet you didn't - most people think it came from France.  The word quiche is from the German Kuchen, meaning cake.  I don't recall eating quiche as a kid and my family immigrated from Germany in the 1950's - maybe its because Julia Child put it in her "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" cookbook in the 60's.  They didn't have the internet to prove her wrong so they never thought to make it.  I missed out.

A quiche can easily be described as a pastry shell with an egg/milk/cream mixture to which a variety of things can be added to personalize the tart.  Last night we had a ricotta and spinach quiche.  Ricotta is a light tasting cheese which goes nicely with the mellow egg.  You don;t even need to make your own pastry, store bought pie crusts work so well!!

Spinach and Ricotta Quiche

1 9" pie crust (not blind baking this one)
4 eggs
2 c. wilted spinach chopped (I like fresh products over frozen)
1/4 c. half and half cream
1 c. light ricotta
1/4 c. fresh Parmesan cheese (thinly grated)
1/8 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
generous dashes of salt and cracked pepper

Super easy folks, whisk the eggs until pale yellow.  Add in the cream, ricotta and parm.  Blend to incorporate but don't over mix.  Stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
In the pie shell place 1/2 of the previously wilted and chopped spinach all over, pour the egg mixture over top and finish the top with the rest of the spinach.
Bake in a pre heated oven at 350 for about 40 minutes.
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quick n Easy Canneloni

Hate is such a strong word but I have to use it in my next sentence. 
Mr. Betty Martha hates pasta!  I know, how can the carb queen marry such a man??  Side note: Mr. Ugh is now known as Mr. Betty Martha - he wanted a new name.
He was forced to eat Kraft Dinner as a child and despised it even back then - I've been told the story numerous times and will spare you the "upchucking" details but needless to say he wont eat the stuff. 
In our house we have what I like to call "I'm eating pasta so do whatever you want" nights but for some strange reason when I make this dish he wants to ensure there is enough to bring for lunch the next day!!
It's a quick and easy recipe, and tastes great. 

Funny story, I was watching the Food Network the other day and the chef was going to make cannelloni.  I found myself glued to the tv to see if, or what other things they might add or take away in case I wanted to change mine up (even though its the best already). Ok ok that wasn't really funny.  They didn't use anything different for the filling, if anything, mine sounded as if it might have a better "taste".  Only difference is I didn't make my own pasta. *fellow blog readers I would like to own a pasta machine, maybe for Christmas? Just sayin*

Cheese n Spinach Stuffed Cannelloni

14 ready to bake cannelloni shells
Filling
1 pkg light ricotta
5 c. spinach
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 egg
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper

For the filling - wilt the spinach in a pan or pot (which you can cover) with a pinch of salt and pepper and 1 tbsp. butter. This should only take a few minutes. Remove, let cool and drain to remove most of the excess water.

In a bowl, add ricotta, chopped garlic, spices and egg and mix well - but do not over mix. Chop spinach to a rough chop and fold in. Since we used the ready to bake shells it can be difficult sometimes to get the filling in. You can use a pastry bag or the trusty Ziploc bag with the tip cut to fill the shells.
Sauces below
*once your sauces are made place a thin layer of tomato sauce at the bottom of your pan and place the filled shells on top. Dollop the bechamel sauce over the shells and then top with the remainder of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with parm cheese and mozzarella. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes*

Sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
8-10 fresh basil leaves lightly torn
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 - 2 tsp. olive oil
Empty contents of can into blender and pulse to a smooth consistency.  Heat oil and add garlic for a few seconds, pour in tomato puree, add garlic, basil and stir.  Heat for 10 minutes.

Bechamel Sauce (optional)
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (whole tastes better)
1 1/2 c. milk
salt and pepper to taste
Making a basic roux, melt the butter, sprinkle in the flour and nutmeg and stir.  Cook for a 2-3 minutes.  Slowly add the milk in stages, whisking each time to smooth out.  Don't worry if you see lumps, they will disappear.  Sauce will thicken as you cook it.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A is for Apple P is for Pie Y is for YUM

What happens when you go apple picking with your immediate family, your in-laws, and the in-laws family?
You end up with a whack load of apples, AGAIN!! 
It seems like deja vu considering about a month ago I was inundated with the little buggers and I JUST finished using them.
I love my family so I would never trade the time that I can spend with them.  They are all quirky in their own way and it makes little outings a barrel of laughs to say the least!  So when they decided that we'd all get together and go for Thanksgiving how could I say no?? 

Uncle Gary finding a use for the rotting apples

Then....the cold from "HE double hockey sticks" came and all I wanted to do was sleep and DIE. Sadly apple picking waits for no one and so we headed out, kleenex stuffed into pockets, Vick's on the chest and a warm cup of apple cider in hand.  They do say "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" so who was I to argue?
So, ok, I do have to admit that we went for the company, the sunshine, and the picturesque scenery NOT to pick any more apples.  My mother-in-law however picked with our son and  since I have been a resident baker the last little while I think she was assuming I needed more and more and more apples. AH well....lets make pies!



Apple Pie
Filling -
5-6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. butter diced into small pieces
pinch of salt

Wash, peel, core and slice apples and place in a bowl.  sprinkle the lemon juice over apples and toss to coat (this stops the apples from browning).  Place cinnamon, sugars, flour and salt over top and mix.  Pour into unbaked pie shell (homemade or store bought - recipe below). 
Take the butter and place around the apples sporadically.  Cover with second pie crust, pinching the sides or using one of those fancy dancy pastry cutters which I don't own - hint hint and cut a few slits for steam.
Some people like to brush a little water/egg mixture over top of crust and use some rock sugar but I am not that fancy.
Bake at 400 for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 375 and continue to bake another 35-45 minutes.  My test is the top of the crust should be slightly browning

Homemade Crust - if you aren't lazy or strapped for time
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. unsalted butter
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
2 tbsp. lemon juice
6 tbsp to 8 tbsp cold water as needed

Combine flour with salt. Using a pastry knife or fork, cut in butter and shortening until mixture is a crumbly texture. Add lemon juice and water and mix just until dough comes together. Shape into a disc, wrap and chill for 30 minutes.  Roll out to 2 10 in circles (so that it will overhang the 9 in pie plate)  Lightly flour the pie plate, place one sheet and fill with apple mixture, place second over top and pinch the two to form a seal.
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Friday, October 8, 2010

Pumpkin Cake - Just in time for Thanksgiving

Pumpkins...Odd shaped and orange. (not always tho)
What else can you say about them?  Great for so many things really....such versatile fruits - or is it a vegetable?  No, fruit...it has seeds.
You eat the flesh, sweet or savory, you can bake the seeds and the outside can be carved for Hallowe'en.  OR you could simply paint the outsides and use them as decorations. (That's my Martha coming out)  But really, how many other fruits can you do that with?
Do you know what the largest pumpkin last year weighed in at?  A whopping 1725lbs!!
http://www.pumpkinnook.com/giants/giantpumpkins.htm  RIDICULOUS!!!
I doubt you could use that to make pies, but if you could, how many pies do you think it could make??

Every year I am in charge of 2 things for Thanksgiving dinner....gravy and pumpkin pies.
This year I thought it would be nice for a change but there was some resistance when I said I was making a pumpkin cake.  WHAT ABOUT THE PIES???  Don't worry, I am still making those too but we should welcome a change once in a while folks.
I found this recipe on Epicurious.com and it just sounded so tantalizing.  I read some of the reviews and decided to add a touch of oil as I like moist cakes and I couldn't afford to have a dry cake.  I might be banished from the kitchen if it didn't turn out well.
It looks great - tomorrow will be the true test.  I hope I don't have nightmares

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Nonstick cooking spray
3 c. all purpose flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. (packed) golden brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 15-oz can pure pumpkin
1/3 c milk
1/4 c. oil

Preheat to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans or spring form pans. Line bottoms with parchment; spray parchment. Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in another large bowl until smooth. Beat in brown sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in pumpkin. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk and oil in 2 additions, beating to blend between additions. Divide batter between pans.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in pans on rack 15 minutes. Remove outer ring and invert cakes onto racks. Remove parchment
Once cool, slice each cake in half.

Frosting
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp finely grated orange peel
2 c powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. orange juice
Chopped walnuts or walnut halves, toasted

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add cream cheese and orange peel; beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar and juice and beat on low speed until smooth.
Trim rounded tops from cakes. Place 1 cake layer, cut side up, on your serving dish. Spoon some frosting onto the layer; spread to edges. Repeat 2 more times with cake and frosting; top with remaining cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake (layer will be thin).
Take chopped walnuts and press them onto the side of the cake and if you like some on the top.

Thanks Epicurious...I'm looking forward to devouring this tomorrow :)
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Drumroll Please....Drumsticks, Chorizo 'n Kale Creation

Alright, my turn....KALE!  That's my pick this week.
I seem to be watching an obscene amount of the Food Network lately and I happen to really enjoy "Chuck's Day Off" a lot.
It could be his cute little French accent or the fact that he is adorable but mostly because he can really cook!!
So this week I turned to kale (which I have never had before) because of him.  He made it seem so easy and the dish looked AMAZING.
I did however manage to remove the clams that he used in this dish and a few other ingredients so its sort of like I made it up myself no? Or should I say "non"?
I normally don't like to eat meat from a bone, (I know, I have some strange eating habits) but I couldn't resist this one.
This will definitely be another dinner to add to the revolving monthly list as it is quick and tasty not to mention it uses 1 dish to make - less cleanup for this lady!!
I hope you will enjoy this as much as my family did. 

Chicken Drumsticks, Chorizo with Kale

6-8 chicken drumsticks
2 large potatoes diced
1 medium red onion sliced
3 cloves smashed garlic
2-3 chorizo sausages sliced
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. paprika (smoky is best)
3 leaves and stalks of kale julienned
2 tbsp. chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste


In a bowl mix chicken, chorizo and paprika.
Remove to an oven proof skillet and brown the chicken on all sides in the oil (about 5 minutes)
Add chorizo and brown another 2-3 minutes.  Layer diced potatoes, onions and garlic over top the chicken mixture.  Season with salt and pepper lightly.  Place in preheated oven (350) for 25 minutes or until the chicken is fork tender.  Finally, place kale on top and add the chicken stock, cook another 10 minutes.
Remove from oven, stir and serve.
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

"¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!" Enchiladas! Enchiladas!

Have you ever been to Mexico? You should really go if you haven't been.
I've been a few times and every time I return home I step on the scale and find out that I have gained a minimum of 8 pounds.  I'm not kidding!
I would wake up, go to the buffet, swim a bit, do some activities, go to the buffet, more activities, more food.  And usually squeak in some more food just before bed!  And I always tried to eat the most authentic of dishes just to get my fix.
I swear I have Mexican blood in me - I love the food, the spices, the creative way of making simple dishes taste so wonderful!
We often have tacos and fajitas at home but enchiladas, not so much...which I am really not quite sure why.  They are healthy, tasty, and really not that difficult to prepare and I eat them when I am in Mexico so???
I have no excuse...
BUT last week I was in a Mexican mood and decided that it was time for some more authentic flavors.
This recipe is not a tomato based like you would find in North American restaurants - just warning you now, don't expect a Taco Bell experience here.

Chicken Enchiladas
2 chicken breasts - skinless (doesn't need to be boneless)
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp. oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 small can green chilies
2-3 tomatoes diced
2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. cumin
salt n pepper to taste
1 c. sour cream
2 c. cheese (I used Tex Mex blend but Queso Fresco would be the best)
8-10 tortillas - I used flour because that was available

First, boil the chicken for about 15 minutes - I threw in a bay leaf, some Mexican oregano to the water.
While the chicken is boiling prepare the sauce.

Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan, cook the onions on med heat until golden, add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour, cumin, salt and pepper to the onion mixture and stir until combined.  Add the tomatoes and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
Pour in the chicken stock slowly and continue to stir - it will thicken because of the roux (this is the term used for a thickening agent for sauces) you made with the flour and oil/butter.  Stir in the can of chilies and sour cream and 1/2 the cheese.  Sauce is done!
Now that the sauce is ready you are almost ready to eat - sorta....you still need to shred your chicken (or you can cube it if you like but then its not really authentic - just sayin)

Take your tortillas, a spoonful of chicken a touch of shredded cheese and roll them up - place in a dish.
Pour the sauce all over the enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
Throw in the oven for about 10 minutes just to melt and brown the cheese.
Serve with Mexican rice and refried beans - trust me, you're gonna LOVE it!
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

What to do With All These Apples?? Part 1 - The Cookie Post

The next few posts are going to be about apples.  Why?  Because its my blog and I can!
No, that's not it at all...I have an abundance of apples. 
A good friend and I went apple picking a week or so ago and every corner I turn there they are - those crisp, sweet/tart, red and green delectable pieces of fruit!

I hadn't really given it much thought until we were out in the orchard that day.  I heart apples! 
There was this little sign that said that "sampling was allowed" so I took full advantage of that let me tell you.
The day was beautiful, sunny, blue skies, warm with a cool breeze - almost fall, the perfect day to pluck.  The orchard had a few varieties to choose from however we picked Cortland and Empire (and I sampled both prior to purchase)
We walked around chatting, giggling and picking.  It was almost serene. And then something happened....I bit into an apple the size of an orange and a feeling of euphoria came over me - I was in love with the apple all over again!!
But much like being in love with anything you can over indulge.  This my friends is why I have multitudes of apples in the house.

I happen to have THE best chewy oatmeal apple cookie recipe for you though!! 
I am tempted to use this recipe from here on in with any cookie I make and just substitute choco chips, nuts, fresh/dried fruit - it is honestly one of the best chewy cookie recipes I have ever tried!!

CHEWY OATMEAL APPLE COOKIES

3/4 c. margarine - room temp (or butter if you prefer)
1 - 1/4 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3 c. quick rolled oats
1 c. diced apples

Preheat oven to 375.
Blend together  margarine, sugar, milk, egg and vanilla until combined and smooth. (a whisk will do just fine)
Stir in flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda just until combined - do not over mix.
Fold in oatmeal and apples.
Drop by tablespoon onto parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake 13-15 minutes.
Makes approx. 2 dozen
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The No Food Post

Wow, it feels like forever since I have been on here writing about food, I'm sorry!
This doesn't mean that my family has starved though, they would never let me get away with not cooking for more than a night.  I suppose the foods that have been made in the past little while I assumed people already make - maybe not?

In the wake of the new school year its been a mad house coming up with lunch ideas that don't take forever to make as well as being palatable for a 12 year old who really would prefer to eat pb&j sandwiches or the infamous grilled cheese day in and day out.  I think that makes me the "mean mom" that wont let their kid eat processed-packaged-heat in the microwave for 3-5 minutes crap - AHHHHH!!!! 
Don't fret, "little Ugh" actually likes my cooking, he likes coming home for lunches because he knows there is always something good to eat.

I admit, I will give in to temptation of a good grilled cheese every now and then but only if there is great bread and cheese in the house and of course some pork fat grilled inside - yes folks, bacon!  Bacon is SOOOO good in things, around things, on things, HECK its just good on its own!!  My mouth just watered.....I think I might just have to have an "ode to bacon" blog in the near future.  WOW that was a detour of course if I ever saw one!

Ok, Ok, so by now you've realized that this post is all talk, no pictures, however while I have been a little relaxed on the writing aspect I haven't been lazy!  I promise to add the recipes I liked the most and also to dig up some good ole bacon recipes to curb my now yearning taste buds!!

If you have any bacon suggestions that you want to see lemme know!!
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Little Ugh's Pick - TURNIPS

Turnip? What kid picks TURNIPS?  My kid does!
As I mentioned in a previous blog, we have our new veggie rule - at least one new one must enter our cart and fill our bellies each week (or each time we shop).  The choice is rotated so that the 2 "Ughs" can't complain that they have to eat gross food.  So here we are, left with turnips....or is it rutabagas?  I had a fight this weekend that they are different.  My mom used to use rutabagas when I was younger.  They look different, one has a waxy coating, the other can be peeled, they have different coloured flesh, they aren't even the same size!  I got home and have been Googling ever since. 
They are in the same family, but they are not the same (depending on which site you choose to believe)
So again, announcing...TURNIPS (can you tell by my side notes that not only am I trying to convince you that this recipe is the end all and be all of turnip recipes by prolonging the recipe but maybe a little of how I was feeling about eating them - evading!!)  Actually, if I was going to eat this veggie all the time this would be how I would make it - unless I mashed it and mixed it with potatoes

Pancetta Crusted Turnips
4-5 turnips, washed, peeled and cubed
thinly sliced pancetta
1/2 c. sesame seeds
1 egg slightly beaten
oil - for deep frying

Heat oil to 350 and oven to 350 also.
Wash, peel and cube turnips into 1x1 in cubes.  Wrap the turnips in pancetta, dip in egg wash and roll in sesame seeds.
Deep fry for about 1 minute or until seeds are golden brown (work in batches).  Place on a paper towel to drain.  Move to a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until soft inside.

This was paired with mozzarella and spinach stuffed chicken breasts wrapped in the left over pancetta - team consensus....we will eat them again :)
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