Monday, 31 December 2012

Baked French Toast Casserole

Baked French Toast Casserole

IMPORTANT NOTE**MAKE THE NIGHT BEFORE** the toppings can be made the morning of

I made this Christmas Eve so we could eat is Christmas morning and it was soooooooo good. It almost was a like a dessert. There was a lot left over, so we ate it for breakfast for a few days and it was still just as good.

Ingredients:

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces) **I used french bread, but I am sure any bread will do**
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows
Maple syrup

Directions


Slice bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping:


  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. We used our fingers to spread it evenly on top.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Meal plan for Dec 31 - Jan 4 and NYE Appetizers

So, I was going to post 3 recipes this past week.....but the flu hit my Little One Christmas Eve and she is finally recovered. So, I will be posting some tonight with my meal plan.

Meal Plan:

Meatless Monday: Baked French Toast Casserole **This would be great for a New Years morning breakfast.** Needs to be prepared day before**

Tuesday: Bourbon Street Chicken with Jasmine Rice

Wednesday: Bacon and Baked Potato Soup

Thursday: Spicy Thai Noodles

Friday: Steak Burrito

Anyone going to any New Years Eve parties and need to bring some appetizers? I have 2 recipes for you. I made these for a Christmas party and both were completely gone by the end of the night.

First is the Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps. I cannot describe all the ways that I love this appetizer. Need I say more....BACON!!!!

I think this made approx 30-40

2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts **more if they are small**
1 (1-pound) package sliced bacon **I slice in half or in thirds, depends on how big you cut your chicken**
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder

Toothpicks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes. Cut each bacon slice into thirds. Wrap each chicken cube with bacon and secure with a wooden pick. Stir together brown sugar and chili powder. Dredge wrapped chicken in mixture. 


3. Coat a rack and broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place chicken wrap on rack in broiler pan. Bake 350 for 30 to 35 minutes or until bacon is crisp. 


My second recipe is my own recipe and I just call it Hot Taco Dip. This recipe is one that everyone loves. It is easy to make and sooooo yummy.

Ingredients:

1 pkg of philadelphia cream cheese (I use light)
Sour cream (optional)
1 lb of lean ground beef
Taco seasoning (I use epicures, but you can use homemade or the store bought) 
1 jar of Salsa (I use medium heat)
Cheese of your choice
1 bag of Tostitos (I prefer the mutli-grain) for dipping

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Have the cream cheese at room temperature or put in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to make it easier to spread. Put in a 8x11 casserole dish. I add a few dollops of sour cream, but sometimes I don't. Mix and spread evenly on the bottom of the dish.

3. Brown the beef on medium heat in a pan. **I sometimes add onions and peppers in this phase as well, depending on time and laziness** Add taco seasoning, I don't add a whole package, I just use enough so it is lightly to moderately seasoned. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Once it cooked, I add salsa. I use 1 whole medium jar or about half of a large jar. I add enough so it is evenly mixed with the beef. Add to your preference. Let simmer for 3 minutes.


5. Spread the beef mixture evenly on top of the cream cheese layer.

6. Grate your favorite cheese on top. I use jack cheese and marble.

7. Put in the oven for approx 15-20 minutes or until it is bubbling on the sides and cheese is all melted.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

No meal plan, but still have some goodies!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

So, since it is the holidays, I won't have time to post as much and I will not be making as many suppers due to visiting family, etc... Plus, may daughter has the stomach flu and I have a sinking feeling it will be making its way around the household.

However, I will be posting the 2 appetizers I made for my Christmas party with the gang. It will be my Hot Taco Dip recipe and Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps.

I will also be posting a Baked French Toast recipe I made for Christmas morning.

Stay tuned!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Snicker Fudge

Snicker Fudge

I am making this for my bake exchange with my girls this weekend. The ingredient list seems easy, just time consuming to make. I hope they turn out. I always end up making a new recipe for this exchange and I never know how it will turn out. Fingers crossed!! I will be back later with my review and pictures.

It was a HIT! It was a lot easier then I thought and not as time consuming as I thought. Since it was made in layers, I could do a layer, freeze it and come back to it when I had more time. It was also one of the best things I have baked for my bake exchange. It was very rich and sweet, so it should be consumed in small doses, or you may end up with a sugar hang over ;)

**NOTE** The caramel runs like crazy once it is cut. I suggest you keep it in the freezer**

Ingredients:

1 bag milk chocolate chips separated (you will need 2 cups, and the bag I bought didn't have exactly 2 cups, so I added some semi sweet that I already had)
Peanut butter
1 cup salted peanuts
1 1/2 cup Fluff
2 bags Caramels (you will need 14 oz and that is exactly 30 caramels)
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
Tin foil or wax paper

1ST LAYER
 In and small bowl, combine:
1 cup of milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup of peanut butter

Line a 9x13 dish with tin foil or wax paper. Heat in the microwave in two 30-second intervals, stirring after each. Stir until creamy and then pour the mixture in an even layer into the bottom of the prepared pan. Place the pan in the freezer.
2ND LAYER 
**I found it helpful to have all the ingredients measured and ready to go before I started because it comes together quickly**

In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. 
Add:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
Stir and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat and add:
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/Fluff
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir until combined.

Add 1 cup of salted peanuts.

Stir until combined. Remove the pan from the freezer and pour the mixture in an even layer over the chocolate layer. Place back in the freezer.
3RD LAYER

In a small saucepan, add:
14-oz. bag caramels, unwrapped **30 caramels**

1/4 cup evaporated milk
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel is melted and smooth. 
Remove the pan from the freezer and pour the caramel over the top in an even layer. Place back in the freezer.
4TH LAYER:
In a small bowl, combine:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Heat in the microwave in two 30-second intervals, stirring after each. Stir until creamy. Remove the pan from the freezer and pour the mixture in an even layer onto the top. Make sure the caramel layer is firm before doing this.
Refrigerate for 1 hour (or perhaps you could cheat a bit and freeze for a shorter time like I may or may not have done).

Peel the foil or paper off, then cut into chunks. The caramel will run, so keep in freezer or fridge.









Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Honey Pecan Pork Chops

Honey Pecan Pork Chops

Ingredients:
4 pork cutlets, tenderized, 1/4-inch thick
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Directions:Season flour with salt and pepper; dust surfaces of pork with seasoned flour.

Melt butter in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat; brown cutlets on one side, turn; stir together honey and pecans and add to skillet, stir gently. Cover and simmer for 7-8 minutes.

Serve cutlets with sauce from skillet.


I wasn't overly impressed with this recipe. It could be due to cutting it in half because I was only cooking 2 pork chops. They were big, so I shouldn't have cut it in half. It might have been better if I cooked the sauce separately because all it did was make the breading go mushy on the pork chops it got simmered.

I won't be making this recipe again. I have a sweet and sour recipe I love more and I will be making it soon.

Cooking green

I like to try in my own ways to be more environmentally conscious. I am not perfect and I will not preach, I just want to share the ways that I try to cook green in my home. I will also share how I have tried to my keep my kitchen more green.

1. I know it is not Monday, but I have decided to support Meatless Mondays (click for link). Some of you know that I LOVE meat. I don't want to say never, but it is highly unlikely I could become a vegetarian. However, I have decided to take the challenge of using no meat in my cooking on Mondays. I will have some vegetarian and even some vegan dishes come up. I have a friend who is vegan and she inspires me.

2. We compost vegetable and fruit scraps. It reduces waste and we can use it for fertilizer in our garden. We have something that looks like this in our backyard:

3. We have a garden. We have tried many different vegetables in our garden....but honestly, we need to do WAY more research. What we have done successfully is grow herbs and spices. They are easy to take care of and last forever. We do something called Square Foot Gardening (click link to find out more). Ours looks almost identical to this. The parts were cheap and it was easy to build if you are handy. I am not, that is why my man built it. 

4. We recycle everything that we can into those recycle bins you see by Shoppers or Superstore. I don't throw away old margarine containers or shampoo bottles. I rinse and recycle. We also recycle at the redemption center and get some money back!

5. We try to reduce the use of paper towel. This habit is hard to break and I would love to get rid of it completely, however, my man will not let me. Instead I bought some cheap facecloths (or you can turn old clothes into rags) and I keep them under the sink with a wet bag (if I remember to use the wet bag). I also want to use less napkins, but I need to find cheap, but pretty cloth napkins first. Yes, we will use more water to clean this, but I think it will not make that big of a difference in water usage compared to the savings in waste and cost in buying napkins and paper towel.

6. I try to buy organic and fresh produce from markets or were at least grown in Canada.

7. I have made my own kitchen cleaners to reduce the chemicals in our house. I also make my own laundry detergent and cloth diaper detergent (yes we cloth diaper and love it thanks to a friend who inspired me). I will admit to using half of my homemade and little bit of Tide, as I found it didn't clean them as well as I had liked. I also made the dish washer detergent, but didn't have success, however my parents did. I think it depends on the type of water you have.  Here are the recipes:

All-Purpose Cleaner
1 3/4 c Water
1 3/4 c Vinegar
1 tbs Dish Soap (a small squirt)
1 dropper full of Grapefruit Seed Extract or several drops of Tea Tree Oil **I used the Tea tree oil**
I gently mix this up (so I don’t cause too many bubbles!) and pour it into a spray bottle.  You can mix this up with just vinegar and water if you like.  
Glass Cleaner
1 1/3 c Water
1 1/3 c Vinegar
1 tbs Dish Soap (a small squirt)
1 dropper full of Grapefruit Seed Extract or several drops of Tea Tree Oil
1/3 c Rubbing Alcohol (this will give you a great streak-free shine)
Again, mix gently and you can leave out the dish soap and grapefruit seed extract (or TTO) if you need/want to.

Laundry detergent (2 tbsp/load, more if needed)
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1/2 cup of oxiclean
  • 1 bar of soap, finely grated

Dishwasher Detergent

1 1/2 Cups Lemi-Shine ** found at Canadian Tire with the cleaners**
1 1/2 Cups Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Sea Salt (any will do I’m sure)
Use 2 Tablespoons per load and if you like, vinegar can be added as the rinse agent in the event that you have any cloudiness.

So, I didn't make these changes overnight. It was a gradual process and we are not perfect, so every now and then, I may throw something in the garbage I normally would recycle or not make my laundry detergent as soon as it ran out, so I use Tide. But, I just keep trying as hard as I can. I would love to hear how you cook green or keep your house green or if you are inspired to make any changes!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Balsamic Bruschetta Grilled Chicken

Balsamic Bruschetta Grilled Chicken

         I followed this recipe closely, other then adding red onion to my bruschetta toppings. I am very glad I did. I did not use a grilling pan, as I do not own one. I am a BBQ woman. I use my BBQ all year round....of course it decided to pour down rain tonight....but it was worth it. I LOVED this recipe. If you like Bruschetta, then you will love this. There was little food prep time, a short cooking time and there was little mess to clean up afterword. I love low maintenance, but tasty recipes.

I served Caesar salad as a side and it went very well together. If you are only cooking for 2, cut the recipe in half. It still works out fantastic.

INGREDIENTS:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, thawed (I use the big Costco bag)
Pinch of salt
¼ Cup balsamic vinegar
¼ Cup extra virgin olive oil
8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese

4 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and diced
8 fresh basil leaves,**I used freeze dried because there was no fresh basil at the store**
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar


DIRECTIONS:


1. Preheat a grill pan over medium heat on the stove top. Spray with cooking spray. Combine balsamic and olive oil in a bowl. Season both sides of chicken with pinches of salt and place on grill. Brush top sides of chicken with balsamic mixture. Cook for 4-5 minutes and flip chicken. Brush with additional balsamic and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes or until cooked through. During the last 2 minutes of grilling place 2 slices of cheese over top each chicken to melt.


2. In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, basil garlic, salt and balsamic. Toss gently to combine. 


3. Place chicken breasts on a serving plate and top with tomato mixture. Serve warm.




Bacon, Spinach and Tomato Pasta

Bacon, Spinach, Tomato Pasta 

I follow this recipe pretty closely. Click on the name to get the  link to the original recipe. I will ** my adjustments.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt **I don't use this much**
  • 16 ounces spaghetti pasta **I use half a box of bowtie pasta**
  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon or pancetta, chopped **I use half a pund**
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes **I use less**
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup red wine 

  • 4 tablespoons fresh basil,**I used frozen cubed if I don't have fresh**


  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan **We buy the BIG ones from Costco. But we are big lovers of Parm and it will last a LONG time. It may seem expensive, but in the long run, it is cheaper and it does not go bad quickly**
  • Spinach **not in original recipe, I add this**
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. Boil water, add favorite pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente.**SIDE NOTE** Some of you may know this, but I just found out recently. When you drain pasta, run under cold water, or it will keep cooking and then you may have overcooked pasta**
2. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add bacon and saute until bacon is crispy. Remove bacon to drain on a paper towel-lined plate and remove 3/4 of the bacon fat from the pan. Add extra-virgin olive oil, onions, and red chili flakes. Cook until onions are translucent, add garlic, Cook for 2 minutes then add tomatoes. Saute for 5 minutes, then deglaze with wine.



3. Drain pasta and add to the tomato mixture pan. Add basil and bacon.
4. Then add Spinach **I add it in bunches because it looks like a lot, then it wilts, then I add more** Toss with Parmesan, and add salt and pepper, to taste.


This is one of my FAVORITE recipes and has become a staple in our house. It is even better the next day. It comes together very quickly and not a lot of prep time.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Meal Plan for Dec 17-21

Monday - To use up my left over spinach from my Whirly Twirly Pizza, Bacon, Spinach and Tomato Pasta


Tuesday - Balsamic Brushetta Chicken


Wednesday - From my 12/12/12 post,  Honey Pecan Pork Chops

Thursday - I am going to my work Christmas Party, so I will not be making supper this night. I encourage you all to try something new!

Friday - I need to do some Christmas baking for my baking exchange with my girls. So, this recipe will be something sweet. TBA

Whirly Twirly Pizza

I loved this recipe, simply for the fact that it changes a basic recipe in a fun way. Honestly, it is no different then making a homemade pizza, it is just served differently then in a pizza pie form. It was a hit with my son, therefore it will be made again.  It would go great with some salad on the side.

Ingredients:

Pizza dough (I chose to buy the Sobey's frozen dough found in the freezer of the bakery section)
cornmeal
Pizza sauce (I make my own, the recipe will follow at the end)
Your favorite toppings
I chose:
spinach
fresh basil
marble and monterey jack with hot peppers cheese
pepperoni
(next time I would add BACON, sauteed peppers and onions)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425F
2. I shake a little cornmeal on my counter (maybe a tsp or 2). This prevents the dough from sticking to the counter. I prefer it over flour.


3. Spread out the dough with your hands. I put olive oil on my hands to prevent the dough from sticking to my fingers.
4. Spread the sauce evenly over the dough.
5. Grate cheese on the sauce
6. Lay down your favorite toppings.

7. Put another layer of cheese on top.
8. Roll the dough like like a log
9. Cut into small chunks
10. Grease a basking dish and place the pizza rolls in. Grate some more cheese or extra toppings on top
11. Bake for 17-20 min. I kept checking on the dough in the middle to make sure it was cooked.


Pizza sauce recipe:
 I can of tomato paste
1/2 - 1 cup of tomato sauce or marinara sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
half of an onion
2 tsp pf oregano
1 tsp pf paprika
chili flakes (optional)

Instructions:

1. add oil to a pan and sautee the garlic and onions.
2. Once the onions are translucent, add the tomato paste and sauce. Mix well.
3. Add spices. I also add a little chili flakes for some heat.
4. Simmer for a few minutes, but it will be thick, so it will need to be stirred often. If it gets too thick, just add some water.

Friday, 14 December 2012

The Hobbit and Shepherd's Pie

Well, I missed making my blog post last night due to seeing an advanced showing of The Hobbit. Some of you know I am a fantasy geek, so I have been very excited to see this. We were not disappointed with this movie, especially my 11 year old. I didn't LOVE it as much as Lord of the Rings, but I still really enjoyed it. I recommend it if you liked LOR.

Now on to Shepherd's Pie.

I make my own version of Shepherd's Pie and it is soooooo yummy. It is also great for freezing and eating another day. Just don't add the cheese and let it thaw completely before putting in the over. I put my extra in pie plates, cover with saran wrap and tin foil and it should be ready for your freezer!

Ingredients:

For the Meat part, I follow this recipe for Sloppy Joes <- click for link to recipe. 
Potatoes and or sweet potatoes (note sure how much, depends on how much meat you prepare, I would use 4-6 and 1 sweet potato
milk or cream
butter
garlic (optional)
Favorite Cheese
Salt and Pepper for seasoning

Instructions:

1. For the Sloppy Joe recipe, follow the recipe. One thing I do differently is I add carrots. I saute the carrots for a few minutes before I brown the meat so they will be cooked well. Carrots take longer then the other veggies to cook. I also add frozen peas near the end. Feel free to add any other veggies you may want. If you add more veggies, then you may want to double the other ingredients or it will be too dry. Sometimes just adding more ketchup is enough. I also don't simmer for 30 minutes because I end up baking it. Once it is all combined and cooked though, add it to a 9x13 baking dish.

2. While the meat is cooking, boil the potatoes, then mash them. When I mash, I add  approx 2 tbsp of butter and I usually add milk and a little cream if I have some on hand. I don't really measure. I add some, mash it, if I don't get the consistency I want, then I keep adding a little of both. Add salt and pepper for seasoning. A little garlic never hurts either. Once mashed, spread on top of the meat layer.

3. Grate your favorite cheese on top. Put in the over at 350F for 20 minutes or so. Basically until the cheese is melted and it's bubbling on the sides. 

This is one of my favorite recipes and has become a staple in our home. It does not take long to come together and it has ingredients most have in their homes already.

I will post my review and recipe for Whirly Twirly pizza tomorrow. We had family night tonight, so I didn't have time to write it up. They were a hit though!!




Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Chicken Stew with balsamic roasted vegetables

I bought this great recipe book at the Dollar Store the other day for $10. I highly recommend it. I love healthy recipes that make food that I love.

The chicken Stew recipe is in this book Per serving it has 298 calories, 4.6 g of fat and 368 mg sodium. Low sodium is important to me since I had high blood pressure years ago.

I LOVED this recipe. I made a few adjustments that I make note of in the recipe. The whole family loved it and it was just as good the next day for lunch. I just wished I had bought some rolls to eat with it.

Ingredients:

4 cups of cubed red potatoes (I would use 3 cups next time
2 cups of baby carrots (I used baby and normal ones and I would do a cup of celery and a cup of carrots next time)
1 cup of chopped red onion
2 tbsp of balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp of olive oil (I used extra virgin in a dark bottle, I will be blogging soon as to why the dark bottle is important)
1 tsp of minced garlic (I used 3 cloves)
1 1/2 tsp of dried thyme (divided)
1 1/2 tsp of rosemary (divided)
1 tsp of dried tarragon
1/2 tsp of salt and ground pepper
1 cup of green beans (I used frozen peas instead and I wish I added celery)
1/2 cup of dry white wine (I would use 1 cup next time)
2 or 3 boneless skinless chicken cut into cubes
3 cups of reduced-sodium chicken broth (I use epicures chicken broth, low in salt and soooo good)
3 tbsp flour

Instructions:

1. Spray large roasting pan with cooking spray. Add potatoes, carrots, onions, vinegar, oil, garlic, 1 tsp of thyme, 1 tsp of rosemary, tarragon, salt and pepper. Mix well.

2. Roast uncovered at 425F for 30 minutes. Stir halfway through cooking time. Add green beans and roast for 10 minutes more. *I didn't add the beans, but added the peas at this point*

3. Meanwhile, pour wine into a large pot and add remaining rosemary and thyme. Bring to a boil and then add chicken and then reduce heat to medium-high. Cook uncovered until chicken is cooked through. *The pot I used was cast iron, so it got really hot and my wine almost dissolved before the chicken finished cooking, so next time I will add more wine. Buy these bottles of wine, great size for cooking!*

4. Add roasted veggies to chicken and wine. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of broth and flour until it is dissolved. Add to mixture. Cook until it has thickened. *again, because my pot got too hot, my broth dissolved quickly and I had to add about a cup more of broth and another tbsp of flour. I still wished I had more broth and next time I will adjust*

So, all in all, I totally recommend this recipe. It all came together very fast, the only time consuming thing was the food prep and waiting for the the veggies to roast, so you will need to be able to have time to prep food to make this. If I was working instead of being on Maternity Leave, I would prep the night before so it could come together quickly. I also loved that this recipe had all the ingredients I normally have at home, except tarragon, I had to run to the store for that. Enjoy!


12/12/12

So, today is 12/12/12 and it will be the last time we see a date like this in my lifetime. I have decided to celebrate this day by doing something that represents the #12.

I seriously had 12 really cool things planned.....but what the hell was I thinking?!?! I don't have time!

However I did get to do 1 thing and it is related to my blog. I found 12 new recipes that I want to try. Here they are: (click on the name of the food and it will link you to the recipes)

Snicker Fudge - for the days I want my stomach, hips and ass to get fat


Pepperoni Roll Ups - for one of those days I feel lazy and don't want to make anything big for lunch


Pumpkin Pancakes - I've made pumpkin pancakes before, but this recipe uses buttermilk and I LOVE buttermilk pancakes


Bourbon Street Chicken - I am the most excited to try this one


Brown Butter Snickerdoodle cookies - one of my favorite cookies


Three Cheese Potato Gratin


Ginger Cookies - I always wanted to make these


Linguine tossed with garlic bread crumbs


Parmesan Roasted Potatoes - I'm craving this right now


Cinnamon Roll Waffles - Maybe Christmas morning breakfast


Cinnamon Roll Pancakes - sensing a theme yet?


Honey Pecan Pork Chops - I can't wait to try these too





Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Chili time!

This is one of my all time favorites to eat and make for several reasons.

1. It is very tasty
2. It is easy and quick to make
3. Great for freezing for later meals or in individual containers to bring to work for lunch
4. It is versatile. Can make chili cheese fries, can make a chili dog, or put is in an omelette

You will need a slow cooker, but you can cook it on the stove top as well.

Ingredients: The recipe is in my head and I don't measure, so I will have to guesstimate

lean or extra lean ground beef, just a small package is fine unless you want to double the recipe
red kidney beans (I only use 1 can, but if you like a lot of beans, by more and/or other kinds as well)
small jar of salsa (I buy medium because I like a little kick)
- 1/2 bottle or can of spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce (I don't measure, I keep adding until I get the consistency I want)
Can of diced tomatoes
1 onion

- Garlic (mince 2 or 3 cloves)
Peppers (I use a little red, yellow and orange. Put as much in as you like)
- Celery (If I have celery, I add it, but it is not required)
- 1 or 2 tbsp Chili powder
- 1 tbsp dried Parsley
- 1 tbsp dried Oregano
- 1 tsp Cumin
 Red Pepper Flakes or Hot Sauce, add to your liking

- salt and pepper

Instructions:

1. Brown the beef in a pan, I season it with salt and pepper
2. Cut up your veggies
3. Add beef and veggies into the cooker
4. Add the can of kidney beans, I don't drain them, I pour it all in. Feel free to add other beans that you like or more. I usually just stick with 1 can.
5. Add the can of diced tomatoes and as much salsa as you would like. I use about half of a medium jar
6. Add the tomato or spaghetti sauce. I go by look, not measurement. It depends on how much veggies and beef I have.
7. Mince the garlic and add.
8. Add all the spices. Feel free to increase or decrease measurements based on taste, I HIGHLY recommend you taste your food as you go. That is the only way to decide on whether you need less or more spices.
9. If you don't like any heat, don't add the chili flakes or hot sauce. If you do, add as much as want. I usually do 3 or 4 shakes if the chili flakes.
10. Set on medium to high heat for 4-5 hours hours and then turn to low for another hour or 2. If you can't be home to adjust temperature. I would cook on low for 8-9 hours. Sometimes I make it at night before I go to bed and let it cook overnight.
11. When I serve, I add my favorite cheese, sour cream and some chopped green onions

Variations:
- Sometimes if I have red wine on hand, I will add 1/3 cup
- sometimes I add a few dollops of sour cream

I would love to know what you thought of this recipe if you make it!




Monday, 10 December 2012

Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread Cookie recipe:


INGREDIENTS
1 cupbutter (room temperature)
2 cupsflour
1/2 cupicing sugar
1/2 cupcorn starch
1 tspsalt
PREPARATION:
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and knead with your knuckles until it starts to hold together. Turn out onto a work surface and continue kneading while folding the dough over. Continue kneading until it cracks when you fold it.
  2. Gently roll out the dough until it is about 1/8-inch thick. If it doesn't stay together when you roll it out then you haven't kneaded it enough.
  3. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters wasting as little dough as possible. Re-roll the scraps until you have used up all the dough. The more often you roll the dough the tougher it will be.
  4. Place onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350ºF for 8 to 10 minutes, taking care that they don't burn. You can decorate them, or serve them plain.


 I am not overly happy in how this recipe turned out. It called for too much salt. I did not realize until they were already cooked that although they are edible and a perfect consistency, you are left with a salt taste after. Other then that, they were successful. They were easy to roll out and use cookie cutters with. It was my first time making them without my mother since I was a child and I feel confident in doing all the steps, I just need a better recipe to follow.

Here are some pictures of our process:





This recipe made a total of 24 good sized cookies. 

Icing Recipe: 

Ingredients
  • 1 cup powder sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1-3 drops lemon juice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Sift powder sugar to remove lumps.
  2. Add all ingredients to bowl and mix until combined.
  3. Add more milk as needed to achieve desired consistency.
  4. Make an outline around your cookies, let dry, then use a toothpick to spread icing inside outline
******This next step is important!******
If you need a thicker frosting, say for outlining your cookies, add LESS milk. Just a drop at a time.
If you have already outlined your cookies and need a to fill in or ’spill’ your cookies, you can add more milk (as much as you would need) to make your frosting very runny.
If you are using food coloring, be sure to use LESS milk. Most food colorings are liquid and can make your frosting more runny. If you are using a gel food coloring, your milk quantity can remain the same.
If you want to add different flavors, you can add drops of vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon, etc. to flavor your frosting.
If you want more SHINE, use more corn syrup and less milk.
This frosting will stay good for days in the fridge.


I followed this icing recipe and I am pleased with how it turned out. I found using the icing bag was very messy and I am not sure if it was because it was my first time using one in years or it's just supposed to be a messy job. Maybe my icing was too runny. I feel like I need to observe a professional if I am to judge as to whether I did it correctly.

I liked the recommendation of sifting my icing sugar to prevent lumps (this is a step I usually skip). I don't have a sifter so I used this.


I also liked the use of the toothpick to spread the icing. I never would have thought of that. 

Instead of outlining with a thicker icing, I bought these Cake Mate Scribblers to use for the outline and to decorate. Saved me a lot of time and even more mess. I love anything that helps me save time.


This icing recipe was able to cover my 24 cookies.

So, it wasn't a perfect recipe, but the experience of making them with my son was perfect. We had a lot of fun. 

Our finished product