Monday, April 18, 2011
Sunday, May 30, 2010
But on to donuts....I am not a huge donut fan. I know....Tim Hortons (the Canadian donut god) would not stay in business if it had to rely on me to buy donuts (coffee and bagels...whole other story). I'm just not a sweets fan and find donuts to be too sugary. A good cake donut is great...an apple fritter or cruller once in awhile. I hate hate hate Krispy Kreme (way to sweet).
But....there is a donut....one special donut that even Tim Hortons doesn't do right. The only time this little donut is good is when it's fresh from a bakery.....preferably some fancy schmancy little bakery that does all things french the right way (also a croissant fiend, but that's not what this is about).
Eclairs....pastry, creamy filling and chocolate....heaven in your mouth. Perfection. Why god created pastry chefs.
Now, I eat maybe one a year. But while perusing Karly at Buns in My Oven's blog, she had a recipe for an eclair cake. And hold your horses.....a NO BAKE eclair cake! With hot weather coming up (or so they say...I'm in Calgary, it's May 30th and snowing this morning)....no bake desserts are every entertainers life saver. I made this for a BBQ extravaganza (yes, in the snow) without high hopes for it going over well with the crowd...I mean, it was a no bake, easy easy dessert.
True to form, I will not serve a dessert unless I take a bite first. I would hate to serve something totally inedible and if a dessert sucks, I'll run to the store to buy ice cream. So I quickly wiggled my spoon into the corner of the dessert and popped it into my mouth while tugging on my shoes to get going to the bbq. And I stopped........I stared at the dessert....I stuck another spoonful in my mouth and leaned against the fridge for support. OH....MY....FREAKING....GOD.......I'm in love. I could have eaten the whole pan! (note my picture does not show the missing corner).
Ladies and gents.....this...this is the cake to make. Last summer it was the Cinnamon Roll Cake but this summer...this is the summer of love...the summer of the eclair cake. Do not turn your nose up at the simple ingredients...it works. The pudding and cool whip mixture do something funky to the graham crackers that make them taste like eclair pastry...and the pre-bought chocolate frosting...it works.....oh does it work.
1 package Graham Crackers
2 packages (3.4 oz) instant Vanilla pudding
8 ounces Cool Whip (thawed)
3 cups milk
16 ounces chocolate frosting
In a large bowl, mix together the pudding mix, Cool Whip, and milk. Beat well.
Arrange graham crackers in a single layer on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Pour half of the pudding mixture over the graham crackers. Add another layer of graham crackers and pour remaining pudding on top. Add the final layer of graham crackers and spread with chocolate frosting. You may need to soften the frosting up a bit in the microwave to help it spread easily.
Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
I make my own pizza doughs - a proper one with yeast if I have the time and patience, or a biscuit crust recipe handed down from my mother. I use pita bread, french bread, naan bread and canned dough. I'll use regular pizza sauce, alfredo, salsa or hot sauce. I think you get the picture...I like pizza...A LOT.
So while perusing JBug's Kitchen Antics in an effort to not write my essay last week I saw she had made a stromboli roll that looked quick and simple. How wrong can you go with pizza that is dipped in marinara sauce? (Dip is my second favourite food...and we could go on and on about the virtues of dip).
This is truly one of the easiest recipes you can make if you go with a tube of pillsbury pizza dough (like I did). This takes literally not even five minutes to put together - perfect for during the week. And get creative - just about anything could go in here and be tasty (I had one once with broccoli and asparagus...yum!).
After 35 minutes, this beautiful looking roll came out of the oven.
Full of pepperoni, salami, ham, spinach, roasted red pepper and cheese....it tasted just as good on it's own as it did dipped in the marinara.
Adapted from myrecipes.com and JBug's Kitchen Antics
Purchased pizza dough
4 ounces sliced pepperoni
4 ounces sliced ham
4 ounces sliced salami
1 cup drained roasted red peppers, patted dry
2 cups fresh spinach, washed and patted dry
Red pepper flakes to taste
½ tablespoon olive oil
Marinara sauce (I used a herb and garlic sauce)
Preheat oven to 350. Place foil on a large baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and set aside.
On a well floured board or piece of parchment paper, roll prepared dough to a 16 x 9 inch rectangle. Layer ingredients down length of dough, in the center as follows – ½ cheese, pepperoni, ham, peppers, spinach, salami, and remaining half of cheese. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and oregano. Bring long edges of dough together in center and pinch together. Trim short ends with a knife and pinch to seal edges. Place prepared baking sheet upside down on to roll, and flip board and sheet over so floured board is on top with the roll on the sheet seam side down. Remove board carefully and brush roll with olive oil. Cut 6 vents on top with a sharp knife for ventilation, being careful not to cut all the way through.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with marinara sauce on the side.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Anyhow, through the ups and downs of the last 3 months, I did manage to sneak away to Vancouver to visit my baby brother and best friends....a much needed 3 days of laughing, talking and more than one Twentieth Century Martini - my new favourite, but can't find the key ingredient in bloody Calgary to make it.
The trip made me realize that no matter how screwed up I feel my life is, I have lots of people who love me for who I am and don't judge the weird parts of my life...something that I will be eternally grateful for. Sucks they all live 1000 km's away, but it makes it that much more special when you do get a chance to visit.
It was definitely spring in Vancouver while I was there - the flowers were in bloom, birds were singing. In Calgary spring starts June 25th, and then summer 3 days later :) I jest....I saw my first robin on the fence the other night in Calgary (Batman was close behind him but that's a tale for another time).
I am off to golf in a couple hours (with ear muffs...it's still kinda nipply out here) and my motorcycle is ready to go when the gravel is swept off the roads in a few weeks.....time to make the most of life and not stress and worry about every little thing (see mom, I listened).
I was surprised that I found the Olympic tribute statue so interesting. It was still burning for the paralympic games while I was there and I found myself walking by it every morning. Wouldn't this be a fun fire pit to sit around in the summer ;)
How can I not miss the landscape of Vancouver??
Well am I ever glad I tried this recipe - it has got to be one of the best salmon dishes I have ever made...and not only did I like it, my friend thoroughly enjoyed and has a new appreciation for salmon.
Note – recipe for 2 servings. May be doubled or tripled as required.
1/2 package frozen puff pastry, thawed per package directions
2 6 – 8 ounce pieces Salmon fillet at least 1 inch thick
½ package fresh spinach, cleaned washed and dried well
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces herb and garlic cream cheese, room temperature
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup drained oil packed sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
At least 1 hour in advance, heat oil in a large saucepan, add onion and cook briefly until onion just starts to sweat. Add garlic and spinach. Cook, tossing ingredients with tongs until spinach has wilted. Add lemon zest and cook 1 more minute. Set aside to cool.
Remove skin from salmon fillet using a very sharp knife. Remove any pin bones from salmon. Set aside.
Combine cream cheese with herbs, salt and pepper. Divide cream cheese in half and top each fillet with cheese, spreading to the edges to cover well. Sprinkle with sun dried tomatoes, then top each fillet with equal portions of cooled spinach mixture.
Roll puff pastry per package instructions and cut to fit fillets. Wrap packages well, sealing all edges and use a knife to remove any excess pastry from sides of packages. Slit tops with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Decorate as you wish. Place pastry wrapped fillets on a greased cookie sheet. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400. Brush egg wash evenly over pastry bundles. Bake for 25 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden. Be careful not to over bake.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
But my favourite hot dog ever was the Chi-town dog - a hot dog out of Chicago loaded with coleslaw, mustard, onions, tomatoes, cheese and pickles (anything with pickles is up there in my book). The guy who runs our cafeteria at work serves Chi-town dogs every third Friday - it's probably the highlight of my day when I see it on the menu.
So in the interest of cutting down on the amount of bread I ingest (it's sad....and it's not working) I adapted the Chi-town Dog into a salad!!! If I'm not careful I could eat this every night!
Sorry for the crap picture......it's a salad and the picture just wasn't working.
First make some coleslaw. I used the pre-shredded bagged stuff but make my own dressing with mayo, vinegar and a bit of sugar. Then chop up your onions, tomatoes and pickles and dump on top. Next fry up some sliced hot dogs. I used Butterball turkey franks in another effort to appear healthy. Dump them on top, throw on some shredded cheese and voila.....Chi-town Dog Salad.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
A xxx-rated sense of humor
A worry-wart streak
A need to plan
But most of all, I don't cope well with change. This is a trait my dad has as well and not so sure if my brother inherited it, but I dread change. In fact, I will keep myself up for weeks worrying (a mom trait) knowing that a change is coming. Once the change is here though, I am fine...in fact, I'll be the first to tell you that really, it's NOT that bad. In fact, why was I worried at all??
So that being said, my whole world is changing right now. School, personal and professional. At 34 and 3/4 I am heading back to finish my Bachelors. Work is taking on a new dimension with added responsibilities and focuses and personal...well, we'll just go with it's changing (how can it not with school, work and such?).
So it goes without saying when I have something I really like, I don't screw with it. Chocolate chip cookies are in that category for me - I make the same recipe my mom has made since I was a baby and they are the ultimate comfort cookie for me.
But last week, Susan over at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy blogged about trying a new cookie. One that she seemed totally enthralled with - Candied Bacon Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Now, I think bacon makes all things better - you can't go wrong with salty, crispy bacon. And I routinely keep recipes for desserts that call for bacon (bacon baklava anyone?) but have yet to actually venture outside my comfort zone and attempt them. This morning though, I brought out the pound of bacon and thought...meh, if everything else is up on it's ear, I may as well make something a bit different.
First the candied bacon. Oh wow....oh man....um...I had to make a second batch of bacon because the first batch was too good to waste on a cookie. Seriously, the sweet and salty taste of this bacon was out of this world! One hint though, if you are using aluminum foil make it big enough so the bacon fat/melted sugar does not hit the cookie sheet at all. It took me half an hour to peel the aluminum foil off.
As for the cookies......well, as I said, once the change is done I'm usually fine. And believe me, I was more than fine with these cookies. The cookie recipe Susan uses was delicious...and the bacon addition? If you like sweet and salty combos, this is the real deal. These cookies were the ultimate sweet and salty combo.
Candied Bacon-Chocolate Chunk Cookies adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup Candied Bacon Bits (recipe follows)
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line three baking sheets with a Silpat liner or parchment paper.
2. Beat the sugars and butter together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda. Whisk together the flour and salt, then sift them into the batter. Stir in the chocolate chunks and bacon bits.
3. Using a small cookie scoop or a teaspoon, scoop the cookie dough into small balls, about 1-inch in diameter, and place them 2 inches apart on each of the baking sheets.
4. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Rotate sheets halfway through baking for even browning. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 3-4 days, if they last that long!
Makes about 3 dozen 2-inch cookies.
Candied Bacon Bits adapted from David Lebovitz
8 strips bacon
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Lay the strips of bacon on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or aluminum foil, shiny side down.
3. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar evenly over each strip of bacon.
4. Bake for about 15 minutes. Midway during baking, flip the bacon strips over and drag them through the dark, syrupy liquid that’s collected on the baking sheet. Add the rest of the brown sugar and continue to bake until a deep mahogany color. Remove from oven and cool the strips on a wire rack.
5. Once crisp and cooled, chop into little pieces, about the size of grains of rice.
Candied bacon bits can be stored in an airtight container and chilled for a day or so, or stored in the freezer a few weeks ahead.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
So instead of watching the Superbowl like everyone else seems to be today, I thought I'd whip up some comfort food. I love Jamie Oliver - he cooks, he has an accent.....did I say he has an accent? Wow. OK....I am maybe a little partial to accents.
So I set to work on his chicken stew recipe. Good old-fashioned comfort food - nothing fancy or tricky about this.
Start by chopping up your veggies in a bit of olive oil and letting them sweat. The usual - carrots, celery, garlic, onions and some fresh thyme.
Add 1 pound of diced chicken thighs and flour and brown. Deglaze with wine, add tomatoes. Then the best part of his recipe - he tells you to walk away for 90 minutes and have sex, read, whatever (best cooking instructions ever).
Adapted from Jamie's Food Revolution, Serves 4 - 6
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 heaping tablespoon of flour
- one 14oz can of diced tomatoes
- few sprigs of thyme
- 1 lb of skinless chicken thighs, diced (can substitute chicken breasts)
- 2 cups of white wine
1) Prep all of the vegetables. They don't need to be exact in size. Just rustic, rough chopping will do here. In a hot pot or dutch oven, add glug of olive oil, add the vegetables and thyme and cook for about 10 minutes over medium-low/medium heat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. The onions will be soft and translucent.
4) Add chicken broth until it just covers the chicken and vegetables. Bring the stew up to a boil.
7) Once reduced to your preference, serve. Great with rice or bread and amazing the day after