Tag Archives: recipe

Nice buns ;)

7 Jul

I always have the best intentions of making my own bread and buns, but it pretty rarely turns into action.

Not having a stand mixer is a good excuse, I figure, but not good enough, I know.  There really is nothing like the sense of accomplishment when, 60 million hours after starting, you pull fresh homemade bread or buns out of the oven, with the house smelling amazing and your family left in no doubt as to your domestic prowess.

Every time I DO get around to making my own, I swear it is so easy I will never buy buns again, but you can guess what I throw in my grocery cart 4 days later. I don’t know why, but it always happens.

This recipe was another one that made me feel confident I could do this regularly (of course, I didn’t, but it’s good to have a recipe in case the mood strikes again!).

I often turn to Annie’s Eats’ Soft Garlic Knots, which are amazing and quite purty, and they come together easily and can be made with all-purpose flour, which I always have handy.  But this time I didn’t want something savory, I wanted a classic, basic dinner roll-type bun.  I also decided to give bread flour a try, and I’m glad I did.  I used 60% whole wheat bread flour, and while they didn’t rise quite as high as I anticipated, I’m sure it was due to the fact that they didn’t rise in a very warm place, and the fact that I forgot about them and probably let them over-rise before baking them, but the texture was absolutely PERFECT, and they were plenty high enough.  The bread flour really does give a lighter, more “store-bought” texture, and these buns were delicious with just plain ham and cheese, and would also make a great dinner roll.  Give ’em a try one day when you’re feeling domestic 🙂

Heavenly Yeast Rolls

Source: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/breads/heavenly-yeast-rolls/ 

1 ½ cups warm water

1 Tbsp active dry yeast

3 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp salt

4 Tbsp butter

4 cups bread flour

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water with the sugar. Add the salt, butter, and 3 cups of the flour. Mix until smooth.  Add in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough, adding more flour if needed. Push your fingers into the dough; the dough should feel like it’s going to stick to your fingers as you pull them away, but it actually doesn’t. 

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 to 20 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, measure out the dough for 12 rolls. Shape each into a ball. You may have a little bit of dough left over, so make whatever you want with that. Place the rolls into a greased 9″x13″ pan. Cover and let rise until they are at least double in size, about 30 to 45 minutes. You can let them rise longer to get even larger rolls, but you need to watch them carefully so they don’t over-rise and then deflate when they bake. I always let them rise to their maximum capacity. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 22-28 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.

Delicious served warm, but these also freeze really well for future use.

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Rosemary Garlic Roasted Beets

5 Jul

I’ve been meaning to try roasted beets for aaaages, but Carl was dragging his feet as he sometimes does in the new-veggie department so I put it off and tried to convince him to put them in his smoothies instead, which also ended unsuccessfully.  I wasn’t willing to give up, though, because they are a seriously beautiful colour and for anyone who knows me, colour goes a long way with me.  

I made this dinner, which featured beets, a few nights ago, and it turns out beets don’t just turn your fingers, adjoining food and *ahem* *other things* magenta, they are surprisingly edible!

I was going to tell you all about it while watching a movie with Carl, being the multi-tasker that I am.  Did you know you can call it that now?  Not ADD, just multi-tasking.  I like it much better.

We ended up watching “127 Hours”, since Carl had read the book it’s based on and convinced me I would want to see the movie, but (SPOILER ALERT) trust me, there’s nothing like watching someone break their own arm and hack it off with a cheap utility knife to make you not feel like blogging about food.

Even writing that, I am considering not blogging about food.  Because with that mental picture you certainly don’t want to immediately look at and think about food, now do you?  It is a good movie though, don’t get me wrong.

Let’s just talk about something else first.

Let’s talk about the phenomena of renting movies on your TV.

This was actually the first time we did it, and it sure is frighteningly convenient isn’t it?  No debating who has to get off the couch to go to the movie store, either to get a movie or to return it.  No overdue fines.  The ability to watch the trailer first and determine which option has the handsomest actor with the best voice.  A slightly surprising TV bill at the end of the month.

I feel a little sorry for Blockbuster.

Are we ready to talk about beets again?

Oh, good!

They really are a beautiful veggie.

I grew up in a home where homegrown pickled beets were always found in abundance, but since I’ve yet to find anything I like pickled, it’s no surprise I wasn’t a fan of pickled beets.

Roasting vegetables, on the other hand, really never goes wrong, and beets, it turns out, are no exception.  Just make sure you give them lots of time so they’re nice and tender, or cut them into smaller cubes prior to roasting.  This way of preparing needs a good hour or more, but the beets come out infused with a rosemary and garlic flavour that is subtly delicious, and makes your house smell aMAZing.

Rosemary Garlic Roasted Beets 

(Serves 2)

2 beets

2 cloves garlic, 1 minced and 1 left whole

2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

2 tsp minced fresh parsley and/or rosemary (to garnish)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut beet tops to leave 1″ attached; leave tails.  Place on 10″ square of foil and sprinkle with rosemary, minced garlic and salt and pepper. Cut top off whole garlic clove and place beside beets.  Drizzle with oil. Fold to form closed packet.  Roast on rimmed baking sheet for 1-1 1/4 hours, until fork tender.

Remove from oven and, wearing gloves, peel and trim beets and cut into 1/4″ thick slices.  Arrange on warmed platter and drizzle with a bit more olive oil and sprinkle with parsley and/or rosemary to garnish.

Recipe adapted from Canadian Living.

…Eggplant is next up – I’ve bought them a couple times but I just spend many days admiring the gorgeous exterior royalty of it all, and never want to actually cook the beautiful things!

Saturday Sweets: Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

2 Jul

Well, I told you I would make some more cookies so then I had to!  After going to the beach, of course – first beach trip of the season! K-fer got his first mouthful of gravelly sand, and badly wanted to go back for more…I think I’m going to be one of “those” who carts along a pack and play on the next trip 🙂

These flourless cookies started as an experiment since I wanted a filling, nutritious snack to bring to my gluten intolerant sister who just had a baby and shouldn’t have to worry about making her own snacks for quite awhile.  I didn’t have any fancy gluten free flours though, so it had to be completely flourless, which I was skeptical about, both in terms of texture and taste.

Turns out I needn’t have worried!  These hold together nicely, stay chewy the way I like, and actually taste just like a peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookie should taste, so even if you don’t have to avoid flour they’re worth a try, and it doesn’t get much easier than one bowl, with all the ingredients thrown together at once!  …Although they still aren’t quite as good as my favourite Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies.  If you need them gluten free, just double check your oats and make sure they’re gluten free…I know the No Name brand say they may contain wheat, but you can get some that list ONLY oats in the ingredients (like Quaker brand) or are actually certified gluten free.

Aren’t the polka dots cute?  I want a dress like this.  I actually have one, but wore it too many times pregnant and it no longer fits nicely non-pregnant; who woulda thought, right?

But I digress.  I always seem to do this thing where I buy peanut butter on sale like a crazy person since it is one thing I’m picky about buying brand name, and end up with several kilograms needing to be used up and going crazy on peanut butter baking, so I’m happy to have one more peanut butter recipe in the repertoire.

Thanks to our new little deep freezer we don’t have to eat all this peanut butter goodness as quickly as usual, but be forewarned, there may be a bit of peanut butter trend in upcoming recipes.  Also, because I like to throw chia seeds in all kinds of things, I added 2 tbsp to these for myself, so feel free to do the same or don’t be crazy like me, all “I can make these cookies healthy” and such.  Or DO be crazy like that but add ground flax seed.  Or spinach.  No, that would be too crazy, don’t do that.  Maybe peanuts?

Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups oats

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup coconut

1 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

4 tbsp butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips and blend thoroughly.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop onto baking sheet about 1″ apart (they don’t spread much while baking), and bake 12-15 minutes.  Let sit on cookie sheet for a couple minutes before transferring to racks to cool completely.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Recipe loosely adapted from Carrots ‘n’ Cake.

Saturday Sweets – Chocolate Toffee Squares

25 Jun

Saturday sweets on an actual Saturday!

This recipe is an old favourite in the Kampen family, originally from a little pamphlet you could pick up in the grocery store near the flour.  Now they are a favourite in my own family too.  Carl likes anything with chocolate and Skor bits involved, and sweetened condensed milk is one of my true loves.  This time I made them with whole wheat flour and some chia seeds instead of sliced almonds so we could feel somewhat healthy enjoying them (ok, and I didn’t have white flour left, or sliced almonds…I had a bagful of whole almonds but have you ever tried to slice those things thinly?  Yikes.)  They tasted just as good, if not better, anyway- I think I actually prefer the taste and texture of the whole wheat flour in this crust.

They come together so easily, and freeze really well to have something handy for unexpected company, and the topping ingredients are flexible so if you don’t have all the “right” ingredients you can make them anyway!  I’m posting the traditional recipe to give you an idea, but feel free to adjust to your taste.  Chocolate chips, dried cranberries and sliced almonds makes a delicious alternative topping, as do a combination of white and semi-sweet chocolate chips, and you can add healthy things like whole wheat flour, chia seeds or ground flax without ever tasting a difference.

Chocolate Toffee Squares

1½ cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

¾ cup butter or margarine

1½ cups semisweet, milk chocolate or white chocolate chips

¾ cup coconut

¾ cup Skor toffee bits

½ cup sliced almonds

1 can (275 – 300 mL) sweetened condensed milk

DIRECTIONS: 

Lightly grease a 9×13” pan.  Combine flour and sugar.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  Press firmly into prepared pan.  Bake at 350º for 12 minutes, until light golden.  Meanwhile, combine chocolate chips, coconut, toffee bits and almonds.  Set aside. 

When crust is done, pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crust.  Sprinkle with chocolate chip mixture.  Press down firmly.  Bake another 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool completely before cutting into bars.  

Recipe adapted from Robin Hood.

Bacon Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

23 Jun

With hot summer weather comes cool summer suppers!

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

I’ve been making this recipe for awhile after having something similar in Mitch Miller’s restaurant in Abbotsford.  I ordered a chicken caesar salad and there were NOODLES in it!  Now, if you know my feelings about pasta you know exactly how I felt about that – GIDDY would not be an overstatement.  Why had I never put pasta in my salad before?  Well, I would make up for it as expediently as possible.

I love pasta salads, Carl won’t touch them with a 10-foot pole.  Cold food makes his heart bleed. But Carl DOES love caesar salad.  And pasta.  Hmmmm.  Do you see where this is going?

YES, this is the perfect compromise for him, and it’s great for kids who aren’t big on lettuce too since there is plenty of substance with the noodles and chicken and bacon to keep them full and happy.  When I brought it to the table and sat down Gemma held up her hands and asked, “But Mom, what about the other supper?”  In other words, “Is this it?”  Obviously we usually have our salads on the side.  But she loved it!  And I just love lettuce and chicken and bacon and cheese and PASTA. I’ve also made this with leftover turkey – a great alternative to typical “leftover turkey” dishes.

If you aren’t like Carl and DO like pasta salads, this is actually a great pasta salad without the lettuce and croutons, as a Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad.  It travels great this way if you have to bring something to a party and don’t feel like bringing lettuce and croutons to add last minute, since if you add them at home you will be known as the one who brought the soggy salad and, as reputations go, yours could be better.

A pretty pasta salad already!

But if you want a full meal of deliciousness, add the lettuce and croutons and serve with a side of fresh crusty bread of some sort.  This recipes serves 2-4, depending if you have bread as well – 3 of us ate only salad and were full to the brim.  

First, one more note – you can use any kind of lettuce for this, and romaine would be the traditional caesar salad choice but I just love the fresh red leaf lettuce that’s out right now.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  Carl bought it for me 🙂  Way better than flowers that die and have to be thrown out – I am all about edible gifts.

A bouquet from my love

BACON CHICKEN CAESAR PASTA SALAD

1 cup dry pasta, cooked according to package directions (rotini or bowtie pasta holds the dressing nicely)

6 slices bacon, cooked; reserve 1 Tbsp bacon drippings to toss with pasta

1 cup cooked chicken, chopped

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional – definitely use it if you’re making it as a pasta salad)

1/2 a large head of lettuce

Croutons

Caesar dressing (I really think Renee’s Caesar dressing is the best there is, you can find it in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, usually near the lettuce)

Fresh black pepper

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, cook bacon and prep all other ingredients.  

Drain pasta and rinse under cold water.  Transfer to bowl and toss with 1 tbsp bacon drippings (doesn’t “drippings” sound so much better than “grease”?  But really, this is important to get the best flavour, don’t skip it!  If you’re making this ahead, it also keeps the pasta from sticking together.)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat thoroughly with dressing.  Serve immediately.

Mmmm.

*If you’re not serving it immediately, toss all ingredients EXCEPT lettuce and croutons together and store in the fridge.  When ready to serve, add lettuce and croutons and additional dressing and black pepper.

And I just had to share a picture of my mini-me – she always makes “dinner” in her own kitchen while I cook, and invariably makes the same thing I am making, so today she had a big salad.  When I went to take a picture of mine she didn’t want her work of art to be left out, so she grabbed her own “camera” (a block) and followed me outside.  When I exclaimed, “Oh, I forgot the croutons!” she clapped her hands to her cheeks and shouted “Me too!” and we both hurried inside to remedy the situation.  She cracks me up every day.

A food blogger in the making

Hers looks delicious too!

Saturday Sweets: Caramilk Cookies

21 Jun

I know, it’s not actually Saturday today but I did MAKE these on Saturday so I figure they count for my haphazard series…or was it Friday?  

Yup, I think it was Friday.  Sorry.  

I think if you make them you’ll forgive me – after all, they are a chewy chocolate cookie wrapped around a piece of Caramilk chocolate bar, so how wrong could they go?  

Carl got this recipe from the chef father of one of the volleyball girls he coached in Ottawa, and I think it is the first time in his life he ever asked for a recipe.  Being a big cookie fan like he is, he had these at a team gathering and immediately knew he wanted me to be able to re-create them for him at home.  While I don’t make them as often as some of my cookie recipes, it has nothing to do with their deliciousness, and everything to do with my laziness.  I tend to like recipes where I can mix everything together in 5 minutes flat, plop ’em onto the cookie sheet and throw ’em in the oven.  Productivity!   Good smells! Snacks!  Hooray!!

This particular dough has to be made ahead and then thoroughly chilled so you can shape it around a Caramilk square (or chunk of Mars bar, or Snickers, or whatever your favourite may be), and then the balls are rolled in sugar, before finally, FINALLY, you can put them in the oven.  Also, to make sure your chocolate bar chunk isn’t too far away from the edges you want to make the cookies as eensy as possible so the first bite reaches the center surprise, and eensy cookies means OODLES of cookies, which means SCADS of time.  

Ok, between making the dough and shaping the cookies maybe you’ll spend half an hour on these cookies.  And you could make the dough a day or two ahead and keep it in the fridge.  So really, ignore my drama.  You can do it.  I’m sure I’d be hard pressed to find others as lazy as me.  Or, you can rush things like me and get your hands covered in sticky chocolate dough and be reminded yet again that patience is indeed a virtue for which to strive.  Or get bored halfway through and throw chocolate chips or chopped oreos into the rest of the batter and proceed as you would for regular cookies…not actually a bad route since then it looks like you took the time to make cookies TWICE since there are two flavours!

The original recipe for these was called “Muriel’s Chocolate Bar Cookies”, but since I altered it slightly and have absolutely no idea who Muriel might be, I have renamed it the rather more self-explanatory Caramilk cookie, but as I mentioned earlier, feel free to use other chocolate bars you might have handy, although Caramilks do break into handy little squares and all the stickiness stays well-contained for the rolling process.  Chilling your chocolate bars is also a good idea to keep them from melting in your warm little hands while shaping the dough around them.

CARAMILK COOKIES

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

¾ cup packed brown sugar

¾ cup white sugar, plus more for rolling cookies in

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

⅓ cup cocoa

1 tsp baking soda

Cubes of Caramilk bar (about 4 bars)

 DIRECTIONS:

Cream together butter and sugars.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa and baking soda and then mix into the creamed mixture.  Chill mixture until firm – I sometimes make the batter and leave it in the fridge overnight.  It will be all melty in your hands if you don’t chill it.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º.  Place some dough in your hand (about a teaspoonful) and shape it around a chocolate chunk.  Make them fairly small so the chocolate chunk isn’t too far away from the edges once it bakes.  Roll the ball in a bowl of white sugar and place on greased cookie sheet.  Do not press down, they flatten as they cook.  Bake for 12-13 minutes.

Iced Green Mint Tea

17 Jun

With summer heat comes a craving for summer drinks, and for me the ultimate (non-alcoholic :)) summer drink has to be iced tea.  If I’m going to have something besides water, I generally won’t head to fruit juice since I’d much rather just have fresh fruit, especially while it’s in season.  But there’s something about iced tea that is different and refreshing and good on it’s own, with cookies, with hamburgers…pretty much any time of day.

I’m not a fan of hot drinks, except for the occasional hot chocolate in the dead of winter, but I am always slightly envious of people who can enjoy a good cup of tea, so drinking iced tea makes me feel included with the “hot drinks crowd”, even if I am still the quirky one in the group.

Carl has become a huge fan of green tea, with it’s naturally decaffeinated anti-oxidant powers.  This iced version is something I can definitely get on board with, since it makes great use of all my fresh mint and I’m crazy enough in hot weather to be annoyed if ANYONE drinks hot drinks in my line of vision.  (Side note: only about 3 months till fall!)

Make it tonight and drink it tomorrow since it has to be nice and cold and all the flavours need to meld together into refreshing deliciousness.  Your lemon slices and mint will sink to the bottom overnight and not fall into your cup – if you want your lemon slices floating at the top, add them right before serving.

Iced Green Mint Tea

6 bags green tea

8 cups boiling water

3 lemons

2 bunches fresh mint (10-15 leaves)

1/3 cup sugar (or to taste)

Ice cubes

Directions:

Boil water, and pour over tea bags.  Let steep for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice 1/2 a lemon to garnish drink, and juice remaining 2 1/2 lemons into a large pitcher, making sure you don’t get any seeds.  Roughly chop mint leaves and throw them in with the lemon juice, along with a bunch of ice cubes. Remove tea bags and dissolve sugar in tea.  Pour tea over ice cubes.  Chill thoroughly (ideally overnight) before serving, and serve over ice.

This is a great drink to make with a little helper – get them to throw in the ice cubes and lemon slices and rip up the mint leaves to throw in – Gemma had so much fun she even braved drinking some!  It really is true what they say – if you get your kid involved in making something they are much more likely to be willing to try it, as I’m finding more and more often these days.

Enjoy, and stay in the shade!

(Drink inspired by and adapted from Lauren at A Full Measure of Happiness)

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